The True Holy Spirit Gift of Tongues

In Revelation the 16th chapter, the sixth vial of God’s wrath is poured out in judgement against false religion. Satan’s reaction is to send forth his unclean spirits, to gather people in spiritual battle against God’s true people. These unclean spirits with deceptive powers are represented as frogs.

“And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet. For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.” ~ Revelation 16:13-15

These unclean spirits have power to deceive by performing their own miracles, which they often claim to be gifts of the Holy Spirit. And so the devil today is deceiving millions with a false gift that people claim is the Holy Ghost gift of tongues. In order to expose this false gift, allow me first the opportunity to explain, by the scriptures, the true Holy Spirit gift of tongues. I will do this by answering these three questions:

  1. What is the True gift of tongues?
  2. How it’s used?
  3. Who does God give it to?

What is the true Gift of Tongues?

The true gift of tongues is the ability to speak in foreign languages, without ever having been instructed and trained in those languages. It’s not an “unknown” jibber-jabber or bibbel-babbel. It’s a plain, simple to understand, language. It’s spoken by an individual who knows and understands exactly what he or she is saying. When someone speaks to you using the gift of tongues, you will understand them perfectly in the same language you have used since you were born. (Acts 2:4-11)

“And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marveled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galileans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?” ~ Acts 2:4-8

How is the Gift of Tongues used?

The gift is used to communicate the gospel message of salvation to people of all different kinds of languages (tongues). As recorded in the book of Acts, the only time the gift was used was in an area where there were people from different areas who spoke different languages. In Acts the 2nd chapter, on the day of Pentecost: “there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven…And they were all amazed and marveled, saying one to another…how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?” Acts 2:5-8

The only other places in Acts where mention is made of the use of the gift of tongues is in the cities of Caesarea and Ephesus. These cities were major seaport cities. People from many different nations and tongues would pass through them regularly. The gift of tongues was very much needed to enable the church to testify and preach the message of salvation to the many travelers from many different nations. When everyone already speaks the same language, the gift of tongues is not needed.

The claim by many today is that speaking in tongues is the witness that you have received the Holy Ghost. But in at least 46 places in the New Testament where it tells or teaches of people being filled with the Holy Ghost, it says nothing about speaking in tongues. 1 Corinthians the 12th chapter plainly states that there are many gifts of the Holy Ghost, but different people have different gifts and not everyone has the gift of tongues.

Let’s consider the most Holy Ghost filled individual that ever walked on the face of the earth: the Lord Jesus Christ. (Luke 4:14, Mark 1:8-12, Matthew 12:28) In the power of the Spirit, Jesus healed multitudes, performed miracles, cast out devils, prophesied, and taught many the wonderful word of God. But while doing all this, Jesus never taught the people in a foreign tongue. And most certainly he never jibber-jabbered in an “unknown tongue”! Jesus said his mission while on earth wasn’t to the Gentiles, but to the Jews. “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” (Matthew 15:24) The people that Jesus taught while on earth all spoke the same language. Therefore there wasn’t any need to use the gift of tongues.

By example, Jesus showed that the gifts of the Spirit, are only used when there is a need. This is so God might be glorified in their use, and not man! Today many people are being lifted up for their supposed “gift of Tongues.” Why didn’t Jesus lift himself up this way?

Later Jesus sent his disciples into all the world to preach the gospel. When there was a need to speak to people of different languages, the Lord provided them the gift of tongues to do so.

Who does God give the Gift of Tongues to?

Finally, the Bible plainly teaches us that not everyone can be filled with the gift of the Holy Ghost. Only those who are saved, obeying God and who commit no sin. (Acts 5:32, Hebrews 6:4-8, I John 3:3-10, Hebrews 10:26-31)

What about the Gift of Unknown Tongues?

Many try to argue that 1 Corinthians the 14th chapter supports the teaching of “unknown tongues” and the need for someone to translate these “tongues.” First of all, it should be noted that the word “unknown” in this chapter, was never in the original scriptures! In the King James Version it is specifically italicized to show that it was a “supplied” word in the translation. The interpreters did it this way to describe a language not known by a majority of the congregation. The phrase “unknown tongue” isn’t used anywhere else in the Bible!

The city of Corinth was another major seaport city with many people from different nations passing through regularly. 1 Corinthians the 14th chapter deals with the problem caused when people of different languages come together to try to worship God together. People of different languages were coming to the congregation at Corinth and trying to use their native language in the worship services. The majority of the congregation did not speak their language. That is why they were in need of an interpreter. The problem dealt with in this chapter is not people using the gift of tongues. The true Holy Spirit gift of tongues does not cause problems, it solves them!

In 1611 when the King James version was created, the translators had no thought in their mind to use the word “unknown” to stand for a language that no one knew. What they were trying to designate by adding the word “unknown”, was to show a foreign language being used. A language that was not known by most in the congregation.

The modern-day notion of unknown tongues, (also known as glossolalia) was unheard of within a Christian Church in the 1600s. But the practice of a bibble-babbling, or glossolalia, was commonly practiced for years in pagan worship services. But that pagan spirit did not become significantly a part of what was called “Christianity” until the early 1900s.

Now the word “tongue”, as used here in 1st Corinthians 14, was part of the original translation. Consequently we can look up the meaning of the original word via a Bible dictionary such as Thayers.

Tongue – the language or dialect used by a particular people distinct from that of other nations.

So the phrase: “unknown tongue” here means a “non-local language”, or a foreign language not known by the locals. So, in 1st Corinthians the 14th chapter, replacing the words “unknown tongue” with the words “non-local language”, will provide us clarity as to the original intention of the translators. Additionally, for clarity, let’s replace the word “tongue” with “foreign language”. So next let’s read the same passage in Scripture with those words replaced. It will now begin to make more sense. (Note: I have left the numbers on the scriptures In this passage so that you can more easily compare it yourself to your Bible.)

1 Corinthians 14:1-33

[1] Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy. [2] For he that speaketh in an non-local language speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries. [3] But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. [4] He that speaketh in an non-local language edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church. [5] I would that ye all spake with foreign languages, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with foreign languages, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying. [6] Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with foreign languages, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine? [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? [8] For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? [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. [10] There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification. [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. [12] Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church. [13] Wherefore let him that speaketh in a non-local language pray that he may interpret. [14] For if I pray in a non-local language, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. [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. [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? [17] For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified. [18] I thank my God, I speak with foreign languages more than ye all: [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 a non-local language. [20] Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men. [21] In the law it is written, With men of other foreign languages and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord. [22] Wherefore foreign languages 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. [23] If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with foreign languages, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad? [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: [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. [26] How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a foreign language, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying. [27] If any man speak in a non-local language, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret. [28] But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God. [29] Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. [30] If anything be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. [31] For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. [32] And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. [33] For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

Now, some also claim to pray in an “unknown tongue” by the Spirit of God. But no where in the Bible does it teach such a thing. They get this idea by reading 1 Corinthians the 14th chapter and assuming “unknown” was part of the original text, and then they incorrectly combine this with the following scripture in Romans 8:26-28:

“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. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.” ~ Romans 8:26-28

The scripture above shows us where we don’t know how to pray, except to express a deep burden for God to intercede according to his will. It shows us that the Spirit “makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” There is no unknown tongue referred to at all here. In fact, no words are actually verbally spoken in this example. All that is referred to is a burden that is so heavy that we do not have the words to express it. Again, let’s look up in a Bible Dictionary the original meaning for “groanings” in this scripture:

groanings – a groaning, a sigh

Now if you are one of those who still wants to believe that the Holy Ghost has given you the power to bibble-babble in an “unknown tongue,” you do have some very serious problems that you should be seriously considering:

(a) Multitudes of different churches and sects are claiming to speak in “unknown tongues” but yet are divided into different bodies and doctrines. They know nothing about Holy Spirit directed Bible unity where the body is one, with one name (identity) in God, and where the ministry sees eye to eye in their desire for the truth. (John 17:9-23, I Corinthians 1:10, Ephesians 4:1-6, Isaiah 52:7-8) The best these “unknown tongues” ministers can produce is a union of church sect organizations still holding to their own identity and their own doctrines, and their famous lifted-up preachers.

(b) A strong characteristic of many who speak and pray in these “unknown tongues” is the sin nature still working inside. Multitudes of church members and preachers still have sinful desires and actions, but yet are able to still speak in an “unknown tongue.” But the true Holy Ghost causes people to be holy and live free from sin all the time! (1 John 3:7-9, 1 Corinthians 3:16-17, Romans 8:1-5, Galatians 5:16-26) And the Holy Ghost will never lead you to act in a way that is contrary to the Word of God.

There have been sincere people who unknowingly through ignorance, were deceived for a while by this “unknown tongue” spirit. But when true light was shown upon it, they came completely clear away from it.

(c) Finally, as already stated, it is a well known fact that even in open heathen, pagan, religious ceremonies, they will speak in “unknown tongues.” These people do not even believe in the Lord Jesus Christ!

Isaiah the prophet foretold of God’s church this way:

“Thou shalt not see a people, a people of a deeper speech than thou canst perceive; of a stammering (ridiculous) tongue, that thou canst not understand.” ~ Isaiah 33:19

Again, these unclean spirits can masquerade as being the Holy Spirit. They have power to deceive by all kinds of miracles, including miracles of: healing, and signs and wonders.

If you are only looking for miracles, and are not spiritual enough to “weigh the spirits” by the Word of God, then you are very vulnerable to these deceptive spirits. Especially if you have sin in your life, and you still claim to be a Christian.  Because you are actually not clothed in righteousness, and you are walking spiritually naked before God, and before these deceptive spirits.

“For they are the spirits of devils, working miracles, which go forth unto the kings of the earth and of the whole world, to gather them to the battle of that great day of God Almighty. Behold, I come as a thief. Blessed is he that watcheth, and keepeth his garments, lest he walk naked, and they see his shame.” ~ Revelation 16:14-15

Once people get drunk on the “good feeling” satanic “unknown tongue” spirit, it is rare that they ever get free from its deception. But yet, by the mercy of God, some still have.

Will you hear the true Bible message of deliverance from all sin? Yes, deliverance from all Satan’s power! Including freedom from the deceptive, binding, “unknown tongue” spirit?

Note: this diagram below shows where the sixth vial message is within the full Revelation message. These “vials of God’s wrath” messages complete the purpose of God to destroy the influence of hypocrisy. To better understand a high level view of Revelation, you can also see the “Roadmap of Revelation.”

Revelation Overview Diagram - 6th Vial

Revelation of Jesus Christ