Tongues Speaking Today

by David Tavender

Tongues Speaking Today Graphic


In brief, this two-part article concludes the following:

  • Tongues-speaking was a sign to unbelieving Israel.
  • After Acts 28, God-ordained tongues-speaking was set aside.
  • Speaking in tongues is not unique to Christianity, and what may appear to be a working of the Holy Spirit in the form of glossolalia today, is unlikely to be God-ordained.

Other related issues are also discussed within the article, followed by a series of questions and suggested responses.

Part 1

The phenomenon known as speaking in tongues is prevalent in many churches today. Whether carried out in church gatherings or in more private settings, about twenty per cent of all people who call themselves Christians claim to speak in tongues. So what is speaking in tongues? The phenomenon is sometimes called glossolalia, a term comprised of two shorter Greek words. The first of these is glossa, meaning ‘tongue’, and can refer either to a language, or to the tongue itself in your mouth. The second Greek word is laleo, meaning ‘to speak’. Thus, glossolalia is the ability to speak in another language, or perhaps, more than one language. Importantly, this ability is unlearned, so the ability to speak in another language, having been brought up in a multi-lingual household, or by studying another language at school or university, is not included under the banner of glossolalia. In a Christian context, it is said that this ability is God-given. Attempting to define glossolalia immediately gives rise to debate, as not every instance of speaking in tongues is agreed as actually being a genuine language or ‘tongue’. We will discuss this aspect a little further on in this article.


A personal testimony

Many years ago, I faced a dilemma about this subject. I had observed that some of the New Testament writings referred to believers speaking in tongues. Of special concern were some passages from 1 Corinthians 14. For example: ‘Let him who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret’, verse 13; ‘I speak with tongues more than you all’, verse 18; ‘If anyone speaks in a tongue’, verse 27; ‘Do not forbid to speak with tongues’, verse 39. Undeniably, speaking in tongues played an active role in the early church, and the Apostle Paul sanctioned it.

My problem was this: the phenomenon of tongues-speaking was obviously a common occurrence in the early Corinthian church, but it wasn’t present at all in the church I was attending at the time. Furthermore, speaking in tongues was carried out in several of the other churches in my local area, and this prompted some serious questions: was my faith complete without speaking in tongues? (I had heard some say that if a person didn’t speak in tongues, then that person was not saved.) What about the other people in my church who didn’t exercise this gift – were they not truly sincere believers? Is tongues-speaking a mark of a person’s spirituality and a sign of a person being truly blessed by God? Is it a sign of true, vibrant Christianity?

I didn’t ever attempt to exercise this ‘gift’ back then, nor have I attempted since, and I now believe that we should not attempt it. It wasn’t long after those days when that dilemma surfaced, that I began to come across a few answers to some of these issues, and I’d like to share some of them. To do so, let’s examine some passages of Scripture together, and see how what is often claimed about tongues today, measures up to the Word of God. There is not space to consider all of the issues involved, but it is important to establish some basic principles about glossolalia before trying to tackle the more complex issues of the subject.


What’s the point?

One basic question is not asked often enough about this perplexing issue, yet it should be among the first: What is actually the point of speaking in tongues, that is, a language which they themselves, and most people around them, can’t understand in most cases? Thankfully, the Scriptures provide an answer. 1 Corinthians 14:22 tells us that ‘tongues are for a sign’, and more specifically, that, ‘tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe, but to unbelievers’. Therefore, whatever else we want to say about tongues, we see that their purpose was as a sign for unbelievers. The verse previous to this is also enlightening, as it includes a quote from the Old Testament: ‘In the law it is written: With men of other tongues and other lips I will speak to this people; and yet for all that, they will not hear Me.’ 1 Corinthians 14:21.

This quote in Paul’s letter is from Isaiah 28:11, and there the term ‘this people’ refers to Israel. Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians was written around AD 50, during the time covered by the book of Acts (c. AD 30 to AD 62). During that time, God was still dealing with Israel as a special nation, as distinct from the Gentiles of the day. However, Israel had rejected Jesus of Nazareth as the rightful king, and was still refusing to accept Him in the decades which followed the crucifixion – the period covered by the book of Acts, and this is when the passages about tongues in 1 Corinthians were written.

In other words, the speaking of tongues was to be a sign for these same unbelieving Israelites scattered throughout the world at that time. This is an important principle in exploring the reason behind tongues-speaking in Scripture: it is closely associated with unbelieving Israelites throughout the Bible.


Associated with unbelieving Israel

At the time those verses from 1 Corinthians 14 were written, God was still dealing primarily through Israel (as opposed to nowadays, when He deals with people regardless of nationality). The statement that tongues are a sign for unbelievers illustrates that speaking in tongues was for the benefit of unbelieving Israelites.

Not only is Isaiah 28:11, (quoted in 1 Corinthians 14:21 – see above) associated with unbelieving Israel, but so is another passage in Deuteronomy. One of the curses which would come upon Israel if they were disobedient to God’s law was that ‘The LORD will bring a nation against you [Israel] from afar… a nation whose language you will not understand.’ Deuteronomy 28:15,49. Throughout the Old Testament, Israelites and Jews stumbled through a number of phases of unbelief and disobedience to God’s law, and were duly subjected to the rule of several different nations, whose languages they could not understand, for example, 2 Chronicles 36:15–17.

In these Old Testament instances, it was the enemies of Israel who spoke the foreign languages to the nation when they were in a state of unbelief. When we come to the New Testament, however, it is Israelites and Jews who are speaking in foreign languages, or ‘tongues’. This time, it is to their own people, and, as we shall see, the theme of unbelieving Israel is still a major factor whenever we read of speaking in tongues in the Scriptures – Old Testament or New.

Let’s turn our attention to Acts two for a moment where we find the first occasion of glossolalia in the New Testament. The setting is the Day of Pentecost and it is no coincidence that this was a particularly Jewish festival – see Leviticus 23:15–22, where the same festival is called ‘The Feast of Weeks’. In Acts 2:4 we read that the apostles ‘were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues’ (see also verse 11). The listeners were all Jews, many of them having been born outside Palestine and living in various regions around the Mediterranean. These visitors to Jerusalem heard the apostles speak ‘each in our own language in which we were born’ (verse 8, see also verse 6). Quite understandably, they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another ‘What could this mean?’ (verse 12)

So if it is correct that tongues are a sign to unbelieving Israel, what was it that these Jews didn’t believe? Peter’s speech, which follows, tells them exactly: they didn’t believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the promised Christ.

Notice that Peter is here addressing the ‘men of Israel’, Acts 2:22; not Gentiles, nor the church today, but ‘men of Israel’. He speaks to them of Jesus of Nazareth, ‘a man attested by God to YOU’, but a man whom ‘YOU have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and have put to death’. Who is ‘you’ in these instances? Israelites who did not believe that Jesus of Nazareth was the promised Christ, when indeed He was. Don’t miss the connection – tongues are spoken, and then in response to the question ‘what does this mean?’, Peter responds by illustrating Israelite unbelief. The phenomenon of tongues-speaking is closely associated with unbelieving Israel.

It is sometimes said that tongues were used to communicate the message of Christ to unbelieving Jews who spoke a different language. This is possibly true, but perhaps something more was happening here. At the time of Acts two, in the first century AD, Greek was the common language of the Roman Empire. Most people would have been able to speak it, and many could write it, as is evidenced by the fact that the New Testament was originally written in Greek. Tongues were present at the Day of Pentecost in Acts two, not only so that Peter could communicate, but as a sign to the unbelieving Israelites attending what was a very ‘Israelitish’ festival.

In Jerusalem, on that day, many Jews from various parts of the ancient world gathered together to keep the feast. Although most would have been able to speak the commonly used Greek language, we are told that each one heard the word in their own native tongue – a reminder of Isaiah 28:11 quoted above, that with foreign tongues God would speak to unbelieving Israel. This brings us to our next point.


Intelligible languages

Tongues in Scripture are always intelligible languages, not just religious babbling, unable to be understood by anyone else. In Acts two, the Jews visiting Jerusalem heard the languages of their own particular locality, which they could understand. For instance, when Peter spoke, the Egyptian Jews present would have heard Peter in the Egyptian language. In both Isaiah 28:11 and Deuteronomy 28:49 the languages referred to were also genuine languages of the nations who invaded Palestine. And so we could go on.

Many sincere Christians think that once a person has a religious experience and begins to utter any syllables (so long as it isn’t English or whatever their native language might be), then they must be speaking in a God-inspired tongue. With this I cannot agree. We will deal with the notion that people speak in the ‘tongues of angels’ in part two. Today, glossolalia, under the false supposition of being ‘spiritual language’, is employed not only by Christian groups, but also by many non-Christian groups. Variants of ‘religious babbling’ are not at all unique to Christianity, and are exercised frequently amongst many tribal groups, some Buddhists, and many who practise Transcendental Meditation.

This should make us think. Would the God of the Scriptures be endorsing the spirituality of those who worship a pagan god? Would the God of the Scriptures speak through the adherents of Buddhism in this way? Would the God of the Scriptures be edified in those who say that we do not even need God? Surely the answer is ‘No’, and it should cause us to consider carefully what is actually happening when people speak in tongues today, whether Christian or pagan. This is especially true in a dispensation during which Israel has been set aside as a special nation in God’s dealings with man.

Furthermore, we have ancient documents that tell of glossolalia being exercised well before Christian times. Possibly the earliest of such records dates back to around 1100 BC in an Egyptian document known as the Report of Wenamun. There is some debate about the interpretation of that document, but there is no question that Plato (Greek philosopher c. 400 BC) refers to religious babbling, similar to tongues-speaking today, in some of his works known as The Dialogues of Plato. Babbling purporting to be spiritual language was also a regular feature of the pagan worship in the Temple at Delphi in Ancient Greece, before the time of Alexander the Great (pre-330 BC). The Roman poet Virgil (1st century BC) also referred to the phenomenon of speaking in tongues. This was not a practice that began on the Day of Pentecost in Acts two.

At the time of Acts 2 itself, supposed ‘tongues-speaking’ was still a common phenomenon in the pagan Greek temples. It was practised primarily by the temple priests and priestesses, who would often put themselves into a trance, and speak in tongues of religious ecstasy.

In light of 1 Corinthians 14:22 – ‘tongues are for a sign’ – would such incomprehensible babbling be a sign to Israel? The Jews of Acts two would most certainly have rejected anything like this. Had they NOT been able to understand what the apostles were saying on that day, it would have been no different to the practices found in the pagan temples, and would have been no sign to Israel at all. In fact, it would actually have been a deterrent to them, since, by this time, Israel had been ‘cured’ of the idolatrous practices found amongst them so often in Old Testament times.

However, those listeners on the Day of Pentecost DID understand the words being spoken, and it was clearly something more than just random syllables – it was proper speech that they could comprehend. Because the words they could understand came to these men of Israel in such an unusual manner on that day, they asked, ‘What could this mean?’, (Acts 2:12, after which Peter highlighted their unbelief towards God’s chosen one, Jesus of Nazareth. Once we establish this strong link between tongues and unbelieving Israel, it should give us cause to question the validity, and the point, of what we see claimed today as being God-ordained.


Part 1 Summary

At this point, let us draw together a few thoughts from what we have seen so far:

(a)   In the Old Testament, prophecies associating foreign languages being spoken to Israel with their unbelief and disobedience.

(b)   In the New Testament, tongues were a gift to some believers, given as a sign for the benefit of unbelieving Israelites.

(c)   Tongues in Scripture are always real languages.

(d)   What is supposed to be tongues-speaking, today or in history, is not necessarily real language or God-ordained.

In the next part, we will conclude our brief introduction to this phenomenon by taking a closer look at 1 Corinthians, chapters 12 to 14. There we shall examine some of the ways in which the gift of tongues was operating in the early church, consider the early church’s responsibilities in exercising this gift, and make some comparisons and contrasts with what we commonly see in many Christian gatherings today.


Part 2

In these two brief articles dealing with a complex topic, my aim is to discuss some of the main issues of the matter of tongues-speaking, so that the reader may be in a better position to further explore the more detailed particulars of the subject.

In the previous part, we looked at the word ‘glossolalia’, which is the ability to speak in another language, or perhaps more than one language. Importantly, this ability is unlearned; thus, the ability to speak in another language, having been brought up in a multi-lingual household, or by studying another language at school, is not included under glossolalia. In a Christian context, God is said to give this ability.

We could say much more, in addition to the points set out in the Part 1 Summary (see above), but we shall now turn again to 1 Corinthians, as there is more about tongues there than in any other book of the Bible. Let us learn more about how the gift of tongues operated in the early church, and compare what we find stated there with what we see practised today.



There is one myth that we should dismiss straight away – namely, that tongues show great spirituality. Speaking in tongues was commonplace among the believers of the Corinthian church, but it wasn’t the hallmark of a spiritual church. Several times in 1 Corinthians, the same letter which addresses tongues-speaking among believers more than any other, we find great chastisement of those same believers for their immature and ungodly behaviour. For example, they are referred to as being worldly or ‘carnal’, 3:1; there were many contentious divisions within that church, 1:10–12; 11:17; sexual immorality was present amongst them, 5:1; 6:18; there was gluttony and greed at the Passover, 11:17–33; and these are just a sample. Whatever else may be concluded about this issue, the view that tongues-speaking is manifested by godly and mature Christians and is a sign of a believer’s deeper relationship with the Lord, simply cannot be justified. It certainly wasn’t the case at Corinth.

I want now to look at selected verses from 1 Corinthians 12–14, and make a few comments concerning the role and operation of tongues-speaking.


Thoughts from 1 Corinthians 12

1 Corinthians 12–14 is a section ‘concerning spiritual gifts’. The gifts listed in 12:8–10 are wisdom, knowledge, faith, healing, miracle working, prophecy, the ability to discern spirits, tongues-speaking, and interpretation of tongues-speaking. Believers of the Acts period all had at least one of these gifts, 12:7, but that is not the case today. The operation of these particular gifts and abilities were unique to the period covered by the book of Acts, c. AD 30–c. AD 62, during which 1 Corinthians was written, c. AD 50. Such gifts were tied up with God’s dealings with Israel, and, since God is not dealing with Israel differently to any other nation today (Ephesians 3:6), these gifts have ceased to be in operation for the present time.

Note that, in the list given above, tongues and the interpretation of tongues are actually placed last in the list, 12:10. A similar list of gifts and God-given abilities may also be found later on in 12:28–30 where, once again, tongues and their interpretation are placed last. It is even suggested there that tongues is not one of the ‘best’ gifts to be desired, 12:31.

Whilst every believer during Acts had one of the gifts, 12:7, not everyone was given the specific gift of speaking in tongues. In our English translations, this is quite apparent from the context; however it is even plainer in the Greek. In 12:30 we have the question: ‘Do all speak in tongues?’. This is the Greek phrase, me pantes glossais lalousin. Most English translations leave the particle ‘me’ untranslated; however, the Greek particle ‘me’, as part of a question such as this, indicates that the answer is ‘no’. In other words, we may accurately translate this phrase as, ‘Do all speak in tongues? No.’ Instantly, this ought to debunk the idea that, back then or today, all true believers speak in tongues.

Let us digress from 1 Corinthians for a moment to look beyond the Acts period and consider a writing from the current dispensation. 1 Timothy was written around AD 66 after Israel was set aside, c. AD 62. Chapter three lists a series of ‘musts’ for overseers and deacons, including such qualities as being of good behaviour, able to teach, not being quarrelsome, and so on, verses 2–12. Interestingly, the ability to speak in tongues is not in this list. If all believers were required to speak in tongues today, especially mature believers in positions of leadership, surely this would be in the list. However, it never was the case that all believers were to display glossolalia. Apart from this, by the time this epistle was written to Timothy, Israel had been set aside as a special nation in God’s plans, and since the gifts had been associated with Israel, there was no longer a place or a role for tongues. That situation has remained the same.


Thoughts from 1 Corinthians 13

1 Corinthians 13 is the famous ‘love’ chapter that has been read at many wedding ceremonies, including my wife’s and mine many years ago. There are some wonderful words about love spoken of in this chapter, and there is much from it that we can rightly apply (or try to apply!) to our own situation today. However, it will serve us well to remember that it is still part of that three-chapter section ‘concerning spiritual gifts’ (1 Corinthians 12:1) in force during Acts period times, and this is reflected in one or two phrases within the great chapter about love.

Verse 13:1 reads, ‘Though I speak with the tongues of men and angels…’ (KJV/NKJV). The NIV’s rendering is more accurate, reading, ‘If I speak…’ The Greek particle in question here is ean, which is used in uncertain situations. Here it is more of a hypothetical suggestion, and could read: ‘If I speak in the tongues of men, even if I spoke in the tongues of angels…’, utilising a figure of speech we call hyperbole, or exaggeration, in order to stress a point. The sentiment being expressed is: ‘Even if I speak in the most wondrous languages, but I have not love, I’m just making meaningless noise.’

Tongues are often said to be angelic languages because of this verse. Interestingly, this is the only occurrence of the tongues of angels mentioned in Scripture, and if you read the verse carefully, you will notice that Paul doesn’t even say he has spoken in an angelic language. It is perhaps a moot point, but everywhere else in the Bible, angels are recorded as speaking in the ordinary language of human languages anyway! One famous example is the angel who spoke to the women at the Lord’s tomb. There he spoke to them in a language they could understand: ‘He is not here, He is risen’, Matthew 28:2–7, and there are many other such instances.

In 13:8, we read that, whilst love will never fail, tongues will indeed cease at some stage. It is apparent that speaking in tongues was not intended to be part of Christian experience forever.


Thoughts from 1 Corinthians 14

The first point to note from the 14th chapter, for readers of the KJV text, is that the word ‘unknown’ has been inserted to form the phrase ‘unknown tongue’. You will observe that it is in ITALICS, indicating that the word was not there in the original Greek text, and has been inserted by the translators. Often the translators insert words so as to make sense in English; in most cases this is justified, but this is not in this instance. As we have seen, tongues in Scripture were always known languages, and it is inconsistent to make the text read ‘unknown tongue’ in this chapter alone. The word ‘unknown’ should therefore be omitted in verses 2, 4, 13, 14 and 19.

Verse 14:1 begins with an exhortation to ‘desire spiritual gifts’. This is an example of where we need to distinguish between the commands and writings of the Acts period (when such gifts were linked with Israel’s special place before God), and those after the Acts period (pertaining to the current dispensation, when Israel is not being treated by God any differently to the Gentile nations). Remember, all the gifts spoken of in 1 Corinthians 12–14 were specific to the Acts period.

In the first article, we considered the statement that tongues are a sign for unbelievers, as stated in 14:22. In the context of verse 21, we saw that there was a special significance of foreign tongues to the people of Israel, especially when in a state of unbelief, as evidenced by the quotation from Isaiah 28:11,12. Please refer back to the first part for thoughts already discussed on this particular aspect.

From a reading of 1 Corinthians 14:27,28, it is apparent that, with the gift, came a responsibility of usage and that a measure of control was required. Tongues could be exercised or constrained at will amongst gatherings of believers, by those who had the gift. Note, however, that this gift was to be exercised in conjunction with an interpreter; if no interpreter was present, then the gift was not to be carried out at all in public.

The message of chapter 14 is summed up in verses 39 and 40 – amongst the gatherings, prophecy was actually a better gift to be sought. However, tongues had a place as well. More to the point though, all of the gifts were to be exercised in an orderly fashion.



Let’s now ask ourselves a series of questions, comparing what we read in Scripture with how we see glossolalia practised among Christians today.


  • Question:   Is tongues-speaking today always in legitimate languages?

Response:     No. Often the same word or set of syllables is repeated, interspersed with other syllables, the result being usually well-intentioned, but meaningless noise.


  • Question:   Are interpretations of tongues-speaking today genuine and consistent?

Response:     In uncontrolled settings, how can such ‘gifts’ be verified as either genuine languages, or accurate interpretations? The answer is that they can’t be, and they usually aren’t. In one research study (cited in Our Firm Foundation magazine 1996 Vol. 11), a person claiming to have the gift of tongues was recorded speaking in tongues; this recording was then played to several people each claiming to have the gift of interpretation, with the result that different translations of the same speech were offered. Likewise, D. A. Carson cites several instances of proven spurious interpretations under varying circumstances (Showing the Spirit p. 87). Furthermore, it is not unusual to come across examples of an interpreter speaking for much longer than the tongues speaker they are supposed to be interpreting; for example, the message in tongues may have been twenty words long, but the interpretation was seventy words long. In addition, if the gift of tongues is operational today, why aren’t there more people who interpret? They are vastly outnumbered by people who speak in tongues without interpretation.

Now compare all of that to Acts 2, where Jews coming from different regions around the Mediterranean all heard – and understood – the languages they recognised from their homelands. That was undeniably a working of God. In light of this, one can only conclude that the accuracy of the interpretations of tongues we often witness today is highly questionable, to say the least.


  • Question:   Is Christian glossolalia always carried out in an orderly fashion?

Response:     Quite often it is not. It is not uncommon to witness several people speaking in tongues at the same time, contrary to the command of 1 Corinthians 14:27 to speak one at a time. Neither is it uncommon for glossolalia to go un-interpreted, which is contrary to the next verse (verse 28) that commands, ‘If there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in the church’.

Of even greater concern is ignorance of the exhortation of 1 Corinthians 14:40 to ‘let all things be done decently and in order’. Sadly, we have all seen images of meetings where the exhibition of gifts, real or imagined, is disorderly and chaotic. Uncontrolled hysteria is sometimes seen, such as rolling on the floor, laughing uncontrollably, being ‘slain in the spirit’, etc. Such behaviour is not even Biblical and is in fact quite contrary to the instructions of Scripture. It is one thing to act with godly intentions, and attempt to speak in tongues, unaware of the various conditions operating in the current dispensation; it is quite another to bring disrespect and scorn to our God and our faith through actions that are ungodly, irreverent and more akin to pagan customs than any instructions we find in the Bible.


  • Question:   Is tongues-speaking instant or must people first prepare themselves?

Answer:     Glossolalia in Scripture required no preparation, yet plenty of advice is available today, via books, the internet, church leaders, etc. on what new Christians can do to start speaking in tongues. This is usually along the lines of, ‘relax and clear the mind’, ‘forget your natural language’, ‘let the Spirit take control’, etc. However, instructions and techniques like these can also be found in the teachings of Buddhism and Transcendental Meditation, whereas in Scripture, no such preparations are spoken of as being necessary.

Significantly, no one in the Bible is ever told to pray for the gift of tongues. Yet this, along with the fact that there are so many instructional aids available, shows there is often a great pressure for people new to the church, or the charismatic kind of meeting, to speak in tongues. Some claim that all should speak in tongues after a ‘second blessing’, thereby producing a more complete Christian. Scripture, again, knows nothing of this. So, what happens when a person makes a commitment to Christ, and is expected to speak in tongues but doesn’t? This failed expectation, and the pressure that often accompanies it, has ‘overthrown the faith’ (2 Timothy 2:18) of many, and is one of the sadder results of misunderstanding the place of tongues-speaking today.


  • Question:   Is glossolalia today God-ordained, or of some other origin?

Answer:     This is not a simple question to tackle. Quite often, what we see claimed as being a gift of the Holy Spirit speaking in tongues through a believer, is really that person performing it themselves as a learnt behaviour or skill. In most cases, that person believes that the Holy Spirit is producing this phenomenon. Interpretations of such babblings that are inconsistent with Scripture, along with ‘prophecies’ of great events which do not come to pass, certainly do not originate from our God.

Should God decide to exercise this gift through someone for a specific purpose today, He will do it, but it certainly is not the normal course of events, given that tongues in Scripture were associated with Israel, and their position as a special nation in God’s dealings has been set aside for the present.

Another possibility is that what we see may sometimes be supernatural, but not of God. Of course, it is not always easy for us to establish the difference between something ‘Satanic’, something stemming from man’s fallen nature, or something done merely out of delusion or being misguided. There is plenty of Biblical evidence that the presence of miracles and other wondrous phenomena is not proof in itself of God’s hand at work. Consider the imitation work of the Egyptian magicians in Exodus 7:22, and that Christ Himself spoke of some who will have performed many wonders in His name, yet His response will be ‘I never knew you’ (Matthew 7:22,23). In Acts 16, we read of a lady who cried out: ‘These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation’. What she said was correct, but after a few days of this, Paul exorcised a demonic spirit from her. Glossolalia, miracle working, and things which have an appearance of being from God, are not always what they seem.

I am certainly not suggesting that every occurrence of tongues is demonic in origin, but leaving the mind open for anything to come out is not a healthy practice. If one ‘lets themselves go’, frees the mind and just utters whatever comes out, what comes out could actually be blasphemous or Satanic in origin. Alternatively, it could simply be that the person is leaving themselves open for the old nature to dominate. Either way, believers are never told to let their behaviour be led in this way; instead we read warnings to be on our guard and be ‘watchful’ for ways in which we may be misled. Ephesians 6:18; 1 Corinthians 16:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:6.



There are many related issues we have not discussed in this article, but it will help the reader to keep in mind the following principles concerning tongues-speaking:

1.    It was a sign to unbelieving Israel.

2.    After Acts 28, God-ordained tongues-speaking was set aside.

3.    Speaking in tongues is not unique to Christianity, and what may appear to be a working of the Holy Spirit in the form of glossolalia today, is unlikely to be God-ordained.

If our God chooses to use this medium to carry out His will in some extraordinary circumstance today, who are we to say that He shouldn’t? Yet, in light of God’s own Word, any tongues-speaking that has nothing to do with unbelieving Israel, and is contrary to the conditions and instructions set forth in 1 Corinthians 12 to 14, must be viewed as not being God-ordained.

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Click on for an audio recording and a chart about Tongues-speaking Today.

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