What Does the Bible Say About Speaking in Tongues?
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I have to speak in tongues to be saved?
- Does the Bible say it is wrong to
speak in tongues?
- Is speaking in tongues a genuine gift of the Holy Spirit or
- Is speaking in tongues one of the spiritual gifts mentioned in the Bible?
Speaking in tongues means speaking in a way or in a language that is not normally
understood by the speaker or the listeners. The bible mentions two types of speaking
- On the day of Pentecost Jesus' apostles were filled with the Holy Spirit
and began speaking in other tongues. Those who heard this speech each heard
it in his own language, even though they were from many different countries
(Acts 2:1-13). Even though the apostles were speaking in an unknown language,
the listeners were able to understand, each in his own language. There is no
other mention of this type of speaking in tongues in the Bible.
- Speaking in an ecstatic language was common among members of the early Christian
churches, but no one could understand this form of speaking in tongues (1 Corinthians
14:2). Sometimes the speaker or another person would interpret the meaning.
Both cases were the work of the Holy Spirit. The apostle Paul classified speaking
in tongues as just one of the spiritual gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:6-11,
Paul was thankful for his own gift of speaking in tongues (1 Corinthians 14:18-19).
But Paul told his churches that it was better practiced in private than in church,
unless someone could interpret the ecstatic speech (1 Corinthians 14:23, 27-28).
The gift of speaking in tongues was less important than the gifts of prophecy (1 Corinthians
14:2-5) and love (1 Corinthians 13:1). Nevertheless, speaking in tongues
should not be forbidden (1 Corinthians 14:39).
Several other New Testament passages point to speaking in tongues as evidence
of the working of the Holy Spirit (Mark 16:17, Acts 10:44-46, Acts 19:4-6).
However, there is nothing in the Bible saying speaking in tongues is
necessary for salvation.
Pentecostal and Charismatic Churches
Speaking in tongues is an important part of worship in a number of Pentecostal
and charismatic churches. Some Pentecostal churches, including Assemblies of God,
teach that speaking in tongues is evidence of baptism in the Holy Spirit,
but it is not essential for salvation and eternal life. Some other Pentecostal denominations
teach that speaking in tongues is experienced by everyone who has truly been saved.
The Pentecostal movement began in the United States at the beginning of the twentieth century. In the space of 100 years, it has become a major sector of worldwide
Christianity, along with the Catholic, Orthodox and traditional Protestant churches.
In addition to the Pentecostal churches, there are charismatic parishes within the
Roman Catholic Church, and many traditional Protestants have also experienced speaking
Many traditional Christians, however, believe that the gift of speaking in tongues
was no longer given after the apostolic age in the first century (1 Corinthians
13:8), or consider the gift to be of minor importance.