Speaking in Tongues

Speaking in Tongues

A. Naismith

What do the Scriptures teach about the BAPTISM OF THE SPIRIT? In each case where reference is made to this it is “in the Spirit,” indicating that the Holy Spirit is the element. ‘In one Spirit were we all baptized into one body’ (Cor. 12:13). Those addressed, of whom this is predicted, were the Christians in the church at Corinth who had not been present at Pentecost in Acts 2, and were then certainly not believers. The baptism of the Spirit took place once for all at Pentecost and has never been repeated. The expression occurs in the New Testament 7 times, — once in each of the four Gospels (Matt. 3:11; Mark 1:8; Luke 3:16; John 1:33, twice in the Acts — 1:5; 11:16; and once in the Epistles of Paul — 1 Cor. 12:13).

“Be Filled With The Spirit” — In Ephesians 5:18—is to be a continuous experience of the believer. There are many fillings, as in Acts 2:4; 4:8; 4:31; 6:5, etc. The context of Ephesians 5:18, makes no mention of speaking with tongues, but of ‘speaking to yourselves, i.e. to one another,’ in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs.’ Whether we read it with the comma after ‘yourselves’ or after ‘songs’ does not affect the consideration before us here. The filling of the Spirit produces a joyful life (Eph. 5:19), a thankful life (Eph. 5:20), a graceful life (Eph. 5:21-25), a peaceful life (Eph. 6:4), a hopeful life (Eph. 6:8), a powerful life (Eph. 6:10) and a prayerful life (Eph. 6:18).

Speaking With Tongues is mentioned once in the Gospels (Mark 16:17), 3 times in Acts — 2:3; 10:46; 19:6 —and in three consecutive chapters in 1 Corinthians, viz. chapters 12, 13 and 14.

Observe that the word ‘unknown’ in the King James version in 1 Corinthians 14:2, 4, 13, 14, 19, 27, is in italics in each case, and this indicates that in the original there is no word for ‘unknown.’ The same word is used for ‘tongues’ in the verse in Mark 16, in the occurrences in Acts and in those in 1 Corinthians. We infer from this that the ‘TONGUES’ referred to are of the same kind in every case, namely, tongues spoken and understood by men in some land or other.

In 1 Corinthians 12:10, 30, tongues and their interpretation are mentioned last. They are the last of the spiritual gifts and come after the gift of miracles. How many who claim to have the gift of tongues have the gift of miracles which is listed before tongues?

Tongues Shall Cease (1 Cor. 13:8). Here the word is different from that used for prophecies and knowledge.

Prophecies were superseded when the revelation was complete, and teaching took the place of the prophetic gift.

Knowledge of things not yet revealed was superseded, when the Scriptures were completed by the knowledge of what has been revealed in the Word of God by the Spirit of God.


In 1 Corinthians 14 Paul does not forbid the Corinthian saints to speak with tongues but he definitely discourages their use.

Consider some Reasons Why Speaking With Tongues Is Discouraged:

· They are not understood (1 Cor. 14:2):

· They are not for edification (1 Cor. 14:3,4):

· They do not give a clear or certain sound (1 Cor. 14:7, 8):

· They are not becoming, have a barbarous sound (1 Cor. 14:11).

· Therefore ‘Seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the Church.’ (verse 12).

(2) Personal

· I cannot understand my own prayer (1 Cor. 14:14).

· The unlearned cannot understand my prayer or my message.

· I would rather say 5 words with my understanding than 10,000 in a tongue (1 Cor. 14:19):

· I prattle like a child and am like a child in understanding when I speak in a tongue (1 Cor. 14:20)

· Therefore “Tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe but to them that believe not,’ (1 Cor. 14:22).

(3) Effects And Use Of Tongues

The unbelieving visitor to the church gathering will say ‘ye are mad’ if you speak with tongues: but if you prophesy, they will say that ‘God is with you of a truth’ (1 Cor. 14:23-25):

· Tongues must always be used sparingly (1 Cor. 14:27):

· Tongues are only to be used when an interpreter is present (1 Cor. 14:28):

· Tongues cannot be judged by the hearers (1 Cor. 14:29).

Therefore “Let all things be done unto edifying” (1 Cor. 14:26): “Let the others judge” (1 Cor. 14:29), and “Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Cor. 14:40).

A. Naismith