Is Speaking in Tongues Biblical
and Still valid For Today

by Tony Warren

    The following is an overview of a study of the phenomenon of speaking in tongues. Is speaking in tongues Biblical? We have received numerous and persistent questions concerning the modern day phenomenon which the Church calls "Speaking in Tongues." Since this is an area of great controversy even among some Reformed Christians, I don't expect that there will be total agreement with all that is set before you. I ask you to examine the Scriptures presented, asking for the Holy Spirit to guide you into His understanding. It is indeed sad that many Christians today are puzzled by this modern movement and so ask numerous questions concerning this phenomena.

"Is speaking in Tongues Biblical?"
"Was speaking in Unknown Tongues only for the Apostles?"
"Did the gift of speaking in Tongues cease when the Bible was completed?"
"Are Charismatics and Pentecostals to be considered false prophets?"

In addressing the question is speaking in tongues biblical, it is important that we first define some terms. The first being the word tongues itself. What is the Biblical definition of tongues? We must make sure we understand how this word was used in scripture, because Christians today see this word as almost exclusively pertaining to the intense impassioned ecstatic verbalizing that some Churches postulate as Miraculous Spiritual Utterances. In fact, this definition has become so widespread that the real definition of tongues has frequently become clouded by the monologues of the theologians teaching this phenomenon is a visible gift of the Holy Spirit. Thus I will start by briefly going over what should be elementary, but in truth is hidden by modern day distraction, ignorance and misinformation.
Tongues: tungs, n. [ O.E. tung, a tongue, speech = L.G. and DAN. tunge, Icel. and Sw. tunga, Goth. tuggo, G. zunge; cogn. O.L. dingua, L. lingua, a tongue (whence lingual, linguist). ] 1. The organ in the mouth used for speech; 2. the whole or sum of words used by a particular linguistic group or their dialect; 3. language or languages. 4. System of combining words for communication - system of speech for different nations. 5. Unintelligible utterances accompanying the occult, cultist or other eccentric religious practices.

The Hebrew word translated tongues in your Bible is [lashown], and the Greek word is [glossa], and beside pertaining to the actual organ in our mouths, by grammatical extension or figuratively, they both simply mean language. That is the first and most important thing to realize before we can come to understand its use in the scriptures. When we read of those speaking in other tongues, it is simply saying that they were speaking in "other languages." I know that most Christians already know that (at least in theory), but it seems they completely ignore this most evident fact in their unsound hermeneutics. eg:

Genesis 10:20

After their tongues means, after their specific languages. It is indeed unfortunate that the topic of speaking in tongues has become such an emotional issue that this is neglected. Which of course makes this issue very confusing and misunderstood. And I do understand that in casual reading of certain passages, they often "appear" to support some Church beliefs in a doctrine of receiving supernatural ecstatic utterances of the Spirit. And for this reason, it will be the intent of this article to examine these passages and determine exactly what the word of God actually says about these languages, as opposed to what men claim that it means. And more importantly, we will see what the scriptures do not say. Because many Churches today are reading into scripture a great many things that simply are not there. And as faithful Christians, it is our collective obligation to search it out and determine if what today's Churches "call" speaking in tongues, corresponds to the Biblical record of those who spoke in tongues. In comparing scripture with scripture, and allowing the Bible to be its own interpreter, we will take an honest look at these passages and endeavor to understand what is written. Is speaking in tongues Biblical? There is no better place to start on this subject than the book of Acts, and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit as tongues of fire:

Acts 2:3-6

This was a miraculous occurrence, complete with visions and divine application. A vision of tongues of fire, symbolizing cleaning of other languages. As we stated previously, the Greek word translated "tongues" in the Bible, simply means "languages." If the word tongues means languages, then by normal linguistic elements, which are the constituents of literary structure, those men who started speaking with other tongues, received the ability to speak in other languages. Not one unintelligible God language, but languages. So whenever we see tongues in the context where it is not the actual organ of the mouth, it will generally be representing languages, whether foreign or domestic. And contrary to popular opinion, it is absolutely never used with relationship to ecstatic gibberish or other such babbling confusion. The word tongue implies language. That is why in Acts 2:3 God used the vision of tongues to symbolize the pouring out of the Holy Spirit. It was to illustrate that the Holy Spirit would now be cleansing all tongues, not just the tongue of the nation of Israel. And indeed, right in that context God "specifically declares" that when this happened, all nations miraculously heard the gospel in their own language. The tongue is the organ of language, and the fire represents the cleansing power of the Holy Spirit to these other languages.

Luke 3:16

Baptizing with fire is just another way to say, the cleansing or washing of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit in Acts came as tongues of fire to illustrate this spiritual cleansing or baptism was going out to the Gentile tongues. The new dispensation had come, the mystery was now revealed that the gospel messages would go to all tongues. It was never about an ecstatic catching of the Spirit, but about the sign of the Spirit going to the Gentiles.

Unfortunately, in our day the word "tongues" in the Church has degraded to be thought of as some miraculous conveying of messages directly from God to man, in a heavenly Spirit language. But this idea is decidedly extra-biblical and the great modern day Church error. Comparing scripture with scripture, speaking in tongues should be defined by scripture, not by men.

John 5:2

In other words, the word of God is telling us that in the Hebrew "language" it was called Bethesda. The word tongue obviously simply meant language. Again:

Revelation 5:9

Here again, saying "out of every kindred, and tongue, and people," simply means "out of every kindred, and language, and people. There really is no mystery or mystic meaning to the word tongue in scripture, nor the phrase, "speaking in other tongues." It simply means they were speaking in other languages.

Revelation 9:11

Clearly, in the Hebrew "language" his name was Abaddon, and in the Greek "language" his name was Apollyon. The word tongue in scripture is not a word that denotes esoteric, charismatic speaking that defies the laws of nature, it simply means language. Thus, other tongues or different tongues simply means other or different languages. We need to first understand that clearly, because many Christians have been so indoctrinated with the idea that the word itself implies a miraculous occurrence that confusion reigns. So if tongues means languages, an interpretation of tongues simply means an interpretation of the said "languages." As an example, see how the word tongue is used in Ezra.

Ezra 4:7

In other words, all that is being said here is that it was written in the Syrian "language," and it was interpreted from the Syrian "language." Nothing more miraculous or spectacular than that. Likewise in the book of Acts, the word tongues simply means they spoke in other languages. The miracle was not that they spoke in an unconscious impassioned ecstatic God language, but that when they preached the gospel, everyone heard them in their own tongues or languages. Note that in Acts this is a plural word, "tongues," not tongue. Meaning that this passage is not declaring that they all spoke in one singular mysterious language no one understood, but that when they spoke, they were heard in the different languages of men. And it was languages that the people of that country could understand, not the babbling ecstatic nonsense that people call tongues today. You see, this was the true miracle that is recorded in the book of Acts. Not that they started praying in the spirit, a glossolalia or they were catching the holy ghost, but that when they spoke, the people from different nations all heard them in their own language. The miracle was that when each one of these devout or sincere Christians who were gathered there began to speak, all those who listened, heard them in their own languages. And it needed no interpretation.

Acts 2:9-12

So there is no need for the wild speculations and suppositions that we often hear about this chapter. These passages unambiguously tell us what this phenomenon of speaking in diverse languages consisted of. There is listed the numerous people whose languages were being spoken. It was not gibberish, babble or the incoherent jargon that is claimed to be a heavenly language today. Rather, the miracle was that they were speaking in a real intelligible language that was understood by those people who were from the various nations who were familiar with it. The only thing unknown about it was that it was not understood by those there who didn't know that particular language. In other words, the miracle was not of a unknown divine language, but of men who preached the gospel, and those men from foreign nations were hearing it not in the domestic language, but in their own home languages. And we should not lose sight of the fact that those who claim to be speaking in tongues today, are not speaking in actual languages of men, as they were here in Acts. They are claiming that God is speaking in "His" Spirit language. And thus it cannot be this same miraculous sign accompanying the pouring out of the Spirit at Pentecost.

And indeed, this speaking in new tongues is rightly the great miracle of Pentecost. As it was the "sign" indicating that with the pouring out of the Holy Spirit, the power of the gospel was now going to go out to all languages, nations and peoples. It would no longer be primarily to the nation of Israel anymore. And this was always the prophesied purpose of this sign. That Christ would go to all languages.

Matthew 28:18-20

That the apostles communicated the gospel with different people who spoke different languages at Pentecost, was the sign that the Covenant people of God would now come from all peoples, nations, and tongues (languages). Israel rejected their Christ, and now the baptism of the Holy Spirit was going out to all nations. It is the baptism of fire John spoke of. The sign of the Tongues of fire. The gospel is in the midst of a new dispensation that involves Gentile people of all languages. The Apostles speaking in tongues was the sign illustrating the unbelief of the Jews, and the "understanding" of the gospel message going to other languages. It was not an introduction to men of a new mysterious heavenly jargon. So is speaking in tongues Biblical? Yes, but only as it relates to speaking in other languages as the passages signify.

Acts 10:45-47

Here again, we see the pouring out of the Holy Spirit a sign that the gospel was not just for Jews, but was going out to the Gentiles as well. And likewise, connected with this sign of Tongues of fire is their speaking the gospel and being heard in other languages. It is indeed sad that so many Christians attempt to distance the true nature of tongues in being heard in other languages, and substitute for it a spirit gift of gibberish, with no relationship whatsoever to the truth.

There are those Christians who wonder, "why does scripture call the pouring out of the Holy Spirit a gift, and tongues specifically called a gift?" The answer is, because anyone who becomes saved receives the Holy Spirit, as a gift. In other words, it is not something earned or that we are entitled to. It is an unmerited gift of God. And the ability to speak in other languages, is a gift as well. Because every special ability that we labor in this world with, is a gift of God. Whether we're good at teaching, at preaching, at ministering to the elderly or shut ins, are good as a prophet, as an evangelist, a missionary, or good at speaking in other languages. All our talents are called gifts of God. Any good work that the Christian has the ability to do, is a gift given them of God. For example, a friend of mine has the gift of being able to speak in Russian and Czechoslovakian, but I don't have that gift. Thus he can speak to the Russians and Czechoslovakian with the gospel message, while I cannot. Because God has blessed him with the gift of other languages. There is no mystery in having the gift of speaking in other tongues. Did not the Apostle Paul speak in other languages?

Ecclesiastes 3:13

Haven't you ever heard anyone say to someone who is good at caring for children that, "they have a gift?" Likewise with those who have a talent or office of the gospel for other languages (as the Apostle Paul did).

And many Christians understand this. As they understand the miracles recorded in Acts was of other languages of men. But some wonder why would that miraculous sign of miraculous tongues be passed away today? The answer is that Biblical miraculous signs (by their very nature) were "tokens" or significations of things that were prophesied to come, and thus were a temporary thing. Like the sign of Jonas, or the sign of the parting of the Red sea, or the sign of the star of David. A sign points to something else that is coming. It serves as an indicator, highlighting another object worth noting. As a practical example, a street sign may indicate a change in the direction of the road ahead. Or a lighthouse was used to signal a ship that it was approaching a dangerous point. But after that ship had come to and passed that point, the sign, having done it's job, is passed by. Likewise, the miraculous signs that God gave were temporary tokens, to enlighten us of certain "spiritual" realities to come. The miracle of Christ physically raising Lazarus from the dead was a sign of the resurrection that would take place in Jesus Himself. That's why Christ said in relation to it, He was the Resurrection. Or the miracle of making blind people see was a sign that men would be given spiritual eyes, the enlightening conversion by the Spirit of Christ. The miracle of the multiplication of fish feeding the five thousand, which was the sign that the gospel would start out small and yet grow and multiply to feed the multitudes and spread to the ends of the earth. And just as we wouldn't think to duplicate that miracle and miraculously feed five thousand today, or open the eyes of people born physically blind, or touch a cancer patient and have him made whole, neither can we miraculously speak mimicking the miracle at Pentecost. These "miraculous" sign-posts pointed to Christ and the new dispensation, and like all supernatural miracles were never meant to continue. The Acts chapter two languages were a sign of judgment upon Israel, and that the gospel was going out to the Gentile tongues. The phenomenon of the Apostles miraculously speaking in other languages was the sign/token/indicator of the reality, illustrating that long prophesied event had come. In this respect, having been fulfilled or completed in scripture, the sign is no longer applicable. English Christians no longer need to miraculously speak in German, Russian, French, etc., as a sign that Israel in part is fallen and the gospel is going to the other languages.

Acts 13:47-49

It is done, it is finished. We no longer have this miraculous sign-post, we have passed that era. The miracle of Acts of speaking in diverse languages has accomplished what God intended for it to do. Which was, to be a witness.

By contrast, we can see that the tongues phenomenon that we witness in today's Churches is just the opposite of what was recorded in scripture. Professed Christians who are alleging to be speaking in the Spirit of God, miraculous tongues. And they generally claim that they do not understand what they are speaking, and neither does anyone else who is listening. This alone contradicts what the Bible illustrates as the tongues/languages in Acts and even in Corinthians. Because without an interpreter, they were not to speak in other languages. However, some of the proponents of the tongues movement object to the contradiction in Acts by contending that there are two diverse kinds of miraculous "tongues." The Pentecostal kind in Acts where it is just other languages of men, and another kind recorded in 1st Corinthians where they contend it is indeed miraculous divine utterances. But where is the Biblical support for this separation of speaking in tongues? Somew are quick to point out that in Acts, the person who spoke in tongues was given the ability to supernaturally speak in a language that he did not know. While the person speaking in tongues in Corinthians needed an interpreter. They conclude that this proves they were different types of tongues. But the only reason that the tongues in Acts chapter 2 didn't need to be interpreted is clear if we simply read the context carefully. We finf that it didn't need to be interpreted because the text clearly explains to us that God miraculously interpreted it for them (Acts 2:6
 Acts 2:6
6 "Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language."
). Of course, it is perfectly understandable why they insist upon this distinction, because without it they cannot hold onto their doctrine of ecstatic tongues. So it is really just a self-serving justification without any real Biblical foundation. There is nothing in scripture that supports the word "tongue" meaning anything but language, nor that demonstrates it as a heavenly God language. Not one word. The Christians in Acts Spoke other tongues miraculously, but today missionaries speak in other tongues naturally and routinely as they carry the gospel to all nations. They learn other languages and they then interpret. Speaking in other languages is an evangelistic talent or gift that some Christians have been given. But there is nothing supernatural about this today. It is just as the gift of being a teacher is bestowed on some, or the gift of being a preacher or a singer. When Christ commanded the Apostles (and thus all of us) to go out and preach to the whole world, we need to understand that in order to do so, we would have to employ those who could speak in other languages. Or if we preach in another language and there are those there who don't understand, someone must interpret. But as a miraculous occurrence, that sign is over for today. It is by the Spirit of God that the gospel has reached all over the world into all nations, not by phenomenon of great supernatural events.

Matthew 28:18-19

Apart from the miraculous sign at Pentecost, how would the Apostles (and indeed all Christians) communicate with all different languages? Simply, they would either learn to speak in other languages, or employ people who spoke the foreign language as interpreters. In stark contrast to what the false Churches call speaking in tongues today, in biblical history, speaking in tongues was about the Church "understanding" what was said by having an interpreter of the language present. The phenomenon of speaking in tongues that we hear about today is just the opposite of bringing a gospel of understanding. And by not understanding Corinthians and God's command of other languages used to bring understanding, they contradict the bible's teaching of the meaning of speaking in other tongues. As a sign that the gospel has gone out to the Gentile languages. And clearly God says, if they didn't have an interpreter, they should not speak in other languages. Unlike today's Charismatic teachers.

1st Corinthians 14:27-28

And the reason that God commands the Church not to speak in other tongues or languages without an interpreter is self-evident. Because speaking to a Church in another language, when part of your Church doesn't speak that language, would be confusion. Unless of course the speaker has an interpreter to translate and give understanding as to what the person is saying. Because otherwise, everyone there would be confused or think this was some sort of gibberish, or that they were talking crazy. And in this vein, in Corinthians, God spoke directly to this confusion:

1st Corinthians 14:23

Note if there come in those who are "unlearned." Unlearned or not taught or schooled in these languages. Or if there come in unbelievers who have no idea what is going on with these other languages, they will think the speakers are raving maniacs. Clearly, contrary to today's doctrines of tongues, this speaks of foreign languages that unschooled people could not understand, and not an unknown God language that no one understands. Learned believers did know the languages, but except there be interpreters, they were not to speak in that language. Do all speak with tongues? No! Because all do not have the ability to speak in other languages. Speaking in tongues is not something that the Church should do, unless there is an interpreter. Is speaking in tongues Biblical? Yes, if we have an interpreter present to interpret this other language.

God gives us all natural gifts. The gift of other languages is the gift of learning other tongues. And this is why this verse says we are not to speak it if there are none to interpret that language. It would be foolish for me to make a display of the gift to speak the Italian language in a Church where people would come in that couldn't understood Italian. Likewise, if I had the gift of speaking in French, and traveled to a country where the people only spoke and understood Latin, it would be improper for me to speak to them in French. Unless I have an interpreter. That's the whole point of verses 27-28. And contrary to those self-serving ideas that this speaking in tongues is different from that in Acts, we see that Paul says one would think us mad ( 1st Corinthians 14:23
 1st Corinthians 14:23
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?"
) if they didn't understand. And that is EXACTLY what those men thought in Acts chapter two, when they heard the Apostles speaking in other languages without an interpreter. Consider wisely:

Acts 2:13-15

Unbelievers are always ready to mock, and these were obviously unbelievers who had heard the Apostles speak in foreign languages, which were incoherent to them. But not a new divine language, but other languages than the language they were familiar with. Others on the scene who were called and chosen, heard the very same gospel in their own home languages. So you see, speaking in a foreign language, without an interpreter, will make others think that you are mad, or drunk or a raving maniac, and give opportunity to mock. Thus, without an interpreter, we are not to speak the gospel in other languages. We can see this throughout history, such as with the Roman Catholic tradition of preaching in Latin without an interpreter. It is a foolish practice that the Bible already declared was not to be done.

Again, there are those who would protest, "but why didn't the tongues in Acts chapter 2 need to be interpreted?" The answer is, the tongues in Acts were a miracle, a divine supernatural sign, a token of the unbelief of Israel bringing in the new dispensation to other languages or nations. And a careful study of 1st Corinthians itself would reveal this truth to the Berean-like student of scripture. The belief that the tongues in 1st Corinthians are a revelatory gift is plainly undermined by the very passages themselves. Because clearly tongues (languages) were recorded in Biblical prophesy to be a sign of the unbelief of Israel, and of the turning of God to the Gentiles. As it is written:

Jeremiah 5:15

This is that sign of a nation speaking with a new tongue, a sign of judgment upon Israel and the subsequent taking of the Kingdom representation from them and given to the Gentile nations (Matthew 21:43
 (Matthew 21:43)
43 "Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof."
). The prophesy of God speaking to Israel with other tongues served as a sign, a token to national Israel of their destruction for their continued unbelief. And because of that unbelief, the Lord God would take the kingdom representation unto the Gentiles. This is the command God spoke about in 1st Corinthians, and was originally the prophesy in Isaiah.

Isaiah 28:11-13

Speaking with stammering lips and "another tongue" is another way of saying, "speaking in other tongues" or languages. Israel rejected Christ, and stumbling upon that stone they tumbled because of their unbelief. Thus tongues/languages were a sign of judgment in unbelief, and the evangelistic purpose of God taking salvation unto the Gentiles. Diverse tongues or languages were not recorded in scripture as a sign of a new prayer language, the second work of grace, chasing the Spirit, mysterious messages from God, or of praying in the Holy Ghost as man today surmises. This was to be the sign of unbelief in Israel and the gospel going to the Gentiles. By contrast, praying in the Spirit simply means praying according to the Spirit's leading. It doesn't now mean, and never has meant, speaking in tongues. There are so many practices that are misunderstood if we do not search the Bible diligently for truth. When we study carefully the Old Covenant prophesies of tongues, it is obvious they were to be a sign of unbelief, and the judgment thereof. This is unambiguously confirmed in the passage of 1st Corinthians itself, in the very context of the Apostle Paul talking about these tongues. It takes from Isaiah the law and illustrates the speaking in tongues as its fulfillment.

1st Corinthians 14:21-22

That law referenced is that we saw written in Isaiah, and those to whom God speaks to through the people of other languages, are the Jews. Because the Gentiles are now the Messengers sent by God with the gospel, and yet national Israel still will not hear. God is prophesying of the fall and spiritual deafness of Israel. Therefore, the sign is that the kingdom of God will be taken from them and given to the Gentiles (the people of other tongues / languages), who will now speak the word of God to them. As it is written. Yes, 1st Corinthians 14 is verifying that this "indeed" is what was in view. The mystery of the preaching of God's word through other languages or nations, to Israel, and them being deaf to it. This was the prophesied sign of the judgment of God, and the subsequent bringing into the New Covenant, not babbling supernatural languages. Thus, comparing scripture with scripture, the tongues of 1st Corinthians 14 is the very same sign that Acts chapter two illustrated when there was the sign of the Holy Spirit being poured out like a tongue of fire. And it was at that time that men of other languages miraculously heard the gospel. That is the sign that the Gentiles languages will now hear and bring the gospel, and yet Israel will not hear the Lord.

Matthew 13:14-15

In them is fulfilled the prophesy of Isaiah. As Corinthians said, tongues (other languages) are for a SIGN! A sign is an occurrence "signifying" something. And what it signified was that this is fulfilled, and that judgment had come. That their ears are dulled and their eyes are blinded and their hearts are hardened so that God's word is gone out to other languages. This is what God means when He unambiguously declared, these tongues or other languages are a sign for them that believe not, not to them that believe.

So we have total harmony and divine arrangement of all passages that speak of this phenomenon of tongues. The gospel is going out to other nations and languages as a "sign" to Israel. The kingdom was taken from them and given to the Gentiles. And yet for all that, they still (unto this day) will not believe /hear it. This is a total indictment upon Israel, because now God speaks to Israel through the Gentiles, who are now the messengers of the gospel. Israel had made their ears dull and their eyes blinded and their heart they have hardened. That is why the Apostle Paul reiterated that therefore, tongues were for a sign of unbelief (1st Corinthians 14:22
 1st Corinthians 14:22
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."
). Israel, is the "them that believe not." The miracle was the "sign" that the time had come, and they had rejected Christ as the foundation stone of Holy Temple building. But Christ will build again the Tabernacle of David, with the Gentiles (people of other tongues). Note in John what the Jewish people asked Christ about showing them a sign, and Christ's very telling answer:

John 2:18-19

Christ cast the buyers and sellers out of the Holy Temple, the Jewish people asked for a "sign" that Christ had authority to do these things. Christ unambiguously answered them and prophetically told them what the sign was. The sign for them (that believe not) would be that they would destroy the Temple, and in three days Christ would raise it up again. And He would raise it up by going to those of other tongues, which are the Gentile nations. ie, the Jews would reject Christ, and He would build again the Holy Temple with the peoples of other tongues. Indeed, a people whose language (tongue) they understood not, would become the living stones of that rebuilding.

Another objection that is often raised is the passage that says "tongues shall cease." But again, the word is simply languages, and we should keep that clearly in mind. Thus, the question is, when shall languages cease.

1st Corinthians 13:8

Prophesies and knowledge, they both shall fail, or in Greek, [katargeo]. Note that these two things (Prophesies and knowledge) are linked together as things that are "in part," and things "that fail." Both the words that are translated "fail" and "vanish away," are the very same Greek word [katargeo], meaning literally to idle down (render inactive). And by implication to be abolished. But the word tied to tongues is another Greek word, [pauo], meaning to stop or end. And tongues or languages are "not" in part, as it says our understanding of Prophesy and our knowledge is. Thus, languages shall stop (end), while prophesy and knowledge in part will be abolished. Not that Prophesy and knowledge will be abolished, but prophesy and knowledge "in part" will be abolished. But when, and why does this take place? The scripture shows us the answer is, "when that which is perfect [teleios] has come," because He is our completion. And by comparing scripture with scripture, that can only be Christ. For He is our spiritual completion, the true consummation of mental and moral character, the perfect (1st John 4:18
 1st John 4:18
18 "There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love."
) love in us that casts out fear.

Hebrews 9:11

We understand that Christ is this High Priest, this complete or perfect tabernacle of God, and we are made perfect only in Him. The Biblical fact is, every good and perfect (James 1:17
 James 1:17
17 "Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."
) gift that we possess is of Christ. When He comes, then our mortality will put on immortality, and we shall be like Him. At that time there will be no need for languages, because we will all understand each other perfectly. For we shall be changed in an instant, and we shall be like Him, know Him and be known of Him. Languages will cease. But knowledge and prophesy (which were in part) will not. Knowledge in part (partial knowledge) will be abolished, for we will have full knowledge to know, even as we are known. There will be no prophesy in part, because the mystery is finished prophesy is full when the perfect has come.

Revelation 10:7

The mystery of "prophesy in part" is finished, as the mystery of God's purpose will be finished. So we see, languages will stop, as there will be no need for languages, because we are no longer Jew, Gentile, French, Canadian, African or Spanish. We will be one, understanding perfectly with no use for earthly languages. In other words, diverse languages are for humans who dwell on this sin cursed earth, not for the spiritual beings we will be when that which is perfect has come. But Knowledge and prophesy, which was only partial, has become full, the mystery being finished. Even as the context shows.

1st Corinthians 13:12

Clearly, knowledge was in part, but God tells us that at this time, then will the Apostle know, even as He is known. In other words, Knowledge in part will be abolished and he will have full knowledge. That is how prophesy and knowledge is abolished when that which is perfect is come, but Tongues or languages shall cease.

Finally, we look at the objection raised by the oft misunderstood first verse of Corinthians.

1st Corinthians 13:1

God shows that there can be those who can speak in the tongues of [aggelos] or messengers, and yet not have charity. And this means that all their speaking in tongues is useless or in vain. How could we surmise that this could be speaking of a believer having the Holy Spirit of God speak through him in a divine Spirit language of God? God declares that if we speak with the languages of men and of Angels, and we do not have the charity agape (devotional love), then all our speaking is as just sounds. Thus it is clear that unbelievers who have no love of God "can" speak in these other tongues.

The question really is, what is the language of men and of [aggelos] or messengers. And the answer is, the repeating or testimony of God's word. It is the good news of salvation brought by the Messengers of God. The word of God witnessed by men. Not an unintelligible babbling some call God's spirit language. God has spoken to man in his tongue (language), which is the word of God, that is now inspired written in the Bible for us. That is the new language the Messengers of God speak (Mark 16:17
 Mark 16:17
17 "And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;"
), and declaring anything more I believe is to take liberties with the text. The confirmation by miraculous signs era is over. And there are no miraculous speaking in God languages as signs.

2nd Corinthians 12:3-4

The divine language of God is not lawful for men to utter. God forbid that any true Christian should feign that God was speaking to him in the body in this unspeakable language of God. Selah! But when we become professing Christians, we speak not only the language of man, but with a new language, which is the dialect or idiom of the Spirit of God. ie, we will go forth as Messengers or [aggelos] of the gospel and will speak to all tongues or languages, and they will understand this heavenly vernacular. As indeed the prophesy of Mark Chapter 16 declared of all who believe.

Mark 16:17

Speaking in new tongues or languages is the sign of the New Testament dispensation, and spiritual understanding to the nations. Again, the sign that follows those who believe is that they take the gospel to the ends of the earth in all languages, as a message from God. That is how we speak with the tongue of messengers. We should not think more of the word 'tongues' than what the word itself allows, or more than what is qualified by the scriptures, in their context. The children of God are now sent to speak with new languages of men, and of messengers. This prophesy of Mark chapter sixteen of speaking in new languages I believe is fulfilled in these two ways.
Number One: In the New dispensation, the Gospel message is going into all the world, to all kindreds and nations, and therefore they speak with the new languages of these nations.

Number Two: In the spiritual sense, those who believe become Messengers who speak with the new language of the word of God, a new spiritual tongue that, not all, but those called in Christ will understand.

It has nothing whatsoever to do with the intense impassioned ecstatic speech that today's Church call speaking in tongues, it is the languages of men and of Messengers of God. In Christ's name, those who believe do speak in the new tongue of the gospel, as they do speak as messengers of heaven. We all have the same teacher, which is the holy Spirit, so we all speak the same new language. And as the Gospel message is understood only by the Spirit, no matter what tongue or language the people of the nations hear it in (if they have that Spirit), they will understand the message as of God. The gospel message is a language that transcends cultures and peoples and nationalities. It is the only universal language that those who have the Spirit can understand. Yet a tongue that unbelievers will think is foolishness. It is the tongue of men and the tongue of messengers that teach wisdom and knowledge of God.

Isaiah 50:4

As the Lord has given Christ, so Christ has given to us the tongue or language of the learned. We have become the [aggelos] or messengers of God, speaking His language in the language of men. Yet without the sacrificial, unselfish or charitable love of God in us, this testimony of God that a professing Christian may bring, is nothing but sounding brass or a tinkling cymbal. It is not an effectual sound, but an uncertain ineffectual sound. A sound without clarity or distinction. This language of men and of Messengers has nothing whatsoever to do with either miraculous speaking of languages of the beings of heaven (which we cannot speak with their language anyway), nor the ecstatic gibberish that passes for tongues today. It is the language of the Messengers of God. An earthly language of men, with the Heavenly vernacular of God.

God is not the author of confusion, man is. Therefore, this confusion of interpretation of tongues that we see in today's Churches is not of God. And of course, avoiding confusion is the whole point that our heavenly father is making right there in 1st Corinthians. That all things must be done decently and in order to edify the Church. For our God is a God of order and design (1st Corinthians 14:23)
 1st Corinthians 14:23
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?"
in the Church, not confusion, dissension and division. To have other languages spoken in the Church without an interpreter is both un-biblical to do, and unprofitable for people that didn't speak the language.

The fact is, claiming that we have a new divine revelation (which speaking a word from God in the Spirit would of necessity be), is adding to God's word, and is subject to the plagues. No matter how people attempt to spin it, it is saying "thus saith the Lord, when the Lord has not said." And that is a serious matter, not a matter of differences of opinion.

Revelation 22:18-19

Thus, if we claim to be receiving a extra-biblical word from God in His own Spirit language, by definition we have received an addition to the written word of God, directly from His Spirit. I actually knew a Pentecostal who believed that he had "the gift of Speaking in tongues," attempt to split hairs in this by claiming that it was not actually God speaking to him, but was the witness of the word. But frankly, that is an untenable conclusion borne out of his own irrational justifications. For where is this miraculous witness of the word coming from? By their own admission it is from the Spirit of God, which is in fact, God. A verbal witness in a language of God, by God, is by definition His word. And if it is not from the Holy Bible, then it is an addition from God to those words. There is a big difference between believers witnessing the written word in our own words, and people claiming to be receiving a divine word directly from God via a miraculous revelation in His own unknown language. No one can rationally have God speaking to them in a unknown tongue, and then make the outrageous claim that it is not God speaking. There are only two options:

  1. It is God Speaking in an unknown Tongue. Therefore, these are the words of God through the Spirit.
  2. It is not God speaking in an unknown Tongue. Therefore, it is the spirit of the anti or pseudo-christ babbling, claiming it is of God.
First, no one can have it both ways where it is the Spirit of God speaking in His language, and yet claim that it is not God's word. And yet that is the irrational conclusion of some professing Christians. And if it is God speaking, outside of the Bible, then it is an additional word directly from God. A violation of the decree of Revelation chapter 22,warning that we should never add to the words of God's book. Thus we must be careful of what spirit we are claiming.

1st John 4:1

Second, and most telling, is that this word from God in this unknown language must be interpreted. How are faithful Christians supposed to interpret new words from God in an unknown tongue "APART" from God Himself, or the Bible? Do not interpretations belong to God (Genesis 40:8
 Genesis 40:8
8 "And they said unto him, We have dreamed a dream, and there is no interpreter of it. And Joseph said unto them, Do not interpretations belong to God? tell me them, I pray you."
Genesis 41:16
 Genesis 41:16
16 "And Joseph answered Pharaoh, saying, It is not in me: God shall give Pharaoh an answer of peace."
)? The rule of sound Biblical hermeneutics is that God is His own interpreter, through the Bible. We find "His" interpretation by comparing scripture with scripture to discern its meaning. But what about tongues? The law of God is that tongues or languages must have an interpreter. So do these Church members who claim interpretation just guess at it? Do they make up private interpretations? Do they use a special code? Or again, is it that they believe that God Himself interprets this language also, proving to be an "additional," additional, revelation? If God has spoken, and God again interprets that which He has spoken, we have new revelations from God. There is no getting around it. Thus what we have is confusion in the words of men, because it's not the truth. Even if they were to conclude that it is indeed God interpreting His own new word through them, then why does scripture call for someone to interpret? Isn't that an additional revelation from God sent to the interpreter, who must translate the first Revelation? It is truly an enigma wrapped in a riddle, enclosed in a mystery, except to the Church that recognizes that it is the confusion of men. Just because some sincere sounding people, professing Christianity, babbles incoherently and swears that they are receiving a divine message directly from the Spirit of God, gives no warrant or justification for the conscious and faithful Christian to either accept such oracles as truth, or to ignore the warnings of scripture against such prophesies or addition to God's word. Just because someone professes something sincerely does not make it truth. We have two choices. To trust the word spoken against anyone adding to the prophesies of God's word today (since the Bible is complete), or in a misguided trust in the visible sincerity of humanity, we can believe these prophets are modern day Spirit lightning rods of God. That is the choice. Is it the Spirit of God with a new Revelation, or the spirit of anti-christ with lying signs and wonders to deceive? Is it a great addition to the book by the Spirit, or a great delusion by a spirit, that people will believe a lie? The oft unpalatable truth is, it must be one or the other. For it is definitely not both.


Is Speaking in Tongues Biblical? In the professed miraculous sense, no. Because there are no new supernatural signs. In the normal sense, yes we can speak in other tongues, because it is biblical to speak in other languages so long as it can be understood or there is an interpreter. The Holy canon is now complete. It is not an incomplete book that needs additional Revelation or word from God in a mysterious heavenly language. And being complete, any new Revelation is an addition, subject to the judgments of God against additions. We must not assume righteousness of sincere sounding persons purporting to speak in tongues. Because when we start out with erroneous assumptions, we will inevitably come to erroneous conclusions. When we don't understand "why" miracles were done, we can't begin to understand why they have ceased in our day. When we refuse to receive the fact that an alleged message from God in an mysterious tongue (language) is an additional word of God, then we can't begin to understand why it is adding to present divine words of God. The choices are, either the phenomenon of speaking in an unknown tongues in the Church is from the Spirit of God, or it is from the spirit of Satan. The unpleasant and distasteful truth is, there are no other options. Either Christ is doing this, in bringing an additional miraculous word, or Satan is mimicking Christ, when His Spirit has not spoken. What foundation we build upon will determine what we believe.

Ezekiel 22:28

People always wince when the unpleasant testimonies of God is borne, because they don't really like the only two options. They desire a charitable third option, when there is no third. Either God is speaking or men are claiming God is speaking through the Spirit, when He is not speaking. To deny this is to dabble in absurdity. All words from God's mouth are obviously the words of God. If you are an author and you wrote a book on forestry, which was the "complete" book of information about the growth and care of the Olive tree. And then 10 years later you send a special message to those who bought the book, giving them additional information about the care and growth of the Olive tree, it would be "ludicrous" to claim that it wasn't an additional word from the Author. Likewise, it's absurd for any professing Christian to claim special messages from God are not an addition to the word of God. For if it's not, then who's word is it that they are speaking?

..He who hath an ear, let him hear.

The sad fact is, professed christians who seek after signs and wonders have their eyes set upon this world and themselves, not upon Christ. And there is no sign given except the sign of the resurrection of Christ. The Holy Bible simply states that there were miraculous signs of the Holy Spirit seen of a tongues of fire, and then people began to speak with other languages (tongues). The problem today is, many Church groups surmise and speculate that like-miracles will happen to believers nearly two thousand years later when they receive the Spirit. They wrongly assume that "miraculous" signs are to continue, when nothing in the Bible supports this. Miracles as those that occurred at Pentecost provided a "sign Post" verifying that the word being preached was the fulfillment of Messianic prophesy. This is clearly seen in the very context of the miracle of speaking in languages.

Acts 2:22

These miracles were "signs" or significations that the great miracles done by Christ (and His appointed Apostles after him) are tokens, a witness showing that this indeed was the Messiah/Christ, that was sent of God. The prophesy of the coming Messiah and His efficacious work for the world has been fulfilled, and all these "signs" were the accrediting or confirmations of it. And so, as we are not showing forth a prophesied new dispensation, we are not called of God to do miraculous signs, confirming. The signs we do in Christ are spiritual in nature, as we deliver the blind their sight, open the ears of the deaf, feed the hungry with crumbs of bread, cast out devils from their lives and speak in new languages. We don't do these miraculously, except in the spirit of Christ, in the witness of conversion. So when we preach the gospel today, it should be in following the biblical example of evangelizing, not through envy, seeking spiritual powers or lust of signs, but by witnessing through the power of the Spirit of Christ, that dwells within us.

Authentication of scripture was not to be the purpose of the gifts of the Spirit to the Church. As every true believer knows perfectly well that the scriptures are authentic by the Spirit that dwells within them. Rather, the purpose of all the signs were the illustration and confirmation that the time of all these Old Testament prophesies concerning Christ and the truth of salvation to the world had come. It was the confirmation or authentication of the Covenant, how when it was prophesied to be fulfilled in Christ, it was done. Even as Christ Himself unambiguously told John the Baptist, when He asked if He was the Messiah that was prophesied to come.

Matthew 11:2-6

Note circumspectly what John's specific question was, and what Christ's revealing answer is. Because in His answer is the illustration of why God performed all these miracles or signs that Christ told John about. In other words, these miracles he bore witness to John were the "SIGNS" testifying that the Messiah had indeed come. Thus Christ had answered John's question! The miracles were done to confirm or authenticate the confirmation of the Covenant in Christ. They were done as great tokens illustrating that Messiah had really come, even as the scriptures had prophesied. But that time of miraculous confirmation is past, and those signs are passed away also. We don't look for miraculous signs, we look for the sign of Jonas, the sign of the resurrection and the life.

Luke 7:19

Luke 7:24 That word translated Messengers is the exact same word Angels "because" the Greek [aggelos], simply means Messenger. Just as we read of the tongues or languages of Angels/Messengers, it was simply the word of God brought by the Messengers of God. Likewise, in Mark chapter sixteen, the phrase believers will, "speak with new tongues," simply means that the believers become messengers of God to the whole world, and those who believe will speak in other languages.

The bottom line is, we never needed to miraculously speak in tongues to be filled with the Holy Spirit, because that outward sign was only a confirmation of the confirmation of the Messiah. We have the completed scriptures, which are sufficient to all that we need. Those who claim that Speaking in tongues is necessary for the purpose of catching the Spirit or for the preaching of the gospel are offering up their own private interpretations.

The purpose of the Bible is the gospel message. And the gospel is the Good news from God, which is the message of salvation. Every miracle that God has done through his servants had the distinct purpose of being a sign illustrating some particular glorious aspect of God's Salvation plan for mankind. We should fully understand that these miracles that Christ and the Apostles did were not to show that Christ and these men were blessed and could do miracles, but rather to illustrate some particular process of Christ's work in God's magnificent plan. They all pointed to something and had a very spiritual meaning and purpose in mind.

Is speaking in tongues Biblical? well, the tongues phenomenon that we see today is false, not honorable and often deceitful. As I said before, I realize that saying this is unpalatable to most politically correct theologians and Christians, however the fact remains that the doctrines that Charismatic, Pentecostal and other like-minded Churches teach, is totally un-biblical. Any person claiming a gift of tongues has been deceived, or has deceived themselves. As faithful Christians we are obligated to not only preach against this error, but also exhort the faithful to not be deceived by the sensual narcotic and eye candy of this phenomenon. Satan is the pseudo-christ, a counterfeiter coming as a angel or messenger of light. Set your hearts on things above, and your eyes on the scriptures themselves, which is the written image of the Word. And doing that, we will realize that this growing movement is not of God. In the Holy scriptures, through Christ alone, is the power of God deposited and displayed. Let no one be deceived by "apparent" sincerity, because the phenomenon of speaking in the spirit is nothing more than deceit, delusion and chicanery, a synonym for the confusion of babel. It is true that many fear speaking against the tongues movement, wary of charges of blasphemy of the holy Spirit. But in truth, in context of the whole chapter, 1st Corinthians is where God is showing how the Church should desire to prophecy (declare, or be a mouthpiece for God's word) plainly, but in that spirit of Christ should not forbid speaking in other languages (tongues) so long as there is an interpreter. In other words, spread the gospel in such a manner that it will edify the Church, and the audience. Don't forbid the gospel to be spoken in other languages, because all things have their place.

1st Corinthians 14:39-40

Is speaking in tongues Biblical? This passage says yes. Again, we should not neglect that the word 'tongues' simply means 'languages'. So this is not a warning to allow the unholy ecstatic babbling we have in Churches today. It is a warning to the Church that they are not to presuppose that the gospel, spoken in a foreign languages, is then somehow ineffectual or wrong. The gospel spoken in a foreign tongue is not something that is to be held in contempt or to be prohibited. As long as it is not done to confusion, without an interpreter, but done decently and in order.

Last, for those who have fallen snare to this deceptive belief, there is hope in Christ. While it is difficult for many people to admit that they were in error about something as ingrained and personal as speaking in tongues, it is also imperative to go to the Lord honestly, in prayer and supplication, turning away from this vanity, and laying all our burdens at the throne of grace. Defer to trust God over man, because He is graceful to forgive our transgressions

1st John 1:9

Let us move past our prior beliefs and transgressions and embrace the biblical definition of the miracle of tongues The fact is, not just tongues, but all supernatural miracles have ceased when the Bible was completed. These signs were tokens, and as such have passed away with the realization of what they foreshadowed. As Biblical Christians, we are deeply concerned that the practice of speaking in tongues be biblically interpreted and governed by the scriptures. The Word of God is our authority. Thus we cannot be led by the nose by testimonies of man's experiences, anyone's feelings or human reasoning. And the Bible in no way supports today's Speaking in tongues phenomenon.

May God give us all the wisdom to discern His truths and the strength to turn away from all ungodliness.



Copyright ©2010 Tony Warren
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Created 05/01/10 / Last Modified 05/11/10
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