What was tongue speaking as we read of it in the New Testament?

This is an important question. As we answer it from the Bible we will see that tongue speaking in New Testament times was something totally different from the so-called tongue speaking today. Look at the second chapter of Acts to see the difference. First of all notice verses 1-4: “And when the day of Pentecost was now come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound as of the rushing of a mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them tongues parting asunder, like as of fire; and it sat upon each one of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

These verses refer to the apostles who had been promised the power of the Holy Spirit by Jesus (Acts 1:8). They had been waiting for that power which enabled them to speak in other tongues. Now, what is meant by “tongues?” The answer is seen by looking at other verses.

In verse 6 of Acts 2, we read, “And when this sound was heard, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speaking in his own language.” Notice the words “in his own language.” What was called “tongues” in verse 4 is referred to as “language” in verse 6. But it was a language known to some of those who were in the audience. Then in verses 7 and 8 we read “And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying, Behold, are not all these that speak Galilaeans? And how hear we, every man in our own language wherein we were born?” Notice the expression “In our own tongue.” Can we not see that the words “tongue” and “language” mean the same thing? These people heard the apostles preaching to them in their native tongues or languages. The miracle was upon the apostles. The Holy Spirit gave them the power to speak languages they had never studied!

Today, those who claim to be “Pentecostal” in their practice of tongue speaking are not doing what was done on Pentecost at all. On the day of Pentecost, the Spirit gave the apostles the power to communicate the Gospel to people in the native languages of those people. Such is not being done today.


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