And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues.
— Mark 16:17
Regardless of the denomination to which you belong or what you have been taught to believe, it is an irrefutable fact that Jesus said believers would speak with new tongues. In fact, Jesus affirmed that speaking in new tongues would be one of the supernatural signs that would follow believers!
The first example of speaking in tongues is found in Acts 2:1-4, where the Bible says, “And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”
Of all the instances where people spoke in tongues in the book of Acts, this is the most famous example — perhaps because it was the first time this phenomenon ever occurred and thus set the pattern for believers to be filled with the Spirit and to speak in tongues. But this instance is very unique from any other instance recorded in the book of Acts, for several miracles occurred that day when believers spoke in tongues for the first time.
There is so much we could write about speaking in tongues; after all, entire books have been written and devoted to this wonderful subject. But today let’s look at the specific events that occurred the first time people ever spoke in tongues.
On the Day of Pentecost, Acts 2:5,6 tells us a “multitude” was gathered in Jerusalem from every nation under Heaven. The word “multitude” is the Greek word plethos, which is used no less than twenty-five times in the Gospels to denote a massive, huge crowd of people. This is very important, for it tells us that far more foreigners were in the crowd than were believers who had been filled with the Spirit. Acts 2:9-11 tells us that in the crowd that day were Parthians, Medes, and Elamites; dwellers of Mesopotamia, Judea, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, and parts of Libya near Cyrene; strangers from Rome, both Jews and proselytes; and both Cretes and Arabians.
The believers who had just been filled with the Spirit were speaking in tongues so loudly as they exited the upper room and entered the streets that the entire crowd could hear them speaking. The crowd was amazed at what they were hearing. Acts 2:6 says they were “…confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language.”
The word “confounded” is the Greek word suncheo, which means to perplex; to stun; to bewilder; to baffle; to stupefy; to amaze; to confound; or to cause an astonishment that literally throws people into a state of confusion. The word “heard” is the Greek word akouo, which simply means to hear. The word “speak” is the word lalouton, which means to speak, but the Greek tense presents the picture of people continuously speaking in tongues. In fact, this Greek word for “speak” is the same word used to describe someone who speaks fluently in his own or in some other language. This clearly shows us that the believers were speaking nonstop in tongues as they entered the streets that day.
But notice the end of Acts 2:6, where it says every man heard them speak “in his own language.” The word “language” is the Greek word dialektos, which is where we get the word dialect. This means the believers were not heard speaking only in different languages, but with all the specific dialects, idioms, phrases, vernacular, and regional accents that were used in each geographical location from which the listeners came.
Consider this: There were only 120 believers speaking in tongues, and this was a massive crowd of people. So that means this small group of 120 believers must have been speaking in hundreds of different dialects! To know a language is one thing, but to know the different dialects of another language requires years of study and the highest skill. This would be amazing for a group of highly educated language specialists, but for a group of Galilaeans to speak so fluently in so many different dialects was simply unheard of — thus, the reason the listening crowd was so baffled and stunned.
Acts 2:7 lets us know that the majority of the believers who came out of the upper room speaking in tongues that day were Galilaeans, giving further cause for the international crowd to be so confounded. Galilaeans were simple people, not known for their education or wealth. Their labor, work, profession, and way of life were all primarily connected to the region of Galilee, so they had no reason to know many foreign languages. This is why the people reacted the way they did in Acts 2:7: “And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans?”
In Acts 2:7, the word “amazed” is the Greek word existimi, which means to be beside oneself or to be out of one’s head. It is the picture of one who is so stunned and amazed that he stands speechless — nearly paralyzed with shock. The word “marvelled” is the Greek word thaumadzo, which means to wonder or to stand in awe of. In our day, we might define it as one who is bowled over by something he has heard, witnessed, or seen. There is no doubt that the crowd that day was perplexed as they listened to these Galilaeans speaking in so many different languages and specific dialects.
But were the disciples supernaturally speaking in known languages that day?
Some have tried to categorically state that those who came out from the upper room that day supernaturally spoke in known human languages. But Paul specifically wrote that speaking in tongues is not speaking in a known language. In First Corinthians 14:2, Paul said, “For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him.…” That word unknown is italicized in the King James Version because it doesn’t appear in the Greek text; it was supplied by the translators to affirm that Paul was not referring to known human languages; he was writing about a supernatural prayer language that is known only to God.
According to Paul’s words in First Corinthians 14:13-15, speaking in tongues is a spiritual language — never a known language. It is so supernatural and unknown to man that it cannot be understood, not even by the speaker himself, unless he prays for the ability to interpret what he is saying. Since this is Paul’s very clear teaching about speaking in tongues, it emphatically asserts that on the Day of Pentecost, the believers did not speak in known human languages, but in a supernatural, unknown prayer language, just as believers speak in tongues today.
However, on the Day of Pentecost, a special miracle occurred. The believers spoke in tongues — but by the time that supernatural language reached the ears of the listeners, they “heard” a message in their own distinct dialects. This is why Acts 2:6 says that “…every man heard them speak in his own language.” Acts 2:8 says, “And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?” And Acts 2:11 tells us that the listeners said, “…we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.”
On the Day of Pentecost, the first great work of God was to fill the believers with the Holy Spirit. The second great work was to liberate their human spirits so they could pray in tongues and worship God in the Spirit. The third great work occurred when the believers spoke in other tongues and God supernaturally translated those tongues in the ears of the listeners so that each member of the audience “heard” them speaking in his or her own language.
It is amazing what happens when God’s people open up to let Him work through them! When the believers in the book of Acts were filled with the Spirit and began to regularly speak in tongues, a door to supernatural power was opened. The power unleashed through speaking in tongues is evident throughout the book of Acts and is still in operation today.
There are several instances in the book of Acts where believers prayed and worshiped God in tongues. This was the norm, not the exception — a common practice that was expected to occur in the life of any person who was filled with the Spirit. And just as the early believers freely and fluently prayed in the Spirit, God has enabled us to do the same, if we will but open our hearts, open our mouths, and let our spirits speak to God.
How long has it been since you prayed in other tongues and allowed God’s supernatural power to operate through you? Why don’t you take a few minutes today to pray and praise in the Spirit? It will bring a divine operation of the supernatural into your day!
My Prayer for Today
Lord, I thank You for filling me with the Spirit and for giving me the ability to pray and to praise You in a supernatural language. My spirit longs to pray, to express itself, and to worship You. My own mind and intellect is so limited that I don’t always know what to say or how to express myself. But when I pray and praise in the Spirit, I am very aware that I am praying perfectly and praising You on the highest level. Thank You for this wonderful ability. I want to pray in the Spirit and to worship You with all of my inner man!
I pray this in Jesus’ name!
My Confession for Today
I confess that I am filled with the Spirit of God and that I regularly pray in the Spirit. God liberated my inner man to speak to Him on the day I was baptized in the Holy Spirit. From that time until now, I have had the ability to speak in a supernatural spiritual language. I refuse to neglect or ignore this ability God has given me; therefore, I regularly pray in tongues. As a result, I am growing stronger and more sensitive to the Holy Spirit, and I have a continual operation of divine, supernatural activity in my life!
I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
Questions to Answer
1. How often do you take the time to pray in the Spirit? When you do, how much time do you devote to praying in other tongues?
2. What happens inside you when you pray in the Spirit? Do you see a greater manifestation of power, joy, victory, and personal revelation in your life? What other results do you see when you regularly pray in tongues?
3. If you have never been filled with the Spirit or spoken in other tongues, what is stopping you from receiving this glorious experience today?