Speaking in Tongues: What the Bible Say

Speaking in Tongues: What the Bible Say

Speaking in Tongues: What the Bible Say


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Speaking in tongues: what does the Bible say? The first time the phenomenon of what is often called “speaking in tongues” occurred among the early followers of Jesus was recorded in Acts Chapter 2. In the context of the first recorded message of the early believers in Jesus, Luke preserved for history these words, “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4).

Luke also recorded the event when the gospel was first preached to the non-Jewish people in the house of Cornelius:

While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God (Acts 10:44-46).

Luke also gave the historical setting when Paul first came upon some disciples of John the Baptist in Ephesus:

And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples, He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost. And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied. And all the men were about twelve (Acts 19:1-7).

Speaking in tongues was predicted by Jesus.

After the death and resurrection of Jesus and just before he was taken up into heaven by the heavenly Father, Jesus spoke these words to his disciples:

Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover (Mark 16:15-18).

Speaking in tongues was a phenomenon that occurred among the early followers of Jesus as recorded by Luke, the historian. The real question about speaking in tongues is not whether they occurred in the Bible or not. The real concern, as recorded by Luke, should be why speaking in tongues happened. Did speaking in tongues occur for the sake of the phenomenon itself? Or, was God using this physical phenomenon to teach a great spiritual truth.

Speaking in tongues points to a greater truth.

Jesus had said that those early believers would

receive power, after that the Holy Ghost [was] come upon [them]: and [that they would] be witnesses unto [him] both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:8).

When the baptism of the Holy Spirit was occurring those same believers went about “Praising God, and having favour [being gracious] with all the people” (Acts 2:47). When the martyrdom of a believer occurs and Christ comes forth out of his life, the real witness of Jesus is experienced. What does actually happen when a believer is going through the process of a baptism of the Holy Spirit?

By the simple physical phenomenon of speaking in tongues a language they did not know how to speak, God was revealing a powerful spiritual truth. There is nothing else that can occur in the lives of those in whom God is working but “many wonders and signs” (Acts 2:43). They would, indeed, as they experienced the many baptisms of life by the power of the Holy Spirit, be speaking with a new language. They would be speaking in a way they had never spoke previously. Though the power of the Holy Spirit working in the lives of those early believers “the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved” (Acts 2:47).

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