Tongues… Praying in or the Gift of Part 1

This is a text reader for the article below:
Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

Tongues Prayer Gift

Sunday 06/23/24

Title: Tongues… Praying in or the Gift of – Part 1

Message Video Player

Message Audio Player:

***Video is HERE***

Share this:

TwitterGoogle Podacst

Tongues… Praying in or the Gift of Pt. 1

This morning we are continuing in our lessons on the Holy Spirit, though this is a little bit of a diversionary indulgence in that topic.

Beginning on Pentecost we shifted our attention from the work and ministry of Jesus in the New Birth to His continued work by and through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us.

Of course that first week was focused upon the actual day of Pentecost which was the fulfillment of the Old Covenant Feast of Weeks. It represented the beginning of the New Covenant harvest of souls, First fruits having taken place when the disciples received the Spirit by the breath of Christ (John 20:22).

Since then we have spent some time discussing the topic of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit and came to the conclusion from scripture that it is for EVERY believer, it is subsequent to the Spirit coming within at Salvation and that it is for the express purpose of empowering to be witnesses of Christ. Not only of Who Jesus is, but what He has done for the world and in our lives. We do this through a life changed and through our words.

We did note that every time the Holy Spirit fell on people after salvation some manifestation was witnessed, though sometimes WHAT that manifestation was, remained undefined. 

The most common however were prophecy and tongues.

We concluded that the tongues that accompanied the Baptism on Pentecost were a special manifestation where those speaking did not know the languages they spoke, but that those present did. 

We also noted that WHAT was being spoken was the wonderful works of God – presumably in Jesus through His redemptive act on the cross and through His resurrection. 

All the other tongues seemed to be something similar in that at least with those Italian Gentiles in Cornelius’ house, they were speaking in tongues and magnifying God.

Our last session had us going through what Jesus said about the giving of the Spirit prior to His crucifixion and confirming that the Baptism of the Spirit was for the purpose of empowering us as witnesses of Jesus!

So it is that this week that we are turning our attention to what the scriptures say about tongues. 

Now it appears from scripture that the Corinthians were a real verbal group. It also appears that they had a real affinity for tongues above other expressions of the Spirit. So it is that we turn to 1 Corinthians 12-14 for our teaching on this topic.

Now in our study key words will help us as we work through these chapters.

You might think that in a study on tongues the word tongues would be a key word, but in fact no it isn’t.

The word tongues is glossa and when used in regard to our topics today in Corinthians it literally means languages, though usually ones not natively known or spoken by means of the intellect of the speaker. There is a grammatical clue which helps us to differentiate the usage of this word, but that is a technical note I will  include on the website and not go into here.

Note from Spiros Zodhiates’ entry on this word:

It is then to be observed that whenever the word glṓssa is used in the pl. (glṓssai) with a sing. pron. or subj., it refers to dialects (Acts 2:3 f., Acts 2:8, Acts 2:11) which were not learned by the individual concerned. Such an individual was enabled instantly and temporarily by the Holy Spirit to speak in a language other than his native tongue. In 1Cor. 14:6, 1Cor. 14:18, Paul himself refers to speaking in glṓssais, languages or tongues. By this he meant languages which he already knew or the ones that he was enabled to speak by the Holy Spirit when and if needed. The pl. glṓssai with a sing. pron. or subj. refers to known, understandable languages, and not to an unknown tongue as practiced in Corinth. But even when utilizing these gifts, one should be sure he is understood by those who hear him, otherwise he will be taken as a maniac (maínomai [G3105], beside oneself, mad) (1Cor. 14:23). (2) Whenever the word glṓssa in the sing. with a sing. subj. or pron. is used, translated in the KJV “unknown tongue” (1Cor. 14:2, 1Cor. 14:4, 1Cor. 14:13-14, 1Cor. 14:19, 1Cor. 14:26-27), it refers to the Corinthian practice of speaking in an unknown tongue not comprehended by someone and, therefore, not an ordinarily-spoken language.

The real words which help us are speak, pray and edify.

Each of these words are clear enough though some in an attempt to play down the importance of tongues have attempted to ascribe meanings to the work speak which are unjustifiably derogatory. 

The important thing is that these words sometimes, though not always come to our rescue in clarifying if the tongues Paul is mentioning is the personal prayer of the individual or the gift for the church. 

In the same way the word edify helps to clarify this distinction as well.

1 Corinthians 12:1-31,

“(1) Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant:  (2)  You know that you were Gentiles, carried away to these dumb idols, however you were led.  

(3)  Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit.”  

As an example of what I just mentioned a moment ago. The word speaking here is the same word used for speaking in tongues. Here it is defined as just speech, when used in reference to tongues they compare it to the meaningless babbling of a toddler. This later example is not a justified or forthright description of the word.

I also want you to remember that Paul has already pressed upon these Corinthian believers that speaking by the Holy Spirit is of tremendous value – whether it be by preaching in a known language, in various gifts of the Spirit or in a prayer language.

In 1 Corinthians 2, Paul goes out of his way to express that when he was physically among them he was careful to not rely upon his own intellect, skill or charisma but relied upon the power and influence of the Holy Spirit to speak through him. I wonder if these cynical commentators and dictionaries would call Paul’s preaching by the Spirit the meaningless gibberish of a child. But I digress.

I have so far searched in vain to find anyone who points this out other than myself which always makes me a tad apprehensive, but I see what I see.

Paul appears to me to be laying out a type of outline for the upcoming chapter.

He addresses gifts, ministries and activities. Let’s read it and then we will begin learning about them.

“(4)  There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.  

(5)  There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord.  

(6)  And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God Who works all in all.”

Now I’ve taught on this several times in the past and will link to some of those teachings in the article attached to this morning’s teaching.

[See –  Spiritual Gifts, Ministries & Callings, Gifts, Ministries & Energies Pt. 1 & Loving Gifts from a Loving God

These three categories are separate and at least in this chapter seem to be administrated by one of each member of the Godhead.

  • In verse 4 we see that by the Holy Spirit we are given Gifts.
  • In verse 5 we see that by the Lord, we are given Ministries.
  • In verse 6 we see that by the Father, we are given Energies (more on this in a moment)

As we progress in the chapter, each category is addressed specifically IN ORDER beginning in verse 7. 

It says, “But the manifestation of the SPIRIT is given to every person for the benefit of all.”

In other words, Paul is about to give description to the Gifts he mentioned in verse 4 which are given as a manifestation of the Holy Spirit.

Later in verse 12, he will begin to talk about Ministries in the body, which appear to be administered by Jesus the Lord and head of the body.

Finally those who ARE Energies in the body are brought up last in verses 27-29.

Now, I will address the meaning and expression of these three categories as we run into each of them in sequence.

Gifts are an instantaneous, supernatural enabling given by the Holy Spirit through ANY and ALL believers FOR THE EDIFICATION OF OTHERS in the body of Christ.

“(7)  But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all:  (8)  for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spiritto another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit,  (9)  to another faith by the same Spiritto another gifts of healings by the same Spirit,  (10)  to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.  (11)  But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually AS HE WILLS.”

Now this list is really self explanatory. Only three of these are not super clear in their meaning. They are…

  1. Word (logos) of wisdom (Sophia) = In a higher sense, wisdom, deep knowledge, natural and moral insight, learning, science, implying cultivation of mind and enlightened understanding. Sophía stands for divine wisdom, the ability to regulate one’s relationship with God.
  2. Word (logos) of knowledge (Gnosis) = has more do with comprehension.
  3. Prophecy = a inspired discourse declaring the purposes of God, whether by reproving and admonishing, or comforting, or exhorting, edifying or revealing things hidden. Even more than all the other gifts Prophecy testifies to Jesus!

A bullet list of points regarding the gifts:

  • Gifts are something everyone in the body has.
  • Gifts are NOT the same things as talents! (For example, there is no spiritual gift of singing, or guitar playing or painting…etc. While these are God inspired talents, they are NOT spiritual gifts – however, they may be used as a vehicle FOR spiritual gifts.)
  • They are given & directed by the Holy Spirit as HE WILLS – not based upon our whims.
    • This is why conferences where people are taught to prophecy are in error. 
  • All gifts are for the benefit of the body of Christ at large – NOT the one with the gift.
  • You should desire to be used by the Holy Spirit in these gifts.
  • All of the gifts are not equal in their power to edify.
  • As we will learn later Prophecy is the greatest gift – (1Cor. 14:1).

This list concludes the list of gifts offered here by Paul, though in other places this list is expanded upon like in Romans 12 and 1 Peter 4, meaning this is NOT to be viewed as a list which is comprehensive but merely examples.Now the next division we are about to read is regarding ministries which again are given to EVERYBODY in Christ’s body. In fact, Paul employs the imagery of a body with various parts to illustrate this truth.

Ministries are locations and “jobs” in the body which operate with various amounts of authority delegated by God. 

What that means is everyone in the body of Christ has a location they belong in the body, jobs through which their “gifts” find expression and people concerning whom the Lord has given them authority to speak into their lives.

So…using Paul’s example of the members of the body to illustrate ministries…. “a finger” on a natural body, has a place it belongs and MANY places it does NOT belong. 

It serves a function for the other members of the body and it has authority (responsibility with power) to act for the benefit of others.

It does not minister to ITSELF. It exists for the benefit of others – in other words it operates and is governed by Agape love!

As stated above, everyone in Christ’s body has a place in the body where they belong and a “job” to do which will facilitate their gifts. 

This is SO diversified that it would quite literally be impossible to list every possible expression, since they can be expressed nearly anywhere and in countless ways. That there is in fact A PLACE and A SPHERE of authority for each believer is nevertheless clear from scripture. I will offer an example after we read this section.

“(12)  For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.  

(13)  For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.  

(14)  For in fact the body is not one member but many.”  

You cannot claim unimportance

“(15)  If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body?  (16)  And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I am not of the body,” is it therefore not of the body?  (17)  If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling?  

(18)  But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased.  (19)  And if they were all one member, where would the body be?  (20)  But now indeed there are many members, yet one body.”  

You cannot claim superiority

“(21)  And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.”  (22)  No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary.  (23)  And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty,  (24)  but our presentable parts have no need.”

“But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it,  (25)  that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another.  

(26)  And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.  (27)  Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.”

That concludes ministries in the body and again I will illustrate this for you as we finish out the chapter.

Now here at the end of the chapter we see that God is the One Who appoints certain PEOPLE in the church which falls into that third and final category of Energies!

These are the same people mentioned in Ephesians 4.

“(28)  And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues.  (29)  Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles?”

Energies are certain people given AS gifts to the body. 

These “energies” have an “energizing effect” on those within their “sphere” of authority. 

Like Paul said in Ephesians 4, these people are set in the body to equip them for ministry, encourage growth into Christ’s image and unify the rest of the body in sound doctrine. 

These are the ones who minister to the true ministers – which are the rest of the body of Christ.

Much has already been said of this group which include the Apostle, Prophet, Evangelist, PastorTeacher, Workers of Miracles and perhaps others. 

Now I want you to notice the difference in how Paul words this next verse in comparison to what he just said in verse 29.

“(30)  Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?  

(31)  But earnestly desirethe best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way.”

In verse 29 Paul asks rhetorically – “ARE all

In verse 30 he rhetorically asks – “do all HAVE

Gifts are something we HAVE.

Ministries are positions we HOLD or OCCUPY.

Activities or Energies are people given AS Gifts to the body and it is something they ARE!

Now as I said before we started, it seems as if the Corinthians were a real verbal group. It also appears that they had a real affinity for tongues above other expressions of the Spirit.

So it is that Paul, as he continues, brings up tongues quite a lot!

We also find a progression in his teaching slowly leading these Corinthian believers towards maturity in their desire for and expression of these gifts. He also elucidates basic rules of conduct so that they might be better equipped to discern when an expression is a true gift led by the Spirit of God and when it is just an expression of immaturity from the flesh.

Thus Paul ended the last chapter with the words – Yet I show to you a more excellent way. The words “more excellent way” is NOT used as a comparison but rather a relation of motion or direction. Meaning all of this is important so long as we keep things in order. Or so long as we keep first things first and second things second. 

So to recap…

Tongues are represented in scripture as both a prayer language and as a gift which needs interpretation.

The prayer language is between you and God. Is for YOUR edification though you do NOT understand what you are saying and it builds up your faith!

The Gift of Tongues is for the church. Is for THEIR edification but ONLY when interpreted so they WILL understand what you are saying. It edifies, exhorts and comforts the church!

Tongues are also used as a sign against the hard hearted – helping to throw more logs on the fire of their own eventual condemnation as they scoff at the Holy through their ignorance!

Prophecy is superior to all BECAUSE it speaks to EVERYONE and it edifies, exalts them and comforts them, though it appears that Tongues WITH interpretation does the same, only more directly!


Hi my name is Mark and though I am opposed to titles, I am currently the only Pastor (shepherd/elder) serving our assembly right now.

I have been Pastoring in one capacity or another for nearly 30 years now, though never quite like I am today.

Early in 2009 the Lord revealed to me that the way we had structured our assembly (church) was not scriptural in that it was out of sync with what Paul modeled for us in the New Testament. In truth, I (like many pastors I am sure) never even gave this fundamental issue of church structure the first thought. I had always assumed that church structure was largely the same everywhere and had been so from the beginning. While I knew Paul had some very stringent things to say about the local assembly of believers, the point of our gatherings together and who may or may not lead, I never even considered studying these issues but assumed we were all pretty much doing it in numbers right?! Boy, I couldn't have been more wrong!

So needless to say, my discovery that we had been doing it wrong for nearly two decades was a bit of a shock to me! Now, this "revelation" did not come about all at once but over the course of a few weeks. We were a traditional single pastor led congregation. It was a top-bottom model of ministry which is in part biblical, but not in the form of a monarchy.

The needed change did not come into focus until following 9 very intense months of study and discussions with those who were leaders in our church at the time.

We now understand and believe that the Bible teaches co-leadership with equal authority in each local assembly. Having multiple shepherds with God's heart and equal authority protects both Shepherds and sheep. Equal accountability keeps authority and doctrine in check. Multiple shepherds also provide teaching with various styles and giftings with leadership skills which are both different and complementary.

For a while we had two co-pastors (elders) (myself and one other man) who led the church with equal authority, but different giftings. We both taught in our own ways and styles, and our leadership skills were quite different, but complimentary. We were in complete submission to each other and worked side-by-side in the labor of shepherding the flock.

Our other Pastor has since moved on to other ministry which has left us with just myself. While we currently only have one Pastor/Elder, it is our desire that God, in His faithfulness and timing, may bring us more as we grow in maturity and even in numbers.

As to my home, I have been married since 1995 to my wonderful wife Terissa Woodson who is my closest friend and most trusted ally.

As far as my education goes, I grew up in a Christian home, but questioned everything I was ever taught.

I graduated from Bible college in 1990 and continued to question everything I was ever taught (I do not mention my college in order to avoid being labeled).

Perhaps my greatest preparation for ministry has been life and ministry itself. To quote an author I have come to enjoy namely Fredrick Buechner in his writing entitled, Now and Then, "If God speaks to us at all other than through such official channels as the Bible and the church, then I think that He speaks to us largely through what happens to us...if we keep our hearts open as well as our ears, if we listen with patience and hope, if we remember at all deeply and honestly, then I think we come to recognize beyond all doubt, that, however faintly we may hear Him, He is indeed speaking to us, and that, however little we may understand of it, His word to each of us is both recoverable and precious beyond telling." ~ Fredrick Buechner

Well that is about all there is of interest to tell you about me.

I hope our ministry here is a blessing to you and your family. I also hope that it is only a supplement to a local church where you are committed to other believers in a community of grace.

~God Bless!