The Helping Hands Project

Speaking In Tongues

This is another one of Christianity’s controversial and much debated of topics.  By its very existence, it poses all of the questions.  Who, what, why, when and where?  Who does this?  What is it?  Why do we do it?   When do we use it?  And last, where do we  use it?

I will try to answer these questions and more in this commentary.  And once again, I submit to you, the reader, I have had no revelation from God, no burning bush experience, no walking on the water experience, no double blind or triple blind studies and no focus groups of any kind to base this commentary on.  Just my own life experience, knowledge and study of God’s Holy Word.

Ø  Who speaks in tongues?

Ø  What is it for?

Ø  Why do we need it?

Ø  When do we do it?

Ø  Where is it done?

All references will come from the King James Version of the Holy Bible.  Any personal comments will be noted (emphasis mine).  


So, if y’all don’t mind, let’s get started:

Speaking in tongues is one of the seven gifts of the Spirit. (I Corinthians 12:29-30.)  All of these gifts are given to the churches to lead, guide, comfort and give strength to God’s people.  They were needed at the beginning to help start the Christian movement, they were needed in the middle to help the church grow and to keep the church going forward and definitely needed in the end to give strength and comfort to the church during persecution.  But for this commentary we will focus on the ‘tongues’ portion of the gifts of the Spirit.

No one has all of the gifts of the Spirit except Jesus Christ.  And different people receive different gifts.  Not all speak with tongues.  (I Corinthians 12:29-30.)

There are three different types of ‘speaking in tongues’ noted in the New Testament.  (emphasis mine)  They are not named this in the Bible, but for this study, I have called them this:

Ø  Missionary Tongues

Ø  Messages to the Churches Tongues

Ø  Personal Tongues


The first type that we will talk about is the Missionary type of Speaking in Tongues.  This is the one that most Christian churches believe in today.   If you are called to be a missionary to another country and you don’t know the language, then the Lord will enable you to automatically speak in the language of that country.   Thereby preaching, teaching, healing and other wise ministering to the local people in their own language. 

This type is found in the Book of Acts, chapter 2.  V. 1-22.  As you can see in v-5, these men that were gathered there because of Passover, were devout Jews from every nation under heaven, and they spoke many different languages.  In v.9,10,11, gives the nations.  Notice v-6 and v-8, the crowd is amazed because these are all Galileans and they are speaking in the foreign tongues of the visitors.  The foreigners are absolutely amazed at this.  And once Peter started preaching the Gospel as to what this meant, upward of 5,000 came to the Lord and received salvation.

Once again I call this the Missionary type of tongues and these tongues are prevalent even today as missionaries are sent by God thru out the world to spread the salvation message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  This was the first type of Speaking in Tongues that was given to the newly formed body of Christ. And you will notice in v-3, there were cloven tongues as of fire that sat on each of them.   I believe this is significant and we will touch on it again later.  Cloven means split, so maybe different kinds of tongues.  (emphasis mine).

What I like to think about in this type of tongues is the way God confused the languages at the tower of Babel to separate the people, now He is confusing the languages once again and bringing the people together.  (emphasis mine).  Just a thought. 


Next, I’d like to talk about the tongues given to the different churches.   And I call this ‘Messages to the Churches Tongues’.   

When the first churches were planted all over the world at that time, the Disciples needed a connection to God.  They had this thru the Holy Spirit and many times messages came from God thru the Holy Spirit to the different churches by the gift of ‘Speaking in Tongues’.

1Corinthians 12:10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:


1Corinthians 12:28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.


1Corinthians 12:30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?


In 1st Corinthians 12:4, the Apostle Paul is calling this ‘Speaking in Tongues’ thing, ‘a gift’.  He then names all of the gifts of the Spirit.  These gifts are given to the Churches, to bind one another to Christ, to encourage one another in Christ and to build the church of Christ as a solid institution.  Notice in v-28, Paul calls it diversities of tongues.  Meaning different kinds of tongues.  And now my reference goes back to the cloven tongues of fire.  The fire was split at the beginning of this wonderful event and now the tongues are diversified.  Several different kinds.

All of these gifts, including the gift of tongues, are given to the church by the Holy Spirit for building each other spiritually and to lead and guide the church to holiness and for the churches to become beacons of refuge for anyone needing it.  For edification and instruction, for exaltation and adoration and praise for the Lord.

Do you notice in v-30 Paul says that not everyone will speak in tongues?  But each individual will get the gift of the Spirit that the Lord Himself has assigned.   So, not everyone will speak in tongues.

1Co 14:26 How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.

1Co 14:27 If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret.

1Co 14:28 But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.

1Co 14:29 Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.

1Co 14:30 If anything be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace.

1Co 14:31 For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.

1Co 14:32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.

1Co 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.


Notice in v-26, that Paul is saying, ‘when you come together’.  This is talking about coming together as a congregation, as a church service.  Notice also, that Paul is giving rules and regulations concerning the ‘Speaking in Tongues’ gift in the churches.  For all things are to be done decently and in order.


Notice also in v-26, if a person has anything to say (a message from God in tongues) while in the church, from the Spirit of the Lord, it is to be by two, at the most by three and let one interpret.  So, as you can see, one of the gifts of the Spirit is the ‘Interpretation of Tongues’.  Then Paul says if there be no interpreter, let him keep silent in the churches.  This type of tongues is also prevalent today as it was when it was first given to the church.  You will notice here that the people are in a church.  This is why I called it, ‘Messages to the Churches Tongues’


We have covered two of the three types of Speaking in Tongues and the third really does not require any type of explaining at all.  The Bible itself does quite well on this. 



Third and Final type of Speaking in Tongues.   Personal Tongues.


1Co 14:2 For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.


You will notice that when a man speaks in tongues personally, he does not speak unto men, Missionary languages, or for church edification, but he speaks directly to God, personally.  And no man understands him, for he speaks mysteries.   In the Spirit a man can speak to God by the Holy Ghost and by using the gift of tongues, and there can be thousands of things that God can reveal to him.  And his own spirit being led by the Holy Spirit can reveal to God everything in his life.   But this is done personally and privately.  Because don’t forget, ‘no man understands him’.  No man.  Not a missionary group, not a church service, but him and him alone with the Holy Spirit speaking to God.

Each person has different problems, difficulties and different complications in life.  And God truly does love it when you come to Him with your problems.   And satan knows every language of the world since time began.  But he does not know your personal Spirit filled tongues.  In your prayers you can speak to God in tongues and satan will never know what you are talking about.  Don’t forget, satan attacks you at your weakest point and when you are pouring your heart out to God in a known language, he or one of his minions is there listening to you.  And this is where he will attack!!!  But he can't understand your personal Spirit led 'tongues'.

Now, to sum it all up.  I believe that ‘Speaking in Tongues’ is needed today just as it was in the beginning with the church age.  Satan hates everything that has to do with God and he really hates the Church of Christ.  His attacks have always been against the properties of God.  Whether it be Israel, or the Church.  I believe in the gift of ‘Speaking in Tongues’ and it is as prevalent today as it was yesteryear because of the following two reasons.

1.        The Bible says, ‘I am the Lord, I change not....(Malachi 3:6)

2.         Jesus Christ the same today, yesterday and forever.  (Hebrews 13:8)

Now, if God don’t change and Jesus don’t change then the Holy Spirit don’t change either and the gifts don’t change.  The gifts are needed today just as much as they were way back then.

I do hope this commentary helps you and if you are blessed by it then please stop by our contact page and let me know.  Also, if I have anything in error, let me know that as well.  But please remember, this is my point of view about this subject.  This is what I gleaned from my studies. 

Thanks for reading this.  I do appreciate it. 

Bob McDaniel