One of the theological backdrops to Pauline theology would be the Old Testament, right? After all, the apostle Paul quotes the OT quite a bit as an established authority for the early Christian communities (e.g., Rom. 1:17; 2:24; 3:4, 10; 1 Cor. 9:9; 14:21, etc.). So there’s really no doubt that Paul was thoroughly aware of the Hebrew Scriptures since it was common for Jews to be saturated in it, especially given that he was a Pharisee (Phil. 3:5).

This has got me thinking about whether or not there is a connection between Paul’s understanding of the nature of speaking in tongues and the OT narrative regarding how Jehoshaphat and the rest of Judah were delivered from the attack of the Moabites, Ammonites, and Meunites by God (2 Chronicles 20:1-30). Furthermore, I wonder if this connects the gift of tongues (and interpretation!) with activity related to spiritual warfare. Here’s why:

  • We see a picture of God’s people, led by king Jehoshaphat, praying to God for salvation from the attacking armies (2 Chr. 20:5-12) and we see a picture of Paul describing the gift of speaking in tongues as a Holy Spirit inspired act of prayer (1 Cor. 14:2).
  • We see a picture of Judah singing praise to God (2 Chr. 20:21-22) and we see a picture of Paul describing tongues as Holy Spirit inspired praise (1 Cor. 14:15).
  • We see a picture of Judah giving thanks to God (2 Chr. 20:21) and we see a picture of Paul describing tongues as Holy Spirit inspired thanks-giving (1 Cor. 14:16).

I wonder if there is a connection, or if this is just a coincidence. What do you think?