Origin of Tongues Speaking?

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Good morning M____,

I am very grateful that you are being edified by what you are reading on the web site. Your first question is:

It is not understood. That is why an interpreter is needed, and that is also what proves that this is not some extraterrestrial language, as some who teach the false doctrine of unknown tongues teach. The use of this gift in not even designed for those who already believe.

1Co 14:22 Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth [ as a sign] not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.

Paul is telling these “carnal… babes in Christ” (1Co 3:1-4) that they were abusing the gift God had given them when they took it upon themselves to display their gift simply for the sake of edifying themselves instead of edifying the body.

1Co 14:4 He that speaketh in an [ unknown] tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.

The word ‘unknown’ is in brackets in my e- sword, to show that it was added by the translators. It will be in italics in most translations for that same purpose. The work ‘unknown’ is not found in the Greek manuscripts because the word is ‘languages’. These are known languages of known ethnic groups upon this earth. Paul says that anyone who is abusing that gift and speaking in tongues for any reason other than as a sign to unbelievers is simply “edifying himself instead of the church. Paul continues:

1Co 14:5 I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.
1Co 14:6 Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?

Apparently there are many today who prefer the lesser gift of tongues to the greater gift of edifying, exhorting and comforting the church. Paul says it is better to prophesy than to speak in a tongue, and he is speaking of a real language.
I was once a believer in tongues, and I used to answer that question by saying “the spirit was speaking for me with groaning that could not be uttered”

Rom 8:26 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.

If the spirit itself is interceding with the Father for us, then why are we attempting to utter words which we are plainly told “cannot be uttered?” So much for the false doctrine of a “prayer language.”
Another justification for my ‘unknown tongues’ was that I was being personally edified. But what has the holy spirit just told us about attempting to edify oneself, and if that were a valid argument, then why is the apostle Paul ignoring that point and making the argument that anything that cannot be understood is the same as “speaking into the air… [ or as] a barbarian?’ If self- edification were commendable, why then does Paul not at least say so? Instead this is what he is inspired to tell us:

1Co 14:7 And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped?
1Co 14:8 For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?
1Co 14:9 So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air.
1Co 14:10 There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification.
1Co 14:11 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.
1Co 14:12 Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.

“Words easy to be understood.” That is the only subject which is under discussion in this chapter. “Words easy to be understood.” That is what this entire chapter is admonishing us all to speak. All other words are to be avoided and refused. Even known human languages were to be refused and avoided if there were not one unbeliever in the congregation who needed that particular language “as a sign to an unbeliever.” Paul continues:

1Co 14:28 But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.

What Paul has just told us is that it was incumbent upon the person with the gift of any particular human language to first seek out someone in the congregation who was capable of interpreting that particular language before using that language. “If there be no interpreter, [ then] let him keep silence in the church.” How does that square with the doctrine I was raised up with, which stated as part of our churches statement of beliefs, “We believe that the gifts of [ unknown] tongues is the initial evidence of the receiving of the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
What a shameful declaration in light of the fact that we are told in this chapter that we are never to speak in words “which cannot be clearly understood” by some unbeliever who needs to see this incredible gift of speaking in a language in which the speaker has had no formal training or teaching. Paul plainly states the function of this gift of tongues. It is the same function this gift provided on the day of Pentecost:

1Co 14:22 Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.
Act 2:7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?
Act 2:8 And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?

It is prophesying, which is a sign to the believers. It is “speaking to men to edification, exhortation, and comfort, which is a sign for them which believe,” not speaking in a supposedly unearthly language. So much for our Pentecostal false doctrine of “the initial evidence of the gift of the Holy Ghost.” It is simply an unbiblical doctrine. “Tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not.” Paul continues exhorting us:

1Co 14:13 Wherefore let him that speaketh in an [ unknown] tongue pray that he may interpret.
1Co 14:14 For if I pray in an [ unknown] tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.
1Co 14:15 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.

Again, the word ‘unknown’ is in italics in most versions and is in brackets in e- sword to remind us that this word is not in the Greek manuscripts, and was added by the translators who, by the way, did not believe in the doctrine of “unknown tongues” themselves. What the translators meant was ‘not understood’.
I am often asked, as if none of the preceding statements by the apostle concerning this subject even mattered, ‘Well, if what you are saying is true, then why does Paul say “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.”
This question is posed with the closed mindset of a dyed- in- the- wool Pentecostal who is incapable of remembering that Paul had just told us that we were to avoid and refuse “words which cannot be clearly understood.” So the person poses this question as if it were already an established biblical fact that if you understand what you are saying, it is not spiritual, and this in spite of the fact that we were just told to avoid and refuse words which cannot be clearly understood. The obvious truth is that “words which can be clearly understood” can also be spoken “with the spirit and with the understanding.”
Your second question was:

Speaking in unintelligible syllables has been practiced by the Pagans from very ancient times, and is still practiced by the most uncivilized tribes on earth to this very day. But as far as this doctrine of unknown tongues is concerned, the earliest record I am aware of is in the second century of the church. Here is an account of one of the very first of our modern, tongues- talking, prosperity ministers. This is from the so called “Father of church history”, Eusebius, from his book The History of The Church.

“Montanus, in his unbridled ambition to reach the top, laid himself open to the adversary, was filled with spiritual excitement and suddenly fell into a kind of trance and unnatural ecstasy. He raved, and began to chatter and talk nonsense, prophesying in a way that conflicted with the practice of the Church handed down generation by generation from the beginning. Of those who listened at that time to his sham utterances some were annoyed, regarding him as possessed, a demoniac in the grip of a spirit of error, a disturber of the masses. They rebuked him and tried to stop his chatter, remembering the distinction drawn by the Lord, and His warning to guard vigilantly against the coming of false prophets…. Then he secretly stirred up and inflamed minds closed to the true Faith, raising up in this way two others—women whom he filled with the sham spirit, so that they chattered crazily, inopportunely, and wildly, like Montanus himself.”

Eusebius was not all that principled himself, but he is nevertheless widely accepted as ‘the father if church history’, and here he clearly demonstrates that the practice of “talking nonsense”, which is the very definition of ‘ unknown tongues’, was around in the second century. “Unknown tongues are unintelligible nonsense.” I do not say that disparagingly, having at one time myself been a sincere participant in that practice. I say that objectively, having been brought to see the Truth of this verse of scripture:

1Co 14:22 Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.

The only way given for any of us to “try the spirits to see whether they are of God” is to “search the scriptures daily, [ to see] whether these things are so” and to be careful that we never so much as “think above what is written.”

1Jn 4:1 Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.
Act 17:11 These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.
1Co 4:6 And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and [ to] Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think [ of men] above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.

I hope this has demonstrated with the scriptures themselves, that the tongues spoken of in scripture are real, and are so real that when an unbeliever sees a person who has no formal training in a foreign language speaking and conversing in that language, it convicts and convinces that unbeliever.
I also hope that you see that it is prophesying, that is “speaking to men to edify, exhort, and to comfort them, that is the sign to true believers who search the scriptures to see what that ‘prophet’ is saying is true.

Your brother in Christ,

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