Posted by: Joe of St. Thérèse | September 25, 2007

The Gift of Tounges

As you’ve noticed, I’ve been using this blog thing to teach different things about the Catholic Faith that I think everyone should understand. One of the most confusing is the gift of tounges.
Let’s first start off by saying that there are 2 different gifts of tounges.
1. The first is the gift of tounges to speak in language that they don’t know(ref Acts 2:3,6; 10:44-46; 19:5-6; 1 Cor 12:14, Acts 11:15 ). I wiill refer when I’m saying they speak in foregin languages as 1.
2. The other is when you’re speaking language that is understood by God and the interpreter (who will always be present). I will refer to language understood by God and the interpreter as 2.
Now let us remember the comission by Christ “Go, therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt 28:19).
Question for all of you to think about: How are they going to make disciples of all nations when the apostles only knew aramaic?
The gift that came down on the Apostles at pentacost allowed them to speak in languages that they did not konw. This should be logical, since their job was to proclaim the gospel to all nations.
In the Corinthian Church, there are examples of both gifts of tounges.
Examples of 1
1 Cor 14:21: St. Paul is teaching about the gift of tounges here. He quotes Isaiah 11:28 here. In that verse it is talking about so called “alien tounge” of the foregin invaders which refers to foregin language.
1 Cor 14:5 “unless someone interprets” which is said by St. Paul, the greek word for interpret is diermhneuvh, which always is refered to foregin language. (ref Jn 1:42; 9:7 Heb 7:2)
If you notice in Ch 12-14 of 1 Cor, St. Paul doesn’t make distinction between the Corinthians speaking in tounges and the tounge speaking in Acts. Now when the Ephesians (Acts 19:5-6), and the Corinthians were tounge speaking, it was around the same period of time. St. Paul would have denoted differences if he saw them.
Examples of 2
1 Cor 14:2 “For he that speaketh in a tounge speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man heareth. Yet by the Spirit bespeaketh mysteries” (DRB). St. Paul describes these as mysteries, which might suggest that they were to be understood by God and the interpreter present. (ref. Tounges of Angels 1 Cor 13:1)
1 Cor 14:4 “He that speaketh in a tounge, edifeth himself” (DRB). If person is speakng language they can not understand, they can not at all edifeth himself, unless the language was being interpreted for him. As I mentioned the nessesity for the interpreter (1 Cor 14: 13,27-28). The gift of interpretation could have been applied to understanding the language that is being spoken to God.
Other references 1 Cor 14:10-11, 16-17, 23
I ought to explain in verse 23, when St. Paul uses the term “mad” that he could be refering to the outsiders, that they didn’t know (possible deamon possesion)
On sounds that were heard as foregin languages
Acts 2:6 15 men, 12 apostles, you do the math, lol.
St. Paul’s teachings on the usage of tounges, and the gift of tounges
Tounge speaking is a gift of the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:4, 10-11). Although it is not mentioned when the gifts are listed in Galatians
he doesn’t prohibt, and also encourages it, as long as it follows his teachings.
St. Paul also says that tounge speaking isn’t always of the Holy Spirit. It can also be biproduct of pride and immaturity. He consequently calls the Church in Corinth immature (ref 1 Cor 3:1-3, 14:20) and seeking the wisdom of men (1 Cor 2:5, 13, 3:18). The people that were claiming to have the gift of tounges were causing dissenctions and jealousy amongst the Church., and mimicking it to ascend in the church (ref 1 Cor. 1:10-13; 3:3; 4:6-7,18; 5:2; 11:17-22)
Tounge speaking can also be of satanic origin. He could be using demons to punish the faithful. (ref: cf. Ezek. 14:6-11; 1 Kings 22:22-23). Paul warns St. Timothy that some of the people might fall to this (1 Tim 4:1). And why St. John tells us to test all Spirits to see if they’re from God 1 Jn 4:1)
Major Points that St. Paul makes
1. Tounge speaking is a LESSER gift from God. On the heirarchy of gifts, tounges is much lower. For example prophecy is > tounges. (ref: 1 Cor. 14:1-5,19,22). As I’ve mentioned before, it’s not listed amongts the listing of the gifts: (ref: Rom. 12:4-8; Eph. 4:11-12; Gal. 5:22; 1 Peter 4:7-11; 1 Tim. 4:14; 2 Tim. 1:6).
2. The gift of Tounges will CEASE. In 1 Cor 13:8, the greek word for cease is pauomai, which means to end abruptly literally, on it’s own, and not be replaced by another gift at all. As you’ll notice, this is the only gift of the Spirit that is said to “cease”. Greek for pass away is katargeo, which would normally indicate that it’d be replaced by superior power. This is NOT the case with tounges.
St. Paul doesn’t say when the gift will cease. St. Augustine reported that the gifts had ceased by his day and when tounges were spoken, they were used for evangelization purposes (St. Thomas Aquainus Agrees). They may have been ceasing during biblical period, since tounge speaking isn’t recorded in later books of the NT.
Sts: Anthony of Pauda, Dominic, Francis Xavier, John of the Cross, Ignatius of Lyola had this gift. Which shows how rare this gift is and whom it’s given to (very holy people)
Parameters of tounge speaking
1. The person should pray for the power to interpret the tounge (1 Cor 14:13), or have someone present to interpret (1 Cor 14:27). If tounge can not be interpreted, the person MUST REMAIN SILENT ( 1 Cor 14:28) Tounges should be able to be understood from this (1 Cor. 14:6-12)
2. In congregation at most 3 people should speak in tounges (1 Cor 14:27), and each must speak in turn. It DOESN’T MATTER HOW MANY PEOPLE THEIR ARE IN THE CONGREGATION AT ALL, whther it be 10, or 1000. If more than 3 are speaking in tounges, you can question the authenticity of it (as in the case in some protestant churches)
3. The tounge speaking must be done for edification of the Church.(1 Cor 14:5,26). When a person speaks in tounges he edifies himself, which is fine, however to edify the Church, Paul requires interpreter and only 2 and 3 at a time. As we all know God isn’t the author of confusion 1 Cor 14:33. And having many people speak in tounges would lead to confusion. 😦
4. Women should keep silence in the churches ( 1 Cor 14:34). What exactly this means is that women should NOT speak tounges in the church. St. Paul is underscoring this is commandment from God, “as the law says” In their assemblies some proetestant churches have women speaking “in tounges” which would contridict God’s command.
5. St. Paul also realizes the fact that tounge speaking could be sign of unbelief and God is putting judgement on them. When St. Paul is teaching about proer useage of tounges, he quotes Is 28:11-12 “By men of strange tongues and by the lips of foreigners will I speak to this people, and even then they will not listen to me, says the Lord.” St. Paul is making reference to the apostolate Jews of 8ths century right before the Assyrians blew them out of the water. The punishment to the Jews was to allow the Assyrians to speak in foregin tounges to confuse them (Assyrians are doing the confusing btw), before they were ultimately desroyed. This was prophicized to them during 15ths century BC (Deut 28:49-50). He also sent non-understandable languages for lack of faith at the tower of Basal (Gen 11)
St. Paul is telling the Corinthian Church that thier abuse of tounges is a sign of God’s judgmement against them. Which is why he says that tounges are a sign for non-believers (1 Cor 14:22). Also the very same reason why he uses the term “mad” because of the fact that their abuses of tounges make them look absolutely insane. The unbelievers in this example were the Corinthians themselves. The same reason why Jesus spoke in Parables by the way.
Something to think about when you’re using “tounges”


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