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Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to EVERY nation and tribe and LANGUAGE and people.  (Rev. 14/emphasis added)

The “eternal Gospel” has been translated into most of the languages on all the continents of earth.  The Pentecostalist/charismatic movement, begun in the early 20th century has negatively and falsely colored “tongues” in the New Testament as ecstatic speech.  The gift of “tongues” is  speaking in foreign languages, not ecstatic speech: 

see The Lutheran Study Bible, “Speaking in Tongues”, page 1969/Concordia Commentary:  1 Corinthians, Excursus: Spiritual Gifts in  1 Corinthians, “Tongues: The Nature and Function of the Gift of Tongues”, by Pr. Gregory Lockwood, pages 433-439. 

Speaking in languages not native to the speaker is a marvelous thing to hear as the crowd were amazed in the Temple in Jerusalem on Pentecost. If you have known anyone with a “gift for languages”, it is wonderful to hear. The translation of languages and speaking in other tongues is the Lord’s gift to bring His Word to the nations.  I speculate that it is the Lord alone, through His Church alone which brought about translation on a global scale for the first time in the history of the world.   For instance, Mohammed said his book, the Koran, must be read and heard in Arabic alone.

Why did Mohammed insist on Arabic?  My speculation is that it would force converts into a mono-culture in a conformist top down fashion.  We see this in Sharia law flowing from Islamic conversion.  Not so the Church.  The Church is in practically every nation on earth yet it is not mono-cultural or identified only with one people alone.  If it were, then the Church would be about mere conforming, not transforming us in the Lord’s grace, mercy and peace (cf. Romans 12: 1ff).

The Church truly is diversity in unity. When did this start?  Answer:  Pentecost as recorded in Acts 2:

And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. (verse 6)

Then in the next verses (7-11) is the bane of every lay reader: the list of the names of the various nations in which the Jews were dispersed into beginning with the Babylonian exile, concluding with a reiteration of verse 6:

“…we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” (verse 11b)

Dr. Paul Kretzmann’s Commentary on Acts 2:

These Jews, known as the Jews of the Diaspora, spoke the language of the people among whom they lived, retaining the Hebrew only for Sabbath services. Now when that great sound, as of the mighty wind, was heard, the attention of all the hearers was naturally directed to the hall where the apostles and disciples were assembled, and a great multitude came together to find out the reason for this supernatural occurrence. And what they saw and heard filled their minds with such trouble and perturbation that they were no longer sure of their senses; they were altogether confounded and mixed up… Both Jews and proselytes were represented in the assembly… And all the various members of this big gathering heard the apostles speak in their own tongue, fluently addressing them, as though they had spoken the dialects and languages all their life. Such a miracle was unheard of, and Luke exhausts his vocabulary in trying to describe it’s effect upon the multitude: they were confounded, they were amazed, they marveled, they were perplexed, they asked one another as to the meaning of the wonderful thing they were witnessing. And all the while the apostles were preaching the great and wonderful works of God, namely, that God had fulfilled the prophecies made to their fathers, that He had sent His Son Jesus to work the redemption of the whole world, and that this salvation was now being offered to all of them without exception.

The powerful deed of the Lord, the Holy Spirit, was speaking in different languages.  This was not a reversal of Babel that now there was one language, some sort of spiritualized Esperanto. The reversal of Babel was the one language of the Gospel of Jesus Christ for sinners in the tongues/languages of earth. The even greater Pentecost miracle was not the languages but the Word of God in those languages bringing people to salvation in Jesus Christ, the one risen from the dead only 50 days before the Day of Pentecost. Pentecost is still the miracle of hearing which is the Lord’s unstopping our ears (Mark 7:35).  For as it is written:

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. (Romans 10:17)

Meme of the Day

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“…we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” Acts 2: 10b

Cyril (826-69) and Methodius (c. 815-85) were brothers who came from a Greek family in Thessalonica. The younger brother took the name “Cyril” when he became a monk in 868. After ordination, Cyril became librarian at the church of Holy Wisdom (Hagia Sophia) in Constantinople. In 862 the brothers were sent by the emperor as missionaries to what is now the Czech republic, where they taught in the native Slavic tongue. Cyril invented the alphabet today know today as “Cyrillic,” which provided a written language for the liturgy and Scriptures for the Slavic peoples. This use of the vernacular established an important principle for evangelical missions.

In an article in the May/June 2013 edition of Touchstone, “The Thessalonian Brothers:  The Legacy of the Mission of Cyril and Methodius 1,150 Years Later”, on the way to Rome in 867, the brothers stopped in Venice,

“…to debate Western clerics who insisted on the tradition of using only Hebrew, Greek, and Latin for worship, which the Slavonic sources deride as the “trilingual heresy” or “Pilatian heresy” (after Pilate’s use of those three languages for the sign on Christ’s cross (John 19:20) ).  (Cyril) is said to have responded with St. Paul’s words:  “that every tongue should confess that Jesus is Lord” (Phil. 2: 11)  

Further, it is written in Revelation 14: 6,

Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to every nation and tribe and language and people. 

There are 5 other references in Revelation to “languages” or “tongues”. Cyril and Methodius translated the Bible for the Slavic people to read it.  Constantine (“Cyril”) was quite talented.  He became a librarian, then a professor of philosophy, then a monk and  eventually a missionary.  Methodius was a ruler of a Slavic province, then a contemplative monk and then with his brother Cyril a missionary.  The two missionary brothers were sent to Moravia where they began to translate and invent the alphabet that bears Cyril’s name to this day: Cyrillic and in the map below you can see how extensive their alphabet was used.

The countries that use the Cyrillic alphabet officially and those who use it as a secondary language.

Many worry that when the Bible is translated something is “lost in translation”, but that is not necessarily true as we see in history the “eternal Gospel” proclaimed to “those who dwell on earth”(Revelation). Nothing is lost in translation because, just as the copyists of the Torah and the Old Testament carefully wrote out the sacred Text, so did the Church, because of their care and concern for God’s Word. Cyril and Methodius wanted the nations to know God’s Gospel. All Biblical translators and copyists love the truth of God’s Word verbatim and will do  nothing to betray the Lord.  They did not have to put a “spin” on God’s Word!  

The “eternal Gospel” has been translated into most of the languages on all the continents of earth.  This is the gift of “tongues”, that is speaking in foreign languages, see The Lutheran Study Bible, “Speaking in Tongues”, page 1969/Concordia Commentary:  1 Corinthians, Pr. Gregory Lockwood, pages 482-487.  The Pentecostalist/charismatic  movement, begun in the early 20th century has negatively and falsely  colored “tongues” in the New Testament as ecstatic speech.  If you have known anyone with a “gift for languages”, it is amazing. We even use the word, “gift” in non-natural sense. The translation  of languages and speaking in other tongues is the Lord’s gift to bring His Word to the nations.  I speculate that it is the Lord alone through His Church alone which brought about translation on a global scale for the first time in the history of the world.   For instance, Mohammed said his book, the Koran, must be read in Arabic alone. Not so the Church because not so the Lord, and again, this  verse as another attestation of speaking in tongues is actually foreign languages:

Then I saw another angel flying directly overhead, with an eternal gospel to proclaim to those who dwell on earth, to EVERY nation and tribe and LANGUAGE and people.  (Rev. 14: 

The Word of God is translated so  we are “translated” into His kingdom (see Colossians 1: 13), and changed by the Gospel of grace for sinners through Jesus Christ our Lord.  We thank the Lord for ministry of Cyril and Methodius and for all missionaries and Bible translators.

Concordia and Koinonia

Crown Him the Lord of Life
Who triumphed o’er the grave
And rose victorious in the strife
For those He came to save.
His glories now we sing
Who died and rose on high,
Who died eternal life to bring
And lives that death may die.

Crown Him the Lord of Love.
Behold His hands and side,
Rich wounds, yet visible above,
In beauty glorified.
No angel in the sky
Can fully bear that sight,
But downward bends his wondering eye
At mysteries so bright!

Ascension Day is the coronation celebration of the Lord as He is proclaimed to be King of the universe. Jesus’ ascension to the Father is His entrance to the greater existence beyond the confines of time and space, being no longer bound by the limitations of His state of humiliation. Jesus now sits at the right hand of God, which Luther correctly taught is everywhere…

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Is His love like a burden or has His yoke become too heavy?  Do you want to once again depend on the world and your own righteousness?  You say: “Oh no, no, but my heart is weak and doubtful, and sin is mighty!”  Do no despair.  There will be enough temptations, trials, and sin; yes, you may be overcome by your body’s weakness. But you are not depending on your own heart but on your Jesus, who saves you from your sins and gives you renewed mercy in Word and Sacrament. Forgiveness of sin surrounds you like the air; yes, it is spread’ out around you like the sky. He is faithful, the one who has called you. He will do it for you. You just hold on to His Word and Sacrament. Do not forsake prayer. Death might meet up with you whenever and wherever it wants. It will only lead you into the eternally new year, into the right peace and bliss. And even while you are in the throes of death, this beautiful name will lighten your way and bring you safely across: JESUS!

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“….it was our sorry case that caused the Word to come down, our transgression that called out His love for us, so that He made haste to help us and to appear among us. It is we who were the cause of His taking human form, and for our salvation that in His great love He was both born and manifested in a human body.”

The sure side of being on the “right side of history”, per Athanasius, is that the world will be against you.

Concordia and Koinonia

Collect of the Day

Almighty God, your Holy Spirit gives to one the word of wisdom, and to another the word of knowledge, and to another the word of faith. We praise you for the gifts of grace imparted to your servant Athanasius, and we pray that by his teaching we may be led to a fuller knowledge of the truth which we have seen in your Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

ReadingsActs 20:19-35   Psalm 71:1-8  2 Corinthians 4:5-14  St. Matthew 10:23-32

Athanasius was born in Alexandria in Egypt in A.D. 295. He served as a church leader in a time of great controversy and ecclesiastical disagreements. At the Council of Nicaea in 325, he defended Christian orthodoxy against the proponents of the Arian heresy, which denied the full divinity of Jesus Christ. During his 45-year tenure as bishop of Alexandria, Athanasius wrote numerous works that defended the orthodox teaching…

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