Gift of Tongues
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Gift of Tongues



Smith's Bible Dictionary
Gift Of Tongues

I. glotta , or glossa , the word employed throughout the New Testament for the gift now under consideration, is used-- (1) for the bodily organ of speech; (2) for a foreign word imported and half-naturalized in Greek; (3) in Hellenistic Greek, for "speech" or "language." The received traditional view, which starts from the third meaning, and sees in the gift of tongues a distinctly linguistic power, is the more correct one. II. The chief passages from which we have to draw our conclusion as to the nature and purpose of the gift in question are--

  1. (Mark 16:17)
  2. (Acts 2:1-13; 10:46; 19:6)
  3. (2 Corinthians 12:1; 2 Corinthians 14:1) ... III. The promise of a new power coming from the divine Spirit, giving not only comfort and insight into truth, but fresh powers of utterance of some kind, appears once and again in our Lord's teaching. The disciples are to take no thought what they shall speak, for the spirit of their Father shall speak in them. (Matthew 10:19,20; Mark 13:11) The lips of Galilean peasants are to speak freely and boldly before kings. The promise of our Lord to his disciples, "They shall speak with new tongues," (Mark 16:17) was fulfilled on the day of Pentecost, when cloven tongues like fire sat upon the disciples, and "every man heard them speak in his own language." (Acts 2:1-12) IV. The wonder of the day of Pentecost is, in its broad features, familiar enough to us. What views have men actually taken of a phenomenon so marvellous and exceptional? The prevalent belief of the Church has been that in the Pentecostal gift the disciples received a supernatural knowledge of all such languages as they needed for their work as evangelists. The knowledge was permanent. Widely diffused as this belief has been it must be remembered that it goes beyond the data with which the New Testament supplies us. Such instance of the gift recorded in the Acts connects it not with the work of teaching, but with that of praise and adoration; not with the normal order of men's lives but with exceptional epochs in them. The speech of St. Peter which follows, like meet other speeches addressed to a Jerusalem audience, was spoken apparently in Aramaic. When St. Paul, who "spake with tongues more than all," was at Lystra, there is no mention made of his using the language of Lycaonia. It is almost implied that he did not understand it. (Acts 14:11) Not one word in the discussion of spiritual gifts in 1Cor 12-14 implies that the gift was of this nature, or given for this purpose. Nor, it may be added, within the limits assigned the providence of God to the working of the apostolic Church,was such a gift necessary. Aramaic, Greek, Latin, the three languages of the inscription on the cross were media, of intercourse throughout the empire. Some interpreters have seen their way to another solution of the difficulty by changing the character of the miracle. It lay not in any new character bestowed on the speakers, but in the impression produced on the hearers. Words which the Galilean disciples uttered in their own tongue were heard as in their native speech by those who listened. There are, it is believed, weighty reasons against both the earlier and later forms of this hypothesis.
  4. It is at variance with the distinct statement of (Acts 2:4) "They began to speak with other tongues."
  5. It at once multiplies the miracle and degrades its character. Not the 120 disciples, but the whole multitude of many thousands, are in this case the subjects of it.
  6. It involves an element of falsehood. The miracle, on this view, was wrought to make men believe what was not actually the fact.
  7. It is altogether inapplicable to the phenomena of (1 Corinthians 14:1) ... Critics of a negative school have, as might be expected, adopted the easier course of rejecting the narrative either altogether or in part. What then, are, the facts actually brought before us' What inferences may be legitimately drawn from them? (a) The utterance of words by the disciples, in other languages than their own Galilean Aramaic, is distinctly asserted. (b) The words spoken appear to have been determined, not by the will of the speakers, but by the Spirit which "gave them utterance." (c) The word used, apoftheggesthai , has in the LXX. a special association with the oracular speech of true or false prophets, and appears to imply a peculiar, perhaps physical, solemn intonation. Comp. (1 Chronicles 25:1; Ezekiel 13:9) (d) The "tongues" were used as an instrument not of teaching, but of praise. (e) Those who spoke them seemed to others to be under the influence of some strong excitement, "full of new wine." (f) Questions as to the mode of operation of a power above the common laws of bodily or mental life lead us to a region where our words should be "wary and few." It must be remembered then, that in all likelihood such words as they then uttered had been heard by the disciples before. The difference was that before the Galilean peasants had stood in that crowd neither heeding nor understanding nor remembering what they heard, still less able to reproduce it; now they had the power of speaking it clearly and freely. The divine work would in this case take the form of a supernatural exaltation of the memory, not of imparting a miraculous knowledge of words never heard before. (g) The gift of tongues, the ecstatic burst of praise, is definitely asserted to be a fulfillment of the prediction of (Joel 2:28) We are led, therefore, to look for that which answers to the gift of tongues in the other element of prophecy which is included in the Old Testament use of the word; and this is found in the ecstatic praise, the burst of sang. (1 Samuel 10:5-13; 19:20-24; 1 Chronicles 25:3) (h) The other instances in the Acts offer essentially the same phenomena. By implication in ch. (Acts 14:16-10) by express statement in ch. (Acts 10:47; 11:15,17; 19:6) it belongs to special critical epochs. V. The First Epistle to the Corinthians supplies fuller data. The spiritual gifts are classified and compared arranged, apparently, according to their worth. The facts which may be gathered are briefly these:
  8. The phenomena of the gift of tongues were not confined to one church or section of a church.
  9. The comparison of gifts, in both the lists given by St. Paul -- (1 Corinthians 12:8-10,28-30) --places that of tongues and the interpretation of tongues lowest in the scale.
  10. The main characteristic of the "tongue" is that it is unintelligible. The man "speaks mysteries," prays, blesses, gives thanks, in the tongue, (1 Corinthians 14:15,16) but no one understands him.
  11. The peculiar nature of the gift leads the apostle into what at first appears a contradiction. "Tongues are for a sign," not to believers, but to those who do not believe; yet the effect on unbelievers is not that of attracting, but of repelling. They involve of necessity a disturbance of the equilibrium between the understanding and the feeling. Therefore it is that, for those who believe already, prophecy is the greater gift.
  12. The "tongues," however, must be regarded as real languages. The "divers kinds of tongues." (1 Corinthians 12:28) the "tongues of men," (1 Corinthians 13:1) point to differences of some kind and it is easier to conceive of these as differences of language than as belonging to utterances all equally mild and inarticulate.
  13. Connected with the "tongues" there was the corresponding power of interpretation. VI.
  14. Traces of the gift are found in the Epistles to the Romans, the Galatians, the Ephesians. From the Pastoral Epistles, from those of St. Peter and St. John, they are altogether absent, and this is in itself significant.
  15. It is probable, however, that the disappearance of the "tongues" was gradual. There must have been a time when "tongues" were still heard, though less frequently and with less striking results. For the most part, however, the pierce which they had filled in the worship of the Church was supplied by the "hymns and spiritual songs" of the succeeding age, after this, within the Church we lose nearly all traces of them. The gift of the day of Pentecost belonged to a critical epoch, not to the continuous life of the Church. It implied a disturbance of the equilibrium of man's normal state but it was not the instrument for building up the Church.

Whether the Gift of Tongues is More Excellent than the Grace of ...
... OF THE GRACE OF TONGUES (TWO ARTICLES) Whether the gift of tongues is more
excellent than the grace of prophecy? Objection 1: It ...
/.../ theologica/whether the gift of tongues.htm

Whether those who Received the Gift of Tongues Spoke in Every ...
... OF THE GRACE OF TONGUES (TWO ARTICLES) Whether those who received the gift
of tongues spoke in every language? Objection 1: It seems ...
/.../aquinas/summa theologica/whether those who received the.htm

The Dispensation of the Spirit.
... The second class of gifts are supernatural: of these we find two
pre-eminent"the gift of tongues, and the gift of prophecy. It ...
/.../robertson/sermons preached at brighton/iii the dispensation of the.htm

1 Cor. xiv. 1
... in the Persian, and the Roman, and the Indian, and many other tongues, the Spirit
sounding within him: and the gift was called the gift of tongues because he ...
/.../homilies on the epistles of paul to the corinthians/homily xxxv 1 cor xiv.htm

The Miracle of Tongues.
... That the gift of tongues mentioned by St. Paul and the sign of which St. Luke speaks
in Acts 2. are substantially one and the same can not be doubted. ...
/.../kuyper/the work of the holy spirit/xxviii the miracle of tongues.htm

Whether the Gratuitous Graces were in Christ?
... what profit is there in them both?" Now we do not read that Christ made use of these
gratuitously given graces, especially as regards the gift of tongues. ...
/.../aquinas/summa theologica/whether the gratuitous graces were.htm

On the Holy Ghost and his Descent Upon the Apostles
... (Acts 2:6). This was called the gift of tongues, and was given to the Apostles
when the Holy Ghost came upon them. For example, if ...
/.../kinkead/baltimore catechism no 4/lesson 9 on the holy.htm

The Spiritual Gifts.
... 5. The gift of Tongues, [616] or of an utterance proceeding from a state of unconscious
ecstasy in the speaker, and unintelligible to the hearer unless ...
/.../history of the christian church volume i/section 45 the spiritual gifts.htm

Prophecy was not Only from the Father and the Son but Also from ...
... also set teachers in the Churches; and as the Father gives the gift of healings,
so, too, does the Son give; as the Father gives the gift of tongues, so, too ...
/.../ambrose/works and letters of st ambrose/chapter xiii prophecy was not.htm

The Abiding Gift and Its Transitory Accompaniments
... the sound and fire, nor the speaking with other tongues, but the communication of
the Holy Spirit. The sign and result of that was the gift of utterance in ...
/.../maclaren/expositions of holy scripture the acts/the abiding gift and its.htm



Gift Giving

Gift of Tongues


The Gift of the Holy Spirit by the Father

The Gift of the Holy Spirit by the Son

The Gift of the Holy Spirit is Abundant

The Gift of the Holy Spirit is Fruit Bearing

The Gift of the Holy Spirit is Permanent

The Gift of the Holy Spirit: A Pledge of the Continued Favour of God

The Gift of the Holy Spirit: An Earnest of the Inheritance of the Saints

The Gift of the Holy Spirit: An Evidence of Union With Christ

The Gift of the Holy Spirit: Given for Comfort of Saints

The Gift of the Holy Spirit: Given for Instruction

The Gift of the Holy Spirit: Given in Answer to Prayer

The Gift of the Holy Spirit: Given: According to Promise

The Gift of the Holy Spirit: Given: Through the Intercession of Christ

The Gift of the Holy Spirit: Given: To the Gentiles

The Gift of the Holy Spirit: Given: To Those Who Obey God

The Gift of the Holy Spirit: Given: To Those Who Repent and Believe

The Gift of the Holy Spirit: Given: Upon the Exaltation

The Gift of the Holy Spirit: Received Through Faith

The Gift of the Holy Spirit: To Christ Without Measure

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