(Part 1) Speaking In Tongues
The Meaning Of Tongues
Speaking in tongues is not to be confused with the physical organ “the tongue.” Many passages in the Bible where the word “tongue(s)” is used indicated a human dialect or the language of an ethnic group.
(Genesis 10:5) “By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations.”
(Genesis 10:20) “These are the sons of Ham, after their families, after their tongues, in their countries, and in their nations.”
(Genesis 10:31) “These are the sons of Shem, after their families, after their tongues, in their lands, after their nations.”
(Ezra 4:7) “And in the days of Artaxerxes wrote Bishlam, Mithredath, Tabeel, and the rest of their companions, unto Artaxerxes king of Persia; and the writing of the letter was written in the Syrian tongue, and interpreted in the Syrian tongue.”
(Isaiah 66:18) “For I know their works and their thoughts: it shall come, that I will gather all nations and tongues; and they shall come, and see my glory.”
(Daniel 1:4) “Children in whom was no blemish, but well favoured, and skilful in all wisdom, and cunning in knowledge, and understanding science, and such as had ability in them to stand in the King’s palace, and whom they might teach the learning and the tongue of the Chaldeans.”
(John 5:2) “Now there is at Jerusalem by the sheep market a pool, which is called in the Hebrew tongue Bethesda, having five porches.”
(Acts 1:19) “And it was known unto all the dwellers at Jerusalem; insomuch as that field is called in their proper tongue, Aceldama, that is to say, The field of blood.”
(Acts 2:8) “And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?”
(Acts 2:11) “Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.”
(Acts 21:40) “And when he had given him licence, Paul stood on the stairs, and beckoned with the hand unto the people. And when there was made a great silence, he spake unto them in the Hebrew tongue, saying,”
(Acts 22:2) “And when they heard that he spake in the Hebrew tongue to them, they kept the more silence: and he saith,”
(Acts 26:14) “And when we were all fallen to the earth, I heard a voice speaking unto me, and saying in the Hebrew tongue, Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me? It is hard for thee to kick against the pricks.”
(1 Corinthians 14:21) “In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord.”
(Revelation 11:9) “And they of the people and kindreds and tongues and nations shall see their dead bodies three days and an half, and shall not suffer their dead bodies to be put in graves.”
Speaking In “Other” Tongues
The biblical record of the Day of Pentecost is the only explicit descriptive narrative found in the Bible that references what “tongues” actually sounded like. This accounting does not record unintelligible babbling, but rather recounts the speaking of various “human languages” that were not native to the Jews. Witnesses from many nations, which had gathered at Jerusalem, were amazed since those who spoke were Galilaeans (Acts 2:7). What they heard were men speaking in their own language and dialect praising God by a miraculous intervention of the Holy Spirit.
This was one of the many “incidents” or “miracles” which took place and was recorded by the apostles. In (Acts 2:4) it says, “they began to speak with other tongues.” The word “other” (Gr. Heteros) means that they spoke in languages different from their native language. The context substantiates this.
(Acts 2: 7-8) “And they were all amazed and marveled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galileans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue (language), wherein we were born?”
Every man heard them speak in his own language (Acts 2:6). Here the word “language” is the translation of dialekto from which the word “dialect” comes. The two words glossa (tongue) and dialektos (language) are used synonymously, making it obvious that the disciples were speaking in known languages other than the language native to them. In verses 9-11 the languages are then identified below.
(Acts 2: 9-11) “Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.”
This was a miraculous phenomenon which enabled the disciples to speak in languages they had never learned.