“The Gift of Tongues” (A question from a reader)

Posted: October 17, 2009 in Discernment, Theology, Truth, Uncategorized

A comment was made on my last post which, after approving and posting, I decided to compose a blog post about. Thank you to those of you who have added comments on my posts. I do read them all and try to reply to them as well where necessary. I’m not sure whether you are notified of my replies or not so if you’ve posted something recently, feel free to go back and read my responses to your questions and the personal insights and testimonies you all have shared. Thank you again for your faithful readership.

You mentioned the louder things, but what do you think of the doctrine of the “prayer language.” I have prayed in tongues, but it is a doctrine that has always conflicted me. What do you think?

My answer:

“…I believe that the gift of tongues is a true gift of the Holy Spirit and is mentioned throughout the new covenant scriptures…particularly in the writings of Paul.  However, I think that what is often seen today in many congregations, organizations, conferences, etc is a twisting of this gift and an abuse of it…which often affects the way we perceive and understand it.  What often happens is that when man tries to box and put limitations on a gift of God and then re-package it with some extra glitter and add a little of their own ideas to it, it gets muddy and often its meaning and purpose gets lost.

Take a look at the word abuse.  It is the combination of 2 words: abnormal and use.  So the abnormal use of something (or using it for a way other than how it was created and designed to be used) is an abuse of it.  So when someone mis-understands and mis-uses something, they are using it in a way different than what the Lord said it was created for, thus they are abnormally using (abusing) it.  I think this is true of the gift of tongues, prophecy, etc.  If it is based in scripture then we know that in its original use, it was something authored by the Father.  But because it has been abused, it has wounded and hurt people and is not always used in the way that the giver of that gift tells us it is used for.  So the way in which that gift was designed to function and operate, it isn’t…thus it loses it’s original effectiveness.

I would venture to guess that where you feel conflicted is where you see the confusion between what the Bible says about the gift of tongues and the “doctrine” that man has added and propagated along with it.  Mixture brings confusion.  Truth brings clarity and freedom.  So where there is confusion, that is often proof that truth and error have been mixed together.

I would encourage you to really study out what the Word says about the gift of tongues and let the Holy Spirit re-teach you what this gift was created for and how it is to be properly used in both the life of an individual and in the corporate body of believers.  Often scripture is mis-translated and taken out of context so any study you can do going back to the original language is always tremendously helpful in understanding what the Word means by how it was originally written. To truly understand the meanings of words, concepts and ideas of scripture we must understand the culture in which it was written and the meanings of the words in their original language so that they are translated and understood accurately.  

I often recommend the CJB (Complete Jewish Bible) because it translates the OT from Hebrew directly into English and the NT from Greek into English but from a Hebraic mindset (rather than the King James version which is translated through the Latin Vulgate and has many mis-translations in it).  No perfectly accurate translations exists unless one can read directly from Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic which preserves its accuracy…but I try to get as close in English to the original language as possible.

Hopefully this helps to answer your question.  Thank you for your blog comment.

Blessings to you!”

  1. Iwanthetruth says:

    So how do we accept the idea of “tongues” (IMHO – gibberish that we hear 99% of the time) true tongues? And how do we know that the interpretation of that supposed tongue is correct as well?

    My issue has always been that when ever tongues occured in the scriptures it seemed to be a known language and those that interpreted were people who actually spoke that language. The supernatural part of that is the fact that the Apostles spoke supernaturally a known language that they did not know.

    To me the evidence of real tongues and interpretation would be, as an example, a person who would go to a foriegn country, give a sermon or teaching and then there is an interpreter there who can speak to the congregation and interpret what the speaker was saying or visa versa or where a person was in a foriegn country and began to speak but was speaking an actual known language and the hearers understood what was said. Other wise there is no real proof of a tongue with an interpretation that was more gibberish was for real or not.

    If you were to hear these words what do you think it would interpret as… “trustucio ere abba”?

    • Ariel says:

      Hello Iwantthetruth,

      I could probably write another whole blog post on the subject but I will give a very brief breakdown which will hopefully aid in answering your questions. From my personal experience and studies of Scripture, I see the evidence of 2 kinds of tongues. They are not the same and do not serve the same purpose. In 1 Cor 14:39 it says “do not forbid speaking in tongues”. But earlier in that same chapter Paul says that the purpose of tongues is for edification. So if tongues is used for any other purpose then the gifting is being abused. In verse 28 it says that if one is not present to interpret that the one who has a message in tongues is to keep silent. In the early believing communities there were those who were recognized by the community as those having a gift of interpreting tongues and unless they were present to give an interpretation, those who had a word in tongues were asked to refrain from sharing it. This was not simply someone who stood up and said “oh, I have the interpretation for that”. These were gifts that were corporately recognized, tested for accuracy and the person was well known by the congregation. All things were done in unity, order and for edification. This is not the way most congregations operate today. There is a personal use for tongues and there is a corporate use but I do not believe these operate in a vacuum and when they are not conducted in the way scripture prescribes, they are taken out of context and become abusive in their usage. I have known of those that have prayed for someone in tongues when they were ministering in another country thinking that they were just using their personal prayer language in talking to the Lord and ended up praying in a known tongue (such as Hebrew, etc) and they did not personally know the tongue that they were speaking…but the person hearing the tongue understood it perfectly. I believe that in 1 Co 13:1 when Paul speaks of the tongues of men and of angels that the tongues of men are the known tongues and the tongues of angels are the heavenly language which only the Father knows and perfectly understands when we pray. Hopefully this helps to clarify the difference. Blessings to you!

  2. truthspeaker says:

    We always teach that there is a difference between the “gift of tongues” and the “Gift of the Holy Ghost”. In the book of Acts the infilling of the Holy Spirit that was always followed by tongues was ALWAYS called “The Gift of the Holy Ghost”. This is a person’s personal prayer language. In 1 Cor 12 Paul is talking about the “gift of tongues and INTERPRETATION of tongues” and that gift is give as a BODY ministry to the church during a corporate gathering. Tongues is not really a doctrine, but a gift from the Father to the believers.