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Easton's Bible Dictionary
Tongues, Confusion of

At Babel, the cause of the early separation of mankind and their division into nations. The descendants of Noah built a tower to prevent their dispersion; but God "confounded their language" (Genesis 11:1-8), and they were scattered over the whole earth. Till this time "the whole earth was of one language and of one speech." (see SHINAR.)

Tongues, Gift of

Granted on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:4), in fulfilment of a promise Christ had made to his disciples (Mark 16:17). What this gift actually was has been a subject of much discussion. Some have argued that it was merely an outward sign of the presence of the Holy Spirit among the disciples, typifying his manifold gifts, and showing that salvation was to be extended to all nations. But the words of Luke (Acts 2:9) clearly show that the various peoples in Jerusalem at the time of Pentecost did really hear themselves addressed in their own special language with which they were naturally acquainted (Comp. Joel 2:28, 29).

Among the gifts of the Spirit the apostle enumerates in 1 Corinthians 12:10-14:30, "divers kinds of tongues" and the "interpretation of tongues." This "gift" was a different manifestation of the Spirit from that on Pentecost, although it resembled it in many particulars. Tongues were to be "a sign to them that believe not."

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia



(glossai hosei puros): The reference in this topic is to the marvelous gift of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-13). After His resurrection the Lord bade His disciples to tarry in Jerusalem until He should fulfill to them the promise of the Father, and until they should be clothed with power from on high (Luke 24:49). Acts 1:8 repeats the same gracious promise with additional particulars: "But ye shall receive power, when the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth." These were probably the last words our Lord spoke on earth before He ascended to the right hand of God.

1. Supernatural Manifestations:

When the Day of Pentecost was fully come and the disciples, no doubt by previous arrangement and with one accord, were gathered together in one place, the promise was gloriously fulfilled. On that day, the 50th after the Passover, and so the first day of the week, the Lord's day, the Spirit of God descended upon them in marvelous copiousness and power. The gift of the Spirit was accompanied by extraordinary manifestations or phenomena. These were three and were supernatural. His coming first appealed to the ear. The disciples heard a "sound from heaven," which rushed with mighty force into the house and filled it even as the storm rushes, but there was no wind. It was the sound that filled the house, not a wind. It was an invisible cause producing audible effects. Next, the eye was arrested by the appearance of tongues of fire which rested on each of the gathered company. Our the King James Version "cloven tongues" is somewhat misleading, for it is likely to suggest that each fire-like tongue was cloven or forked, as one sometimes sees in the pictures representing the scene. But this is not at all the meaning of Luke's expression; rather, tongues parting asunder, tongues distributed among them, each disciple sharing in the gift equally with the others. "Like as of fire," or, more exactly, "as if of fire," indicates the appearance of the tongues, not that they were actually aflame, but that they prefigured the marvelous gift with which the disciples were now endowed.

Finally, there was the impartation to them of a new strange power to speak in languages they had never learned. It was because they were filled with the Holy Spirit that this extraordinary gift was exhibited by them. Not only did the Spirit enable them thus to speak, but even the utterance of words depended on His divine influence-they spake "as the Spirit gave them utterance."

Many attempts have been made by writers on the Acts to explain the phenomenon of Pentecost so as to exclude in whole or in part the supernatural element which Luke unquestionably recognizes. Some try to account for the gift of tongues by saying that it was a new style of speaking, or new forms of expression, or new and elevated thoughts, but this is both unnatural and wholly inconsistent with the narrative where a real difference of language is implied. Others imagine that the miracle was wrought upon the ears of the hearers, each of whom supposed what he heard to be uttered in his mother-tongue. But this view contradicts the distinct statement in Acts 2:4: they "began to speak with other tongues," i.e. the disciples did. It contradicts what the multitude affirmed, namely, "How hear we, every man in our own language, wherein we were born?" (2:8). Furthermore, the view contains an element of falsehood, for in this case the miracle was wrought to make men believe what was not actually the fact. The only reasonable explanation of the phenomena is that which the record bears on its face, and which Luke obviously meant his readers to believe, namely, that the Holy Spirit enabled the disciples to speak in the various languages represented by the multitude gathered together at the time.

2. Sinai and Pentecost:

The scenes witnessed at Pentecost were somewhat analogous to the events which occurred at the giving of the Law at Sinai, but the contrast between them is much more pronounced. We are told in Hebrews 12:18, 19 that "tempest," "fire," and "the voice of words" attended the inauguration of the Mosaic dispensation. Something similar was witnessed at Pentecost. But the differences between the two are very marked. At Sinai there were also the blackness and darkness, the quaking earth, the thunderings and lightnings, the voice of the trumpet exceeding loud, the terror of the people, and the fear of Moses (Exodus 19:16-18 Hebrews 12:18, 19). Nothing of this was seen at Pentecost.

The phenomena characterize the two dispensations. That of Sinai was legal. Its substance was: Do and live; disobey and die. Law knows no mercy, extends no grace. Exact justice is its rule, perfect righteousness its requirement, and death its penalty. No wonder terrible things accompanied its proclamation, and Moses trembled with fear. No wonder it was called "a fiery law" (Deuteronomy 33:2).

3. Qualities Imparted by the Spirit:

With the advent of the Spirit came perfect grace, divine power and complete pardon for the worst of men. At Sinai God spoke in one language. At Pentecost the Spirit through the disciples spoke in many tongues (15 in all are mentioned in Acts 2). The Law was for one people alone; the gospel is for the whole race. The sound that accompanied the outpouring of the Spirit filled all the house and all the disciples likewise-token and pledge of the copiousness, the fullness of the gift. The tongues of flame signified the power of speech, boldness of utterance, and persuasiveness which from henceforth were to mark the testimony of the disciples.

The marvelous capabilities which the witnesses display after Pentecost are most noteworthy. It is common to admire their courage and zeal, to contrast their fearlessness in the presence of enemies and danger with their former timidity and cowardice. It is perhaps not so common to recognize in them the qualities that lie at the foundation of all effective work, that which gives to witness-bearing for Christ its real energy and potency. These qualities are such as: knowledge and wisdom, zeal and prudence, confidence and devotion, boldness and love. skill and tact. These and the like gifts appear in their discourses, in their behavior when difficulties arise and dangers impend, and in their conduct before the angry rulers. It is altogether remarkable with what skill and tact they defend themselves before the Sanhedrin, and with what effectiveness they preach the gospel of the grace of God to the multitude, often a scoffing and hostile multitude. In Peter's address on the Day of Pentecost there are the marks of the highest art, the most skillful logic, and the most, persuasive argument. Professor Stifler well says of it: "It is without a peer among the products of uninspired men. And yet it is the work of a Galilean fisherman, without culture or training, and his maiden effort." The like distinguished traits are found in Peter's address recorded in Acts 3, in that to Cornelius and his friends, and in his defense when arraigned by the strict believers at Jerusalem for having gone into the company of men uncircumcised and having eaten with them. No less must be said of the equally wonderful reply of Stephen to the charge brought against him as recorded in Acts 7. It is quite true that Stephen did not share in the effusion of the Spirit on the Day of Pentecost, so far as we know, but he did share in the gift and power of the Spirit soon after, for we are told that he was full of faith and of the Holy Spirit, that he was also full of grace and power. Accordingly, it should be no surprise to read, as the effect of his discourse, that the high priest and all the rest who heard him "were cut to the heart, and they gnashed on him with their teeth" (7:54). Stephen spoke with a tongue of fire.

In the management of the serious complaint made by the Grecian Jews against the Hebrews as to the neglect of their widows in the daily ministration (Acts 6:1), and in their conduct and defense when brought before the council, as they were once and again (Acts 4; Acts 5; Acts 5 12), they exhibited a wisdom and prudence far enough removed from shrewdness and cunning. The qualities they possessed and displayed are uncommon, are more than human, they are the gift of the Holy Spirit with whom they were baptized on Pentecost. So the Lord Jesus had promised (Mark 13:11 John 16:13 Acts 1:8).

4. Distinguished from 1 Corinthians 12; 14:

The tongues of fire which we have been considering appear to have differed in one important aspect from the like gift bestowed on the Corinthians (1 Corinthians 12; 1 Corinthians 14). At Pentecost the disciples spoke in the languages of the various persons who heard them; there needed to be no interpreter, as was provided for at Corinth. Paul distinctly orders that if there be no one to explain or interpret the ecstatic utterance of a speaker, he shall keep silent (1 Corinthians 14:28). At Pentecost many spoke at the same time, for the Spirit had perfect control of the entire company and used each as it pleased Him. At Corinth Paul directed that not more than two or at most three should speak in a tongue, and that by course (one at a time). At Pentecost each one of the 15 nationalities there represented by the crowd heard in his own tongue wherein he was born the wonderful works of God. At Corinth no one understood the tongue, not even the speaker himself, for it seems to have been a rhapsody, an uncontrolled ecstatic outburst, and in case there was no one to interpret or explain it, the speaker was to hold his peace and speak to himself and to God, i.e. he must not disturb the worship by giving voice to his ecstasy unless the whole assembly should be edified thereby. Paul sets prophecy, or preaching the word of God, far above this gift of tongues.

It may not be out of place here to say that the so-called "gift of tongues," so loudly proclaimed by certain excitable persons in our day, has nothing in common with the mighty action of the Spirit of God on the day of Pentecost, and hardly anything with that which the Corinthian Christians enjoyed, and which Paul regulated with a master-hand.



Stifler, Introduction to the Book of Acts; Alexander, Commentary on the Acts; Kuyper, Work of the Holy Spirit; Moorehead, Outline Studies in Acts-Ephesians.

William G. Moorehead



1. The Narrative:

According to Genesis 11:1-9, at some time not very long after the Flood, "the whole earth was of one language and of one speech. And it came to pass, as they journeyed east" (the "they" is left vague) that they settled in the land of Shinar (Babylonia). There they undertook to build "a city, and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven," using the Bah burned brick and "slime" as building materials. The motive was to "make us a name; lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth." This seems to mean that the buildings would give them a reputation for impregnability that would secure them against devastating invasions. "And Yahweh came down to see." And He said, "Nothing will be withholden from them, which they purpose to do. Come, let us go down, and there confound their language." The persons spoken to are not named (compare Genesis 1:26; Genesis 3:22), nor is it explained how Yahweh, who in Genesis 11:5 was on earth, is now in heaven. "So Yahweh scattered them abroad from thence," and the name of the city was "called Babel (babhel); because Yahweh did there confound (balal) the language of all the earth: and from thence did Yahweh scatter them abroad upon the face of all the earth."

The purpose of this narrative is the explanation of the diversity of human languages. They originated through an act of Yahweh, in order to destroy the presumptuous designs of the first builders of Babylon.

2. Context:

The section admittedly belongs to J and it has no connection with the matter (mostly P) in Genesis 10. For Genesis 10 explains the origin of the nations "every one after his tongue, after their families" (10:5, 20, 31) as due to the orderly migration and gradual spreading of the sons and descendants of Noah, and names Nimrod (10:10) as the sole founder of Babylon. Nor does 11:1-9 logically continue the J matter in Genesis 9, as too many persons are involved for the time immediately following the Flood. Still, it is quite possible that some J matter was dropped when the J and P sources were united at this point. Another possibility is to see in Genesis 11:1-9 the continuation of Genesis 4:16-24, which it carries on smoothly, with the same distrust of human culture. The murderer Cain went to the East of Eden (4:16), and his descendants brought in the knowledge of the various arts (4:20-22). These descendants journeyed still farther to the East (11:2), attempted to use their skill in building the tower and were punished by the balal catastrophe. No account of the Deluge could have followed, for all the diversities of languages would have been wiped away by that event.

This assumption of a special, early source within J probably best explains the facts. It is indicated by the very primitive, naive theology, which is much less developed than that of J as a whole. And the obscure relation of Genesis 11:1-9 to the Flood narrative is accounted for, for two narratives were combined here, one of which contained an account of the Deluge, while the other did not.

3. Homogeneity:

By using the repeated "going down" of verses 5, 7 as a clue, the section can be resolved fairly easily into two narratives, e.g.

(1) The men build a tower, "whose top may reach unto heaven," in order to make a name for themselves as marvelous builders. Yahweh, seeing the work beginning and "lest nothing be withholden from them," etc., goes down and confounds their language.

(2) The men build a city, as a defensive measure, "lest we be scattered abroad on the face of the whole earth." Yahweh goes down to see and scatters them abroad. For other analyses see the commentaries.

But they are hardly imperative. For (2) gives no motive for Yahweh's action, while "city" and "tower," "confusion of tongues" and "scattering," are complementary rather than parallel terms. The supposition that a few words describing Yahweh's return to heaven have disappeared somewhere from verse 6 relieves the awkwardness.

4. Historicity:

The "historicity" of the narrative will be upheld by very few persons of the present day. Human languages began to diverge (if, indeed there ever was such a thing as a primitive language) tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of years before the building of Babylon and long before human beings had attained enough skill to erect the most rudimentary structures, let alone such an elaborate affair as the brick-built city and tower of Babel. And what is true of languages as a whole is equally true of the languages spoken in the vicinity of Palestine. If Egyptian Hittite, and the Semitic group have any common point of origin, it lies vastly back of the time and cultural conditions presupposed in Genesis 11:1-9. It is needless to enlarge on this, but for the harm done by a persistent clinging to the letter of the narrative, White's History of the Warfare of Science with Theology may be consulted. It belonged to the genius of the Hebrews to seek religious explanations of the things around them. And such an explanation of the origin of languages is the content of Genesis 11:1-9.

5. Sources:

This explanation seems, as yet, to be without parallel, for the translation of the fragmentary British Museum Inscription K 3657 is entirely uncertain. Indeed, legends as to how the differences of human speech began seem to be extremely scanty everywhere, as if the question were not one that occupied the minds of primitive people. Comparative folklore still has much work to do as regards this special topic (for a few references see Encyclopedia Brit, 11th edition, article "Babel" and Gunkel Genesis3 in the place cited.). The other features of the narrative, however, are without great significance. Buildings that were unfinished because the builders offended the gods are fairly abundant, and it is quite possible that the writer of Genesis 11:1-9 had some particular Bah structure in mind (see BABEL, TOWER OF). Nor are attempts of men to climb into heaven difficult to conceive, when the sky is thought of (as it nearly always was until comparatively modern times) as a material dome. So Greek Baruch (3:6) specifies that they "built the tower to the height of 463 cubits. And they took a gimlet, and sought to pierce the heaven, saying, Let us see whether the heaven is made of clay, or of brass, or of iron." Closely parallel to the Babel story is the Greek legend of the giants, who piled Pelion on Ossa in their attempt to storm the dwelling of the gods, and, as a matter of fact, the two accounts seem to be combined in Sib Or 3:97-104.

Whether aided by a tradition about some particular Babylonian tower or not, the localization of the story in Babylonia was inevitable. The Babylonians, above all nations in the world, relied on their wisdom and their skill, and so nowhere but in Babylon would this supreme presumption have been possible. Babylon, the embodiment of pride, at the very beginning of her existence was guilty of an act of pride so overwhelming as to call out God's vengeance. The "folk-etymology" babhel-balal (in Aramaic babhel-balbel) may have been suggested by this story or (perhaps more probably) it may have originated separately, perhaps at first as a piece of deliberate irony. Certainly the many languages that could be heard in Babylon were not without significance for the story.

6. Religious Value:

The religious value of the story is dimmed for the modern reader because of the very primitive concepts that it contains. The men are able to build up into heaven. In order to see what they are doing Yahweh is obliged to "come down." He is obliged to take action lest His dwelling-place be invaded (compare Genesis 3:22). And the "let us go down" of Genesis 11:7, while certainly not polytheistic, is equally certainly a polytheistic "remnant." On the other hand, it is to be noted that God's power is never in question and that there is no desperate and uncertain battle as in the Greek legend. Important, also (and often overlooked), is the realization that God's power is just as active in Babylon as it is in Palestine. The primal meaning to the Israelite, however, was this: In Babylon was seen the greatest enemy of the people of God, possessing immeasurable resources. Humanly speaking, there were no limits to this power, and if it had been uncontrolled at the beginning, all the world would have been overwhelmed with the rule of evil. This God had prevented.


Driver in HDB; Cheyne (art. "Babel, Tower of") in EB; the commentaries. on Gen, especially those of Skinner, Driver, Procksch, and Gunkel.

Burton Scott Easton


1. Basic Character of 1 Corinthians 14:

A spiritual gift mentioned in Acts 10:44-46; Acts 11:15; Acts 19:6 Mark 16:17, and described in Acts 2:1-13 and at length in 1 Corinthians 12-14, especially chapter 14. In fact, 1 Corinthians 14 contains such a full and clear account that this passage is basic. The speaker in a tongue addressed God (14:2, 28) in prayer (14:14), principally in the prayer of thanksgiving (14:15-17). The words so uttered were incomprehensible to the congregation (14:2, 5, 9, etc.), and even to the speaker himself (14:14). Edification, indeed, was gained by the speaker (14:4), but this was the edification of emotional experience only (14:14). The words were spoken "in the spirit" (14:2); i.e. the ordinary faculties were suspended and the divine, specifically Christian, element in the man took control, so that a condition of ecstasy was produced. This immediate (mystical) contact with the divine enabled the utterance of "mysteries" (14:2)-things hidden from the ordinary human understanding (see MYSTERY). In order to make the utterances comprehensible to the congregation, the services of an "interpreter" were needed. Such a man was one who had received from God a special gift as extraordinary as the gifts of miracles, healings, or the tongues themselves (12:10, 30); i.e. the ability to interpret did not rest at all on natural knowledge, and acquisition of it might be given in answer to prayer (14:13). Those who had this gift were known, and Paul allowed the public exercise of "tongues" only when one of the interpreters was present (14:28). As the presence of an interpreter was determined before anyone spoke, and as there was to be only one interpreter for the "two or three" speakers (14:28), any interpreter must have been competent to explain any tongue. But different interpreters did not always agree (14:26), whence the limitation to one.

2. Foreign Languages Barred Out:

These characteristics of an interpreter make it clear that "speaking in a tongue" at Corinth was not normally felt to be speaking in a foreign language. In 1 Corinthians 14:10 English Versions of the Bible are misleading with "there are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world," which suggests that Paul is referring directly to the tongues. But tosauta there should be rendered "very many," "ever so many," and the verse is as purely illustrative as is 14:7. Hence, foreign languages are to be barred out. (Still, this need not mean that foreign phrases may not occasionally have been employed by the speakers, or that at times individuals may not have made elaborate use of foreign languages. But such cases were not normative at Corinth.) Consequently, if "tongues" means "languages," entirely new languages must be thought of. Such might have been of many kinds (12:28), have been regarded as a fit creation for the conveyance of new truths, and may even at times have been thought to be celestial languages-the "tongues of angels" (13:1). On the other hand, the word for "tongue" (glossa) is of fairly common use in Greek to designate obsolete or incomprehensible words, and, specifically, for the obscure phrases uttered by an oracle. This use is closely parallel to the use in Corinth and may be its source, although then it would be more natural if the "ten thousand words in a tongue" of 14:19 had read "ten thousand glossai." In no case, however, can "tongue" mean simply the physical organ, for 14:18, 19 speaks of articulated words and uses the plural "tongues" for a single speaker (compare 14:5, 6).

3. A State of Ecstasy:

A complete explanation of the tongues is given by the phenomena of ecstatic utterances, especially when taken in connection with the history of New Testament times. In ecstasy the soul feels itself so suffused with the divine that the man is drawn above all natural modes of perception (the understanding becomes "unfruitful"), and the religious nature alone is felt to be active. Utterances at such times naturally become altogether abnormal. If the words remain coherent, the speaker may profess to be uttering revelations, or to be the mere organ of the divine voice. Very frequently, however, what is said is quite incomprehensible, although the speaker seems to be endeavoring to convey something. In a still more extreme case the voice will be inarticulate, uttering only groans or outcries. At the termination of the experience the subject is generally unconscious of all that has transpired.

For the state, compare Philo, Quis rerum. divin., li-liii.249-66: "The best (ecstasy) of all is a divinely-infused rapture and `mania,' to which the race of the prophets is subject..... The wise man is a sounding instrument of God's voice, being struck and played upon invisibly by Him..... As long as our mind still shines (is active).... we are not possessed (by God).... but.... when the divine light shines, the human light sets..... The prophet.... is passive, and another (God) makes use of his vocal organs." Compare, further, the descriptions of Celsus (Origen, Contra Celsus, vii.9), who describes the Christian "prophets" of his day as preaching as if God or Christ were speaking through them, closing their words with "strange, fanatical, and quite unintelligible words of which no rational person can find the meaning." The Greek papyri furnish us with an abundance of magical formulas couched in unintelligible terms (e.g. Pap. Lond., 121, "Iao, eloai, marmarachada, menepho, mermai, ieor, aeio, erephie, pherephio," etc.), which are not infrequently connected with an ecstatic state (e.g. Reitzenstein, Poimandres, 53-58).

Interpretation of the utterances in such a state would always be difficult and diversities of interpretation would be unavoidable. Still, with a fixed content, such as the Christian religion gave, and with the aid of gestures, etc., men who felt that they had an understanding of such conditions could undertake to explain them to the congregation. It is to be noted, however, that Paul apparently does not feel that the gift of interpretation is much to be relied on, for otherwise he would have appraised the utility of tongues more highly than he does. But the popularity of tongues in Corinth is easily understood. The speaker was felt to be taken into the closest of unions with God and hence, to be an especial object of God's favor. Indeed, the occurrence of the phenomenon in a neo-convert was irrefragable proof that the conversion was approved by God (Acts 10:44-48; Acts 11:15; Acts 19:6). So in Mark 16:17 the gift is treated as an exceptional and miraculous divine blessing (in this verse "new" is textually uncertain, and the meaning of the word, if read, is uncertain also). Moreover, for the more selfish, the gift was very showy (1 Corinthians 13:1 suggests that it was vociferous), and its possession gratified any desire for personal prominence.

4. The Account in Acts 2:

The account in Acts 2 differs from that of 1 Corinthians 14 in making the tongues foreign languages, although the ability to use such languages is not said to have become a permanent apostolic endowment. (Nor is it said that the speech of Acts 2:14-36 was delivered in more than one language.) When the descent of the Spirit occurred, those who were assembled together were seized with ecstasy and uttered praises to God. A crowd gathered and various persons recognized words and phrases in their own tongues; nothing more than this is said. That the occasion was one where a miracle would have had unusual evidential value is evident, and those who see a pure miracle in the account have ample justification for their position. But no more than a providential control of natural forces need be postulated, for similar phenomena are abundantly evidenced in the history of religious experience. At times of intense emotional stress the memory acquires abnormal power, and persons may repeat words and even long passages in a foreign language, although they may have heard them only once. Now the situation at Jerusalem at the time of the Feast gave exactly the conditions needed, for then there were gathered pilgrims from all countries, who recited in public liturgical passages (especially the Shemoneh `Esreh) in their own languages. These, in part, the apostles and the "brethren" simply reproduced. Incomprehensible words and phrases may well have been included also (Acts 2:13), but for the dignity of the apostles and for the importance of Pentecost Luke naturally cared to emphasize only the more unusual side and that with the greatest evidential value. It is urged, to be sure, that this interpretation contradicts the account in 1 Corinthians 14. But it does so only on the assumption that the tongues were always uniform in their manifestation and appraisement everywhere-and the statement of this assumption is its own refutation. If the modern history of ecstatic utterances has any bearing on the Apostolic age, the speaking in foreign languages could not have been limited only to Pentecost. (That, however, it was as common as the speaking in new "languages" would be altogether unlikely.) But both varieties Luke may well have known in his own experience.

5. Religious Emotionalism:

Paul's treatment of the tongues in 1 Corinthians 12-14 is a classical passage for the evaluation of religious emotionalism. Tongues are a divine gift, the exercise is not to be forbidden (14:39), and Paul himself is grateful that he has the gift in an uncommon degree (14:18). Indeed, to those who treat them simply with scorn they become a "sign" that hardening is taking place (14:21-23). Yet a love of them because they are showy is simply childish (14:20; 13:11), and the possessor of the gift is not to think that he has the only thing worth obtaining (1 Corinthians 12). The only gift that is utterly indispensable is love (1 Corinthians 13), and without it tongues are mere noise (13:1). The public evidential value of tongues, on which perhaps the Corinthians were inclined to lay stress, Paul rates very low (14:21-23). Indeed, when exercised in public they tend to promote only the self-glorification of the speaker (14:4), and so are forbidden when there is not an interpreter, and they are limited for public use at all times (14:27, 28). But the ideal place for their exercise is in private: "Let him speak to himself, and to God" (14:28). The applicability of all this to modern conditions needs no commentary. Ultra-emotionalistic outbreaks still cause the formation of eccentric sects among us, and every evangelist knows well-meaning but slightly weak individuals who make themselves a nuisance. On the other hand, a purely intellectual and ethical religion is rather a dreary thing. A man who has never allowed his religious emotions to carry him away may well be in a high state of grace-but he has missed something, and something of very great value.



Plumptre in DB is still useful. Wright, Some New Testament Problems (1898), and Walker, The Gift of Tongues and Other Essays (1906), have collections of material. Of the commentaries on 1 Corinthians those of Heinrici (latest edition, 1896), Lietzmann (1907) and J. Weiss (1910) are much the best, far surpassing Robertson and Plummer in ICC (1911). For the Greek material, see... in the index of Rhode's Psyche. Gunkel, Die Wirkungen des heiligen Geistes (1888, 2nd reprint in 1909), was epoch-making. For the later period, see Weinel, Die Wirkungen des Gelstes und der Geister (1899); Lake, The Earlier Epistles of Paul (London, 1911); and see Inge in The Quarterly Review (London, 1914).

Burton Scott Easton








1100. glossa -- the tongue, a language
... to demonstrate the arrival of the new age of the covenant (ie NT times). [The normative
experience of the 120 believers received "tongues (1100 ) as of fire ...
// - 7k

2084. heteroglossos -- of another tongue
... Word Origin from heteros and glossa Definition of another tongue NASB Word
Usage men of strange tongues (1), strange tongues (1). ...
// - 6k

484. antilempsis -- a laying hold of, help
... in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then
gifts of healings, (484 ), administrations, various kinds of tongues" (). ...
// - 7k

Strong's Hebrew
7632. shabib -- probably a flame
... spark. From the same as shabab; flame (as split into tongues) -- spark. see HEBREW
shabab. 7631, 7632. shabib. 7633 . Strong's Numbers.
/hebrew/7632.htm - 6k

3956. lashon -- tongue
... tongue NASB Word Usage bar (2), bark* (1), bay (3), charmer* (1), language (14),
languages (2), slanderer* (1), speech (1), tongue (84), tongues (5), word (1). ...
/hebrew/3956.htm - 6k


The Miracle of Tongues.
... THE OUTPOURING OF THE HOLY SPIRIT XXVIII. The Miracle of Tongues. ... To the latter,
it seemed as tho they heard them speaking in their own tongues. ...
/.../kuyper/the work of the holy spirit/xxviii the miracle of tongues.htm

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

Of the Grace of Tongues (Two Articles)
... OF THE GRACE OF TONGUES (TWO ARTICLES). We ... inquiry: (1) Whether by the grace
of tongues a man acquires the knowledge of all languages? ...
// theologica/of the grace of tongues.htm

Fragment Xlviii. As Therefore Seventy Tongues are Indicated by ...
... Fragment XLVIII. As therefore seventy tongues are indicated by number, and
from dispersion the tongues are gathered? As [4896] therefore ...
/.../fragment xlviii as therefore seventy.htm

Against the Tongues of Detractors
of detractors. "My Son, take it not sadly to heart, if any ...
/.../kempis/imitation of christ/chapter xxviii against the tongues.htm

CM "O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing. "
... Hymn 10. CM "O for a thousand tongues to sing.". O for a thousand tongues
to sing My great Redeemer's praise! The glories of my God ...
/.../anonymous/a collection of gospel hymns in ojibway and english/hymn 10 c m o.htm

Deaf Ears and Stammering Tongues.
Trinity.) S. Mark 7:37. "He hath done all things well. He ...
/.../the life of duty a years plain sermons v 2/sermon xlvii deaf ears and.htm

"O for a Thousand Tongues to Sing. "
... Nuhguhmoowin 10. CM "O for a thousand tongues to sing.". O uh pa-gish ke
che ingo' dwok, Neej uh ne she nah baig, Che nuh nuh guh ...
/.../a collection of gospel hymns in ojibway and english/nuhguhmoowin 10 c m o.htm

Our Forefathers have Handed Down to us the Tradition, That, after ...
... 2. Our forefathers have handed down to us the tradition, that, after the Lord's
ascension, when, through the coming of the Holy Ghost, tongues of flame had ...
/.../2 our forefathers have handed.htm

Tongues (67 Occurrences)
... Easton's Bible Dictionary Tongues, Confusion of. ... Till this time "the whole earth
was of one language and of one speech." (see SHINAR.). Tongues, Gift of. ...
/t/tongues.htm - 61k

Prophet's (22 Occurrences)
... the power of working wonders; and to another the prophet's word; and to another
the power of testing spirits; to another different sorts of tongues; and to ...
/p/prophet's.htm - 13k

Using (88 Occurrences)
... 1 Corinthians 14:5 Now though it is my desire for you all to have the power of tongues,
it would give me more pleasure to be hearing the prophet's word from you ...
/u/using.htm - 31k

Sense (195 Occurrences)
... the power of working wonders; and to another the prophet's word; and to another
the power of testing spirits; to another different sorts of tongues; and to ...
/s/sense.htm - 36k

Powers (43 Occurrences)
... to another the gift of prophecy; to another the power of discriminating between
prophetic utterances; to another varieties of the gift of 'tongues;' to another ...
/p/powers.htm - 20k

Confusion (71 Occurrences)
... rendered "confusion of sex." WL Walker. CONFUSION OF TONGUES. ...TONGUES,
CONFUSION OF. tungz: 1. The Narrative: According to Genesis ...
/c/confusion.htm - 39k

Gifts (144 Occurrences)
... on the day of Pentecost. They were the gifts of speaking with tongues, casting
out devils, healing, etc. (Mark 16:17, 18), usually ...
/g/gifts.htm - 61k

Miraculous (54 Occurrences)
... to another the gift of prophecy; to another the power of discriminating between
prophetic utterances; to another varieties of the gift of 'tongues;' to another ...
/m/miraculous.htm - 20k

Spiritual (42 Occurrences)
... 1) Apostleship (2) Prophecy (3) Discernings of spirits (4) Teaching (5) The Word
of Knowledge (6) The Word of Wisdom (7) Kinds of Tongues (8) Interpretation of ...
/s/spiritual.htm - 51k

Varieties (5 Occurrences)
... to another the gift of prophecy; to another the power of discriminating between
prophetic utterances; to another varieties of the gift of 'tongues;' to another ...
/v/varieties.htm - 8k

What is praying in tongues? Is praying in tongues a prayer language between a believer and God? |

What is the gift of speaking in tongues? |

What is the spiritual gift of interpreting tongues? |

Bible ConcordanceBible DictionaryBible EncyclopediaTopical BibleBible Thesuarus
Tongues (67 Occurrences)

Mark 16:17
And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;

Luke 16:21
Desiring the broken bits of food which came from the table of the man of wealth; and even the dogs came and put their tongues on his wounds.

Acts 2:3
Tongues like fire appeared and were distributed to them, and one sat on each of them.

Acts 2:4
And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Acts 2:11
Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.

Acts 10:46
For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. Then answered Peter,

Acts 19:6
And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.

Romans 3:13
"Their throat is an open tomb. With their tongues they have used deceit." "The poison of vipers is under their lips;"

1 Corinthians 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:

1 Corinthians 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.

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

1 Corinthians 13:1
Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

1 Corinthians 13:8
Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.

1 Corinthians 14:2
For he who makes use of tongues is not talking to men but to God; because no one has the sense of what he is saying; but in the Spirit he is talking of secret things.

1 Corinthians 14:4
He who makes use of tongues may do good to himself; but he who gives the prophet's word does good to the church.

1 Corinthians 14:5
I would that ye all spake with tongues but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.

1 Corinthians 14:6
Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?

1 Corinthians 14:13
Therefore let a man who has the gift of tongues pray for the power of interpreting them.

1 Corinthians 14:14
For if I make use of tongues in my prayers, my spirit makes the prayer, but not my mind.

1 Corinthians 14:18
I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all:

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.

1 Corinthians 14:22
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.

1 Corinthians 14:23
If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?

1 Corinthians 14:39
Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.

Revelation 10:11
And he said unto me, Thou must prophesy again before many peoples, and nations, and tongues, and kings.

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.

Revelation 13:7
And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.

Revelation 16:10
The fifth poured out his bowl on the throne of the beast, and his kingdom was darkened. They gnawed their tongues because of the pain,

Revelation 17:15
And he saith unto me, The waters which thou sawest, where the whore sitteth, are peoples, and multitudes, and nations, and tongues.

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.

Exodus 26:17
Every board is to be joined to the one nearest to it by two tongues, and so for every board in the House.

Exodus 26:19
With forty silver bases under the twenty boards, two bases under every board to take its tongues.

Exodus 36:22
Every board had two tongues fixed into it; all the boards were made in this way.

Exodus 36:24
And for these twenty boards, forty silver bases, two bases under every board, to take its tongues.

Judges 7:5
So he took the people down to the water; and the Lord said to Gideon, Put on one side by themselves all those drinking up the water with their tongues like a dog; and in the same way, all those who go down on their knees to the water while drinking.

Judges 7:6
Now the number of those who took up the water with their tongues was three hundred; all the rest of the people went down on their knees to the water.

Judges 7:7
And the Lord said to Gideon, By those three hundred who were drinking with their tongues I will give you salvation and give the Midianites into your hands; let the rest of the people go away, every man to his place.

Job 29:10
The chiefs kept back their words, and their tongues were joined to the roofs of their mouths.

Psalms 5:9
For no faith may be put in their words; their inner part is nothing but evil; their throat is like an open place for the dead; smooth are the words of their tongues.

Psalms 12:2
Everyone says false words to his neighbour: their tongues are smooth in their talk, and their hearts are full of deceit.

Psalms 12:4
They have said, With our tongues will we overcome; our lips are ours: who is lord over us?

Psalms 31:20
In the shelter of your presence you will hide them from the plotting of man. You will keep them secretly in a dwelling away from the strife of tongues.

Psalms 55:9
Destroy, O Lord, and divide their tongues: for I have seen violence and strife in the city.

Psalms 57:4
My soul is among lions, I do lie down among them that are aflame; even the sons of men, whose teeth are spears and arrows, and their tongue a sharp sword.

Psalms 59:7
See, hate is dropping from their lips; curses are on their tongues: they say, Who gives attention to it?

Psalms 64:3
Who make their tongues sharp like a sword, and whose arrows are pointed, even bitter words;

Psalms 64:8
Their own tongues shall ruin them. All who see them will shake their heads.

Psalms 68:23
That you may crush them, dipping your foot in blood, that the tongues of your dogs may have their portion from your enemies."

Psalms 73:9
Their mouth goes up to heaven; their tongues go walking through the earth.

Psalms 78:36
Nevertheless they did flatter him with their mouth, and they lied unto him with their tongues.

Psalms 109:2
For the mouth of the wicked and the mouth of deceit have they opened against me; they have spoken unto me with a lying tongue.

Psalms 120:2
O LORD, deliver my soul from lying lips, from a deceitful tongue.
(See NIV)

Psalms 126:2
Then our mouths were full of laughing, and our tongues gave a glad cry; they said among the nations, The Lord has done great things for them.

Psalms 140:3
They have sharpened their tongues like a serpent. Viper's poison is under their lips. Selah.

Proverbs 6:17
Eyes high -- tongues false -- And hands shedding innocent blood --

Isaiah 5:24
For this cause, as the waste of the grain is burned up by tongues of fire, and as the dry grass goes down before the flame, so their root will be like the dry stems of grain, and their flower will go up in dust: because they have gone against the law of the Lord of armies, and have given no honour to the word of the Holy One of Israel.

Isaiah 28:11
For with stammering lips and with a strange tongue shall it be spoken to this people;
(See NIV)

Isaiah 41:17
The poor and needy seek water and there is none, and their tongue faileth for thirst; I the LORD will answer them, I the God of Israel will not forsake them.
(See NIV)

Isaiah 56:10
His watchmen are blind, they are all without knowledge; they are all dogs without tongues, unable to make a sound; stretched out dreaming, loving sleep.

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.

Jeremiah 9:3
And they bend their tongues like their bow for lies: but they are not valiant for the truth upon the earth; for they proceed from evil to evil, and they know not me, saith the LORD.

Jeremiah 9:5
Everyone will make sport of his neighbour with deceit, not saying what is true: their tongues have been trained to say false words; they are twisted, hating to come back.

Jeremiah 18:18
And they say, Come, And we devise against Jeremiah devices, For law doth not perish from the priest, Nor counsel from the wise, Nor the word from the prophet, Come, and we smite him with the tongue, And we do not attend to any of his words.
(See NIV)

Jeremiah 23:31
Behold, I am against the prophets, says Yahweh, who use their tongues, and say, He says.

Micah 6:12
Whose rich ones have been full of violence, And its inhabitants have spoken falsehood, And their tongue 'is' deceitful in their mouth.
(See NIV)

Zechariah 14:12
And this will be the disease which the Lord will send on all the peoples which have been warring against Jerusalem: their flesh will be wasted away while they are on their feet, their eyes will be wasted in their heads and their tongues in their mouths.



Tongues (The Gift): The Miraculous Gift Granted to some Early Christians

Tongues of Fire

Related Terms

Prophet's (22 Occurrences)

Using (88 Occurrences)

Sense (195 Occurrences)

Powers (43 Occurrences)

Confusion (71 Occurrences)

Gifts (144 Occurrences)

Miraculous (54 Occurrences)

Spiritual (42 Occurrences)

Varieties (5 Occurrences)

Prophesying (58 Occurrences)

Cloven (12 Occurrences)

Holy (1097 Occurrences)

Divers (36 Occurrences)

Spirit (706 Occurrences)

Gift (148 Occurrences)

Tongue (160 Occurrences)

Various (52 Occurrences)

Kindreds (7 Occurrences)

Utterances (9 Occurrences)

Unbelievers (9 Occurrences)

Utterance (21 Occurrences)

Operations (4 Occurrences)

Latter (91 Occurrences)

Graves (37 Occurrences)

In-workings (1 Occurrence)

Territories (12 Occurrences)

Testing (46 Occurrences)

Edifying (9 Occurrences)

Edification (10 Occurrences)

Edified (3 Occurrences)

Distinguish (16 Occurrences)

Discriminating (2 Occurrences)

Discernings (1 Occurrence)

Distinguishing (6 Occurrences)

Prophesieth (13 Occurrences)

Prophetic (9 Occurrences)

Prophesied (57 Occurrences)

Bases (80 Occurrences)

Ability (34 Occurrences)


Wonders (111 Occurrences)

Superior (18 Occurrences)

Sorts (65 Occurrences)

Snakes (25 Occurrences)

Pentecost (3 Occurrences)

Speaketh (367 Occurrences)

Talking (208 Occurrences)

Cure (28 Occurrences)

Exercise (35 Occurrences)

Makes (483 Occurrences)

Mad (22 Occurrences)

Fire (602 Occurrences)


Tablets (31 Occurrences)


Sepulchre (57 Occurrences)

Disease (213 Occurrences)

Text (5 Occurrences)

Poison (17 Occurrences)


Deeds (309 Occurrences)

Mighty (514 Occurrences)

Tower (74 Occurrences)


Set (6715 Occurrences)

Tell (3056 Occurrences)

Charity (29 Occurrences)

Diseases (38 Occurrences)

Mouths (86 Occurrences)

Aramaic (12 Occurrences)

Malefactor (2 Occurrences)

Tonight (23 Occurrences)

Drinking (114 Occurrences)

Blessing (357 Occurrences)

Worship (332 Occurrences)

Fact (98 Occurrences)

Prophecy (37 Occurrences)

Interpretation (45 Occurrences)

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