What Does the Bible Say About Speaking in Tongues?

Speaking in tongues is a manifestation of the Holy Spirit that not all believers have seen (and not everyone would say they believe). Examples of what is called the language of Angels is everywhere today, and was common in Biblical times.

What Does the Bible Say About Speaking in Tongues

The Bible has a lot to say about speaking in tongues, or in a language that can’t be understood by people. In the Bible, speaking in tongues is mentioned as a special gift that appears as a manifestation of the Holy Spirir.

Almost no book makes as many mentions of this specific gift as 1 Corinthians. If we would like to know what the Bible has to say about people speaking in tongues, a great deal of references are right here.

In 1 Corinthians, it is said that unbelievers will view those who speak in tongues as ‘out of their minds’. Speaking in tongues is an unusual manifestation of the Spiirt, and it can be a strange thing to behold.

“If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds?” 1 Corinthians 14:23

In Biblical times, almost just like today, people had a lot of quesitons once they have seen someone speaking in tongues. The language of the divine cannot be understood by people, and the Bible admits that people who do not believe (or do not believe yet) can find it confusing or strange at first.

Another mention of speaking in tongues appears in 1 Corinthians 13, where the language is called the ‘tongues of men and of angels’. The Bible mentions again that speaking in tongues is a gift that not everyone – even faithful people – will understand when they see it happen.

The same passage in 1 Corinthians tells us more: speaking in tongues, the speaker says, is only useful with the addition of love and faith, or it can be little more than a noisy gong or a clanging symbol.

“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. ” 1 Corinthians 13:1-13

Speaking in tongues is a great manifestation of the Spirit, but the BIble also says that it can be meaningless to speak in tongues if your heart (and your mind) is not focused on the Lord when it happens.

The BIble also warns against false prophets, which might use the appearance of gifts like speaking in tongues or prophesy to deceive real believers. Even though this is a great gift, God also tells us to not believe everything we see as divine.

Can People Understand Speaking in Tongues?

The Bible tells us that speaking in tongues is not something that people can always understand or interpret.

In 1 Corinthians, it is said that spiritual gifts (like speaking in tongues) is something that we should desire. The Bible also says here that, when someone speaks in tongues, they are not understood by people (because they are speaking directly to God).

This section of Corinthians talks about uttering ‘mysteries in the Spirit’ which God can understand, though people can’t comprehend or translate.

“Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit. On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation.” 1 Corinthians 14:1-40

When someone speaks in tongues, the Bible says that it’s for God to understand and interpret. People, as previous passages say in 1 Corinthians, might not always understand what they are seeing or hearing.

Is Speaking in Tongues Real?

According to the Bible, yes.

1 Corinthians mentions speaking in tongues as a gift from God, but it’s not the only passage in the Bible to make such a point. References to people who speak in tongues through the Spirit also appear in other books of the Bible, including Acts 2.

“If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds?” 1 Corinthians 14:23

Speaking in tongues is talked about in the Word as a very real gift from the Lord, which is something that not everyone is able to do (but some people can when they ae inspired by the Spirit).

It is important to mention again the passage from 1 Corinthians: when people who do not believe set those who speak in tongues, it is difficult for them to know what they’re looking at.

Is Speaking in Tongues the Word of God?

Speaking in tongues is considered one of God’s gifts, and the Bible expands to tell us that He can understand anyone who is driven by the Spirit and speaking in a language we cannot grasp.

“Acts, though, also tells us that others who are inspired by the Spirit at the same time might be able to hear ‘tongues’ as though the words are being said in their ‘own native language’.
And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language?” Acts 2:8

If we go back to 1 Corinthians one more time, it tells us that ‘manifestations of the Spirit’ have the ability to uplift the church.

“So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church.” 1 Corinthians 14:12

Let us also remember that the Spirit can come to inspire people in many different ways. Some might be driven to speak in tongues, while it can also be said that each of us have our own gift that brings joy to the Lord.

While some can glorify the Lord with gifts such as speaking in tongues, others will be driven by the Spirit to sing, rejoice, write music or pray. We all have our own unique ways of glorifying the Lord.

What Does the Bible Say About Speaking in Tongues

Speaking in Tongues and Faith

Is Speaking in Tongues a Gift from God?

Speaking in tongues is repetitively referred to as a divine gift, a gift from God or a ‘manifestation of the spirit’. A specific passage in Acts tells us that people were able to speak in tongues thanks to the SPirit, who provided them with the ability to do this.

“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” Acts 2:4

There are more references in the Bible that tell us about speaking in tongues as a gift fro the Lord. Mark 16:17 says that they who believe will have the power to speak in new tongues and cast out demons.

In this way, the Bible tells us that speaking in tongues is only one of the many ways in which the Spirit might work through people.

“And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues.” Mark 16:17

The answer to why not everyone is able to do (or understand) this gift, is because everyone has their own individual special ability that is inspired by the Spirit and the Lord.

Whatever your talent could be, there is always a way to use it in honor of the Lord.

Is Speaking in Tongues Against the Bible?

Not at all.

Most examples of speaking in tongues throughout the Bible mentions it in a positive context. More specifically, 1 Corinthians 14 says ‘do not forbid speaking in tongues’ as it was a clear manifestation of the Spirit at the time.

“So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues.” 1 Corinthians 14:39

We are always encouraged to use our gifts and talents, whether it is understanding the language of angels or something else we are good at when it comes to our faith.

One more reference to speaking in tongues, again in 1 Corinthians, says that God has appointed several people to the church – amongst these, teachers, healers, those able to use their gifts to help, and others who have the ability to speak in tongues.

“And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues.” 1 Corinthians 12:28

Speaking in tongues is, through most of the Bible, seen as something very rare – but very special when it happens, just like any other gift that the Lord might have giten.

Can Everyone Speak in Tongues?

The Bible says that not everyone has the ability to speak in tongues, but also says that not everyone needs to in order to be close to God.

This passage in 1 Corinthians says that speaking in tongues is not always meant for believers of Christ, but for people who do not yet believe and those who ask for signs of the Spirit.

“Thus tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers, while prophecy is a sign not for unbelievers but for believers.” 1 Corinthians 14:22

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