How we Know Modern “Tongue Speaking” is Unbiblical, and Satanic Deception
Updated: Nov 20
The gift of tongues, which was bestowed upon men for the first time on the day of Pentecost, was a miraculous endowment which enabled those who received it to speak in languages unfamiliar to themselves. Thereby they were empowered to declare the glad tidings to those with whom they would not have been able otherwise to communicate.
This “tongues-speaking” of Pentecostals and Charismatics, on the other hand, is snake oil. It’s an imposter and needs to be boldly and aggressively pointed out and exposed.
Consider what the Word of God has to say about it.
1. Tongues Were Actual Legitimate Languages, Not Unintelligible Gibberish.
When the Holy Spirit was given at Pentecost in Acts 2, believers began to speak in other languages—languages that they had never known or learned before. This supernatural ability to speak in languages other than their own was a result of the work of the Holy Spirit (Ac. 2:4). Foreign onlookers who came from areas throughout the Middle East marvelled that the Galilaeans were speaking in their own languages (Ac. 2:6-11). These onlookers understood what these Galilaeans were saying—they were declaring the “wonderful works of God” (Ac. 2:11).
From Acts 2, it is clear that both Greek words from which the English word “tongue(s)” is derived refer to legitimate languages. The word “tongues” (“glossa” - Ac. 2:4, 11) means “languages.” The word “dialekto” in Ac. 2:8 also refers to legitimate languages as revealed by the text and the context. The believers who spoke in other tongues were not babbling any unintelligible incoherent gibberish. They were miraculously glorifying God in a language other than their own.
The tongues or languages spoken on the Day of Pentecost were Parthian, Mede, Cappadocian, etc (Ac. 2:9-11). Each person in that multinational gathering heard the Word of God in his own tongue or language. Likewise, the word “tongue” in 1 Corinthians refers to specific known languages (cf. 1 Cor. 14:21; Is. 28:11-12—Babylonian). Mere gibberish (unintelligible non-language) violates Scripture. Some might call it a “heavenly language” or “tongues of angels,” but every time God spoke personally or by means of angels, He spoke in an already known language.
Today, Charismatics and Pentecostals not only babble in unintelligible incoherent gibberish when supposedly “speaking in tongues,” but they are also actually taught how to speak in this gibberish (“tongues”) by leading figures within the Charismatic and Pentecostal camps. These “tongues” uttered are completely foreign to the miraculous speaking of legitimate languages as evidenced in the early churches described in the Word of God.
2. Tongues Were Actually Understood by the One Speaking.
A careful reading of 1 Cor 14 (specifically vv. 2, 4 and 14) clearly reveals that the one speaking in a “tongue” understood what he was saying or praying. He was speaking to God (v. 2), and he was edifying himself (v. 4). In order for him to be edified, he had to understand what he was saying.
In 1 Cor 14:14, Paul says that when one speaks in another language unknown to others, his understanding (note: he understood what he was saying) was unfruitful (it did not benefit anyone else) unless he exercised love and shared his understanding with others. Notice that the individual prayed “in the spirit” and with understanding also (1 Cor. 14:15).
“If any man speak in an unknown tongue . . . let one interpret. But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church. . .” (1 Cor. 14:27-28)
“Interpreting” is “translating,” that is, giving a word-for-word, phrase-for-phrase translation in the known tongue identical in meaning to the word in the unknown tongue. Unless someone translates the unknown language, speaking in one is unscriptural.
Modern “tongues” speaking have no interpreter. Biblical tongues speaking however required an interpreter; in fact, the miracle was not only in the speaking but also in the interpretation (1 Cor. 12:13). It was a truly amazing gift, together with its twin, the interpretation of tongues. To speak or interpret a language one has never learned is a great miracle.
Today, Charismatics and Pentecostals, because they are speaking gibberish rather than an actual language, do not know (or cannot know) what they are saying. Such “tongues” speaking is completely foreign to the miraculous speaking of a legitimate language with understanding as evidenced in the early churches described in the Word of God.
3. Tongues Were to Be Interpreted for the Church’s Edification.
The interpreter, whether the speaker of another language himself or another individual, knew and understood what the speaker was saying. The problem in the early churches as addressed by Paul in 1 Cor 12-14 centred in the fact that the one speaking in tongues was acting in an unloving manner since he was not sharing his understanding with others and thus edifying the body of Christ (1 Cor. 14:14-17).
The “tongues” speaker was to provide for the interpretation of that which he was saying (1 Cor. 14:13, 27-28) so others would also profit from his understanding. God desired that all believers in the early church understand His messages to them as given by tongues and prophecies (1 Cor. 14:12, 19, 26-31). Those who exercised their spiritual gifts (tongues, prophecy, knowledge, etc.) were not to use their gifts selfishly. The believers in the church were to be able to say “Amen!” to that which the speaker made known to them (1 Cor. 14:15-17).
Today, Charismatics and Pentecostals who speak in “tongues” cannot interpret their “tongues” because unintelligible gibberish makes no sense! Language must be understood in order for it to be interpreted. Even if “tongues-speaking” Charismatics and Pentecostals did miraculously speak in another language and understand that which they are saying (they don't), few ever follow the Biblical precedent of interpretation for the edification of the churches.
4. Tongues Were Orderly.
The very fact that the gift and interpretation of tongues was given by God for the purpose of glorifying Him and edifying the church and foretelling of God's judgment on unbelieving Israel, necessarily demands that the use and interpretation of these foreign languages occur in an orderly manner. After encouraging the believers in the early church to use their God-given gifts for the edification of the body of Christ, the apostle Paul commands the believers: “Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Cor. 14:40).
God’s Word makes it abundantly clear that God is not the author of confusion (1 Cor. 14:33; Ps. 71:1). It is noteworthy that twice in the chapter in which Paul addresses the use of tongues in the Corinthian church, he emphasizes that all things must be done decently and in order and that God is not the author of confusion.
“Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not.” (1 Cor. 14:22). When someone can speak in a real language that he has never learned (such as someone speaking Arabic who only knows English), that is a miracle. Unintelligible gibberish is not a miracle, and, therefore, does not validate anything. This also invalidates the practice of private praying to God in “tongues” (cf. 1 Cor 14:15).
Modern “tongues” speaking is frequently performed by woman and most leaders in the movement have been woman. However, in the very context of tongues speaking, God commands,
“Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church." (1 Cor 14:34-35)
That should finalize this issue.
Today, Charismatic and Pentecostal churches or assemblies are frequently houses of mass confusion where several or hundreds of individuals at once are “speaking in tongues” at the same time, often led by women. Disorderliness and, as one famous Charismatic leader stated, “pandaemonium,” aptly describe the “manifestations of the Spirit” as they occur in Charismatic or Pentecostal "churches."
5. Tongues were Always a Sign for the Jew, Specifically Unbelieving Israel, and of Impending Judgement to the Jews.
No, that is not anti-semitism but biblical truth. I love the Jewish people (since the moment of my conversion to Christ) and love speaks the truth whether someone likes it or not. God’s Word clearly states that tongues were a sign to the unsaved Jews (1 Cor. 14:20-23; Is 28:11-12; 33:18-19).
"In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord." (1 Cor. 14:21)
This is a prophecy of Isaiah 28:11-12,
“For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear.”
When tongues speaking was done in the context of professing believers, “will they not say that ye are mad?" (1 Cor. 14:23). “Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not.” (v. 22). They were a sign to the unsaved Jews that God was working with an entirely new body now, a body comprised of Jew and Gentile alike (Eph. 2:11-22). “For the Jews require a sign.” (1 Cor. 1:22). God designed the signs for the Jews. Each time we see the gift of tongues exercised in the book of Acts, Jews were present (Ac. 2:4-6; 10:46; 19:6). Those who gathered in Jerusalem for Pentecost were Jews. This is the key to understanding the gift of tongues. In the book of Acts, the act of speaking in tongues is mentioned only three times (Ac. 2, 10, 19), and in each instance, Jews were present. Where we do not find Jews, as in Athens or in Malta, neither do we find this sign. The Jews needed authentication of the Gospel during this transition period of history, and this speaking in foreign languages authenticated true Christianity. They were also a sign to convince the first-century Jews that the Gospel being proclaimed was of God.
The speaking of foreign tongues has always in fact been a sign of God of impending judgment for the Jews lest they repented (Is. 28:11-12; 1 Cor. 14:22). Israel was judged extremely hard after the rejected their Messiah, with millions of Jews slaughtered in the siege of the nation by the Romans in 72 A.D., and then driven out the land and scattered throughout the world only to be persecuted for being Jews over the next two millennia. Those were all people of other tongues. In the four gospels, Jesus prophesied that would occur, and He was repeating a prophecy that exited in the Old Testament, which Israel should have known had they read and listened to the Word of God over their leaders. Not long after Isaiah 28:11, was given, Israel was judged hard as well, with many Jewish people losing their lives. The Babylonian captivity is also an example, amongst others.
Throughout history God has warned the unrepentant Israelites of impending judgment through the hearing of foreign languages. This would be a sign to them. Why? Why did the Pharisees demand of Jesus: "Master we would see a sign from thee" (Matt. 12:38)? The reason we find throughout the O.T. (e.g. Ex. 4:8-9; Jos. 3:7; 1 Ki. 18:36) and the prophets of old, such as Moses and Elijah and Joshua, always had there God given ministries confirmed with God given signs. To show God-given signs, was a mark of the prophets ministry and proof that God had called them and that they were true prophets indeed (De. 13:1-11; 18:15-22). This is likewise true of the apostles. They were Gods chosen vessels to act under His direction during the transition into the new dispensational age of the (mostly) Gentile church. God confirmed their call with signs and wonders (Ac. 2:1-21), which were fulfilling prophecy (Joel 2:28-32). Consider examples of tongues-speaking before judgment:
(a) Tower of Babylon: God commanded the people to replenish the earth in Gen. 9:1, immediately proceeding the world flood. The sinful and rebellious people disobeyed and instead populated only one area (Gen. 11:1-4). Gods judgment upon them was a multiplicity of languages (Gen. 11:6).
(b) Assyrians and Babylonians: The God-sent prophet Isaiah attempted to teach the Jewish people, precept upon precept and line upon line, just like little children but they would not listen. He warned the leaders that God had promised judgment unless they repent, and they would know that judgment was impending when they would hear people speaking (what sounded to the Jews) in "stammering lips and tongues [meaning foreign languages]” (Is. 28:10-12). Yet for all those warnings they still would not listen; consequently judgment would come through.
(c) Apostles and Disciples of Jesus Christ: In the time following the crucifixion of Christ, the Jews were warned of impending judgment, in similar manner as in the O.T., that is by giving the sign of foreign languages (Ac. 2:2-17) which was a fulfilling of prophecy (Joel 2:28-32). As the time preceding the Assyrian invasion of Israel or the Babylonian capture of Judah, the Jews heard strange languages spoken in their midst and because their refused to nationally repent and judgment was standing at the door. They were overrun by the Romans in 72 AD and scattered to the ends of the earth (Ze. 12), all of which was prophesied in the O.T., if they were to reject and eject their Messiah; which they did. "O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and ye would not! Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord." (Matt. 23:37-39)
(d) Today, Preceding the Great Tribulation Period: This sign in general proves to be correct today as well, because the Jews hear multiplicity of languages spoken in their land, warning of an impending judgment, the seven year Great Tribulation period (seventieth week of Daniel) is knocking at the door.
God said He would speak to “this people” (the Jews) through another tongue, but they would not hear, and this is exactly what happened. Israel was given the sign of Jews and Gentiles supernaturally speaking the praises of Jehovah God in their own languages and preaching the judgment of God to come, but she rejected it and continued in rebellion. The sign, having been fulfilled, ceased to function after the days of the apostles; and that's exactly what we find Paul teaching the church at Corinth (1 Cor. 13:8-10).
Modern “tongues” speaking is always done in the presence of professing so-called Christians, while Biblical tongues however, as we have noted above, "are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not:" (1 Cor. 14:22a).
Today, Charismatics and Pentecostals refuse to recognize that the supernatural speaking of foreign languages by those who did not previously know the language was a gift given by God in the early churches to authenticate His message to the Jews and also of their impending judgment.
6. What Tongues Were Not.
Besides the unintelligible gibberish already mentioned under point 1, there are other things tongues-speaking was not in a time when there were real tongues speaking, that of legit languages.
Speaking in Tongues was also not a sign of the filling of the Holy Spirit. The disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit many times in the book of Acts, and only once tongues is mentioned (see Ac. 4:8, 31; 5:3; 6:5; 7:55; 9:17; 11:24; 13:9, 52).
The tongues speaking on the day of Pentecost was a miracle of the Holy Spirit. The disciples were not seeking tongues and were not trying to do something to produce tongues.
In contrast, that which passes for “tongues” today is ridiculous. Something that can be taught, learned, and imitated is no miracle! (That which passes today as the gift of healing is equally ridiculous.) A careful study on the origin of the Pentecostal movement at the turn of the 20th century should convince any Bible believer of its bogus and heretical character.
The gift of tongues has to operate according to strict apostolic rules (1 Cor. 14), not at the qualms of mankind in any shape or fashion. David Cloud writes "Though I have attended dozens of Pentecostal and charismatic churches and conferences in many countries, forty years later I have never witnessed the scriptural operation of tongues. This is because certain of the spiritual gifts were apostolic sign gifts (2 Cor. 12:12), and tongues was one of these." (Cloud, FCNN, Aug 9, 2013).
7. Tongues Have Passed Away.
Tongues have passed away. God is no longer using prophets, apostles and others who authenticated God’s message “with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to His own will” (Heb. 2:3-4).
By its very nature a sign gift had to be limited in scope.
Tongues have passed away today because the canon of Scripture is complete. Paul told the Corinthians that prophecies, tongues, etc. would cease (1 Cor. 13:8) “when that which is perfect [i.e., matured or completed] is come” (1 Cor. 13:10). When the canon of God’s Word was complete, God’s words to mankind were finished. No further messages or authentication were necessary. Tongues were no longer needed after the first century because the churches of God possessed the complete Word of God and no longer needed any further direct revelation via prophets, apostles, tongues, etc.
The apostle Paul revealed that such apostolic signs as tongues speaking would cease once they were no longer needed.
"When that which is perfect [complete] is come, then that which is in part shall be done away" (1 Cor. 13:9-10)
Clearly in the context, "that which is perfect" refers to the complete revelation of God. When the last book of the Bible was transmitted to the churches by the last living apostle, the Lord warned us neither to "add unto" nor to "take away from the words of the book of this prophecy" (Rev. 22:18-19). We are warned that "many false prophets shall arise, and deceive many" (Matt. 24:11) and modern "tongues speaking" is a great deception by false prophets. We see today many false prophets have indeed "gone out into the world" (I Jn. 4:1), just as Jesus warned, and they have "deceived many." They have added to the Word of God something that God has given no authority for. They should give very careful heed to what is written in Rev. 22:18-19 about their great evil.
Charismatics and Pentecostals today deny that direct revelation is now closed and has ceased to exist. Many believe that God is still speaking today through tongues, visions, dreams, etc. This teaching is not only unscriptural since the Word of God alone is sufficient for all things (2 Tim. 3:14-17), but it opens the door to many strange and unbiblical “words from God” to mankind today. It is heresy, plain and simple, and very contrary to the Word of God.
In conclusion, the modern “tongues” movement contradicts Scripture because tongues have ceased (1 Cor 13:8b) and what they are muttering and grunting is NOT “tongues.” The purpose of sign gifts was to authenticate God’s Word. Since confirmation of the NT was completed with the completion of the canon of Scripture, the miraculous gift of tongues has ceased with the passing of the last apostle. Tongues did not reappear (and then only in a fraudulent form) in the charismatic movement began at the beginning of the 20th Century. Tongues could not have disappeared if they were a permanent gift to the church (a total apostasy is impossible—Matt. 16:18; 28:20), so they only could have stopped because God had accomplished His purpose for them.
Today's "tongue speaking" by heretical false professing Christians is a mumble-jumble, incoherent mess completely contrary to Scripture. Yet they claim that's its a language that only God understands, it’s the language that is spoken in Heaven. They call it ‘getting the Holy Ghost.’” This is the practice that passes as “tongues speaking” in these last days, but it is contrary to every Biblical test. The charismatic movement with its bogus “spiritual gifts” is a major element in building the apostate one-world “church.
A summary could be as follows,
(a) Biblical tongues speaking consisted of human languages that were spoken miraculously without any learning or preparation (Ac. 2:1-4).
(b) Biblical tongues speaking, along with their interpretation was a double-miracle.
(c) Biblical tongues speaking was a sign to the Jews only (1 Cor. 14:20-22) and Jews were present every time that tongues were spoken in the book of Acts (Ac. 2:5-11; 10:46; 19:6). It was actually a sign of impeding judgment to the Jews, lest they repent and turn to God.
(d) Biblical tongues speakers or prophesiers had control over their spirits and could stop when necessary (1 Cor. 14:29-30, 32-33).
(e) Biblical tongues speaking was only to do be performed by men. Women were forbidden to speak in tongues (1 Cor. 14:34-35).
(f) Biblical tongues speaking was never a sign of “getting the Holy Spirit.” The 3,000 who were saved on the day of Pentecost, for example, did not speak in tongues (Ac. 2).
The charismatic movement and contemporary worship music are two of the most powerful elements of the building of the end-time one-world “church.” Flee from these evils and rather reprove them.
“And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them.” (Eph 5:11)
The Lord Jesus warned us always to "beware of false prophets" (Matt 7:15). The basic criterion by which to test any alleged prophecy (ancient or modern) or "sign" is whether or not it fully conforms to the inspired and preserved written Word of God, the Bible.
"To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them" (Is. 8:20)
The following pneumonic was developed by this author for the purpose of enhancing memory as to why "tongues speaking,” according to modern day definition, is heretical and what they as a sign were meant to signify.
T: Tongues were real earthly legitimate languages (Acts 2:6-11). The miracle was in the speaking not in the hearing (Ac. 2:6). Wherever we read the word "tongues" we always find it referenced to real languages of people (Rev. 5:9; 7:9; etc). Biblical tongues speaking consisted of human languages that were spoken miraculously without any learning or preparation (Ac. 2:1-4).
O: Only a sign to Jews, specifically unbelieving Israel (1 Cor. 14:20-22; Is. 28:11).
N: Not a sign for believers (1 Cor. 14:20-22). The Bible plainly states that tongues are not a sign to believers. This is a far-reaching truth, because in the context of the Pentecostal-Charismatic movement, tongues are commonly said to be a sign to believers. Tongues speaking is allegedly considered a sign of faith and a sign of God’s blessing and a sign of the indwelling Holy Spirit and a sign of power. In all these cases, tongues speaking is looked upon as a sign to believers. In 1 Cor. 14:20-22 Paul refutes this error in the clearest of words. Again, strange languages were primarily a sign of impending judgment to unbelieving Jews. The foreign languages were also given for teaching and preaching to the people.
G: Given only temporarily. Tongues have passed away today because the canon of Scripture is complete. Paul told the Corinthians that prophecies, tongues, etc. would cease (1 Cor. 13:8) “when that which is perfect [i.e., matured or completed] is come” (1 Cor. 13:10). When the canon of God’s Word was complete, God’s words to mankind were finished. No further messages or authentication were necessary. Tongues were no longer needed after the first century because the churches of God possessed the complete Word of God and no longer needed any further direct revelation via prophets, apostles, tongues, etc.
U: Unintelligible Gibberish speaking is not tongues-speaking. God is not the author of confusion (1 Cor. 14:33; Ps. 71:1). Unintelligible gibberish is not a miracle, and, therefore, does not validate anything. The interpreter, whether the speaker of another language himself or another individual, knew and understood what the speaker was saying.
E: Edification of the Church was another reason for tongues. The “tongues” speaker was to provide for the interpretation of that which he was saying (1 Cor. 14:13, 27-28) so others would also profit from his understanding. God desired that all believers in the early church understand His messages to them as given by tongues and prophecies (1 Cor. 14:12, 19, 26-31). Those who exercised their spiritual gifts (tongues, prophecy, knowledge, etc.) were not to use their gifts selfishly. The believers in the church were to be able to say “Amen!” to that which the speaker made known to them (1 Cor. 14:15-17). Unintelligible gibberish makes no sense and thus has no edification!
S: Salvation or Sanctification? Neither. Speaking in tongues is not evidence of salvation or the process of sanctification, as egregiously claimed by Charismatics and Pentecostals. On the day of Pentecost only the disciples who were already saved spoke in tongues and the 3,000 who were saved that day did not speak in tongues. Many other salvations are recorded in Acts, but only two times were tongues involved. Tongues was a gift that not all believers exercised even in the first century (1 Cor. 12:28-30). The Bible says tongues would cease (1 Cor. 13:8). The context refers to the revelatory gifts of prophecy, tongues, and knowledge. They ceased because the N.T. Scriptures were completed. Church history tells us that the sign and revelatory gifts ceased after the death of the apostles.