The Gift of Tongues - Chapter Eight

Posted in: 2013
By Tom M. Ballinger
Oct 9, 2013 - 5:41:05 PM

Plainer Words since 1968
October 9, 2013
Chapter Eight
It should be pointed out, emphatically, that in the Acts Period, “tongues” was speaking in real languages. It was not speaking, ecstatically, in an unintelligible, morbid, abnormal utterance. Speaking in “tongues,” during the Acts Period, was either inspired by the Holy Spirit or by Satan.
First Corinthians 12: 4-11 enumerates the diversity of the true spiritual gifts and emphasizes the fact that they were given by the same Spirit of God (Verses 4 and 11). In Verses 12-27, an illustration is given to the human anatomy showing that some members of the anatomy are more comely than others. Some members were more feeble than others, but God had “set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased Him” (V. 18). These members are listed as such things as the head, the eye, the ear, the nose, and the foot. These members of the human anatomy, mentioned, illustrate the diversity of the nine gifts of the Spirit. All are important; however, some are more honorable and comely (V. 23). Each gift was Divinely designed to minister to the Pentecostal Church.

Paul stated  that the nine Gifts of the Spirit were given to the Pentecostal Church and they were Divinely given. The Spiritual Gifts enumerated here were temporary. They were:




Then……………… of miracles, gifts of healings, governments, helps, diversity of “Tongues,” and interpreters of “Tongues.”

It is interesting to observe that these are definitely numbered in their order of precedence. Notice the place tongues have in the order.

First Corinthians 14:5 says that he which prophesied is greater than he “that speaketh with tongues.” Therefore, it is seen that tongues were not the epitome of the spiritual gifts, as some of today’s Pentecostals teach.

First Corinthians 13:8 states that the time was coming when “tongues ... shall cease.” In fact, “tongues” and other gifts were to vanish. However, “when that which is perfect is come” (i.e., the Pre-Millennial Kingdom of God) the gifts which are to abide are faith, hope, and charity. The greatest is charity (13:13).


The Fourteenth Chapter of First Corinthians is devoted, almost entirely, to Tongues Speaking. The reader is aware that in this chapter, there are six references to “unknown tongues.” These are found in Verses 2, 4, 13, 14, 19 and 27.

Many expositors are quick to point out that the word, “unknown,” in the King James Authorized Version is in italics and, consequently, were added by the translators. Many are quick to criticize the AV because the word “unknown” was not in the “original manuscripts,” therefore, it should be left out. Keep in mind that the translators knew the word was not in the Greek manuscripts. They added the word, “unknown,” to help the English reader get the sense of Chapter Fourteen. The translators of the AV placed “unknown” in italics which denotes the word was not in the Greek manuscripts they used. They were honest. They, clearly, pointed out the word was added by them. This addition has rendered a service to the reader; therefore, we will not sit in judgment upon the scholars God used to translate His Word into English.


The word, “unknown,” was added to denote that no interpreter was present. Those who were speaking in tongues in the Corinthian church, quite often, were abusing the gift because for them to speak in a foreign language, which no one in the congregation could understand, was like speaking in an unknown language. In fact, it was an unknown language to the Corinthian assembly. To speak a language which no one knew was speaking in the air (V. 9) and did not do what the gift was given for.

The city of Corinth, being a cosmopolitan city, accommodated men of many nationalities and tongues. It is quite probable that the church at Corinth had in the congregation individuals who spoke languages other than Greek.

The abuse of tongues would occur when someone would exercise his gift of tongues. For an example, a man would speak in the language of the Mesopotamians. However, at that moment, there was no one in the assembly who could understand the language of the Mesopotamians. To add to the abuse, there would be no interpreter present. Therefore, the believer who spoke in the Mesopotamian language was speaking in an “unknown” tongue; unknown to everyone present.

Do not think, for one minute, that an unknown tongue was the language of angels, or the language of heaven. The speakers actually spoke a language of men, but there was no one, present who could understand it; hence, it was unknown.


The Apostle Paul gives detailed information on the gift of tongues in I Corinthians 14. A great deal can be learned about true Bible tongues by studying this chapter. It gives correctives for all abuses.

It should be pointed out that you will learn nothing about tongues in modern Pentecostal meetings because the Pentecostal dispensation is over. It ended at Acts 28:28. Thus, modern Pentecostal meetings are dispensationally out of place. The Bible is the only place you can learn of Scriptural tongues. Today the misuse of Tongues [Gibbeish] is either the fruit of the devils or the flesh.

A brief outline will be given on tongues as found in I Corinthians 14. This will highlight the use and misuse of the gift in the Church of God at Corinth.

1. Tongues were a Divine gift. The exercise of this gift was not to be forbidden (14:39).

2. Paul, himself, was grateful that he had the gift in an uncommon way (14:18).

3. Tongues were an evidential sign, to unbelieving Israel, indicating their scorn was causing the hardening of their heart (14:21-23).

4. A love of tongues was exhibited because they were showing-off which was simply childish (14:20; 13:11).

5. The public evidential value of tongues, on which the Corinthians laid so much stress; Paul rates very low (14:21-23).

6. When used with no interpreter present the gift exercised promotes self-glorification of the speaker (14:4).

7. Because of this, tongues were forbidden when no interpreter was present and were to be limited for public use at all times (14:27-28).

8. The ideal place for the exercise of the gift of tongues was in private (14:28).

9. The women in the Corinthian church were speaking in tongues, and they were told to be silent in the church (14:34-35)

The nine abuses listed at Corinth were problems which probably existed in varying degrees in other churches during the Acts period. As today, the saints were not without sin.
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