5 By these were the isles of the Gentiles divided in their lands; every one after his tongue, after their families, in their nations. Genesis 10:5 (KJV)
20 These are the sons of Ham, after their families, after their tongues, in their countries, and in their nations. Genesis 10:20 (KJV)
The Law of First Reference is a handy tool to allow us to understand Biblically the meaning of the Biblical word tongues. The Bible serves as its own dictionary. Indeed, it was the knowledge of this that led Noah Webster to write a dictionary of the English Language – and to define words, he turned to the King James Bible.
As you can see, the Hebrew word לָשׁוֹן Lashon means languages, Biblically. It is synonymous with γλῶσσα Glossa.
Speaking in tongues is speaking in languages.
If I were to stand up in my church and begin to speak in French – and had never learned it – that would be glossolalia, the speaking in an unknown language.
I’ve defined the word Glossa (glow-sah) using the Bible. I’ve defined it in English, Greek and Hebrew. I even was able to do it in two minutes using Logos, not relying upon my year of Greek and my year of Hebrew in Seminary.
So, with that in mind, let us look at the phenomenon of glossolalia, speaking in tongues.
First of all, I can pretty much tell if you’ve ever had Greek in a classroom setting by how you say that word. And one of my first points is, every tongue speaker I’ve ever heard say the word is saying it wrong.
Wow, right out of the gate you’re getting shot down.
Omega is pronounced “o”, not “Ahh”. Glossa is pronounced Glow-sah. Glossolalia is Glow-sa-lay-lee-ah.
If you can’t even get that word right, and you say you have the gift of tongues, I’m sorry – I think you just shot that claim in the foot.
In a big way.
Because mis-pronouncing a word – in many languages – gives it a different meaning. You’re now speaking incorrectly.
How can the Holy Spirit give you the ability to speak a foreign language with the quality of a student getting a C- grade average? If this is really from the Holy Sprit – shouldn’t you be speaking it perfectly?
The Charismatic will well protest, “But we don’t speak in that form of tongues anymore.”
But you still tell those stories of you heard it from someone who heard it from someone who was there about the guy who stood up and spoke in tongues, and somebody who happened to be from India who was there started crying and said that prophecy was for him, right?
Relax. That stories’ about 20 years old. I heard it in 1992. And I suspect it goes all the way back to either Zion city or to Frank Sandford and Shiloh, which would probably make it now about 120 years old.
Find me the name of the man from India. Which language did he speak? Don’t assume it’s Farsi. Find me the name of the church. What church? Remember, I heard the story in 1992 – so if you give me the name of a church that started in 2011, I can tell you that it’s not true.
Who’s the name of the man who spoke in tongues? What experience does he have in foreign languages? I can do a monstrous job of faking tongues, because I’ve got a knack for learning languages.
What year did this happen? Give me the name of the pastor, and three witnesses. I need specific, “I was there, it was Jimmy so and so, he spoke in tongues, and Prabdashadah was the man from India on Feb. 31, 1986 in Cleveland Ohio at the Faith Temple of….”
Whenever you hear these stories, notice it’s never from an eyewitness. it’s always hearsay, I know a guy who knows a guy who was there. And when you ask that guy, it turns out that he knows a guy who knows a guy.
The fact you recognize the story and it probably was told to you that “About five years ago…” should tip you off – it’s not true. it’s like the 20 or so people that Todd Bentley supposedly raised from the dead.
History records that people who were at Azuza felt they were called to be missionaries – and no kidding, they were sent overseas with no language training because they had the gift of tongues. They came home disappointed, because nobody could understand what they were saying.
I think we are all agreed that the form of speaking in tongues where you know instantly and can speak every language on earth has passed.
If you believe you know how to speak it, here’s your challenge – go to a Chinese restaurant and order your meal in Mandarin.
“Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.” (1 Corinthians 13:8, KJV)