Gift of Tongues

What is the Gift of Tongues?

Spiritual gift involving ability to speak in foreign language(s) not previously studied or to respond to experience of the Holy Spirit by uttering sounds which those without the gift of interpretation could not understand. At Pentecost the church received the gift to communicate the gospel in foreign languages (Acts 2; compare 10:44-46; 19:6). God gave His Spirit to all His people to witness and prophesy. See Pentecost. In Corinth some members of the church uttered sounds the rest of the congregation did not understand (1 Cor. 12-14). This led to controversy and division. Paul tried to unite the church, assuring the church that there are different gifts but only one Spirit (1 Cor. 12:4-11). Each gift should serve to unite the church.(From Holmanís Bible Dictionary)


Now letís look at some of the scriptures that pertain to this gift.

*†† (Acts 2:1-11 NIV)When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. {2} Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. {3} They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. {4} All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. {5} Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. {6} When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. {7} Utterly amazed, they asked: "Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? {8} Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? {9} Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, {10} Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome {11} (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs--we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!"

*†† (Acts 10:44-47 NIV)While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message. {45} The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles. {46} For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God. Then Peter said, {47} "Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have."

*†† (Acts 19:3-6 NIV)So Paul asked, "Then what baptism did you receive?" "John's baptism," they replied. {4} Paul said, "John's baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus." {5} On hearing this, they were baptized into the name of the Lord Jesus. {6} When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.

*†† (1 Cor 12:4-11 NIV)There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit. {5} There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. {6} There are different kinds of working, but the same God works all of them in all men. {7} Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. {8} To one there is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, to another the message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, {9} to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, {10} to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. {11} All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he gives them to each one, just as he determines.

*†† (Mark 16:17-18 KJV)And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; {18} They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover.

*†† (1 Cor 13:1-3 NIV)If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. {2} If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. {3} If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.

*†† (1 Cor 14 NIV)Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy. {2} For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit. {3} But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort. {4} He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. {5} I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may be edified. {6} Now, brothers, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction? {7} Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the flute or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes? {8} Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? {9} So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air. {10} Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning. {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. {12} So it is with you. Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church. {13} For this reason anyone who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret what he says. {14} For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. {15} So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind. {16} If you are praising God with your spirit, how can one who finds himself among those who do not understand say "Amen" to your thanksgiving, since he does not know what you are saying? {17} You may be giving thanks well enough, but the other man is not edified. {18} I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. {19} But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue. {20} Brothers, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults. {21} In the Law it is written: "Through men of strange tongues and through the lips of foreigners I will speak to this people, but even then they will not listen to me," says the Lord. {22} Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is for believers, not for unbelievers. {23} So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and some who do not understand or some unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind? {24} But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all, {25} and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, "God is really among you!" {26} What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church. {27} If anyone speaks in a tongue, two--or at the most three--should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. {28} If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God. {29} Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. {30} And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. {31} For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. {32} The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. {33} For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. As in all the congregations of the saints, {34} women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. {35} If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church. {36} Did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached? {37} If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord's command. {38} If he ignores this, he himself will be ignored. {39} Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. {40} But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.


Hereís the deal with a gift. If you give a gift you want it to be appreciated and used. If itís not appreciated and used you are disappointed. If you receive a gift you want it to be something you will appreciate and find useful. It makes no difference whether we are talking flowers or a picture or clothing or a book or whatever. A gift is best when it is appreciated and used for whatever purpose it was intended.


The Lord has given us all gifts. We need to identify those gifts and use them. We should not covet anotherís gift. We should not ridicule anotherís gift.Rather we should appreciate, use, and be satisfied with what the Lord has given us personally. Earlier I read from 1 Corinthians 12 where some of the many gifts were listed. Now I will continue from where I stopped.


*†† (1 Cor 12:12-21 NIV)The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ. {13} For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body--whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free--and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. {14} Now the body is not made up of one part but of many. {15} If the foot should say, "Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. {16} And if the ear should say, "Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body," it would not for that reason cease to be part of the body. {17} If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? {18} But in fact God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. {19} If they were all one part, where would the body be? {20} As it is, there are many parts, but one body. {21} The eye cannot say to the hand, "I don't need you!" And the head cannot say to the feet, "I don't need you!"

*†† (1 Cor 12:26-31 NIV)If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. {27} Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. {28} And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues. {29} Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? {30} Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues ? Do all interpret? {31} But eagerly desire the greater gifts. And now I will show you the most excellent way.


OK. What is that most excellent way? Paul continues with Chapter 13 verse 1 of 1st Corinthians. We read it earlier.

*†† (1 Cor 13:1-3 NIV)If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. {2} If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. {3} If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing.


Find your gift, appreciate your gift, use your gift but above all do this!

*†† (John 13:34-35 NIV)"A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. {35} By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."

*†† (1 John 4:16 NIV)And so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.