Tongues – A Human Language Or Just Gibberish?

By Patrick Donahue | Alabama, USA

Were the tongues in the Bible just gibberish like what we see in so called “Pentecostal” churches today? I’ve been to a number of services where people were claiming to speak in tongues, but it just sounded like a bunch of gibberish to me. Is that what we see in the New Testament? Let us answer that question from the Bible.

Acts 2 would be a good place to start because that is the first place we see Christians speaking in tongues in the New Testament. Verse 4 in the NKJV says the apostles spoke with “other tongues.” I am currently studying via phone with a lady who has spent her entire adult life in New York, but she was brought up in the country of Columbia. She speaks English very well, but if I were to ask you “What is her native or mother tongue?,” how would you answer?  Spanish, right? You see how the word “tongue” is used to refer to a human language?

And the same thing is going on in Acts 2. As we said, verse 4 says the apostles spoke with “other tongues.”  That would mean languages other than what the apostles were used to speaking in.  We know that from verse 6 because it says their audience (from “every nation under heaven” – verse 5) heard the apostles speak in the listener’s “language.”  So the apostles spoke in tongues but “every man heard them speak in his own language.”  See how “tongue” means human “language” here, not just gibberish?

Continuing on, the audience says in verse 8 they were hearing the preaching in their own “language” while the same audience says in verse 11 they were hearing the preaching in their own “tongues.”  Again, do you see how the words “tongue” and language” (referring to an actual human language) are used interchangeably? The point of speaking in tongues was so that a person who had never studied a particular foreign language could be miraculously enabled to speak in such foreign language so he could immediately communicate the gospel to an audience that didn’t speak his language.  The people claiming to do that today never speak in an actual foreign (human) language; instead it is just a bunch of nonsensical syllables strung together randomly. Plain and simple – it is gibberish. It is not even a second cousin to the miraculous tongues we read about in the Bible that ceased when the New Testament was completely revealed and put together according to I Cor. 13:8-13.

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