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What is Speaking in Tongues & Who Gets This Gift According to the Bible?

The Greek word translated tongues means” languages” and we first see this use of tongues in Acts 2. Speaking in tongues was a great miracle that we saw happening in stories of the new testament as followers of Jesus would find themselves talking in a language that they were not familiar with. This was a true gift that God gave to some believers as a means of sharing the gospel with those that spoke a different language, but unfortunately, some cult religions have distorted this amazing gift and say that the absence of it implies that one is not truly saved or a follower of Christ. As we are about to see, while this was a true gift from God,  it was not given to all believers.

Do some believers still get the gift of tongues today?

It’s debatable rather or not this gift of talking in tongues is still being given to believers today.

[1 Corinthians 13:8] “Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away”,

However I am not dogmatic on the idea that the time has already come for them to pass away, but I do hold firm to the idea that if the gift of speaking in tongues is still being given to believers, it would be performed in total agreement with the Scriptures.

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It would be a real and intelligible language:

[1 Corinthians 14:10] Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning.

It would be for the purpose of sharing the word of God with a person of another language:

[Acts 2:6-12] When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken.  Utterly amazed, they asked: “Aren’t all these who are speaking Galileans?  Then how is it that each of us hears them in our native language?  Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia,  Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs—we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”  Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, “What does this mean?”

It would be in complete agreement with the command God gave through the apostle Paul:

[1 Corinthians 14:27-28] “If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God”

What was the purpose of Speaking in Tongues?

More than anything else God cares about us and that none would perish and that all would believe in Christ and be saved. The purpose of speaking in tongues was all about God using us to share the Gospel of Christ to those that did not understand the language of the person delivering the message of Christ. In Acts 2, where we first see this gift of tongues, we can see the purpose and the result of the gift was so that many would be saved.

[Acts 2:41] Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.

So talking in tongues is all about bringing people of different cultures and languages to the saving knowledge of Christ crucified, risen, and as the Savior.

Do all Believers receive the Gift of Tongues?

First, I’ll say again that I am not 100% certain that the gift still exists today, but if it does then it’s important to know that all Christians do not, and never did (as a whole), acquire the gift. Cult religions such as the Pentecostal church will teach this false doctrine that every one that is saved will be able to speak in tongues as evidence of salvation, or to be blunt they would teach that the absence of this gift would mean you are hell bound, and your faith is a fraud. But as we take a look at the Scriptures we discover a different message from God that is in total conflict with this false teaching, which sadly has caused many true Christians to doubt their salvation because they did not possess this supernatural gift. The Scriptures clearly show us that not all have the gift and the Spirit gives gifts as He chooses, not as we choose. Some believers have the gift of knowledge, some healing, some wisdom, and some tongues, BUT the bible clearly says that He distributes these gifts as He chooses.

[1 Corinthians 12:1-11] Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed.  You know that when you were pagans, somehow or other you were influenced and led astray to mute idols.  Therefore I want you to know that no one who is speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus be cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them.  There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.  There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.

[1 Corinthians 12:7-11] Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdomto another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit,  to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spiritsto another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

And finally, while these gifts are very desirable, in the same letter we see Paul telling us that we each have our own gifts and we work together as a unified body of Christ. He even goes so far as to flat-out point out that not all are apostles, not all are teachers, not all can heal, and not all speak in tongues. That’s because only He determines who will receive specific gifts.

[1 Corinthians 12:27-31] Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.  And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues.  Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miraclesDo all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.

So in conclusion the gift of tongues is about bringing people to Christ. It should not be our measuring stick for salvation because God does not give this gift to all believers.  If you are looking for evidence of your salvation the right starting point is by asking yourself “what do I believe about Jesus?”

It is by faith we are saved, nothing else.

[Romans 10:13] “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

[Acts 2:21] And everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.

[Ephesians 2:8-9] For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—  not by works, so that no one can boast.

Author: Mike Cynar

Mike Cynar was raised in a church setting where he frequently noticed that many attendees would eventually drift away. The church labeled these individuals as ‘back sliders’ or ‘fake Christians’ just looking for ‘fire insurance’. However, Mike realized the issue was rarely with these individuals but instead with the church’s message itself. The teachings heavily emphasized behavior improvement and one’s flaws, with only a fleeting mention of one’s identity in Christ. It felt as though every sermon was tailored to the church of Corinth, who as we know or committing sins that even unbelievers don’t partake in. This trend was noticeable not just in one denomination, but across Baptist, Catholic, Pentecostal, and many other churches. Upon understanding the true essence of the gospel – that our righteousness comes from Jesus’ actions, not our own – Mike was inspired to liberate believers from lifeless sermons and reconnect them with the genuine teachings of Jesus. He believes that one can nurture a vibrant and growing bond with Jesus, unhindered by rigid religious practices. And thus, “Jesus Without Religion” was born.

It turns out that it is grace that leads to repentance. And if our heart is to get others to walk in the Spirit and live a godly life, then the best approach is not a beat down sermon, but rather to remind other that it is only when we understand our true identity in Christ that we will live it out. Yes, it’s true, if you’re convinced that God thinks you’re a dirty sinner, you will ultimately continue a lifestyle that mirrors that view, but if you truly believe that even on your worst day, you are called holy, sanctified, justified, and will be presented blameless in the end, well, it turns out this is the secret to living out on the outside what has been worked in to the inside.


  • Beau Lance Posted August 3, 2022 1:45 pm

    I grew up as a Baptist. I struggled with this issue for many years. I slandered those that claimed tongues, healing, prosperity…etc. I now speak in tongues or better described as paying in the Spirit. Let’s all drop the finger pointing at denominations. If you didn’t have a denomination would you still know how to be a a follower of Jesus? I asked myself that question many times and had some fearful realizations. At the least if you don’t have understanding about something don’t slander another person because they do. As James says if you need Wisdom just ask God who gives every good and perfect gift. Blessings

    • Mike C Posted August 3, 2022 2:17 pm

      I don’t think there’s pointing fingers at denominations. In this particular post it was pointing the finger at one specific one. Pentecost.

      In my younger years I attended many Pentecostal churches.

      What I saw was rather disturbing.

      There were people flopping on the floor (which you never see anywhere in scripture)

      People shaking and vibrating (which you never see anywhere in scripture)

      You literally had as many as 15 to 30 people speaking in tongues at the same time. Let me clarify, claiming to speak in tongues. And no one could translate a word they were saying, nor could anyone understand them.

      I don’t have a denomination. Denominations are man-made religions. I’m a follower of Christ. Denominations were not a thing in early Christianity.

      As a whole, I don’t take issue with most denominations. They’re just simply groups that divide Gods people simply because they can’t agree on every single line item of scripture. One group thinks you need to be water baptized to be saved, another group thinks you need to speak in tongues, another group thinks you need a second filling of the Holy Spirit, it never ends.

      And it was rather bold of you to say that I don’t have an understanding. Indeed, I’ve studied the issue deeply, and understand it very well.

      No one is arguing that the gift of tongues may or may not still exist. But I will absolutely say it is wildly abused, and I’m guessing likely by you as well. The Scriptures make it very clear, this gift is not for yourself edification. It is for the building up and sharing the gospel with others. If your claim is different, my friend, indeed you are in a cult.

      I hope that’s not the case. If the shoe fits…..

      But I can assure you, if you think you’re going to drop in on this channel and push this demonic message, it’s not happening.

      For anyone else who may be curious about this teaching, let me encourage you to check out a deeper explanation at this video we created

  • Antonio Posted October 11, 2023 1:00 pm

    Hi Mike, thanks for your content. I just came across it in researching other passages and thought it was a fruitful find. Found this post and wondered if you can speak/comment to the “spiritual language” in context to personal prayer. romans 8:26 speaks of Spirit interceding our ” groanings which cannot be uttered.” with so many interacting in such a way, I question the probability of just being a “human” language or language only to be understood. granted in personal prayer, we may be speaking a language that is known some where, but not ourselves, how does one reconcile the two? thanks for your insights.

    • Mike C Posted October 11, 2023 1:12 pm

      In personal prayer, we should use language just as would in our native language.

      I love Romans 8:26. Paul is basically saying we are humans, and God’s ways are far higher than ours. So much so we have no clue what we really need to be praying for. However, we are core still call to continually pray. But because of our humanity, when we do pray, keeping in mind that we have the spirit of Christ, living in us, he intercedes, and make sure that the prayer that God hears is as it should be. Crazy, huh? But equally awesome because we’re probably lifting up the best care possible for a specific needs and desires. By desires, I don’t mean our earthly desires. Scripture says we have new hearts with new desires. These are the desires of our new Spirit.

      The reason this cannot be uttered it’s because the language spirit brings to God is far beyond our comprehension.

      Hope that helps

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