Charismatic and Pentecostal Page
IS SPEAKING IN TONGUES
Table of Contents
THE SIGN GIFTS VALID TODAY?
By Cooper Abrams
Speaking in Ecstatic Tongues or Glossolalia is Practiced by Pagan Religions
What Does the Bible Say About Tongues?
How Does the Modern Gift of Tongues Compare to the Examples in the Book of Acts?
The Definition of the Word "Tongues."
Does the New Testament Teach that Tongues is a Prayer Language?
The New Testament Teaches that Gift of Tongues Would Cease (1 Cor. 13:8-10)
End Notes (End notes are marked with [ Number ].)
Table of Contents
Many sincere Christians, who love the Lord, believe that speaking in tongues is a valid gift from God today. They do so because they have been taught that tongues is a valid gift today, which is the dominate theme of the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements. My intent is not to be condemned or rude, but with a loving and caring spirit present God's truth to people who have been ill-taught about this matter.
Biblical speaking the gospel in “tongues” (an unlearned language) was only a valid gift during the period of the early First Century. Tongues were a sign gift to the unbelieving Jews as Paul states in 1 Corinthians 14:22.
“Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.” (1 Corinthians 14:22)
The sign gifts of supernaturally speaking the gospel in an unlearned language were a miracle that authenticated message of the Apostles as God’s genuine message. Paul stated that “For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom” thus the Lord sent the Jews the sign gifts. Further, less than forty years after Christ returned to heaven, the sign gifts ceased. The reason was that after Jerusalem and the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD, Israel ceased from being a nation, the Jews were dispersed throughout the Roman Empire. The offer of the Kingdom, they could have had if they had believed was withdrawn by God.
During Jesus’ ministry and after His resurrection, it was through His Apostles that the Lord was offering Israel the Kingdom promised in the Old Testament. However, because the Jews rejected Jesus their Messiah the offer of the kingdom was withdrawn about the middle of the First Century and subsequently the Kingdom was postponed. With Israel destroyed and God’s offer withdrawn, there was no longer any purpose for the sign gifts that were directed at unbelieving Jews. The sign gifts were given to authenciate that Jesus was Israel’s promised Messiah.
The sign gifts are to be differentiated from other gifts of the Spirit. However, all the sign gifts ceased, including tongues, whereas the other gifts of the Spirit remained. The sign gift given to Jesus’ disciples was gifts were tongues, healings, working of miracles, prophecy, raising the dead, and the discerning of spirits.
During this transitional period between the resurrection of Jesus Christ and the destruction of Jerusalem, most of the New Testament was written and the gift of speaking the Gospel in an unlearned foreign language was still valid. However, as the Gospel was preached and the New Testament written it was clearly established that Jesus was the Messiah the Savior. This message was first preached to the Jews and had they accepted Jesus as the Christ, God would have given them the promised Kingdom. Christ’s prophecies of Matthew 24-25 would have begun with the beginning of the seven year Tribulation. Those saved during the time till the Tribuation had begun would be the Body and Bride of Christ and raptured before the seven years would begin. The seven years would have proceeded at Revelation 4-19 record and this would be followed by Christ’s Second Coming. Then fifty days later, Jesus would set up the Millennial Kingdom. This would have completed the four hundred and seventy years prophesied by Daniel and complete the Old Testament period. (Dan. 9”:24-27) It must be understood that although Jesus did not implement His kingdom in the First Century it is only postponed. It will, after the seven years Tribulation, be fully instituted by the Lord Jesus.
Two things resulted from the destruction of Jerusalem that ended the practice of biblical Judaism. First, with the Temple destroyed no sacrifices or worship could take place, nor could they observe the feasts. With no temple they could not practice the worship of God as the Old Testament law commanded. Secondly, after the destruction of Jerusalem, due to the dispersal of the Jews over the Roman Empire, there were no Jews left in Jerusalem and Israel.
All the sign gifts ceased because there was no further the need for them. The Jews had rejected Jesus Christ as the Messiah and that meant they had rejected the sign gifts proving Jesus’ deity, Messiahship, and His offer of the Kingdom. . By 70 AD the Gospel had gone to the Gentiles with the founding of the Jew-Gentile at Antioch by believing Jews who fled Israel due to persecution. Further, Paul, Barnabas, the Apostles, and faithful believers had taken the Gospel to Asia and to Eastern Europe. During this period, until around 68 A.D., most of the New Testament was written. By the time of the destruction of Jerusalem, Christians had the most of the written word of God to authenticate that who Jesus was, the Gospel and there was no need for the sign (miracle) gifts. The written word of God proclaimed the Messiahship of Jesus Christ that He was the Savior, and proclaimed God’s saving Gospel.
Surely there is a need to proclaim God's truth on the matter because I think all would agree that God can only bless the truth! He cannot, nor will He ever bless error, no matter how well intended or sincere it may be presented. If a practice is not biblical, it is not of God and not truth. Therefore, all false teaching ultimately honors Satan, the father of lies. Thus, it is important to know what God has said in His Word and reject all false teachings that distorts or corrupts the truth, and misleads people. The biblical Christian must reject all false teaching and practices no matter how popular or widespread they are.
Unfortunately, many denominations take the middle-of-the-road approach by refusing to take a stand either way. They have compromised God’s word by trying not to offend anyone. By not taking a stand they have, in effect, condoned and promoted this unbiblical practice and many false doctrines. To not take a stand against false teaching is tantamount to supporting error and false doctrine. Fundamental Bible believing churches, that practice biblical separation is ridiculed because they teach against false doctrine and unbliblical practices such as the modern tongues movement and refuse to fellowship or condone the error.
God did not give us His Word to be confusing. However, many people take the approach that the Word of God is confusing on this matter and that we cannot really know for sure what is right. This surely expresses a poor opinion of God and His ability to communicate to us His Word. However, this is not the case. God did not leave the matter in a confused state. The problem is not with God's Word, but with man. God spoke very clearly on the matter, yet many seem unwilling to listen to God, preferring rather to listen to the teaching of men and denominations.
The modern tongues movement has spread across this nation and the world like wildfire. For many years it was confined to the Pentecostal churches, but now crosses all denominational lines in the form of what is called the Charismatic Movement. Even Roman Catholics, Protestants, cults, and some who call themselves Baptists, practice tongues and have joined the movement. However, the decisive question is “What saith the Lord?” Let us then look at the evidence by examining the movement, its practices, and most of what the New Testament teaches.
Some think that tongues are only practiced by Christian denominations being a special gift given by the Holy Spirit. But to the contrary, it is a phenomenon found also in many pagan religions. I think if should be clear to anyone that “tongues” spoken by the pagan religions is different from what the New Testament records and it is not a gift from God. However, “modern tongues” speaking has the same identical characteristics and practices as those of pagan religion.
This phenomenon as been around for centuries. For example, the Oracle at Delphi, for instance, which started in 400 BC, when Greece was at its strongest, records the pagan practice of using ecstatic speech in the worship of their false gods. Ecstatic speak is simply spoken unintelligible sounds that are mostly vowels. Ecstatic speech continued into the Roman era, which would indicate that members of the churches in Greece and Asia Minor would have been familiar with how the Oracle at Delphi worked. The shrine was to the Greek idol god, Apollo. In response to someone's questions, a priestess would go into a frenzy and start a babbling speech. An attendant priest would then 'translate' the gibberish into some glittering generalities that could in some way be understood as to answer the question. Some of the best-known features of Greek philosophy streamed out from the Oracle's early years (for instance, it bred the saying "Know Yourself" and the great Greek philosophers were very good at finding "jewels in waste water. 
The cult of Dionysus used rhythmic music, whirling dances, alcohol or herbal drugs and magic spells with the intent of driving peoples' souls out of their bodies (Greek: eke stasis) and into the presence of whatever deity or sub deity was involved. This also occasionally produced strange sounds such as ecstatic speech. African animists, too, have long practiced ecstatic speech as part of their religion. But, just as glossolalia among Jews marked one as a prophet, glossolalia also caused most African animists to project the tongues speakers into the role of religious leader or priest.
"In the Gnostic  “gospels" found at Nag Hammadi, in Upper Egypt, archaeologists discovered what may be the earliest, and perhaps one of the strangest, written instances of glossolalia. Gnosticism arose at the same time as Christianity, and Gnostics were skilled at perverting biblical teachings into unchristian heresies. They tried to hijack biblical Christianity. While the contents of the Nag Hammadi documents are heretical, they give insight into the false practices of their day and the presence of ecstatic “tongues.” A prayer in the introduction of the false "The Gospel of the Egyptians” reads something like this:
AIé ieus éó ou éó óua! O Jesus, bond of Yah's righteousness, O Living Water, O Child of Child, O glorious Name! Really truly, O Eon that is, iiii éééé eeee oo uuuu óóóó aaaaa, really truly éi aaaa óó óó! O One That Is, Seer Of the Ages! Really truly, aee ééé iiii uuuuuu óóóóóóóó, You who are eternally eternal, really truly iéa aió, in the heart, You who Are, You are what You are, ei o ei eios ei!
Even the translatable words of this so called prayer are very confusing, and like modern tongues are full of unintelligible vowels and mixed languages. Like modern glossolalia, it has a lot of almost-words, divine titles, and 'really truly'. It's almost like a parody; it's so garbled, but was serious in its intent. The ecstatic speech did not make the book's bizarre beliefs the slightest bit truer.
The evidence is clear that one result of worshiping pagan deities was ecstatic speech, not unlike what the modern tongues movement, is what they were doing. Surely, the Holy Spirit is not in the religious practices of unbelievers who worship idols and embrace false doctrine.
Many, in defense of the tongues movement, refer to its great success as proof that it is of God. Jesus in Matthew 24:24, speaks of the rise of false prophets who would come with great signs and wonders "if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect." Although this verse is a reference to the beginning of the coming seven-year Tribulation, it clearly teaches that God's elect can be deceived by powerful and charismatic leaders. The deceivers and false teachers of the spirit of the Antichrist are in the world today as stated by John in 1 John 2:18. The truth of the matter does not rest with its popularity or outward success, but on "what saith the Lord." The Bible, which is God's very word, is the only authority by which we can know what God’s truth is and what the error is. It is also worth noting that these “ministries” having such great success are havens of false doctrine and unscrupulous practices that milk gullible people of their money in hopes of miracles.
The majority of the world is in error today, rejecting the Lord Jesus as their Savior. Jesus warned that, "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it." (Matt. 7:13-14) The popular trend is to choose the wide road that leads to destruction. The matter can only be settled by God's Word.
Many, seeing greater numbers, spectacles and seeming success of the Charismatic movement are greatly impressed by it. Jesus, in Matthew 7:13-29, warned of false prophets who would come in sheep's clothing, but would inwardly be raving wolves. Christ went on to say that at the Final Judgment of the lost, many would stand before Him and plead that they had done many wonderful things in Christ's name and yet Jesus would say to them, that they "were workers of iniquity! Jesus said, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. (Matthew 7:21-23) This should make each of us consider the matter in a sober and honest way.
One reason the matter is so important is that many dear souls who are seeking the Lord are hearing the Gospel mixed with error! Further, sincere Christians are robbed of their maturity in Christ and the true blessings of salvation by being channeled into the emotion based tongues movement. They are taught to seek emotional experiences instead of true spiritual growth. They are taught that worship and communication with God, to be meaningful, must be accompanied by physical and emotional experiences such as raising hands in the air, speaking in tongues and "falling out in the spirit" and a host of other extreme actions. Their "worship" or "praise" is plainly directed towards participants experiencing a type of spiritual "high." The most recent phenomenon is the so called "laughing revival" where the participants in the meetings break out in uncontrollable laughter supposedly "under the spirit." This modern so-called worship is basically the same as practiced in pagan oriental mysticism, in which a person's consciousness is elevated towards some deep spiritual ecstasy. The New Testament gives no example of any such activities or of modern tongues practices. The opposite is true in biblical worship where the worship is directed towards God, not the emotions of supposed worshiper. The Bible shows that worship is always respectful and orderly.
All Bible believing pastor can attest that often people will visit their churches coming from a Pentecostal or Charismatic background. Sadly, rarely do they remain in a biblical church where they can be taught the word of God. Most seek out the emotional modern churches with contemporary rock music and who practice modern “tongues.”
Charismatics and Pentecostals are taught to pray to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit and if they do, they will also speak in “tongues.” The are told that “tongues” is a special prayer language God has given them. Prayer then is reduced to an emotional experience instead of pouring out their hearts in thanksgiving and presenting their petitions and supplications to the Lord. Those who "pray in tongues" do not even know what they are praying.
Plainly, the New Testament does not teach that “tongues” was a prayer language and the only time prayer is mentioned with tongues it is condemned. (1 Cor. 14:14) Paul in 1 Corinthians 14 is refuting the unscriptural practice of glossolalia. Ecstatic speech was not biblical speaking of an unlearned language. Note that in Acts 2:4 Luke uses the phrase “other tongues” (heteros glossia = other language). In 1 Corithians 14 Paul uses the word same word “glossa” (tongue). The word in our English Bibles “unknown” was added by the King James Bible translators, but it is not found in any Koine Greek text. The text should read “For he that speaketh in an
unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.” Paul then proceeds to condemn in strong language what the Corinthians were doing. He states those practicing this unscriptural utterances not to man and that no man understands what is being said. The key is found in 1 Corinthians 14:4, “He that speaketh in an unknown
The services of the tongues movement are completely opposite of what the Bible teaches concerning worshiping God. They come to "receive" a blessing from the service, instead of coming to lift up other believers and give worship to the Lord as the Bible teaches. The "worship" of these churches is little more than a form of entertainment with an emotional experience, not unlike what happens in a musical rock concerts.
One example of this came from a Pentecostal pastor and friend, often expressed his frustration over the poor attendance at his tongues speaking church. His church was small, with limited finances and could not "compete" with the larger churches in their music programs and special big name speakers. Even though he had been misled about what were true biblical tongues, I believed he truly loved the Lord and he did not emphasize the matter of tongues and miraculous healings. His church, in time failed and he becomes disillusioned and fell by the wayside and out of the ministry. The road of the Charismatic movement is littered with the thousands of lives it has wrecked. When the emotion created by the Charismatic services runs out, the participants are left empty inside and become castaways on the great sea of Charismatic confusion. For a while it produces a positive emotional experience. However, it does not last as it is only an emotional experience that has to be repeated. As John 4:24 clearly states, those that worship the Lord must do so in "spirit and truth." Only living and worshiping in God's truth brings true, lasting spiritual peace and joy; God only blesses the truth.
Because of the popularity and seeming success of the tongues movement, many pastors of Bible believing churches are being pressured to adopt an ecumenical philosophy. The compromise is expressed as, "It is okay, we are both Christians and although we disagree on some things we can still have spiritual fellowship and it is not really all that important." This act of human rationalization denies God's word and condones false teaching, thereby supporting error. How can a man be led to God's truth by someone who does not think that truth is important? Is truth that is compromised and mixed with error is truth?
When biblical errors in the tongues movement are condemned, many respond to this call for purity in doctrine with the adage, "Well, at least some are getting saved." A false gospel is a lie and does not and cannot save. A church whose foundational doctrine is based in error does not have the blessing of God. Almost every tongue speaking church denies the biblical doctrine of the eternal security of the believer that declares that “once saved, always saved.” Denying the eternal security of the believer denies the very heart of the Gospel; a man is saved by God's grace through faith and not by his good works. The Bible teaches that man cannot save himself or keep himself saved by good works (Eph. 2:8-9). It is a false Gospel that teaches that once saved, a child of God can lose their salvation and that God will reject His own child. These churches also teach that one can not only lose their salvation, but it they repent they can once again be saved. This plainly contradictions Hebrews 6:4-6.
“For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted of the heavenly gift, and were made partakers of the Holy Ghost, And have tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come, If they shall fall away, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put him to an open shame.” (Hebrews 6:4-6)
Another mark of the Charismatic movement is its ecumenical agenda of seeking to bring all "Christians" together on equal ground without regard to doctrinal purity. Doctrinal and biblical truth take a back seat with the Charismatics and Pentecostals, behind emotion, experience and coming together. For example, unbiblical churches such as the Roman Catholic Church, who practice heresy and a works system of salvation, are treated as equals with Bible believing New Testament churches who preach salvation by grace alone, through faith.
Only God Himself, through the Holy Spirit, that convicts men and draws them to salvation. God will not use error or false teachers to accomplish His work. God will only use His truth; it is against His very nature to do otherwise.
A dominate theme of tongues speakers is to promote what is termed the "health and wealth gospel." This unbiblical teaching promises health and wealth to those who receive Christ. However, it is conditional on giving financially to support a church or ministry. It distorts the biblical teaching of "giving" into a "give to get" scheme, in which a person supposedly invests "seed money" with God who then gives materially to the giver. This false gospel has made multi-millionaires of many Charismatic and Pentecostal preachers. False teaching is used by most radio and TV "ministers" who cunningly deceive their audiences with their "get rich" or "healing" schemes.
A church that takes the middle road or does not rebuke and reprove these false teachings is a compromising church and is not a church that speaks for God. Even if it does not practice tongues, it condones it by its silence. When a church takes any position contrary to true doctrine, it separates itself from God and starts down a road that will eventually lead to apostasy. In more than a quarter of a century of ministry, I have not known even one church that took the middle road of compromise that was doctrinally sound. Accepting error and false doctrine is sin, and sin grows where it is not quickly addressed, corrected and confessed. (See the Lord's warnings to the churches in Asia in Revelation 2-3) A compromising church loses any clear message of what is right and what is wrong. It will cease to have any power to do the work of God, because God cannot bless error.
Compromising pastors and churches lose biblical discernment. They become unable to determine truth from error. The tremendous growth of the now defunct Promise Keepers movement is a good example of this error. This movement sought to do away with all doctrinal differences and bring all "Christianity" together with no biblical distinctions. Plainly, this is the direct result of this heretical unscriptural philosophy. The very core of the ideology of the Promises Keepers is anti-doctrine and thus it is not of God. It does not matter that they appear to be serving Christ, their doctrinal error brands them as Antichrists, as clearly as Cain's rebellious offerings branded him as being against God. Cain was acting religiously, but was, in fact, disobeying God. The modern “emergent” churches with their pagan-like services shows the extent people gravitate to when they leave God’s word and begin to follow men.
Why are so many deceived and unable to discern the error of the modern tongues movement? The answer is a simple one. They have been trained to accept it for many years by pastors, churches and denominations that have compromised the Word of God and refused to speak out against error. Can God bless error? Will He work where His Word is misused to support false teachings? Is God a party to confusion? The answer to all these questions is clearly a resounding and emphatic "No!"
There is only one correct interpretation or meaning of all Scripture! The Devil's device is to misuse the sacred Word of God, to perpetrate his false doctrines. (Read Matt. 4:1-11) He seeks to mislead and sidetrack believers. Satan, at Christ's temptation, used Scripture to tempt the Lord. He used it falsely and was corrected by Christ. The Devil has not changed his ways or methods through the centuries. This is why the New Testament preacher, if he is true to his calling, must absolutely address error often and warn against it by teaching the truth. By God's grace, that is what this article is attempting to do.
A question that requires an answer is “what does the Bible say?” The problem is not to try to explain experiences that people have had, but to determine, "what does God say on the matter?" If God's Word says that tongues are a valid gift for today, then the matter is settled. If it teaches that tongues ceased after the fall of Judaism, and establishment of the early church, then the course is equally clear: modern tongues is not of God!
Is the modern practice of the gift of tongues the same as it is in the New Testament? The answer is no. What is practiced as modern tongues is not what happened on the Day of Pentecost as described by the New Testament. Absent today from the modern practice of tongues is ". . . Sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them." (Acts 2:2-3)
Further, each of those present at Pentecost were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the Gospel in a language that the person had not learned. "Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.” (Acts 2:6) Acts 2:9-11 lists the sixteen languages which were spoken. Biblical tongues was not ecstatic speech used in prayer, nor was it something one had to be coached to perform. Further, it was not sought or prayed for but came instantly, being given by the Holy Spirit to all present. It was given by the Holy Spirit for the benefit of those Jews who were in Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost and convey to them the “Good News” that Jesus Christ was the promised Messiah.
These Jewish pilgrims had come to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Pentecost, as had been done for centuries. Pentecost, the Jewish Feast of the Harvest, fell fifty days after the Passover, which was the day God, delivered Israel from Egypt. Israel, fifty days after leaving Egypt, was at Mt. Sinai. There God gave them the Ten Commandments and the Law, and constituted them as a nation. On the day of Pentecost, as Acts 2 records, fifty days after Christ was crucified, God began the institution of the local church, and the Church Age began. God wanted these Jewish pilgrims to hear the "wonderful works of God." (Acts 2:11) The Jewish leaders in Jerusalem had rejected Jesus as the promised Messiah and had cried for His death before the Roman governor. Many of these pilgrims, being only recent visitors to Jerusalem, did not know about Jesus Christ, crucifixion, resurrection, or of His miracles and message.
These Jewish pilgrims were bilingual and surely could understand Greek and Aramaic. However, God thought it was necessary for them to hear the news of Christ's coming through the miracle of hearing it in their native language by men who were unlearned in their speech. The disciples who were gathered in the upper room and indwelled by the Holy Spirit, could have spoken Greek or Aramaic and communicated with these pilgrim Jews. The reason for the miracle (sign) was God was bringing their attention to the prophecy of Joel 2:28f.
“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions” (Joel 2:28)
Through Joel God had foretold of the day when He would give the Jews the promised kingdom with all its spiritual blessings. Israel, through God’s outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all the people, would be serving the Lord and have His clear direction by prophecy, dreams, and visions. The reality was that nothing like this had happened in Israel for centuries and this would mark the coming of the kingdom.
Tongues were a miracle, a special sign gift, given to the Galilean disciples to show the unbelieving Jews that Jesus, whom the Jews had crucified, was indeed the Messiah. Note in Peter's sermons that was exactly what he preached. The Jews fully understood that Joel prophesied of the great destruction of the judgment of God in Daniel's 70th Week or the seven year Tribulation. In Joel 2:28, deliverance in the "last days" is promised and associated with a great out-pouring of the Spirit of God. Peter made the connection that they were indeed in the "last days" and that God had sent Jesus Christ as their Deliverer, but they rejected Him.
God told the disciples to wait in Jerusalem "for the promise of the Father, which, saith He, ye have heard of me." (Acts 2:4) In Acts 1:4, Jesus was referring to what He had earlier told His disciples about the coming of the Comforter; that they would receive the baptism or the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. "If ye love me, keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you" (John 14:15-17). Particularly note the following excerpts from verse 17: Jesus said that at the time He spoke to them, which was before He was crucified, that the Holy Spirit "dwelleth with you." He further stated that the Comforter (note the future tense), "shall be in you." Therefore, Jesus was telling them they would be indwelled in the future by the Holy Spirit and that is what happened on the Day of Pentecost.
The result of their receiving the indwelling (baptism of the Holy Spirit) was that they would ". . . Receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." (Acts 1:8).
The disciples then waited ten days in the upper room. On the day of Pentecost as Jesus promised, God sent the Holy Spirit who indwelled them and gave them power to be witnesses that Jesus was truly the Messiah. The message was heard by these visiting Jewish pilgrims and about three thousand of them believed and were saved. Most of those present, being pilgrims, were not under the influence and domination of the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem and they heard the Gospel unhindered by the lies of the priests, Scribes and Pharisees. Note also that the Bible says these were "devout men, out of every nation under heaven." (Acts 2:5) These were saved, God-fearing Jews who came to Jerusalem to worship God. They believed in God and when they heard the Messiah being proclaimed in their native tongues by unlearned men, they knew that this was of God and they accepted Him. Thus, the sign of the gift of speaking the Gospel in an unlearned language was used by God to give this wonderful news to Jews who were looking for the coming Messiah.
Although these were devout Jews, they were in a true sense “unbelieving Jews” because they had not heard of Jesus the Christ and had not believed. (See 1 Cor. 14:22) Acts 2:41 records that three thousand of these Jews believed and received Christ as their Messiah. Tongues were absolutely not a sign to authenticate the receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit, but a sign to the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. Appalling is the fact that some churches have so distorted this plain truth of God's Word in their support of the false modern tongues movement. Can we not see that because these Jews were separated from false teaching and the distortion of God’s truth by the religious leaders in Jerusalem many were saved? False teachers and teaching blinds the eyes of people and hinders many from coming to Christ.
Jesus, in John 8:19 said to the Pharisees in the temple in Jerusalem, ". . . Ye neither know me, nor my Father: if ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also." What a contrast between these two groups? One group had witnessed firsthand the miracles and message of Jesus Christ, but had rebelliously rejected Him as their Messiah. This other group of Jews, who came from out of town, already loved God, and when they heard of Christ, they believed and received the indwelling of the Holy Spirit of God and became part of the bride of Christ. They then took the message back to their native lands. Clearly, God used the miracle sign gift of languages (tongues) so that each one of them heard the Gospel, the death, burial and resurrection of Christ in their own language and understood that Jesus was the promised Messiah. (Reference 1 Cor. 15:1-4)
Why did God present the Gospel to them in this way? We can better understand this if we consider what Paul said about the Jews in 1 Corinthians 1:22, "For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom." God has, throughout the history of Israel, always used signs to speak His Word to them. All those who heard the Gospel on the Day of Pentecost were Jews or Jewish proselytes (Gentiles who converted to Judaism). They believed because they witnessed the unmistakable sign miracle of hearing men, who had not learned their language, speaking to them in their native tongue. They knew the Scriptures and Jesus fulfilled the Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah's coming. This was the reason that God used this method to tell them of the Messiah and the reason for using the sign gift of tongues. The miracle of tongues authenticated the Gospel message that Peter preached. They knew that it was from God and three thousand Jews believed and were saved. The Bible says that tongues were accompanied by four un-mistakable supernatural acts:
The first two are conspicuously absent from what is practiced as tongues today. The supernatural act of speaking in an unlearned language can be faked, however, the accompanying sound as of a rushing mighty wind, and the visual appearance of cloven tongues as of fire cannot be easily counterfeited and are never seen when modern tongues are practiced. Although it is claimed that modern languages are being spoken by those who practice tongues, it is difficult to verify, and the absence of the first two supernatural acts demonstrates that the modern practice of tongues is not valid. To repeat, there is no sign as of a rushing mighty wind or cloven tongues like as of fire. Clearly tongues, as described in the Word of God, is not what is happening today. Only two additional occurrences in Scripture record that tongues occurred. Each describes tongues as being identical with the first occurrence in Acts 2:2-3. There is no example, in the Bible, of tongues being used as a prayer language or anything different from what happened on the Day of Pentecost.
The second occurrence of tongues mentioned in Scripture is three years later in Acts 10:44-48. Cornelius, a Roman Centurion, after hearing and believing the Gospel as Peter preached, experienced the same circumstances as did those on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2:2-3. Peter reported back to the Jewish believers and said, "Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God?" (Acts 11:17) Peter says God gave them the "like gift" (meaning the "same gift") as he did unto us. What happened in Cornelius' house was the same as on the Day of Pentecost.
Cornelius was a Gentile who had been proselytized to Judaism. He was "A devout man, and one that feared God with all his house, which gave much alms to the people, and prayed to God alway." (Acts 10:2) God sent an angel to him and told him to, ". . . Send men to Joppa, and call for one Simon, whose surname is Peter:" (Acts 10:5) The next day God prepared Peter to preach the Gospel to a Gentile. The Jews thought of the Gentiles as being unclean and a very low class of people. Peter saw in a vision, God lowering down unclean animals in a great sheet and God told him to, "Rise, Peter; kill, and eat." But Peter said, "Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean." (Acts 10:13-14) God replied, "What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common." (Acts 10:15) God thus prepared Peter to preach Christ to Cornelius. As Peter wondered about his vision, Cornelius's servants arrived at his house in Joppa. Peter then returned the next day with the men to Cornelius' home to the north in Caesarea. Peter as recorded in Acts 10:25-43, told him of the Lord Jesus and Cornelius received Christ. Acts 10:44, says that all who heard the word received the Holy Spirit. Note that "they of the circumcision" meaning the Jews, were astonished that these Gentiles had received the gift of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit and they too did speak in tongues and magnified God. (Acts 10:45-48) When Peter returned to Jerusalem, he reported to the Jewish believers there, "Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift as he did unto us, who believed on the Lord Jesus Christ; what was I, that I could withstand God? When they heard these things, they held their peace, and glorified God, saying, Then hath God also to the Gentiles granted repentance unto life." (Acts 11:17-18)
What happened to the Gentile Cornelius and his household was the same thing that happened on the day of Pentecost. "And as I began to speak, the Holy Ghost fell on them, as on us at the beginning." (Acts 11:15) Here again the gift of tongues was a sign to the Jews back in Jerusalem that the Gentiles had received Christ the same as had the Jews in Jerusalem. One thing is clear; those who received the gift began to speak the Gospel to those around them. Acts 10:45, says, "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." It greatly impressed the Jews (they of the circumcision) that God had poured out on these Gentiles the Spirit in the same way as He had the Jewish believers. Clearly, the gift of tongues was used of God to present and authenticate the Gospel message that Jesus was the Messiah.
The reason for God giving the gift of tongues is obvious. God wanted the Christian Jews to know that Jesus was the Messiah, and the Gospel was for Jew and Gentile alike.
The third occurrence of tongues mentioned in Scripture is twenty-two years later in Acts 19:1-7. These were the disciples of John the Baptist. They were not Christians, but saved Old Testament saints who lived in Ephesus and had repented, anticipating the coming of the Messiah. They followed the message of John the Baptist, probably having heard John preach on a pilgrimage they had made to Jerusalem. However, they had not heard about Jesus Christ, his life, death, resurrection, or message. They were unaware of Jesus' coming and were still looking for the Messiah to come.
Although the sound as of a rushing mighty wind, and the cloven tongues like as of fire are not mentioned, there is no reason to believe that the same supernatural things were present as had happened on Pentecost. Often in Scripture you will find an event, subsequent and similar to one mentioned earlier, that is described without relating all the details. The reason is that it relates to a known phenomenon that was commonly understood; therefore not all the details are given in Acts 19. Conceivably, Luke had already fully described the matter earlier; he only mentions the important facts in the repeated event. The important detail he does mention is the fact that they spoke in other languages (tongues) and prophesied and received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This testifies to the effect of the experience on the men and those who witnessed it.
Why did these men at Ephesus receive the gift of tongues? The sign was to prove to these Jews in the synagogues, who did not believe in Christ and who were ignorant of His death, burial, and resurrection, that Jesus Christ was, in truth, the Messiah. The gift of tongues was received by those who believed and was a sign to those who witnessed the event that Messiah had surely come. Further, it showed that the Lord had instituted a new dispensation of the Church Age, where the Gospel would include the Gentiles. Note also that only about twelve men spoke in tongues and prophesied. "Prophesied" in this context simply means that they spoke or gave witness to the Word of God. It does not mean they foretold future events.
In this account, some Jews at Ephesus believed in the Messiah. However, even after Paul had taught in the synagogue for three months, some Jews hardened their hearts and spoke evil Paul and the Gospel. Paul then left the Jewish synagogue where he had been preaching and separated the believing disciples from these unbelieving Jews. They then began to meet daily at the school of Tyrannus, which was a lecture hall. Paul, for two years, discipled these Jews who accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior. The result was that ". . . All they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks." (Acts 19:10) They, too, fulfilled Christ's prediction that, "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." (Acts 1:8) Again, the purpose of tongues was a sign to unbelievers and those whom received the gift of tongues used it to witness of Christ. What is recorded does not correspond to the modern day tongues movement. (This will be discussed further in this article)
In Acts 19, when John the Baptist's disciples received the gift of tongues, they clearly became Christians. They were, prior to hearing the Gospel, saved Old Testament saints. However, after hearing the Gospel, which is the Good News of the coming of the Messiah Jesus Christ (reference 1 Cor. 15:1-4) they believed and were immediately indwelled by the Holy Spirit. They then became a part of the body of Christ. The effect of their receiving the baptism of the Holy Spirit was that, as in the other two accounts (Acts 2, 10); they became witnesses of the Gospel to Jews. (Acts 1:8)
These are the only three times an account of the receiving of the gift of tongues is recorded. There is no reason from Scripture to believe that the three events were different. Modern churches which practice tongues make note that in Acts 19, the account does not mention the sound of a rushing mighty wind or the cloven tongues of fire. They point to this as support for the modern practice of tongues, because of the absence of these supernatural acts. However, they are forcing a point that is not stated. They are, in fact, admitting that the supernatural acts are absent in modern tongues and are trying to use this account as an example to justify their use of tongues. As stated, that is forcing the point. Every event describing the use of tongues in Scripture happened as recorded in Acts 2.
1. As emphasized before: missing, in the modern practice of tongues, is the supernatural acts of God described in Scripture; that is, the sound as of a rushing mighty wind which fills the whole house and the appearance of cloven tongues of fire.2. The modern gift of tongues is used as a so called "prayer language." There is only one verse in the Bible that seems to associate tongues with prayer. In 1 Corinthians 14:14-19, Paul says, "For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also; I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he who occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest? For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified. I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all: 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." Paul goes on to say in verse 20: "Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men." Clearly, Paul is condemning the misuse of tongues among the Corinthians as a prayer language. His rebuke is plain and establishes clearly that the gift of biblical tongues was not a prayer language. He says he would rather speak five words with his understanding than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue. Could God make it any clearer that tongues is not given as a prayer language.
First, we need to define what the word "tongues" used in our English Bibles means. In every reference in the New Testament the word simply means a language. In old English the word "tongue" means language. In Acts 2:6, Luke states what those present actually heard. He said, “Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.” (Acts 2:6) In Acts 1:19, 2:6, 8, 21:40, 22:2; 26:14, the Greek word is dialektos and is translated “tongue” (or “language’ in Acts 2:6) and is singular and means a spoken language or dialect. Notice that this is the word used in Acts 2:6 “Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language (dialekstos)” (Acts 2:6)
In the other passages the word “tongues” is the Greek word is glossa and refers to the tongue as the organ of speech or to language as in Acts 2:8 “And how hear we every man in our own tongue (glossa = language), wherein we were born?” (Acts 2:8). The word is used thirty three times in thirty one verses. (Also see Mark 7:33, Rom. 3:13, 14:11, 1 Cor. 14:9, Phil. 2:11, James 1:26, 3:5-6 & 8, 1 Pet. 3:10, 1 John 3:18, and Rev. 16:10)
Our English Bibles add the “unknown” to tongue glossa to differentiate it from its normal use as a language or the organ of the tongue. The King James Bible translators inserted “unknown” to show that this was a different type of language, meaning one that was the speaker had not learned. It does not mean a tongue that was not a known language. The translators wanted the reader to see this was the supernatural gift of speaking an unlearned (unknown to the speaker) language. The added word “unknown” does not mean it was ecstatic speak.
This word means the supernatural gift of speaking in an unlearned language in every case where it is found. There is no New Testament reference to glossa being ecstatic or unintelligible speech. Paul then states the reason for tongues in 1 Cor. 14:22: "Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not." What was spoken was clearly understood by those who spoke the language. Can the statement be any plainer?
Are tongues a valid prayer language? The answer is no. At Pentecost it was a sign to unbelieving Jews, in which they heard the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In Acts 2:11, it says that those present testified, ". . . We do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God." In 1 Corinthians 14:14-15, Paul is correcting the error of using tongues as a prayer language. In verse 15 he says that he would pray and sing both with his understanding, because to do otherwise would be unfruitful. That means it would be barren and of no value. Plainly, Paul is condemning those who had perverted the gift of tongues by teaching that it was a prayer language. This is the only time the phenomenon is mentioned in the New Testament and we are not told when or how it began.
Earlier, in verse 2, he concluded that when men spoke in tongues no one understood but God. He points out the singing and praying in a language that a person does not know is of no value and the truth is not learned. This is always in view in the Bible and in the correct use of tongues. Paul emphatically states that tongues are not for believers, but a sign for unbelievers who hear the Gospel truth in their own language. The whole thesis of Paul addressing "tongues" in 1 Corinthians 12-14 was that no one should be speaking tongues in the presence of others hearers who could not understand what was being said. (1 Cor. 14:33-40)
Using tongues as a prayer language clearly violates 1 Corinthians 14:22 and this condemns the modern tongues movement as false, because it teaches in error that it is a special prayer language. Tongues speakers often falsely use Romans 8:26 as their proof text of tongues as a prayer language. But note what the verse really says, "Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered."
In this verse, tongues is not mentioned or implied. The verse says that the intercession of the Holy Spirit is NOT audible, but "with groaning which cannot be uttered." Modern praying in tongues is verbal and audible. This verse says that the work of the Holy Spirit in prayer is something that CANNOT be uttered. If something is not uttered it means it is not spoken.
The word "spirit" is not capitalized in 1 Corinthians 14:14. This is not praying in the Holy Spirit, but praying in a person's human spirit. Paul says, "my spirit prayeth:" in other words, those that practice tongues as a prayer language are not doing so though the Holy Spirit, but by their human spirit. Using 1 Corinthians 14:14 as an example of "praying in tongues" is a gross error. Praying in the spirit, as practiced by the modern tongues movement, is promoted as being something highly desired, yet God, speaking through the Apostle Paul, condemns it. Today, modern tongues is presented as a special spiritual communication with God, but the truth is that the Bible does not teach this anywhere! In 1 Corinthians 1:9, Paul says that speaking in tongues as the Corinthians were doing was "speaking into the air."
In all the Bible's instructions on how to pray, praying in tongues is never mentioned. If tongues are a special prayer language between a believer and God, then why is it not mentioned and emphasized. When asked by His disciples how to pray Jesus gave them the model prayer of Matthew 6:9-15. The model prayer shows the one who is praying is to do so intelligently and with specific content. Every prayer recorded in the Bible is shown as a person speaking with his full understanding and presenting his praise, supplications, and requests before the Lord. A good question for the person who "prays" in ecstatic speech should ask themselves is this: "How do I know if God answered my prayer when I do not know what I prayed for?"
1 Corinthians 14 is a lengthy admonishment against falsely speaking in tongues. What the Corinthians were practicing was not Scriptural and Paul is admonishing them to stop. Paul says in verse 19, "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 Corinthians 14:19) Paul is clearing saying that there is no benefit in a person saying something they or others who hear them do not understand. In Verse 6, he says, "Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?" (1 Corinthians 14:6)
A careful reading of Chapter 14 clearly reveals several things:
1. A person is not to seek the gift of tongues, but rather of prophesy. (Preaching and teaching the Word of God) Verses 1, 3, 5, 6, 13, 16, 19, 23. Paul says in Verse 26, “. . . Let ALL things be done to edifying." The word "edify" means to "build up." So Paul is saying one should seek to be empowered by God to be a preacher or teacher of God's word, not to seek to practice a sign gift. The tongues movement produces thousands of "tongues speakers," but rarely preachers.
2. There is no reference in the Bible of a woman speaking in tongues. In 1 Corinthians 14:34, women were forbidden to speak in tongues in public. In contrast, in tongues speaking churches today, it is practiced mostly by women. Paul says if they had questions they were to ask their husbands at home. This is a command. If women were not to speak in tongues in public, when were they to practice tongues? The Biblical example is that tongues were a sign gift which was always done in public in front of unbelievers. This leaves no other time for women to use tongues, except in private, and then one could ask for what reason would a woman want to speak in tongues, in private, when there are no unbelievers to hear or interpret. In two accounts in Scripture of tongues being practiced it specifically states it was men who received the gift.
On the Day of Pentecost: "And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? . . . Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine." (Acts 2:8, 13) In Acts 19:7, it says, "And all the men were about twelve." (Acts 19:7) In Acts 10:44, the Bible says the Holy Ghost fell on all who heard the word. Women could have been present although it was not their custom to have women present when men were meeting. Customs of the day separated the men and women in all public meetings, and when the other men visited the home.
Paul says in verse 37, "If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord." (1 Corinthians 14:37) Especially note that all these admonishments against tongues are the "commandments of the Lord!" In verse 38, Paul is literally saying a man who will not respect and accept these instructions should not have his words respected in turn. "But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant." (1 Corinthians 14:38)
3. Tongues were a “sign” to unbelievers, NOT to believers. Today among the Pentecostal and Charismatic churches the gift of tongues is presented as a sign that a believer has received the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. That is contrary to what 1 Corinthians 14:21-22 says. Also, not once in the New Testament are tongues presented as proof of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. In Acts 2 and 19, unbelieving Jews were present and some believed and were saved. In Acts 10, it was a sign to the unbelieving Jews that the Gospel was to go to the Gentiles as well as the Jews.
Paul states Paul states in Romans 8:9 that all believers are indwelled by the Holy Spirit. He says that if a person does not have the indwelling of the Spirit of God, he is not God's child or saved. "But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” (Romans 8:9)" All believers receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit at the moment they are saved which gives them the new nature of Jesus Christ.
Jesus told them, just before He ascended into Heaven, ". . . That they should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence." (Acts 1:4-5) Verse 8 says "But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.” (Acts 1:8)
From Pentecost unto the Rapture, all believers are indwelled by the Spirit of God. Jesus told His disciples this truth in John 7:37- 39, "In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink. He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. (But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified.)"
This was not so in the Old Testament. In the Old Testament, the Holy Spirit "came upon" the one God had chosen for special service. David is the only person in the Old Testament that the Bible says continually had the Spirit of God. (1 Samuel 16:13) On the Day of Pentecost the fifty who waited in the upper room were the first to receive the permanent indwelling of the Holy Spirit. The Bible makes a clear distinction between having the Holy Spirit “come” upon someone and being permanently indwelled by the Holy Spirit which included receiving the new nature of God. (1 Cor. 5:17)
To teach that the baptism of the Holy Spirit, which is the indwelling of the Spirit, is some second act of salvation that must be sought and accompanied by speaking in an unlearned language in a perversion of God’s word. Ephesians 5:18, instructs believers to "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit." There is only one act of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, but there can be multiple "fillings" of the Spirit. A believer can neglect God's presence by letting sin into his life and get out of fellowship with the Lord. The "filling" actually means being controlled by the Holy Spirit. When we sin and disobey God the flesh is in control and not God. However, if we confess our sin and ask God's forgiveness, we then allow the Holy Spirit to take over and thus are "filled" with the Spirit. (See 1 John 1:8-10)
4. Paul said that the Corinthian were not to forbid a person from speaking in tongues. More will be said about this later. The reason for Paul's statement was that tongues were still a valid gift in 56 AD when this book was written. It will be shown later that according to 1 Corinthians 13:8-10, the sign gifts would cease when the Scriptures were complete. This happened around 70 AD, when Jerusalem was destroyed, the Jews were dispersed all over the earth and the nation of Israel ended and Judaism ceased to be practiced. The offer of the Kingdom was temporarily withdrawn and we live now in the Church Age in which God is working primarily with the Gentiles.
5. The modern tongues movement actually teaches people how to speak in tongues. No one in the Bible had to be trained and taught how to practice the gift of tongues or, for that matter, any special gift from God. In each case the gift was received instantaneously and no one prayed or asked God for the gift. However, today men are taught to pray and diligently seek the gift of tongues.
Don Basham, who was in the early forefront of the Charismatic movement in the 1970s, instructs those trying to practice tongues. He says in his book, A Handbook on Holy Spirit Baptism, "If you have been praising God in English, you may find your speech becoming difficult, your voice stammering. Yield to this stammering and the new language will form itself easily. Or you may experience the beginning of this "unknown tongue" by having the Holy Spirit insert strange sounding syllables and words in your mind." He continues and says "You may even stutter and stammer like a baby at first. Beginning tongues often sound like baby talk."  Clearly, when God throughout the Bible performed a miracle or gave a special gift, the recipient did not have to be prompted or taught how to receive it. Basham warns his readers that they may think, "That's not it! You're just making up sounds and syllables." But he urges them on and says, "Go ahead and speak and keep on speaking." Clearly, modern tongues speaking is something someone learns to do. Again, there is no comparison between today's "tongues" and the examples in the New Testament; they are completely different.
In all the Bible's instructions on how to pray, tongues is never mentioned. If tongues is a special prayer language between a believer and God, then why is it not mentioned and emphasized. When asked by His disciples how to pray Jesus gave them the model prayer of Matthew 6:9-15. The model prayer shows the one who is praying is to do so intelligently and with specific content. Every prayer recorded in the Bible is shown as a person speaking with his full understanding and presenting his praise, supplications and requests before the Lord. I think a good question the person who "prays" in ecstatic speech should ask themselves is this: "How do I know if God answered my prayer when I do not know what I prayed for?"
6. In 1 Corinthians 14:23, Paul says, "If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?" Many times I have been told by unsaved men and women of their experience of attending a tongues speaking churches. They report on being greatly alarmed and "turned off" by all the emotional antics they saw. This is what Paul speaks of here. If an unsaved person comes to a church, they should hear a clear presentation of the Gospel. How could God be in something that actually hinders people from hearing the Gospel? It is interesting that in America, English speaking people can go to certain churches and all they will hear are people speaking something they cannot understand.
Does it make sense that God would give a gift today of speaking some foreign language to someone in a church where everyone speaks the same language! What is the point of having someone speak in a foreign language to people who cannot understand? In many churches today in the west there are Spanish speaking people. Yet, not once in talking to hundreds of Charismatics, have I ever heard of any English speaking person, who had never learned Spanish, witnessing in Spanish. Paul gives the clear principle in 1 Corinthians 14:33 that if anything causes confusion, it is not of God. The Corinthian tongues speakers did not have the biblical gift of tongues; if they did have it there would have been no need for Paul to address this matter.
In 1 Corinthians 14:37, it is clear and imperative that these admonitions against improper use of tongues are to be followed. That leaves no grounds for the unbiblical practices of the modern tongues movement. These instructions Paul gave were commandments from God. If those who practice tongues today would apply these simple admonishments, the modern tongues movement would die overnight.
There is no evidence of the continuation of the gift after the period of the early churches, nor later in the ministries of the apostles. Only Paul, in 1 Corinthians 12-14, mentions tongues. The modern tongues movement began at the turn of the 20th Century as it was unknown in churches after 70 A.D. In approximately 400 Lectionaries, which were the written sermons and teachings of those who followed in the church after the apostles, there is no mention of tongues. If it was being practiced by first and second century churches, why did not these church "fathers" mention it? The answer is obvious: it was because this sign gift had ceased. In 1 Corinthians 13:8-10, Paul clearly states that tongues would cease as well as "prophecies" and "knowledge." Prophecies and knowledge are both references to the supernatural writing of the Scriptures. The question is, why did Paul single out prophecies, tongues and knowledge as being temporary? Why did God say they would cease? Unmistakably, he says these things would cease and the evidence is that they did.
The context of 1 Corinthians 13:8-10 is Paul addressing the improper use of the sign gifts and explaining what they truly were. In the middle of the discourse Paul gives us a contrast or illustration. He uses love (charity) as an example of something that will never cease. "Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.” (1 Cor. 13:8) He says love would not cease, but prophecy, tongues and knowledge would. Each of these three things deal with God giving revelation to man, which is His written word the New Testament. In other words, Paul says that the writing and completion of God's Word would in time stop, because it would be completed.
The word "prophecies" is plural and refers to many prophecies. It is made up of two Greek words "pro" meaning "before" and phemi meaning "to speak." Literally, it means to "speak before." Its primary use was in speaking "before" people and preaching or proclaiming the Word of God. Its normal meaning was not "foretelling" or predicting the future, but rather preaching the Word of God before the people. In the early churches the Apostles literally spoke the Word of God that was not yet written. This is what the passage is referring to. After 95 AD, when the canon of Scripture was complete by the writing of the Book of Revelation, this type of prophecy or revelation ended. From that point on the "teacher" has been used of God to prophesy (preach and teach) what God had recorded in the written Word of God. Therefore, Paul said that in time, the giving of revelation from God, which was the written Word of God, would end.
The word "tongues" refers to the supernatural gift, as recorded in the Book of Acts. This was a supernatural sign given to unbelieving Jews to attest that Jesus Christ was the Messiah and that the message the Apostles proclaimed was truth and accurate. The sign gifts of healings, tongues, and miracle clearly came from God and therefore it was clear that the Apostles’ message was God sent. Thus, the sign gift of tongues was related to God giving revelation, in that it was a supernatural gift that authenticated the message of the Gospel, and Jesus as the Messiah. It proved the message of Christ’s disciples was valid and came from God. Therefore, the gift of tongues was tied to divine revelation.
The word "knowledge" also relates to a supernatural understanding of the Word of God before it was written. The word used is "gnosis" and primarily is used as "a seeking to know, an inquiry, or investigation." It also refers to being able to know and understand God's revelation and be able to communicate that knowledge to others. Jesus spoke of this ministry of the Holy Spirit in John 16:13-14, "Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth: for he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak: and he will shew you things to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you." Jesus said that the Holy Spirit would guide the apostles in knowing the Word of God and revealing to them the things to come.
Therefore, prophecy, tongues and knowledge are singled out as ending because they are each revelational. The words, prophecies and knowledge use the same verb that is in the future passive tense. However, the word "tongues" is in the middle voice which means they would cease automatically of themselves. The grammar Paul used shows the contrast of love with the temporary gifts. Love is permanent, but prophecy, tongues and knowledge, which were related to the giving of divine revelation, were only temporary.
1 Corinthians 13:9-10 says, "For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. " In other words, when the canon of Scripture (that which is perfect) would be completed, there would no longer be any need of these special gifts that were related to give new revelation of the New Testament scriptures, which were at that time in the process of being written.
Some have concluded that the verse is a reference to the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus. However, that is impossible because in verse 10, the word "perfect," is neuter in gender. In the Bible, when there is a reference to the Lord Jesus, He is always referred to in the masculine gender. The word "perfect" is neuter and it means some "thing" and not a person. The "thing" from the context is easily understood as a reference to the Word of God, because that is what prophecy, tongue, and knowledge are related to. If the word "perfect" was masculine, it could legitimately be referring to Christ, but as a neuter noun it cannot be a reference to Christ. The word "perfect" clearly relates to the aforementioned prophecy, tongues, and knowledge. The word "it" is linked grammatically with giving divine revelation, not the Second Coming of Christ. Nothing that in this discourse that hints that this is about Christ's Second Coming. What is in view is the giving of revelation and specifically the verse is saying when revelation is "perfect" meaning completed, the process of God's giving revelation would end.
Paul then makes his statements, even clearer by using the illustration of being like a child. He says, in 1 Corinthians 13:11-12: "When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known." This illustration points out the difference between being partial and being complete. A child has only partial understanding, but an adult has full understanding. Paul continues with another illustration that contrasts are seen through a darkened glass and being able to see something face to face. Paul was explaining to the Corinthians that, at that point in time, they had only a partial revelation of God's word, but in time it would be completed. He used this instruction to point out their misunderstanding and how seriously wrong was their use of tongues. What was being practiced and called “tongues” by 50AD in the Corinthian church was not biblical tongues. The practice of tongues had been perverted and the same unbiblical practice, we see today in modern tongues had surfaced.
Many use Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 14:39 “Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues” to justify modern tongues. This is a mistake. The gift of tongues was still, to some degree, valid around 50 AD. Israel was still a nation and the offer of the kingdom was still valid. God was offering the Jews the promised kingdom and therefore tongues were still a sign gift pointing them to Jesus as the Messiah. Therefore, Paul did not speak against the valid gift of tongues, but against its misuse and corruption. In the Book of Romans written, in verses 57-58 Paul stated the Gospel was to the “. . . To the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” Clearly, even seven or eight years later the offer of the kingdom to Israel was still being offered to the Jews.
When Paul first went to Corinth preached the Gospel in the synagogues to the Jews. However, as Acts 18:6 records the Jews opposed and blasphemed the Gospel. Paul then stopped preaching to the Jews, saying “. . . Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles.” However, Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue believed on the Lord and he and his whole house were saved. Paul continues to preach in Corinth for a year and a half. This shows that most of the Jews rejected Jesus as the Messiah, but a few did believed. We must remember that Paul stated that tongues was a sign to unbelieving Jews, and at this period of the First Century the gift was still valid as a testimony to the Jews of the validity of the Gospel. If further must be understood that after the destruction of the temple and Jerusalem God withdrew the offer temporarily because the Jews were no longer a nation or even in the Palestine.
Let me be redundant in stating that in God's providence and long suffering, He continued for the next twenty years to offer the Kingdom to the Jews, but they rejected Him and His offer. In 70 AD Israel was destroyed and the offer is withdrawn until the present Church Age is finished. Jesus spoke of this in Luke 21:24 saying “And they shall fall by the edge of the sword, and shall be led away captive into all nations: and Jerusalem shall be trodden down of the Gentiles, until the times of the Gentiles be fulfilled.” (Luke 21:24) In the future seven year Tribulation the offer will be renewed and Israel restored, in the end, receiving their Messiah and promised Kingdom.
Paul's discourse in 1 Corinthians 12-14 was effective in ending the abuse of the sign gifts; therefore, starting with 2 Corinthians, tongues are not spoken of in the churches anymore. In 90-95 AD, when John finished the Book of Revelation, the period of the sign gifts ended and they are not valid today!
From the above text and references it is clearly shown that what is occurring in the modern tongues movement is not supported by the New Testament; that is, it is not what happened in the early church. Further, once the New Testament canon was complete there was no further need of the sign gifts and they ceased.
It can only be concluded that modern day tongues, in counter distinction to biblical tongues, is not of God, because it is not supported by the New Testament. Further, what is occurring is a learned or contrived emotional experiences prompted by the denominations who teach this false doctrine. (For an explanation of what modern tongues actually are going to read my article “Modern Tongues Explained. What is really going on. (Many sincere Christians, who love the Lord, believe that speaking in tongues is a valid gift from God today. They do so because they have been taught that tongues is a valid gift today, which is the dominate theme of the Pentecostal and Charismatic movements. My intent is not to be condemned or rude, but with a loving and caring spirit present God's truth to people who have been ill-taught about this matter.
Biblical speaking the gospel in “tongues” (an unlearned language) was only a valid gift during the period of the early First Century. Tongues were a sign gift to the unbelieving Jews as Paul states in 1 Corinthians 14:22.
“Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.” (1 Corinthians 14:22)
The sign gifts of supernaturally speaking the gospel in an unlearned language were a miracle that authenticated message of the Apostles as God’s genuine message. Further, less than forty years after Christ returned to heaven, the sign gifts ceased. The reason was that after Jerusalem and the Temple was destroyed in 70 AD, Israel ceased from being a nation, the Jews were dispersed throughout the Roman Empire. During Jesus’ ministry and after His resurrection, though His Apostles the Lord was offering Israel the Kingdom promised in the Old Testament. However, because the Jews rejected Jesus their Messiah the offer of the kingdom was postponed. With Israel destroyed and God’s offer withdrawn, there was no longer any purpose for the sign gifts that were directed at unbelieving Jews. The sign gifts are to be differentiated from other gifts of the Spirit. However, all the sign gifts ceased, including tongues, whereas the other gifts of the Spirit remained. The sign gift given to Jesus’ disciples was gifts were tongues, healings, working of miracles, prophecy, raising the dead, and the discerning of spirits.
 Glossolalia: The speaking of unintelligible sounds, esp. in religious worship. The word "glossa" means "tongue" as the organ of speech. In Acts 2:3 is refers to speaking an unlearned, but valid language.
 Robert H. Longman, Jr. "Tongues as a Gift, a Sign, a Practice," ( http://www.spirithome.com/tongues1.html) 2009.
 Gnosticism. The belief of certain pre-Christian pagan, Jewish, and early Christian cults that purport to have superior knowledge of God. Gnostic denied the deity of Jesus Christ, the inspiration of Scripture and biblical doctrine. It further invented false stories and "gospels" to that supported their unbiblical beliefs.
 Nag Hammadi Liberty,