As I’ve looked at the gift of tongues, I’ve found out that there’s a lot to work through. More than you might expect. The questions can get really complex. I want to find the straight-forward answers… But I want answers that seem to satisfy everything the Bible says about the gift.
I decided to write down all the questions & issues I can identify–every decision you have to make about the subject. What do you have to work through, when you’re studying it? Some of these have to do with the nature of the gift, and others are practical questions. Some are directly exegetical–about understanding a particular passage–and others are more general.
Note: Some of these questions have simple answers. Some seem like they have simple answers, but don’t. And maybe some seem complex to me, but they really aren’t.
Also Note: I’ve been sitting on this entry for a week or two, tweaking it & improving it. I’m still not entirely happy with it… There are parts that might not be clear enough. But I can’t keep fiddling forever.
Invitation: If you can think of any additional questions, please, leave a comment. I’d like to make this as exhaustive as possible!
I. Summary: The Biggest Questions
- Is the gift of tongues still given today?
- Can all believers speak in tongues?
- Should all believers speak in tongues?
- Are tongues always directed to God, i.e. prayer or praise? Or does it include messages to other people?
- The gift of tongues seems to involve some kind of unlearned language. But is it a heavenly language–a “private prayer language”, i.e. glossalalia–or is it speaking in an unlearned human language? Or does it include both?
- Can you understand your own gift, when you speak it? Always? Ever?
- How are interpreted tongues to be practiced in church? 1 Cor. 14:28 says, “if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church“. How do you know if there’s someone to interpret?
- How does an uninterpreted tongue edify the speaker (1 Cor. 14:4)?
- Are there any differences between tongues in Acts and tongues in 1 Corinthians?
- What does it mean that tongues are a sign for the unbeliever, while prophecy is a sign for the believer? (1 Cor. 14:21-25) How does this fit into the flow of Paul’s argument? (Major question!)
Below I’ll list more questions–both additional questions, and more detailed questions about the above. (more…)