TONGUES – Like you haven’t heard it.

Every Christian knows what happened in Acts 2 at Pentecost.

(Acts 2:4 [AKJV])
And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

(Acts 2:5 [AKJV])
And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.

(Acts 2:6 [AKJV])
Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that (((every man heard them speak in his own language))).

This is one example of tongues. A very specific example. It is not the only type of tongues spoken of by scripture however. I know many in various Christian streams like to use this as the one and only definition for what tongues is. They are wrong. The bible speaks of diverse or various kinds of tongues. This case in Acts 2 is the only time when the bible states that others heard the tongues in their own language. These, in Acts 2, are understandable tongues, “every man heard them speak in his own language”.

There are other examples of people being baptized in the Holy Spirit where the bible states that they spoke in tongues.(I will give two examples below.) However, in those cases it doesn’t state what kind of tongues. We will address that later on in this writing.


(Acts 10:44 [AKJV])
While Peter yet spoke these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.

(Acts 10:45 [AKJV])
And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost.

(Acts 10:46 [AKJV])
(((For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God.))) Then answered Peter,

(Acts 10:47 [AKJV])
Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?

(Acts 10:48 [AKJV])
And he commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord. Then prayed they him to tarry certain days.


(Acts 19:1 [AKJV])
And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples,

(Acts 19:2 [AKJV])
He said to them, Have you received the Holy Ghost since you believed? And they said to him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.

(Acts 19:3 [AKJV])
And he said to them, To what then were you baptized? And they said, To John’s baptism.

(Acts 19:4 [AKJV])
Then said Paul, John truly baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying to the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.

(Acts 19:5 [AKJV])
When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

(Acts 19:6 [AKJV])
And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Ghost came on them; (((and they spoke with tongues, and prophesied.)))

(Acts 19:7 [AKJV])
And all the men were about twelve.

I love these two examples because they show both water and Holy Spirit Baptism. Both in a different order and one with and one without the laying on of hands.

I would like to make a side note before we continue with the tongues topic. There are streams who insist that if you are baptized in the Holy Ghost, that you must speak in tongues. They do not, however, ever demonstrate tongues that are understood by others, but rather they are always non-understandable tongues. It begs some questions.

1) Why do they not make the example in Acts 2, where everyone understood the tongues in their own language, their evidence?

2) What kind of tongues did they exhibit in the two examples I mentioned above from Acts 10 and Acts 19?

3) Why do they not use other evidences like ‘preach the gospel with power’, ‘great grace’, ‘prophesied’, ‘magnified the Lord’ etc, these are all mentioned too when people were filled with the Holy Ghost.

The Apostle Paul says that tongues are, 1) a gift, 2) not understandable and 3) that not all speak in tongues. I will list Paul’s statements below.

Opening Verse:

(1 Corinthians 12:1 [AKJV])
Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I would not have you ignorant.

1) Tongues are a gift:

(1 Corinthians 12:10 [AKJV])
To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

2) Not understandable:

(1 Corinthians 14:2 [AKJV])
For he that speaks in an unknown tongue speaks not to men, but to God: (((for no man understands him))); however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries.

(1 Corinthians 14:3 [AKJV])
But he that prophesies speaks to men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.

(1 Corinthians 14:4 [AKJV])
He that speaks in an unknown tongue edifies himself; but he that prophesies edifies the church.

3) Not all speak in tongues:

(1 Corinthians 12:30 [AKJV])
Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?

Paul says to 1) Covet the best gifts and 2) that he wishes all would speak in tongues and 3) not to forbid people from speaking in tongues.

1) Covet the best gifts:

(1 Corinthians 12:31 [AKJV])
But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet show I to you a more excellent way.

2) Paul wishes all would speak in tongues:

(1 Corinthians 14:5 [AKJV])
I would that you all spoke with tongues but rather that you prophesied: for greater is he that prophesies than he that speaks with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.

3) Forbid not tongues:

(1 Corinthians 14:39 [AKJV])
Wherefore, brothers, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.

Paul starts the discussion teaching that there are certain offices and gifts. He declares that all men, (Christians) are given the manifestation of the Spirit.

To ignore this repeated mention of and encouragement about tongues is, in my opinion, negligent and dishonest. Paul goes to a significant effort to discuss how tongues are to be used in public assemblies, yet the anti-tongues camp generally ignores and a lot of the baptism in the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues crowd neglect this part of scripture in one way or another.

Paul states that it is preferred not to speak in tongues in a public assembly since if there are any lost souls present, they will think you’re crazy and sound like a barbarian because they will not understand what is being said. (1 Cor 14)

Paul states that to speak in tongues edifies the person speaking but not those around him. He desires that we prophesy instead since everyone will be edified thereby. (1 Cor 14)

Now let me ask some questions.

Q: Who was edified when they spoke in tongues at Pentecost?

A: The people who heard the tongues were edified. Why? Because they spoke in understandable tongues, not the tongues Paul is speaking of in 1 Corinthians chapters 12,13, and 14.

Q: Was that a public meeting?

A: Yes, it was a public meeting.

Q: Were there any lost there?

A: 3000 souls were saved after that exhibition of tongues that day, I’d say there were a lot of lost people there.

Clearly, we have two different types of tongues here. At least two. Suffice to say, two different types for now. Understandable and non-understandable. Understandable tongues edified everyone. Non-understandble tongues only edifies the guy speaking it unless there is an interpreter.

So you can’t use the Acts 2 example and say it’s the one and only example of what tongues is in the Bible. In fact, the Acts 2 understandable tongues account is the least of the attention and depth given to the topic of tongues in the Bible. Responsible exegesis will require acknowledgment of 1Corinthians 12, 13, and 14 and responsible bible students and teachers will draw the distinction between the two.

Paul calls the gift of prophecy a greater gift than tongues for the reason that everyone is edified by prophecy. Then he says “except”, except there be an interpreter. So, the two gifts are equal in the public meeting if there is an interpreter.

(1 Corinthians 14:5 [AKJV])
I would that you all spoke with tongues but rather that you prophesied: for greater is he that prophesies than he that speaks with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.

Who can interpret?

1) Not all interpret:

(1 Corinthians 12:30 [AKJV])
Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?

2) The person speaking in non-understandable tongues may interpret.

(1 Corinthians 14:5 [AKJV])
I would that you all spoke with tongues but rather that you prophesied: for greater is he that prophesies than he that speaks with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.

(1 Corinthians 14:13 [AKJV])
Wherefore let him that speaks in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret.

3) Someone else in the congregation can interpret.

(1 Corinthians 14:27 [AKJV])
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.

Ok, more questions:

1) Why do people require speaking in tongues as an evidence of the infilling of the Holy Spirit if Paul calls it a gift and says not everyone has it and not to use it in public unless there’s an interpreter?

2) Why, if the one example of tongues after the infilling of the Holy Spirit, that is specifically identified, is identified as “understandable tongues” do people require a “non-understandable tongues” as an evidence of the Holy Ghost infilling?

3) On what basis may we assume that the other two examples from Acts 10 and Acts 19 where people are filled with the Holy Spirit and speak in tongues, is non-understandable tongues or understandable? It simply doesn’t say.

Wouldn’t it be stronger to suggest, based on the understandable tongues example given in Acts 2, that the Acts 10 and 19 examples were also understandable? I mean why take the weakest possibility and make it the prominent one, long before Paul had 1 Corinthians 12, 13, and 14 penned? Could it be because anyone can fake non-understandable tongues?

Paul uses the Old Testament to validate His teaching.

(1 Corinthians 14:21 [AKJV])
In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak to this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, said the LORD.

On Pentecost, 3000 were saved, obviously, they heard the Lord, that’s why they were saved. Paul brings this passage from the Law to bear upon non-understandable tongues in the context of how to conduct ourselves with regard to our gifts, namely tongues and prophecy, in public meetings. (1 Cor 14). The reach of the passage may be wider than merely this context, but the Apostle applied it here for a reason and by the Holy Ghost, nonetheless.

Do you want to learn about tongues?

Mark 16:17,
Acts chapters 2, 10 and 19
1 Corinthians chapters 12, 13, and 14.

Get to know exactly what the Bible says. It is there, clear as day. We have a lot of confusion on every side of this issue. Yet, I can hardly find a Christian who can simply tell you what the Bible says. Why is that?

We need to throw off this tendency to come at scripture with preconceived doctrinal ideas and try to make the Bible fit them. Just read the Bible and find out what it says. Why is that so hard? Why do people kick against it like they are about to get a shot in the butt?

Never mind the various conflicting doctrines of men that war, not merely against one another, but against the scriptures as well.

It’s time for Christians to know what the Bible says.

How on earth can anyone expect to understand the Bible if they don’t know what it says? How can you know what it says if you do not read it?

No man, no Pastor, no itinerant speaker is going to be able to teach you anything let alone everything the Bible teaches if you are not reading it for yourself, in its entirety.

Paul never wrote a verse and sent it to a Church. He wrote entire letters, as did all the writers. Don’t be a victim of versitis. That’s [verse – itis] a sickness caused by shaping your theology on selected verses from all over the Bible. Stop it.

Don’t let them train you on their junk food pablum, to be a verse and cliche Christian. No one is required to check their brains in at the door of the Church. If that’s how they treat you, LEAVE.

I purposely avoided talking about experiences here. I want people to go to their Bible, open it up and read for themselves and know what it says. That’s why I used so much scripture here, to show you what it says about tongues.

Until you know, first and foremost, what the Bible says about tongues, you have no business opening yourself up to who knows what from this or that stream or flavor of Christians. They can’t even tell you and in some case won’t even acknowledge certain parts of the Bible just because it shines a light on their own biased and negligent views. Most are more interested in getting you in their camp than they are being true to scripture.

What kind of person is it that wants to keep truth from you? That wants to control what you believe and know? Get away from those types of people. I don’t care if they are a Pastor, tell them to get lost if they do that to you, and go somewhere where you can have the freedom and be encouraged to know the Bible for yourself.

Don’t follow men, we are in the last of the last days. Hardly is there a man sanctified enough that can say like Paul did to follow him. Follow Jesus Christ, follow Paul if you’d like but don’t follow men these days, read your Bible and never mind the rest of it until you have that bible under your belt, solid and secure.

God bless.

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