Aquinas on Tongues: I Corinthians 12:10

Thomas Aquinas’ Lecture on I Corinthians 12:10 translated into English.

Translated from the Latin text: S. Thomae Opera. Robert Busa, S.I. ed. Fromman-Holzboog. 1980. Reportationes. Vol. 6 088 R1C cp12 pg. 383

I Corinthians 12:10

I the Lord search the hearts and probe the kidneys. “Others discretion of spirits,” namely that a man can discern; anyone who should be moved by the spirit for speaking or doing works. For instance, whether by the spirit of love or by the spirit of hatred. “Refuse to believe in every spirit but examine the spirits if they are from God.” On the other hand, the persuasive skill in having the ability to preach remains valid about this. Insofar as a man can speak intelligibly to another because certainly it is being hindered in two ways. One way through the diversity of languages,1 against which a remedy is being brought in by the following with which he states, “to others certainly it is being given,” “kinds of tongues.”2 Namely that he can speak in diverse languages, that he is to be understood by everyone.

Even so, the reading about the Apostles, (Acts 2:4), that “they were speaking in different languages” is introducing a different way by the obscurity of Scripture. Against which the remedy is given by that which is being supplied. “Others the interpretation of speech” that is the difficult [part] of the Scriptures. “I have heard that you should be able to interpret obscure things.” (Dan. 5:5) 3 “Does not interpretation belong to God?”(Gen. 40:8) Thereon, when it says, “but all these etc.” he marks out the authority of the graces previously mentioned, against this he removes three errors. Indeed, with the first concerning being attributed to the heathens, “different gifts for different gods,”4 contrary to what is taught. Moreover, one and the same spirit is being operated in5 all these things (Eph. 4:4) “One body and one spirit.” Their second error, they were attributing only the universal providence of the matter to God. These set out that the particular distinctions are made only through secondary effects. It is supplied against this: “dividing each one as he wishes.” “In a multitude of disciplines of the Lord, he divided them” (Eccl.c. 33:11). Thirdly, he prevents their error that they were attributing the diversity of the graces as either by utterance6 or by human merit, and not only a divine desire. Like the Macedonians who were teaching the holy Spirit to be the ministry of the Father and the Son. And he prevents this through this way7 because he supplies, “just as he wants.” (John 3:8) “The Spirit breathes where he wants.”

For more information:

  1. idiomata gen. pl. neut.: from idioma Lewis and Short “a peculiarity in language, idiom”
  2. genera linguarum
  3. The copy actually has a correction in this and says it appears in 5:16, which is aligned with our modern-day system
  4. each gift has its separate god
  5. The Latin is in the accusative, but it does not correlate in English usage in the same fashion
  6. fato: utterance, oracle, fate, destiny
  7. et hoc excludit per hoc quod subditur

Leave a Comment