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Languages

The term "mother tongue" is easily understood to mean one's native language (see also Nativity). The opposite to that would be "foreign tongue," which is also a plainly-evident term, meaning a language of some other country or people. "Tongue" means an actual human language. So why, when it comes to the Bible, do so many think that "speaking in tongues" means senseless babbling that only the babbler can understand, particularly when Bibles themselves often state in their Prefaces that "tongues" means languages (e.g. the King James Version introduces itself with "Translated out of the original tongues")?

"Many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification"

Holy Bible In English translations of the Holy Bible tongue originates from two New Testament Greek words (pronounced) dialektos, from which we get the word dialect, meaning a recognized language, and glossa, meaning the tongue, but through actual usage, describes the speaking of a language for communication between people.

On that now-famous Pentecost, known as the "birthday of the church," many people suddenly began to "speak in tongues" as The Holy Spirit enabled them. But they spoke in real languages that natives of each particular language could understand. They were not babbling or ranting gibberish.

"And they were all filled with The Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance."

"And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God." (Acts 2:4-11 KJV)

The ability to instantly speak in tongues, other languages, without having to take the time to learn them as is normally done, was a gift that God gave to some so that the Gospel could be preached to those nations. The "tongues" were actual languages.

"Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine? And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped? For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?"

"So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air. There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification. Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me" (1 Corinthians 14:6-11 KJV)

Fact Finder: Along with Hebrew, what tongue was the primary language of Jesus Christ?
See Aramaic


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