555 Difficult Bible Questions Answered

183. What Was the "Gift of Tongues"?




It is understood to have been not only the power of speaking various languages which the speaker had not previously studied or acquired, but also the power to speak a spiritual language unknown to man, uttered in ecstasy and understood only by those enlightened by the Holy Spirit. Paul, in I Cor. 12 :1o, is writing not to depreciate this gift, but to warn the Corinthians not to be led away by unprofitable or doubtful manifestations of it. Even in those early days of the Church, the leaders had difficulty in controlling the tendency to fanaticism among its adherents. The gift of tongues at Pentecost was given because of a great and urgent need. It is supposed by some authorities to have been speaking so that under the direction of the Holy Spirit it sounded to the ear of every auditor as though it were his own mother-tongue. There were many nationalities represented in the throng, but no confusion or misunderstandings. The gift of tongues on this particular occasion was the miraculous method employed to bring into the Gospel fold the strangers from other lands. The lesson is that God is not the author of confusion, and he never gives a message to his children that is unin telligible. Any "gift" or message that is incapable of being understood is not of God. We should try the spirits by this simple but decisive test.