Speaking in tongues is more diverse than a real language. Some aspects of speaking in tongues mirror those of real languages but other aspects are spiritual.
To consider speaking in tongues a real language will be like considering money to be paper. Money is more than just paper and ink.
I have the gift of praying in tongues and I understand what it is. In this article, I will explain speaking in tongues in relation to real languages.
Is Speaking in Tongues a Real Language?
Origin of Languages
Real languages have an origin. While not all human languages originated at the same time, they have a common beginning.
The Bible tells us how multiple languages began through the story of the tower of Babel. The story of the tower of Babel in Genesis 11 tells us that men were united in building a tower that would reach the heavens.
The purpose of building the tower was for men to make for themselves a name on earth. In other words, they wanted something to be proud about other than God.
Some other sources claim that men were building the tower of Babel to secure themselves in case God would send another flood.
Whatever reasons men had for building the tower of Babel, it is clear that they were building the tower against God’s wishes. Men wanted to rebel against God and the tower of Babel was going to help them achieve their mission.
God knew their plans and decided to stop them. God confused their language; they could not understand one another.
As a result, building the tower of Babel became impossible and the project was abandoned. After the division of human languages, people scattered all over the earth and settled.
To this day, the divided languages we have are a result of the division that God caused during the building of the tower of Babel.
The Bible tells us that before the building of the tower of Babel, all humans had one language. There are no further details given about that one language that existed.
The division of languages was to prevent humans from uniting in rebellion against God.
Origin of Speaking in Tongues
The first time speaking in tongues appears in the Bible is on the day of Pentecost. The disciples of Jesus were gathered in the upper room and when the Holy Spirit came upon them, they spoke in tongues.
Many people heard the disciples praising God in their native languages even though the disciples were not natives. This incident puzzled them and they wanted an explanation.
Peter stood up and explained to them what was happening. Jesus had promised the coming of the Holy Spirit and the day of Pentecost was the fulfillment of the promise.
Speaking in tongues was a manifestation that happened as a result of the coming of the Holy Spirit.
From the very first incident, we learn that speaking in tongues came to aid in spreading the gospel of Jesus.
Since Jesus brought salvation to men of all languages, the gospel needed to be preached in all those languages. But since only a few people believed in Jesus at that time, they needed the ability to speak in multiple languages including those they didn’t know.
Speaking in tongues was the solution.
Must Speaking in Tongues be a Real Language?
Speaking in tongues includes real languages but it is not limited to real languages. On the day of Pentecost, the tongues spoken were real languages.
It happened that way because on that day God wanted people of other languages to hear the gospel of Jesus. He drew their attention by causing people who were not of their language to speak their language.
When the gospel needs to be preached in a foreign language, the gift of speaking in tongues enables a disciple of Jesus to speak in the language of natives even though he is not a native.
Considering this fact, you can say speaking in tongues is a real language. It includes all real human languages after all.
But then speaking in tongues goes beyond just human languages. Apostle Paul in 1st Corinthians talks about tongues of angels and tongues of men.
That tells us that angels and men have their tongues but a man can speak both. The ability to speak the tongues of men and angels is called speaking in tongues.
Uttering real human languages when speaking in tongues is what the Bible calls tongues of men while other tongues are the tongues of angels. Some people call tongues of angels ‘heavenly language’.
This is why I said speaking in tongues is diverse than normal human languages.
Apart from speaking in tongues having tongues of men and angels, it is also the language we use to speak directly to God. The Bible tells us in 1st Corinthians 14:2 that whoever speaks in tongues speaks to God and no man understands him.
If speaking in tongues is only speaking different human languages, how can men fail to understand?
The truth is that speaking in tongues includes speaking directly to God without anyone understanding. Tongues spoken to God are usually mysteries that cannot be expressed in human languages.
The Bible calls these type of tongues ‘groans that are too deep for words’ in Romans 8:26.
I hope you now see the diversity of speaking in tongues.
Speaking in Tongues is a Uniting Language
God divided humans into different languages so that they would not unite in rebelling against Him. But after Jesus came to unite us with God and one another, we needed a common language.
In Mark 16:17 one of the signs that Jesus tells us will accompany those who believe in Him is speaking in new tongues. What are those new tongues and why is it important for those who believe in Jesus to speak them?
Those new tongues is what we know today as speaking in tongues and the purpose of speaking in tongues is to unite all believers in Jesus.
How can we be united in Jesus if we speak different languages? The aim is that even if we speak different human languages, we should be able to understand one another in Christ.
Speaking in new tongues also means that we speak the truth. Regardless of what human language you speak, if you are in Christ you speak the truth and that is a language on its own.
Speaking in tongues is more than a real language and it is important in uniting us in Christ.
I believe that the original language that humans spoke before God confused languages is the same speaking in tongues that is given to us as a gift from God.
Is Speaking in Tongues a Real Language? Conclusion
Considering all these factors, I believe you now understand why speaking in tongues sometimes has the characteristics of real human languages and other times it sounds gibberish.
There is no way tongues of men and tongues of angels are going to sound the same or even have the same syllables.
Groans that are noise to us have a profound meaning to God. Remember when God heard the groaning of Israelites in Egypt and He remembered the covenant He had made with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
Speaking in tongues is diverse and that is how I can explain it in relation to real languages.