Speaking in Tongues

 

The first occurrence of speaking in tongues occurred on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2:1-4. The apostles went out and shared the gospel with the crowds, speaking to them in their own languages: “We hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!” (Acts 2:11). The Greek word translated tongues literally means “languages.” Therefore, the gift of tongues is speaking in a language a person does not know in order to minister to someone who does speak that language. In 1 Corinthians chapters 12–14, Paul discusses miraculous gifts, saying, “Now, brothers, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction?” (1 Corinthians 14:6). According to the apostle Paul, and in agreement with the tongues described in Acts, speaking in tongues is valuable to the one hearing God’s message in his or her own language, but it is useless to everyone else unless it is interpreted/translated.

 

A person with the gift of interpreting tongues (1 Corinthians 12:30) could understand what a tongues-speaker was saying even though he did not know the language that was being spoken. The tongues interpreter would then communicate the message of the tongues speaker to everyone else, so all could understand. “Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret.” 1 Corinthians 14:13. Paul’s conclusion regarding tongues that were not interpreted is powerful: “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.” 1 Corinthians 14:19

 

“Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; Beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.” 1 Corinthians 13:6-10

There are those that use 1 Corinthians 14:8 to suggest speaking in tongues Is not for us today, nor is it even available by the Holy Spirit on the basis of this scripture. But that would take the context of this scripture completely out of context. The proper interpretation is when Jesus returns (“that which is perfect is come” - referring to the 2nd Advent of Christ) there would be no need for this or any other gift of the Spirit as mankind will have transitioned from having faith to having no more faith or need for such as man will now know firsthand all the things his faith informed. Man will have been in Heaven, seen Jesus physically, seen Heaven and the Host of it. Man will have a raptured body and the tools of our faith will have been replaced with actual knowledge and experience.

 

It’s important to note, some point to a difference in the tense of the Greek verbs referring to prophecy and knowledge “ceasing” and that of tongues “being ceased” as evidence for tongues ceasing before the arrival of the “perfect.” Some also point to passages such as Isaiah 28:11 and Joel 2:28-29 as evidence that speaking in tongues was a sign of God's oncoming judgment. 1 Corinthians 14:22 describes tongues as a “sign to unbelievers.” According to this argument, the gift of tongues was a warning to the Jews that God was going to judge Israel for rejecting Jesus the Christ as Messiah. Therefore, when God did in fact judge Israel (with the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans in A.D. 70), the gift of tongues would no longer serve its intended purpose. While this view is possible, the primary purpose of tongues being fulfilled does not necessarily demand its cessation. Scripture does not conclusively assert that the gift of speaking in tongues has ceased.

 

At the same time, if the gift of speaking in tongues were active in the church today, it would be performed in agreement with Scripture. It would be a real and intelligible language (1 Corinthians 14:10). It would be for the purpose of communicating God's Word with a person of another language (Acts 2:6-12). It would be in agreement with the command God gave through the apostle Paul, “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. But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.” 1 Corinthians 14:27-28. It would also be in accordance with 1 Corinthians 14:33, “For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.”

 

God most definitely can give a person the gift of speaking in tongues to enable him or her to communicate with a person who speaks another language, or to speak Him in a manner that the Holy Spirit prayers to the Father directly to edify the speaking person and to pray the perfect prayer to God for the speaker about their condition or circumstance, or to pray for those around the world who the Spirit determines needs intercession, which is among the most common application of the gift. The Holy Spirit is sovereign in the dispersion of the spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:11). Part of the evidence that this gift continues are the millions of people around the world who continue to operate in this gift. 

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