Speaking in Tongues, Part II
Let me add to what I have already said about the priority and place of the spiritual gift of speaking in tongues. Paul helps us in 1 Corinthians 14:1-5 by reminding us to 1) pursue love above all else, 2) to desire spiritual gifts, 3) especially the spiritual gift of preaching, vs. 1.
He further adds that to speak in tongues is to edify the self, while preaching edifies the entire church, vs. 2. Edifying the body is preferable to edifying the self. Tongues is speaking to God in a way that no one can understand because it speaks mysteries and secrets that do not edify the body of Christ, vs. 2, 4. Preaching, on the other hand, edifies all believers because of its clarity and power to strengthen, encouragement and comfort, vs. 3, 5.
One interesting note in these five verses is the use of the singular and the plural form of ‘language.’ Paul uses the singular form of language in vs. 2, 4, 13, 14, 19 and 27. Some scholars believe that this is a reference to the counterfeit use of tongues. He uses the plural form of language in vs. 6, 18, 22, 23 and 39 as he references the proper use of tongues.
If ‘speaking in tongues’ is the gift of speaking known languages that one may not personally know for the purpose of gospel proclamation, i.e. Greek, Arabic, etc., then the proper term would be the plural form of language – tongues. The singular form – a tongue – may refer to the gibberish that was often used in pagan worship services.
Ultimately, the clear communication of the gospel is at stake.