Tongues are languages from the very first time the word shows up in Genesis 10:20, 31. Everywhere the word tongues shows up in the Bible it describes a language like Spanish, French, German, Japanese, etc. It’s never a word to describe unintelligent sounds, noises, or gibberish. We use the word today as mother tongue, native tongue; they all mean the same thing. The gift of tongues was simply someone speaking in a language they had not been educated in. Such as someone who didn’t know Japanese began preaching in Japanese. There is no reason for anyone to speak except to communicate. Let’s take a look at the three times in the Bible the gift of tongues shows up. It’s only three times and the purpose is communication every time.
Tongues at Pentecost
- In Acts 2, the feast of Pentecost was going on 50 days after the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Pentecost was one of the main feasts in Israel and Jews from around the world would gather in Jerusalem to celebrate this feast.
- Acts 2:1-5 describes the scene where Jews from all around the world were now gathered in Jerusalem.
- Acts 2:6-11 describes the purpose that these Jews from all over the world would now hear about the Lord Jesus Christ in the language that they spoke. It was a sign to them.
- Prophecy of this event at Pentecost
- Isaiah 28:11-12 For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. 12 To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear.
- 1 Corinthians 14:20-22 Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men. 21 In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord. 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.
- Acts 2:37-40 records some of the response of those gathered in Jerusalem. At this point in time God is calling the Jews and still working with Israel to see them repent and turn to the Lord Jesus Christ.
Tongues at Cornelius’ house
- Peter is sent to Cornelius’ house and preached Acts 10:34-43. When suddenly these Gentiles begin praising God in Hebrew. This showed Peter that the Holy Ghost had fallen on the Gentiles now too,
- These will represent the gospel going into Europe (Acts 10:1)
- They got baptized after it was clear they had received the Holy Ghost. In Acts 2 the Jews were baptized and received the Holy Ghost afterward. Not so with these Gentiles.
Tongues in Ephesus
- Paul finds twelve disciples in Ephesus who had only heard of John the Baptist. Paul preaches the Lord Jesus Christ to them.
- Acts 19:6 tongues spoken by the 12 Ephesians who heard Jesus Christ preached, were baptized and when Paul laid hands on them the Holy Ghost came on them. So they now have the gift of tongues and are able to take the gospel into Asia.
- These will show the gospel going into Asia (Acts 19:10). The significance of the tongues here was to approve the work in Asia whereas it was forbidden earlier in Acts 16:6.
Perversion of this gift
- So the Corinthians are extremely carnal. Very showy and outward about presenting a spiritual facade. They are living in a time when God’s Holy Spirit is confirming the words of God in signs such as gift of tongues. So they are trying to copy this gift to show their spirituality.
- Tongues are simply languages and the gift of tongues is simply the ability to speak a foreign language that he hasn’t been educated in. It’s a gift that required no training, but rather filling of the Holy Ghost. It was done as a sign to confirm the words of God early on. At this point, there is not a need for the gift of tongues because we have a more sure word of prophecy now that the Bible is completed
- No, gift of tongues is not a universal sign of the Holy Ghost. Many will say you have to speak in tongues to have the Holy Spirit which is not true.
- 1 Corinthians 12:30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?
- Secondly, these same folks will call gibberish the gift of tongues. It is never God’s desire for you to lack understanding. Tongues are never babbling gibberish.
- 1 Corinthians 14:14-15, 19 For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. 15 What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. … 19 Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.
- Not a prayer language. There is no such thing as a language that is holier than other languages because God understands it better.
- Thirdly, there is no reason for anyone to speak except to communicate.
- Realistically the only people who speak gibberish are babies and witch doctors.
- 1 Corinthians 14:9 So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air.