end times prophecy

Truth About Speaking in Tongues

What is the Bible truth about speaking in tongues? Is ecstatic tongues (Glossolalia) true Bible tongues? We will find out the Bible truth on this page about tongues.

Too many professing Christians ignore plain Bible truth on different issues and speaking in tongues is one of them. Instead of just believing what the majority believes, or believing something because it 'feels' good, we need to find out the plain Bible truth. What does God have to say about this, should be the thinking of all Christians. The other issue with speaking in tongues, as well as many other topics, is that Christians will hold on to one or two unclear verses to base their doctrines on, rather than finding out the WHOLE Bible truth. If we take into count the many verses about tongues in the Bible, then we can come to a clear understanding of God's truth on this subject.

To get a clear Bible understanding about speaking in tongues, we need to start in the Old Testament. Now many Christians ignore the Old Testament on many issues, but many of the teachings in the Old Testament have never changed, and remain the same in the New Testament and today. So what does the Old Testament say about tongues?

Genesis 10:5 ...'By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations.'

Genesis 10:20,31 ...'These are the sons of Ham, after their families, after their tongues, in their countries, and in their nations. These are the sons of Shem, after their families, after their tongues, in their lands, after their nations.'

We can clearly see from these few verses that tongue in the Old Testament simply means language. Now at one stage in earth's history, all people spoke with one language. Now because they were able to do great things together speaking in one language, that when they began to build the tower of Babel, God came down to confuse their language ... Genesis 11:5-7 ...'And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of men builded. And the LORD said, Behold, the people is one, and they have all one language; and this they begin to do: and now nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do. Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.' ... So from then on, they didn't understand one another's SPEECH, or tongue.

Now some time after this event, look what happens in Deuteronomy 28:49 ...'The LORD shall bring a nation against thee from far, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flieth; a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand.' ... The earth is now filled with people and nations with different tongues, and because of the sins of God's people, He decides to bring against them a nation with different TONGUES which they would not understand. In other words, because God scattered the people over the earth from Babel and confused their language, this nation would speak a different language to the Jews which they would not understand. God isn't saying that this other nation would be speaking in ecstatic tongues (gibberish), but basically speaking a different language.

Ezra 4:7 ...'And in the days of Artaxerxes wrote Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of their companions, unto Artaxerxes king of Persia; and the writing of the letter was written in the Syrian tongue, and interpreted in the Syrian tongue.'

Daniel 1:4 ...'Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the king's palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.'

Now how clear are these verses about tongues? We can see that tongue simply means language. Now in Isaiah, we have a prophecy concerning end times ... Isaiah 66:18 ...'For I know their works and their thoughts: it shall come, that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come, and see my glory.' ... God is saying the in the end time He will gather all nations and TONGUES (Languages) to see His glory. So there is no doubt that the Old Testament teaches that tongues simply means languages. Speaking in tongues would mean speaking in languages.

Tongues in the New Testament

So now we delve into the New Testament to see what it teaches about tongues. But remember, we must also use the Old Testament teaching, because it will not have changed.

Mark 16:15-17 ...'And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues.'

Have a good think about these verses. Jesus is sending His disciples out into the world to preach the gospel. Now remember that the world is populated with peoples and nations speaking different languages (tongues). So what gift would the disciples need in order to preach to these different nations? The gift of speaking new languages (tongues). Take a look at the following two verses:

John 5:2 ...'Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches.'

Acts 1:19 ...'And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood.'

Acts 21:40 ...'And when he had given him licence, Paul stood on the stairs, and beckoned with the hand unto the people. And when there was made a great silence, he spake unto them in the Hebrew tongue.'

Revelation 7:9 ...'After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands.'

We can see that the Old Testament teaching on speaking in tongues has been carried over into the New Testament, as the word tongue in these verses above can mean only one thing - language!

Acts 2:1-4 ...'And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 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.'

Now many Christians will stop right there and use these verses to backup their speaking in ecstatic tongues. But if we carry on, as we should to take in the WHOLE truth, then we will find an interpretation to the meaning of tongues.

Acts 2:5-11 .....'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.'

You see the Bible truth there? The disciples speaking in tongues was nothing more than the Holy Spirit enabling them to speak in different LANGUAGES, so that the many different people from different nations could understand the gospel message.

Acts 10:44-46 ...'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.'

The Holy Spirit fell on the Gentiles in this scene and the Jews who followed Peter were astonished because the Gentiles were speaking in the language that the Jews understood, and heard the Gentiles magnify God in their speaking. Now look how Peter describes this story later on after He went back to Judea ... Acts 11:15-17 ...'And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning. Then remembered I the word of the Lord, how that he said, John indeed baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost. Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?' ... Do you see the amazing truth? THE HOLY GHOST FELL ON THE GENTILES AS ON THE DISCIPLES AT THE DAY OF PENTECOST. The Gentiles received the SAME GIFT, the gift of tongues, which is speaking in different languages.

1 Corinthians 14:2,9,13,14 ...'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. 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. Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret. For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.'

What did God mean in Deuteronomy 28:49, when He said ..."a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand"?? Did He not mean a nation whose LANGUAGE you shall not understand? So there is an easy way, using the Bible to interpret, to understand what is being said above in Corinthians. Let's say a Chinese person came into an English church and started speaking and praying in Chinese. If he is the only Chinese speaking person in that church, who is he speaking to? God! Because no one else can understand him, unless he or someone else in the church has been given the gift of different tongues, ie. being able to speak what he says in English.

Now look at what Paul says further on, which clarifies what he is saying ... 1 Corinthians 14:18 ...'I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all.' ... It is well known that Paul could speak in a number of different LANGUAGES, which is what he is saying here. He could speak with tongues (languages) more than all of them.

The Purpose of Speaking in Tongues

What is the purpose of tongues? ... 1 Corinthians 14:22 ...'Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.' ... They are for a SIGN to those who don't believe the gospel, just as the Holy Spirit gave the gift of speaking different languages to the disciples at pentecost and 3,000 were added to the faith that day. Why would God make use of gibberish? How can speaking gibberish be a sign? If none believers see you speaking gibberish, they would just think you were crazy! It makes no sense. But thankfully we can clearly see from the WHOLE Bible that speaking in tongues is the ability to speak in another language instantly, not gibberish. Take a look at the following story:

"I was speaking before a crowd of people that only spoke Swaheeli. I being an English speaking man realized a problem here. So I found a man that could translate that which I declared from the Word of God in English into Swaheeli. However, part way through the sermon, my translator would suddenly stop translating. Why? The people would ask him to stop because they said I was speaking perfect Swaheeli to them."

Right there is speaking in Biblical tongues!

1 Corinthians 13:1-2 ...'Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.' ... Many Christians use these verses also to defend speaking in ecstatic tongues. Again, Paul uses the word tongues, and as we have seen RIGHT THROUGHOUT the Bible, the word tongues means language. Even Strong's Concordance interpret the greek word for tongues as "language". Now think about what Paul is saying here. That word "though" means IF. So Paul is just saying that IF he had all these things, but didn't love, he would have nothing! He's just making a point about love.

Now is it possible for us to have ALL knowledge and understand ALL mysteries and have ALL faith? No, not a chance! It will take us all the ceaseless ages of eternity to understand all the mysteries of God. So Paul is just making a point that even IF you did speak the language of different men and angels, and did not have love, you would have nothing. It doesn't mean that it is possible to speak a "heavenly language". Paul could have said ... Though I fly like superman, but don't have love, I am nothing!". Does it mean I can fly like superman? No, he's just making a point. Also, are we now going to say that when we get to heaven, the language spoken there is going to be this gibberish that some Christians utter! I don't think so. We need to be real about this and take the plain Bible truth.

Friend, satan will always have a counterfeit for Bible truth, and his counterfeit for Biblical tongues (speaking in different languages) is speaking gibberish! As we have seen in this study, the Bible is very clear, that the gift of speaking in tongues is the Spirit given ability to speak in another language. We must find out the whole truth from the Bible and not just pick one or two verses to make a doctrine.