What is “The Gift of Tongues” in the Bible?

The “Gift of Tongues” is an intriguing topic for Christians. For some denominations, it’s controversial, while for others, it’s a matter of fact. The Bible mentions the gift of tongues many times. Speaking in tongues is still practiced within some denominations, like the Pentecostal Church. But what is the gift of tongues, and where can we find it in the Bible? 

Global University is part of the Assemblies of God General Council, which recognizes the spiritual experience of speaking in tongues as a form of baptism in the Holy Spirit.

Global University explores the Gift of Tongues and its purpose in the Christian Church in this blog post. 

What is the Gift of Tongues? 

The gift of tongues is first mentioned in the Bible in the Book of Acts when the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles on the Day of Pentecost. On that day, the apostles miraculously began speaking in an unfamiliar language, allowing people of other language groups to understand them. 

The gift of tongues is also mentioned several times by the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians, and most of what we know about the purpose of speaking in tongues comes from Paul. 

Speaking in tongues can be understood as a spiritual gift from God, during which a Christian begins speaking a language that is not known to him or her. This can be an earthly language or a “heavenly dialect.” When a person speaks in tongues, they are said to be filled with the Holy Spirit. 

What is the Purpose of the Gift of Tongues? 

The apostle Paul gives several reasons for the practice of speaking in tongues in 1 Corinthians: 

  • To serve as evidence of a person’s baptism in the Holy Spirit. 
  • To edify the Church, when paired with interpretation. 
  • To serve as a sign for unbelievers. 
  • To pray and worship God.


Paul stresses the importance of having another church member interpret when someone is speaking in tongues—otherwise, the practice doesn’t serve a purpose. In 1 Corinthians 14:5–6, he says:

“I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues unless someone interprets so that the Church may be edified. Now, brothers and sisters, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction?” 

How to Receive the Gift of Tongues

After you’ve been baptized and are filled with the Holy Spirit, begin to pray out loud, switching from your native language to the heavenly tongue. There is no right way to do it. The words should emanate from your spirit.

Here are some tips: Start reading the Bible aloud. While doing so, with a relaxed jaw muscle and tongue, allow new words, syllables, and consonants to spontaneously flow out. Give thanks to God that you’ve already received the gift. Although strange-sounding, this will become more natural as you practice.

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