The Gift of Tongues and Other Gifts
The Bible teaches that all the gifts of the Spirit, including the gift of tongues, are needed and available to the church today. And it adds that some of the gifts are more important than others. The apostle Paul clearly showed that we should focus on the most important ones. “But covet earnestly the best gifts” (1 Corinthians 12:31).
When the Bible talks about spiritual gifts, the gift of tongues is found at the bottom of that list. “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” (1 Corinthians 12:28). In fact, the Bible teaches that “Greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues” (1 Corinthians 14:5). Therefore, we should put the emphasis where God puts the emphasis.
Paul taught that the gift of prophecy is of greater benefit than the gift of tongues to the larger number of believers. He instructed, “Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries. But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification” (1 Corinthians 14:1-5).
Wrong Charismatic Teaching
Some charismatic churches teach that a Christian who does not speak in tongues is lacking in his religious experience. But Paul makes it clear that different gifts are given to different people, and no one is expected to have all the gifts. He asks in 1 Corinthians 12:29, 30: “Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?” The answer is a clear No.
Jesus who is our example was filled with the Holy Spirit, yet He never spoke in tongues. Some preachers are mistakenly teaching that every time a person is filled with the Holy Spirit, he or she must speak in tongues. But the Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit is the One that decides who gets which gift as He sees fit “Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will” (1 Corinthians 12:11) and not as man wills.
In addition, we notice that out of more than 50 examples in the Bible where God filled His people with the Spirit, only three times is the gift of tongues connected with the experience (Acts chapters 2, 10, and 19) . Also, of the 27 books in the New Testament, only three books mention the gift of tongues.
The whole purpose of tongues is to communicate the gospel:
For more on the gift of tongues and its use today:
For more on the meaning of speaking in tongues:
In His service,