Today, the fastest growing segment of Christianity in the world belongs to those who believe and operate in the modern practice of speaking in tongues.  Since the rebirth of speaking in tongues in the early 20th century, the “denominational Pentecostals” have grown to be the largest Protestant organization around the globe.  With more than 200 million members, they are the second largest body of Christians in all Christianity, with only the 1,500-year-old Roman Catholic Church being the largest.  At the same time, when denominational Pentecostals are combined with all “tongue-talking” adherents within the other Christian denominations the number grows to over 500 million![1]

However, all this growth and passion has not come without a theological cost. Some in the church today believe that speaking in tongues is no longer a relevant gift for Christians.  Dr. Richard B. Gaffin Jr., a Reformed theologian, believes that the “word gifts,” including speaking in tongues, have ceased since the formation of the canon of the New Testament.  Dr. Gaffin Jr. writes, “My main concern is the cessation of all the revelatory or word gifts.  By word gifts I have in mind (with a view to the lists in Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 12:8-10, 28-31; and Ephesians 4:11) prophecy and its assessments, tongues and their interpretation, the word of wisdom, and the word of knowledge.”[2]

Therefore, this paper has been written to give evidence that speaking in tongues, as seen in the book of Acts, is both relevant and useful for today’s Christian.  This paper will set out to accomplish its claim by discussing the following points: (a) The description, purpose, and continuation of speaking in tongues as seen in the New Testament and (b) The examination and rebuttal to the best arguments against the modern practice of speaking in tongues.

POINT 1: The Description, Purpose, and Continuation of Speaking in Tongues as Seen in the New Testament

To be able to support the present day practice of speaking in tongues, one must first go back to the “past” practice of speaking in tongues and see what it was, what it was used for, and if it was meant to continue to all or any future generations.

Section 1: Description of Speaking in Tongues

(1) Jesus and the Gospels:

Jesus’ only clear mention of speaking in tongues is found in the disputed passage of Scripture found in Mark 16:15-18.  Jesus is believed by some to have said in v. 17, “And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues.”  This passage describes what the “believers” will do in Jesus’ name as they “believe”- they will (a) cast out demons, (b) speak in new tongues, (c) be safe from poison and snakes, and (d) heal the sick.  This passage does not describe what speaking in tongues literally is, however, it does call it a “sign.”  Therefore, speaking in tongues in the New Testament according to Jesus was a “sign” of the believers.[3]

(2) Acts 2, Pentecost:

The most popular passage involving speaking in tongues is found in Acts 2:4-6,“All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them… When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken.”  This passage gives two specific details to what speaking in tongues was in NT times, (a) Tongues was a “gift” given to all the disciples after being filled with the Holy Spirit and (b) Tongues were “unknown languages” to the speakers, but understood by the listeners.  Concerning tongues being unknown languages to the speaker, but known to the hearer, there have been differing ideas to what this means.

The main views are the following:

  1. The tongues being spoken were the “literal” languages of the people based on such words in the passage, “language being spoken,” however, they were not learned, but given supernaturally.  This is the majority view held by both by supporters and non-supporters of the modern use of speaking tongues.
  2. The languages being spoken “were mysterious and unknown” both to the speaker and hearer, but the Holy Spirit “interpreted” the words to the individual so they personally heard the message in their own language.  This view is based on the words, “each one heard his own language,” meaning unless the Spirit interpreted the message to them personally it would have been impossible to make out a direct message in the chaos of many languages being spoken at the same time, this view is only held by a minority of speaking in tongues supporters.[4]

Therefore, according to all the views discussed, Luke’s account in Acts 2 describes tongues being a “gift” given to all the disciples filled with the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues refers to disciples speaking in “languages unknown to them.”[5]

(3) Acts 10, Peter and Cornelius’ Household:

Cornelius and his household’s experience with the Holy Spirit is known as the “Roman Pentecost” because it was the first time the Romans are seen receiving the Holy Spirit as the Jewish disciples had on Pentecost.[6]  Acts 10:44-46 states,  “While Peter was still speaking these words, the Holy Spirit came on all who heard the message.  The circumcised believers who had come with Peter were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on Gentiles.  For they heard them speaking in tongues and praising God.”  As with the disciple’s experience at Pentecost, tongues is seen as a “sign” of the gift of the Holy Spirit and is evidenced in being able to speak in different languages.

Peter went on to say in v. 47, “They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.”  However, there is no evidence that the others in the meeting understood the languages or that the languages were of an “earthly nature” or “known origin.”  Also, there is no interpretation given to the nature of the message in tongues as was noted in Acts 2:11, “declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!”  Thus, Peter’s reference to the Roman experience being the same as the Jewish Pentecost may only be referring to the speaking in other tongues as the “sign” to receiving the Holy Ghost.[7]

Therefore, Luke’s account of Cornelius’ experience simply describes that speaking in tongues is a “sign” to receiving the Holy Spirit and is evidenced in “other languages being spoken.”

(4) Acts 19, John’s Disciples:

The Ephesian Pentecost, named because the experience occurred in the city of Ephesus, is an interesting passage because it involved disciples of John the Baptist that already “believed.”  Luke records that when Paul met these dedicated disciples he asked if they had received the Holy Spirit since they had believed.  When they answered, “No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit” Paul began to teach them the “full Gospel” which included the filling of the Holy Spirit.  Then Acts 19:6 states, “When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.”

As a result, there are differing views concerning these disciples of John: (a) These disciples of John had “believed” in Jesus and were truly saved, but simply had not known about the baptism of Jesus nor the infilling of the Holy Spirit or (b) The disciples were only followers of John’s teachings and thus needed to be saved, filled with the Holy Spirit, and water baptized in Jesus’ name.[8]

Regardless of whether the disciples were saved before or during the encounter with Paul, the description of speaking in tongues remains the same.  Mainly, tongues was the “sign” of being filled or “baptized” in the Holy Spirit, everyone was filled with the Holy Ghost, and spoke in other languages.

(5) 1 Corinthians 12-14, Paul and the Corinthians:

Much can be said about these chapters in Paul’s letter to the people of Corinth, some which will be dealt with in the “argument and rebuttal” section of this paper, but only a summery is needed here.[9]  The summary is as follows concerning speaking in tongues, (a) Speaking in tongues and the interpretation of tongues are spiritual gifts, not natural talents – 12:10, (b) Speaking in tongues is considered a spiritual gift that is available to all of God’s people – 12:11, (c) All the spiritual gifts, including speaking in tongues, are never said to have an end in the church age, but rather are to always be desired, 14:1,[10] (d) Paul spoke in tongues often, even more than the Corinthians – 14:18, (e) Speaking in tongues is considered a “sign” – 14:22, (f) Speaking in tongues is not to be forbidden – 14:39.

As stated before, this section does not allow the space to describe in detail the role that tongues played in the local church, but rather to show that speaking in tongues did have a role in the local church.  Also, this section does not need to discuss the belief in different kinds of tongues, whether they are always known or unknown languages, but rather that tongues in Corinth were both supernaturally spoken and supernaturally interpreted.  Therefore, as seen from the summary speaking in tongues was a regular practice for the Corinthian church and a sign to unbelievers of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 14:22).

Summary of Section 1:

From the words of Jesus to the Acts of the Apostles to the Epistle of Paul one can clearly see speaking in tongues is (a) a sign of the filling of the Holy Spirit, (b) a gift given to everyone who believes, and (c) unknown languages spoken supernaturally by the speaker.

Section 2: The Purpose of Speaking in Tongues  

(1) A Sign to Unbelievers:

Jesus was first believed to mention tongues as a sign in Mark 16:17, “And these signs will accompany those who believe… they will speak in new tongues.”  Paul then backed up this purpose in 1 Corinthians 14:22, “Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers…”  In both passages the Greek word for sign is, “sēmeion.”

According to Dr. Gordon Fee in his commentary of 1 Corinthians the word “sign” has the same meaning in the New Testament as it did in the Old Testament which is “an expression of God’s attitude; something signifies to Israel either His disapproval or pleasure.”   Specifically with tongues being a sign from God to the unbeliever he writes, “Because tongues are unintelligible, unbelievers receive no revelation from God; they cannot be brought to faith.  Thus by their response of seeing the work of the Spirit as madness, they are destined for divine judgment…”[11]  As a result, this type of judgment could lead them to seek forgiveness.

The effect of judgment coming to unbelievers through the sign of speaking in tongues can be seen in the negative responses of the people found in Acts 2:14, “Some, however, made fun of them and said, ‘They have had too much wine.’”  Thus, speaking in tongues served as a sign leading to salvation for those who were convicted and a sign of judgment to those who continued to mock.

Speaking in tongues as a sign to unbelievers might explain why Paul had to correct the many problems of Corinth.  The believers may have been so convinced that speaking in tongues could led sinners to repentance as a sign from God, that they might have stopped speaking in known languages and only relied on the gift of tongues in services.  Thus, Paul corrected their abuse of this powerful sign and reminded them of Jesus’ original intent for speaking in tongues.  As seen in Acts 2, there were both speaking in tongues and the preaching of repentance in a known language.

(2) Declaring the Wonders of God:

While tongues is being spoken as a sign to the unbeliever, the message is one of “declaring the wonders of God” as seen in Acts 2:11.  However, unlike in the time of Pentecost, Paul writes to the Corinthians and shares that speaking in tongues is not always to people, but sometimes it is to God alone.  Paul states in 1 Corinthians 14:2, “For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit.”

And in 1 Cor. 14:15-17 he writes, “So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding. Otherwise when you are praising God in the Spirit, how can someone else, who is now put in the position of an inquirer, say “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since they do not know what you are saying? You are giving thanks well enough, but no one else is edified.”

Therefore, declaring God’s wonders in tongues is not always understood or directed to unbelievers according to Paul, sometimes it is a form of “giving thanks” to God.  As a result, in the New Testament there were times when the sinners understood tongues and other times when tongues were only understood by God.

(3) Edifying the Church:

Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 14:5 that speaking in tongues is not just for unbelievers, but also for the church- so long as it is interpreted.  He declares, “I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be edified.”  Therefore, speaking in tongues can have the same effect on the church as prophesy when it is interpreted.

Dr. Howard Ervin writes, “Tongues accompanied by interpretation are equal to prophecy, for, the power to interpret glosslalia (Greek for “tongues”)… puts the mystic speaker on the level with a prophet; first ‘uttering mysteries’… and then making them plain to his hearers, he accomplished in two acts what the prophet does in one.”[12]  As a result of the tongues with interpretation, the believer is edified, which means to be “built up spiritually.”

Therefore, the New Testament church can be seen as a church that relied upon speaking in tongues with interpretation to grant them strength and encouragement in the Christian walk.[13]

(4) Edifying the Believer:

Paul teaches in 1 Corinthians 14:2,4 that when the unbeliever doesn’t understand the tongue or when it is not interpreted for the church, the believer is being edified.  Paul writes, “For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit… Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves.”  Though this is not as beneficial for the church or the unbeliever, it is very beneficial for the believer praying in tongues to God.

Paul also states in 1 Cor. 14:18-19,  “I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you” to show how much he desired to utter mysteries that only the Spirit understood because it edified him personally.  Therefore, when in the church one should ask God to interpret their tongue to edify the church, but privately, the believer can pray in tongues as often as desired so they can grow and be edified.

Summary of Section 2:

The purpose of speaking in tongues was powerful for the New Testament church.  On Pentecost it propelled the Gospel into the hearts of the Jewish people as they heard the wonders of God boldly proclaimed, in the church it was interpreted as prophecy and brought edifying revelation, and in the individual’s life it encouraged and strengthened their precious faith.

Section 3: The Continuation of Speaking in Tongues

(1) Mark 16:15-20, Those Who Believe:

Jesus said in Mark 16:17 that “these signs will accompany those who believe…”  He never made a “time limit” to the signs nor did He separate the preaching from the signs.  According to Jesus “signs” will follow the “preaching” of those who believe.  The “Great Commission” found in Matthew 28:18-20 compliments the passage in Mark 16 and adds the time frame for the preaching church, to “the very end of the age.”  Therefore, if someone takes serious the charge of preaching the “good news to all creation” as stated in Mark 16:15 they ought to also take serious the challenge to believe in Jesus and have signs, including speaking in tongues, follow the preaching of the word.

(2) Acts 2:17-18, On All People:

Inspired and empowered by the Holy Spirit Peter quoted Joel 2:28-30 to express the desire of God to “pour out (His) Spirit on all people… sons and daughters.”  The declaration is two-fold, (a) No longer will a certain few; like kings, priests, and prophets/judges have the temporary overshadowing of the Holy Spirit, rather, all people will now receive God’s permanent power in the same way and (b) The Holy Spirit will not just be for the male Jewish people, but rather all people- male and female from every nation, tribe and tongue.

Dr. Horton states, “The way Peter looked at Joel’s prophecy shows he expected a continuing fulfillment of the prophecy to the end of the “last days.” This means also that Joel’s outpouring is available to the end of this age.  As long as God keeps calling people to salvation, He wants to pour out His Spirit upon them.”[14]  Therefore, what the Holy Spirit gave Peter and the disciples on Pentecost is for all people until the end of the age.

(3) Acts 2:39, All Whom the Lord our God Will Call:

Peter ends his preaching at Pentecost with this powerful statement in Acts 2:38-39, “Peter replied, ‘Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.’”  Therefore, if one believes that there is to be a continuation of “repenting” and being “baptized” then there is a continuation of receiving “the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Speaking in tongues was seen by Peter to be the all-a-round evidence of the outpouring of Joel, the gift of the Holy Spirit, and the promise of the Father.[15]  Peter’s belief that speaking in tongues encompassed all the above-mentioned experiences can be seen in his response to the “Roman Pentecost.”  Peter stated in Acts 10:47, “Surely no one can stand in the way of their being baptized with water. They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.”  Peter knew that Cornelius and his household had received the “outpouring of Joel,” “the gift of the Holy Spirit,” and the “promise of the Father” because they spoke in tongues just as they had.  Therefore, speaking in tongues should continue until the “last day” is over, the very “end of the age,” and until God is done calling people to salvation.[16]

(4) 1 Corinthians 12-14, Do Not Forbid Speaking in Tongues:

Paul starts the passage in 1 Cor. 12:1 commanding people not to be “uniformed” about spiritual gifts, “Now about the gifts of the Spirit, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed” and then to end the confusion he describes each of the gifts in detail, including speaking in tongues, from 12:12-30.  Afterwards, in chapter 13 Paul reinforces the foundation of love, however, not to the neglect of the gifts, but for the sake of properly using the gifts.

Then his connecting statement from love to operating in the spiritual gifts is 14:1 where he states, “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy.”  Therefore, he not only assumes the reader will have the chance to receive the gifts but they will also be able to pursue all of them, especially prophesy (which is the same as tongues with interpretation).  Thus, at the end of all his discussion about spiritual gifts and them being grounded in love, he does not warn of a time when speaking in tongues will cease, but rather warns against the church “forbidding” speaking in tongues, “do not forbid speaking in tongues” (1 Cor. 14:39).

Therefore, it is painfully obvious that Paul taught the continuation of the gifts, including speaking in tongues, for generations to come.  If one were to doubt the continuation of the spiritual gifts mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12 and 14, then they would be forced to disregard all of the things spoken about in the rest of the letter, including chapter 13 concerning love.

Summary of Section 3:

According to the writers of the New Testament and the churches they wrote to, speaking in tongues was to never cease, but rather be a common experience for all believers at all times.  There is never a mention of speaking in tongues ending in the church age, they are connected to the signs of the Gospel, seen in the church as common practice, and actually guarded with commands against their ceasing.

POINT 2: Arguments and Rebuttals Concerning the Modern Practice of Speaking in Tongues

As mentioned in the introduction there are people today in Christianity that do not hold to the modern practice of speaking in tongues.  Therefore, in this section the paper will address the most common objections and arguments given against the facts already presented.

Objection 1: Numbers Do Not Prove the Truth of Speaking in Tongues 

Response:  Some today may believe that when Spirit-filled believers talk about the massive growth and strength of the “speaking in tongues” movement, that somehow one is making that a statement of proof.  Meaning, “How could so many people be wrong, thus speaking in tongues must be right because they are the biggest Protestant group.”  The argument is false because the numbers do not prove the doctrine, nor is that said to do so.  However, the numbers give evidence to the “fruit” by which people may judge the “speaking in tongues tree” (Matthew 7:17).

Therefore, since extraordinary amounts of souls are being saved, Bible schools and training centers are being established by the 1,000’s with sound doctrine, charitable outreaches (orphanages, feeding centers, and drug rehabs) are being built in the nations, and a passionate push for missions is found in these movements, one can easily see that those who speak in tongues are genuine Christians, thus their numbers support their experience, not prove it.  For example, nations like South Korea, China, and Brazil are being dramatically changed by believer’s who speak in tongues because of their reliance upon the Spirit of God and their “good works,” not just because they have a “speaking in tongues” experience.[17]

Objection 2: Mark 16:15-18 is Not a Viable Passage Because of its Weak Manuscript Evidence 

Response:  Today scholars and Bible translators have good reasons to question this passage’s validity, however, there is also good reasons given by qualified scholars to consider otherwise.  First, scholars such as Belser, Bengel, Bleek, Broadus, A.C. Clark, Canon Olshausen, and Dean Burgon all believe this was written by Mark because it is highly suspect that the chapter would end with the word “afraid” (Greek; “gar”).  There is very little evidence in all the thousands of documents found in the Greek speaking world that have a sentence ending with “gar.”[18]

Second, most scholars reject the passage because it is not found in the most ancient manuscripts, however, Justin Martyr makes mention of it in 150 AD and many ancient manuscripts have it, more than do not, it is just the oldest ones have it missing.  Thus, the ending may have been lost in the earlier manuscripts and preserved in the older ones.  Or one group of people could have lost it in transmission and it was only preserved in a certain area.

Third, many scholars question Mark as the author of the longer ending because of the writing style, however, Merrill Tenney of Wheaton college states cautiously “if Mark wrote verses 9-20, he probably added it as an epilogue.”[19]  Therefore, the style would not have to be “smooth” between verses 8-9 because he had stopped writing merely historically and now wanted to summarize what Jesus had said as His final words.

Therefore, today the church should be careful how it treats this passage of Scripture that has been handed down from the church fathers.  Dr. Horton states, “We have every reason to believe that these verses are genuinely inspired of the Holy Spirit and meant for our edification and obedience.”[20]

Objection 3: The Book of Acts is only meant to give a description of the early church’s practices.  Thus, it is not meant to be prescriptive for the churches practices, that is the purpose of the epistles.

Response:  First, this argument is false because speaking in tongues is “prescribed” in the book of 1 Corinthians 12-14 and is referenced in other epistles as well (Romans 8:26 & Jude 20).  Second, the book of Acts is the only “descriptive book” the church has for full immersion water baptism, church councils, and how the offices of elder and deacon came to be.  Lastly, who is man to decide what in the Scriptures can and cannot be used for God’s church, God gave the full New Testament and the church should use it all!

Objection 4: Tongues are Always Known Languages Like in Acts 2

Response:  First, though the Greek supports that the tongues of the disciples were literally speaking in the tongues of known languages, the context makes it hard to imagine this to be the case.  (a) How could a 120 people be boldly proclaiming the word of God in over 10 languages and 3,000 people all hear their own language without distraction.  (b) This would need another miracle of “hearing,” which then would support (c) The tongues were even unknown to them, but interpreted in their own hearing.

Second, Acts 2 does not state that everyone in the crowd was speaking a known language, but that known languages were heard.  Thus, some could have been speaking in known languages and unknown languages.  This is common in tongue speaking churches today, many have testified to hearing their language in the midst of others speaking in unknown tongues.

Third, in Acts 10 and 19 there is no mention of the languages being (a) known or (b) understood.  Therefore, this universal speaking in known languages might have just been a one-time-event on Pentecost.

Forth, scholars like Dr. Horton believe tongues are always human languages, but not necessarily of the people in the room or meeting.  Thus, someone could be speaking one of the 4,000 human languages that have been either used in the past or present.[21]  And when needed God could bring the people into contact with those who speak their language to reveal the glory of God.[22]  However, one should not be discouraged from speaking in their unknown tongue because no one is there to understand, for they speak mysteries unto God that only the Spirit knows.

Lastly, in 1 Cor. 14:2 Paul mentions that when someone prays in a tongue no one understands him, “For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit.”  If speaking in tongues was just speaking a known language there would be no need of a “spiritual gift of interpretation,” anyone could interpret what was being said if they simply “learned” the language.  Plus, if the tongues were always known languages then people speaking in tongues would always be speaking to men.

Objection 5: Tongues Ended When the NT Was Written 

Response:  Where does the Bible claim this?  The best evidence for this falsehood comes from 1 Corinthians 13:8-10, “Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.”

Some claim that the phrase, “when completeness comes” refers to the canon.  This interpretation is an error because (a) “Completeness” does not refer to the canon of the Bible in any way but rather to the perfect state that Paul spoke about in Philippians 3:12-14 that he would have at the resurrection, (b) If tongues and prophecy are done, then so is knowledge, (c) The context of now seeing things “only through a reflection as in a mirror” in v. 12 speaks of life in the flesh, thus, when man sees God face to face the need for spiritual gifts will pass away, along with hidden knowledge, and (d) Thus, Paul says in v. 12, “then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known,” unless a person “knows fully” everything about God, spiritual gifts are still needed.

Objection 6: Tongues Are Not For Everyone Because 1 Cor. 12:29 says, “Do All Speak With Tongues?”

Response:  First, this is referring to being in the public meetings.  Meaning, not everyone should speak a “public” word, a tongue, etc., so that there is not confusion.  This explanation is clearly seen in 1 Cor. 14:26, “When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation,” thus according to Paul “each of you” should have a tongue, a hymn, an instruction, etc., but not all should be heard in the public meetings unless the Spirit wills and it is done in order.

Second, 1 Cor. 12:5-11 also states, “All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.”  Paul clearly believed, “he distributes them to each one” therefore, “each one” can have them, but they come as God wills.  Third, God wills everyone to be able to be used, that is why Paul says in 14:1, “eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit” because the Christian can desire to prophesy, speak in tongues and interpret the tongues, however, it is God that determines when and how.

Lastly, in each instance in Acts 2,10,19 it is said that everyone spoke in tongues.  Therefore, one should not limit God as did the people in Matthew 15:53-58 in Jesus’ hometown because of their lack of faith, v. 58, “And he did not do many miracles there because of their lack of faith.”  Each one should come to service to be used in every spiritual gift as the Spirit leads and guides.

Objection 7: Tongues Were Only Used to Preach the Gospel to People in Ancient Times in Their Own Language 

Response:  First, there in not a single reference to people “preaching” with the gift of tongues in the New Testament.  The reference in Acts 2 simply says they heard the disciples “declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues,” however, they were left saying, “What does this mean?”  Therefore, Peter still had to preach to them the message of repentance for them to be saved in a commonly known language.  Second, after Acts 2 none on the experiences with the Holy Spirit involve sinners or anyone understanding them.  Lastly, 1 Corinthians 14 states the exact opposite, that unless the tongue is interpreted with a “spiritual gift of interpretation,” no one will understand what is being said (1 Cor. 14:2,23).


In conclusion, people may debate whether speaking in tongues are for today or not, however, there are over 500 million Christians that are going to continue to do so and win the nations for Jesus based on the sound interpretation of Scripture.  Some have attacked those who speak in tongues and said they are too experience-based and rely too heavily upon the descriptive nature of the book of Acts.  Catholic Theologian Ralph Del Colle writes, “Horton’s (Pentecostal Theologian) use of Scripture in the pursuit of the Bible evidence for the Spirit baptism typically employs the narrative portions of the Acts of the Apostles to make his case… (and) without the experiential testimony there would be something missing.”[23]

Colle, along with others from differing traditions, may over simplify the argument of the one who speaks in tongues, but there is some truth to the statement.  For if the person who speaks in tongues does not use the book of Acts to line up his or her doctrine and experience with, what else is left?  Oh to God that preachers would again line up their churches and disciples with the book of Acts!  May the body of Christ see again what they saw!

It was the aim of this paper to prove from the Scriptures that not only does Acts and people’s personal experience support speaking in tongues, but so does Jesus and the in-depth chapters in 1 Corinthians 12-14.  Thus, when someone is open to the experience from these passages the entire New Testament comes alive.  Such passages from Jesus found in John 14:12-13 have new meaning, “Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”

Therefore, speaking in tongues, as seen in the New Testament, is both relevant and useful for today’s Christian.  Jesus desired to give his church gifts to be signs to the unbelievers, edification to the church, and power to the believers; one of those gifts was speaking in tongues.  The gift is still for today, it has not left- nor will it leave, it will continue to the very end of the age.  May everyone be filled with the same Spirit that the first disciples had at Pentecost, share the same experience of speaking in tongues, and partner with them to preach the Gospel with power until the entire world be saved!


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  15. Menzies, Robert P., and William W. Menzies. Spirit and Power: Foundations of Pentecostal Experience. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2000.
  16. Oss, Doug. Are Miraculous Gifts for Today? Four Views. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1996.
  17. Smith, James K. A., and Amos Yong, eds. Science and the Spirit: A Pentecostal Engagement with the Sciences. Bloomington: Indiana    University Press, 2010.
  18. Stronstad, Roger. The Charismatic Theology of St. Luke. Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers, 1984.
  19. Synan, Vinson. Century Of The Holy Spirit 100 Years Of Pentecostal And Charismatic Renewal, 1901-2001. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2001.
  20. Vondey, Wolfgang. Beyond Pentecostalism: The Crisis of Global Christianity and the Renewal of the Theological Agenda (Pentecostal Manifestos). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2010.
  21. Yong, Amos. The Spirit Poured Out on All Flesh: Pentecostalism and the Possibility of Global Theology. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Academic, 2005.


[1] Vinson Synan, Century Of The Holy Spirit 100 Years Of Pentecostal And Charismatic Renewal, 1901-2001 (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2001), 1-2.

[2] Doug Oss, Are Miraculous Gifts for Today? (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1996), 42.

[3] The authenticity and validity of this passage will be dealt with in detail in the argument and rebuttal section of this paper.

[4] Stanley M. Horton, What the Bible Says About the Holy Spirit, Revised ed. (Springfield, Mo.: Gospel Publishing House, 2005), 143.

[5] Whether or not speaking in tongues is always a known language to the hearer, like most scholars believe was the case in Acts 2 will be discussed in the argument and rebuttal section.

[6] Howard M. Ervin, Spirit Baptism: A Biblical Investigation (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Publishers, 1987), 77.

[7] The reason for the clarification concerning Peter’s statement will be clarified further in the argument and rebuttal section. Meaning, there is evidence in the Scripture to support two types of “tongues” mentioned in the Bible, “tongues of men” and the “tongues of angels.”

[8] Howard M. Ervin, Conversion-Initiation and the Baptism in the Holy Spirit (Peabody, Mass.: Hendrickson Pub, 1985), 55-59.  For a detailed discussion between Dr. Ervin and Dr. Dunn on whether John’s disciples were saved prior to the meeting.

[9] Gordon Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians (The New International Commentary on the New Testament) (Grand Rapids, Michigan.: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1987), 569-713.  For a detailed description of the issues surrounding the letter and the present-day applications.

[10] Paul’s phrase in 1 Corinthians 13:8, “where there are tongues, they will be stilled” will be discussed in the argument and rebuttal section.

[11] Fee, The First Epistle to the Corinthians, 682.

[12] Ervin, Spirit Baptism: A Biblical Investigation, 129.

[14] Horton, What the Bible Says About the Holy Spirit, 147.

[15] Ervin, Spirit Baptism: A Biblical Investigation, 78.  According to Dr. Ervin all these terms are one in the same, though they speak to different aspects of the Holy Spirit’s work, the end result, endowment of power and speaking in other tongues, is the evidence that accompanies all of them.

[16] Ibid, 78.  Also, Dr. Ervin references Acts 11:15, “the Holy Spirit fell on them just as on us at the beginning,” as further proof that speaking in tongues was normative to all believers receiving the promise of the Father.

[17] Ed van der Maas, New International Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, The, Rev Exp ed. (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 2002).  This enormous in-depth look at the numbers and influence of those who speak in tongues proves that “good fruit” supersedes the experience.  For example, “missionaries,” “Bible schools,” and “charitable outreaches” in Spirit-filled communities are an amazing witnesses of the adherents Christ-like love and sound doctrine.

[18] Horton, What the Bible Says About the Holy Spirit, 285.

[19] Ibid, 289.

[20] Ibid, 289.

[21] Ralph Del Colle et al., Perspectives on Spirit Baptism (Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2004), 73.

[22] I personally experienced this 2x while speaking tongues; both times it was with someone from India.  They heard my praising God and declaring his wonders.

[23] Ralph Del Colle et al., Perspectives on Spirit Baptism (Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2004), 102.