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What are Tongues According to the Bible?

No, you do not have to speak in tongues in order to be saved. Sadly, there are groups like the Oneness Churches who wrongly teach that you must speak in tongues in order to be saved. Additionally, they maintain that speaking in tongues is a necessary sign of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit because in the Book of Acts after the Holy Spirit moves on people, they speak in tongues.

The problem with this position is that it fails to incorporate the Biblical teachings that the Holy Spirit gives different gifts to different people in the Church AND there are clear rules when tongues can be spoken. Never ALOUD where they are not understood by someone else like so many do in great error!

1 Cor. 12:7-11, 28-31, 1Co 12:7  But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. 8  For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; 9  To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 10  To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: 11  But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. 12  For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.  1Co 12:28  And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. 29  Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? 30  Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? 31  But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.

As you can see, not all have gifts of healings or tongues but all certainly have access to these individually for our own edification. Therefore, the idea that someone must speak in tongues to be saved is incorrect. It’s separate from salvation as is baptism, for example(an outward sign of an inward work/faith).

I first want to point out the following 3 verses as they are very important to the Christian walk.

Mark 16:16  He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not(OBEY NOT) shall be damned.

Mark 16:16  He that believethG4100 andG2532 is baptizedG907 shall be saved;G4982 butG1161 he that believeth notG569 shall be damned.G2632

You will see the verse above has 2 commands(truths) in it. The 1st believethG4100 means to simply believe.





From G4102; to have faith (in, upon, or with respect to, a person or thing), that is, credit; by implication to entrust (especially one’s spiritual well being to Christ): – believe (-r), commit (to trust), put in trust with.

Total KJV occurrences: 248

The second “believeth notG569” means to NOT OBEY!





From G571; to be unbelieving, that is, (transitively) disbelieve, or (by implication) disobey: – believe not.

Total KJV occurrences: 7

This truth alone kills the idea that so many preach today to their damnation. They preach that all you have to do is believe and not OBEY. How wrong are they! We must believe AND obey AND endure ‘til the end to be saved.

Matthew 24:13  But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

Matthew 13:13  And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

Biblical Tongues

Mar 16:17  And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;

What is a “tongue”?





Of uncertain affinity; the tongue; by implication a language (specifically one naturally unacquired): – tongue.

Total KJV occurrences: 50

Shall speak with new tongues – Shall speak other languages than their native language. This was remarkably fulfilled on the day of Pentecost, Acts 2:4-11.

Act 2:4  And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Act 2:5  And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.

Act 2:6  Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.

Act 2:7  And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?

Act 2:8  And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?

Act 2:9  Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia,

Act 2:10  Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes,

Act 2:11  Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.

This is not something that is spoken “on-demand” as most false pentecostal/charismatic churches teach today! It’s divinely inspired from GOD to edify other who can understand what is being said!

Act 19:1  And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: and finding certain disciples,

Act 19:2  He said unto them, Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? And they said unto him, We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.

Act 19:3  And he said unto them, Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said, Unto John’s baptism.

Act 19:4  Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.

Act 19:5  When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

Act 19:6  And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied.

V 6 “They spake with tongues, and prophesied” – They received the miraculous gift of different languages; and in those languages they taught to the people the great doctrines of the Christian religion; for this appears to be the meaning of the word προεφητευον, prophesied, as it is used above.

We can see again the meaning it to teach/prophesy/edify others. Not some vain babblings in some “tongue” that is unknown to others. The hearers heard clearly in their OWN language.

1Co 14:39  Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.

But WHY? Teaching & edifying!

Covet to prophesy – Let it be your endeavor and prayer to be able to teach the way of God to the ignorant; this is the most valuable, because the most useful gift of the Spirit. This is the “summing up” of all that he had said. It was “desirable” that a man should wish to be able to speak, under the teaching of the Holy Spirit, in such a manner as to edify the church.

Watch here VERY carefully! One can pray in an unknown tongue (this is the ONLY place in the bible that speaks to this, NEVER in public where others can hear or an interpreter is present (and then the limit is 2 or three).

1Co 14:14  For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.

“For if I pray in an unknown tongue” – If my prayers are composed of sentences and sayings taken out of the prophets, etc., and in their own language – my spirit prayeth, my heart is engaged in the work, and my prayers answer all the purpose of prayers to myself; but my understanding is unfruitful to all others, because they do not understand my prayers, and I either do not or cannot interpret them.

1Co 14:15  What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.

1Co 14:16  Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?

1Co 14:17  For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified.

1Co 14:18  I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all:

1Co 14:19  Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.

“Yet in the church” – In the Christian assembly. The word “church” does not refer to the “edifice” where Christians worshipped, but to the organized body of Christians.

“I had rather …” – It is probable that in the Christian assembly, usually, there were few who understood foreign languages. Paul, therefore, would not speak in a foreign language(tongue) when its only use would be mere display. The apostate church is a sad DISPLAY as the babble in unknown tongues they conjure up frivolously and unbiblically!

With my understanding” – So as to be intelligible to others; so that I might understand it, and so that at the same time others might be benefitted.

1Co 14:20  Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.

1Co 14:21  In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord.

1Co 14:22  Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.

1Co 14:23  If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?

1Co 14:24  But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all:

1Co 14:25  And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.

1Co 14:26  How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.

1Co 14:27  If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret.

1Co 14:28  But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.

1Co 14:29  Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.

1Co 14:30  If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace.

1Co 14:31  For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.

1Co 14:32  And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.

1Co 14:33  For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

So much confusion comes in here when the apostate church misuses “groanings which cannot be uttered“ in Romans 8:26.

Romans 8:26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.

With groanings – “With sighs, or that deep feeling and intense anxiety which exists in the oppressed and burdened heart of the Christian.
Which cannot be uttered – Or rather, perhaps, which is not uttered; those emotions which are too deep for utterance, or for expression in articulate language. This does not mean that the Spirit produces these groanings; but that in these deep-felt emotions, when the soul is oppressed and overwhelmed, he lends us his assistance and sustains us. The phrase may be thus translated: “The Spirit greatly aids or supports us in those deep emotions, those intense feelings, those inward sighs which cannot be expressed in language, but which he enables us to bear, and which are understood by Him that searcheth the hearts.” [Albert Barnes]

Romans 8:27  And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

Jude 1:20  But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost.

Ephesians 6:18  Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints. We must always be listening for HIM to guide us.

To conclude, it’s true, there are false gifts of tongues from the devil and several occult groups practice them including so many pentecostal(like “assemblies of god”) and charismatic “Christian” churches. The “drunk in the spirit”, “slain in the spirit”, etc heresies are satan’s ways to counterfeit the real thing. However, these false tongues do not edify and are really more of a chant and demonic impartation. Another typical example would be the “mantra” in Transcendental Meditation. These tongues are inspired by the devil, not the Holy Spirit. We never need fear receiving anything false from the Lord if we are seeking our gift from Him.

Jesus bless you as you serve HIM in obedience with your hands to the plow enduring ‘til the end.