Speaking with (or in) tongues is “the supernatural gift of speaking in another language without it having been learnt.” The Greek word underlying this phrase is glossa, which means a tongue, either as the organ of the body or as a language. Hence, a modern theological term for speaking in tongues is glossolalia. Some modern translations render the KJV phrase “speak with other tongues” as “speak in foreign tongues” (Moffat), “speak in foreign languages” (Goodspeed), and “speak in different languages” (Phillips).
Series: Applied Theology: What does the Bible say about Speaking in Tongues?
Previously we investigated all five cases recorded in Scripture where people received the Holy Ghost. In three cases (Pentecost, Cornelius, Ephesus) those who received the Spirit immediately spoke in tongues. A fourth case (Samaria) does not explicitly describe any particular external manifestation but it clearly requires the presence of a miraculous, immediately identifiable outward sign, and most commentators agree this was speaking in tongues. In the fifth case (Paul) the Bible gives no description of the Spirit baptism, but later reveals that the recipient spoke in tongues throughout his Christian life.
Speaking in tongues is the initial sign of receiving the Spirit, but by itself it does not prove the abiding presence of the Spirit. Many more important evidences of the Spirit’s abiding presence exist, such as the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). In particular, love is the ultimate test of true discipleship (John 13:34-35). The true child of God will love God, obey His commandments, walk after the Spirit, and be led by the Spirit (I John 2:3-5; Romans 8:4, 14). In the absence of these characteristics, speaking in tongues does not guarantee that the Spirit dwells in one and controls his life.