Two Kinds of ‘Tongues’: Angelic language (Spiritual) and Human Language (Earthly)

I have never spoken in tongues and so do not present here a predisposed agenda.

It might repulse you, the reader, to even think of receiving the gift of speaking in spiritual tongues, but whether you agree or disagree with Paul’s letters to the Churches – Paul’s Spirit-led outlining of the proper conduct for speaking in spiritual tongues (a Spiritual prayer language, not just God’s gift of speaking other human languages, as what happened at Pentecost) – your personal stance does not change the fact that Paul himself said HE spoke in Spiritual tongues more than any other person within the Church entity under his charge.

Do not confuse your disdain for ‘anything out of the ordinary’ (what you were taught by humans) with what scripture teaches. Scripture teaches, through Paul, the spiritual gift of two types of tongues – two types of linguistic-based Spiritual utterance and understanding: Holy Spirit-compelled linguistic communication with God (where, even as we pray, we do not naturally understand the words we are saying); and the Spiritual gift of speaking and understanding a non-native earthly human language (that is, spontaneously speaking, with no foreknowledge, some other non-learned human language so that others will, in their native tongue, understand God’s truth to them through you/me).

1 Corinthians 13:1 [NASB] If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. [Two types of ‘tongues’: human language and Angelic language]

Acts 19:1-7 [NASB] It happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus, and found some disciples. He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said to him, “No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” And they said, “Into John’s baptism.” Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in 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 Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying. There were in all about twelve men.

* Paul was already speaking to these men in a human language both they and he understood. There is no natural language barrier here, so the argument of tongues strictly belonging to a spoken human language is asinine, scripturally baseless. When Paul laid hands on these disciples, they immediately received the power of the Holy Spirit and began speaking in the Spiritual language of Angels.

Prophecy a Superior Gift

To all of you who were taught to speak in tongues as par for the Christian course, consider the following stipulation from Paul:

1 Corinthians 14:1-19 [NASB]

Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. 2 For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God; for no one[a]understands, but [b]in his spirit he speaks mysteries. 3 But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation. 4 One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the church. 5 Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying.

6 But now, brethren, if I come to you speaking in tongues, what will I profit you unless I speak to you either by way of revelation or of knowledge or of prophecy or of teaching? 7 Yet even lifeless things, either flute or harp, in producing a sound, if they do not produce a distinction in the tones, how will it be known what is played on the flute or on the harp? 8 For if the [c]bugle produces an indistinct sound, who will prepare himself for battle? 9 So also you, unless you utter by the tongue speech that is clear, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air. 10 There are, perhaps, a great many kinds of [d]languages in the world, and no kind is without meaning. 11 If then I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be to the one who speaks a [e]barbarian, and the one who speaks will be a [f]barbarian [g]to me. 12 So also you, since you are zealous of [h]spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church.

13 Therefore let one who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. 15 What is the outcome then? I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the mind also; I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the mind also. 16 Otherwise if you bless[i]in the spirit only, how will the one who fills the place of the[j]ungifted say the “Amen” at your giving of thanks, since he does not know what you are saying? 17 For you are giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not edified. 18 I thank God, I speak in tongues more than you all; 19 however, in the church I desire to speak five words with my mind so that I may instruct others also, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue.

Read the scripture – read the scripture – read the scripture!


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About Todd Beal

I love truth and its facts. I love thought-provoking conversations that give both the other person and me a better understanding of a particular topic. I love to find answers to life-long questions; answers that let me see things for what they are instead of what they seem to be. I truly enjoy being in the midst of a group of people where all individuals are joining in, where everybody is enjoying the company of each other. I relax in the company of individuals who are competent yet humble. I like to catch myself doing or saying something ridiculous and then laugh my head off. I enjoy my church and being involved.
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29 Responses to Two Kinds of ‘Tongues’: Angelic language (Spiritual) and Human Language (Earthly)

  1. TC says:

    Todd, good stuff.

  2. I am not sure about the difference being between “human (earthly) tongues” and “of angels”, (1 Cor. 13:1) I think Paul includes them both…”If in the tongues of men I speak and of angels”. “Two types of “glossolalia”? Am I getting you wrong here?

    • Todd Beal says:

      Fr. Robert,

      I believe Paul is clear here in distinguishing the two types of ‘Spiritual Tongues’:  speaking in a known but non-native human language, and speaking in the angelic language for spiritual self-edification during prayer.

      The Pentecost experience was ‘speaking in a known but non-native human language’ [Acts 2:1-11 NASB]:

      The Day of Pentecost

      2 When the day of Pentecost [a]had come, they were all together in one place. 2 And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. 3 And there appeared to them tongues as of fire [b]distributing themselves, and [c]they [d]rested on each one of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other [e]tongues, as the Spirit was giving them [f]utterance.

      5 Now there were Jews living in Jerusalem, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And when this sound occurred, the crowd came together, and were bewildered because each one of them was hearing them speak in his own [g]language. 7 They were amazed and astonished, saying, “[h]Why, are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we each hearthem in our own [i]language [j]to which we were born?9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and [k]Asia,10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the districts of Libya around Cyrene, and [l]visitors from Rome, both Jews and[m]proselytes, 11 Cretans and Arabs—we hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.”

      Acts 19:1-7 [NASB] records an instance of speaking in the angelic prayer language – no natural language barrier here; hence no need for speaking in the ‘Holy Spirit-given’ gift of natural human language:

      Paul at Ephesus

      1It happened that while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul passed through the upper country and came to Ephesus, and found some disciples. 2He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said to him, “No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” 3And he said, “Into what then were you baptized?” And they said, “Into John’s baptism.” 4Paul said, “John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in Him who was coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying.7There were in all about twelve men.

      • Thanks Todd, I don’t doubt the so-called “two”…prayer language (1 Cor. 13: 1 ; 14: 2), and actual language as in Acts 2. But, myself I don’t see the gift of latter any more, with the Canon of Holy Scripture. So I would be a certain kind of cessationist. :)

        • Todd Beal says:

          Fr. Robert, when you say “myself I don’t see the gift of latter any more, with the Canon of Holy Scripture”, to which gift of tongues are you referring: Natural Language, or Prayer Language (Angelic Language)?

          • Todd: The Natural of course. Btw, I have spoken myself in the prayer or angelic. It is like a somewhat mystical essence, but controlled by the man or person. My experience anyway.

            • Todd Beal says:

              Wow, Fr. Robert! That is really awesome. Thanks for telling me that.

              Regarding the Natural Language, I want to pass along what I read on TC’s New Leaven blog by one of his subscribers:

              Pentecostals would say that they speak in known languages just not known to the one speaking or even perhaps to you listening. I know of one Pentecostal missionary who told me about being in a church in Asia and hearing someone praying in perfect English. He tried to communicate with them but they did not understand him. Confused he asked them in their tongue if they spoke in English and the person said they did not know English. He realized they were praying in “tongues” which in this case was English.

              Fr. Robert, I don’t know the whole situation but I have no reason to not take this missionary’s word at face value.

              I pose the following ‘what if’ scenario: What if you suddenly found yourself face to face with a person who does not speak your language and you don’t speak theirs; The Holy Spirit puts a burning in your heart to share the Gospel with this person; Do you believe God would provide you with His gift of ‘Natural Language’ tongues, just like at Pentecost, so this person would at last receive God’s Truth?

              I believe he would.

            • @Todd: I don’t like what ‘if questions’ so much, but I would say no to that scenario, myself. :) I am “not” a Pentecostal or really even a charismatic, per se.

            • Todd Beal says:

              Out of curiosity, what is your reason for ruling out the possibility of this scenario?

            • Todd: I myself see the Word of God and the Canon as the “perfect” (teleios). Here is our “manhood” and finality ‘In Christ”, at least in this life.

            • Todd Beal says:

              I’m wondering what scriptures would invalidate the scenario I posed to you, and why.

            • Todd: This is a subject that gets way too personal, rather than biblical and theological in my opinion. So I will bow-out, hope you don’t mind? :)

            • Todd Beal says:

              Sure, that’s okay Fr. Robert. I had no idea that my question was of a personal nature. I certainly didn’t mean it that way.

            • Todd: Just between us would be fine, but on an open blog the subject has caused some bitterness in the past between other Christians, i.e. my position. So I keep it to the vest!

            • Todd Beal says:

              Fr. Robert, I never thought of how your clergy position somewhat limits your freedom of public self-expression. I completely understand your point. I also now realize why in previous posts and comments (here on Truth Behind Reality and on other blogs), your responses were somewhat vague and appeared to sidestep the question or topic. Please forgive my previous ignorance. I didn’t realize I was putting you in an awkward position.

              This reminds me of what Paul said in 1 Corinthians 10:23-33, that even though something is spiritually okay for us at the personal level, we need to be mindful of how our actions affect others:

              23 All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. 24 Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor. 25 Eat anything that is sold in the meat market without asking questions for conscience’ sake; 26 for the earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains. 27 If one of the unbelievers invites you and you want to go, eat anything that is set before you without asking questions for conscience’ sake. 28 But if anyone says to you, “This is meat sacrificed to idols,” do not eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for conscience’ sake; 29 I mean not your own conscience, but the other man’s; for why is my freedom judged by another’s conscience? 30 If I partake with thankfulness, why am I slandered concerning that for which I give thanks?

              31 Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God. 32 Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to the church of God; 33 just as I also please all men in all things, not seeking my own profit but the profit of the many, so that they may be saved.

              As James points out in James 3:1, and as Paul also points out in 1 Timothy 3, leaders are always held to a higher standard than the people they lead. We must be careful then that what we say and do, the way we live our life, does not unnecessarily cause someone else to spiritually stumble.

              Thanks for pointing this out, Fr. Robert. It created a paradigm shift in how I will approach my future interactions with others.

            • Todd, Yes I sometimes miss this mark myself, especially when I lose patience with so much biblical ignorance on the blogs! I must try to engage only fully with those who like yourself are seekers and have the great wisdom of God. Thanks mate! :)

  3. I would commend you, Todd, for even considering this subject, much less writing about it. However, it does make me wonder why, when your writing is rare, you chose to write on this topic? Have you had a confrontation with someone which led to this post? Just curious, that’s all.

    I will say, though, that I do have some differences of opinion on the interpretation of a select few of the above verses. That being said, as long as “the gift of tongues” is not used as a benchmark for spirituality, it’s an issue far less important to me.

    Glad you still hang’n in there, bro.

    • Todd Beal says:

      Anthony,

      I subscribe to TC’s New Leaven blog and recently read his post I do not Speak in Tongues. That post compelled me to share my conclusions there and here also.

      Beginning in 2007 – when I bought my first carefully chosen Bible (ESV), as opposed to one given me by someone else – I decided if I were to truly learn the Bible, I would put on the shelf everything I was taught as a child, everything, and start over. I decided to own my beliefs and never again borrow them from anyone for any reason. I also told myself that if, after thorough research with an open heart and mind, I found irrefutable evidence that what I was taught as a child is still true, I would take it back off the shelf and own it. But if what I was taught does not line up with scripture, I determined to throw it away forever. I want Truth, not someone’s hand-me-down, regurgitated version of it.

      Anthony, the following is directed at the Church as a whole, not you personally.

      During my studies of Paul’s letters to the churches, I stumbled across his teachings on the gift of tongues. I studied those scripture passages over and over (in context) and discovered the following:

      • The spiritual gift of tongues is real.
      • Those who taught me differently, did so only because they were either too lazy or too scared to put their ‘borrowed beliefs’ on the shelf and read scripture for themselves. I was ticked when I discovered their willful ignorance!
      • I also discovered that those who do speak in tongues ignore Paul’s carefully laid out in-service format:
        • 1 Corinthians 14:26-33 [NASB]26 What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at the most three, and each in turn, and one must interpret;28 but if there is no interpreter, he must keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God. 29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment. 30 But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, the first one must keep silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted; 32 and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets; 33 for God is not a God of confusion but of [a]peace, as in all the churches of the saints.
          • Paul is saying that if, in a group gathering, we speak in tongues (Pentecostals/Apostolics, listen up):
            1. Someone must publically interpret all words spoken in tongues so that the whole assembly will spiritually benefit – otherwise, no tongues allowed!
            2. Not more than three (and preferably two) persons will speak in tongues during the assembly, and each in turn (one at a time, not several) – otherwise, no tongues allowed!

      I ask, if we the Church differ in our interpretation of the Gift of Tongues, how then does the Gift of Tongues differ from everyday language? Paul goes to great pains here to outline God’s requirement for publically speaking in tongues. If the gift of tongues is truly a Spiritual Gift given by the Holy Spirit, and is therefore nothing if not extraordinary, why does the average Bible ‘teacher’ speak of it as though it is nonsense at best, and at worst a work of the Devil?

      Is ‘Speaking in Tongues’ a Spiritual Gift?

      1 Corinthians 12:4-11 [NASB]

       Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith [a]by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of [b]healing [c]by the one Spirit, 10 and to another the [d]effecting of [e]miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the [f]distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.

      I hear many people say what the ‘gift of tongues’ isn’t. I have not heard a single one of them tell me exactly what it is. They cannot because they have never thoroughly studied it.

      • I spent the last hour laying in bed writing a response in my iPhone, then I lost it. You don’t know how irritated I am!

        • Todd, I would really like to discuss this in more detail, but I don’t have the time at the moment. It might be a day or two. But if I could only ask one question…if I could ask you only to tweak your argument in one way…could you explain the “why?” of the gift of tongues?

          • Todd Beal says:

            Anthony,

            [ …could you explain the “why?” of the gift of tongues? ]

            First, please take a look at the definition of ‘Edification’, the meaning of which Paul says must be the believer’s sole intent for using any Spiritual Gift, including speaking in tongues – 1 Corinthians 14:26 [NASB]26 What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.”


            Edification – Dictionary.com:

            World English Dictionary:  improvement, instruction, or enlightenment, esp when morally or spiritually uplifting

            Online Etymology Dictionary:  late 14c., in religious use, “building up of the soul,” from L. aedificationem, from aedificare (see edifice). Religious use is as translation of Gk. oikodome in I Cor. xiv. Meaning “mental improvement” is 1650s. Literal sense of “building” is rare in English.


            So, according to Paul, the purpose (or the ‘why’) of the gift of tongues is to improve, enlighten, uplift, and build up both the person speaking and the person hearing (Paul is very clear about the speaker’s audience understanding the meaning – interpretation).

            1 Corinthians 14:27-28 [NASB]27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at the most three, and each in turn, and one must interpret;28 but if there is no interpreter, he must keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God.”

            What then is the actual function of the Gift of Tongues? Why does this spiritual gift even exist?

            That is a question that leads one in many different yet interdependent directions: philosophical, theological, practical, etc., with all centering on the One Holy Spirit.

            Consider the practical element – ‘Natural Language’ Tongues

            For instance, the question I posed to Fr. Robert:

            What if you suddenly found yourself face to face with a person who does not speak your language and you don’t speak theirs. The Holy Spirit puts a burning in your heart to share the Gospel with this person. Do you believe God would provide you with His gift of ‘Natural Language’ tongues, just like at Pentecost, so that this person would at last receive God’s Truth?

            This ‘what if’ scenario presents the crucial, practical element of the Gift of Tongues.

            Consider the very possible situation in which you, who speak only English, come face to face with a Muslim who speaks only Arabic. God puts a burning in your heart to share the Gospel with this person, and along with that burning you have a fearful knowing that you must not waste this moment – the eternal fate of this person’s very soul depends on your instant obedience.

            Let’s take this a step a further. You obey God, trusting him through this in-the-moment provision of faith, and in that very moment, out of your mouth proceeds the Gospel in what seems like your native language, English, and yet miraculously you see that ‘light bulb moment’ in this person’s eyes – it is the light of truth. S/he gets it, the whole thing, but how – you’re not speaking in Arabic. You’re right, you are not speaking Arabic but the Holy Spirit is. You’re speaking in tongues and the Holy Spirit is translating your message into Arabic, just like at Pentecost, so that this wonderful person will receive Christ as Lord and Savior.

            I am out of time for tonight, Anthony. I hope this resonates with you.

        • Todd Beal says:

          I feel your pain, Anthony. Losing something I wrote has happened to me only a couple of times, but that is a couple of times too many. Grrrr!

  4. Todd, I will certainly take the time to delve into this subject with you. One thing I can say is that, instead of the way I feel when I see a notification on my iPhone that an atheist has responded, when I saw yours, even though we may disagree at some point, I was pleased to be notified. Glad you’re a brother.

  5. Todd,

    Let me first say that I am technically not a cessasionist. I do believe that it is still possible for the gift of tongues to be manifested. On the other hand, from my experience, I can only account for two (2) examples that may have been real. Aside from that, I have heard of a few other examples that meet the criteria of Scripture, but I did not witness them. So, when it comes to the claims made by most Pentecostals, Charismatics, pseudo-Charismatics, and other Evangelicals, you will find me very skeptical.

    As I understand the Bible, specifically the writings of Paul, the gift of speaking in tongues is not what most practice. What Paul wrote to the Corinthians in 1 Cor. 14 would rule out, I would say, over 90% of what goes on in Pentecostal and Charismatic worship services. Most services I have ever attended (I played with a Church of God gospel group, so I have been to many) were filled with people shouting and running the aisles while speaking in “unknown tongues.” They claimed to be filled with the Holy Spirit, but nothing about their uncontrolled actions was characteristic of a God of order (14:33).

    You have presented adequate biblical evidence which would expose most speaking in tongues as the result of uncontrolled prophets (1 Cor 14:32), at best, or pride, at worst. But when I asked you about the “why” of the gift, you left out an important reason: it was a sign to Israel.

    1 Corinthians 14:20-22 – “Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men. 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. 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.”

    This is a critical piece of information. Why did the gift of tongues come to the Church? It was to show that Israel had rejected her Messiah and that judgment was on the way.

    Isaiah 28:11-12 – “For with stammering lips and another tongue will he (the Lord) speak to this people. To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear.”

    If, therefore, the sign was to the people of Israel (the ones who “believe not” – 14:22), then why is it so common within the modern church? Shouldn’t prophesying be more common (14:22-25)?

    You also mentioned that a “why” was the need for edification. Now, I am not a PhD, nor do I have my doctorate (yet), but it seems to me that the verses you use as support for prayer languages, verses which many use, are possibly being misinterpreted.

    In the first verse of chapter 14 Paul says, “Follow after charity, and desire spiritual [gifts], but rather that ye may prophesy.” It should be noted that both the end of verse one and the beginning of verse two are dealing with how prophesying is better and more preferred. The reason is based in the idea of understanding what is being said. Edification of the church can only come when there is understanding (vv. 4-6).

    The verse that seems to be used so much in a positive sense is 1 Cor 14:4: “He that speaketh in an [unknown] tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.” I would suggest, based on the context and the tone of the Apostle Paul’s argument, that “edifieth himself” might not necessarily be the great objective many claim it is supposed to be. Maybe, just maybe, Paul is saying, “You might be getting a self-gratifying experience from feeling like you are doing something spiritual, but you need to be concerned more with things that encourage the Body of Christ, not yourself.”

    Now, I have several close friends who are godly people, who love the Lord and serve the church, but also have a “prayer language” they keep private. In their own “prayer closets” is where they say they communicate with God, even though they have no earthly (or humanly) idea what they are saying. All they know is that they feel better and encouraged when they are done. Fine. However, Paul makes it perfectly clear that one’s understanding is [important].

    1 Corinthians 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.”

    I hope this comment was not too long. I also hope that you received it in the spirit with which it was meant. My intent was not to argue, only to express my views (limited) on this subject. Our differences should not make a difference in our fellowship.

    God Bless.

    • Todd Beal says:

      Anthony,

      Okay, I have some thoughts for you to consider.

      1 Corinthians 14:5 [NASB]: 5 Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying.

      I’m not sure what you are referring to as misinterpretation here, Anthony. Paul does not say he wishes they would prophecy instead of speaking in tongues. He says, “…I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy”, so that all individuals in the group, not just the one speaking, receive spiritual benefit. Notice Paul also says, “…greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets”; meaning, if there is an interpreter in a group setting, the use of either gift (tongues or prophecy) is equally spiritually good and beneficial to all in attendance.

      Paul is addressing individual participation within the group setting (a church service) – that’s the context: he is not admonishing individuals about their private prayer life apart from the group. He is making the point that the whole purpose for meeting as a group is that all individuals in attendance receive spiritual benefit. Otherwise, he would be contradicting himself when he says, later on, in verses 18-19:

      18 “I thank God, I speak in tongues more than you all; 19 however, in the church [in group worship] I desire to speak five words with my mind so that I may instruct others also, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue.”

      There is one reoccurring, underlying functional theme in all Paul’s letters: order, understanding, fruitfulness – in that order: that’s the framework. To miss this in Paul’s writings is to miss his entire premise, the entire foundation upon which Paul built the early Church.

      Okay, on to the Isaiah 28:11-12 prophecy. You are using this passage as an argument against ‘speaking in tongues for the spiritual benefit of gentiles’. Once again, Paul talks about the spiritual benefit of ‘tongues’ in two settings: private and public. In private, the individual alone receives spiritual benefit (or edification – a building up). In public, everyone receives spiritual benefit – if, and only if, someone interprets (this also is a spiritual gift; the gift of interpretation). If your argument were valid, it would negate Paul’s own private prayer life which heavily involved praying in tongues, about which he says, “I thank God, I speak in tongues more than you all” [1 Corinthians 14:18].

      The whole point of 1 Corinthians 14 is to establish proper protocol for group assembly, the church service proper. Paul says two things here: use your spiritual gifts in the church service, but in so doing, others must understand – the exact opposite of what happened at the Tower of Babel. God is the God of order, not of confusion.

      Paul lays out his entire argument for group worship structure in 1 Corinthians 14:20-33:

      20 Brethren, do not be children in your thinking; yet in evil be infants, but in your thinking be mature. 21 In the Law it is written, “By men of strange tongues and by the lips of strangers I will speak to this people, and even so they will not listen to Me,” says the Lord. 22 So then tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophecy is for a sign, not to unbelievers but to those who believe. 23 Therefore if the whole church assembles together and all speak in tongues, and [k]ungifted men or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are mad?24 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an [l]ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all;25 the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you.

      26 What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at the most three, and each in turn, and one must interpret;28 but if there is no interpreter, he must keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God. 29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment. 30 But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, the first one must keep silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted; 32 and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets; 33 for God is not a God of confusion but of [m]peace, as in all the churches of the saints.

      Yes, Paul did draw on this prophesy to fulfill God’s words to Israel through Isaiah, but there was a dual purpose – salvation for the gentiles; and as a result, Jewish jealousy.

      Consider the words in Romans 10:

      16 However, they did not all heed the [j]good news; for Isaiah says, “Lord, who has believed our report?” 17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word [k]of Christ.

      18 But I say, surely they have never heard, have they? Indeed they have;

      “Their voice has gone out into all the earth,
      And their words to the ends of the [
      l]world.”

      19 But I say, surely Israel did not know, did they? First Moses says,

      “I will make you jealous by that which is not a nation,
      By a nation without understanding will I anger you.”

      20 And Isaiah is very bold and says,

      “I was found by those who did not seek Me,
      I became manifest to those who did not ask for Me.”

      21 But as for Israel He says, “All the day long I have stretched out My hands to a disobedient and obstinate people.”

      Once again, if your argument for the Isaiah 28:11-12 prophecy were to stand as negating ‘the gift of tongues for the spiritual benefit of gentiles’ when Jews do not immediately benefit, then so too would salvation for gentiles remain invalid, absent the immediate benefit to Israel. Your argument is saying that the gift of tongues was meant only as a sign to Israel and not for the equally separate spiritual benefit of gentiles. If that is the case, then you must equally say that Gentile salvation is valid only in that it serves as a sign to Israel, a medium for jealousy, and therefore when not used in that context Gentile salvation is no longer valid – revoked. Meaning, our salvation does not stand on its own but is merely temporary, and, when the full number of Jews come to Christ, our salvation necessarily falls into the cessation camp and we immediately lose our redemption.

      Anthony, the argument just doesn’t hold up.

      • This is good stuff, Todd. I appreciate you taking the time to go back and forth on this. What’s more, I appreciate you going to Scripture to back your argument, not just to experience (which is where most people end up without ever considering the Bible). However, I will say that even though you make a good argument, you either missed a point I was making, or I didn’t make it clear (maybe I need an interpreter).

        I am not saying tongues did not exist, nor am I saying they have completely ceased. What I am suggesting is that Paul’s reference to individual “edification” was done in a tongue-in-cheek (no pun intended) negative way. I don’t believe that Paul’s writings are a slam dunk, home run, through-the-goal endorsement of “prayer languages,” especially considering his very specific statement, “I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also” (1 Cor 14:15). So, my argument still stands, I believe, for I am not arguing that the gift of tongues ceased, only for the proper use of the gift.

      • Rebekah says:

        In 1 corinthians 7:7 Paul also said that he wished for all to be unmarried as he is.

        I wish that all men were even as I myself. But each one has his own gift from God, one in this manner and another in that.

        Why do people not preach then to stay unmarried? Paul says this is his wish….not Gods wish. Paul’s. People commonly take what you just did (“Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues”) and misconstrue what he was trying to get across.

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