Speaking in Tongues

By Royce Frederick

“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4). Were these actual languages which conveyed a message, OR were they merely streams of vocal sounds which could not be understood?

Acts 2:5-6 reveals that they were actual languages: “And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language.

From the VIEWPOINT of the APOSTLES, these were “other tongues” foreign languages which were unknown to the apostles. The ancestral language of the apostles was Hebrew. Aramaic (sometimes called Hebrew) and Greek were the languages widely spoken in Israel in the first century A.D. But the apostles suddenly spoke in many other languages. On this day, they needed to communicate very clearly, because this was a message of eternal importance. How could these apostles from lowly Galilee suddenly speak fluently in other languages which they had not studied?

From the VIEWPOINT of the HEARERS, these were “our own tongues” — their own native languages. “‘Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, ‘Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs; we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God’” (Acts 2:7-11). ALL of the people heard a CLEAR, POWERFUL MESSAGE in their OWN language!

The miracle of speaking in other languages:

ENABLED the gospel to spread quickly and accurately to all nations and ethnic groups (see Matt. 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; Eph. 4:7-16).

CONFIRMED the gospel message (Mk. 16:17; Heb. 2:3-4) during the infancy of the church, while the New Testament was being written.

CEASED (ended) after the New Testament was completely written (see 1 Cor. 13:8-10; Js. 1:25; Jn. 16:12-13; 2 Pet. 1:3; Jude 3).

Speaking in tongues was a miraculous gift from Jesus to the church in its infancy. Like the miraculous creation of the world in Genesis 1 and 2, speaking in tongues accomplished its purposes, and we are still receiving benefits from it today:

We now have the entire Bible — the complete, confirmed revelation from God!

The church had a powerful beginning, and it is still growing throughout the world!