Does Paul say glossolalia can be heavenly languages?

1 Corinthians 14 is the only chapter in the Bible that specifically deals with tongue speaking. If the passages in Acts were the only references to glossolalia, there would be no grounds for controversy over speaking in tongues as we see it in the Church today. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians contains passages that have obviously given rise to serious misunderstandings. So what was the tongue speaking issue at Corinth?

Corinth was an ancient trading city re-founded by Julius Caesar as a Roman colony in 46 B.C. and so its citizens were Roman but the many other nations were also equally well represented. The city of Corinth was famous for its two international seaports and it soon became a major crossroads of Mediterranean commerce explaining why the emperor must have selected it to be the Roman capital of the province of Achaia. It soon became apparent to Paul that its Church services among other things had become chaotic and confusing. While Paul was at Philippi, the first signs of trouble among his newly created congregation in Corinth reached him. Chloe was the first one to break the distressing news to him and soon after by letter. (1 Corinthians 1:11 and 7:1) Paul had been made aware that the Church formed during his second missionary journey had fallen into a bad state of spiritual decomposition. The record of flagrant abuses of Christian living submitted to him must have indeed been very distressing. Paul must have been shocked when confronted with the reports.

There was a multitude of issues, for example, gross division among the Christians with envying and strife. Paul bluntly refers to the Corinthians as carnal babes in Christ still only capable of being fed on milk and not solid food (1 Corinthians 3:1-3); they were associating with people that were sexually immoral, idolaters, drunkards, extortioners and covetous (1Corinthians 5:11); they were themselves fornicators, idolaters, adulterers, homosexuals, sodomites, thieves, covetous, drunkards, revilers and extortioners (1 Corinthians 6:9-10); there were many heresies among them (1 Corinthians 11:19); they were attending church intoxicated (1 Corinthians 11:20-22); there were abuses of the Lord’s Supper (1 Corinthians 11:27-30); they were ignorant of natural and spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12:1); love and charity was apparently lacking among them (1 Corinthians 13). Things in the Church were being done in confusion and a disorderly manner especially in regards to the gift of tongues. (1 Corinthians 14:33, 40); Paul exhorts again and again that the gifts of the spirit are only to edify the Church (1 Corinthians 12:7) and not the individual. (1 Corinthians 14:3, 4, 5, 12, 17, 26); he had to use lengthy and detailed explanations on how speaking in a foreign language others did not understand is worthless to others, (1 Corinthians 14:2, 6-11, 14-16, 19) as only God and himself understands. (1 Corinthians 14:28); Paul rebukes them constantly not to speak unless everyone understands the language or someone interprets into the language spoken by the Church. (1 Corinthians 14:5, 13, 26, 27, 28); he also explains that if someone unlearned comes into the Church and hears one person speaking his language or someone interprets that it would be a sign to that unbeliever (1 Corinthians 14:22) but when many people are speaking different foreign languages at the same time and with no interpreter that they would think they are mad (why wouldn’t they?) (1 Corinthians 14:23); there was denial of the resurrection of the dead (1 Corinthians 15:12).

As you can see, Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians is one of constant correction and rebuke. Imagine the chaos within the Corinthian church. One group speaking different foreign languages, others trying to propagate a new doctrine, others claiming to have a revelation or to interpret tongues while perhaps a few true Christians prayed in quiet meditation. Spiritual chaos like this can never be edifying and his rebuke, “let all things be done unto edifying” was very necessary. The situation confronting Paul unquestionably turned unbelievers away from the church thinking they were mad and this was to be avoided at all cost. This is why Paul continually warns that if they speak in a tongue (language) that was not known to the majority, they should remain silent unless there was someone there to interpret or translate. See verse 28 below. In other words don’t speak in a language that your audience does not understand. Listen to Paul’s clear statements in the following verses:

1 Corinthians 14:6-9, 19, 27-28, 40 “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? 7 And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped? 8 For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? 9 So likewise you, except you utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for you shall speak into the air. 19 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. 27 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. 28 But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God. 40 Let all things be done decently and in order”

How do Christians use this passage to explain the unintelligible babble that takes place during services today? Paul is not introducing some “new” gift of tongues in chapter 14. It is a rebuke for the misuse of the gift. Again the clear Word of God is being ignored. Paul also specifically warns us not to do this in 1 Timothy 6:20,

“O Timothy, keep that which is committed to your trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings…”

In other words, the very purpose for the gift of speech is to communicate your thoughts and prayers. If those present do not understand your communication, then keep silent. Why is it when those who teach speaking in tongues as we see it today go to other countries to do some form of mission work that they have to learn the language?

The belief of there being a heavenly prayer language comes mainly from 1 Corinthians 14:14 where Paul says,

“For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.”

This is interpreted by some to mean that when Paul prayed in the Spirit, he used a “heavenly tongue” and did not himself know what he was praying. First of all, this raises an important question. How would they ever know if their prayer was answered? What would be the point? Does God’s own Spirit just pray to Himself as some would imply?

So what is Paul really saying in this verse? The problem in understanding this verse comes largely from the issue of the awkward translation of Greek to English. Please allow me to rearticulate this verse in modern English, “If I pray in a language those around me do not know, I might be praying with the Spirit, but my thoughts would be unfruitful for those listening.” Paul is constantly putting forward the same message which is, if we pray out loud, we should either pray so others around us can understand or we should remain quiet.

The next two verses shed a lot more light and clarify the whole issue,

1 Corinthians 14:15-16 “What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. 16 Else when you shall bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at your giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what you sayest?”

According to these verses, who is it that has the problem with understanding? It is actually the listener and not the speaker as is commonly taught. Note carefully Paul’s words. He says he prays and sings with his spirit and he prays with understanding. He continues to explain that when you go to bless those in the room with the spirit that are unlearned (they don’t understand the language) they cannot say Amen because they don’t understand that language. Paul plainly states that he knows what he is saying. If you have ever had someone pray for you in their native language that you don’t understand, then you will know what Paul meant when he said, it is difficult for you to say “Amen” (meaning “so be it”) when you do not know what is being prayed.

Without an interpreter, you have no idea what was said and you may be saying “so be it” to a blessing from the devil as far as you know. This passage also sheds some light on 1 Corinthians 14:2,

“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.”

It is obvious from the context of chapter 14 that the purpose of speaking in tongues, or foreign languages, is to communicate the Gospel and thereby edify the church. If the listeners do not understand the spoken language they cannot be edified. Consequently, if there is no interpreter, the speaker is simply speaking into the air and the only ones present who know what is being said are God and himself.

With the modern day version of speaking in tongues no one understands what is being said including the speaker. This is obviously not the case with Paul who has already made it clear that he understands what he is saying. Continuing on from 1 Corinthians 14:15-16, Paul says in verses 17 and 18

“For you verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified. 18 I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than you all:”

Did you catch that last bit? Paul says he thanks God that he speaks in more tongues than them all. If Paul did not understand what he was saying as is the phenomenon of speaking in tongues today, how does he know how many tongues (languages) he speaks? See the Bible Commentaries on the final page for more information.

Does Paul contradict himself on Tongues?

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 14:22 that tongues are a sign for the unbeliever, but in the very next verse he says that if an unbeliever entered the Church where those present were speaking in tongues, he says won’t they say you are mad?

1 Corinthians 14:22 reads, “Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not… 23 If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?”

Let me give you two examples to show what Paul is saying here and that he does not contradict himself;

1) In this example and for the purpose of demonstration we will say Paul is referring to languages not known to any man. What is the difference of one person speaking in an unknown language that he and the one or more unbelievers do not understand (verse 22) compared to a whole Church that has come together in one place speaking in unknown languages simultaneously as one or more unbelievers enter the Church? (verse 23) There is no difference as it will sound like gibberish to the unbelievers in either situation and they will think you are mad. This incorrect explanation of this passage makes verses 22 and 23 appear to contradict each other.

2) In this example we will say known foreign languages are spoken as it was at Pentecost. What is the difference now of one person given the gift of speaking the native tongue of unbelievers listening versus a whole Church coming together in one place all speaking different foreign languages simultaneously? The first situation resembles that at Pentecost where they spoke in the native tongues of the unbelievers which was a sign to them and 3000 people were added to the Church instantly as a result. But imagine a Church full of people given the gift of speaking foreign languages and all speaking simultaneously. When an unbeliever walks into the Church and hears many foreign languages spoken all at the same time, it will still sound like gibberish and they will say you are mad as Paul said. As you can see the second example makes perfect sense when it lines up with the gift of tongues as it was given at Pentecost which was foreign languages.

Unintelligible ecstatic utterances miss the basic Scriptural logic for the gift of tongues. Tongue speaking in foreign languages was Babel reversed. Genesis 11:1-9 explains that as the human race repopulated the earth after the flood, they still spoke one language. Instead of migrating throughout the earth, mankind estranged from God came together to build the city of Babel with its tower to reach heaven. This was to be a monument to man’s united ability. But from God’s perspective, it was a monument of sinful man’s unity to perform every evil imagination. For their eternal welfare it was better that they be scattered to minimize the effect of sin upon each other. To accomplish this, God “confounded their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.” (Genesis 11:7) This was the beginning of diversified languages. The picture changed however, when the Gospel (meaning good news) was to be proclaimed throughout the world but there was a problem. There was a language barrier. God by the gift of tongues bridged the language barrier invoked at Babel so now the Gospel would reconcile His people and could be proclaimed to every nation. The apostles and other disciples evangelized the Roman World by the gift of tongues, the ability to speak in other foreign languages. The whole scriptural logic of Babel and the proclamation of the Gospel is lost if tongue speaking is unintelligible syllables. If the gift of tongue speaking today is ecstatic utterances, then what an absolute waste. Why are the tongues you see in the Church today given so freely just for your own personal use, while missionaries who truly need the gift to spread the Gospel have to almost always learn the language? Something is dreadfully wrong here!

1 Corinthians 14:19-20 reveals the Corinthians abused the gift of tongues. They were like little children with a new toy and wanted to show off. At their Church services they exhorted in tongues (verse 23) and they prayed in tongues (verses 13-17) without any interpretation. This edified no one (verses 5, 12, 17, 26). Hence Paul’s reprimand;

1 Corinthians 14:19-20 “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. 20 Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.”

Note Paul’s phrase “that by my voice I might teach others ALSO.” This shows when Paul spoke in an understandable language he taught himself and “others also” and consequently, if he spoke in tongues (foreign languages) he only taught himself. The thought is that when speaking in tongues, he comprehended what he was saying. This is not the case with ecstatic utterances today where those who speak in tongues do not comprehend what they are saying. 1 Corinthians 14:9-11 provides further proof that Paul is speaking of foreign languages and not ecstatic utterances. In dealing with the problem of tongues Paul said,

“So likewise you, except you utter by the tongue words [rational sounds] easy to be understood [a common language], how shall it be known what is spoken? for you shall speak into the air [in vain]. There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices [articulate speech] in the world, [notice Paul is not talking about so called “heavenly languages” but voices in the world, NOT heaven] and none of them is without signification [each national language has its distinct meaning]. Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian [foreigner] unto me.”

The Greek word “barbaros” means “a foreigner (that is, non Greek): - barbarian (-rous).” Paul is saying that an unknown voice or tongue would sound like a barbarian meaning the language of a foreigner. Notice how the NIV and many other Bibles translate the word “barbaros.”

1 Corinthians 14:11 “If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and he is a foreigner to me.”

The logic of 1 Corinthians 14:9-11 is only meaningful if speaking in tongues is foreign languages and not ecstatic utterances.

The tongues spoken of in the early Church were always known by someone in the world. The term “unknown” in chapter 14 does not appear in the original Greek. It has been added by the translators which is why the KJV Bible has the word “unknown” printed in light grey and in italics. This is to inform the reader that these words have been added and are not in the original text. The translators of the KJV Bible are trying to give clarity to the reader by telling them that Paul is talking of an unknown language to the listeners, not a language unknown to man. Unfortunately, it appears that the translators have accomplished just the opposite!

Speaking in Tongues Linguistic Study

In a massive study of tongue speaking from a linguistic perspective by Professor William J. Samarin of the University of Toronto's Department of Linguistics, published after more than a decade of careful research, he rejected the view that glossolalia is xenoglossia, i.e. some foreign language that could be understood by another person who knew that language. Professor Samarin concluded that glossolalia is a “pseudo-language.” He defined glossolalia as “unintelligible babbling speech that exhibits superficial phonological similarity to language, without having consistent syntagmatic structure and that is not systematically derived from or related to known language.” (William J. Samarin, “Variation and Variables in Religious Glossolalia,” Language in Society, ed. Dell Haymes, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1972 pages. 121-130)

Felicitas D. Goodman, a psychological anthropologist and linguist, engaged in a study of various English, Spanish and Mayan speaking Pentecostal communities in the United States and Mexico. She compared tape recordings of non-Christian rituals from Africa, Borneo, Indonesia and Japan as well. She published her results in 1972 in an extensive monograph (Speaking in Tongues: A Cross-Cultural Study in Glossolalia by Felecitas D. Goodman, University of Chicago Press, 1972).

Felecitas Goodman concludes that “when all features of speaking in tongues were taken into consideration, which is the segmental structure (such as sounds, syllables, phrases) and its suprasegmental elements (namely, rhythm, accent, and especially overall intonation), she concluded that there is no distinction in tongues between Christians and the followers of non-Christian (pagan) religions. Goodman in the prestigious Encyclopaedia of Religion (1987) wrote the “association between trance and glossolalia is now accepted by many researchers as a correct assumption”. Goodman also concludes that glossolalia “is, actually, a learned behaviour, learned either unwarily or, sometimes consciously.” Others have previously pointed out that direct instruction is given on how to “speak in tongues,” ie. how to engage in glossolalia. In fact, it has been found that the “speaking in tongues” practiced in Christian churches and by individual Christians is identical to the chanting language of those who practice voodoo on the darkest continents of this world.

Some who speak in tongues are also becoming involved in “holy laughter, drunk in the spirit” laughing uncontrollably, falling down on the ground, rolling around, having seizure like activity, being struck dumb, or being “slain in the spirit.” Jesus never behaved that way, nor did He heal that way. The only time you see anything that resembles that behaviour in the Bible is with demon possessed people Jesus delivered that were out of control, writhing on the ground. When Jesus cast out the demons and delivered them, they sat quietly with dignity. 1 Corinthians 14:40 says, “Let all things be done decently and in order.” The Bible never demonstrates such disorderly behaviour in the Church.

Very few people realize the tremendous forces locked within our emotional nature. Some are more susceptible than others. With the correct environment, the long hours of praying for one thing, the music, sobs, entreaties of those around, the mind becomes weary and the emotions take over. The effects can be dramatic, almost overwhelming. This can be so even when glossolalia appears outside the necessity of such emotional props.

Glossolalia has even been manufactured by University students in America (some of whom were atheist and had no religious interest at all) as a demonstration of what can happen given the right emotional environment and the right emotional effort. To quote one example, in Geelong, Victoria, Australia, two men as an experiment (again apart from religion) spoke in tongues after repeating “Timbucktoo” in the right emotional setting. One in just a few minutes and one partly after two hours! (Modern New Tongues” p. 59 – A.S. Hill).

Its universal appeal can be seen in its evidence amongst both Catholics and Protestants, Christian and Heathen, those living good moral lives, those living in sin. All can, and do, experience this phenomenon. That in these conditions “Tongues” CANNOT be a sign of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit becomes immediately evident.

Healing services and glossolalia have been, and possibly still are, being conducted in the Catholic University of Notre Dame (Christianity Today:, p.40, May 26, 1967.) And so it does not matter whether a person is a Catholic believing in the Pope, or a Protestant, a Christian or heathen. Living a good life or living in adultery, believing in baptism by immersion, or sprinkling, smokers or non-smokers. Drinkers or teetotallers, believing in the Virgin Birth or scoffing at the idea – it makes no difference. All speak with “Tongues!” Obviously the tongues are not self-authenticating. There is no sign here of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit or of anything else.

There have been instances of real foreign languages being spoken in meetings as fun or as an experiment and invariably receiving an “interpretation” wholly at conflict with what had been said! A young Dutch person entered a Pentecostal Assembly recently and rattled off a Dutch fairy story receiving an interpretation that God was asking the assembly to pray for the poor in China! A tape recording of glossolalia will receive totally different interpretations from those purporting to have the gift of interpreting. This is all very sad.

Another aspect that is very noticeable is that an English Pentecostal speaking in tongues, though it may be quite unintelligible, is still recognizably English in intonation and syllable construction. Essentially he is still speaking “English.” So also with other nationals. A Scotchman is still “Scottish.” A Frenchman still is “French” in intonations and syllable construction. Obviously, however sincere these people are, the whole thing becomes a sham and a fraud. Many become victims of their own emotions “aided by the great deceiver.”

It is clear Pentecostals, which we once were, have no right at all to use the term “Pentecostal” for at Pentecost real recognizable languages were spoken whereas amongst so-called “Pentecostals” this never happens.

Pentecostals and others engaging in tongue speaking as seen today normally say any or all of the following;

  1. Tongues are a sign of Baptism in the Holy Spirit – but the Bible never says that.
  2. All should speak in tongues – but the Bible never says that.
  3. The initial experience of tongue speaking at the Baptism is different from the later “gift of tongues” – but the Bible never says that.
  4. That tongues are, or can be a heavenly language – but the Bible never says that.
  5. Tongue speaking is for the benefit of believers – but the Bible never says that.
  6. Tongue speaking is for the most part unintelligible – but the Bible never says that.
  7. These unintelligible tongues are Christian – but the Bible and history indicate that they are heathen.

As it is not my desire to offend anyone, I would ask if you are Catholic, could you please skip the next paragraph unless you are seeking truth at any cost. If you insist on reading on I would suggest reading the information on who is the beast of Revelation 13 and the little horn in Daniel 7 to gain some understanding.

The tongue speaking movement is bringing into its arms of influence both Roman Catholics and Protestant Churches. In other words you will find the emphasis in the Catholic Church just as strong as in the Protestant and evangelical Protestant churches and the more stable Protestant Churches, i.e. Anglican Churches, Methodist churches as well as the Pentecostal type churches as Apostolic. Right through Christendom today you’ve got a cross-section all claiming the gift of tongues and the gift of healing. All these Churches, Catholic Protestant, Evangelical Protestant, and Liberal Protestant all claim the gift of tongues. This is evidence that the tongues they are speaking are the counterfeit. The Bible says that when the Holy Spirit comes into a person’s life it leads him into all truth, according to John 16. He will guide us, it says, into all truth. Catholics say when they have the gift of tongues it helps them to better appreciate the Virgin Mary and the infallibility of the pope. It helps them better in their confessional to the priests. Now doesn’t that immediately confirm something? Do you mean to say that the Holy Spirit when it comes into your life is going to help us believe in the Blessed Virgin Mary more, it’s going to help us believe in a counterfeit religion? All the Protestant churches with exactly the same gift of tongues believe it helps them to accept Jesus and His sacrifice more. If it’s supposed to be the same spirit there’s a problem isn’t there? It is clearly evident that it’s a spirit alright, but it’s not the Holy Spirit because the Holy Spirit, when it comes guides us and leads us into all truth, not just some of the truth.

A Deadly Gift from the Enemy

The purpose of tongues is clearly taught in Acts 2 but where is the clear teaching for what takes place in the Church today? Those who practice what we see today, make assumptions taken from Paul’s rebuke to the Corinthians for the misuse of tongues. Paul does not condemn the basic experience but a study of this New Testament phenomenon does not furnish us with indications that the gift of tongues had undergone a modification and had been changed with God’s sanction from a manifestation of speaking real languages as in Acts 2 to an unintelligible tongue by the time the Corinthians were using it. To the contrary, it is reasonable to assume that when Paul established the church at Corinth that its members received the gift of tongues so that they would be able to reach out to the multitude of foreigners and resident aliens in their own language.

Not one single person in nineteen centuries, including all the protestant reformers of which some had the Bible memorized from cover to cover, or any theologian ever interpreted any part of the Bible as saying there was another version of tongues such as what entered the Church in 1901. It was after this practice (previously only seen in rare isolated incidences and non-Christian cults) entered the Church that people searched for scriptures they could use to justify this practice that has spread like a plague through the Church today that many just take for granted. There are so many good Christians that feel the need for such signs and wonders and cannot accept the feelings they experience are not from God and would rather find some way of justifying the practice in their own mind than let it go even though it is not from God. Some have even experienced healing using this practice which Satan is more than capable of doing in order to deceive and draw people in.

In this World today filled with terrorism and crime, we should all be aware that a gift from an enemy can be very deadly. The underworld has successfully dispatched many human targets by beautifully wrapping a bomb as a gift with an ornate bow and paper that explodes when opened. Today the devil is using a counterfeit gift of the Spirit. A pagan form of the gift of tongues to gain access to the church of God and destroy it from within and most Christians never give this a thought. No one is ever told that what they practice in the Church today is also practiced by those who practice voodoo. If what is spoken in the Church today is and sounds identical to non-Christian religions then why are we still practicing it? As you have seen, the scriptural support for it is faulty and misunderstood. Why are Christians taking part in these non-Christian, religious pagan traditions?

Early and modern Church Speaking in Tongues

Observe from the table below the differences of tongue speaking in the early Church verses the Church today. With glossolalia today, there are just no similarities at all; in fact they are exact opposites.

Early Church
Tongue Speaking
Modern Church
Tongue Speaking
The least important gift.
1 Corinthians 14:5, 12:27-31
The most important and only sought after gift.
Sign to unbelievers.
1 Corinthians 14:22
A Sign to believers.
Spoken in turn. 1 Corinthians 14:27 Spoken together in confusion.
If no interpreter keep silent.
1 Corinthians14:28
Rarely an interpreter and almost always proven false.
Pray for interpretation.
1 Corinthians 14:13
Pray for speaking in tongues.
Only one interpretation. Interpretations differ when put to the test.
To edify the Church.
1 Corinthians 14:26
To edify yourself.
Spoke a known language.
Acts 2:4-11
Almost never a known language.
Accusation of madness.
I Corinthians 14:23
No accusation of madness.
Spoken for the benefit of hearers.
1 Corinthians 14:9
Spoken for the benefit of the speaker.
Maximum of 3 to speak per meeting. 1 Corinthians 14:27 Whole Church freely speaks with no interpretation.
Interpret so everyone understands.
1 Corinthians 14:16
Interpretation almost never done today.

Are the gifts of the spirit still given today?

The gifts of the Spirit are for the benefit and growth of God’s kingdom. Do we still need that today? Of course. So are the gifts still given today? Absolutely, they are still in need today as they were in the early Church. However, the gift of tongues today is not anywhere near as prevalent as in the early Church. God gives all the gifts of the Spirit to fill a practical need. What was the need for tongues? Why did the Lord wait until Pentecost to bestow the gift of tongues? Acts 2:5-11 sets the scene,

“Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Utterly amazed, they asked: Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs, we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”

The day of Pentecost was a Jewish holy day that fell fifty days after Passover. Devoted Israelites would come from all over the Roman Empire to worship in Jerusalem. God chose this timely opportunity to bestow the gift of tongue speaking upon the disciples so they could preach to the visiting Jews in their native languages. At least 15 different language groups were represented in the crowd that day, count them in Acts 2:9-11. As a result, thousands of these visitors were converted. After Pentecost, they in turn carried their new faith home to their respective countries. This is God’s purpose for speaking in tongues. Some say genuine tongues have already ceased but I have heard of some isolated cases of legitimate tongue speaking today and the speaker always knew what they were saying as they did at Pentecost. We must not go by our thoughts and emotions. Some continue to say, “How can this amazing sensation not be from God?” But Satan can give us those same feelings and those in voodoo and other satanic cults say they experience these identical ecstatic feelings. So what does that tell you? In order that we are not deceived, it is imperative that we follow God’s Word alone.

Page Four - Speaking in Tongues Commentary and Conclusion