The Gift of Tongues

Study – Tongues  

 The Gift of Tongues


1. Gifts of the Spirit vs. Fruit of the Spirit



Character qualities Gal 5:22, 23 Ability to perform a specific ministry – practical.
Evidence that a person has the Holy Spirit Mt 7:16-23 Given for benefit of the whole group 1 Cor 12:7
Test of genuine Christian Jn 13:34, 35 Can be counterfeited Mt 7:22, 23 Mt 24:24
ALL will have fruit Holy Spirit chooses who, and what gift. 1 Cor 12:11

2. Guidelines

1 Cor 13 lists the gifts of tongues, prophecy, knowledge, faith, giving and martyrdom and says that any of these with out love (fruit) is meaningless. Apparently many people who have displayed their gifts will be lost, not having the fruit.

Matt 24:24 indicates that the gifts of prophecy and miracles will be counterfeited to deceive people, so why not the gift of tongues.

1 Cor 12:7 indicates that the gifts of the Spirit are given for the common good, not solely to benefit the individual.

1 Cor 12:31 Some gifts are to be desired above others.

3. The gift of Tongues in action

Acts 2 – purpose: to communicate the gospel in the various languages present.

Acts 10, 11 – Again a language barrier barrier – Jew / Gentile – what was said was understood

Acts 19 – linked with prophesying – what was said was understood

4. The church at Corinth

a. was ignorant of spiritual gifts 1 Cor 12:1

b needed to be reminded that:

  • there were different gifts from the one Spirit v. 4
  • gifts are for the common good of the entire church v.7
  • not everybody has the same gifts v.11-30
  • there are more important gifts than tongues v.31
  • God may understand what you are saying but we don’t.
  • seek gifts that will build the church up v. 12
  • tongues is not for in church (but in the market place) v.19

c. 1 Cor 14 deals with tongues in church from the perspective of the man in the pew

5. Concerns about the Charismatic movement

a. The focus seems to be more on gifts and phenomena than the fruit of the Spirit

b. A narrow range of gifts is focused on -tongues, healing, miracles, prophecy (narrow application)

c. The gift of tongues appears to be being used for individual edification rather than evangelism (the common good) this is at best a misuse of the gifts.

6. Origin of the Tongues

a. There is clearly a genuine tongues gift from the Holy Spirit of God. This seems to be intended to cross a language barrier to spread the good news

b. Some appear to be humanly induced – either self or group

c. Recent studies have indicated that speaking in tongues is not a uniquely Christian practice. It is practiced by a large number of native non-Christian living religions around the world. Tongues speaking is found amoung the “Inuit (Eskimos), The Saami (Lapps), in Japanese seances in Hokkaido,  the shamans in Ethiopia in the zar cult and various spirits in Haitian Voodoo. It is also present extensively in African tribal religions. This raises the possibility of a demonic connection for some tongues.


There is no evidence that Jesus spoke in tongues. He is our example in faith and practise. The fruit of the Spirit were manifested in His ministry. Many of the gifts of the Spirit were in evidence in His ministry. There is no evidence of Him or His hearers being slain in the Spirit, or drunk in the Spirit.

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