Speaking in Tongues: A Temporary Phenomenon

Jul 29, 2017

The question might be raised: Why does God write extensively in I Corinthians 12,13, and 14 about the phenomenon of tongues? One might be surprised to read in the Bible about this temporary phenomenon. A few decades after this phenomenon occurred in the church of Corinth, the visions of the Book of Revelation were received by the Apostle John on the Island of Patmos. The Book of Revelation closes with the warning that anyone who adds to its words will be subject to plagues; therefore, there can be no further revelation from God by visions, voices, tongues, or anything else (Revelation 21:18-19). Thus, the phenomenon of tongues that occurred in the church of Corinth would also have come to an end. From that time to this present day, God will not bring a message by these means or by any means other than what He has given us in the Bible.

This phenomenon of speaking in tongues was from God and was short-lived and confined only to the church at Corinth. It was an incidental matter even in that day; thus, the question persists: Why did God write extensively about it?

The answer lies in the realization that these three chapters of I Corinthians discuss the matter of tongues as God’s testing arena for the end-time church. God planted the tree of knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden, and it was the testing arena of our first parents. Satan saw his opportunity in that testing program to tempt and enslave man in sin. In the warning and testing program of Deuteronomy 13, God allows a false prophet to deceive some people within the congregation. God sets up the testing programs, but it is Satan who uses the tests as opportunities to lead people astray.

Throughout the Bible, the people of God are reminded of the lavish blessings that attend salvation. The blessings are far more than anyone deserves; they are so wonderful that our hearts should continuously praise God. One minor, incidental blessing, briefly enjoyed by a few people in the church at Corinth (that is, being able to receive an additional message from God in an unknown language), was given before the magnificent blessings of the whole Word of God were available. God maximized His communicative blessings to mankind by giving us the entire record of His will (the New Testament and the Old Testament), and He placed off-limits the minor blessing enjoyed by the church at Corinth.

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