By Johnie Edwards
Speaking in tongues is a misunderstood Bible subject. The first occurrence of miraculous tongue-speaking is recorded in Acts 2. Tongue-speaking is very limited in the Bible. In order to have a good Bible understanding of the subject, let me call your attention to some things about tongue-speaking.
(1) Bible Tongue-speaking is associated With the Baptism of the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised the Holy Spirit in the baptismal measure to only a certain few — the apostles (Jn. 16:13; Acts 1:4). The apostles were the ones who received the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:3). As Acts 2:3-4 shows, tongue speaking came with the baptism of the Holy Spirit. In the case of Cornelius, the baptism of the Holy Spirit brought about tongue-speaking (Acts 10:44-46). For people today, to miraculously speak in tongues, they must first receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit and this does not occur. Speaking in tongues and the baptism of the Holy Spirit were never a command, but a promise to a certain group and this has been fulfilled.
(2) Bible Tongues Were Foreign Languages. Acts 2 find Jews present from “every nation under heaven” (Acts 2:5). These people spoke different languages. As the events in Acts 2 “were noised abroad, the multitude came together and were confused, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marveled, saying one to another. Behold are not all these which speak Galileans?” And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? (Acts 2:6-8). You can see from this passage a fact that needs to be realized. That these tongues were not just a lot of jabbering, but languages which could be understood
(3) One of the Spiritual Gifts was That of Tongue-speaking. There were nine spiritual gifts in the early days of the church to keep the church pure and to keep men on the right track (1 Cor. 12:1-11). One of these gifts was that of tongues and the interpretation of the tongues. These tongues in 1 Cor. 14 were also languages as in Acts 2. It can be seen from 1 Cor. 14:3,9, 13,23,27, 28,19.
(4) Bible Tongue-speaking was Orderly. The so-called “Tongue-speakers” that I have observed were disorderly with everybody trying to talk at once. Order characterized Bible tongue-speaking. “If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret” (1 Cor. 14:27). In fact, Paul said, “Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Cor. 14:40).
(5) Bible Tongues Were to be Understood. Truth must be spoken in such a way as to edify the hearers. If truth cannot be understood, how could it edify? Paul said, “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” (1 Cor. 14:2-9). Words which could be understood were more important than speaking in unknown tongues! Paul said, “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” (1 Cor. 14:19).
(6) Use of an Interpreter. Many times Bible tongue-speaking required an interpreter. If, during the time of spiritual gifts, one was present who could not understand the language, one had to interpret. “Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret” (1 Cor. 14:13). The reason for an interpreter is that the unlearned would not understand the language (1 Cor. 14:16).
(7) Bible Tongue-speaking has Ceased. The Bible teaches that the use of tongues in the Bible way was only temporary. Bible tongue-speaking was associated with the baptism of the Holy Spirit and the laying-on-of-hands measure of the Spirit and, since we no longer have these, we no longer have miraculous tongue-speaking! Paul said, that “tongues would cease when that which is perfect (New Testament) is come” (1 Cor. 13:8-10).
Truth Magazine XXII: 17, p. 274
April 27, 1978