Speaking in Tongues is it biblical?
Back in the day at Pentecost, in the upper room, a special gift was bestowed on the disciples that they would be able to go out and spread the gospel of Jesus Christ successfully. One of the gifts was the ability of speaking in tongues. Many people today who speak in tongues today seem to think that this gift of tongues was a heavenly language. But this is not true. The gift of tongues bestowed on those in the upper room spoke an earthly language. The gift given to the disciples enabled them to communicate with people from other nations who spoke other languages, how else could they spread the gospel.
Acts 2:6-11 “Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.” And they were all amazed and marveled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?” And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?” Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,” Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,” Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.”
All genuine Christians believe that the gift of tonguesexisted as mentioned in Scripture.
1 Corinthians 12:8-11 “8To one is given in and through the [Holy] Spirit [the power to speak] a message of wisdom, and to another [the power to express] a word of knowledge and understanding according to the same [Holy] Spirit; 9To another [wonder-working] faith by the same [Holy] Spirit, to another the extraordinary powers of healing by the one Spirit; 10To another the working of miracles, to another prophetic insight (the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose); to another the ability to discern and distinguish between [the utterances of true] spirits [and false ones], to another various kinds of [unknown] tongues, to another the ability to interpret [such] tongues. 11All these [gifts, achievements, abilities] are inspired and brought to pass by one and the same [Holy] Spirit, Who apportions to each person individually [exactly] as He chooses”.
And the Bible clearly states that the Corinthians spoke an earthly language (tongues) and God alone understands all languages.
Corinth, was a market visted by many a merchant from Asia, Africa, and Europe, and had a wildly mixed population speaking many a different language. To exercise of the gift of tongues in preaching bought many an unbeliever to salvation.
1Cor 14:2 “For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.”
G1100 γλῶσσα glossa (glows`-sah) n.
1. the tongue
2. (by implication) a language
3. (specially) a language not naturally acquired
1 Corinthians 12:10 mentions the gift of speaking in tongues and also mentions the gift of interpreting tongues. Tongues had to be interpreted!
The ‘gift of tongues’ given to the early church was given as the Holy Spirit willed. Because the Holy Spirit is sovereign. No one has the right to demand that he be given any certain gift or gifts as an evidence of the Holy Spirit’s baptism. Tongues was certainly not evidence of salvation.
The Corinthian church for example did not have the Bible, the gift of tongues was needed in authenticating the Message that was delivered as being DIVINE; these signs followed the proclamation of the truth.
When a person accepts Jesus Christ into their life they instantly receive the Holy Spirit who comes to abide in them – this alone is a gift.
Do not confuse speaking in tongues as being a fruit of the Spirit.
The fruit of the Spirit is evidence of being filled with the Holy Spirit. The fruits of the Spirit are mentioned in:
Galatians 5:22-23; “22But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness,23Gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence). Against such things there is no law [that can bring a charge].”
Paul ended up rebuking the Corinthians over and over again because they did not understand the gospel. Paul scolded the Corinthians for misusing the gift of tongues and speaking gibberish and making a mockery of the OT fulfillment of prophecy by Isaiah. This prophecy came about due to Israel’s disobedience to God.
Isaiah 28:11; “11No, but [the Lord will teach the rebels in a more humiliating way] by men with stammering lips and another tongue will He speak to this people [says Isaiah, and teach them His lessons].”
Paul points out the OT Scripture of Isaiah 28:11 to the Corinthians because they (being Jews) should know the Law well…but they don’t.
1 Corinthians 12:21; “In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord”.
Paul uses the reference to Isaiah to show them how they lack in knowing of OT scripture, therefore they lack even more when it comes to the gospel. Isaiah specifically says that tongues will be used as a tool to preach the word of God to Israel, not the way the Corinthians are using it. It also says that even though they hear the word of God they still will not listen.
The gift of speaking in tongues was used as a sign only to unbelievers:
1 Corinthians 14:22 “22Thus [unknown] tongues are meant for a [supernatural] sign, not for believers but for unbelievers [on the point of believing], while prophecy (inspired preaching and teaching, interpreting the divine will and purpose) is not for unbelievers [on the point of believing] but for believers.”
To use tongues in any other way is unbiblical and when used the gospel was preached and people were saved because they heard the message, the sign of the gift of tongues followed only because the truth had been preached and the unbeliever was then on the point of believing.
Tongues was given by God to certain people when they came into contact with others who did not speak their mother tongue. They suddenly by God’s power could speak the other person’s language and the gospel was preached to them that they may come to know Jesus Christ and be saved. The gift of interpretation was given to another person, in order that anyone nearby could hear that the TRUTH was being preached.
The Corinthians turned tongues speaking into a mockery claiming they spoke ‘heavenly’ languages. They used it for self glory and self gratification and they puffed themselves up making one person seem more spiritual than another. Paul lambastes them and calls the Corinthians spiritually immature and childish in their thinking.
1 Corinthians 14:20 “20Brethren, do not be children [immature] in your thinking; continue to be babes in [matters of] evil, but in your minds be mature [men].”
The Corinthians never grew up. They remained spiritually immature. They failed to study the scriptures just like those churches today who follow the Corinthian blueprint.
Hebrews 5:12-14 “12For even though by this time you ought to be teaching others, you actually need someone to teach you over again the very first principles of God’s Word. You have come to need milk, not solid food. 13For everyone who continues to feed on milk is obviously inexperienced and unskilled in the doctrine of righteousness (of conformity to the divine will in purpose, thought, and action), for he is a mere infant [not able to talk yet]! 14But solid food is for full-grown men, for those whose senses and mental faculties are trained by practice to discriminate and distinguish between what is morally good and noble and what is evil and contrary either to divine or human law.”
The Corinthians thought they were so spiritual, but the Bible says they were manifesting carnality:
1 Corinthians 3:1; “HOWEVER, BRETHREN, I could not talk to you as to spiritual [men], but as to nonspiritual [men of the flesh, in whom the carnal nature predominates], as to mere infants [in the new life] in Christ [unable to talk yet!]”
And there was even gross sin among these spiritual Corinthians:
1 Corinthians 5:1; ” IT IS actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, impurity of a sort that is condemned and does not occur even among the heathen; for a man has [his own] father’s wife.”
The gift of speaking in tongues was a TEMPORARY gift bestowed on people by the Holy Spirit…
- To preach the gospel to all nations
- As a sign to confirm the gospel message preached because people would come to be saved thereafter.
- The fulfillment of OT scripture.
Once the Bible was written the gift of speaking in tongues has ceased and was replaced by love and truth.
1 Corinthians 13:8 “Love never fails [never fades out or becomes obsolete or comes to an end]. As for prophecy (the gift of interpreting the divine will and purpose), it will be fulfilled and pass away; as for tongues, they will be destroyed and cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away [it will lose its value and be superseded by truth].”
Tongues served their purpose, a very useful one, Now with God’s complete revelation in our hands (the Bible), we do not require signs to manifest it as the Word of God. When preached, it authenticates itself.
Truth = The Word of God
Paul says that LOVE never fails and this leads us to the 2 commandments that Jesus spoke about in
Mark 12:30-31 and they are: 30And you shall love the Lord your God out of and with your whole heart and out of and with all your soul (your life) and out of and with all your mind (with your faculty of thought and your moral understanding) and out of and with all your strength. This is the first and principal commandment. 31The second is like it and is this, You shall love your neighbor as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these.“
The gift of prophecy (foreseeing the future) too shall be entirely unnecessary as the Bible contains everything you need to know for yesterday, today and tomorrow. God has a stern warning for those with new words, new revelations that fall outside of scripture:
Revelation 22:18 “if any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book”.
In those days Paul and the other Apostles wrote and prophesied in part – in other words they did not know everything until it was give to them by the Holy Spirit. Paul said in…
1 Corinthians 13:8-11; “9For our knowledge is fragmentary (incomplete and imperfect), and our prophecy (our teaching) is fragmentary (incomplete and imperfect). 10But when the complete and perfect (total) comes, the incomplete and imperfect will vanish away (become antiquated, void, and superseded). 11When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; now that I have become a man, I am done with childish ways and have put them aside.
The perfect = The Word of God
Truth = The Word of God
Jesus Christ = Perfect and the Truth.
The imperfect, the incomplete = speaking in tongues, prophecy (new knowledge) has ceased!
When you are a born again Christian you do away with childish things and study the Word of God ONLY as it is perfect in every way. The Word of God is Jesus Christ in published form.
IMPORTANT! In rare instances God CAN and WILL give the gift of speaking in tongues to people who might come into contact with other people where their is a language barrier. In that instance the gospel will be preached and unbelievers will come to Jesus Christ and be SAVED.
Today speaking in tongues and prophesying is self-induced or demonic. If you speak in tongues I urge you to read your Bible and study the matter urgently and rid yourself of this childish behavior or worse, demonic affliction. See here for help Seeking Salvation or Deliverance?