Tuesday, December 4, 2007
A Biblical Look at Speaking in Tongues
Speaks mysteries unto God that cannot be understood by those present.
1Co 14:3 But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.
1Co 14:4 He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.
1Co 14:5 I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.
Speaks in the language understood by the church for edification, exhortation, and comfort.
Is preferred because the people can understand and profit by the message.
Tongues & Interpretation
Edifies himself or herself, and not the church, unless the person interprets the tongue, than it would have the same benefit as prophesying in the church.
Paul would like all to speak in tongues, but when exercising tongues before an audience, that believer must interpret the message in order to edify the church.
Paul expounds on this point (vv. 6-12)
1Co 14:6 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?
1Co 14:7 And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped?
1Co 14:8 For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?
1Co 14:9 So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air.
1Co 14:10 There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification.
1Co 14:11 Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me.
1Co 14:12 Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.
Paul gives further instruction
1Co 14:13 Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret.
1Co 14:14 For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.
The tongue spoken is unknown to both the believer speaking and the church.
The believer speaking the tongue should earnestly seek to interpret the tongue in the congregation.
Speaking in tongues is praying in the spirit.
1Co 14:15 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.
1Co 14:16 Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?
1Co 14:17 For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified.
Therefore these verses are also relevant to praying in the Spirit:
Eph 6:18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;
Rom 8:26 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.
Jud 1:20 But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost,
Paul instructs to pray in tongues and pray with the understanding (for the church).
Paul instructs to sing in tongues and sing with the understanding (for the church).
The person speaking in tongues blesses with the spirit.
The person speaking in tongues gives thanks well.
1Co 14:18 I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all:
1Co 14:19 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.
1Co 14:20 Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.
Paul is grateful to God that he speaks in tongues, and he exceeds in exercising this manifestation of the Holy Spirit.
The church must understand God's message in order to profit by it.
1Co 14:21 In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord.
1Co 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.
1Co 14:23 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?
1Co 14:24 But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all:
1Co 14:25 And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.
They are also a sign [indication] to those who do not have faith.
If everyone is speaking in tongues without order and interpretation, then the unbelievers and the novice believers will think that everyone is crazy.
Prophesying serves those who have faith.
In contrast to v. 23, the message of God should be understood, so that the unbeliever and the unlearned will fall under the conviction that God is present and with His people.
Let all be done decently and in order
1Co 14:26 How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.
1Co 14:27 If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret.
1Co 14:28 But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.
Tongues and interpretation in a congregation must be edifying to the church.
There should only be two or three that speak in tongues, one at a time, and each needs to interpret the tongue spoken.
If a believer cannot believe to interpret the message, then that person should pray silently.
1Co 14:39 Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.
1Co 14:40 Let all things be done decently and in order.
Paul instructs the church not to forbid speaking in tongues.
Desire to prophesy but do not forbid speaking in tongues.
Other verses on tongues
Mar 16:17 And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
Act 10:45-46 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. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,
Act 19:3-6 And he [Paul] said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John's baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.
Note: Believers speaking and interpreting tongues were in full control of these manifestations. They decided when to speak in tongues and when not to speak in tongues, and in the operation of prayer and faith they interpreted the tongues. They did not wait on the Holy Spirit to possess or control them.
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Summary of Major Points in 1 Corinthians
Speaking in Tongues & Interpretation
Tongues, interpretation of tongues and prophecy are listed as 3 of the 9 manifestations of the Holy Spirit (1Co 12:10). *See link above on manifestation of the Holy Spirit for all 9 manifestations.
Since the Holy Spirit gives the utterance of the tongue, a person cannot curse God, but instead acknowledges Him as Lord (1Co 12:3).
Only love is profitable in the operation of the manifestation and gifts of the Holy Spirit (1Co 13:1-2).
Speaks mysteries unto God that cannot be understood by those present (1Co 14:2).
Edifies himself and not the church, unless the person interprets the tongue, than it would have the same benefit as prophesying in the church (1Co 14:4).
Paul would like all to speak in tongues, but when exercising tongues before an audience, that believer must interpret the message in order to edify the church (1Co 14:5).
The tongue spoken is unknown to both the believer speaking and the church (1Co 14:14).
The believer speaking the tongue should earnestly seek to interpret the tongue in the congregation (1Co 14:13).
Speaking in tongues is praying in the spirit (1Co 14:14).
Paul instructs to pray in tongues and pray with the understanding (for the church) (1Co 14:15).
Paul instructs to sing in tongues and sing with the understanding (for the church) (1Co 14:15).
The person speaking in tongues blesses with the spirit (1Co 14:16).
The person speaking in tongues gives thanks well (1Co 14:16).
Paul is grateful to God that he speaks in tongues, and he exceeds in exercising this manifestation of the Holy Spirit (1Co 14:18).
They are also a sign [indication] to those who do not have faith (1Co 14:22).
If everyone is speaking in tongues without order and interpretation, then the unbelievers and the novice believers will think that everyone is crazy(1Co 14:23).
Before the church, there should only be two or three that speak in tongues, one at a time, and each needs to interpret the tongue spoken(1Co 14:27).
If a believer cannot believe to interpret the message, then that person should pray silently (1Co 14:28).
Paul instructs the church not to forbid speaking in tongues (1Co 14:39).