I wrote this related article:

Paul: Praying in Tongues is “Speaking to God, Not People” — “no one understands,” “he speaks mysteries,” “edifies himself” — in languages of “men or angels”

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I looked through the comments under Thomas Schreiner’s video, and post the best-of below. This one introduces Gordon Fee’s excellent article:

Dr. Schreiner is a major NT scholar and I think he has some valuable insights on a lot of the NT. But on the matter of “speaking in tongues” his own lack of experience or the experiences in his churches make him myopic to the text. We need to be careful not to read our own experience or lack of experience, as is Schreiner, back into scripture. The scriptures are addressing people who had certain common experiences, and IF we today have a similar experience to them, the texts make much more sense. For example, Paul’s epistles are addressed to first generation Christians who mostly experienced a dramatic encounter with the Holy Spirit in their conversion. They knew the joy of sins forgiven, deliverances from demons, and Gods love poured out in their hearts; and as Paul says to the Corinthians, “they lacked no spiritual gift.’ I mean, Paul’s explanation in 1 Corinthians 12-14 was not instruction to those who knew nothing in experience of these things. He was correcting certain abuses.

An opposing view from another eminent NT scholar [Gordon Fee], for those who really seek to know the word.

The Essential Nature of Speaking in Tongues

First, who is Gordon Fee?

Gordon Fee is Professor Emeritus of New Testament at Regent College, where he taught for sixteen years. His teaching experience also includes serving schools in Washington, California, Kentucky, as well as Wheaton College in Illinois (five years) and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Massachusetts (twelve years).

Gordon Fee is a noted New Testament scholar, having published several books and articles in his field of specialization, New Testament textual criticism. He also published a textbook on New Testament interpretation, co-authored two books for lay people on biblical interpretation, as well as scholarly-popular commentaries on 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus and on Galatians, and major commentaries on 1 Corinthians and Philippians. He is also the author of a major work on the Holy Spirit and the Person of Christ in the letters of Paul. 

Gordon Fee served as the general editor of the New International Commentary series until 2012….

In his article, The Essential Nature of Speaking in Tongues, Gordon Fee writes:

..it is a common error among Cessationists to interpret all accounts of the gift of tongues through the events of Pentecost in Acts 2, in which tongues was clearly understood by the Jewish observers as human languages/dialects. This is a grievous error, because instead of taking all of the accounts of tongues in to account and then forming a theology of the nature of the gift, Cessationists force the well-rounded peg of the full Scriptural witness through the square hole of one passage.  The Pentecostal interpretation, on the other hand, takes all of the passages into account first, and then puts together a holistic theology of tongues. …

Acts 10:44-48

everyone is now a Christian in the room because everyone Peter brought were believers and all the unbelievers just got converted.  Additionally, everyone spoke the same language since they all had faith in response to Peter’s preaching and they were all from the same region….

  • Unlike Acts 2 the tongues are not used evangelistically since everyone was a Christian at that point (10:44).
  • They would not have understood the tongues spoken since they already could speak each other’s languages.

Acts 19:1-7

The same observations of Acts 10 are present in Acts 19. …

1 Corinthians 13

In this chapter, Paul states that the tongue-speaker, whether he speaks in a tongue of men or of angels….

  • For a number of reasons the cessation of tongues in 13:8-9 can only refer to Christ’s final return and not the completion of the canon or the apostolic age.  Paul says it will happen when we “see face to face” and that “we will know even as we are fully known” (13:12).

1 Corinthians 14

  • When one speaks in a tongue he/she “speak not to men but to God” (1 Cor. 14:2) This is a major hole in the argument for tongues merely referring to human languages. …
  • Additionally it states that “no one understands him, for he utters mysteries in (or by) the Spirit”(14:2). This shows that at least the tongues Paul is speaking about is not understood by anyone unless it is accompanied by interpretation. …
  • Tongues builds up/edifies the person who is speaking/praying in tongues (14:4). …
  • When a person prays in tongues they are praying with their spirit (14:14), yet still by the Holy Spirit (14:2, 12:10-11).
  • When praying in tongues, the mind is unfruitful (or inactive) (14:14).
  • Paul prays with his spirit, and with his mind – or in tongues and with known languages (14:15).  Since Paul does both, it is clear that praying in tongues with the mind unfruitful is not sinful and is actually a part of Paul’s spirituality.
  • Paul sings in tongues as well (14:15).  So clearly tongues can take the form of a song, which possibly could be one manifestation of what it means to sing “spiritual songs” in Col. 3:16 and Eph. 5:19.
  • Speaking/singing in tongues can be viewed as acceptable thanksgiving to God.  But only if it is not done in the congregation, unless it is interpreted (14:16-17).
  • Paul spoke in tongues frequently, but never in the congregation unless it was interpreted (14:18-19).  This further solidifies the idea that tongues can be uses as a “private prayer language” if you will. …
  • If there is no one to interpret the tongue, the speaker can pray quietly in tongues, but should do it silently so that it is not a disturbance to the rest of the congregation (14:28).
  • Tongues should not be forbidden in the congregation (14:39).  Paul’s instructions are on how to use it correctly and in order, not to condemn its use (14:40).


Given the breakdown above, tongues is clearly shown to have multiple manifestations.  Three possible uses/manifestations of tongues are made evident: 1) A human language used for proclamation of the Gospel, 2) A prayer language that edifies the individual believer, 3) A message in tongues for the congregation that is accompanied by the gift of interpretation for the edification of the whole assembly.

Related: Gordon Fee’s excellent commentary on 1st Corinthians:

The First Epistle to the Corinthians, Revised Edition (The New International Commentary on the New Testament)

Comments that I picked below the video say A LOT!

What is the gift of tongues? Is speaking in tongues the Baptism of the Holy Spirit?

Feb 24, 2020

“What is the gift of tongues? Is speaking in tongues the Baptism of the Holy Spirit?” Dr. Thomas Schreiner answers in Honest Answers | Episode 93

More select comments under the YouTube video:

There is a distinction between speaking in tongues to edify the church and speaking or praying in tongues privately. Paul writes that he will pray with his spirit (tongues) but he will also pray with his mind.

I also love how He says, I pray more than all of you in tongues. I can imagine how necessary it was to be constantly filled to fulfill His Mission, and that is still a Great reminder for us today.

I first spoke in tongues 51 years ago. I knew nothing about it before and had no biases either way. When hands were laid on me I spoke the words that I was inwardly hearing. I think they were ecstatic utterances and not another language. Overnight it revolutionized my spiritual life. The Bible became real as if I had never seen it before. Power to witness and share the love of God was instantaneous whereas before it was very difficult and almost impossible. Any arguments against can’t trump my experience. I find nothing in the scriptures to change my view. If tongues were only other languages why would Paul say he spoke in tongues more than they all as if it was good that he did. If it was just another language why emphasize that?

My question is this: if tongues are always a language that can be understood by men, then why is the “gift of interpretation” paired with the “gift of tongues?”

Sad to see that instead of doing what the bible says and pursuing the gifts, people try to explain the gift away because they never were received it. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 14:18 that he spoke in tongues them all of them. He tells them that speaking in tongues in the church without interpretation would be no Bueno, but it does not change the fact that he spoke more than anyone else in tongues. The one who speaks in a tongue edifies himself. 1 Corinthians 14:4.

I think you may have failed to bring up the requirements of interpretation. If tongues were only for those who spoke other languages what would be the purpose of someone interpreting their own langue for them? Seems to me, if the Holy Spirit is providing the ability to speak the foreign language, Paul wouldn’t need to explain to the church they need an interpreter when doing so.

I would hope that you all speak in tongues as much as I do for your edification even if nobody understands it but prophecy is a better gift because human beings understand our language

If you do not have the gift, you can not comment on it. No more than an unsaved person can comment on being born again. I was born again at a Pentecostal Church. Was not brought up in a religious family. People were speaking in tongues all around me that night I got saved, but I did not get it! But I did get the most important thing salvation, and I felt it hallelujah, I knew I was a new creation. I was drying up a year later and a little depressed, than night I stayed in prayer room and stayed there until I got it!!– I can tell you ifs real 100% for today.. In fact we need it today more than ever!!! Its different anointings. Your trying to explain something spiritual with your carnal mind.. You will never do it

Regardless of whether tongues is actual language or an utterance [Paul says it’s the language of men or of angels, 1 Cor. 13:1 – Jeff] we should not deny the power the word says it gives us for personal edification. So if I give utterance or speak a foreign language that My mind doesn’t understand, and I do that in my prayer closet, the word says I can be personally edified and built up. …

Does anyone else find it strange that someone who does not speak in tongues gives a teaching about speaking in tongues??

I grew up Lutheran, no one ever told me about the gift of tongues except for one negative story. When I read Mark 16:17-18 I was shocked to read that if we believe, certain signs will follow us, one of them being speaking in tongues. I received the Holy Spirit baptism in the city park in 2014 and immediately spoke tongues that I never learned. It is a beautiful gift that I exercise daily in my personal prayer time.

This is why we don’t teach what we don’t know.

Why in the world would you need the “Gift of Interpretation of Tongues” if, in fact, the people who speak in tongues could just simply understand what they were saying? It’s a heavenly language and can be an Earthly language that can be understood by the hearer if it’s in the native tongue. Most people I hear trying to explain something that is a spiritual gift but they don’t have the gift themselves and so they try to make logical sense of it but have no experience in it. Even Paul says to pray that you also get the “Gift of Interpretation of Tongues” so that others may be edified and you know what is being said, but if no one is there to interpret, it is something that you do in private with God to edify, build yourself up and it’s the Spirit that is praying. 1 Corinthians 14: 28 if no one is present who can interpret, they must be silent in your church meeting and speak in tongues to God privately. [“But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in the assembly, and let him speak to himself, and to God.”]

Your teaching of tongues is in a Box because you haven’t received this gift, so your perspective can’t understand it. Half of what you are saying is Truth but the other half is you don’t understand and you have no one around you who operates in these gifts and if someone did, you would say you have to go to a different church because we don’t believe in stuff like that, protecting your belief system as you know it. Also when you speak in tongues to God, it is by faith that you speak after you have received it from God, that why Paul says it is a gift that you can control. For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind. It’s only by faith you can pray this way and if it was given to you by God that you understand it, then it would click like a light bulb for you, but because you don’t have it you take the scripture and make it fit you believe.

Yes, Paul is saying do all these giftings in Love because if you don’t its worthless to the body, its the delivery, do it with love. That’s the Point he is truly trying to make.

Let love be your highest goal! But you should also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives. So, my dear brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and don’t forbid speaking in tongues.

1 Corinthians 13:1 “If I speak in the tongues of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal.” As we see here an unknown language to the speaker could be a human language or the language of angels.

The scripture I found in the Bible at 1 Corinthians 13:8, says that speaking in tongues would be done away. The purpose for speaking in tongues was so the message of Jesus could be spread to a great number of people. It wasn’t unintelligible, the people who spoke foreign languages could understand what these followers of Jesus were saying–Acts 2:1-6.

Jeff Fenske (my response)
1 Cor. 13 actually says tongues, prophesies and knowledge (maybe words of knowledge – 1 Cor. 12:8) will be done away with when “that which is complete has come,” when we see “face to face,” and *when we know fully* even as we are fully known.” Clearly, this is speaking of heaven, not the completion of the Bible canon. Even Jesus said the Holy Spirit, God Himself inside of us will “lead us into all truth” here on Earth, which the Bible cannot do, because it’s finite.

“8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will be done away with. Where there are various languages, they will cease. Where there is knowledge, it will be done away with. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10 but when that which is complete has come, then that which is partial will be done away with. 11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child. Now that I have become a man, I have put away childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, even as I was also fully known.

Two points. 1) Speaking in tongues is no where referenced as an “Ecstatic Utterance”, it’s just speaking in tongues. 2) Although secondly, I believe it to be more importantly noted.- Mark 16: 17 “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with NEW tongues;…”. New is in there. The emphasis is mine to illustrate.

I assumed this was from a Baptist background. As stereotypically Baptist’s are Cessationists. They believe certain gifts of the spirit are no longer performed. That belief would lay on you the burden of proving that in scripture. Scripture doesn’t support the “doing away with any gifts” because of a lack of faith.

“Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.”
Romans 8:26 KJV

It’s my guess that this person doesn’t speak in tongues or pray in the Spirit and if he did he wouldn’t have made some of those statements. I pray in tongues everyday but I have never called it “ecstatic utterance”. And why do I pray this way? 1 Corinthians 14:4 says, “The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself”. That’s not being selfish, that’s being smart. I do physical exercise for the same reason.

As I see tongues, there are 5 different manifestations. A personal prayer language that edifies the believer building up his faith; the tongue that precedes a prophecy [possibly tongues and interpretation instead – Jeff] ; a tongue used in intercessory prayer, praying for things that you in your understanding don’t know of; and worshipping God in the Spirit; lastly, a sign to the unbeliever. An example of the last manifestation happened to me and a friend. We were sharing the Lord with a Muslim college student who grew up in Israel. The topic of tongues came up and he wanted to here what a tongue sounded like. My friend started speaking in tongues and the man fell to his knees and said, you just said in the Aramaic language, your heaven, your heaven is calling me! Right there he answered the call and received Christ into his heart. We were astounded as we just witnessed what happened in Acts 2.

[I personally have found that most often when I pray in tongues, I’m dealing with demons, and am breaking people’s James-3 curses. – jeff]

Try casting out a demon in chinese. The demons will laugh. Then try casting them out in 1 Cor 14:2 tongues. The demons freak out.

Sometimes we just don’t know how to pray & the Spirit gives utterances. Who knows God but the Spirit. He that prayeth in an unknown tongue prays not to men but unto God. God knows the heart when the Spirit speaketh in groans which we ourselves don’t know. Paul Thanked God he spoke in tongues more than anyone else. But I would rather speak words you can understand, Paul also said I would rather go & be with the Lord, but for your sake, I remain. He knew how important it was for his teaching over any gift or his departure. Funny we look at Salvation as a gift, but we can’t look at the gift of the Spirit as gifts.

That passage in 1 Corinthians 12 is not talking about the Baptism of the Spirit at conversion like in Acts 2, 10 and 19. [The baptism of the Spirit doesn’t necessarily require speaking in tongues as evidence. Peter said in Acts 2:

16 But this is what has been spoken through the prophet Joel:

17 ‘It will be in the last days, says God,
    that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh.
Your sons and your daughters will prophesy.
    Your young men will see visions.
    Your old men will dream dreams. – ed.]

If you look at the context Paul is talking about Spiritual Gifts. To which the gift of tongues that is given to someone is also accompanied by the gift of interpretation to another person. So that the function is in fact a message in tongues that is interpreted for the edification of the gathering of believers.

Dr. Schreiner did a great job of documenting and articulating with faithfulness to the text the conversion experience of the baptism of the Spirit in Acts but conveniently skipped over the context of 1 Corinthians 12 and chose not to use exegetical faithfulness in which upon examination would reveal a conclusion that goes against his confession of faith regarding the spirit. Namely that the Baptism of the Spirit is accompanied by tongues as the testimony of Acts reveals over and over and 1 Corinthians 12 is talking about Spiritual Gifts that are an ongoing function in the ministry of the church to which as Paul says, “some do not have that gift” but perhaps have the gift of knowledge, wisdom or interpretation.

Again, Paul in 1 Corinthians 12 was not talking about the tongues that accompany the Baptism of the Spirit at conversion like we see in Acts but the ongoing function of spiritual gifts in the ministry of the church for the edification of the gathering of believers.

I have gift of tongue and only use it privately. …

do i practice the gift? yes! when i pray in tongues everyday, i am able to defeat my flesh and follow Jesus

I am a third generation Pentecostal. I had a period of my life that I attended a Southern Baptist Church. I was told by Baptist that had weak arguments that Speaking in Tongues and being baptized in The Holy Spirit may be biblical but it’s not Baptist. I can’t comprehend why something that is biblical has to be Baptist???????

I am curious as to how Southern Baptist think a Pentecostal should respond to the idea that it has to be Baptist regardless of how scriptural something is!

He does not address that the scripture also says that these tongues build up the speaker, which would have been a little more helpful.

The person who speaks in another language builds himself up, but he who prophesies builds up the church. — 1 Corinthians 14:4

All people may be baptized with the Spirit and speak in tongues; but this is Not the Gift of Tongues. The Gift of Tongues, being one of the Nine Spiritual Gifts, is Not the same as speaking in tongues when filled with the Holy Spirit. The Gift of Tongues is a separate and different experience from speaking in tongues when filled with the Spirit at conversion. All may speak in tongues when filled with the Spirit at conversion; but not all receive the Gift of Tongues after conversion. The general speaking in tongues is personal. The Gift of Tongues is for the edification of believers.

These cessationists are so funny. But to their credit, they are coming closer and closer. These nominal reformationist/Calvinists weren’t even coming this close just 10 years ago. They don’t want to be affiliated with charismatics and Pentecostals but are taking baby steps to allow the scripture to speak louder than the stigma that would be slapped on them by John MacArthur if they believed the text. They are such great dancers though, the way they dance around the scriptures with their interpretations. …

There are over 5000 untranslated tonal languages in Africa. Tongues are languages spoken on the earth that you don’t know of. Paul said tongues are also angelic languages. God has the ability to speak to all, but it’s really none of anyone’s business what others say to God. Sometimes God will speak through your tongues to someone nearby and they know exactly what you’ve said and they know it’s from God. If you speak a specific word clearly, go to Google translate and see if that word comes from a certain language. When I was baptised in the Holy Spirit, the Spirit flowed through me like a River and I received a vision half in my body half out of my body, and there was no English language involved. This debate is due to unbelief in the flesh. Seek the Baptism and you will have no more questions.

Lol funny how he made such a strong case that today’s speaking in tongues is not of God, Yet in the same breath stops short of saying it’s of the devil. Well if its not of God & it’s not of the devil then who is it from. Hummmmmm.

Jeff Fenske (my reply)
Saying tongues are from the Devil is blasphemy, because in almost all cases, tongues are from the Holy Spirit.


And if anyone calls tongues are of the devil and it comes from GOD, They have blasphemed the HOLY GHOST. Calling the HOLY GHOST a devil is blasphemy against the HOLY GHOST.

You are quoting scriptures that undermine your own argument, which shows you are over thinking. Just accept that “tongues of men AND angels” means exactly what it says.

Not all tongues can be interpreted, and not all tongues are a sign for unbelievers. Literally everything Paul wrote on this topic has to do with administration of tongues in the confines of the church.

The real problem is not our inability to grasp how or when God chooses to dispense this gift, but the fact that Christians are too proud to seek what Paul himself said should be the common experience of all believers.

Most of you listening to this video are lukewarm Christians who look for teachers like this to make you feel good about your lack of devotion to the words of Jesus. While this may not keep you out of heaven, don’t expect to escape martyrdom in the days to come when you are facing the Mark. Things are about to get VERY real!

At what point does the Bible say the gift of tongues is not operative. That seems more like a personal assumption to me. Most Pentecostals see two types of tongues. 1 is when one is baptized in the Spirit and the other is “The Gift”. Certainly scripture reports one must be baptized in the water AND the Spirit. When its water a person knows as they feel the wetness of the water. How does one know when they have been baptized in the Spirit if tongues is NOT evidence.

Science has proved that people who speak in “unknown languages” are not using the speech portion of the brain (even when they are clearly speaking). That portion of the brain is silent. Acts 19:6 And when Paul laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied. There is no proof speaking in tongues has ever ceased. In fact it is still in operation as on the day of Pentecost for “those who believe”. In other words have faith. It is an age old argument, but I would rather have spoke in tongues and find out it was not necessary then miss out on eternity with Yehōshuˈa because I did not have it. … I want EVERYTHING I can get when it comes to what Yehōshuˈa has for me.


1Corinthians 14:4 “He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself”

Cessationism baffles my mind. I see no scriptural evidence to support it. How does cessationism benefit the kingdom?

If God’s word is the same yesterday today and forever. And it says DON’T FORBID the speaking of tongues. Can you show me in the word where the gift of tongues ended. I think forbidding this gift and others such as healing etc. Is the reason why the church is in such a weak spiritual state. We’ve become so intellectual were no spiritual good. Forgive us Lord Jesus.

You are deceived and deceiving others. So, stop doing it and going against God.