What does speaking in tongues mean?

When someone has the ability to talk in tongues, what exactly do they do with it?

On the day of Pentecost, as recorded in Acts 2:1-4, the practice of speaking in tongues was first used. When the apostles went forth to preach the gospel, they used the people’s own languages to do so. This led to the following response: “We hear them announcing the wonders of God in our own tongues!” ” (Acts 2:11). The Greek term for tongues means “languages,” thus the gift of tongues entails communicating in a language one does not know in order to serve to those who do. For example, Paul asks the Corinthians in 1 Corinthians 14: “Now, brothers, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you unless I bring you some revelation, knowledge, prophecy, or word of instruction?” This is part of his discussion of miraculous gifts in chapters 12-14 of 1 Corinthians. ” (1 Corinthians 14:6). The apostle Paul and the languages reported in Acts agree that speaking in tongues is beneficial to the person receiving God’s word in their native language, but is meaningless to everyone else until it is interpreted.

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One who has the ability to interpret languages can comprehend what someone speaking in tongues is saying even though he does not know the language (1 Corinthians 12:30). The person who understood the languages would relay the speaker’s message to the rest of the group so that they could all grasp the meaning. So, “everyone who talks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret what he says” (1 Corinthians 14:13). But in the church I would rather utter five sensible sentences to educate others than ten thousand words in a tongue” (Acts 20:27). This is a striking statement from Paul regarding tongues that were not translated (1 Corinthians 14:19).

To what extent do we need the ability to speak other languages today? There is a reference to the cessation of the gift of languages in 1 Corinthians 13:8, although that verse also links the cessation to the coming of the “perfect” in 13:10. Tongues may have ended before the advent of the “perfect,” as some argue, but this is not made apparent by the text. Others argue that the biblical texts of Isaiah 28:11 and Joel 2:28-29 prove that speaking in tongues foretold the approach of God’s punishment. According to this interpretation, the gift of tongues was a warning to the Jews that God was about to condemn Israel for rejecting Jesus Christ as the Messiah, as described in First Corinthians 14:22. Therefore, the gift of languages would no longer serve its intended function when God really judged Israel (with the fall of Jerusalem by the Romans in A.D. 70). This point of view is plausible, but it does not imply that the primary function of tongues must be terminated after its primary function has been accomplished. The Bible doesn’t say for sure that languages are no longer a gift.

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Yet, if the ability to speak in tongues were used in the church today, it would be done in a way that is consistent with the Bible. The language would exist and be understandable (1 Corinthians 14:10). This would be done so that a person fluent in a different language might hear God’s Word (Acts 2:6-12). It would line up with the instruction God gave via Paul: “If anybody talks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must translate. The speaker should remain silent in the church and pray if an interpreter is not there (1 Corinthians 14:27-28). For God is not the source of turmoil, but of peace, as in all the churches of the believers (1 Corinthians 14:33).

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The ability to speak in tongues is a gift from God that may be used to communicate with those who don’t share one’s native tongue. Allotment of the Holy Spirit’s graces is a matter of His complete and total discretion (1 Corinthians 12:11). Missionaries would be far more effective if they could communicate with locals in their own tongue without first having to spend years learning it. Yet it appears that God is not acting in this way. Today, the gift of tongues seems to be less common than it was in the New Testament, despite the fact that it may be quite valuable. Most Christians who claim to use the spiritual gift of tongues do not do it in line with the aforementioned Scriptures. Given these realities, it’s safe to say that God no longer intends for the church to regularly practice the use of the gift of tongues.

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