The subject of tongues does not stand alone, nor is it complete in itself; we find the origin and roots in another subject: known as “Prophesy.” When the spirit of the Lord came upon them, they would prophesy in the language (tongue) of those present, 1 Samuel 10:6-12.
There are four references in the New Testament that are usually referred to this subject of tongues: Acts 2, Acts 10, Acts 19, and I Corinthians 14. Only Acts 2 and 1 Corinthians 14 deal extensively with this matter. We will discuss this in the order that is first mentioned here. We must keep in mind that God has always established His WORD and work in an intelligent way. The spirituality is measured by conformity to the revealed WORD to enable us to become like His Dear Son.
In the second chapter of Acts is the fulfillment of Joel 2:23. As God’s Spirit would come upon the people, they would prophesy, men and women, old and young alike. On the day of Pentecost when His people were gathered together, God sent His Spirit upon His people as He had promised, assuring them that Jesus had arrived in the presence of the Father. In the fulfillment of Joel 2:28, all the believers prophesied (publicly expounded) “the wonderful works of God,” resulting in the unbeliever hearing them speak in his own language, verses 6, 8, and 11. It is emphatically clear from this chapter that as God’s Spirit came upon the people, they prophesied in the languages that each one understood, which was more than twelve. This gave assurance to the believer that God had given them His Spirit, because they were able to prophesy, not because everyone understood in their own language. The unbeliever was convinced because Isaiah 28:11 was being fulfilled, which was a sign given by God to them. I Corinthians 12:21, “with another tongue will I speak to this (Jewish people) people.”
In Acts 10:46, “For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God.” Those who preached did not speak with tongues, but rather those who heard. Those who received the revealed message, God gave His Spirit and they magnified God. We know wherever “tongues” are mentioned in the Bible, it has to do with distinctly known languages. These Italian Gentiles had received God’s Spirit. The Jews heard then speak (which must have been intelligent) and as they spoke, they “magnified God.” The gentiles spoke by revelation or knowledge, being understood by the believing Jews. This sign of Isaiah 28:11 and the fulfillment of Joel 2:28 convinced the believing Jews that God had also given to the Gentile of His Spirit.
In Acts 19:6, “The Holy Ghost came upon them and they spake with tongues and prophesied.” To prophesy is to publicly expound. In I Corinthians 14:3, Paul said it was for the purpose of edification, exhortation, and comfort. Nothing has ever been accomplished in nonsense sounds or noises that are not meaningless and intelligent and easy to be understood, 1 Corinthians 14:7, the foundation of the Ephesian Church. God’s Spirit came upon these 12 men; they prophesied in the literal spoken language of those present, the very same as in Acts 10, fulfilling Isaiah 28:11 and Joel 2:28. Tongues are not mentioned unless there are differences of known languages.
The three incidents mentioned above is dealing with the Spirit of God coming upon the believer, prophesying when there were language differences, without the interpreter. In the Corinthian letter, Paul is dealing with “church problems amongst the Christian believers who were erring in several matters. One of them was “tongues,” as some were taking part in the Christian assembly in other languages. 1 Corinthians 12:23, the diversities of tongues is associated with the interpreter, verse 30.
In I Corinthians 14, Paul is admonishing the Christians about an error that had become a concern and worthy of correcting, as it was hindering the spirit of godly fellowship. There were some taking part in the worship service, both in prayer and testimony in other languages, which was not profitable (verse 6) nor was it edifying; they were admonished to keep silent unless there was an interpreter present. In verse 21, Paul said, “In the law it is written, with men of other tongues and other lips I will speak to this people” (Jewish People) Isaiah 28:11. Isaiah was definitely referring to another literal language. As God’s Spirit came upon those of another language or race as they prophesied, the unbelieving Jew would be convinced and the believing ones would be edified, exhorted and comforted. As it speaks of the unlearned, it proves it is a language that can be learned. It’s emphatically then a language not understood, or not interpreted in the Christian assembly, would not be beneficial to the believer, and the unlearned and the unbeliever would think them “mad.”
In conclusion, I’ll add a few lines regarding the going forth of the Gospel of God. This Gospel of everlasting life has always been preached in an intelligent language; God’s true work of Salvation has never been in an incoherent language/manner; Jesus never spoke in so called “tongues” or needed an interpreter, nor can Christianity be established in a spoken gibberish. The New Testament Church would have quickly withered on the vine and died if only incoherent, incomprehensible language was spoken in the assembly. Spiritual maturity does not come by mystical Heavenly prayer language (unknown to the human ear). The New Testament scripture was spoken in a known language to convince the unbeliever and edify the believer. Christians are admonished to speak the truth in love, as they grow up in Him. Paul concludes in 1 Corinthians 14, “The things I write unto you are commandments of the Lord, but if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.”