Speaking in Tongues


The special ability given through the holy spirit to some of the disciples in the early congregation that enabled them to preach or otherwise glorify God in a tongue or tongues other than their own native tongue. Where the language was not understood by the con­gregation, the gift of interpretation might be given. Limited to the early congregation, it was a sign to foreign unbelievers; and, like all other special gifts of the holy spirit, was administered by Jesus Christ through the twelve apostles. At the apostles’ death it was impossible to pass this special gift on to others, and therefore eventually it ceased.

Manifestation of Active Force as a Special Gift, the Eighth in Rating

1 Corinthians 12:4-11, 28 “Now there are varieties of gifts, but there is the same spirit; … But the manifestation of the spirit is given to each one for a beneficial purpose. For example, to one there is given through the spirit speech of wisdom,… to another different tongues, and to another interpretation of tongues. But all these operations the one and the same spirit performs, making a distribution to each one respec­tively just as it wills. And God has set the respective ones in the congregation, first, apostles; second, prophets; third, teachers; then powerful works; then gifts of healings; helpful services, abilities to direct, different tongues.”

Acts 10:45, 46 “The free gift of the holy spirit was being poured out also upon people of the nations. For they heard them speaking with tongues and glori­fying God.”

Ability Through Spirit Came from Christ Jesus

Acts 2:1-6, 32, 33 “Now while the day of the feast of Pentecost was in progress they were all to­gether at the same place, and suddenly there occurred from heaven a noise just like that of a rushing stiff breeze, and it filled the whole house in which they were sitting. And tongues as if of fire became visible and were distributed to them, and one sat upon each one of them, and they all became filled with holy spirit and started to speak with different tongues, just as the spirit was granting them to make utterance. As it was, there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, rev­erent men, from every nation of those under heaven. … each one heard them speaking in his own language. ‘This Jesus, God res­urrected, of which fact we are all witnesses. Therefore because He was exalted to the right hand of God and received the prom­ised holy spirit from the Father, He has poured out this which you see and hear.’ “

Gifts Administered by Apostles or in Their Presence

Acts 19:1-7 “In the course of events, while Apollos was in Cor­inth, Paul . . . found some dis­ciples, and he said to them: ‘Did you receive holy spirit when you became believers?’ They said to him: ‘Why, we have never heard whether there is a holy spirit.’ . . . And when Paul laid his hands upon them, the holy spirit came upon them, and they began speaking with tongues and proph­esying. All together, there were about twelve men.”

Acts 8:14-18 “When the apos­tles in Jerusalem heard that Sa­maria had accepted the Word of God, they dispatched Peter and John to them, and these went down and prayed for them to get holy spirit. For it had not yet fallen upon any one of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they went to laying their hands upon them, and they be­gan to receive holy spirit. Now when Simon saw that through the laying on of the hands of the apostles the spirit was given, he offered them money.”

Enabled Witnessing of Good News to Those of Another Language

Acts 2:7, 8, 11 “Indeed, they were astonished and began to wonder and say: ‘See here, all these who are speaking are Gal­ileans, are they not? And yet how is it we are listening each one of us to his own language in which we were born ? … we hear them speaking in our tongues about the magnificent things of God.’ “

Not All in Early Congregation Had Gift

1 Corinthians 12:27, 28, 30, 31 “Now you are Christ’s body, and mem­bers individually. And God has set the respective ones in the congregation,… Not all speak in tongues, do they? Not all are translators, are they? But keep striving after the greater gifts.”

Understanding of Witness the Important Thing

1 Corinthians 14:5-9 “Now I would like for all of you to speak in tongues, but I prefer that you prophesy. Indeed, he that proph­esies is greater than he that speaks in tongues, unless, in fact, he translates, that the congrega­tion may receive upbuilding. But at this time, brothers, if I should come speaking to you in tongues, what good would I do you unless I spoke to you either with a rev­elation or with knowledge or with a prophecy or with a teaching? … In the same way also, unless you through the tongue utter speech easily understood, how will it be known what is being spoken? You will, in fact, be speaking into the air.”

If Tongue Was Unknown to Congregation, Translation Was to Be Given Also

1 Corinthians 14:10-19 “It may be that there are so many kinds of speech-sounds in the world, and yet no kind is without meaning. If, then, I do not understand the force of the speech-sound, I shall be a foreigner to the one speak­ing and the one speaking will be a foreigner to me…. There­fore let the one who speaks in a tongue pray that he may trans­late. For if I am praying in a tongue, it is my gift of the spirit that is praying, but my under­standing is unfruitful. What is to be done, then? I will pray with the gift of the spirit, but I will also pray with my under­standing. I will sing praise with the gift of the spirit, but I will also sing praise with my under­standing. Otherwise, if you offer praise with a gift of the spirit, how will the man occupying the seat of the ordinary person say Amen to your giving of thanks, since he does not know what you are saying? True, you give thanks in a right way, but the other man is not being built up. I thank God, I speak in more tongues than all of you do. Nev­ertheless, in a congregation I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I might also instruct others ver­bally, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.”

Intended to Operate as a Sign to Unbelievers

1 Corinthians 14:21-25 “In the Law it is written: ‘ “With the tongues of foreigners and with the lips of strangers I will speak to this people, and yet not even then will they give heed to Me,” says Jehovah.’ Consequently, tongues are for a sign, not to the be­lievers, but to the unbelievers, whereas prophesying is, not for the unbelievers, but for the be­lievers. Therefore, if the whole congregation comes together to one place and they all speak in tongues, but ordinary people or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are mad? But if you are all prophesying and any unbeliever or ordinary person comes in, he is put right by them all, he is closely examined by all, the secrets of his heart become manifest, so that he will pros­trate himself and worship God, declaring, ‘God is really among you.’ “

Was Given to Edify, Not to Exalt the Creature by a Display of Gift

1 Corinthians 14:26-28 “What is to be done, then, brothers? When you come together, one has a psalm, another has a teaching, another has a revelation, another has a tongue, another has an interpretation. Let all things take place for upbuilding. And if someone speaks in a tongue, let it be limited to two or three at the most, and in turns, and let someone translate. But if there be no translator, let him keep silent in the congregation and speak to himself and to God.”

1 Corinthians 13:1 “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels but do not have love, I have become a sounding piece of brass or a clashing cymbal.”

Was to Continue Only as Long as Congregation in Early Development

1 Corinthians 13:8, 11, 12 “Whether there are tongues, they will cease: . . . When I was a babe, I used to speak as a babe, to think as a babe, to reason as a babe; but now that I have become a man, I have done away with the trails of a babe. For at present we see in hazy outline by means of a metal mirror, but then it will be face to face. At present I know partially, but then I shall know accurately even as I am accurately known.”

Passed Away as Gift After Death of Apostles

1 Corinthians 13:8-10 “Love never fails. But whether there are gifts of prophesying, they will be done away with; whether there are tongues, they will cease; . . . For we have partial knowledge and we prophesy partially; but when that which is complete arrives, that which is partial will be done away with.”

For more details or any questions on this topic, don’t hesitate to contact us.

© All Rights Reserved