Speaking in tongues has become more fashionable these days in my view than any other time in history. Every second person is able to speak in tongues. These people claim that they are speaking in spiritual or angelic tongues. Now a tongue apart from the word referring to an organ of the body, it also refers to a language. In fact the Greek word of tongue is “glossa” and the Greek dictionary says
g1100. γλωσσα glossa; of uncertain affinity; the tongue; by implication, a language (specially, one naturally unacquired):— tongue.
AV (50)- tongue 50;
the tongue, a member of the body, an organ of speech a tongue the language or dialect used by a particular people distinct from that of other nations
The people that claim to be speaking in this spiritual or angelic tongue or language, claim a higher spiritual level than those that cannot. They claim to have a gift as indicated in the bible.
1 Corinthians 12:10 (ESVST)
to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.
They claim to have attained a higher level of spirituality than those that cannot. Now, there is epsolutely nothing wrong with this gift of speaking in tongues except where it begins to make other people better than others and/ or begins to open doors for false prophets to also begin speaking in tongues and deceiving people. We need a way to be able to know when a person is speaking in tongues because it is really the gift from God or if a person is a false preacher.
What does it mean to speak in tongues? Well, first of all to speak in tongues simply means to speak in a language. The biblical interpretation says that, it is to speak an unknown language ( taken from the KJV and AMP bible translations). Let’s look at the passage below. This passage is just after the disciples received the Holy Spirit for the very first time, Pentecost.
Acts 2:4-12 (ESVST)
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.
5 Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. 6 And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered, because each one was hearing them speak in his own language. 7 And they were amazed and astonished, saying, “ Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? 9 Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, 10 Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, 11 both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians —we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.” 12 And all were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “ What does this mean?”
Now, verse 4 says that after being filled with the Holy Spirit, they began to speak in tongues or unknown languages. Not only that but, they spoke these languages as the spirit gave them utterance. Now the word utterance is a Greek word “apophtheggomai” which means to speak forth or to pronounce. The Greek dictionary says as well that is not an everyday speech but one belonging to dignified and elevated discourse
g0669. αποφθεγγομαι apophtheggomai; from 575 and 5350; to enunciate plainly, i. e. declare:— say, speak forth, utterance.
AV (3)- utterance 1, speak forth 1, say 1;
to speak out, speak forth, pronounce not a word of everyday speech but one ” belonging to dignified and elevated discourse”
So, this was not some ordinary speaking that the disciples were doing but very dignified speeches. What is important here is to note that they could only speak after the Holy Spirit had filled them and they were speaking only as guided by the Holy Spirit. Verse 5 says that around these disciples, were people from all nations under heaven. Verse 6 says, when these multitude heard the disciples speak in each of their own languages, they gathered around them.
Please take note that the tongues or languages that the disciples were speaking were familiar to the multitude of the people that were gathered there. The bible says the disciples were speaking the languages of the people that were gathered there. What was amazing to the multitude was not that the disciples were speaking an unknown language, unknown to all of them, what was amazing was that the disciples were speaking languages that they did not know before. Each disciple was speaking a language or more of one of the nations that were gathered there apart from his own. Example, if it was in South Africa at a flea market and you had some English speaking people there as well who could only speak English, the English speaking people would suddenly speak in Zulu, Xhosa, Tswana and so on. This would definitely amaze everyone. This is exactly what happened here.
The disciples were not speaking a tongue or a language that was out of this world that no human being could understand. They were simply speaking in other languages that they normally would not have known but these languages were normal human being languages. These were not spiritual or angelic languages. This is clear in verse 11 when people who gathered said we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.”
So, the gift hear is not a gift of speaking angelic or spiritual or alien languages but rather the gift is being able to speak a language that you did not know but now you can speak, because you are guided by the Holy Spirit for the sole purpose of advancing the word of God to people who would not have understood you if you spoke your own language.
Now there are three passages that in my view makes people to think that tongues are angelic, Godly or spiritual.
1 Corinthians 13:1 (ESVST)
1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
1 Corinthians 14:2 (ESVST)
For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit.
1 Corinthians 14:14 (ESVST)
For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful.
Now these verses are normally interpreted to mean that tongues can also be spiritual, angelic or Godly.
This is a wrong interpretation.
When Paul was speaking of tongues of men and of angels, this was a figure of speech. Paul is saying, even if you have a gift of speaking unknown languages, if you don’t have love, you are a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. Even if you had the gift of speaking angelic language, not that you do and not that you can receive such a gift, but let’s say you did, without love, you will still be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. This does not mean that tongues is an angelic language.
If a person speaks in tongues and there is no one that understand him, then the person is alone only speaking to God. He utters mysteries in the Spirit. The Spirit tells himself what to say, so he is uttering in Spirit. Remember also when the disciples were filled with the spirit, they spoke in tongues as the Holy Spirit gave them utterance. The same thing here, you will be utterng in the spirit, speaking a foreign human language, God will know what you are saying but no one else will. This does not mean tongues is a Godly language. It simply means that, if you were speaking Zulu to Afrikaans people, God will understand you but, no one else will.
Lastly, if you pray in a tongue, since it is the Holy Spirit giving you utterance, you will pray but your mind will not benefit at all unless you understand what you are saying. This does not mean that tongues is a spiritual language.
I do not believe that speaking in tongues is a language other than a normal human being spoken language. It is not angelic, Godly or spiritual in any way. Tongues or speaking in tongues is a gift by the Holy Spirit that allows you to speak in a language other than your own, that you would not have known for the sole purpose of advancing the word of God. Anything else is false doctrine. All these things that some pastors speak like these words I normally hear, “shabakaka”, “shabanaa” and “shabakuku” of this world are nothing but an invention geared towards deceiving the children of God.
If we allow people to continue to claim the so called speaking in godly, angelic or spiritual tongues, then we open a can of worms, since people will start to claim as they already do that God speaks to them, Jesus speaks to them and the Holy Spirit speaks to them. Someone told me that he can hear if it is God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit talking them, really? We stand a chance of these people claiming new revelations outside the bible which might or might not be in line with the current word of God. The bible in its current form is the standard by which all things will be judged to be of God or not.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 (ESVST)
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.