April 11, 2021

Are Tongues Still Around Today?

The tough question that was unavoidable in the last post, but must be addressed was are tongues and other “sign” gifts still around today?  If they are, are they being used properly?

Mrs. Meg Logan attempted to answer this question from her point of view and with Scripture and did a pretty thorough job; however, as you expect, I disagree.  In the last post I laid out the basic framework of what I believe, and I hope to go further in this post.

Of the gifts that God blessed the early church with, there were many that were not able to be physically witnessed– did not have the powerful demonstrable quality– that tongues, healing and prophesy did.  When the Apostles and the rest that were gathered in the Upper room on Pentecost came down and Peter gave the first message, the miracle was so amazing that the people in attendance murmured amongst themselves that the disciples must be drunk.  How could they hear the message in their own mother tongues?

So, let’s look at tongues and its uses in the New Testament and see what we find.

The first reference to tongues in the New Testament is from Acts 2.  The setting of the passage and its events I’ve already detailed.  If you were to examine the Greek word here for tongues, you would find that “The word glossa (Acts 2:4, 11) and the word dialekto (Acts 2:8) both refer to legitimate languages as revealed by the text and the context. The believers who spoke in other tongues were not babbling unintelligible gibberish; they were miraculously glorifying God in a language other than their own.” (Source: www.fundamentalbiblechurch.org)  This is obvious from the context.

Why did this happen?  Mark 16:20 states a specific purpose for sign gifts– a confirmation of the word which they were preaching.  Simply put, God was placing His stamp of approval on His Apostles, showing that they were giving the true message by allowing them to perform miracles that He performed.  He did this before in the Gospel account when they were sent out two by two.  It was an identification with Jesus and His ministry.

Looking right above that verse, however, we see more interesting things that make us wonder about tongues and its place in the modern church.  Notice Mark 16:17-18:

And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;

They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

Again, this is what Jesus told the people to expect of His followers right before He left.  Since tongues is one of these “sign gifts”– gifts that were to prove that the disciples were Jesus representatives on Earth, should we also be taking up serpents, drinking poisons, etc.?  Where are those that truly lay hands on the sick and they recover?  Surely if you believe that one is still around and should be practiced, all should be in order to be consistent?

Tongues were for a sign to the unbeliever, not to the believer, as Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14:22.  Certainly they had a purpose, but Paul says that their purpose (at least primary purpose) was as a sign to unbelievers.  The only case that we have recorded that it was a sign to believers was in Acts 10 where Cornelius has tongues come upon him (before water baptism, I would add) to prove to Peter that the Holy Spirit had saved him.  This is still consistent with the sign gift.

What about “Speaking of the tongues of men and of angels” or the fact that Paul said that we could pray in tongues?  If you’ve read other books by Paul, he introduces hyperbole in passages and it’s not a stretch to believe he is using it in his reference to speaking in an angelic tongue.  A more appropriate reading could be “Even if I spoke in the tongues of angels and had not love…”

Does 1 Corinthians 14 prove that tongues are not for today?  I take this from www.learnthebible.org:

1Corinthians 14 is proof that:

1.  Tongues were already unimportant in the service of Christ by about 60AD.

2.  The most carnal church Paul wrote to (see 1Corinthians 3:1-4) was caught up in tongues-speaking and gave way too much emphasis to it.

3.  No speaking of tongues should be done unless the tongues are interpreted (v.27-28).

4.  No more than three should ever speak in tongues in a church service (v.27).

5.  Only one should ever speak in tongues a one time (v.27).  That’s what “by course” means–in order, one after the other.

6.  Those who truly speak in Spirit-given tongues can speak if they want or refrain from speaking if they want (v.32).  God-given tongues is not some uncontrollable urge that comes over someone.  It is a gift that they can use when they want just like preaching.

7.  Women are not to speak in tongues in a church service (v.34).

8.   Truly spiritual people will agree that these restrictions are necessary (v.37).

9.    Paul clearly told the Corinthians that tongues were going to “cease” (13:8).  When would they cease?  Tongues were a form of divine revelation; thus, the importance of interpretation (14:5).  They would cease when God’s perfect revelation was completed—that which is in part is replaced by that which is perfect (13:10).  God’s perfect revelation is found in His completed Bible and no new revelation is needed (Revelation 22:18).

You see, Paul was kindly regulating tongues to a minority role in the church at Corinth so that it could die out gracefully when it was no longer needed.  It was no longer needed when the New Testament was completed.

I would like to add that it seems to me hard to try to base a consistent doctrine on what a church was doing that was wrong.  We know from the Scripture that the Corinthian church was full of sin: fornication, abuse of Christian Liberty, abuse of tongues, pride… the list goes on.  So for us to discuss what a church was doing that was wrong and Paul’s attempt to reign in the chaos, introduce order, and have them glorify God shows me that perhaps the tendency of churches that have these elements in their service may also tend toward these same vices.

However, I do not believe that the Biblical use of tongues is present in the modern Pentecostal movement.  From what I’ve studied, how can one be edified by something he hasn’t heard– and yet Paul said that tongues only edify the believer?  How come Paul claims it is a sign gift, and yet where we’re discussing its use is primarily (only?) inside a church building?  If it’s present, why isn’t it being used as it was intentioned– to bring unbelievers to Christ?  Why do you believe it’s still around?  Should we still be doing the other signs?  Are the faith healers, snake handlers, etc. right?

(Visited 28 times, 1 visits today)

21 thoughts on “Are Tongues Still Around Today?

  1. Ah, I am so grateful to you for giving me something to write abotu which I have not covered previously, and which I had not done much research on prior to this converstation. Oh I can’t wait to write another post to address all of these issues, alas, my site is down temporarily, apperhently there was a switerroo last night from one server to another, and my site crashed. Today we are very busy, but I am hoping to get back to this topic by Monday.

    Peace in the Process,
    Mrs Meg Logan

  2. Really, where do “signs and wonders” fit in nowadays? As we’ve said, Pentacostals believe there are spiritual gifts that are “signs” of Christianity, but think of the verse that says “we are justified by faith not by sight”…

    Another thought on tongues, did any of the famous preachers speak in tongues/do any of them speak in tongues now? I’ve heard that Mormons speak in tongues. That doesn’t recommend it to me.

    Regarding #7, If women stopped speaking in tongues at church, would anyone else be speaking in tongues? Honestly, I haven’t been around tongues, but the people I know IRL who say they “speak” in tongues, are all women.

    When we talked in the “Where’s Awana Going?” post about tongues, I mentioned my dad (Greek and Hebrew scholar) sharing his reason that “the perfect” referred to the “canon of scripture” based on the gender of the Hebrew used in the original text. “Perfect” in the original text, was “neuter” gender. If it had been referring to Christ, it would have been masculine gender. I’m mentioning this again, because Meg missed my comment, and after I referred to it, she asked me to post it again. The neuter, implies a thing, not a person.

    If you argue that prophesy is still happening, are you saying that the Bible is incomplete? Why would we need any further “word” from God than what’s in the Bible? Many “groups” get into trouble when they add to God’s words, or predict future events. This is where the cults abound. God said Himself that His word is sufficient. But if His prophecy is still being revealed, then obviously, His word is not sufficient.

    Just a few more thoughts, since we’re exploring this further!

  3. I believe (in my humbliness, forgive me, if i am wrong), that much of the confusion origins from the very word “prophesy”.
    I think that the meaning of the word when PAul was writing about it was “to preach the Gospel”, and not to tell new revelations.
    Correct me if I am wrong.

  4. Mary, I believe from the context of this passage that the perfect refers to that time when we will know fully, and see face to face. As such, neuter gender would be fine – it is the end of the age, when we are with Christ in glory.

    The problem with any other reading of this passage is that it suggests we now know fully and see face to face. I for one do not think I see any more clearly than the apostle, even though I have a completed Bible (much of the NT written by Paul) in front of me.

    Also, to say that we have everything we need for life and godliness is not the same as saying we have perfect knowledge. When I cook toast in the morning (or ignite it more likely!) I know that I have to place bread under the grill and light the flame with the ignition. I then watch it until it turns charcoal brown and remove it seconds before it
    bursts into flames.

    This is all the knowledge I need to make toast. My knowledge is not perfect – I do not need to know about the voltage in the ignition required to produce a spark, nor do I have to understand the physics of the combustion of gases in the flame. I do not even need to know the temperature of the grill. My knowledge of the process of making toast is not perfect; nevertheless it is sufficient – it is everything I need.

    Thus our knowledge of God (sharpened by our knowledge of scripture, I grant you) is sufficient for all our needs, but it is not the face to face intimate knowledge of which Paul speaks.


  5. Spiritual gifts have definitely been abused. As Paul clearly outlines, the gifts are for the edification of the church and not for lawlessness. Speaking in tongues for the sake of hearing yourself speak, or stating that you “do not have control”, does not line up with scripture. As you clearly lined out in your passages, MinTheGap, tongues is something you can choose to use or not to use, just like you can choose to be obedient or not be obedient. Anyone who suggests anything else is mislead. How can you say that God allows you to make the choice to accept Him or not, yet forces obedience in other circumstances (e.g. “making” you speak in tongues)? It just doesn’t add up.

    Does this mean that these gifts no longer exist? I don’t think so. I think it%u2019s just an example of another powerful gift that the devil has found a way to twist to turn people off from it. If he can keep us sidetracked either stating the gift doesn’t exist, or using it to twiddle our thumbs no real work can be done. Then what does that lovely long section in 1 Corinthians 13 have to talk about?

    It is very simple. 1 Corinthians 13 when talking about charity or love, the Greek word used is “agape”. This word is translated as God’s perfect love. It%u2019s not the love from man to man (phillios), or romantic love (eros), it is “God type love”. It is eternal and will not pass away. At some point a prophesy is met and it ceases. When you stop moving your mouth, tongues does not exist until you use it again. Neither prophesies or tongues have any long lasting substance like God’s perfect agape love. It is a temporal thing verses an eternal thing. When you see Christ these little pieces are not going to mater, what is going to mater is if you have agape love.

    What makes me say this? Well, to read this passage in context, let%u2019s continue on to chapter 14. He then states, okay, so assuming you have the love thing down the next thing you should desire is prophecy. He’s basically giving a list of the order you should pursue spiritual gifts. (If he was just stating how important love was and prophesying that prophesy and tongues would go away, why bother with the order) Why did he give this list? By the detail listed in that chapter it appears Corinth had many of the issues of some churches today. They were seeking tongues before God’s perfect love, and other “more useful gifts”. Paul’s simply coming in and stating, “No you have this all wrong, you should seek these first, and even if you have that gift, it should be in order. Don’t you understand it has a purpose other than pointless babble and God desires you to be in order?” If Paul was alive today he’d write similar letters to many churches. Many churches are truly out of order. This, however, says nothing about the gifts only being for the early church.

    Without something clearly stated, I do not understand how it could just be for the early church, since God is not a respecter of persons (Acts 10:34-43) and prophesy in the future is clearly referenced in Acts (2:17-18).

    Why then don’t we see it all around us? First of all, there have been reports of healings and prophecies. While certainly there are many fake healings and false prophets (this is why the bible gives guidelines for determining a true prophet), there are some genuine ones that I am aware of. I am sure that there are more that have remained unknown to me. Just because I have not heard them does not mean that they have not had a significant impact on bringing people to the kingdom.

    Does this mean we can be bitten by poisonous snakes and drink poison? I know of at least one story of a missionary that was bitten by a very poisonous snake and was left unharmed to preach the gospel. The whole village got saved. So, yes, I think that still applies. Does this mean that I should go out and get bitten by a snake on purpose? um… no… The bible clearly says not to test God in such things. Should I be bitten by a poisonous snake while preaching the gospel I am confident that I would be left unharmed.

  6. DLOGAN, you make some good points. There are varities of speaking in tongues in the charasmatic movement. Some say that you should desire to speak in tongues– something I find nowhere in Scripture. Some say that unless you speak in tongues you are not saved– that’s also not in the Scripture. What is in the Scripture was that it was to be a sign, but I still struggle with the question of audience.

    Every instance of tongues that we find the New Testment had a Jewish audience. We know that Christ talked about the Jews needing a sign, and indeed, the Joel passage that was fulfilled by the speaking in tongues was a prophecy directed at the Jewish people. We do not find, for example, an instance where Paul went into a church at Asia Minor and spoke in tongues that people there understood. I think this is significant.

    How does not believing in tongues create people that aren’t able to preach the Gospel? You imply that Statn is using the tongues battle to cause us not to be effective ministers of the Gospel. From what I understand, I’m not supposed to be out there saying “Accept Christ so you too can speak in an unintelligible language!” 🙂

    I disagree on agape love’s definition– though it is the type of love God has for us, it is the word for unconditional love (hence the KJV translation charity). And as far as the 1 Corinthians 13 passage in regards to verses 8 through the end, I find it interesting that of all the things that he says will cease (tongues, prophecy, knowledge) the only one directly linked with Christ’s return in verse 12 is knowledge.

    Matthew Henry believes that these verses imply the time when there will be one language at the return of the Lord– unrelated to the spiritual gifts. Although this is interesting it’s hard to agree with this in context. Jameson, Faucett and Brown suggest what I believe more plausible– that the completed scripture caused the tongues and sign gifts to wane and lose importance as the canon had been completed and there was no need for these gifts. In either case, there are reasonable explanations for believing that this passage meant that tongues would no longer be present before Christ’s return.

    As for healings, I’m still waiting for the person to travel through the Hospital and heal people at will in the name of the Lord and see people come to Christ.

    And I want to remind everyone that we’re still talking about an admonition to the church at Corinth that was doing things wrong and Paul felt he had to admonish and correct. They were obviously going overboard! Which fits in well with the idea that Paul wanted them to be cultivating other gifts since tongues and prophecy would cease.

  7. just a brief comment. Jesus didn’t go to all the sick people and heal every one of them either! He healed those who believed he could! They were healed by their faith “by your faith ye are healed, get up and walk” etc…


  8. First of all, certainly there would be a faith component, but if a man of God had the gift of healing, certainly people would start to believe that that person could heal– word would get out, and more would believe, and it would be a great opportunity to talk about the Lord. But if you look at the Biblical instances of healing, you will see that they may not be as specific as the instance that you quoted:

    Mat 4:23: And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all manner of sickness and all manner of disease among the people.

    Mat 9:35: And Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, and preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people.

    Luk 9:6: And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing every where.

    Act 10:38: How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him.

    These verses say to me that it was more like Jesus going out and healing all the sick around Him than the more select locations that were used as illustrations. I may be wrong, but judge for yourself what it sounds like.

    Furthermore, if this gift is in use, wouldn’t you think that the people in the churches where this gift was working would believe that God could heal them through that person so that the person’s fame would grow and that every time this person used the gift the person would be healed? I would think the test for prophecy would work well here too. If a person truly had the gift of healing, every person that came to be healed would be healed. If not, then I wouldn’t believe they had the gift.

    After all, you never have an instance where an Apostle, or someone who had the gift, was not able to heal a physical infirmity. In fact, those with the gift of healing were even able to bring back someone from the dead.

    This is just one more reason to believe that these gifts were for that time period: These were the exact same things Christ was doing and it would be natural for His followers to exhibit the same signs– and not necessary for us to have today.

  9. How does not believing in tongues create people that aren’t able to preach the Gospel? You imply that Statan is using the tongues battle to cause us not to be effective ministers of the Gospel. From what I understand, I’m not supposed to be out there saying “Accept Christ so you too can speak in an unintelligible language!”

    I never said they couldn’t preach the gospel, I said they were less effective. Throughout the Bible there are many passages that talk about the importance of unity. Unity even in the hands of the ungodly accomplishes great things (Tower of Babel). Acts starts with all the members being of one accord (Acts 1:14). I can’t find the passage right now, but it is said that one can put a thousand to flight, and two can put 10,000. The effects of people coming together in prayer is exponential.

    Since our battle is not against flesh and blood, but principalities and powers, prayer is extremely important to the effectiveness of ministry. Toungues (not of man) is sometimes described as the “language of angels”, and is used in prayer and supplication. Yet at the same time, prayer is something that is extremely hard to quantify. If you have a regular prayer life I know there are times you have felt more effective than others. There are times where you can feel the shift of things in the spiritual realm. If you could become even the slightest bit more effective with your prayers once in a blue moon, don’t you think it would help you spread the gospel?

    Don’t you think that if tongues was completely useless that it wouldn’t make the list of spiritual gifts even if it was “the least”? Even if you believe that it no longer exists it clearly was viewed as something valuable enough for Paul to list as a gift. If it was valuable then for prayer, I do not understand how it could now be useless.

    On another note, I have yet to hear anyone respond with a different interpretation of Acts 2:17-18 that could say anything besides that people will prophesy “in the last days”. If people will prophesy in the last days, it has not ceased altogether. If it has not ceased altogether than 1 Corinthians 13:8 must be talking in some other context than “prophecy will cease when the bible is canonized”. If prophesy is in some other context in that sentence, then surely that means tongues is in another context. It would make no sense to have a comparison like that and not have them in the same context.

    I am perfectly open to being wrong on this subject. I hold the Truth above any of my opinions, and I recognize that it is very likely I have missed some things on many subjects. However, for this argument to stand as the Truth it must stand up against other sections of the Bible. You can not have statements about future prophesy AND have prophesy be dead. There has to be another meaning for the verse I cited for prophecy to be dead. I can not read Acts 2:17-18 any other way, but perhaps someone can enlighten me.

  10. I don’t believe that you make a good argument, yet, that there is an advantage to praying in tongues. I know that the Holy Spirit prays with a voice that cannot be uttered. I know that Paul stated that he would prefer to pray with understanding rather than with tongues. In fact, if you follow his logic in this passage he says that he “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.” This again says to me that Paul considered this the least of the gifts– not where its current place in pentecostal churches place it.

    Acts 2 was a direct fulfillment of Joel 2 according to Peter. This passage begs the question, when are “the last days”? We use this term a lot to refer to the days before the rapture, or before the end of the world, but what if it’s not then? What if it’s the end of the old covenant?

    Keep in mind the audience and what was coming in AD 70. This would be the end of God’s dealing with the children of Israel until the Tribulation. Peter was saying that “the last days” spoken about in Joel was exactly the time that they were living in, not some long time hence.

    I’m not one to say that this couldn’t have a double fulfillment, but I don’t see in charasmatic churches some kind of revival as much as people telling others that they must speak in tongues, that the evidence of their salvation is speaking in tongues, etc. Certainly, even if you believe that the gift is still around, I doubt that it’s authentic tongues that we are seeing today.

  11. LOL, yet the phrase before that states “I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all”. If it was completely pointless, why would he thank God that he speakes in tongues more than everybody else?

    In regards to my argument to the importance of tongues, I agree its weak. There is not a lot said on what tongues does, just talk about it being a gift and being the “language of angels”. With the amount of scripture dedicated to tongues, I can not imagine that it is some pointless thing given from God, however I can’t say anything more than its used in prayer and have it based on scripture. I can tell you of my personal experience speaking in tongues and the impact that it has had, but I put little weight in my experience in comparison with scripture. There are many more times I have heard people “speaking” in tongues with emptyness behind their random ramblings then I have heard someone really speaking in tongues with the spiritual substance behind their words. Also, I do not pretend to be able to speak in tongues at will like many charismatic churches suggest, but only at His will. Likewise, I could say similiar things about prophecy.

    Also, on the “last days”, it is certainly true that most of the disciples thought that Jesus would be coming back before they died. They thought they were in the last days. However, that passage states “And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh”. While Peter may have been mislead on when the last days were, God was not. At the point this scripture comes to place is in Acts. Jesus has died, He has risen. “It is done”. What other last days could God, who knows all, be referring to in Acts? The old covenant was fullfilled.

    I think we definitely agree that regardless of whether tongues is dead or not, churches that put it at the same level as salvation are very misguided, as are churches who suggest that speaking in tongues is not controllable. Prophecy and healing are likewise often misused or misclaimed.

    It is not a surprise to me that we do not see a lot of healings or prophesy in these days. In the old testament God was known to withold these things when the generation was ungodly and not seeking him. Today’s day and age certainly would fall in that category. In addition there are so many false prophets and false claims that it would be difficult to sort through the genuine miracles. Even those that have these gifts can only use them when He chooses, and when they yield their life fully to Him. Quite frankly there are very few people these days who are willing to yield themselves consistantly to His will to be very workable with these miracles.

    As we get closer to the last days, though, I believe we will see more and more true prophecy. The difference between dark and light is going to become even more clear and you will begin to see these gifts florish in the churches again. (Likewise the bible is clear that there will be an increase in false prophets and false miracles).

  12. LOL, yet the phrase before that states %u201CI thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all%u201D. If it was completely pointless, why would he thank God that he speakes in tongues more than everybody else?

    Simply because the Corinthians weren’t using the gift correctly and Paul believed that he was. For what reason, who knows?

    I still disagree that tongues is “the language of angels” only. In fact, I believe the support for this thought comes from from Paul’s comment about “If I were to speak in the tongues of men and of angels and have not love…” but even in this passage Paul uses both. In every instance where we see tongues in action, it’s in a foreign language to the speaker. I believe Paul’s making hyperbole here “If I spoke in tongues of men, yea, if I spoke in the tongue of angels! and had not love…” that kind of thing.

    It would be instructive to look at how many times tongues is mentioned in the New Testament and what it is and how it is being used. I think you’d find that there aren’t as many references as you imply and that the majority of the cases where tongues are actually recorded (in Acts) you will see my foreign language argument. The very first time the gift of tongues is used it’s foreign language that the speaker didn’t know and was understood by people that were there to be their mother tongue. THIS instance was when Peter said that what was happening was a fulfillment of Joel and the last days. We do not get that for any other instance.

    I think you may hit on something interesting with the Acts comment about Peter being mistaken. That would be hard for me to except. Granted, the things that they did in Acts were not necessarily all godly– they were just starting out. However, I find it very hard to believe that the Holy Spirit would have empowered Peter on Pentecost through tongues to state that what was happening was the fulfillment of Joel and have it not be so.

    I agree with you that there are many that have their priorities askew and are in the wrong– either faking it or using it incorrectly (again, if it is around at all).

    I guess, if we’re looking at experience, that I don’t know why the mighty men of God of the Great Awakening, and the Revivals of years gone by do not have record of tongues and miracles. Where is Spurgeon, Moody, Sunday, Tozer, etc., men of God and why aren’t they shown speaking in tongues, prophesying and healing? Why couldn’t Paul heal Timothy of whatever it was that was ailing him? There are certain things that don’t make sense if the gifts are still to be in operation like they once were.

  13. In my opinion I would answer the question with a simple answer, “No”. (Tongues do not exist in our day and age)

    On another note my pastor recently spoke about tongues in the Sunday service. One of his reasons for stating that it was no longer used I did not agree with. He said that scientist analized what was spoken and it did not match any know human language. He went on to say that it was gibberish.

    While I agree that to our human ears it might sound like gibberish you cannot validate or prove false something immaterial with something material. Humans are not infinite and are still learning about this world we live in. Therefore it is impossible for a human scientist to prove or disprove the gibberish from tongues with human means. There is no computer or test that can be run on it since its source is immaterial.

    If someone wants to validate or invalidate the current use of tongues or deem it as “gibberish” then they would need to base that on an immaterial source – The Bible.

  14. Simply because the Corinthians weren’t using the gift correctly and Paul believed that he was. For what reason, who knows?

    I think Paul believed that tongues were a language of prayer, and that he who speaks in a tongue speaks only to God (prayer through the agency of the Holy Spirit). This is why he tells the Corinthians that prayer in tongues must be interpreted, so that others may say the amen and agree with that prayer. This is why he speaks of praying with his spirit and also praying with his mind.

    If we accept this point, then Paul is actually saying “I thank God that I pray more than you do”!

    But why would he say something like that?

    It is clear that the Corinthian error was pride and arrogance. They were “puffed up”. They broke into parties, some following Paul, some following Apollos and others saying (perhaps), “we are above all this. We just follow Christ”. This pride led to dissension and disunity, and to puffed up boastful people doing unchristian things (be it approval of immorality, or shaouting away in unknown tongues in a church service so that noone couild understand what was going on, and probably could not hear – as they seemed to be doing so all at once).

    It is hard to imagine the disorder of the Corinthian church service, without having been there – but Paul felt the need to reign in this excess. He has had a report of what is going on, and he writes to the Corinthians. When he comes to this excess he writes (literally):

    “Now concerning spirituals, I would not have you ignorant…”

    I think Paul is saying “now concerning those of you who think yourself so spiritual, as you shout out in tongues in the Church service in your pride”. He goes on to speak of the gifts of the Spirit, but it is a valid interpretation to say that this is what Paul was saying in 1 Cor 12:1 (the NIV footnotes it for instance).

    So Paul seems to be saying that you proud tongues prayers are disrupting the Church service, as you show off your spiritual gifts – but I thank God that I pray in tongues more than any of you. Paul is saying that they are not as spiritual as they think, and that boasting before men is disorderly, disruptive and not glorifying to God.

  15. Stephen, I think you’re on the right track, but I still disagree as to Paul believing tongues was only for prayer. Why would Paul write that tongues were for the unbeliever rather than for the believer if tongues were just to be used in prayers? And if it was for the unbeliever, of what benefit is it to those people if it’s just someone babbling?

    As I’m typing this, I think that Acts 2 is interesting. Could it be that, depending on the hearer, tongues sounds different? Those that were there on Pentecost heard Peter speaking to everyone in their own tongue. Yet the people were also muttering about being drunk. Obviously some people either didn’t hear their own language or thought that the people sounded drunk. What should we make of this?

  16. Why would Paul write that tongues were for the unbeliever rather than for the believer if tongues were just to be used in prayers?

    I cover this point in this article:


    In short, the unbelievers in question are the unbelieving Jews, when the sight of people praying and praising God in tongues, just as at Pentecost, is a sign that God’s Spirit being poured out on all flesh meanss exactly that. It is for the gentiles too.

    But the nature of tongues remains the same – prayer and praise to God following the unspeakable joy of the coming of the Holy Spirit on new believers

    Paul then shifts point of view, and from the gentile point of view says that tongues are for believers, and prophecy for unbelievers. Because tongues is prayer and praise, spoken to God. Prophecy is… well, prophecy.

    I think you are on to something in the Acts 2 account. Some people have suggested there was a gift of interpretation of tongues too at this event, so that some people understood the tongues, and others did not.

    On the other hand, those who thought the believers to be drunk might simply not have spoken those languages.

    But only in Acts 2 was tongues understood by people, so it is quite clear there was no expectation of understanding the tongue, even though it might have been possible to do so.


  17. I guess, if we’re looking at experience, that I don’t know why the mighty men of God of the Great Awakening, and the Revivals of years gone by do not have record of tongues and miracles. Where is Spurgeon, Moody, Sunday, Tozer, etc., men of God and why aren’t they shown speaking in tongues, prophesying and healing?

    This is a good point, and one I would happily quote to anyone who says that tongues speaking is essential to the normal Christian life. However, There are of course notable exceptions: Stephen Jefferies for instance, who (according to D. Martyn Lloyd Jones) did more to spread the gospel in the 1930s then any other man in the church of that day.

    Paul Y Cho would be another, David Wilkerson another again.


  18. There’s a lot wrong with the Charismatic movement. Too much to be named in this post. The issue here, tongues is not the big problem with Pentecostals/Charismatics. Look at this article by John MacArthur, below, for a good discussion of what’s wrong with this movement . It is really not founded in Scripture at all. It is based on experience, excitement, and a good, prosperous life. I’m not so sure many people in this movement aren’t saved. You could probably go 50-50. Then again, what seems to be an even bigger problem is the faith healers, the tele-evangelists. Rod Parsley, Benny Hinn, Joyce Meyer, Joel Osteen are all members of this movement and all are pilfering the Word of God, promising health and wealth, promising healings, and preaching that God is man-centered. That is a sad distortion of the gospel. Jesus died solely for me? How unfortunate that people are taught that. Jesus died so he would be glorified and EVERYTHING would be reconciled to him (Col 1:19).


  19. MiN said,
    “Some say that you should desire to speak in tongues– something I find nowhere in Scripture. ”

    Paul said,
    “I would like every one of you to speak in tongues,” (1 Cor 14.5a)

    What’s the basis for believing this gift is gone?

    1 Cor 13:8-12 makes it pretty clear that, yes, when Jesus comes back we will have no need for these things (knowledge, even), but He hasn’t come back yet.

    You can dig into the when & why of earlier reports of tongues, but in the end, what is the Biblical basis for your assumption that half the church has something seriously wrong with them? ( for I see no other explanation from your side on this topic… )

    (delurking here. thanks for taking the time to blog :} )


  20. James, thanks for the input. Yes, there is a lot that is in the Charismatic movement that is focused on “me”– my feelings, my experiences, my power, etc. So much so that people take advantage of those that do not research true faith and get caught up in feelings.

    Bonnie, thanks for delurking! Take a look at your verse in context:

    1. Follow after charity, and desire spiritual [gifts], but rather that ye may prophesy.
    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.
    3. But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men [to] edification, and exhortation, and comfort.
    4. He that speaketh in an [unknown] tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.
    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.

    In context Paul starts out this passage saying that he wishes that all would prophesy– or preach. He then proceeds to say that tongues is of little value to anyone other than yourself. Then the part that you quoted, but missed the rest– Paul wished that everyone could speak in tongues, but he wished that they would prophesy more.

    So, if I were to ask myself what Paul would really want us striving to have, it would not be tongues, it would be prophesy. In fact, in the context of the time period, Corinth had a lot of tongues speakers that were doing nothing but either boasting in their ability or feeding themselves. Paul was saying that gifts are best used in service to others.

    So, I guess my statement doesn’t change, but needs to be clarified. I don’t believe anywhere we are told to strive after speaking in tongues. Paul does wish that the readers all have it (which proves that not everyone that is a believer has to speak in tongues), but he states that it is better to strive after being able to preach/prophesy.

    Personally, I’m more concerned with the whole philosophy that you have to speak in tongues in order to prove that you’re saved, and that you should be striving to speak in tongues than I am whether the gift exists today. Can God use tongues? Certainly. Does He? And if so, for what purpose?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

CommentLuv badge