“If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:1‬ ‭

Is this sufficient proof that there are angelic languages? If so what was Paul basing this on? Any OT examples or extraBiblical sources from antiquity that Paul could be relying on?

If this is a hyperbole, how is one to understand tongues of men for they clearly exist? While the first three verses evidently used exaggerations it does not do so with fictitious examples, except possibly languages of the divine beings/ heavenly hosts.

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    I think this is likely Paul referencing the claims that some of the Corinthians were making, or hearing made, regarding 'tongue speakers'. He was not willing to declare that they were not or could not speak thus but outlined spiritual constraints as to proper usage. Feb 12, 2021 at 1:27

2 Answers 2


The apostles spoke in the languages of other nations on the day of Pentecost.

If it is the case that some misunderstood, and if it went abroad during those times that 'men can speak in the tongues of angels', then Paul would be aware of such misunderstanding and rather than cause a great deal of strife about something that is difficult (or impossible) to actually 'prove', he might choose not to argue but to avoid the whole contention.

We see him regulate any such occurrence by requiring that any speech 'in an unknown tongue' must be interpreted, not by the speaker (who could make something up) but by another witness who must be able to understand the 'tongue'.

And we see Paul state that, even if he spoke in the tongue of angels (though he does not state that he does so, or even could so) yet did so without charity, it would be worthless.

Then, in Paul's later epistles, particularly his last to Timothy, he mentions nothing about the subject when exhorting pastoral care to either Timothy or Titus.

Nor does John, ever, mention the subject in any of his writings which came at the end of the first century and after the departure of the other apostles.

To me, this all points in a certain direction.

But, like Paul, I choose not to enter into contention or strife on the matter, but just to state the obvious.

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    Was hoping for a direct answer but this will suffice until one such answer shall come in the future Feb 18, 2021 at 8:20
  • @NihilSineDeo Thank you for the acceptance. My own view is that Paul, himself, does not directly confront the question. Thus my own is as it is. Regards.
    – Nigel J
    Feb 18, 2021 at 10:12

Does 1 Corinthians 13:1 indicate the existence of ‘angelic’ languages?

I don't think by analyzing the Greek syntax and semantics themselves, one can prove without a doubt the existence of angelic languages. However, it is natural to understand it as such even just reading the verse by itself.

Further, Paul had experienced this angelic language some 14 years earlier.

2 Corinthians 12:1 I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. 2I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. 3And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows— 4was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that no one is permitted to tell.

More evidence is found in 1 Corinthians 14:2

For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit.

No human understands these utterances.

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    The things heard in the third heaven are 'inexpressible' because they are not permissible. Not because they were not understood. Had they not been understood in the first place there was no need to forbid what could not be expressed because there was no possibility that such things as could not be understood could ever be told.
    – Nigel J
    Feb 11, 2021 at 21:22

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