Doctrine of Tongues; History

July 23, 2010

History of the tongues movements:
Speaking of tongues was a very real experienced in the New Testament churches without a doubt, it was widely practiced, and even so much abused. After the completion of the Bible, there were no more records of Christian speaking in tongues, some believe that means it had already ceased, per 1 Cor 13:8. During the middle Ages and the Reformation period, the only recorded file on the subject of tongues is on the reference to Cultic and Paganic groups.
Is speaking of tongues a legitimate gift in our present Age?
From the time the Bible was completed until 1906, there were no claims of tongues by the Evangelical churches. The tongues movement began its origin in California. A young lady in college claimed she had baptism of the Holy Spirit and spoke in tongues. From there, it spread from Kansas to Missouri and eastward. In Los Angeles, California, a pastor major on this subject, not on the doctrinal point of view, but on their own personal experiences and from there, it took on large proportion in the United States of America.
In early 50’s the speaking of tongues was confined primarily to the Pentecostal groups and looked upon as questionable and unbiblical teaching. But in the middle of 1955, the organized Full Gospel Businessmen’s Fellowship International promoted the speaking of tongues effectively. Their clever and strong public relations and their bold aggressiveness were often been considered the spontaneous work of the Holy Spirit. The great controversy of the movement becomes their very attraction.
The Speaking of Tongues in the Scriptures:
The only purpose of tongues as revealed in the Scripture serves as sign for the unbelieving Jews. Let’s examine every portion of Scripture that mentioned speaking of tongues.
ACTS 2: At the Pentecost the recipients of the Gospel message were all Jews from every part of the world. (verse 5), they spoke different languages understood by their own natives. The very purpose of the Pentecost was to convey the Gospel of Christ in the very languages of the listeners, (v.8) and to convince the Jews that the Gospel has come, the inaugurating the church composed of people from all nations who believe and accepted Jesus as their Savior (vv. 36,41). Those Jews heard the Gospel proclaimed in their own languages. Note that in Acts 2:4, the word used in Greek was “heteros glossa” which means foreign language not  gibberish sounds.

ACTS 10:9-48:  Please note that Cornelius was a Gentile; the purpose of manifestation of tongues in these passages was to convince the Jews who came with Peter that God is no respecter of persons, meaning that both Jews and Gentiles could be saved- together. Please note verses 34 and 35.
Those Jews considered the Gentiles as dogs, rubbish, scum’s of these worlds who cannot enter the gate of heaven. Therefore speaking of tongues from his text is just an authentic proof of their just received salvation.
ACTS 19:1-7:  The Jews from this text were disciples of John the Baptist who responded to the call of repentance, but who never heard the Gospel for Christ. Those Jews evidently had not been in Jerusalem during the Pentecost. Paul sensed that they missed something important. In verse 2, he asked, “have you received the Holy Spirit upon believing?
They trusted Christ as their Savior and received the baptism of the Holy Spirit, spoke in tongues at the same time, then were immersed in water baptism. The speaking of tongues in this text appeared as a sign of the work f the Holy Spirit for those who will come to Him.
The Book of Acts is the history of the pre-canon Church Age. The Jews that have returned to Jerusalem were part of the Israelites scattered because of divine discipline (Leviticus 26:26-33). The transitory signs gifts were used by God to warm them of the incoming 5th cycle of divine discipline which took place in 70 A.D. when Titus destroyed Israel as a nation (1 Corinthians 14:21-22).
The speaking of tongues is instrumentation for warning the Jews of the impending disaster. After the 5th cycle of divine discipline was administered in 70 AD, there was no longer any reason for the continuation of the gift of tongues (1 Corinthians 13:8-10).
Satan is exploiting the historical sign gift of tongues by making it nothing but emotional ecstatic experience. The spiritually ignorant believers and unbelievers are easily caught under this satanic scheming. They confused the Gospel for some kind of gibberish tongues manipulated by sensationalism and emotionalism (2 Corinthians 6:11-12, Romans 16:17-18).
MARK 16:15-18: The three references of tongues in the book of Acts were all history. Furthermore, Mark 16:15-18 is the very verse that prophesied or foretold these events. When the risen Lord commissioned His disciples to proclaim the Gospel to every nation, Christ declared that the tongues were to be a sign. The apostles, and the disciples at the Pentecost knew about this statement- and it was very clear to the apostle Paul.

Tongues were given to the Jews because they demanded sign from God’s servants. But this sign gift lasted only until the completion of the Bible. After 1 Corinthians 14, tongues is nowhere to be found in the Bible , because it is no longer necessary.
The Temporal Nature of Speaking of Tongues
A careful study of 1 Corinthians 13, will disclose that the gift of tongues was not meant to continue throughout the history of the Church. The very purpose of this chapter is to show the superiority of love (doctrinal truth) over all kinds of spiritual gifts the early Corinthian Christians were coveting.
This is confirmed by the fact that in the later Epistles of Paul, when the issue of spiritual gifts was discussed, the tongues was not mentioned or even named. (see Romans 12, and Ephesians 4)
What Tongues are not:
The speaking of tongues is not the sign of baptism of the Holy Spirit
In the chapters that majors in the spiritual gifts, (1 Corinthians 12-14), particularly 1 Corinthians 12:13, Paul points out that all believers have been baptized into one body- with one kind of baptism in the Spirit, not just those who have one particular gift of the Spirit.
Baptism of the Spirit is not received by those who ask for it. Did the disciples in the Upper Room asked for such baptism? There was no record that the 120 disciples asked for baptism in the Spirit. No one asked for the baptism in Spirit during Pentecost, but the Spirit came suddenly as the Lord had promised. There is no command in the Bible for the Christian to seek the baptism of the Spirit.
The speaking of tongues are not biblical method of Christian growth
Speaking of tongues is not mentioned after 1 Corinthians 12-14, and Paul wrote to the Corinthian church to correct their doctrinal error concerning this speaking of unknown tongues. Why are we going to use the Corinthian church as a model for speaking of tongues when in reality wrote to correct their mistakes and heretical practices.
We Christian can grow only through the Word of God, by the power of the Holy Spirit, as we fellowship with Christ alone, and with other believers, and not by speaking in tongues, not by engaging in historical sign gifts.

The speaking of tongues are not exclusive domain of Christianity
Plato spoke in tongues, the Hindu monks speaks in tongues, the founder of Islamic cult spoke in tongues, Joseph Smith spoke in tongues, the Indian occults and cultic religion speaks in tongues. The Satanists speaks in tongues and many other cults are speaking in tongues.
The speaking of tongues are not the mark of spiritual maturity
Christ commanded Christian to bear fruits that remains, (see John 15:16), since tongues is temporal, as mentioned in 1 Corinthians 13:8, it cannot be the kind of fruit Christ is talking about.
JR Cherreguine Bible Doctrine Ministries
The speaking of tongues are not church-edifying spiritual gifts
1 Corinthians 14:14 is clear that those who speak in tongues for himself and therefore edify himself-alone.
Some claimed that they have prophetic messages to deliver for a particular person or group of individuals. Has the all knowing God forgotten something to include in the Bible that needs to be delivered through some questionable and confusing manners?
If God is my Father, will He call someone else to tell me something in His heart? Will He not talk to me personally?
Some who speaks in tongues exposes the sins of other born again believer way of public expose’. But God will not and will never accuse anyone whose sin are already paid by the Blood of Jesus.
Yes, God is the same yesterday, today, and tomorrow, but God also respect the past as part of history. What is true about the Jews in the past does not necessarily applies today and what is true for the Jews is not always true to us now.
The speaking of tongues are not the basis of Christian unity
The basis of our unity in fellowship is the Blood of Jesus Christ that was shed for us. To change our basis or even to substandard it with anything less like tongues, is direct insult to the redemptive work of God, through the Lord Jesus Christ. Some of the world religions are united under the flag of tongues, regardless of colors and doctrine.

The  tongues in the Scripture were not of unknown languages
Chuck Swindoll defined tongues in the New Testament as the “ability to speak in a known language and dialect that has never been studied or learned, with the goal of rapidly disseminating the gospel into nations and cultures that have never heard about Christ.” (He gave Gifts, Insight For Living, 1992). This is nothing but plain deception.
Tongues in the New Testament is not babbling of unknown sounds or tongue twisting but word understood by those who heard it. The babbling of unknown words (better sound) is not the originality of the Corinthian church but from the Ancient sun – god cult’s worshippers. We must remember that babbling of unknown words was spread by the New Testament Christians who were formerly sun- god worshippers.
If you have struggles with this teaching, please read the 14th chapter of 1 Corinthians, asking the Lord to teach you by the Holy Spirit, and open your spiritual “eyes.”
The speaking of tongues are divisive and destructive
Tongues have already taken its toll. Many local churches were split, divided, and some were “buried” because of this issue. If tongues are from God, then it must builds what belongs to God, and not divides or destroy.
The speaking of tongues are deceptive
Those who speak in tongues are made to believe that they are more spiritual as long as they practice it, and they have the tendency to put their doubtful experiences ahead of Biblical teaching and depend on their emotions.
Tongues does not have biblical basis for our generation. Tongues are not commanded to us by the Lord Jesus. Tongues are not the sign of spiritual growth or maturity, and are totally not applicable in our times.
The speaking of tongues are diverting tools of Satan
The Lord Jesus Christ is the center of our spiritual life, work, ministry, and church life, worship and all activities. We must be on guard when something else is getting the limelight other than the Lord Himself.

Tongues are a minor doctrine with a very little importance to the life of each individual Christian in particular. Let us not major in this minor teaching.
As the apostle Paul said it: “better is five words in understandable speech, than a thousand words that no one else can understand. Anchor your faith in the solid Word of God, and not in your questionable experiences.
The speaking of tongues are dangerous
1.    Beware of deceitful spirits(1 Timothy 4:1)
2.    Beware of spiritual lies (2 Thessalonians 2:11-12)
1.    Accept tongues as a historical spiritual gift.
2.    Rebuke, refute, re-educate but not  harsh.
3.     Seek not to speak, but seek to understand the Word of God.

The Bible speaks of a miraculous gift that was given to certain people enabling them to speak fluently in foreign languages that they themselves did not understand.


From reading the Old Testament, we learn that God chose a man named Abram to father the Jewish race.  Later he chose Moses to lead the Jewish nation. Then God gave them the Mosaic Law, the scriptures, and the responsibility to evangelize the world with the terrific news that God’s Son would come to earth as perfect man, and therefore, become the uniquely qualified one to atone for the sins of mankind.

Indeed, Jesus Christ came from the royal line of King David, and he completely took care of man’s sin problem when he died on the cross. Anyone who trusts in Jesus Christ for salvation receives “rest” from trying to work his own way to heaven.

Matt. 11:28 – Come unto Me all ye who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest.

The prophet Isaiah had instructed the Jews about their responsibility to give this good news to an unbelieving world.

Isaiah 28:12 –  He [God], who said to them [Jews], ‘Here is rest [the gospel], give rest to the weary’ [unbelievers], and ‘Here is repose,’ but they would not listen.

“Give rest to the weary” was a command given to the Jews to witness to unbelievers about the coming Messiah. But many were drunkards, cared nothing about God’s Word, and failed miserably to carry out this commission to evangelize the lost and dying world, Isaiah 28:7-8.

God used the prophet Isaiah to warn them that if they continued in their disobedience and irresponsibility, God would take this great honor and privilege of representing Him away from them and give it to the Gentiles.  Also, as part of their divine discipline, they would be destroyed as a nation and be dispersed throughout the world. The sign that their discipline was about to commence would be that the Jews themselves would have the gospel presented to them in Gentile languages.

Isaiah 28:11 – Indeed, He [God] will speak [the gospel] to this people [Jews] through stammering lips and a foreign tongue [Gentile languages].

Gentile languages had a staccato type, stammering sound, while the Jews spoke smooth-flowing, classical Hebrew. So, when they heard the gospel presented to them or to fellow Jews in Gentile languages, alarms should have gone off in their heads that this was the sign of the impending judgment prophesied by Isaiah.

I Corinthians 14:21 – In the Law [the Old Testament, Isa.28:11], it is written, ‘By men of strange tongues [Gentile languages] and by the lips of strangers, I will speak to this people [Jews], and even so [even though the sign was evident] they will not listen to Me, says the Lord.’

Why is Isaiah 28:11 repeated I Cor.14:21? Because God was making it abundantly clear to the first century Jews that judgment was near and that He was using Church Age believers with the spiritual gift of tongues to deliver the warning sign.

Therefore, the purpose and benefit of tongues was for Israel, not for the Church!


Fifty days after the resurrection of Christ, Isaiah’s prophecy became a reality.

Acts 2:4 – And they [Church Age believers] were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues [foreign languages], as the Spirit was giving them utterance.

At  that time, Jews were living all over the known world and many had forgotten their native tongue. But they faithfully re-gathered in Jerusalem each year to observe the annual holy day called Pentecost. The Holy Spirit enabled the Jews living there who believed in Jesus Christ to give the gospel to these visiting Jews in their Gentile languages that, of course, the Jerusalem Jews did not understand themselves.

All should have recognized this as the sign prophesied by Isaiah. If they had, they would have benefited in two ways:

1)  They might have believed the gospel and accepted God’s gift of salvation by believing in Jesus Christ, their Savior and Messiah,

2)  They could have saved their nation from divine judgment.

Unfortunately, they ignored the warning sign, rejected the gospel, and less than forty years later, A.D.70, Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans. The Temple was demolished, and the Jews were massacred or dispersed. They remained that way for 1,878 years until May of 1948 when, at long last, Israel became a nation again.

The spiritual gift of tongues had been operational from the day of Pentecost up until Titus and his Roman legions destroyed Israel, and then tongues came to an abrupt end. It had served its purpose. God’s grace always precedes His judgment. God gave Israel plenty of time to heed His warning, but they arrogantly ignored it.


The apostle Paul gave instructions as to how to regulate the use of tongues. Things were getting out of hand in the churches because several people with the gift would talk at the same time. There was much confusion and disorder.

He commanded them to use tongues only when there was another person there with the gift of interpretation to translate what was being said. No more than three people were allowed to speak, and then, only one of them was permitted to speak at a time,  I Cor. 14:26-28.

While the one who spoke in tongues did not understand what he himself was saying, it must be stressed that it was not some kind of gibberish.  The Greek word for “tongues” is “glossa” which refers to a language. Never does it refer to some kind of mysterious, unknown communication that only God and no one else would understand.

The King James version links the word “unknown” to the word “tongue”, but it is in italics to show that it was not in the original text.  “Unknown tongue” causes some people to think that what was said could not be understood by any man.  But this certainly was not the case.


The Bible itself tells us that the spiritual gift of tongues would end along with other temporary spiritual gifts.

I Corinthians 13:8-9 – Love never  fails, but where there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away with; where there are tongues, they will cease; where
there is knowledge, it will be done away with.  For we know in part and we prophecy in part;…

This is a partial list of the temporary spiritual gifts that would come to an end. The question is, when exactly would these temporary spiritual gifts come to an end?

I Cor .13:10 – But when the perfect [completed New Testament] comes, the partial [temporary, spiritual gifts] will be done away.

Some teach that the word “perfect” is referring to Jesus Christ, and therefore, they think that none of the spiritual gifts will be terminated until He returns again. However, this is not possible because the Greek word for “perfect” is teleion (teleion)  which refers to something that has been completed or finished.

It Is written in the nominative, NEUTER SINGULAR, and since it is in the neuter gender, it must refer to a thing, not to a person.  Therefore, it cannot possibly refer to Jesus or to any other person.

“The perfect thing” referred to here is the completed canon of the New Testament that was finalized circa A.D. 96. The temporary spiritual gifts greatly helped the first century believers to function until the New Testament was completely finished.

Notice in I Cor. 14:8–9 that prophecy and knowledge will be done away with, but tongues shall cease.  There is a significant difference in the Greek concerning the way these spiritual gifts would come to an end.

The Greek word used for “will cease” is in the MIDDLE VOICE meaning that the use of tongues worked to bring about its own termination which occurred in A.D.70 when the nation of Israel was destroyed. Whereas the Greek word used for “will be done away with” is in the PASSIVE VOICE meaning that the spiritual gifts of prophecy and knowledge would terminate due to an outside influence. And that outside influence would be the completion of the New Testament in A.D.96

The entire fourteenth chapter of First Corinthians points out the superiority of the gift of prophecy over the gift of tongues. The apostle Paul explained the difference between them.

I Corinthians 14:22 – So then tongues are for a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers;  prophecy, however, is for believers, not unbelievers.

Tongues were the sign that reminded the unbelieving Jews of Isaiah’s warning – ignore God and reap the consequences. However, the spiritual gift of prophecy was for believers, be they Jew or Gentile. Prophecy was far superior to tongues because it was communicated in the language familiar to everyone, and therefore, everyone benefited from it.


Most people who speak in tongues today admit that one form of tongues may have ended, but they claim that there remains a special prayer language one can use when communicating with God, composed of words and sounds not understood by man. They base their thinking on the following verse:

I Corinthians 14:2 – For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries.

“For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men” can be confusing. It must be remembered that tongues were not directed to everyone but only to the unbelieving Jews visiting Jerusalem who no longer understood Hebrew.

Jerusalem Jews spoke only Hebrew, so they were not benefited by the use of tongues since they could not understand a thing being said.   Therefore, the one who spoke in tongues did not speak to all men, but only to the visiting Jews who understood the foreign tongue.

“But to God” translated from the Greek literally says, “but speaks God.”  It is in the DATIVE CASE OF ADVANTAGE which means that what was being said was for God’s glory or for His advantage.

Those who spoke in tongues were not speaking to God, but for God, on His behalf and for His glory.  God was glorified when an unbelieving Jew was saved through the use of tongues !

“For no one understands…”   No one who spoke only Hebrew could understand the foreign languages spoken through the gift of tongues.

“But in his spirit…”  Those who could speak in tongues were able to do so because they were filled with the Holy Spirit.  It was the Holy Spirit who actually accomplished this miracle, I Corinthians 12:10-11.

“He speaks mysteries…”  The things being said were a mystery to everyone except the ones who had the spiritual gift of interpreting tongues and the foreigners being addressed.

So I Corinthians. 14:2 can best be understood as follows:

For the one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men in general, [but to unbelieving Jews visiting Jerusalem],but for God, [on His behalf and for His glory]; since no one understands [except the unbelieving Jewish visitors who spoke Gentile languages]. So being filled with the Holy Spirit, he [the one with the gift of tongues] spoke mysteries [to Jerusalem Jews because they did not understand the language being spoken].


Some people insist that the gift of tongues is still in use today because they have heard others speak in tongues or have done so themselves. It must be remembered that when one’s personal experience contradicts the Bible, the Word of God must always take precedence.

Those who have spoken in tongues must realize that just because something is real does not necessarily mean that it is of God. Such things can be brought about by emotional stimulation, demon influence, or demon possession.

Experience does not define the Word of God;  the Word of God defines  experience   Therefore, it can only be concluded that modern-day forms of tongues are not of God but are counterfeits of the original gift which was terminated in A.D. 70.

We are what we think, Proverbs 23:7. Thought is impossible without using words that we understand.  When we pray to God the Father and are unable to adequately express what is in our souls, we do not have to rely on an unintelligible prayer language because the Holy Spirit takes up the slack by interceding for us.

Rom 8:26-27 – In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express.  27 And He who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God’s will.

It is ludicrous to think that one can communicate with God by using some kind of mysterious gibberish much like the occult uses.  Satan, the great counterfeiter, uses tongues today to obscure the gospel and to cause unbelievers to think that the Christian way of life is rooted in a mindless emotionalism.

Many evangelists offer anointing, Holy Ghost babble, and miraculous healings in order to lure unbelievers to their meetings. They focus on the scintillating and the spectacular rather than the gospel. Loud music, disorder, and displays of raw emotions confuse unbelievers who leave on a sensational high but are still spiritually dead.

This type of activity is unpleasing to the Lord as demonstrated by the following verses:

1 Corinthians 14:33  – For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.

1 Corinthians 14:40 – But let all things be done properly and in an orderly manner.

Satan promotes the use of tongues among Christians to distract them from the academic study of God’s Word by disrupting assemblies. Tongues help to breed arrogant competition, strife, and ultimately, subvert the believer’s spiritual growth.

Many churches are replacing true Church Age doctrines pertaining to the ministries of God the Holy Spirit with emotional stimulation and ecstatic experiences like tongues.  We should emulate the Bereans of Acts 17:11 by not allowing our experiences and feelings to lead us astray and by daily searching the scriptures for truth.

I Tim. 6:20 – …keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane and vain babblings…