by Theodore Wright.
For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God:
for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.
– 1 Corinthians 14:2 (KJV)
From several places in this Bible verse we see that there do exist unknown tongues as the gift of tongues. Although, the word “unknown” in the above passage is italicized which means it is not in the original text, we can yet tell quite well that these tongues are unknown. Like other italicized words, this word is placed there to make English sence and logic of the passage.
There are those who are uncomfortable with “unknown tongues”, but cannot Biblically prove that spiritual gifts ended with the early church. So, a new doctrine gets embraced. They now say that they believe in the gift of tongues but say it is only a KNOWN tongue, further saying that the italicized word “unknown” in 1 Corinthians 14:2 is wrong. They will say that Acts chapter 2 is the only clear Biblical example of tongues which are only known tongues.
Insistence that the gift of tongues is only a known tongue is foolish for it is not a doctrine that holds up in the light of the Holy Scriptures. Let us compare the passage on tongues in Acts chapter 2 with 1 Corinthians chapter 14 verse 2…
- Those who spoke in tongues in Acts 2 spoke unto men. 1 Corinthians 14:2 says that speaking in a tongue does not speak unto men but unto God.
- There were those who heard the tongues on Pentecost who did understand the tongues. The Corinthians passage says that no man understands him who speaks in a tongue.
- In Acts 2:11, it was no mystery to the hearers of tongues who confessed, “We do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.” They said it was in their own languages. 1st Corinthians says that he who speaks in tongues speaks mysteries.
Yes, the gift of tongues can come as a known tongue as seen in the second chapter of Acts. However, it is evidently clear that the tongues spoken of in Corinthians is not referring to the same kind of tongues as in Acts 2. 1st Corinthians shows tongues as being unknown. Other Bible passages show that unknown tongues may only be understood by the spiritual gift of interpretation which is not the same as human translation. The italicized word “unknown” in the Corinthians passage was well placed and accurate to the meaning of the text. The Bible’s true revelation of the “tongues of men and of angels” as said in 1 Corinthians 13:1, by far, does not solely rest on the word “unknown” in a passage that already makes quite clear that the tongues are unknown.
This “known tongue only” doctrine is a watering down of the Word of God and was a concocted and half-baked method in order dispute charismatic Christians about what they themselves do not understand. Such people who formulate doctrines in order to refute what they do not wish to believe from the Scriptures are not rightly dividing the word of God. Unknown tongues is not the only Bible teaching that gets criticized by these people. Commonly, they will criticize the affectivity and reality of other gifts as well. We should not be deceived by those who have a form of godliness but deny its power. In the Holy Bible we are exhorted to desire spiritual gifts.