The Berean Expositor
Volume 52 - Page 147 of 207
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unbelief and one of these signs was to do with the tongue, the language of a foreign
nation, i.e. another earthly language, one different from their own. Thus a copy of the
ecstatic utterances of pagan priestesses could not have been what the N.T. meant by
"speaking in tongues".  The writers may well have borrowed the expression from
classical Greek but they gave it a new meaning. But what about heavenly languages, the
tongues of angels? In I Cor. 13: 1 Paul wrote:
"Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity (love), I
am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal."
Here, some assert, Paul claims he has spoken in the tongues or languages of angels but
The Companion Bible note on "though" is enlightening:
though = if, Greek ean = if haply, if so be that, haply, perchance. Here followed by the
subjunctive mood, it expresses a hypothetical but possible condition, contingent
on circumstances the future will show.
Up to that point of time, Paul had not spoken in the tongues of angels. Here, he was
arguing hypothetically. "If I speak with the tongues of men, even if I speak with the
tongues of angels, and have not love, I am as empty as a drum" is a possible paraphrase
which makes the argument clear. It is interesting to note that throughout the whole of the
Scriptures, whenever angels talk, they are always clearly understood by the human beings
addressed. Thus in Scripture, angels have always spoken in the tongues of men.
To sum up, in Scripture to speak in tongues does not refer to angelic speech, neither
can it refer to utterances made in religious ecstasy which were common in the pagan
temples. It refers to a language, a dialektos, a speech of some other nation here on earth.
Pray in a Tongue (I Cor. 14: 14).
pp. 154 - 160
Much is made, nowadays, about "praying in tongues" yet the expression occurs but
once in Scripture and then it is qualified by the word "if".
"For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is
unfruitful.  What is it then?  I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the
understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding
also" (I Cor. 14: 14, 15).
The word `unknown' is in italics in the K.J.5: because it is not in the Greek
manuscripts but the translators thought some word should qualify `tongues'. Possibly
they inclined to the view that tongues were unknown ecstatic utterances or angelic
languages but earlier we have shown that such views are untenable. Tongues were
languages of the earth and the unknown should not be there.