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The Wonderful Gift Of Tongues

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SIH STSTA ICONWhat is the gift of tongues?  To answer this often asked question, I would like us to look at the most complete description of the gift of tongues that can be found in the Bible.  This account is found in Acts 2:1-24…

Let’s take our time to examine this section of Scripture in an attempt to describe the basic teachings of the gift of tongues and to learn about our Glorious Lord… the Giver of the gift of tongues.


Acts 2:1-24


Some Basic Truths About The Gift Of Tongues….

Vs 1-  “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place.

The gift of tongues was given to members of a local assembly (church at Jerusalem) who were experiencing unity between their members and gathered together to worship the Lord.

Vs 2 – “And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting.

The gift of tongues was given to this church in conjunction with their baptism in the Spirit.  This Spirit baptism was performed to empower the local assembly to fulfill the Great Commission.  This involves taking the gospel to a lost and dying world, baptizing the converts and then teaching those who are baptized the truths of God’s Word.

This baptism in the Spirit manifested itself to the believers in that local assembly as a sound from heaven of a great wind and then the filling of the building with the Spirit surrounding the members of the assembly.  In other words the church body was immersed in the Spirit, just as when a believer is baptized in water, they become entirely immersed and surrounded by the Spirit of God.

Vs 3 – And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them.

The gift of tongues includes a visual aspect to this gift.  When the gift of tongues was given, this gift could be seen visibly as split tongues of fire came and sat upon each member of the local assembly.

Vs 4 – “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

The gift of tongues included a verbal aspect, as the members following their being filled with the Spirit, began to speak in human languages that were unknown to the speakers…

Vs 5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven.  Vs 6 Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.  Vs 7 And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? Vs 8And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?  Vs 9 Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Vs 10  Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Vs 11 Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues …”

Although this gift of tongues was unknown to the speakers, they were human languages that were known by those who were listening.

Vs 11 the wonderful works of God.

What was the content of the message spoken by the assembly members?  They were proclaiming the wonderful works of their God…. His message of salvation and all that He had done for them.  In other words, they were witnessing to those around them.   Keep in mind, the gift of tongues had been given to the church to enable them to fulfill the great commission that had been given to them.  A part of the great commission involves presenting the gospel message to the lost men gathered around them who were unable to speak the native language of the speakers.

Because of this gift, the speakers were able to present the gospel of Christ to those who could not speak their language, nor understand their testimony of Christ.

Vs 12 And they were all amazed, and were in doubt, saying one to another, What meaneth this?  Vs 13  Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine.

Here, we have the response of the lost who were hearing the gospel through the gift of tongues.  Some were amazed at this wonderful testimony of God’s miracle working power and grace.  Some did not know what to think.   Still others mocked and rejected the wondrous miracle they had experienced.

Vs 14 But Peter, standing up with the eleven, lifted up his voice, and said unto them, Ye men of Judaea, and all [ye] that dwell at Jerusalem, be this known unto you, and hearken to my words:  Vs 15 For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is [but] the third hour of the day.  Vs 16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;  Vs 17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: Vs 18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:  Vs 19 And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke:  Vs 20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come:  Vs 21 And it shall come to pass, [that] whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Peter now explains what is actually taking place so there would be no misunderstanding… He tells those who are observing this event that it is not due to drunkenss… but a sovereign, planned act of Almighty God as proven by it as being the fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy.

It also proved that this great event had a main purpose, to enable the gospel to be shared and for the lost to come to salvation through their calling upon the name of the Lord. (Note at the end of Joel’s prophecy, we have this text “And it shall come to pass, [that] whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved “ Peter reapplying this phrase to those observing this wonderful gift of God)

Vs 22 Ye men of Israel, hear these words; Jesus of Nazareth, a man approved of God among you by miracles and wonders and signs, which God did by him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves also know:  Vs 23 Him, being delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God, ye have taken, and by wicked hands have crucified and slain:  Vs 24 Whom God hath raised up, having loosed the pains of death: because it was not possible that he should be holden of it.

Peter then shares the gospel message to the observers, once again emphasizing for us the purpose and scope of tongues… to enable members of a local assembly to fulfill the great commission by enabling them to speak in languages they do not know.  Thiis enables them to speak to those of other languages, sharing with them the wonderful gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

We then see in the closing verses of this chapter that the great commission is fulfilled by the church at Jerusalem – (gospel proclaimed – vs 25-36, souls saved and baptized– vs 37-41, fellowship and training received by new converts – 42-47)


After examining the Acts 2: account of the gift of tongues, we have come away with both a description of the gift of tongues, and an understanding of its purpose and results.

Based upon this information, this question must be asked… Is the gift of tongues exercised today the same gift that is clearly described in the Bible?

May the Lord bless you as you seek His truth.


  1. Naphtali says:

    Pastor Barkman, this is a very good outline of speaking in tongues. I have often wondered why this isn’t being taught in churches today as with many other gifts like Healing. God tells us to ask for the gifts; I asked for this one many years ago and he gave it to me. I have had miracles happen while speaking in tongues along with words of knowledge given to me. It is a refresher and builds me up as it talks about “edifying” the believer. Speaking in tongues also has given me prophetic knowledge about things that were going to happen in my life and they did. It is a major part of my daily life now; in fact I have been speaking in tongues in my car and forget when I get out to stop. It is a wonderful gift!

    • Rob Barkman says:

      Hi Cathy,
      I have to agree with you that Acts 2: is a very important passage that shows us the details of what Biblical tongues is all about. I guess the easiest way to summarize what the Acts 2: text teaches is that:
      1. Tongues was a gift given to a local assembly for the specific reason to teach others about the death burial and resurrection of Christ.
      2. The gift of tongues always has two aspects to it…. first, a visible aspect where tongues of fire come and sit upon those who are given the gift. Secondly an audible aspect where the local church members who receive the gift are enabled to speak in human languages that they themselves are not familiar with.
      3. The gift of tongues was given so that church members could speak to visiting peoples from other lands that had entered Jerusalem. Because they came from other lands the Jews were unable to speak in their language. So for example Jews who could only speak Hebrew and Greek were given the ability to speak in the language of the Egyptians so they could minister to those visiting from Egypt. The entire list of human languages that were spoken can be found in 2:8-11.
      4. The gift of tongues was given to accredit the ministry of the newly formed local church at Jerusalem and to accredit the gospel message they were proclaiming.

      What an amazing sight that must have been for anyone to behold!

      Thanks so much for your comments Cathy. Lord bless you.

  2. This an excellent post, Pastor. Many Christians do not believe in the speaking of tongues. Thanks for sharing.

    • Rob Barkman says:

      Thank you so much for the kind words, Noel. Although I have always seen differences between the Biblical gift of tongues that no longer exists, and the “gift” that we see being exercised today…. As I grow older, I am seeing more and more differences that exist between the gift of God and the modern day practice of tongues. Lord bless you.

  3. Debbie says:

    Thank you, Pastor Rob, for sharing about the gift of tongues and explaining it’s importance for us! God bless you!

    • Rob Barkman says:

      I’ve always felt it is so important to understand what actually took place on Pentecost. It clarifies what the gift of tongues actually is and it helps us to set a basis for comparison with the tongues that we see being exercised in today’s time. Thanks for your comment Deb. Lord bless you.

  4. Thank you Rob for a sound explanation of Acts 2.

    • Rob Barkman says:

      Thank you for the kind words, Angela. As I am sure you know, the closer we look at the texts that involve tongues speaking, the more we can come to a full understanding of what the Scriptural gift of tongues was all about. It is only be doing this that we can come to a sound Biblical conclusion about the validity of the practice of tongues in today’s time.

      Lord bless you. Thanks again for your very spiritually profitable blog. it is a constant source of blessing for me.

  5. SLIMJIM says:

    Is this going to be a series?

  6. The gift of ‘tongues’ is but one gift ….and I believe that when used as intended is fruitful…I have always had a problem with those that may say that to be filled with the Holy Spirit one should have this gift….Diane

    • Rob Barkman says:

      Hi Diane…
      I think you have a very valid point when you say that “and I believe that when used as intended is fruitful” certainly is a key to understanding the truth about the gift of tongues.

      When we study the gift of tongues as was given in the New Testament days, we find that gift is very much different from what we see taking place today. The receivers of the gift (a local assembly not an individual), the manifestation of the gift (tongues of fire on the head, as well as the ability to speak in human language unknown to the speaker), and the purpose of the gift (to proclaim the death burial and resurrection of Christ to those who speak a language other than our natural language)…. all of these are in contradiction to what we see taking place today. This brings the validity of today’s tongues in question.

      Thanks for another interesting comment. May the Lord continue to bless you.

  7. Thanks again!!
    I often get a black box where I think a picture is supposed to be, or is it a video? I am smart phone enabled only, so could be my phone but though I would ask…
    Feel free to email me @
    Thanks Brother Rob

    • Rob Barkman says:

      Hi buttrflygrl14,

      I am assuming the black box you see is the youtube embedded video. So sorry you cant view it from your phone. Perhaps you will be able to view it from the youtube site. The SIH homepage is On the homepage the video that goes with the current lesson on wordpress is always my featured video of the week. For the message on “The Wonderful Gift Of Tongues” you can find it at

      I hope this helps. I am really sorry that you had trouble viewing the video. Lord bless you.

  8. james1948 says:

    A good commentary on that passage. I do represent the Church as a unit being filled with the Spirit to empower them to do the work they are called to do.
    Then secondary is the demonstration of tongues.

  9. Sherry says:

    Thank you for the correct teaching on this subject of speaking in tongues. I have spoken in unbiblical tongues due to a very clever teaching that sounded so biblical (along with the slaying in the spirit manifestation) and learned by the testimonies of former New Age Christians (oxymoron, I know) that the tongues (gibberish) practiced in Charismatic churches today is exactly like the practice of the New Agers going into the “spirit.” That’s not the spirit that Christians want to get involved with! Your teaching is the most exhaustive I’ve heard and I feel a bit more equipped to explain this subject to those I know who still practice the unbiblical form of tongues.

    God bless you~

    • Rob Barkman says:


      Thanks so much for the personal example… Believe me Sherry, you are not the only one with this type of testimony. I, personally, know of three others who have told me that they have gone through the same type of situation in their life.

      What you have said about the “New Age Christians” experience is very interesting to me. I have heard second and third hand accounts of the idol worshipers taking place in heathen cultures experiencing this same type of manifestation. This is something I am definitely going to have to do more research on.

      I am thankful that the teachings have been an assistance to you. Lord willing, in the first part of 2014, I am planning on doing a multi-part series on the entire Charismatic movement. Since you have experience in these issues, I would appreciate you taking a look at it when it is posted and give me your input.

      Lord bless you my friend. Thanks again for your blogging of Spurgeon devotions. It is a blessing to me everyday.

      Anyone interested in daily devotions by CH Spurgeon… I would suggest you take a look at Sherry’s blog at:

      • Sherry says:

        I would be very happy to give input if there is anything I can add. Of late I’ve been very concerned with those in the Church who have dreams and visions. It seems to me that God would be clear in His message and that no one would say, I’m not sure what this means but… I would think that if the message is from God that He would give the interpretation and that no one, not even the dreamer, would be in wonder of its meaning and purpose. It seems to be more of a psychic type manifestation and does not point to our God and His salvation.

        I was involved in a non-denominationational church for the first eight years of my Christian walk and when that church split and I left it it caused a dark depression I pray to our Father never to have again. One day I had found out that a family member was deceiving me and I didn’t know truth from fiction so I prayed and asked for God to reveal to me all of the lies I was believing to be truth. And I meant all! God did not reveal my family member’s deception but burdened me to pray for him. What He showed me was of an infinitely greater value. And He provided me with the tools I would need for that discovery, that is, the truth of the lies I had been taught in church. I had not been practicing discernment as we are commanded to in Scripture. The pastor was and is my friend and I didn’t think he would lead anyone astray. As he was taught so he taught. Which is why we should be good Bereans no matter who is teaching us and don’t override any questioning of the teachings until its settled what is the truth. Pastors and teachers are not perfect and they do want correction if its called for. They don’t mind clarifying things taught either. I say that to all who read this long post.

        To the point (lol), Spurgeon was the one whose devotions brought me up out of that dark pit I was in and made the salvation message clearer to me. Today’s devotion was one of those first ones I read and it restored the joy of my salvation. I prayed to God that these devotions would do as Spurgeon intended and that is to lift up Christ to believers and unbelievers alike. And to encourage the weak such as it did for me. If that isn’t happening then I toil (its too much a delight to call it “toil”) in vain.

        God bless you and yours, my brother in Christ~

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