This is a short study I did on tongues. I thought I would share some notes on here.
Please let me know if I have made any mistakes by contacting me. I have turned the comments off because there is too much spam that comes through website comments.
These verses explain that tongues is an earthly language.
“Now there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men from every nation under heaven. And at this sound the multitude came together, and they were bewildered because each one was hearing them speak in his own language.”Acts 2:5-6
“And how is it that we hear, each of us in his own native language? Parthians and Medes and Elamites and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians—we hear them telling in our own tongues the mighty works of God.”Acts 2:8-11
I think 1 Corinthians 14:2 is one of the strongest points you can make that tongues is a heavenly language. But saying that would be inserting into the text. This seems to be about praying to God in the spirit.
“For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit.”1 Corinthians 14:2
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.Romans 8:26
For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. 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.1 Corinthians 14:14-15
“When Christ lives in us He lives in our hearts, and in the heart are two chambers. In one room lives the conscience, and through the conscience I can know that Christ lives in me. In the other room of my heart there is the subconsciousness, and there also Christ lives. We look at 1 Corinthians 14:14, ‘For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.’ Notice the expression “my spirit” (my subconscious mind), and also the expression “my understanding,” i.e., “When my spirit prays in tongues, my subconscious mind prays”!”War on the Saints by Jessie Penn-Lewis
The word “tongues”
“There are doubtless many languages (SAME WORD AS TONGUES — g5456 phōnē) in the world, and none is without meaning, but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me. So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church.”1 Corinthians 14:2:10-12
“Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me.”1 Corinthians 14:11
We have a related word here “barbarian” in the verses used to defend gibberish tongues.
The definition of barbarian:
Bárbaros, bar’-bar-os; of uncertain derivation; a foreigner (i.e., non-Greek):—barbarian(-rous).
”Barbarians” was a general designation for those of the first-century world who were ignorant of the Greek languages. The city of Corinth abounded with such visitors. Thus the illustration was full of meaning for these residents. Most of them doubtless were familiar with the frustration of encountering another intelligent person with whom it was impossible to converse. Visitors from other linguistic backgrounds could not comprehend the Corinthian speech any more than the Corinthians understood theirs.Robert Thomas
I find it very interesting that I could find no old claims of tongues being some secret gibberish language. This seems to be a semi-new type of heresy.
AGAINST HERESIES (BOOK 3, CHAPTER 17:2)
This Spirit did David ask for the human race, saying, “And stablish me with Thine all-governing Spirit;” (12) who also, as Luke says, descended at the day of Pentecost upon the disciples after the Lord’s ascension, having power to admit all nations to the entrance of life, and to the opening of the new covenant; from whence also, with one accord in all languages, they uttered praise to God, the Spirit bringing distant tribes to unity, and offering to the Father the first-fruits of all nations. Wherefore also the Lord promised to send the Comforter, (13) who should join us to God.Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity VIII.25, (edited by Philip Schaff), A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church (NPNF), second series, volume 9 (New York: Christian Literature, 1887–1894); (reprint, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1989), 144.
AGAINST HERESIES (BOOK V, CHAPTER 6:1)
For this reason does the apostle declare, “We speak wisdom among them that are perfect,” 1 Corinthians 2:6 terming those persons “perfect” who have received the Spirit of God, and who through the Spirit of God do speak in all languages, as he used Himself also to speak. In like manner we do also hear many brethren in the Church, who possess prophetic gifts, and who through the Spirit speak all kinds of languages, and bring to light for the general benefit the hidden things of men, and declare the mysteries of God, whom also the apostle terms “spiritual,” they being spiritual because they partake of the Spirit, and not because their flesh has been stripped off and taken away, and because they have become purely spiritual.Eusebius of Emesa, Disc. 9 de calice 2. Cited in Kenneth B. Welliver, “Pentecost and the Early Church: Patristic Interpretation of Acts 2 Ph.D. dissertation (Yale University, 1961), 210.
HILARY OF POITIERS (359), ON THE TRINITY
The phrase “Spirit of God” denotes also the Paraclete Spirit, and that not only on the testimony of prophets but also of apostles, when it is said: This is that which was spoken through the Prophet, It shall come to pass on the last day, saith the Lord, I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh, and their sons and their daughters shall prophesy. And we learn that all this prophecy was fulfilled in the case of the apostles, when, after sending of the Holy Spirit, they all spake with the tongues of the Gentiles.Hilary of Poitiers, On the Trinity VIII.25, (edited by Philip Schaff), A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church (NPNF), second series, volume 9 (New York: Christian Literature, 1887-1894); (reprint, Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1989), 144.
EUSEBIUS OF EMESA (d. 359)
But when he God gave literary ability to ignorant men so that they could write gospels, giving the ability to write he also gave the Roman tongue to Galileans, and the languages of the world to his apostles, for the teaching and admonition and exhortation of the nations of the world.Eusebius of Emesa, Disc. 9 de calice 2. Cited in Kenneth B. Welliver, “Pentecost and the Early Church: Patristic Interpretation of Acts 2” Ph.D. dissertation (Yale University, 1961), 210.
CYRIL OF JERUSALEM (d. 387), CATECHETICAL LECTURES
John and the rest of the apostles spake every tongue of those of Gentile extraction. What teacher can be found so great as to teach men all at once things which they have not learned? So many years are they in learning by grammar and other arts to speak only Greek well; nor yet do all speak this equally well; the Rhetorician perhaps succeeds in speaking well; and the Grammarian sometimes not well; and the skilful Grammarian is ignorant of the subjects of philosophy. But the Holy Spirit taught them many languages at once, languages which all their life they never knew. This is in truth vast wisdom, this is power divine. What a contrast of their long ignorance in time past to their sudden, complete and varied and unaccustomed exercise of these languages.Cyril of Jerusalem, Catechetical Lectures 17.16. Cited in Welliver, “Pentecost and the Early Church,” 178.
FILASTRIUS (d. 397), BOOK OF DIVERSE HERESIES
The knowledge of languages which offending men lost twenty-seven hundred years earlier the Lord conferred again through the Holy Spirit at the time of the blessed apostles after his ascension without any effort upon those who believed, as it is written in the Acts of the Apostles. For it is the power of angels to know the languages of all men; but through faith in Christ without any effort the knowledge of them all was passed on to believers.Filastrius, Book of Diverse Heresies, 104.5-6. Cited in Welliver, “Pentecost and the Early Church,” 211.
PSEUDO-CONSTANTIUS (405), COMMENTARY ON PAUL’S EPISTLES
“For the one who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and consolation to people. The one who speaks in a tongue edifies only himself. But the one who prophesies edifies the church. I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy. For the one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in a tongue, unless it is interpreted so that the church may receive edification” (1Corinthians 14:3-5). He says, ‘If I shall come to you and shall speak to you’ in the Syrian or Persian language ‘what good is that to you who do not understand?’”Pseudo-Constantius, Commentary on 1 Corinthians 14:3-5, edited by Hermann Josef Frede, Ein neuer Paulustext und Kommentar.
GAUDENTIUS (d. 410), SERMONS
For being filled with the Holy Spirit they were speaking with the tongues of the various nations.Gaudentius, Sermon 8. Cited 8. in Welliver, “Pentecost and the Early Church,” 53.
JOHN CHRYSOSTOM (d. 407), HOMILIES ON 1 CORINTHIANS
On Corinthians 14:1-3 Wherefore then did the apostles receive it the gift of tongues before the rest? Because they were to go abroad everywhere. And as in the time of building the tower the one tongue was divided into many; so then the many tongues frequently met in one man, and the same person used to discourse both in the Persian, and the Roman, and the Indian, and many other tongues, the Spirit sounding within him: and the gift was called the gift of tongues because he could all at once speak diverse languages.John Chrysostom, Homilies on 1 Corinthians 35.1. NPNF 12:209.
RUFINUS OF AQUILEIA (d. 412), COMMENTARY ON THE APOSTLES’ CREED
They (the apostles) were thus enabled to speak a variety of different languages, with the result that they found no nation strange to them, and no foreign speech beyond their powers of comprehension.Rufinus of Aquileia, Commentary on the Apostles Creed, 2. Cited in Welliver, “Pentecost and the Early Church,” 184.
PELAGIUS (414), LETTER TO DEMETRIAS
The Holy Spirit fills the soul, like air coming into musical pipes, and the finger of God touches the hearts of his saints like the strings of a harp. When he was poured forth upon the apostles and the community of believers on the day of Pentecost, as he had promised by the Lord, why was it that the Holy Spirit appeared in the form of fiery tongues and caused those over whom he rested to speak with the tongues of all nations?” But “the Spirit was not yet given”; that is, with that abundance of spiritual grace which enabled those assembled together to speak in every language, and thus announce beforehand in the language of every nation the church of the future: and so by this spiritual grace it was that the nations were gathered into congregations, sins were pardoned far and wide, and thousands of thousands were reconciled unto God.Pelagius, Epistle to Demetrias, 23. Sister M. Kathryn Clare Krabbe, Epistula ad Demetriadem de Vera Humiliate: A Critical Text and Translation with Introduction and Commentary. Patristic Studies 97 (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1965), 207.
AUGUSTINE, SERMONS ON THE LITURGICAL SEASONS
All the people present in the Upper Room had learned one language. The Holy Spirit came, they were filled with it, they began to speak with the different languages of all nations which they didn’t know, and hadn’t learned. The fact, mean, that small church was speaking with the tongues of all nations, what else can it signify but that this great church from the rising of the sun to its setting (Psalm 113:3) is speaking with the tongues of all nations?Augustine, Sermons on the Liturgical Seasons, 267.2-3. Edmund Hill, translator, The Works of Saint Augustine. Part III-Sermons, volume sermons 230-272B, edited by John E. Rotelle (New Rochelle, New York: New City Press, 1990), 274-75.
JULIAN OF ECCLANUM (d. 450), COMMENTARY ON JOEL
‘I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters will prophesy” (Joel 2:28). For since the apostles had received the knowledge of languages by miracle, the teacher of the church Peter showed this predicted outpouring of the Spirit, and called the knowledge of languages “prophecy.”Julian of Ecclanum, Commentary on Joel II.28-31, edited by Lucas De Coninck, Iuliani Aeclanensis, Expositio Libri lob, Tractatus Prophetarum Osee, lohel, et Amos. Corpus Chrisjtianorum, Series Latina, volume 88 (Turnhout: Brepols, 1977), 247.