Let’s talk about tongues…
Today, churches around the world are celebrating Pentecost, the birth of the kehillah. The passage to look at is Acts 2, especially verses 1-4. Three things happened when the Ruach HaKodesh fell on the believers in Jerusalem: a sound to hear, a sight to see, and a miracle to experience.
The sound to hear was a wind (v. 2). The verse emphasizes the quickness by which it came: It appeared “suddenly,” a term used only in Acts (2:2; 16:26; 28:6). The source was heaven, and it was a sound as of the rushing of a mighty wind. The verse does not say that what the apostles heard was a wind. It only states that the sound was like that of a wind. In Scripture, wind is a common symbol of the Holy Spirit. …
The sight to see was fire (v. 3). The appearance was that of “tongues.” … What the people saw was something like as of fire. Again, the verse does not say that it was fire, only that it looked like fire, but the apostles felt no burning. Each of the tongues was flame-like in appearance and brightness. … This was an appearance of the Shechinah glory, the visible manifestation of God’s presence. The result was that it sat upon each one of them; in other words, a tongue that looked like fire rested on each apostle.
Finally, the miracle to experience was that of the gift of tongues, meaning the speaking in other languages (v. 4). Tongues is what the fire looked like, and the miracle was that the apostles also spoke in other tongues. The cause was that they were all filled with the Holy Spirit. … The word “tongues” means that the apostles began to speak in a language other than their own native tongue. It was a real, known, spoken language with all the rules of grammar, diction, and syntax common to all languages. It was not merely the rapid repetition of three or four syllables that is passed off as tongues today. The source of this gift of languages was the Holy Spirit: “as the Spirit gave them utterance.” In other words, the Holy Spirit provided the gift of tongues or languages, which is one of His spiritual gifts.
Apparently, after the experience in the upper room, the apostles went out into the public area and continued speaking in the very languages of the Jews who had come to Jerusalem from different countries to celebrate Shavuot. This subsequent event may have taken place in the Temple compound, as the great multitude mentioned in Acts 2:41 could not have fit into the upper room. However, this chapter in Acts does not specify where either event occurred.
Excerpt of Dr. Fruchtenbaum‘s commentary on Acts.