What is the Bible truth about speaking in tongues? Is the phenomenon that has swept through the world of talking ‘gibberish’ really speaking in tongues as described in God’s Word? Or does it simply mean speaking in ‘other’ languages? We are confident that the Word of God interprets itself, so we should get a clear understanding of what it truly means to ‘speak in tongues’.
Speaking in 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 ….' These are the sons of Ham, after their families, after their tongues, in their countries, and in their nations.'
Genesis 10:31 ….' These are the sons of Shem, after their families, after their tongues, in their lands, after their nations. ……As we can see from these verses, speaking in a 'tongue' just means in their own language. Sometimes as Christians we forget to study the Old Testament on certain subjects. The Old Testament is still the Word of God and is a requirement to aid study. After all, God never changes!
We know from the tower of Babel story, that God confused the language of the people and caused this world to be filled with 'different' languages (tongues).
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.' ……Because of the sins of God's people, He said He would bring a nation against them, notice……. 'whose TONGUE thou shalt not understand.' Would this other nation be speaking gibberish? No, they would merely be speaking in another 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.' …….This cannot mean anything other than the language of the land.
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.' ……This is an end time prophecy concerning the end of time, and God is saying that He shall gather all tongues to see His glory. This cannot mean anything else other than 'ALL LANGUAGES'.
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.' ……Learning the LANGUAGE of the Chaldeans.
We can clearly see from the Old Testament, that the speaking of tongues in the Bible is basically speaking in one's own language from where they come from.
Now we turn to the New Testament teaching of tongues:
Mark 16:17 ….'And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues.' ……..Now, really think carefully about this verse. If we take a look at this in context, we read a couple of verses before this in Mark 16:15 where it says ….'And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.' Now this was the commission that Jesus gave the disciples, to GO INTO ALL THE WORLD and preach the gospel. What would they need to preach the gospel to all the world? They would need the gift of speaking in different languages (tongues). Therefore they would speak with new tongues (languages).
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.' ……The word 'tongue' in these two verses CANNOT mean any other than 'language.'
Acts 2 (snippets) …..' And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place …….. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them …… 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.' …….These verses can only mean ONE thing, which is the disciples were given the gift of speaking in other languages. These verse explain themselves clearly.
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 Jews were astonished because the Holy Ghost had fallen on the Gentiles, and they heard the Gentiles speak with tongues ….. Peter was in Caesarea at this time speaking to Cornelius the centurion. So the gentiles of that area started speaking in the language that the followers of Peter understood. Now, notice what Peter says to the disciples when he went back to Judea to explain this event ….Acts 11:15,17 ….' And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning……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? …… See, the Holy Ghost fell on the Gentiles in the same way as it fell on the disciples at the day of Pentecost, and they received the SAME gift, the gift of speaking in different LANGUAGES.
Note: Right up to now, speaking in tongues has meant speaking in 'another' language of another nation. So, speaking in tongues from now on is not going to suddenly change to speaking gibberish. It is going to remain the same. The gift is the same ….. to be able to speak another language, to enable people from 'other' nations to understand the gospel message.
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,'
Acts 22:2 ….' (And when they heard that he spake in the Hebrew tongue to them, they kept the more silence)' ……We can clearly see above that Paul was speaking in the Hebrew LANGUAGE.
1 Corinthians 12:10 …' 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:
1 Corinthians 12:28 ….' 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.'……Notice these words, 'divers (different) kinds', 'interpretation', 'diversities'. How can these be anything else than different LANGUAGES.
1 Corinthians 14 (snippets) …..' 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……..He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church…….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……..Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?...... 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. ……This is plainly saying that anyone seaking in 'another' language needs to be interpreted, otherwise no one will understand. Let's say it this way…..If say, someone from Japan came into an English church and started praying in Japanese, if no one was there to interpret, then he would just be edifying himself and talking to God himself, because no one in the church would understand what he was saying. See this study for more info about tongues of angels.
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.'
Revelation 10:11 ….' And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.'
Revelation 17:15 …..' And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.' ……..The meaning of tongues in these verses is clearly Languages.
Strong's definition of the word tongues in the original greek: …… 'the language or dialect used by a particular people distinct from that of other nations'
Following is one of many true stories of someone speaking in true biblical tongues:
"I was preaching before a crowd of people that spoke only 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, for the native people gathering before me. However, more often than not, 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!"
How did this phenomenon of speaking gibberish begin?
It was January 1, 1901, the beginning of a New Year, and nearly the beginning of a new century. It was definitely the beginning of a new era in the field of religion. It all began in a small Bible school in Topeka, Kansas on that first day of the Twentieth Century. A student in that Bible school had a most unusual experience for that time, but which has become increasingly common since then he spoke with ecstatic utterances, calling it the gift of tongues.
"Throughout history there have been occasional incidents when an individual, or groups of individuals, have spoken in this ecstatic tongues, but this time was different. This time it sparked a movement that has claimed to be "the largest and most important religious movement to originate in the United States." The Origins of the Pentecostal Movement, by Vinson Synan, Ph.D.
1 Corinthians 14:22 ….' Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not.'……Remember what happened at Pentecost? That 3,000 people were added to the faith because of the disciples speaking in the 'tongues' (languages) of the various people there. They saw that as a 'sign' from God and believed.
There are two reasons for tongues; One is so that the gospel can be preached to the whole world, where there are MANY different languages (tongues). The other is as the above verses says; it is a 'sign' to those who don't believe. Now, would speaking gibberish be any kind of sign? Definitely not! People would think you were just crazy!
Satan will always have a counterfeit for a Bible truth and his counterfeit for biblical tongues, is this phenomenon of speaking gibberish. The Word of God cannot be any clearer on this subject. Speaking in tongues is the Spirit given ability to speak other languages and nothing else!
For further study visit here: http://www.speaking-in-tongues.net