Ask The Pastor | – Speaking in Tongues

What does the New Testament teach about speaking in tongues? Are the tongues in 1 Corinthians 12 and 14 the same as those in Acts 2, or different?

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Ask The Pastor "Ask the Pastor" from Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Kerrville, TX. Send any questions about the Bible or the Christian Faith to and Pastor will answer your questions as time permits.

Comment (9)

  1. Thank you for addressing this topic! These teaching videos are so edifying and enriching! My whole life from childhood, I was taught that tongues were a private prayer language that was not understood in English and a second baptism of The Holy Spirit. This was very helpful!!

  2. As a linguist who has studied the phenomenon of modern tongues….

    There is absolutely nothing mysterious about Biblical "tongues" – when referring to something spoken, they are nothing more than real, rational language(s); usually unknown to those listening to them, but always known by the speaker(s) – it’s their native language.

    In contrast, the “tongues” Pentecostal and Charismatic Christians are producing today is an entirely self-created phenomenon. It is non-cognitive non-language utterance; random free vocalization based upon a subset of the existing underlying sounds (called phonemes) of the speaker’s native language, and any other language(s) the speaker may be familiar with or have had contact with.

    It is, in part, typically characterized by repetitive syllables, plays on sound patterns and over-simplification of syllable structure. It is also interesting to note that any disallowed sound combinations, i.e. consonant clusters, in the speaker’s native language are also disallowed in his/her tongues-speech. Further, this subset of phonemes typically contains only those sounds which are easiest to produce physiologically.

    There is absolutely nothing that “tongues-speakers” are producing that cannot easily be explained in linguistic terms.

    Conversely, when it comes to something spoken, there are absolutely no Biblical references to “tongues” that do not refer to, and cannot be explained in light of, real rational language(s), though it may not be the explanation you want to hear, and it may be one which is radically different from what you believe, or were taught.

    “Praying in the Spirit” does not refer to the words one is saying. Rather, it refers to how one is praying. In the three places it is used (Corinthians, Ephesians, and Jude), there is absolutely zero reference to 'languages' in connection with this phrase. “Praying in the Spirit” should be understood as praying in the power of the Spirit, by the leading of the Spirit, and according to His will. In Pentecostal/Charismatic parlance however, the phase has come to be equated with modern “tongues”, i.e. when one “prays in the Spirit”, one is typically engaged in some form of tongues-speech.

    The word “tongue(s)” itself is simply a more archaic word for (real) “language(s)”, nothing more. Replace “tongue(s)” with “language(s)” in these various passages and the whole modern Pentecostal/Charismatic concept of “tongues” begins to become difficult to posit – “language(s)” sounds a lot less mysterious, and in many cases, adds more clarity to the text. Again, in Pentecostal/Charismatic parlance however, the word has come to be equated with the modern concept of “tongues-speech”.

    “Tongues” is to some Christian believers a very real and spiritually meaningful experience but consisting of emotional release via non-linguistic ‘free vocalizations’ at best; non-cognitive non language utterance – the subconscious playing with sounds to create what is perceived and interpreted as actual, meaningful speech. In some cases, I would argue that it is clearly a self/mass delusion prompted by such a strong desire to “experience God” that one creates that experience via “tongues”.

    Known by many different names, “tongues”, “glossolalia”, or more accurately “non-cognitive non-language utterance” (NC-NLU), is practiced by many cultures and religious beliefs from literally all over the world; it is relatively new to Christianity and certainly not unique to it.

  3. Hey I had a quick question. Do you recommend people mark their bibles? If so is there a system you recommend? Also is there a set of topics that you’d recommend to someone who’s studying the Bible In A more academic sense? Maybe preparing for seminary?

  4. Dr Michael brown a biblical scholar, and John Piper would say that speaking in tongues is biblical. My own opinion is speaking in tongues privately between you and god is ok. But if spoken out loud in the church then there must be interpretation.

  5. The way you know a Pentecostal church is lawless is if everyone is speaking in tongues.

    “If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret.” – 1 Corinthians 14:27

    If a church can’t follow that, they can quote the Bible all day long, but they really don’t care about obeying the command of the Lord. Paul makes it clear it’s God’s command, not just an opinion.

    One problem: You mentioned water baptism is identical to Spirit baptism. I would disagree with that, unless you are including laying hands as part of the Holy Baptism rite.

    Notice how they didn’t receive the Holy Spirit until after Paul laid his hands on them:

    “And when Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking in tongues and prophesying. – Acts 19:6

    So, it is separate from water baptism and can even precede water baptism:

    “While Peter was still saying these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word.” – Acts 10:44

    “Can anyone withhold water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” -Acts 10:47

    So, baptism with the Spirit is not identical to water baptism.

    My experience. I had no exposure to what tongues were like when I received the gift. I was reading portion in Romans and suddenly I was speaking ecstatically in what sounded like a language. I don’t do it in church and I rarely mention it, but I do know it’s real.

    I would never say tongues is THEE sign. Paul definitely did not teach that. Praising God and confessing Christ is sufficient evidence.