What does it mean to speak in tongues? This study will expose the false doctrines and teach the truth.
By Larry Groenewald and Mike Vinson
See a list of all the studies in this series
The word “kinds” in the phrase “kinds of tongues” is the word “genos” (plural “gene”)
in Greek, which means “a family”, or “group” (clan), or “nation”. The Greek word for
tongue is “glōssa” which points to the languages we speak. According to linguists
there are different families of languages spoken on earth (an estimated 6,700
recognized languages), all human languages form part of one big family, the natural
Gen 11:1 And the whole earth was of one language, and of one speech.
However, God “confounded the language of all the earth” at the tower of Babel:
Gen 11:7 Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that
they may not understand one another’s speech.
Gen 11:9 Therefore is the name of it called Babel; because the LORD did
there confound the language of all the earth: and from thence did the LORD
scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth.
[“confound”: in the Hebrew this word carries with it “to mingle”, “to confuse”, “to
mix”, “to give provender”, “to feed” (animals)]
Although there are numerous natural languages spoken today, their “one speech” is
still the same – one “genos”. In Acts 2 another language was introduced:
Act 2:1 And when the day of Pentecost was now come, they were all
together in one place.
On this occasion the 120 disciples who were filled with the spirit of God were
all “Galilaeans”. They were caused (by the one spirit of God) to speak in
other languages they never learned before:
Act 2:2-4 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing
mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there
appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of
them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with
other tongues [languages], as the Spirit gave them utterance.
The languages spoken on that occasion were known languages – not unknown or
gibberish repetitive sounds (baby sounds) and other forms of counterfeits which
spiritual Babylon parades. These languages spoken on that day in Jerusalem were
familiar natural languages to the other unbelieving Jews from “every nation under
Act 2:5-6 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out
of every nation under heaven. 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 the only “evidence” we need because the Scriptures actually reveal the
names of the places from where these Jews originated:
Act 2:7-12 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another,
Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every
man in our own tongue [language], wherein we were born? Parthians, and
Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and
Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in
the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,
Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues [language]
the wonderful works of God. And they were all amazed, and were in doubt,
saying one to another, What meaneth this?
This was done for one purpose: to speak “the wonderful works of God” and this was
the “sign” to “them that believe not”:
1Co 14:22a Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but
to them that believe not:
Speaking in another language when no one understands the language is not
profitable to anyone, even in the natural. Today people can hear the wonderful
works of God in almost all known languages, even through the numerous Bible
translations. So the speaking in or with “tongues” in the book of Acts was an
outward sign to unbelievers and was again just a type and shadow of an inward
language which the spirit of God opens up. Like with natural language acquisition
and development, spiritual language is also acquired by a gift from God and
developed through spiritual interaction (with God and His spiritual family). This
spiritual language binds the spiritual “genos” (the elect of God) in one “perculiar
1Pe 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a
peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called
you out of darkness into his marvellous light:
Carnal Christians cannot understand the spiritual language spoken by a few and,
like in the days of Acts 2, mock and hate (kill) them who are the true Israel of God in
Mat 10:22 And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that
endureth to the end shall be saved.
This new language is the spiritual fulfilment of the second harvest feast (of the three
great feasts) on the Jewish calendar:
Exo 23:14 Three times thou shalt keep a feast unto me in the year.
Exo 23:15 Thou shalt keep the feast of unleavened bread: (thou shalt eat
unleavened bread seven days, as I commanded thee, in the time appointed
of the month Abib; for in it thou camest out from Egypt: and none shall appear
before me empty:)
Exo 23:16 And the feast of harvest, the firstfruits of thy labours, which
thou hast sown in the field: and the feast of ingathering, which is in the
end of the year, when thou hast gathered in thy labours out of the field.
Exo 23:17 Three times in the year all thy males shall appear before the Lord
Pentecost (G4005) means “fiftieth” in the Greek (also known as the feast of weeks
after the completion of seven full weeks) – that is fifty days after the first feast of
unleavened bread (Jesus):
Lev 23:15 And ye shall count unto you from the morrow after the sabbath,
from the day that ye brought the sheaf [of the first barley harvest] of the wave
offering; seven sabbaths shall be complete:
Lev 23:16 Even unto the morrow after the seventh sabbath shall ye number
fifty days; and ye shall offer a new meat offering unto the LORD.
“New meat” refers to the new spiritual life that has dawned when He opens the
understanding of those who are given “power from on high” (an open heaven) to die
to the old life of carnality with its “languages”:
Luk 24:44 And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake
unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which
were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms,
Luk 24:45 Then opened he their understanding, that they might
understand the scriptures,
Luk 24:46 And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ
to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day:
Luk 24:47 And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in
his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.
Luk 24:48 And ye are witnesses of these things.
Luk 24:49 And, behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you: but tarry
ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.
When God opens our “understanding” of the “hidden things” of God and we
become “witnesses of these things”, then we will speak a new language:
Isa 48:6 Thou hast heard, see all this; and will not ye declare it? I have
shewed thee new things from this time, even hidden things, and thou didst not
1Co 4:5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who
both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest
the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.
This is the language which Paul spoke (more than others):
1Co 14:18 I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all.
Paul emphasizes that nobody should be prevented from “speaking with tongues”:
1Co 14:39 Wherefore, my brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and forbid
not to speak with tongues.
But Paul reserves this for private edification (“Study to show thyself approved
unto God”…speaking “unto God”), because in the assembly he encourages
the “interpretation” or explanation of the spiritual language or message:
1Co 14:4 He that speaketh in a tongue edifieth himself; but he that
prophesieth edifieth the church.
1Co 14:5 Now I would have you all speak with tongues, but rather that
ye should prophesy: and greater is he that prophesieth than he that
speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive
“In the church”, that is “when ye come together”, God only “set some” in ministry
positions because God does not give “all” leadership offices or allow “all” to speak
in “tongues”, so that “all things be done decently and in order”:
1Co 12:28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily
prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps,
governments, diversities of tongues.
1Co 12:29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all
workers of miracles?
1Co 12:30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all
1Co 14:26 How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of
you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an
interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.
1Co 14:27 If any man speak in a tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by
three, and that by course; and let one interpret.
1Co 14:40 Let all things be done decently and in order.
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