SPEAKING IN UNKNOWN TONGUES

A God-given Spiritual Manifestation of the SPIRIT? 
Or, a Carnal Physical Display of the FLESH?

Million of Pentecostals and Charismatics (not to mention other Protestant and Catholic tongues speakers) claim to possess a gift from God which enables them to "speak in unknown tongues." What is the Scriptural truth regarding this popular Christian doctrine which is claimed to be a primary proof that one either does or does not possess God’s Holy Spirit?

That there are millions of such sincere people desirous of worshiping God in truth as they understand it, I have no doubt. However, the truth will always set us free, so shouldn’t we desire the truth at all cost? Is it possible that what appears to many on the surface to be a marvelous blessing from God is in reality nothing more than a physical display of the carnal flesh? It behooves all tongues-speakers to read this paper carefully and prayerfully, with an open mind and an open Bible. If modern tongue-talking is not of God, then those who do it are not free, but in bondage, and as such will never be free or grow in God’s Truth.

TRYING THE SPIRITS

I John 4:1 tells us:

"Beloved, believe not every spirit, but TRY THE SPIRITS whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world."

Notice that we are to "try the spirits" because there are "false prophets" in the world. Therefore, it is axiomatic that the words of these false prophets are also false. What then are "true spirits"?

"Sanctify them through Your [the Father’s] truth: YOUR WORD IS TRUTH" (John 17:17.)

Next, where did Jesus get His "words?"

"Believe you not that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? The WORDS that I speak unto you I speak not of Myself, but the Father that dwells in Me, he does the works" (John 14:10.)

So the Father’s words are truth, and Jesus speaks the Father’s words. Now notice what kind of words Jesus speaks:

"It is the spirit that quickens [gives life]; the flesh profits nothing: the WORDS that I speak unto you, THEY [the ‘words’] ARE SPIRIT, and they are life" (John 6:63.)

And so we try the spirits by testing the words of Christ against those of the prophets to see whether the words of a prophet are true or false. THAT, my friends is how we try the spirits, not by looking into someone’s eyes to see if they are demon possessed or not.

One more important point we want to make in trying the spirits by using Christ’s words of spirit, and that is to see whether the Apostles spoke these same spirit words of truth.

Here is the admonition of Paul regarding how and what we teach:

"If any man teach otherwise, and consent not to the wholesome words, even the WORDS OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, and to the doctrine which is according to godliness; he is proud, knowing nothing" (I Tim. 6:3-4.)

By using the words of the Apostles and the words of Christ, we will be using the very words of the Father, and against these SPIRIT WORDS can be tried all spirits—all prophets. With this simple and profound principle firmly in mind, let us proceed to try the spirits of tongue-talkers.

THE ONLY THREE EXAMPLES OF SPEAKING IN TONGUES

Of the 20 times "tongues" is used with reference to a gift from God, there are only three examples of anyone actually speaking in another language:

[1] "And they were all [the 120 disciples of Christ] filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues [languages] as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own LANGUAGE.

And they were all amazed and marveled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak, Galileans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue [language/dialect], wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and the strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God" (Acts 2:7-11.)

Keep in mind that they spoke of: "the wonderful works of God"

[2] "For they heard them [the Gentile house of Cornelius] speak with tongues, and magnify God" (Acts 10:46.)

Keep in mind that they heard: "God magnified"

[3] "And when Paul had laid his hands upon them [Gentile Ephesians], the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke with tongues [languages], and prophesied" (Acts 19:6.)

Keep in mind that they: "prophesied—that’s inspired speaking from God"

There are no other examples of anyone supernaturally speaking in a language, in all Scripture. Also, let it be known that there is no known proof of any persons since the time of these miracles in the first century Church of Christ speaking in any of these above mentioned languages, or any other known modern language in which they had no prior formal training.

CLARIFYING SOME VERY IMPORTANT WORDS

The King James term "unknown tongue" is itself part of the confusion over understanding this doctrine.

First, the word "unknown":

Is there even such a thing as an "unknown" tongue in the Scriptures? No, there isn’t. Although most modern translations have dropped the word "unknown" from the phrase "unknown tongue," the King James retains it, and is therefore still looked upon as authority for the use of this unscriptural term.

The erroneous term "unknown tongue" is used but six times in the King James (I Cor. 14:2, 4, 13, 14, 19, & 27,) and in every instance, the word unknown is in italics, signifying that the original Greek manuscripts did not contain this or any such word. It was erroneously added by the translators and should be taken out. It only adds more confusion to this little-understood doctrine.

Hence, in our discussion we will not be using this unscriptural word.

Second, the words "tongue & tongues":

The word translated both "tongue" and "tongues" is the Greek word glossa and aside from meaning the organ of the body used in speaking, it means "a language." It is used in the plural (tongues,) with reference to supernaturally speaking in a language (a foreign language,) a total of 20 times, but only in Acts and I Corinthians. Where glossa is not a supernatural gift, it is clearly used to represent a known language, as in Rev. 10:11, 13:7 & 17:15 where some combination of "…peoples, and multitudes, and nations and tongues [Gk: glossa—languages]…" is used.

So, in our discussion we will use the proper translation, "language or languages," in place of the archaic and somewhat ambiguous term "tongue."

So clearly the disciples spoke in languages on Pentecost, and thereafter we have two examples of Gentiles speaking in languages. All remaining references to languages (as a gift from God) are discussed by Paul in I Cor. 12, 13, and 14, and nowhere else.

(Note: the statement in Mark 16:17, which states in part: "…they shall speak with new tongues" is part of what is called, "The Longer Ending of Mark," and is not found among the oldest Greek Manuscripts. Others contain it, but make notation that it is "questionable." It is also clear that the Apostles did NOT speak with "NEW tongues" 50 days later on Pentecost, because we have this undeniable statement of Scripture stating that: "…we do hear them speak in OUR languages the wonderful words of God".)

Now we know that the languages of the Medes, Cretes, Asians, Elamites, Parthians, Egyptians, Arabians, etc., spoken on Pentecost were anything but "new tongues," as these tongues/languages are old as the hills.) And we know that the Scriptures do not contradict, so it is absurd for any tongue-talkers to use this very questionable verse as justification for babbling something they may contend is a "new" or different kind of language promised by Jesus.

THE PURPOSE AND PRINCIPLES FOR SPEAKING IN LANGUAGES

[1] Speaking in a language is ALWAYS a special sign for an unbeliever to hear a message in his own language, not a sign for believers:

"Wherefore languages are for a SIGN, not to them that believe, but to them that believe NOT…" (I Cor. 14:22.)

[2] Speaking in a language must ALWAYS edify the Church:

"I would that you all spoke with languages, but rather that you prophesied [that means to give an inspired message of God]: for greater is he that prophesies than he that speaks with languages, except he interpret, that the church may receive EDIFYING" (I Cor. 14:5.)

[3] Speaking in a language ALWAYS requires that [a] no more than 2 or 3 speak on the same occasion, that they [b] speak one at a time, that there has already been someone selected who knows how to [c] interpret the languages to be spoken, and if no interpreter can be found, then they [d] cannot speak in the church:

"If any man speak in a language, let it be by two, or [a] at the most by three, and that [b] by course [one at a time], and [c] let one interpret. But if there be no interpreter, let him [d] keep silence in the church" (I Cor. 14:27-28.)

Keep these points in mind as we proceed through the Scriptures on this subject.

THE GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT VERSUS A MORE EXCELLENT WAY

In I Cor. 12 we read of two lists of "spiritual gifts" from God. And before listing them, Paul clearly tells us:

"But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal" (Verse 7.)

There must be a "profit" or "contribution to all" as the Greek bears out, from these gifts. As we will see conclusively proved from Scripture, speaking in a language is never ever to be a physical spectacle for self-aggrandizement of the flesh.

"For to one is given [not to ‘all’, but to certain ones only] by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit: To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy [inspired speaking]; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues [languages]; to another the interpretation" (I Cor. 12:8-10.)

In verse 28 Paul gives us another list of gifts:

"And God has set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healing, helps, governments, diversities of languages."

WHAT ARE "DIVERSITIES OF LANGUAGES?"

I will now show you a truth that I doubt any have heard before, and yet it is right before our eyes, albeit hidden in the obscure translation of the King James Version.

Can we know for sure, just exactly WHAT these "diversities of languages were which Paul tells us are "the manifestation of the Spirit?" Is it even within the realm of possibility that the gift of these languages could be totally different languages than those spoken by the different nationalities around the world?

In I Cor. 12:4 we read of "diversities of gifts." In verse 6 we read of "diversities of operations." Both times the word "diversities" is translated from the Greek word diairesis, and it means "variety." And so the word "diversities" is a perfectly fine word to translate it.

But in I Cor. 12:10 we read of: "diverse kinds of languages." In verse 28 we read of: "diversities of languages." And in I Cor. 14:10 we read of: "many kinds of voices [sayings, languages.]"

Now, get ready for this: All three words "kinds, diversities, & kinds" in the above three verses are from the same one Greek word (#1085, genos.) Does the word "genos" have a familiar sound to you? How about words like "geno-cide," "gen-eration," "gen-ealogy," and "gen-ius," The English words "kind" and "diversities," do not at all convey the way that this word genos is used in Scripture.

Here is how Dr. Strong defines this word—#1085:

"genos, kin, born, country, diversity, generation, kind, nation, offspring, stock." (I underlined certain words in Strong’s definition for a profound purpose.

Here is how "context" translates the Greek word genos in other Scriptures:

Mark 7:26—"The woman was a Greek, a Syrophenician by nation [Gk: genos]…" In this verse it could have just correctly been translated "birth," but "diversity" or "kind" would never suit.

Acts 4:6—"And Annas the high priest, and Caiaphas, and John, and Alexander, and as many as were of the kindred [Gk genos] of the high priest…" Again, "diversity" or "kind" would not suit in this verse.

Acts 4:36b—"…The son of consolation, a Levite, and of the country [Gk: genos] of Cyprus." "Diversity" or "kind" could never be used here.

II Cor. 11:26—"In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen [Gk: genos]…" These were real PEOPLE that Paul was in peril of.

Gal. 1:14—"And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation [Gk: genos]…" Here genos speaks of nation or nationality.

Rev. 22:16b—"I am the root and the offspring [Gk: genos] of David…" Also "offspring" in Acts 17:28 & 29.

I Pet. 2:9—"But you are a chosen generation [Gk: genos], a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people…" Notice the company that genos keeps in this verse: "generation, priesthood, nation, people."

Phil. 3:5—"Circumcised the eighth day, of the stock [Gk: genos] of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, an Hebrew…" Notice the company that genos keeps in this verse: the stock of the nation Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, of the much larger clan of Hebrews.

Surely a blind man can see that genos carries the primary connotation of that which deals with: "where we were born, our offspring, kindred, country, stock, countrymen, nation, and generation."

So just what "kinds," "diversities," and "kinds" (genos, genos, and genos) of languages is God telling us of in I Cor. 12:10b, 28b & 14:10? Is He speaking of hocus-pocus, idiotic, gibberish in unknown tongues? OF COURSE NOT.

And surely a blind man can see that this spiritual gift was a gift of "GENOS LANGUAGES"—The real, working, every day languages dealing with genos which is translated throughout the New Testament as: "where one was born, offspring, kindred, country, stock, countrymen, nation, and generation." Which languages would also have to include different dialects and regional jargons. An impossible task for any human, but no problem for the Spirit of God.

This is why Paul boldly stated: "I thank my God, I speak with languages MORE than ye all" (I Cor. 14:18.) Paul traveled through dozens and dozens of villages, towns, cities and states, countries and kingdoms. He spoke with kings and peasants—among the very same "every nation under heaven" spoken of in Acts 2.

DO ALL SPEAK WITH LANGUAGES?

In I Cor. 12:29-30, we are told something amazing—something that totally contradicts the tongues-speakers claim that the gift of speaking in languages is absolutely necessary as a proof that one actually has God’s Holy Spirit:

"Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? Do all speak with languages? Do all interpret?" (Verse 29-30.)

Actually these are not even questions in the Greek, but rather statements of fact. Notice the following translations:

"Not all [are] Apostles. Not all [are] prophets, Not all [are] teachers. Not all [have] powers. Not all [have] the graces of healing. NOT all are speaking languages, Not all are interpreting" (Concordant Literal New Testament)

"All are not Apostles; all are not Prophets; all are not Teachers; all are not Powers; all have not Gifts of Cures; all do NOT speak in different Languages; all do not interpret" (Emphatic Diaglott.)

There is no need to place a question mark after these statements of fact. Obviously not "all" are apostles, and likewise, "all do NOT speak in different languages."

And furthermore, Paul already told us in verses 8-10, that to ONE is given this gift and to ANOTHER a different gift, but not all get all the gifts. Speaking in a language is not the only sign of one having God’s Holy Spirit.

Then after giving us two separate lists of spiritual gifts, Paul tell us this:

"But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet show I unto you A MORE EXCELLENT WAY" (I Cor. 12:31.)

What could be more excellent than any or all of these gifts of the Holy Spirit? Answer: LOVE!

"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity [love] , I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I AM NOTHING. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profits me nothing.

Charity [love] suffers long [is patient], and is kind; charity envies not [is not jealous]; charity vaunts not itself [doesn’t brag or boast], is not puffed up, does not behave itself unseemly [not immoral], seeks not her own, is not easily provoked, thinks no evil; rejoices not in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things [all God’s Truths] hopes all things [that are promised in God’s Word], endures all things. CHARITY NEVER FAILS…"

DID PAUL SPEAK THE LANGUAGES OF ANGELS?

And so, spiritual gifts are fine, but LOVE is the "MORE excellent way." Some, however, go so far as to suggest that the language that Paul and tongue-talkers speak is: "the tongues/languages… of angels" (Cor. 13:1.) Paul absolutely never claimed to speak in any such thing as the "languages of angels." Here is what he said, and the reason I underlined it above:

"Though… I speak with the tongues [languages] of men AND ANGELS…"

Well we know that he did speak with the languages of men, but he adds, "AND angels," which he decidedly did not do, hence the word "though." The word "though" in this context means "suppose." It is a supposition, not a fact.

Paul also said, "though… I have… ALL knowledge," but did he? No."though I have… ALL faith," but did he? No. "though I… give my body to be BURNED" but did he? Obviously not—Paul was beheaded in Rome. And no, he never spoke with the languages of angels either—it was a hypothetical statement made to prove a point.

PAUL EXPLAINS THE PROPER USE OF THE GIFT OF LANGUAGES

"Follow after LOVE, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that you may prophesy [speak under inspiration of God’s Spirit.] For he that speaks in a tongue speaks not unto men, but unto God: for NO MAN UNDERSTANDS HIM; howbeit in the spirit he speaks mysteries" (I Cor. 14:1-2.)

Paul told the Corinthians that [1] they should desire spiritual gifts, [2] for the purpose of prophesying, because [3] no one understands what he is saying if he speaks in a language. So is it a good thing to speak in a language if no one understands you? NO, of course not. Next Paul says, "BUT…" But what? If speaking in a language is not a good thing to do if no man understands what you are saying, then WHAT IS GOOD? Well, Paul answers:

"BUT he that prophesies [is inspired of God to speak in the language of the congregation] speaks unto men to EDIFICATION, and EXHORTATION, and COMFORT [consolation]" (Ver. 3.)

NOW THAT’S A GOOD THING TO DO!

Paul continues in Verse 4:

"He that speaks in a tongue [language] edifies himself [well that’s a selfish thing to do!] BUT he that prophesies [is inspired to teach by God’s Spirit in the language of the congregation] edifies THE CHURCH [now that’s the unselfish thing to do.]"

Paul again admonishes them by saying:

"I would that you all spoke with tongues, BUT RATHER [here is Paul’s instructions as to HOW this gift is to be properly used] that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesies than he that speaks with languages, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying" (Verse 5.)

Now Paul gives us the one "exception" clause which will put "speaking in a language" on equal footing with "prophesying"—that is inspired teaching in our own language. And what is that one thing that is absolutely necessary for speaking in a language to be acceptable in the congregation of God’s Church? Someone must be able to INTERPRET what the person said in a foreign language. What if there is no interpreter present?

"But if there be no interpreter, LET HIM KEEP SILENCE IN THE CHURCH" (verse 28.)

There you have it. Speaking in tongues is fine, IF, and only if, "except he INTERPRET" so that the whole church receives "edification, exhortation, and consolation." This teaching is clear. This teaching is simple. There is no misunderstanding Paul’s admonition. Yet how many will OBEY Paul’s admonition?

THE MESSAGE MUST BE UNDERSTANDABLE TO ALL

Next, notice what Paul instructs us in verse 6:

"Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with languages, what shall it profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?"

If your teaching is not by revelation, knowledge, prophesying, or doctrine, "what shall it profit you," Paul asks? Nothing else is acceptable. But is this what the tongue-speakers of the world are actually doing? Are they speaking to the entire congregation by "revelation, knowledge, prophesying, or doctrine," or are they babbling gibberish into the air, in which case NO ONE IS EDIFIED? And the whole endeavor is but an exhibition of the FLESH?

Paul continues:

"And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped? For if the trumpet gives an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?" (Verses 7-8.)

Having been in the Army for four years, let me explain this: If an army is preparing for battle, and they are all waiting for the trumpet to sound the charge, but instead, the trumpeter sounds "taps," then instead of charging the enemy, the army will GO TO SLEEP! It is necessary that the trumpet make the proper sound. Nor is preparation for battle the time for a trumpeter to be practicing on his horn. It is likewise, necessary for one who speaks in a language, to be understood.

Paul attempts to make it ever clearer:

"So likewise you, except you utter by the language words easy to understand, how shall it be known what is spoken? For you shall speak into the air" (Verse 9.)

Is that the way you tongues-speakers wish to glorify your Lord and Saviour? By speaking nonsense into the air?

I have personally heard such nonsense on a couple of occasions. I wanted to experience this "tongue-talking" first hand. Twenty years ago I attended several weekly Sunday services in a very large Atlanta Pentecostal Church, which was replete with a full philharmonic orchestra. It was a beautiful church. And each week at least one person would burst out in an "unknown" tongue. I say, "unknown," for truly this was not the language of any people on this earth.

In each case, the lead Pastor pretended to interpret what the tongue-speaker had babbled. I acquired a tape of the day’s service, and I listened to both the speaker and the interpreter over and over, very carefully. The tongues-speaker started with a long rhythmical phrase which was precisely repeated several times throughout her exhibition. The Pastor then interpreted. He had a very precise interpretation for the first long rhythmical phrase, and although this same phrase repeated itself several more times, the Pastor never gave it the same interpretation as in the opening phrase. Hmmm?

Verse 10: "There are, it may be, so many kinds [Gk: genos] of voices [disclosure, saying, or language] in the world, and none of them is without signification [none is dumb or mute]. Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice [language], I shall be unto him that speaks [we speak in languages] a barbarian [foreigner], and he that speaks shall be a barbarian [foreigner] unto me."

This couldn’t be clearer. Paul is saying that if we don’t understand a language spoken to us by someone foreign to us, we become foreigners to each other.

Verse 12: "Even so [in the very same way] ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church."

All these gifts are all about edifying the church, not making a spectacle of ourselves, in our flesh.

Verse 13-14: "Wherefore let him that speaks in a language pray that he may interpret." For if [a supposition, not a fact, same as though in previous chapter] I pray in a language, my spirit prays, but my understanding [my mind] is UNFRUITFUL."

And Paul tells us to "have no fellowship with the UNFRUITFUL works of darkness" (Eph. 5:11.) So even if one had the gift of languages, he should NOT speak without an interpretation, because it is "unfruitful" (ver. 14,) it is just praying to "himself" (ver. 4,) it does not "edify, exhort or comfort" (ver. 3,) it is not "by revelation, knowledge, prophesying, or doctrine" (ver. 6,) it is not a "distinct sound," (ver. 7,) for one merely "speaks into the air," (ver. 9,) you are like a "barbarian" to whom you speak (verse 11,) therefore, "If there be no interpreter, let him keep SILENCE in the Church…"

Verse 15: "What is it then? [How should it be done?]. I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding [the mind] also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding [the mind] also. Else when you shall bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupies the room of the unlearned [uninformed] say A-men at your giving of thanks, seeing he understands NOT WHAT YOU SAY? For you verily give thanks well [that is if you truly are speaking in a foreign language, and not just some gibberish] but the other is NOT EDIFIED."

There is just no Scriptural excuse for speaking or praying at a church service in a language if there is NO INTERPRETER PRESENT—YOU ARE NOT TO DO IT.

Verse 18: "I thank my God, I speak with languages more than ye all."

Yes, of course, Paul visited many many countries and cities wherein were many "genos"languages. Although Greek was spoken by many people throughout the Roman Empire, there were, nonetheless, many families, clans, tribes, villages, towns, cities, and states in which all of the languages spoken at Pentecost in Jerusalem (Acts 2:1-11,) plus many more.

Verse 19: "Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understand [mind] that, by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in a language."

Can all of you tongue-talkers say "Amen" to that admonition? Would you honestly and truly "RATHER speak five words with your understanding mind, than ten thousand words in a language?"

Need I remind anyone that, "…all LIARS shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone: which is the second death?"

Verse 20: "Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be you children, but in understanding be men."

Paul is saying; Brethren, please don’t desire to speak ten thousand words in a language for the purpose of turning a gift of God into a display of the flesh. Rather speak just a few words in the Church, but speak them with real meaning and understanding.

And remember Paul is speaking to those who have the gift of speaking in FOREIGN LANGUAGES, not in speaking gibberish that HAS NO INTERPRETATION!

Verse 21: "In the law it is written, With men of other languages and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear Me, says the Lord"

God drove His people into captivity where they spoke "another language," the Assyrian language. Yet they didn’t comprehend why God did this to them. They could not equate their sins with their unfortunate dilemma. In Israel’s disbelief they didn’t understand the reason that they were captives in nations of other languages. Those foreign languages did not speak to their hearts.

Vast numbers of Christians place the highest possible value on their doctrines of "speaking in tongues." It is to them the surest PROOF that they possess and are filled with the very Spirit of God. Oh really? But what saith the Scriptures:

"Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both their’s and our’s. Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ. That in every thing ye are enriched by Him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge.

Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: So that YOU CAME BEHIND IN NO GIFT, WAITING FOR THE COMING OF OUR lord Jesus Christ" (I Cor. 1:1-7.)

However… HOWEVER, despite all these wonderful gifts from God, here was the real spiritual condition of most Corinthian believers:

"And I, brethren [the brethren of the whole church] could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes [‘be not children in understanding’ I Cor. 3:1] in Christ. I have fed you with milk [all their ‘enrichment in utterance and knowledge’ Paul calls ‘MILK’] and not with meat [speaking in languages is milk, not meat] for hereto ye [the word ‘ye’ means ‘ALL of you’] were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. For ye are YET CARNAL… are ye not carnal, and walk as men?" (I Cor. 3:1-4.)

The Corinthians came behind in NO GIFT—hey DID speak in languages, but that gift did no more cause them to "hear Me" [God,] than if they had not been given this gift. One who did not possess the gift of languages could still be a very spiritually mature believer, and one who did possess this gift of languages could be "YET carnal."

Here’s the bottom line: The Corinthians "came behind in no gift," which included the gift of "utterance and knowledge." Yet, Paul says they were "babes on milk" that they were "not able to bear spiritual meat." And Paul admonished them: "Brethren, be not CHILDREN IN UNDERSTANDING," for that is exactly what they were—spiritual CHILDREN, and not mature men. And worse yet, they "were YET CARNAL." Just as Israel did not spiritually benefit when God spoke to them "with other lips [languages,]" neither did the Corinthians mature out of spiritual childhood even though God not only spoke TO them, but also spoke THROUGH them by the miracle gift of "genos [the languages, tongues, and dialects, of many nationalities] languages."

And lest anyone believe that to be "yet carnal" merely means to be not quite spiritually mature yet, let’s read Paul’s own definition of "carnal":

"For to be carnally minded is DEATH… because the carnal mind is enmity [‘hostility, opposition, hatred’ against God] for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be" (Rom. 8:6a & 7.)

Continuing in Verse 22: "Wherefore, languages are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying [inspired teaching and preaching] serves not for them that believe not, but for them which believe."

Paul says that "languages are a sign to nonbelievers." But how many times do Pentecostal tongue-talkers use this gift on nonbelievers, rather than among themselves which all believe. Just how is this a sign to believers? Then why would any wish to use this gift of languages among believers?

Verse 23-25: "If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with languages [all at the same time], and there come in those that are unlearned or unbelievers, will they not say that YE ARE MAD [CRAZY]? But if all prophesy [‘by COURSE’—one at a time, Ver. 27], and there come in one that believes not, or one unlearned, he is convinced by all, he is judged by all: 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."

Now here we have a real spiritual accomplishment. A sinner coming to true repentance and acknowledgement of the goodness of God. And what has brought about this accomplishment of God’s Spirit? Speaking in languages? NO. Prophesying or speaking the inspired word of God with the understanding of the MIND, that’s what. But today’s tongue-talkers don’t even speak in genos languages. Does anyone really believe that chattering jabbers of gobbledygook, sputtering stammering stutter, or babbling a bunch of burble, will truly convert anyone?

Even worse are the public displays of this false doctrine on international television. Many times you will see world renowned preachers and teachers break out in the middle of their sermons or talks with incoherent bursts of babbling burbles, and then continue on speaking. Next time you hear such a shameful display of the flesh, remember the following points:

  • This is NOT one of the genos languages spoken by the early Apostles.

  • It is NOT by or from inspiration of God.

  • All non-believers are NOT understanding what is being babbled.

  • The babbler is NOT following any admonition or instruction of the Scripture.

  • There is NOT an interpreter present to interpret this babbling burble.

  • Therefore, NOT even the believers understand what is being babbled.

  • This is NOT spiritually speaking in a real language, but is rather a vanity-filled demonstration and exhibition of the carnal FLESH!

Verses 26:28: "How is it then, brethren? [‘Well, my brothers, let’s add up what I am saying’ The Living Bible] When ye come together, every one of you has a psalm, has a doctrine, has a language, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done unto EDIFYING."

If "all things" done in any church do not "EDIFY" the entire body of believers, then what is being done is wrong and a sin.

If any man [‘any man’—‘Let you women keep SILENCE in the churches, for it is NOT PERMITTED for them to speak’ Verse 34, {not even in their own language}] speak in a language, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course [orderly: one at a time]; and let one interpret. But if there be no interpreter, let him KEEP SILENCE IN THE CHURCH; and let him speak to himself, and to God"

EVERY single word of every single language spoken in the congregation must be INTERPRETED, or let EVERY single tongue-talker "keep SILENCE in the church."

Let the prophets [inspired speakers] speak two or three, and let the other judge. If any thing be revealed to another that sits by, let the first hold his peace [keep silent]. For ye may all prophesy ONE BY ONE, that all may LEARN, and ALL may be comforted. And the spirits of the prophets are SUBJECT TO THE PROPHETS. For God is not the author of CONFUSION, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints…

Paul’s instructions are clear: "ALL prophesying [inspired speaking of any kind, must be done…] …ONE by ONE." Is this always the way it is done in tongue-talking churches? And the reason given is so that "all may learn."

Next, a very important point: "The SPIRITS of the prophets are SUBJECT to the prophets." But is this the case within Charismatic and Pentecostal tongues-speaking churches? Or is it not rather the other way around, and the people themselves are subject to "the spirits" that control their shameful exhibitions?

Most do not know what they are saying, what they are praying, what they are singing, or how shamefully they are behaving. Why they even fall over BACKWARD in the presence of their god! In all cases in the Scriptures of anyone paying homage to anyone, (be it a lord, king, or God Himself,) it was done by "falling on one’s FACE," (Abraham, Gen. 17:3 to Jesus, Matt. 26:39,) never by falling over backward.

Who ever heard of "falling over BACKWARD" to pay homage to a dignitary? Why, such an abomination is ‘not so much as named among the Gentiles,’ that one should blaspheme God in paying homage by falling over BACKWARD in His presence! Just who is "subject" to whom, in such a disgusting carnival sideshow exhibition of the flesh?

And just what kind of "spirits" are we talking about here? Since "GOD is not the author of confusion in these churches." These are "spirits of confusion."

This doctrine of "unknown tongues" IS "confusion" and it is more; it is "an idol of the heart" and the two go hand in hand:

"They shall be ashamed, and also confounded, all of them: they shall go to CONFUSION together that are makers of IDOLS" (Isa. 45:16—also see Ezek. 14:3-7.)

HAS THE GIFT OF LANGUAGES CEASED?

I have heard the argument used that if speaking in languages as a gift from God is not for us today, then neither are "prophecies" and "knowledge." But as both the gifts of prophesying and knowledge are still in use in the church, so also is the gift of languages. Ahhh, but, there is a mystery revealed in these verses if we have the spiritual mind to see it:

"Charity [love] NEVER FAILS [Gk: ekpipto, never become inefficient]: But whether there be prophecies they shall fail [Gk: katargeo—be rendered useless, vanish away, make void, nullify, be discarded, etc.]: whether there be languages, they shall cease [Gk: pauo—to stop, quit, desist, come to an end]; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away [Gk: katargeo—same as for prophecies]… and now abides faith, hope, charity [love], these three; but the greatest of these is charity" (I Cor. 13:1,8,13.)

  • Love = never fails (ekpipto) [never lapses]

  • Prophesying = shall fail (katargeo) [be discarded]

  • Languages = shall cease (pauo) [will cease]

  • Knowledge = vanish away (katargeo) [be discarded]

What can we learn here? Well we can eliminate the first one, Love, for it will never fail. But notice the next three, prophesying, languages and knowledge do come to an eventual end, but apparently in different ways. And this is clearly seen by the use of different Greek words. Paul obviously said that prophesying would katargeo, and knowledge would also katargeo, but had a different take on what would happen to languages, as he said they would pauo rather than katargeo.

Why is that? Why do prophesying & knowledge come to one kind of an end, but languages comes to a different kind of a end? It is because God has two different purposes for prophesying & knowledge, and languages.

The answer is found in the usage of the two words: katargeo and pauo. The King James Translators partly saw the answer, but they were not consistent (obviously so, they translated the very same Greek word, katargeo two different ways in the very same verse.) They rightly stated that languages shall cease, but they saw how katargeo is used many times in Scripture, hence they said that "knowledge shall vanish away" rather than "cease."

Notice that both prophecies and knowledge are said to "fail and vanish away," as the same Greek word is used for both—katargeo. But when it says that languages shall cease it is a different word—pauo. Why is this? Do they not all meet with a similar fate? No, no they don’t, and that’s why a different word is used to describe their ending.

Remember that it is "usage" that determines the real meaning of words. Dictionaries and the study of etymology can be big helps, but in the end it is usage which gives us the best definition. And, the more and different ways that we can see a word used, the more precisely we can see its true meaning.

HOW KATARGEO AND PAUO ARE USED IN SCRIPTURE

The Greek word katargeo has the connotation of coming to an end, falling into disuse, annulling, discarding, growing old, useless, and being done away, etc.

Sometimes it can be used in a situation where something comes to an end rather quickly, but many many times it is used to describe something that is fading into disuse. That is why I drew out the word used by the KJV Translators in: "shall vanish away," as I wanted to show the feel of it stretching out over a period of time, and not something that comes to an abrupt end as in the word "cease." Here are some examples of how katargeo is used to represent something that expires or is discarded over a prolonged period:

"Then said he unto the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three years I come seeking fruit on this fig tree, and find none: cut it down, why cumbers/encumbers [Gk: katargeo] the ground" (Luke 13:7 — "…make even the ground useless," Rotherham.)

Here we are told that this katargeo was rendering the ground useless for 3 years.

"Meats for the belly, and the belly for meats: but God shall destroy [Gk: katargeo)] both it and them" (I Cor. 6:13—"…will be discarding it and them…," Concordant Literal New Testament.)

In this verse we see that the process of God "…discarding [katargeo] it and them…" is still going on after two thousand years.

"Then comes the end, when He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down [Gk: katargeo] all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign till he has put all enemies under His feet. The last enemy that shall be destroyed [Gk: katargeo] is death" (I Cor. 15:24-26.)

From the above we see that katargeo can take three years until something ends, or two thousand years and still counting till something else ends, or even throughout the entire reigning of Jesus Christ until all enemies including death itself is abolished. So here is Scriptural proof that anything that is a katargeo consummation can take as long as man is still in the flesh to come to a final end. And prophesying & knowledge are specifically said to come to a katargeo end. But NOT SO WITH LANGUAGES.

Here is how we are told that languages will consummate: "…whether there be languages, they shall cease [Gk: pauo—‘stop, quit, end, cease’]…’ (I Cor. 13:8.) But is there a difference in the "time" it takes for something that is katargeo to end, and something that is pauo to end? Yes there is. Here is how the word pauo is used in Scripture:

"Now when He [Jesus] he had left [Gk; pauo] speaking, He said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught" (Luke 5:4.)

How long do we suppose it was between the time Jesus stopped speaking and Jesus commanded Peter? A few minutes? It was very quickly, not years.

"And they came to Him, and awoke Him, saying, Master, master, we perish. Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water: and they ceased [GK: pauo], and there was a calm" (Luke 8:24.)

How long did it take to cause the wind and raging water to cease? A few minutes? Certainly not hours or days.

"And it came to pass, that as He was praying in a certain place, when He ceased [Gk: pauo], one of His disciples said unto Him, Lord, teach us to pray, as John also taught his disciples. And He said unto them. When ye pray, say…" (Luke 11:1-2.)

Jesus ceased praying in an instant. Or do we believe Jesus went hours, or days between praying. To stop something by use of the word pauo is to end it very quickly.

"…and when they saw the chief captain and the soldiers, they left [Gk: pauo] beating of Paul. Then the chief captain came near, and took him…" (Acts 21:32.)

As soon as they left beating of Paul the chief captain came. Not hours or days later, but right then. The word pauo does not linger for centuries as does the word katargeo.

When Paul teaches us that languages will end by way of pauo, he is telling us that languages will end very quickly as compared with prophesies & knowledge which will fade out over centuries and eons of time.

Therefore, we still have prophesies & knowledge, whereas the gift of languages is never ever mentioned again after I Cor. 14 for the remaining years of Paul’s ministry. Nor is the gift Of languages every mentioned by any other New Testament writer. Truly languages did CEASE.

And what we see today is a weak shameful counterfeit sham of the original Gift of languages in the early New Testament Church. The instruction of the Apostle Paul regulating the use and practice of speaking in languages is completely book-ended. There is no room for personal interpretation on this subject. The truth of this doctrine is found in I Cor. 14, and nowhere else.

  • If it isn’t a real genos language,

  • if it isn’t spoken one by one,

  • if it isn’t interpreted,

  • if it isn’t a sign to an unbeliever,

  • if it isn’t understood by the mind,

  • if it doesn’t edify the whole church,

  • then it is a counterfeit and a sham.

USING LANGUAGES IN PRIVATE

There is no more Scriptural backing for singing in languages, or praying in languages, or meditating in languages than there is to break any of the commandments regulating it in I Cor. 14. If one cannot interpret and thus understanding with their mind what they are singing, praising, praying or meditating, then it is useless and a sham.

PRAYING WITH GROANINGS

But isn’t there a verse that says something about the Spirit helping us praying with "groanings?" Isn’t this a form of talking in "unknown tongues?" Absolutely not. Let’s read the verse:

"Likewise the Spirit also helps our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought [Gk: ‘as it BEHOOVES’—that which is necessary & binding]: but the Spirit itself makes intercession for us with groanings [What kind of groaings? Our groanings? The spirit groaning through US? NO…] …which CANNOT BE UTTERED" (Rom. 8:26. "…UNSPOKEN groans," Emphatic Diaglott, "…INARTICULATE groanings," Concordant Literal New Testament, etc..)

Sorry, but no justification for babbling burbles of gibberish in your prayers either!

Just how big of a deal is it if you are presently a tongue-speaker and you have been doing it for years, and you really like doing it, and you don’t see any urgency to stop now. How can that possibly hurt you? It will hurt you because you are participating in an unscriptural and demeaning shame. The one who clings to an "Idol of the heart" is the wicked and slothful servant who will have TAKEN FROM HIM what spiritual truth he may possess.

And never confuse GIFTS of the Spirit, with "FRUIT of the Spirit." For the FRUIT of the Spirit is higher than the Gifts of the Spirit than the heavens are higher than the earth. For all of the "GIFTS of the Spirit" are of the earth, EARTHY, whereas the "FRUIT of the Spirit" is truly HEAVENLY.

Do you believe that Paul admonished the Corinthians in VAIN when he said:

"So that ye come behind in no gift [‘the gifts of healing, miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, kinds of languages, and interpretation of languages’] …And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual [Even with ALL of the Spiritual Gifts they possessed], but as unto carnal [‘hating God, not being subject to God’s law’] , even as unto BABES [‘infants, immature]… for ye are YET CARNAL" (I Cor. 1:7; 3:1 & 3.)

If God has shown you the truth regarding languages in this paper, and you still REFUSE to give it up, then you have an ‘idol of the heart,’ and ‘ye are YET carnal,’ which means that you do NOT love God, neither are you subject to his spiritual law. You have reached the end of your spiritual growth, and if you don’t repent and give this idol up, then what you have already attained WILL BE TAKEN FROM YOU.

May God be merciful and gracious to us all as we surrender to His perfect will for our lives.

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