What is Speaking in Tongues? A Biblical Analysis

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

Many years ago I visited a church while out of town.  At the time I was unaware that it was a charismatic church.  When the church services started, it was quite clear that they believed in the gift of tongues.  I was urged to speak in tongues and to “give it up” to the Spirit.  I needed to speak in tongues to be “baptized with the Holy Ghost.“  As I prayed over this and pondered whether I should try and speak in tongues, nothing happened.  I even contemplated faking it.  I felt somewhat ostracized because I actually never did speak in tongues.  I was praying at the time that, “God, if you want me to speak in tongues, please enable me by the Spirit to do so.“  Nothing ever came out and I felt completely inadequate compared to the other believers who were speaking in tongues that I didn’t understand.  There were several speaking at the same time as they were dancing and jumping up and down. To me, it was a little frightening and confusing.

The tongues I heard that night were completely unintelligible and it was an exercise in futility for me to try and understand what was being said.  And no one was interpreting the tongues either which made it even worse.  The whole assembly, minus me, was in a near frenzy and they were completely lost in their actions.

I can remember reading about tongues in Old Testament times where foreign tongues were not a good sign for Israel at all (Walvoord and Zuck 1984, 539).  Foreign tongues were usually a warning to the nation.  When I looked at the New Testament, what I found was that tongues are not a babbling of words, but that of a known language.  This language was intelligible to those who spoke that language and understood by them.

Speaking in Tongues in the New Testament

The first place that speaking in tongues occur in the New Testament was in Acts 2:1-4: “When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”  The word tongues has a literal translation in the Greek of “languages”.  This means that the tongues that were being spoken were those of a known language.  The tongues were words with specific meaning and not just babbling.  This is clarified in Acts 2:7-11, “Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome, (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”

So those who heard these tongues or languages were languages that were known and that the believers may not have known how to speak.  That was a miracle but the miracle was not for the believers benefit but were a sign for the unbelievers (I Cor. 14:22).  These verses were a sign that God used to signify that the Gentiles were receiving salvation to those who did not believe (Walvoord and Zuck 1984, 382).

So clearly, speaking in tongues in the New Testament church were tongues of known languages and not unknown languages or unintelligible sounds.  Since many in Judea were bilingual and some even trilingual, it’s not really that surprising that there were many languages being spoken (Walvoord and Zuck 1984, 357).  They were praising God in different tongues or languages to give evidence for unbelievers that God was at work in more ethnic groups than just the Jews. This validated the fulfillment of Joel chapter two to the Jews as well (Walvoord and Zuck 1984, 408).

Speaking in Tongues and the Baptism of the Holy Spirit

Acts 10:44-46 also has a reference to tongues: “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message.  The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles. For they heard them speaking in tongues (literally, languages) and praising God.”  Notice that the Holy Spirit was poured out and they were not baptized into the Holy Spirit or received a baptism of the Holy Spirit.

Speaking in tongues is a sign for unbelievers and not what some charismatic churches claim as the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  Nowhere in the New Testament is it written that they spoke in tongues and were baptized in the Holy Spirit.  For believers, the receiving of the Holy Spirit is a one time event and it is not a sign of being filled up by the Spirit or being baptized into the Holy Spirit.  It is precisely for the reason of validating God’s acceptance of the Gentiles to the Jews and this acceptance by God for all people was at a specific time in history (Walvoord and Zuck 1984, 408).

Tongues: A Sign for Unbelievers

Biblical scholars agree that in Acts 19:1-7 and elsewhere that these verses clearly indicate that tongues were intended “to overcome unbelief” (Walvoord and Zuck 1984, 409).  They were specifically for unbelievers and to validate Paul’s message and to overcome the listener’s unbelief (Walvoord and Zuck 1984, 408, 409).

Even at the risk of offending some, this reminds me of snake handlers.  Some churches take one text out of context and make it a pretext and sadly, the worship is more centered on the gift of tongues or the handling of snakes than it is with Christ being the center of worship.  Jesus Christ should always be the center of all worship services and never any gift since Paul tells us not to exalt in any gifts of the Spirit since they come from God anyway.

Taking Text out of Context

Here is a personal note on the gift of tongues and the twisting of scriptures.  Sadly, many denominations or churches do not take problematic scriptures and place them against all  the scriptures relating to a particular subject to discover the proper context to see whether it is biblically sound or not.  This is what is meant by “ rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15) and “ no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation” (2 Pet. 1:20). A sound principle is that if there is a problematic scripture or verse; take all the other scriptures that relate to this subject and place them all against the one scripture or scriptures to bring clarity to the subject.  If we still can not decide its meaning, then this might be God’s prerogative alone to know about and we have no business trying to inject or infer meaning when God is not clear on the subject.  If God has not plainly revealed its meaning in scripture or it is not clarified by other scripture, then this is not revelation from God intended for us and should not be taken as such.  Revelation from men is highly questionable and not like the inerrant Word which is infallible.   If God had wanted us to fully understand it, He would have revealed it. Some things that are not clear must be for Him alone to know and we have no business trying to decode such enigmatic scriptures into a meaning that we were never intended to know in the first place.

It is apparent that there is sufficient evidence about tongues that they are clearly a sign for unbelievers, Jews or otherwise.  They are also a sign that God is at work.  The earliest church historians never mention that speaking in tongues continued to occur in the church after all the apostles were gone.  Speaking in tongues is a rather recent movement in the 19th century.  I speak Spanish and I feel that some people are gifted at learning other languages.  My former pastor picked up several African languages at the time he was on mission trips.  He had a gift for it.  But it was a known language.  I can speak in “other” tongues, like English, Spanish, and even some Greek but what sounds like gibberish to those who don’t know them, it is a known language.  But these are known languages and I am not just “letting myself go”.

I have been told that I have never been “filled by the Holy Spirit” or been “truly baptized into the Holy Spirit” unless I have spoken in tongues.   That is not biblical nor should someone feel less “spiritual” if they don’t speak in tongues.   By the way, tongues are the last gift mentioned of all the gifts of the Spirit and love is over and above all other things.  In my humble opinion, charismatic’s too often take it to the extreme and belittle those who do not speak in tongues and incorrectly associate their not being filled with the Spirit when this is actually a one-time event at the moment a believer receives the Holy Spirit at conversion.  You can not have any more of the Holy Spirit, nor can you have any less of Him.  You either have the Holy Spirit or you don’t.


1.       John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, trans., The Bible Knowledge Commentary – New Testament.  (Colorado Springs, CO.: David C Cook, Publisher, 1984).

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{ 43 comments… read them below or add one }

Kimberly September 26, 2016 at 8:02 am

I would like to say that I agree that certain churches do push the speaking in tongues much to much, when in fact speaking in tongues is real, yet it is not for every believer. It is spoken in GOD’s word that only when there is an interpreter of tongues should it spoken in public because it will just sound like clanging symbol’s and causes confusion, GOD is not a GOD of confusion(which is why I have a hard time excepting ‘bible versions’). Mainly it is to be used in private prayer, it lifts you into the throne room with Jesus at GOD’s right hand and it confuses the demons because they cannot understand it, in places of public it should not be the main focus, hence a rare occasion not the norm. The Bible also states that it will come to an end along with wisdom and knowledge but not love, love is for eternity. I believe the end is when Christ returns for His church. I believe every believer is equipped with all the gifts of the Spirit, it takes walking closely with Christ to access them, but if you don’t believe in the gifts you will not possess any, or they will be weak or used not for the kingdom. I did a study on the gifts, I do not have my notes with me nor can I site all the spots in the word of GOD off the top of my head. My study consisted of searching out all named gifts and places in GOD’s word that referenced them, using 3 ‘bible versions’,defining them with a concordance, each word, and using a dictionary to define them. I collect dictionaries so I used multiple ones to seek the most definition I could get. These are real, how can we accept the gift of service or ministry but not tongues or miracles? churches that use tongues like popcorn are in danger. we are not to glorify the gifts, the gifts are to glorify GOD.


Scott McMurtrie October 4, 2016 at 10:00 am

I to have attended wonderful Pentecostal Churches in my life, I know tongues is a real gift and that it is from God. Though I personally have never had the gift though I asked for it many many times. I did in FACT receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit, though never had the tongues , why??? ask God Also though we are noyt to rely on feelings, my experience I was alone in my quiet room lying flat on my back, asking Jesus into my life, I fell asleep praising God/Jesus, when I awake I remembered Pat Robertson 700 CLUB suggested asking for Baptism of the Holy Spirit afterwards, after asking Jesus into our lives

So I asked while I was repeating I love you Jesus over and over may I receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, from the top of my head it felt like a drill in the top of my skull and then a hot heat powerfully swept through me remaining in my chest a hot feeling that remained with me for 2 days, I went to the closest Church, that morning, happened to ne a main line Church Baptist, I was so full of the Holy Spirit I was almost passing out I felt, it was beautiful and scary at the same time on the third day I crashed from this euphoria, for sure a person could not stay in that state

So I have asked for Toungues many many times, have been at the altar with ministers saying stuff like its there just let it out etc

So yes I dont have it, but I dont ridicule those that have this Godly gift…For the Author to say he considered faking it, well that speaks poorly of you I am afraid, that you even considered that

I like this site, but those of us that have never had the gift of toungues should not be so quick to slam it


Jack Wellman October 4, 2016 at 10:19 am

Friend, no one is ridiculing anyone who believes in speaking in tongues. Can you show me where we have done that sir? The Apostle Paul said that not all will speak in tongues. I can live with that. Rather, the greatest use of tongues that any of us can use it for is to rescue the perishing. What is more valuable than a human soul?


Scott McMurtrie October 4, 2016 at 3:39 pm

My take on the combined comments from all posts was that it was twisting Scripture etc to believe that tongues was for today. I acknowledged that I never personally had the gift, though have repeatedly asked for it , actually and still do from time to time.

Perhaps my take on the criticism , that you say was not there, is from the overall reading I do on the subject from all around me. An example would be the good people that put out the Our Daily Bread , you know the daily Mark De Haun (sp)

I really like the people, but I asked for a booklet they had about , Speaking in Tongues, thinking it would be positive, but it was just a hit job that spoke about how it was not Biblical for today (I paraphrase)

Another recent example would be… God Is Just a Prayer away Radio program, I listen to the program but was disappointed to see them slamming the gift of tongues as well, and again as I state I dont have the gift, but many friends do

I obviously offended you with my post, my apologies I did see “the twisting of Scripture reference” maybe read to fast and got the wrong impression, if that was the case my apologies.

I actually had bookmarked the site just prior to reading that, another subject here that I appreciated the answer, so sorry if I got the wrong impression.

Normally a search on the internet for speaking in tongues usually has comments from people that dont have the gift, feeling negative about it, so I was getting that feeling as I read here perhaps to fast.

I gave 2 examples that call it not Biblical, for sure I disagree, though I personally dont have the gift.


Jack Wellman October 4, 2016 at 4:05 pm

Thank you. Well said my friend. I am glad you came by. The day we fail to learn from others we have failed ourselves, and so I say, Thank you mr. McMurtrie.


Ary October 6, 2016 at 12:24 am

Does it mean that the deeper our relationship with God becomes, the easier it will be to feel the Holy Spirit at work? I’ve only recently asked for baptism of the Holy Spirit and had a preacher pray over me for it. I haven’t experience any significant manifestation of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. The most pronounce effect I’ve experience is uncontrolled tremors in my limbs e.g. during praise and worship. I’m not sure if there more to it than just the flesh reacting to the presence of God.


martin cooke October 17, 2016 at 10:26 pm

Interesting article my experience of charasmatics and those who talk in tongues was all disapointing and very shocking appeared the fruit of the spirit sadly missing out of control rabble if you ask me ive seen their trail of messed up lives, then thay want your money,


Lakshmi Eben October 31, 2016 at 4:59 am

Do we have any biblical reference that Satan/demon cannot understand what is spoken in tongues? Please let me know. Thanks.


Jack Wellman October 31, 2016 at 8:47 am

Thank you Thank you for your question Lakshmi. There is no evidence in the Bible anywhere that Satan knows what we’re thinking or can or cannot understand what is being said in tongues. There are no Scriptures that answer this question.


Samson Fidimaye November 6, 2016 at 6:25 pm

Peace be unto you.

Lackshmi, the scripture those who advocate this error use is Apostle Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 13:1, that says “Though I speak in tongues of men and angels . . .” However, It is an error of biblical interpretation to assume that Paul was saying he spoke in the tongue of angels when he said “Though I speak . . .” Paul was simply saying, “Even if he speaks with tongues of men and tongues of angels, but have not love, he has become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal”. In the next verses, Paul makes more similar statements which by no means translate to him doing all of them. The Greek word for tongue, “Dialektos” found six times in the New Testament, and two times in Acts 2, means language. Paul clears the air identifying tongues as world languages and not some unknown angelic language, saying, “There are, it may be, so many kinds of languages in the world, and none of them is without significance. Therefore, if I do not know the meaning of the language, I shall be a foreigner to him who speaks, and he who speaks will be a foreigner to me. Even so you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel” (1 Corinthians 14:10–12).

I hope that helps.


Jamie Curtis November 27, 2016 at 11:20 am

Thank you for your comments on the spiritual gifts as they have been very educational.In Corinthians 12 : 27-31 says; Now ye are the body of Christ and members in particular. And God hath set some in the church,first apostles,secondarily prophets,thirdly teachers,after that miracles,then gift’s of healings,helps,governments,diversities of tongues.Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts to healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.” That scripture says to me that God gives each of us different gifts and not everyone will be able to speak with tongues ,or be able to heal etc. If you read on in Corinthians to verse 13, it seems that God would rather have us abide more in faith,hope,charity and love than anything else. The greatest gift is love. I too have struggled with the meaning of spiritual gifts as I was taught by the Baptist Church that the gifts were taken away. Every time I would ask a pastor of a Baptist Church about this subject, I was always left with the same answer. I knew what the Bible said but couldn’t figure out where it said that the gifts were taken away.One pastor used 1cor13 to prove that was where it said they were taken, yet I still don’t understand why or how one could get that interpretation. Unfortunately, I haven’t found a Church that actually goes by what the entire Bible says. If they do speak in tongues than they all speak in tongues instead of doing it the way the Bible says that it was to be done. The Bible is very clear about how tongues are to be done in a church. However, I have yet to see it done by the Bible. Sadly, people just pick and choose what part of the Bible that they are going to base their Church off of and mislead people into thinking the gifts are of no effect.Therefore having some form of godliness but not believing in the awesome power of the Almighty God Jesus Christ!


Williyam Varghese December 7, 2016 at 8:56 pm

Dear Jack Wellman,
I am happy to read your article and it gives a clear insight to this well debated subject. But I am seriously shocked to see your translation of ” This is what is meant by “rightly dividing the Word of God” (II Tim 2:15) and “scripture is of no private interpretation” (II Pet. 1:2).”. I think you took it from KJV, the exact translation of this 2 Tim 2:15 is “rightly handling the Word of God” and I am not finding ““scripture is of no private interpretation” in (II Pet. 1:2).”, can you please give the right verse? 2 Tim 2:15 is misused and misguiding by many because of wrong translation, there is a huge difference between ‘ dividing’ and ‘ handling’. please see this verse in all the available translation and you will find this ‘dividing ‘ only in KJV. And please give the right verse of ““scripture is of no private interpretation”. Thank you.


Jack Wellman December 7, 2016 at 9:24 pm

Great point. I hadn’t noticed that Mr. Varghese. I checked it out and corrected it sir. Thank you so much sir.


Carin Ferreira December 9, 2016 at 10:49 am

I am not at all an expert. I am though, a true believer and with that I strive to live a life inspired by Jesus and the Word of God.
This have taught me that everything that we do should be to honour and praise God.
Can it be that the urgent will to speak in tongues is inspired by a need for self validation? Or maybe a search for a sign from God?
Is the urgent search for it truly to glorify God? We not rather urgently search for YOUR gift and use that?
I too have experienced and seen people speak in tongues, falling around and fainting. I know too little of the subject to raise an informed opinion, but one thing Ive seen was a man who abruptly stopped speaking in tongues to answer his cellphone! That made me think that this all might be just a show…. for self validation or something of the likes.
I pray to know more of this subject, but do pray that it is a gift used purely of heart.
Please excuse my poor english.


Jack Wellman December 9, 2016 at 11:05 am

Amen Carin. You are exactly right about this subject. Is it to glorify God or ourselves? Sadly, some say that tongues is the evidence of the Holy Spirit, but the real evidence of a person being saved is not tongues but their life (1st John chapter 3). Thank you Carin for pointing out these important reminders in your comment.


Anthony December 19, 2016 at 3:10 am

Please take a look at the following that took place almost right before Jesus returned to the heaven after he was resurrected:
John 20:21-22(NKJV)–21 So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” 22 And when He had said this, He breathed on them, and said to them, “Receive the Holy Spirit.”
It shows here that the disciples had received the Holy Spirit before Jesus left. Yet, in Act 1:4-5, he told them: “4 And being assembled together with them, He commanded them not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me; 5 for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”
Was he saying that you have already received the Holy Spirit when I breathed on you, but there is more to come? And is that the Baptism of the Holy Spirit? You see according to John the Baptist of in Matthew 3:11–(“I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”), only Jesus could do such baptism. Jesus never baptized anyone while in His earthly body(John 4:2). Yet in Act 1:5 (“for John truly baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.”), we can see that Jesus is about to leave, and he told them to wait for this baptism which, of course, only He can do.

In Acts 1:4 (…but to wait for the Promise of the Father, “which,” He said, “you have heard from Me;), the promise of the here is specifically the baptized with the Holy Spirit. So they (the apostles) have received the Holy Spirit before Jesus left, and they now had to wait for Jesus to baptize them with the Holy Spirit in a few more days from then. And Jesus did, He did it on the day of Pentecost.


Jack Wellman December 19, 2016 at 1:29 pm

Jesus is speaking in the context of receiving the power of the Holy Spirit. It has nothing do to with the gifts of the Spirit.


Marquis Modupe December 20, 2016 at 8:48 am

Good day Bro Jack and everyone,
In this hot button topic of tongues, I’d like to draw attention to certain things, having read all that is above.

My comments below I’d like any that reads to carefully do so and kindly correct if my observations are out of place.

Bro Jack, God bless you for your Labour in the word.

Your counsel thus: “A sound principle is that if there is a problematic scripture or verse; take all the other scriptures that relate to this subject and place them all against the one scripture or scriptures to bring clarity to the subject. If we still can not decide its meaning, then this might be God’s prerogative alone to know about and we have no business trying to inject or infer meaning ”

I believe is a sound and safe one.

I also agree with you explaining that being filled/ baptize with the spirit doesn’t necessary signified by speaking in tongues, for there are other instances of people coming to salvation in the book of Acts and nothing is said about their speaking with tongues: Acts 8:36; 9:17-19

it seems to strike me however, that we are saying that because some haven’t experienced the gift of tongues invalidates its existence?

I want to believe that we are not saying in essence that all the gifts of the spirit are no longer in operation today as some believe and if any isn’t existing why should it be tongues alone?

As the apostle has spoken pursuing love as the most excellent gift is pertinent, but because the gift of tongues is mentioned last does it make it the least?

Does that make the last fruit of the SPIRIT mentioned (temperance) in the list the least?

You have also spoken of taking scriptures out of context, I’d be grateful if you can speak to the things I have written out

You cited the Acts 2 example and then you said:
“So clearly, speaking in tongues in the New Testament church were tongues of known languages and not unknown languages or unintelligible sounds.”

I think there’s a restriction of speaking with tongues largely to Acts 2 example, isn’t there a clear difference between this and that which the apostle states in 1Corinthians 14:2

For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for NO MA’AM UNDERSTANDETH HIM howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries. (Emphasis mine)

Is it not further shown by the apostle that it is possible an unbeliever, an enquirer , stranger can come into church and not understand what is being said?:

“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.” 1Corinthians 14:16,17

In the Acts 2 example it is clear as you have pointed out that certain men understood what they said :

“And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?

8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? “Acts 2:7,8

In 1 Corinthians 14 isn’t it clear that the church largely spoke in tongues and the apostle was trying to “regulate” it’s use for better edification of all?



Jack Wellman December 20, 2016 at 10:18 am

The greatest use of the tongue in the Bible is to preach the gospel so that others might be saved. I know we can disagree with those who say that tongues is the evidence of the Holy Spirit (which the Bible never says) and that all should speak in tongues, or whatever else, but we are still brothers and sisters in Christ. We can differ on these things. These are non-essentials to our salvation, right? Thank you sir for your comment. By the way, the verse you quoted in 1st Corinthians 14:2 is”For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for NO MA’AM UNDERSTANDETH HIM howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries” but the word “unknown” is not in the original manuscripts, so the word “unknown” as in “unknown tongues” is not biblical. The KJV also mistranslates “servant” which should be “slave” in most places (Greek, “doulos”). Just thought you should know.


Marquis Modupe December 20, 2016 at 8:59 am

Good day, please kindly notify me via mail when you respond,I didn’t click on the cheek box for that the other time. Pardon me and thanks


John January 9, 2017 at 2:30 am

I think what I think what the christians nowadays should desire is not for them to speak on tongues but to come to the truth first whether speaking in tongues (i.e. unintelligible language sense) is biblical (which is not). This does not mean disrespect to the people who claim that they have the gift. However one should introspect, Just like Jack and others had already pointed out, ¨Is it to glorify God or ourselves?¨.
I know most people who enter churches are not aware of these simple facts pointed by Jack. They just accept what is being directly and indirectly introduce to them without due biblical validation. Instead they only use their feelings to validate.

Way back on the first church I attend, I also found that tongues is something to experience, that there is nothing wrong in doing it. I was amazed by the seemingly depth of communication of those who speak in tongues. However, the more I attend every Sunday, the more I feel uncomfortable. It made me even think more when I had conversations with my former fellow churchgoers who speak tongues. Yes, they just fake it! To reach a fair judgement i turned to the scriptures. It made me wonder why there are so many speakers and no one dares to interpret when it is strictly advised by Paul in the whole chapter 14 of I Corinthians to have always have someone who can interpret whenever someone will speak in tongues (e.g. v.27). Even advising to the person who already has the gift to speak to also have a gift to interpret (v.13). I also noticed not only in that Church but also in some others that I attended, that there is no way to do speaking-interpreting because there is no orderly manner that would permit it to happen.

I eventually transferred to a Church who has a more solemn service. I do say that after knowing this, I felt complete awareness biblical already. However, it changed my attitude towards acceptance of some unfamiliar doctrine. I still consider myself a seeker who is always thirsty for the Word of God.


Lawrence Walkup February 16, 2017 at 4:51 pm

Was in the Calvary Chapel scene for about 8 yrs. Have to say the gifts became a bigger issue than the Lord himself. That alone should raise a red flag. Also the thinking of having something special that others didn’t, and needing to be the one to enlighten them in order for them ‘to arrive’ so to speak, is certainly not the love of God operating. Even among Christians the tendency of spiritual competition is nothing more than the competitiveness we acquired in the world being carried over into our Christianity…just one more thing to be set free from. All that counts is faith expressing itself in love. The focus that is missed is Chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians…not 12 and 14.


Jack Wellman February 16, 2017 at 4:59 pm

Well said Mr. Walkup. Thank you.


Kinsey Owens February 16, 2017 at 10:31 pm

I understand what you’re trying to say in this. But, something to add are the different types of tongues and when or when not to use them, which is the issue here. There are many churches today that understand tongues, but do not follow the rules of order that Paul gives in 1 Corinthians 14. There are also many people that believe the only type of tongues are ones that need to be interpreted. It is true that any words publicly spoken in tongues needs to be interpreted. However, this in not the only type. In chapter 14, Paul says this:
“1 Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. 2 For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit. 3 On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. 4 The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church. 5 Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up.”
First, Paul says that “For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit.” This means that what the believer is saying does not pertain to men, because it is not understood, but should be directed towards God only. He isn’t saying that this is wrong, but later says that it needs to be in order: “he one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, UNLESS someone interprets, so that the church may be built up.” Paul says that, if there is not an interpretation to the tongues, it doesn’t need to be spoken aloud for everyone to hear because it will not be understood and will not build up the church. Therefore, there are two different types of tongues, which Paul explains further and tells when to use them. One type comes with interpretation, which is for the edifying of the body and SHOULD be spoken aloud for all to hear. The other type does not come with interpretation and is a personal conversation/prayer to God which should NOT be spoken aloud for all to hear. Paul explains later his reasoning for this in verse 23: “If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds?” This explains what you experienced. The church you attended did not follow the rules of order. If everyone speaks in tongues that have no interpretation, and are supposed to be personal, it causes great confusion…
Then there are some that may still say that there are not two types. Here is some more scripture from chapter 14: “16 Otherwise, if you give thanks with your spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider say “Amen” to your thanksgiving when he does not know what you are saying? 17 For you may be giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not being built up.” Paul says that while you “may be giving thanks well” by speaking to God in tongues, it is not edifying the church because no one knows what you are saying. This is why Paul says that no one should speak in tongues, unless there is an interpretation.
So, there are two types: one meant to be spoken aloud to edify the church and one that is personal. Both are tongues but only one, tongues with interpretation, should be used during a worship service.
(All quoted scripture is in the ESV version.)


Gloria April 5, 2017 at 11:05 pm

Thank you,
This is a breathe of fresh air.
I do not speak in tongues neither do I believe in it.
Sola scriptura. Let the Bible has it’s final authority.


Jack Wellman April 6, 2017 at 11:11 am

Thank you Gloria…your own words were a breath of fresh air for me because this has brought a lot of heat upon me and others, Amen…Sola Scriptura! That’s the only objective truth we have!


john arnette April 13, 2017 at 12:45 pm

i would like to say this…please go to this website Any believer seeking the baptism of the HOLY GHOST, EMAIL OR, CALL they will lead you in receiving the gift.


Jack Wellman April 13, 2017 at 1:06 pm

Thank you Mr. Arnett, but you do not pray or have other humans lead you to receive the gifts of God…These are given by God as it pleases Him! Not man! And to find out what the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This has the potential of division of the body of Christ into two categories: those who are “regular” Christians and those who have been baptized in the Holy Spirit. This, of course, would be an incorrect way of looking at Christians. In fact, the Baptism of the Spirit can be a pitfall since so many people who have experienced it long for it again, almost to the point of putting the validity of their faith in the experience instead of the clear teaching of the word of God.

Please read this: https://www.whatchristianswanttoknow.com/what-is-baptism-of-the-holy-spirit/


Ronald G. Craddock April 20, 2017 at 6:14 am

There were many Full Gospel meetings that we attended in the 60’s and the charismatic movement of speaking in tongues was fully underway, in all denominations. There we were among them, a small group of believers, in a small Baptist church, in Plymouth, Michigan. We were all seeking the Baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. We attended many and I mean many, meetings that always ended with an altar call for healing, deliverance, and yes, to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit with the speaking in tongues. Though others received, I did not.
After one night of attending yet another Full Gospel meeting and responding, once again, to the altar call challenge to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and then having hands laid on me in prayer and then responding to the leader of our little prayer group, telling us to lift our hands, begin praising God and to speak the language he was speaking, in tongues; once again nothing came forth from within.
The next morning, while driving to work, I told the Lord that I was giving up my quest for the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and left it in hands, if he wanted me to receive it. I would continue my journey with him and there was no condemnation. My wife called me at my office that morning and said that while talking to one of our fellow seekers, she told her to tell me to accept the Baptism in the Holy Spirit by faith. This made sense to me, because; how do i know that I am saved and have a relationship with God, through Jesus Christ? It is by grace, through faith that I have been saved….not of works, lest anyone boast (Ephesians 2:8,9).

I closed my office door and began the seeking process all over again. “Jesus, the scriptures say that John baptized with water but you baptize with the Holy Spirit and therefore I ask that you baptize me with the Holy Spirit. Thank you, Jesus, I receive it by faith.” Then I said; “Jesus, when the Spirit fell in the upper room, the people were speaking in tongues and so I, by faith, am going to speak in tongues.” I said; “Tedeum Laudumas” several times and by faith, thanked Jesus for giving me the Baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. I then said; “Jesus, those in the upper room were speaking a language that they did not know but there were others around them that knew it as their own. Show me that what I am speaking is just not just made up jibberish.”

The thought came that I should look in my dictionary. It seemed strange that I should be searching for these words in an English dictionary, but by faith I reached for the dictionary and leafed through the pages until I saw it. There it was, “Tedeum” and within the definition there was “Te Deum Laudamas” which was the beginning of a hymn that was sung in the third century church and it was Latin, meaning “To thee O’God we give thee praise.”

That was over 50 years ago and there are times when I am lead by the Holy Spirit to pray in tongues and with understanding. By faith, I continue to seek a deeper and closer walk with God, through Jesus Christ. No comparing, no condemnation, no striving….just living by faith.


Michael Shugart July 8, 2017 at 12:02 am

Bible says Holy Spirit dispenses gifts as He WILLS. Not all gifts to all people. I think the premise of tongues in today’s holiness churches are to get people swept up in emotional fervor, away from discernment, kind of like Stilton and Hoo baba kanda…


Jack Wellman July 8, 2017 at 1:31 pm

Spot on Mr. Shugart. Thank you sir.


Paulina Mensah July 15, 2017 at 1:09 pm

God bless you Pastor Wellman for allowing Him to use you to glorify His name and preach His word. I am a 19-year old girl from Ghana and your articles have really helped me in my walk with the Lord.


Jack Wellman July 15, 2017 at 1:19 pm

Hello Paulina. Thank you for your kind words, but all glory to God, none to us (Psalm 115:1; 1 Cor 4:7). I do hope it helps.


Kirsten August 1, 2017 at 12:05 pm

Thank you, for this article.
I grew up in a Pentecostal church. It was common for a service to include a period of silence where we would wait for someone to speak in tongues, then more silence, then someone would say something along the lines of “the Lord says this…,” then maybe another round of the same, followed by people going to the front, and having the laying on of hands where they would fall down crying, etc..
Two things have always bothered me. The first is a memory of me as a child playing around the front door and my mom thinking that I said something in tongues even to the point that she told my dad and asked what he thought. My dad just kind of didnt answer, but he looked at me like he wondered what I thought about her thinking I had. Personally I had no idea what she was talking about. I don’t know what she heard that day, and I’ve wondered all these years.
The second is a time that as an adult I went up for a call for healing. I went up because my knee had been hurting constantly. It was my first time back in church after years of running from God, and I was really looking for answers. I went up, was prayed over, felt nothing, the pastor looked at me like I needed to cry or go faint or something, I looked him straight in the eye and immediately felt a sense of falseness. After that we (my husband and I) didnt go back to that church.
I wonder now if the “someone required to interpret” means that if tongues are to be spoken it should only be if someone is there to interpret it into the main language in the church, because it is just that, a Foreign language that maybe was meant for someone in the congregation.
Just my observations as a child, but it seemed speaking in tongues did become a weekly fiasco. It seemed the main point of the service. Now when I hear the term “soaking service” it makes me shiver, because i feel that satan has twisted religion into a feel good thing. I think people are not listening to where God says to be like little children. We’ve gone from simple to over the top and it frightens me.
I DO believe in the gifts of the spirit. I do believe everyone is GIVEN something unique to them. I’ve had the gift of discernment for as long as I can remember. It’s helped me many times with relating to people. It’s kept me safe, led me to feel compassion for people others wouldn’t notice, and well, way too many things to list. It is most definitely a GIFT and a blessing.
I believe we can pray for whatever we feel led to pray for, but I wonder at the praying for a gift like tongues. Is your goal to help someone understand God or is it a selfish request? If you say you wish it for your prayer time, then again “like little children.” We dont need flowery speech to pray. The bible says if we dont know what to pray the Holy Spirit intercedes for us.
I mean the same goes for any gift. If we wish it for helping share God’s love then great, but God knows us inside and out. He knows what we need before we even ask. I think some see a gift of a spirit as being favored by God more than someone else. That makes it selfish. And again, it’s a gift. Gifts are usually given not asked for.
I could go on and on, but again, thank you, for publishing this article.


Jack Wellman August 1, 2017 at 12:25 pm

Thank you Kirsten. Well said my friend.


Jack Wellman August 1, 2017 at 1:28 pm

Please may I add the fact that those who believe in speaking in tongues & those who don’t are still brothers & sisters in Christ as we agree on the essentials (Rom 10:9-13), so thank you for gracious words about this situation. I do agree, we depend far too much on emotion, and yes, it can be a frightening.


Neil October 15, 2017 at 11:03 pm

I think what most Christians miss about being baptized in the Holy Spirit is that we should seek The baptism of The Holy Spirit so we gain the power of The Holy Spirit just as the disciples did on the day of Pentecost. In other words seek The Holy Spirit not the speaking in other tongues. If God should grant us the gift of tongues with The Holy Spirit don’t be ashamed of it and don’t brag about it. Just use the gift as God The Holy Spirit instructs you to. I think if we as Christians did this a lot of important time would be saved and we could be the witnesses God intents us to be for His glory and spreading the gospel.


Jack Wellman October 16, 2017 at 9:49 am

Thank you Neil. Well said sir.


Rodine Palermo October 21, 2017 at 12:19 pm

I think we forget that in seeking to be filled with the Holy Spirit, which can result in the speaking in other tongues, it is important to be seeking and immersed in the act of seeking more of God, Himself. I have instructed many in how to be filled with the Holy Spirit not to seek the tongues, but to seek the giver of the tongues and to want more of Him (God). The tongues is only an added benefit of such hunger for Him. That only comes as we are so immersed in knowing Him that we lose sight of ourselves and want to truly worship Him beyond our human abilities. As we empty ourselves, we can be filled with Him. Thus, “I must decrease but He must increase.” Tongues also helps us to pray for things in a way that only the Holy Spirit knows how to bring the need before the Father. It is also helps us to worship in a way that is higher than our human language can extol before the throne of Heaven. Think of what it would be like for an American to address the Queen of England… though much lower an example, you get the point. I Cor. 14:18 Paul said, “I speak in tongues more than you all (“put together” was the inference).
I Cor 14:2 “For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men, but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries in the “Spirit.” Thus he didn’t have an audience around to interpret his tongues, nor was it for a sign to unbelievers. He had to be worshiping and praying in other tongues as an all day act as the Corinthian church as a whole were needing to be corrected for their abuse in the church services about its usage. Just remember it is a gift for helping us
flow in the Holy Spirit, but the real gift is knowing the Giver of the gift.


Jack Wellman October 21, 2017 at 12:36 pm

Thank you Rodine. Paul’s conclusion in this chapter is more than the one verse you sited and the other in verse 18, since after all these, Paul says, “tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers, while prophecy is a sign not for unbelievers but for believers” (1 Cor 14:22), as it will be ““By people of strange tongues and by the lips of foreigners will I speak to this people, and even then they will not listen to me, says the Lord.” 22Thus tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers, while prophecy is a sign not for unbelievers but for believers. 23 If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds? 24But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all.” SO prophecy or “forth-telling” or teaching (which is not prophesying the future) is better for those who are not saved than for those who are save. But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue” (1 Corinthians 14:19).


kaz November 17, 2017 at 1:30 am

Thank you Pastor for your well thought through article.

I will try to keep this short and let readers do their own research on what I am about to write as the topic of correct understanding (I believe ) of the gift of tongues as “proven and practised” in many circles is inconsistent with Scripture.

One of the primary rules in understanding scripture is to first and foremost try to see what the original author was trying to say to the target audience in the case the people who belonged to the church in Corinth.

Remember Corinth was an extremely busy with people coming in from many different countries. 1 Cor 14 deals primarily with behaviour in church meetings. The word “strange” before the word tongues (which is also translated as language in Greek – and in Polish amongst other languages) was something added in the 17th century. However, does this mean that it is a non human language? I am not certain.

I was born in England of polish parents, polish was my first language. Imagine if I was a trader whocame to Conrinth from Poland and my Greek was not that hot may be inclined when wishing to worship in my mother tongue. I would therefore read 1 Cor 14 and where strange tongues is mentioned in KJV replace with the word Polish. If I was the only Polish speaker there it would make sense why there would need to be someone to interpret, why i am edifying myself and not others, why I am speaking to God and not to other men (and women), if i pray consciously pray (with my mind) how fruitful will it be to you if you do not understand what I am saying .. and you can go on.

Perhaps I came from the barbaric north with the rest of my crew, non of whom was a follower of the way, unbelievers, who may not understand Greek so I pray in Polish in a language they understand – so I do what Paul has written tongues is for the unbeliever…

Hope this contributes to helping some people understand what Paul was trying to say. God bless you all


Bill Odom November 25, 2017 at 7:38 am

If tongues is a known language why does the scripture say no one understands when you are speaking in tongues. If any one be ignorant, let him be ignorant still. The carnal mind is the enemy of God. Tongues is of the spirit and can’t be understood with the carnal mind. Things like this article is the reason the Church has become powerless.


Jack Wellman November 25, 2017 at 9:44 am

Hello Mr. Odom. It doesn’t say no one can understand you…God does and so does the interpreter if there is indeed a gift of tongues being used. Tongues is Greek for “language” so what language isn’t know by someone? The reason the church has shifted its focus and lost power is because the lift up and almost worship the tongue and not Jesus. that’s sad.


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