¿Qué es hablar en lenguas según la Biblia?

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El concepto de lenguas puede ser bastante confuso hoy en día, y algunas iglesias presentan la creencia de que una persona que dice cosas que la mayoría de los presentes no puede entender es el concepto bíblico de hablar en lenguas. Otras iglesias enseñan que no hay tal cosa como hablar en lenguas, y aún otras enseñan otras variaciones del concepto. Entonces, ¿qué dice realmente la Biblia al respecto?

Que yo sepa, no hay nada en el judaísmo que apoye el concepto de hablar en lenguas, lo que significa para el cristianismo, tiene que ser un concepto del Nuevo Testamento. La primera referencia registrada en la Biblia a hablar en lenguas confirma esto como lo está en Hechos 2, con la referencia específica a las lenguas en Hechos 2: 4.

Y todos se llenaron con el Espíritu Santo y comenzaron a hablar en otras lenguas, como el Espíritu les dio expresión. - Hechos 2: 4

Si bien el Antiguo Testamento no se refiere a hablar en lenguas, sí se refiere a algo similar donde el habla cambia en Génesis 11 en la Torre de Babel:

Vengan, bajemos y confundamos su lenguaje, para que no entiendan el discurso del otro ”. Entonces el Señor los dispersó de allí sobre la faz de toda la tierra, y dejaron de construir la ciudad. - Génesis 11: 7-8

Así que aquí en Génesis también hay un ejemplo de Dios cambiando el habla y el lenguaje de las personas. Sin embargo, hay una diferencia clave, ¿lo notaste?

En el caso de Génesis 11, Dios. confuso su lenguaje para que la gente no se entendiera. La Biblia no indica que cada persona pensó que estaba hablando galimatías o que no entendieron lo que estaban diciendo, por lo que parece probable que sintieron que estaban hablando normalmente. Sin embargo, el idioma era confuso, por lo que otros no entendían lo que decían y, de manera similar, no entendían lo que decían los demás porque en realidad estaban hablando idiomas diferentes. Idiomas que contribuyeron a la difusión de personas en la tierra y muy probablemente a la fundación de diferentes grupos culturales.

Sin embargo, en Hechos 2, indica que los discípulos estaban hablando en "otras lenguas". Continúe con Hechos 2, vemos que había muchos hablantes de lenguas extranjeras en Jerusalén en ese momento, y su respuesta a lo que escucharon se registra en Hechos 2: 6-11.

Y cuando se produjo este sonido, la multitud se unió y se confundió, porque todos los escucharon hablar en su propio idioma. Entonces todos se asombraron y se maravillaron, y se decían unos a otros: “Miren, ¿no son todos estos los que hablan galileo? Y cómo es eso que Oímos, cada uno en nuestro propio idioma en el que nacimos? Partos y medos y elamitas, los que habitan en Mesopotamia, Judea y Capadocia, Pontus y Asia, 10 Frigia y Panfilia, Egipto y las partes de Libia contiguas a Cirene, visitantes de Roma, tanto judíos como prosélitos, 11 Cretenses y árabes: los escuchamos hablar en nuestras lenguas las maravillosas obras de Dios. ”- Hechos 2: 6-11

¿Notaste que "Todos los oyeron hablar en su propio idioma."Y"en nuestras propias lenguas"?

El punto aquí es que las lenguas son sinónimos para los idiomas, y cada persona escuchó en su propio idioma lo que los discípulos estaban predicando.

Esta es una clara diferencia en la cuenta de Génesis 11 donde las personas no podían entenderse entre sí. En su lugar, todos pueden entender lo que los discípulos están diciendo. Más adelante, en Hechos 2, vemos que Pedro aprovechó la oportunidad para presentar un conmovedor sermón que dio como resultado 3000 bautismos (Hechos 2:41) de personas que lo escucharon y lo entendieron en su lengua materna.

Es una diferencia interesante En un caso, el lenguaje era confuso y separaba a las personas, en otro no era confuso y los unía.

Para mí, esto indica que el concepto bíblico de hablar en lenguas es una claridad por la cual cada persona que escucha puede entender lo que se habla en el idioma que les resulte más claro.

Un lenguaje confuso que nadie o casi nadie entiende de acuerdo con la descripción bíblica, sin embargo, no está hablando en lenguas.

2 comentarios en “What is Speaking in Tongues According to the Bible?”

  1. Acts 2: 1-4 Describes what happens when a person receives the Holy Spirit within.
    1) The 120 people were praying to receive the Holy Spirit. This means that each person had a repentant heart. (the word repentant means to about face. In context it means prepared to start over anew living one’s life God’s way. In Greek repentance does not mean to dwell on the past) Acts 2:38.
    2-3) As the people prayed in their language each person received the Spirit within. This was known because all of a sudden (like as of fire [verb not noun] as quick as a flash, as fast as grease lightening, in context: like the roaring flames jumping from tree to tree in a bush fire.) they all began to pray in cloven (a different) language.
    4) This verse sums up what happened. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to pray in the Spiritual language, as the Spirit enabled them to.

    At this time other people recognised the languages spoken and were amazed.
    The fact that the languages were recognisable, was not to communicate to the multitude, but rather to get their attention- they marvelled!
    When a person prays in tongues (prays in or by the Spirit) they are praying the wonderful works of God- praise in other words. When I pray in the Spirit I start by saying something like praise your name, Hallelujah glory to God, victory in Jesus etc. Usually, I only get one or two words in before the Spirit changes my language. When I pray my mind often wanders as I think about life. The Holy Spirit praying my thought in intercession to God. As Romans 8 says: praying in groanings (complaints, requests) in words that cannot be uttered (in words that I can’t express myself). Often one does not even know how they are really feeling, let alone put the feelings into words.
    When I pray it is like a Spiritual hug from God.
    Speaking in tongues is not an optional gift, it is mandatory. It is God’s confirmation, His signature on the contract that the new Christian has with Him. It is Gods promise (v:39) of that which can be seen and heard (v:33) to as many as God shall call.
    A person can’t ask God for the gift of tongues. So, if you have asked and nothing has happened, I am not surprised. One only speaks in tongues for the first time when God is satisfied with a person’s repentance. Read Acts chapter 8: 4-25. The people believed and were baptised but had not yet received the Holy Spirit. When they did receive , Simon a professional con artist of magic was convinced by what he saw. Although not written, He saw people being prayed for and then receive the Spirit with the sign of speaking in tongues, just as on the Day of Pentecost.
    If just accepting God into our heart (that is like a filthy rag) was all that is required, then I for one would have been mistaken. I grew up an atheist. At the age of sixteen I sought the Holy Spirit for a month and a half and still did not speak in tongues. I thought I was repenting. One day I realised that I was telling God to prove Himself and then I would follow. My repentance though I realised was far from satisfactory. At that moment I was sincere for the first time in my prayer. I was willing to follow God if, if He was real and loved me. Then without warning I found it difficult to say the words that I was trying to say and then I heard myself praying in a different language. I stopped and thought wow!
    Not coming from a churchy background, it took me about ten years before I realised that being Spirit filled is all about growing in a relationship with God. I have now been a Christian for forty years.

    Responder
    • Hi Simon,
      Thanks for taking the time to write such a lengthy response. I am not going to argue with your personal experience as only you and God know the truth of that.

      I’ve grown in my views on tongues since I first wrote this article and while I no longer believe it to be something that is clearly understood by everyone around in every situation, however, I thought your interpretation of Acts 2 seemed very contradictory to other parts of the Bible that talk about spiritual gifts. I’ll run through why I thought this.

      You said:
      “Acts 2: 1-4 Describes what happens when a person receives the Holy Spirit within.”

      This leads into the assertion you made:

      “Speaking in tongues is not an optional gift, it is mandatory. It is God’s confirmation, His signature on the contract that the new Christian has with Him. It is Gods promise (v:39) of that which can be seen and heard (v:33) to as many as God shall call.”

      However, v39 does not say what you are suggesting, it says:

      Acts 2:38-39:
      38 Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
      39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.”

      Peter does not say people will receive the gift of tongues but that they will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Bible says in multiple books that there are different kinds of gifts of the Holy Spirit, tongues is just one of them, and not everyone will receive every spiritual gift, 1 Corinthians 12 spells it out: the Spirit distributes them (vs 4) just as he determines (vs 11).

      1 Corinthians 12:4-11
      4 There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them.
      5 There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord.
      6 There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work.
      7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
      8 To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit,
      9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit,
      10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.
      11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

      This is emphasised in 1 Corinthians 12:27-30:
      27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.
      28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues.
      29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?
      30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?

      So to suggest that tongues is mandatory to show that you have a repentant heart and have thus received the Spirit doesn’t make sense with the Bible and is transgressing Paul’s warnings in Romans 14:13-23 whereby such a teaching is putting a stumbling block or obstacle in the way of another child of God and could cause them to turn away from Christ simply because they have received a different gift to you.

      We each have a specific role in the body of Christ and the gifts we receive are specific to the role that we play.

      Both the lists in 1 Corinthians put tongues last, but 1 Corinthians 12:28 actually specifies a level of priority for each gift with tongues last in the list of importance and apostles, prophets, teachers, miracles, healing, helping and guiding all more important than tongues.

      This does make sense as 1 Corinthians 12:7 says each gift is given for the common good. Contextually it is talking about the body of Christ and the contribution each person and their gifts makes to that body. So the common good, for the body of Christ would be to grow the church and build up those within the church. All of the gifts mentioned in these passages and others like Romans 12 and Ephesians 4 contribute to the common good of the body of Christ. Speaking in tongues, at least to me, seems the least beneficial to the common good of the body of Christ except in one scenario:

      Acts 2:6 makes it clear “When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard their own language being spoken.”

      Each one heard their own language being spoken.

      It’s impossible to connect with people that can’t understand you, so tongues that cannot be understood by anyone would defeat the purpose of the spiritual gift, speaking with no-one understanding doesn’t serve the common good of the body.

      1 Corinthians 12 does include interpretation of tongues as a gift also, which certainly does allow for speaking and only being understood by a select few.

      1 Corinthians 14 builds on this.

      1 Corinthians 14:1-5
      1 Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy.
      2 For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit.
      3 But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort.
      4 Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves, but the one who prophesies edifies the church.
      5 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.

      1 Corinthians 14:2 agrees that tongues may not be understandable. However, 14:4 says tongues comes with the risk of edifying yourself rather than the church unless someone can interpret (14:5), which is probably why Paul had earlier put it last in the list of importance in 1 Corinthians 12 and says in 14:1 to desire the gift of prophecy more than other gifts.

      1 Corinthians 14:5 wishes that everyone received the gift of tongues, but that prophesy is more preferable. Why wish this if it were mandatory that everyone received the gift of tongues?

      1 Corinthians 14:5 also says that the gift of tongues is only of value to the edification of the church if it can be interpreted.

      1 Corinthians 14:6-25 then goes into extensive detail on when, how, and for whom tongues is for.

      14:6 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?

      14:9 Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air.

      14:10-11 Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning. If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and the speaker is a foreigner to me.

      14:13 For this reason the one who speaks in a tongue should pray that they may interpret what they say.
      14:14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful.
      14:15 So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding.
      14:16 Otherwise when you are praising God in the Spirit, how can someone else, who is now put in the position of an inquirer, say “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since they do not know what you are saying?
      14:17 You are giving thanks well enough, but no one else is edified.

      14:19 in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.

      14:21 In the Law it is written: “With other tongues and through the lips of foreigners I will speak to this people, but even then they will not listen to me, says the Lord.”

      14:22-25
      22 Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is not for unbelievers but for believers.
      23 So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and inquirers or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind?
      24 But if an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted of sin and are brought under judgment by all,
      25 as the secrets of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!”

      These passages make it pretty clear. Tongues are a sign for unbelievers, not believers, and they only serve as a sign when the tongues are understandable or at least interpretable.

      1 Corinthians 14:27-28 emphasises the importance of interpretation
      27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret.
      28 If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and to God.

      So if the tongues are not in the form of being understandable by all around them like those in Acts 2, then someone MUST interpret or the speaker should keep quiet. Why? Because if it’s not understandable, it doesn’t edify the church and it doesn’t reach unbelievers.

      Your reading between the lines in Acts 8:4-25 is reasonable, however, speaking in tongues is not the only sign of receiving the Holy Spirit and Paul makes it clear that tongues will not reach unbelievers unless it is intelligible or interpretable, so while Simon the Sorcerer may have seen some of the people speak in tongues, he likely witnessed other signs too, at the very least, the gift of interpretation, but Pauls letter to the Corinthians suggests the gift of prophecy would be a better tool to reach Simon, and also something that would be of far more value to him as a magician to the point that he would be willing to offer money to receive it, so I’d suggest that he witnessed multiple spiritual gifts but that it was the gift of prophecy that he really wanted. Any magician could make up a language and claim tongues, but to be able to prophesy and have those prophecies be completely accurate, that would be something of substantial value! For that matter, the gifts of healing and performing miracles would also be a perfect fit and fare more valuable to a magician than tongues.

      Remember, Simon believed and was baptised (Acts 8:14), but he was not truly converted and was still a captive to his old ways of sin (Acts 8:21, 23).

      I agree with you 100% though, being Spirit-filled is all about growing in your relationship with God! It’s a constant process and we can only continue to grow in our relationship by spending time with God and allowing the Holy Spirit to work on us.

      I’d love to hear your thoughts!

      Responder

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