Woman in an Orange coat with Black Scarf praying in a church.

Speaking in Tongues is the New Testament phenomenon where a person speaks in a language that is unknown to him. This language is either the language of angels or other earthly languages (1 Corinthians 13:1). Tongues are important as initial physical evidence of the baptism in the Holy Spirit as well as a gift of the Spirit. This is why I have discussed the doctrine of tongues here as well. Today I wish to present the four-fold application of speaking in tongues.

1. The Application of Tongues in Spiritual Maturity

The one who speaks in a tongue builds himself up, but the one who prophesies builds up the church.  (1 Corinthians 14:4)

Edifies Himself:

That is, the truths that are communicated to him by the Spirit, and which he utters in an unknown language, may be valuable, and maybe the means of strengthening his faith, and building him up in the hopes of the gospel. (Source: Barnes’ Notes on the Whole Bible)

2. The Application of Tongues in Praise and Worship

both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs – we hear them speaking in our own languages about the great deeds God has done!  (Acts 2:11)

Great deeds God has Done:

The great things of God; that is, the great things that God had done in the gift of his Son; in raising him from the dead; in his miracles, ascension, etc. Compare Luke 1:49; Psalm 71:19; Psalm 26:7; Psalm 66:3; Psalm 92:5; Psalm 104:24; etc. (Source: Barnes’ Notes on the Whole Bible)

3. The Application of Tongues in Praying in the Spirit

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how we should pray, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with inexpressible groanings.  (Romans 8:26)

According to the Greek word used in the place of “weakness” the above verse, is an expression of humanity’s limitations. This is where praying in tongues enters the scene. Tongues are not something we utter out of our own imagination or expertise. Only the Holy Spirit gives the ability for this kind of utterance. Sometimes we cannot find words to pray. In times of distress when we don’t even feel like praying, tongues come into our aid.

4. The Application of Tongues in Prophecy and Word of Knowledge

to another performance of miracles, to another prophecy, and to another discernment of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. (1 Corinthians 12:10)

The function of tongues is two-fold. First, it serves as the initial physical evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit. Second, it serves as a gift of the Spirit (The gift of prophesying in tongues and interpreting it into the common language spoken within the Assembly.)

Closing Remarks

Tongues and the purpose it serves can be confusing even to the mature Christian sometimes, let alone the amateur believers. The Word of God however is clear about these if we know where to look for them in His Word. It is my prayer you found the answers to your questions about the purpose of speaking in tongues through this blog post.


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