Q. What do the Scriptures say About Speaking in Tongues?
A. Please allow me to share with you the following cautions found in the word of God:
(1) 1 Corinthians 12:1 Now concerning spiritual [gifts], brethren, I would not have you ignorant.
(2) 1 Corinthians 12:8-10 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
(These verses tell us that man does not determine which gifts you will get but that it is by the Spirit they are given. Severally as He wills.)
(3) 1 Corinthians 12:17-18 If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him.
1 Corinthians 12:28-30 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?
(4) 1 Corinthians 12:31 But covet earnestly the best gifts:
1 Corinthians 14:5 I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.
(Here we find that prophesying is greater than speaking in tongues unless what is said is understood or interpreted. Why must it be understood?)
(5) 1 Corinthians 14:8-9 For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air.
1 Corinthians 14:19 Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue
(It is important to know that the word tongue is defined in both Greek and English as “Language” and that the word language is defined as “discourse” which is defined as: preach, sermon, proclaim. The gift of tongues was given for the purpose of spreading the Gospel which needed to be understood.)
(6) Acts 2:3-11 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. 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 marvelled, 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.
False teachers will sometimes skip the following text as a last resort, but please note the last three words of the text.
(7) Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.
In closing, I would simply like to say:
1 Corinthians 4:33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.
Luke 11:9 And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
2 Timothy 2:15 Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.
John 8:32 And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.
[dropcap2]Q[/dropcap2]What about the Unknown Tongues at Cornelius’ House?
[dropcap2]A[/dropcap2]The question is asked, “Didn’t Cornelius’ household speak in unknown tongues?” Once again, the answer is a very emphatic, “No.” Reason number one is there is no such thing as “unknown” tongues. Reason number two is the Bible plainly tells us what actually happened there. Acts 10:43-47 states, “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter, “Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?”
The Message Bible clarifies the term, “as well as we,” by translating it as, “They’ve received the Holy Spirit exactly as we did.” Peter proclaimed Cornelius’ household received the Holy Spirit the same way the disciples received Him. We’ve established that the disciples did not speak in, “out-of-this-world languages” on the day of Pentecost and all who spoke at Cornelius’ household received the “identical gift” the disciples did. Cornelius and his household received the same gift and they received it the same way. This shows they could not have spoken in an “out-of-this world (babbling) language.”
Peter and the others heard those Gentiles speak with the “gift” of tongues and they understood what they said. They didn’t need an interpreter to translate for them because they were all speaking in Peter’s and the accompanying brothers’ native language. The native language of that band of Italians would have been completely different from Peters. There is no reason to believe the Italians could have previously spoken Peter’s language. What the disciples heard was Cornelius and his household declaring “the wonderful works of God” in the disciples’ own language.
In America, people can go from sea to shining sea and still speak one prominent language. However, in Peter’s setting, they couldn’t expect to hear the same language from town to town, even if the towns were only a few miles apart. There’s also the possibility that Peter did not previously speak Cornelius’ language. God may have given him the “gift” of tongues to preach the gospel to Cornelius’ household. Peter may have preached to them in their language by the “gift” of tongues and when the Holy Spirit fell on them, Cornelius’ household began to declare the wonderful works of God in Peter’s language by using the “gift” of tongues. There was no need for interpreters because they clearly understood what each other was saying.
What About The Tongues at Ephesus?
Acts 19:5-7 (King James Version) When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. And all the men were about twelve.
Paul, at Ephesus, found some religious persons, who looked to Jesus as the Messiah. They had not been led to expect the miraculous powers of the Holy Ghost, nor were they informed that the gospel was especially the ministration of the Spirit. But they spake as ready to welcome the notice of it. Paul shows them that John never desired that those he baptized should rest there, but told them that they should believe on Him who should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. They thankfully accepted the discovery, and were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. The Holy Ghost came upon them and they spake with tongues, and prophesied, just like the apostles and the first Gentile converts did.
The disciples at Ephesus received the Holy Spirit exactly as the Apostles did on the day of Pentecost. On the day of Pentecost, they first spoke in tongues–then they took their tongues into the streets of Jerusalem and used them to “prophesy” preach the gospel to the Jews. The disciples at Ephesus did the exact same thing; they spoke in tongues and then used their tongues and prophesied. This word means to preach, to proclaim and to share God’s message of the gospel.
This is how it happened on Pentecost. This is what took place at Cornelius’ house and this is exactly what happened at Ephesus. The only way the “gift of tongues” is used in the Bible is to preach–prophesy the gospel. There is no other example of tongues being used in any other manner in the Bible.
Pastor Hal Steenson
[dropcap2]Q[/dropcap2]How Did This Error Become So Popular?
[dropcap2]A[/dropcap2]Here are some possibilities.
There are strengths in all of us that can drive us to seek truth, but there are also resident weaknesses that may allow us to be deceived. Then, there is Satan, always waiting in the shadows to try to mix his error with God’s truth. Here are some possible reasons why so many good people are seduced by this “tongues” phenomenon.
Some may need spiritual recognition and spiritual roots. Innate within us is a need to be included with the “herd.” Even a false arena of worship will bring some people to a secure place where they can belong and feel they “have it all together.” There is shared among them the common ground of speaking in an “out-of-this-world” (incoherent sounding) language. However, it is an unscriptural non-language.
They have a desire for spiritual understanding. Most people have an empty God-space inside. These Christians really want to know Him and to be spiritually minded. They’re told the best way to satisfy their emptiness is by receiving the gift of tongues. Deception causes them to think this is the ultimate, self-actualization time of their life.
Many of these people are responding to an inability to acclimate to their environment. They are sometimes lonely and limited in their personal and social activities. They’re fearful of a dangerous society they encounter on a daily basis. By obtaining this unchallenged, charisma tongue, they can disconnect from society and reconnect with what they think is the supernatural.
Many are looking for instant spiritual gratification. Since this group considers “tongues” a sign of spiritual maturity, those who seek external affirmation may seek this environment to appear spiritually functional. They feel an advantage by not having to study for themselves. They think “tongues” has to be scriptural because so many Christians embrace it.
They have a craving for spiritual expression. Many are seeking ways to express themselves spiritually because they don’t feel they’re a part of their local church. Speaking in false “unknown tongues” makes it easier for them to fit in because it doesn’t require a deep relationship with God or much knowledge of Scripture. They’re not accountable or answerable to anyone because what they’re saying can’t be understood or judged. It doesn’t have to be correct, scriptural or even from God because no one in his or her crowd will know the difference.
They have a desire for revelation. Through the years, it has been said by some that no one is able to understand the Bible unless they’re “baptized in the Holy Spirit and speak in tongues.” Their statement to confirm someone is Spirit-filled is, “tongues are the initial, physical, supernatural evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.” This is a sign to many that God has devised a “shortcut” to the revelation of His Word. What they end up with is a lot of emotionalism and a false sense of having a personal “unknown tongue” hot line of prayer straight to the throne of God.
Pastor Hal Steenson
[dropcap2]Q[/dropcap2]What About 1 Corinthians 14:27
[dropcap2]A[/dropcap2]1 Corinthians 14:27 KJV If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret.
Nowhere in God’s Word does the gift of tongues have or need an interpreter or interpretation. Therefore, if the real gift of tongues doesn’t need an interpreter or an interpretation, what was the apostle telling the Corinthian church to interpret? It could not have been the gift of tongues and it would not have been false tongues because Paul would have never told them to do that. The only tongue left is the natural tongue.
Paul was saying, if you stand up in the congregation and speak in Greek and majority of the people speak Aramaic, there had better be someone there who can speak Greek and translate it for those who speak Aramaic.
The key to solving this error is the profound truth that “The real gift of tongues never needs an interpreter or an interpretation because the speaker is always speaking in the hearer’s language.”
I speak English. If someone spoke to me in English, why would I need someone to interrupt what they said to me?
On the day of Pentecost, the Word of God does not say the disciples spoke in an unknown tongues, it plainly states that they spokes in the dialect of the Jews present. It says the Jews heard them declare the wondrous works of God. NO INTERPRETER.
At Cornelius’ house, the Bible does not say that Cornelius spoke in an unknown tongue. It says that Peter and his brethren heard them proclaim the mighty works of God. NO INTERPRETER
On the road to Ephesus, Paul heard the twelve disciples speak in tongues he understood and prophesy “preach – good news” of God in a language he understood. NO INTERPRETER
The 14th chapter of One Corinthians is not talking about the gifts of tongues; it is talking about their natural cultural languages and not conducting their services decently and in order.
In the 12th, 13th and 14th chapters on one Corinthians Paul is obviously trying to correct blatant error in the Corinthian church. Nonetheless, the modern day Pentecostal and Charismatic movement has embraced these three chapters as a pattern for worship instead of a blueprint to correct worship.
Pastor Hal Steenson