Confusing the Gift

Tongues: What It Is What It Is Not

Taking Speaking-in-Tongues to the Next Level – Part 5

In an earlier installment, The Language Around This “Spiritual Language”, we identified many of the popular terms used as synonyms for “speaking-in-tongues.” Those phrases consist of the following: unknown language, speaking in tongues, other tongues, tongues, spiritual language, heavenly language, language of angels, another language or other languages, baptism of the Holy Spirit, Holy Ghost filled and fire baptized, outpouring/infilling of the Holy Spirit, poured out His Spirit, the evidence of speaking with other tongues, praying in tongues, and groanings

Here’s something that you might find interesting: keep in mind I didn’t make this up, but the internet was there to help. The word “tongue” is mentioned roughly 34 times in the entire Bible. At least two and more of the passages (for example Genesis [1] and Isaiah [2]) speak of the tongue not as in speaking-in-tongues, but rather the organ found in the mouth. However, I was able to identify a few patterns from other passages that might intrigue you.

Of all the passages that speak of tongues and allude to speaking-in-tongues, there are two unique phrases that are found. For lack of wanting to provide you with Greek terms, we will simplify this. The two phrases or categories, have you, are: dialect and tongue. The reason these categories are important to note is that the Bible uses a different word where common English uses but one. My point is when we think of “tongues” we have two categories to keep in mind.

  1. Dialect
    In some cases, the word language was used to refer to the common dialect as in:
    • Speak in his own (tongue) language [3]
    • In his own native (tongue) language [3]

  2. Tongue(s)
    Where the Greek word for “tongue” is used, in most cases, we see variations of the phrase speaking-in-tongues:
    • Speak in new tongues [4]
    • Speak in other tongues [3]
    • In our own tongues [3]
    • Speaks/speak/speaking in tongues [5]
    • Various kinds of tongues [6]
    • The interpretation of tongues [6]
    • Speak in the tongues of men and of angels [7]
    • As for tongues [7]
    • *Pray in a tongue [5]
    • Words in a tongue [5]
    • And lastly, just plain “unknown tongues” [8]

What’s peculiar here is that many of the common phrases we use aren’t listed when we search our Bibles. This actually surprised me, but then again it does not. You see, “normal” will cause us to use terminology and even believe things about the Bible that just are not in there. For example, we believe the Bible says to come as you are. By the way, before you look, it is not there. In fact the scripture that this is taken from gives us, church-people, instructions on how to react when someone comes into our meeting not like we are. In other words, it does not give us permission to come as we are, but rather gives us guidance on how to handle those who do come. [9] My point is this. Common, average, ordinary will cause us to believe that something is in the Bible that is not there.

Keep in mind that the majority (51% and greater) rarely read their Bible, so how would they know what’s in its pages in the first place? Don’t believe what ordinary people tell you, you have to read and study it for yourself.

Above, we have a list of the terms that the Bible actually uses to define speaking-in-tongues. It would do us well to use the appropriate terminology to avoid confusing a topic that today most people are confused over anyway. Could this be the case, because we have been calling this gift something that it is not? I know this… We have caused people to think only of tongues when we mentioned being filled with The Spirit. Therefore, we have confused the gift.

Question: in what ways have we taken this terminology and confused the gift of speaking-in-tongues?

[1] ‭‭Genesis 11:1,6-7 NKJV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬,, accessed August 31, 2023,,6-7.NKJV
[2] Isaiah 28:11 NIV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬,, accessed August 31, 2023,
[3] Acts 2:1-11 NKJV,, accessed August 31, 2023,
[4] Mark 16:15-17 NIV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬,, accessed August 31, 2023,
[5] 1 Corinthians 14‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬,, accessed August 31, 2023,
[6] 1 Corinthians 12:10 ESV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬,, accessed August 31, 2023,
[7] 1 Corinthians 13:1 ESV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬,, accessed August 31, 2023,,8.ESV
[8] 1 Corinthians 14 KJV‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬,, accessed August 31, 2023,
[9] James 2:1-9 CSB‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬‬,, accessed August 31, 2023,

All Scripture references used by permission, see our Scripture copyrights.

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