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Lesson 10 The Gift of Tongues


Devotional Reading:   1 Corinthians 13


Memory Verse:           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.




1 Corinthians 14:1–9. Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy. 2For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries. 3But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. 4He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church. 5I 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. 6Now, 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? 7And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped? 8For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? 9So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air.




1 Corinthians 14:1. Love is first in value, and among spiritual gifts prophecy excels. V2. The tongue is unknown because no one present understands it. But what is spoken has meaning. Vv 3–4. The relative value of tongues and prophecy is compared. V5. Tongues are all right, but prophecy is better. Tongues edify the church only if interpreted. V6. Tongues alone do not profit the church. Vv 7–9. The uselessness of unintelligible speaking is compared to b bugle call not understood. Hence the gifts of tongues in not intended for the edifying of the church unless interpreted.






1. Promised to believers.


In Mark 16:17 Jesus promises new tongues to the believers. This does not imply that every believer shall also take up serpents.


2. Experienced.


At Pentecost and on two other occasions the baptism with the Holy Ghost was accompanied with the gift of tongues. It was no doubt exercised at times not recorded.


3. Described.


The gift was clearly established in the early church.




1. What it is not.


A) A physical new tongue. There is no occasion for such a physical change and no hint of it. B) A purified conversation. This results from salvation, but Jesus did not refer to this. C) Ability to hear differently from what is spoken. The miracle is in the speaking, not in the hearing. D) A mixture or repetition of sounds. The tongues were real languages which were understandable to those acquainted with the language spoken.


2. What it is.


A) A power to speak intelligent languages. At Pentecost several languages were spoken, and understood by listeners. There is no proof that “unknown” tongues are not languages capable of being understood by someone. B) There are languages previously unknown. The listeners marveled that the Galileans were able to speak their languages. The speakers attributed their power to the Spirit. C) A power conferred by the Spirit of God. It is one of the gifts of the Spirit and is exercised as the Spirit gives utterance.




1. Not for evangelization.


A) It was not needed for that purpose at Pentecost, for all present understood a common language. B) Peter did not preach in tongues but in the common language. C) There is no Bible record of the use of tongues for evangelization.


2. A sign to unbelievers.


A) So Paul declares it to be. It is not intended to be a proof to its possessor, or other Christians, but an evidence to unbelievers. B) When understood it is a sign. The hearers were impressed at Pentecost and knew it was of god. C) When not understood it becomes disgusting. The unbeliever does not understand and it is confusion.


3. A blessing to the speaker.


It might edify the speaker but is of no value to the people, thus cause a disturbance of a public service.


4. Comparative value of tongues.


It is of less importance than prophesy.




1. Its history.


A) The present Pentecostal Movement came into motion in southern California in 1906. B) It is not new. Similar outbreaks have occurred among various sects and at various intervals. C) It is divided into factions. There are several of these, and still others are coming. The chief designation terms are Apostolic Faith, Pentecostal, Four Square Gospel.


2. Its doctrines.


A) They say “speaking in tongues is THE evidence of the baptism with the Holy Spirit.” The Bible nowhere says tongues is the evidence. There is no such statement to be found. The promise of Joel, which Peter quotes on Pentecost, says is to our children, speaks of prophecy. B) There is no proof that all spoke with tongues. We have three instances on record where tongues were given with the baptism. Tongues were not mentioned in connection with the others who received the Holy Ghost. C) The inference is that not all did speak in tongues. When Peter relates the experience of Cornelius he compares it with the experience of the Jews “at the beginning” which he would not likely do if that had been the common experience of all through the intervening years. Luke records the speaking with tongues of twelve men at Ephesus. Why does he mention this comparatively unimportant case while omitting the many instances that must have occurred during past years, if all received it? D) The fact that the gifts are distributed as the Spirit wills indicates that not all have this gift. Paul makes it plain that not all have the gift of tongues. E) The Pentecostal claim is that not all have the gift of tongues but that all speak with tongues, which is different, as the evidence of the baptism. Paul makes no such distinction but uses both expressions in the same connection. How else is the gift of tongues exercised except through the speaking with tongues? F) Should we allow that Paul knows such a distinction (which we do not) we have Paul asking, “Do you all speak with tongues?” To which the evident answer is “No.” G) There are many false tongues which Pentecostal people confess are manifested among them and which they cannot distinguish from the true. Thus their proof is of no value.


3. Its fruits and accompaniments.


A) The spirit of the movement. In general a spirit of extremism and of spiritual superiority pervades the movement. Much fanaticism and unseemly conduct is also in evidence. B) Having admitted its fundamental, most any doctrine not inconsistent therewith can find place in the movement. The doctrine of the millennium is quite prevalent. C) Doctrinal differences and competitive leadership have caused many divisions in the movement. It would be difficult to determines which is the orthodox group. God has a people in this movement whom he wishes to lead into the pure light of this present reformation.