Are their two different types of “tongues” spoke about in the NT?
I believe it would be a misnomer to say that there are two different “types” of tongues. However, there are two separate and distinct “operations” of tongues.
The Operation of Tongues
The gift of speaking in tongues is seen to operate in two distinct ways: personal and corporate. Though these two operations are separate and distinct, they may often overlap in varying degrees. I will say more about this, later.
Both of these operations are made manifest through the natural vehicle of speech. This may seem a bit of an overstatement, but many people who have received the Holy Spirit baptism are not SPEAKING in tongues. People who have received the Holy Spirit baptism, but do not speak in tongues, sometimes get the idea that the Holy Spirit will come upon them and “cause” them to speak out in tongues. This idea could not be further from the truth.
I can still recall how I used to sit with my mouth opened, eagerly waiting for the Holy Spirit to come upon me and USE me to speak in tongues. Oh, I was very clever about it. I would sit with my hand over my mouth (so no one would see how foolish I looked) and wait for the MIRACLE OF GOD to speak the heavenly language through this humble and willing vessel. I expected him to move my lips and mouth and MAKE the utterance come out. I suppose I am the only person in the entire history of Christian humanity who has ever pulled that stunt. Many times I have helped people to realize their error in this area by using two illustrations which I will share with you now. First, I have the person read Acts 2:4.
And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Once they have read this verse of scripture, I ask them to tell me who was doing the speaking. At this point I get nearly an even split, with one half opting for the people, and the other half for the Holy Spirit. I have those who choose the Holy Spirit reread the verse, pointing out that THEY were filled with the HOLY GHOST AND BEGAN TO SPEAK. Those who were filled with the Holy Ghost are the ones who spoke in tongues, but only as the Holy Spirit who gave them utterance.
To further press the point, I run through a short dramatization with the individual as follows. I have the person be himself, while I act the part of the Holy Spirit. Using a well know nursery rhyme such as "Mary Had a Little Lamb," I tell the person to repeat after me, and then I recite the rhyme. When we have completed the exercise, I ask the person, “Who was doing the speaking just now?” The reply is always that they were doing the speaking, of course. The next question is, “Where did you get the words to speak?” They respond that the words came from me, the pseudo Holy Spirit.
This is precisely how speaking in tongues works, with one variation. The Holy Spirit puts the utterance in our spirits, not in our heads. When the Holy Spirit places the utterance in our spirit we speak out that utterance in natural fashion by using our tongue, larynx, diaphragm, and lips. This becomes the foundation of the second dramatization. I tell the person to recite the nursery rhyme again, but this time they are not to use their tongue, larynx, diaphragm, or lips when they speak out. The result is always the same, the most beautiful silence anyone could ask for.
I then explain that therein lies the reason for their failure to speak in tongues - they are not speaking at all. They have not been going through the motions of generating the sounds of speech which always results in SILENCE. When they do not speak in tongues automatically, they assume they are the one who does not get to speak in tongues as they have been given to understand by pastor Don T. Rocktheboat from 1 Corinthians 12:29-30 (more on this later).
It simply cannot be overstated: the supernatural gift of speaking in tongues is realized through the natural gift of speech.
I. Personal Operation
A. The first purpose of this operation of tongues is to be a sign. Mark 16:17 says,
And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;
You should have no trouble seeing that the first purpose for speaking in tongues is a sign of being a believer in Yeshua Messiah. But tongues is even more of a sign than that.
The early church recognized speaking in tongues as the evidence of the Holy Spirit baptism (Acts 2:16-18; 10:46; 19:6), and they did so with good reason.
Only those who had received the Holy Spirit baptism spoke in tongues. Indeed, speaking in other tongues was the initial evidence of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost.
B) The second purpose for personal prayer and edification tongues is for edification. Jude 20 tells us:
But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost.
Here we see those who speak in tongues are built up or edified in the area of their faith by speaking in tongues. 1 Corinthians 14:4 is even more directly stated.
He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that
prophesieth edifieth the church.
Speaking in tongues edifies the speaker, but not the hearer. Prophecy edifies both the speaker and the hearer. You will recall Romans 10:17
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Since faith comes by hearing the word of God, it would stand to reason that speaking in tongues would have to incorporate the word of God if it was going to increase us in the area of our faith. Tongues do exactly that. Tongues are used to speak the perfect will of God directly to God. I am sure we can all agree that God’s word is his will.
Romans 8:26-27 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. And
he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit,
because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of
1 Corinthians 14:2, 4 For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue
speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him;
howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries. He that speaketh in an
unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the
The Holy Spirit gives us the perfect will of God.
In these two passages we see that the Holy Spirit, in giving us the utterance to speak out in tongues, gives us the perfect will of God concerning the situation for which we are praying.
We also see that speaking in tongues is not to be understood by men, as it is an utterance directly to God (speaketh not unto men, but unto God).
C) The third purpose is to speak creative mysteries to God as we pray in tongues (1 Corinthians 14:2). First we create the result in the spiritual realm, then we pray in the understanding so the result can become a reality in the physical realm. The book of Job gives us insight into this dual expression of tongues.
Job 11:6 And that he would shew thee the secrets of wisdom, that they are double to that which is!
The reason God tells us to pray for the understanding of our utterances in other tongues is of far greater importance than just “knowing” what we have spoken. When we confess something in the spiritual language, it becomes a reality in the spiritual realm. But you cannot cut your cake with a spiritual knife.
Once we have used the power of speaking in tongues to create what we need, we must (or someone else must) speak it out in the natural world so God can make it a physical reality. When we first speak out in tongues to create what we need or want, those things belong to God.
The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may
do all the words of this law. Deuteronomy 29:29
When God gives us the interpretation, we speak out in the understanding so God can give that creation to us in the physical, natural realm, where we can use it to glorify him.
1 Corinthians 2:7 But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even
the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory:
Isaiah 45:3 And I will give thee the treasures of darkness, and hidden
riches of secret places, that thou mayest know that I, the LORD, which
call thee by thy name, am the God of Israel.
That which you created will destroy the works of the devil!
The final purpose for personal prayer and edification tongues is intercession, as seen in Romans 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. And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.
This is the best way to intercede for someone; to pray in tongues, thereby praying the perfect will of God for the person or situation we are making intercession.
We all have friends and loved ones whom we pray for on a regular basis. But what are we supposed to do when a situation arises in which we have no idea how we should pray or what we should pray for? Tongues is the answer!
Praying in tongues goes right to the heart of the issue by declaring the perfect will of God over the situation.
Example: Tom and Pam are having problems in their marriage relationship. You have noticed the strain on their marriage, but you do not know why it is there. In short, you do not know what you should pray for as you ought. The best thing to do is to pray in tongues and allow the Holy Spirit to make intercession according to the perfect will of God. I know of nothing better to speak than the perfect will of God. Left to your own, you may pray that Bob be more understanding of Pam, or that Pam stop picking at Tom, when the real problem in the marriage is neither one of them is spending time in the word of God or prayer.
Personal prayer and edification tongues never requires interpretation because it is always personal. It is always directed to God alone! You are edified, and you did not intend for anyone else to join in on the prayer or the edification.
II. Corporate Operation
The second operation of tongues may be seen as the corporate operation, or the charismatic gift of speaking in tongues. The function of corporate tongues is the same as the function of personal tongues.
A) The first purpose of the charismatic gift of speaking in tongues is exactly the same as the first purpose of personal tongues, which is to be a sign to non believers who may happen to be present in the church service (1 Corinthians 14:22).
B) The second purpose for the corporate use of speaking in other tongues is edification of the church. Paul makes a distinction between personal prayer and edification-tongues and the charismatic gift of tongues in chapters 12-14 of 1 Corinthians. The charismatic gift of tongues is NOT for PERSONAL edification!
Apparently there was nearly as much turmoil over tongues in the early church as there is today. But the revelation Paul gives us is enough to quash any misunderstanding provided we listen to what Paul has told us.
It is both interesting and necessary to observe Paul’s use of the words Body, Come Together, Church, and Members in these three chapters of 1 Corinthians. The number of instances is as follows:
BODY = 15xs
COME TOGETHER = 2xs
CHURCH = 8xs
MEMBERS = 10xs
It becomes obvious that Paul is using the assembled church body as his context, and not people in their personal lives. It is necessary that you see this as being true in order for you to understand Paul’s discourse in these chapters. Paul stresses the fact that we (all together) are the (one) body of Christ in the following verses: 1 Corinthians 12:12-14, 17-20, 25-27; 14:19, 23, 26, 28, 33.
The key to understanding the purpose of the CORPORATE operation of tongues is found in 1 Corinthians 14:12.
Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.
You may recall the person who speaks in tongues edifies himself because no man understands him! When someone is going to speak in tongues in the assembled church body, the utterance must be accompanied by an interpretation so that the entire body may be edified and not just the speaker!
Personal tongues, therefore, edifies the speaker only, but the charismatic gift of speaking in tongues is for edification of the entire body. The only way to bring understanding to the entire body, when an utterance in tongues has been brought forth in the assembly, is to have the interpretation of that utterance brought forth as well. This has the net effect in the assembly of a word of prophecy (1 Corinthians 14:5).
Keeping in mind that 1 Corinthians 14:12 is the key to understanding the purpose of the corporate operation of tongues, let’s take a look at some of the verses of scripture in the fourteenth chapter of 1 Corinthians to see what does and what does not edify the entire church body.
VERSE 2 For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.
This cannot edify the entire church body because no man understands JUST speaking in tongues. One must interpret if the entire body is to be edified.
VERSE 3 But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.
Edification is one of the primary functions of prophecy; therefore, it does edify the entire church body.
VERSE 4 He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.
It should be apparent that speaking in an unknown tongue only edifies the person who does the speaking, but it definitely does not edify the entire church body. Speaking a word of prophecy in the common language of the people, however, does serve to edify the entire church body.
VERSE 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.
Speaking in tongues and having that utterance interpreted is the same as a word of prophecy because everyone is edified.
VERSE 13 Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret.
As we just saw, tongues, when accompanied by interpretation serves to edify the entire church body.
VERSE 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.
Tongues does not edify the church body, but it does serve as a sign to the unbeliever.
Prophecy is not a sign to the unbeliever, but it does edify the assembled church body.
VERSE 28 But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.
If there is no interpreter, then there is no means for the entire church body to be edified. Yet Scripture does not command that the man remain entirely silent; he is told only not to speak before the church a singular utterance in tongues.
This verse plainly states,
“. . . let him speak to himself, and to God.”
He is to keep his utterance in tongues at a level which will not disrupt the flow of the service, yet continue to speak in tongues directly to God.
You will no doubt wonder why there are people who pray in tongues, and even sing in tongues in the assembled church, but no interpretation is ever given. The answer to this question is not as difficult as you might think.
Personal prayer and edification tongues are used to speak directly to God (1 Corinthians 14:2).
In a church assembly, where people are praising and worshiping God, praise and worship is always offered to God alone. Since tongues is used to speak directly to God, there is no need for an interpretation to be given for the use of tongues during praise and worship.
Likewise, when someone is praying in tongues during the church service, it is directed to God, and need not be interpreted. In both situations there are usually many people singing or praying at the same time, so that no one voice is distinguishable from another.
It must be understood that any utterance in tongues which is a singular utterance, obviously understood as being for or to the entire assembly, must always be accompanied by an interpretation so all may be edified.