On one of the Jewish holidays, known as the Day of Pentecost, followers of Jesus Christ were baptized and filled with the Holy Spirit. They spoke in other languages they had never learned. Several Jewish people who lived in foreign lands and spoke the local languages of foreign countries came to Jerusalem for worship. But when they heard a group of Jesus' followers who were simple fishermen speaking in the tongues of foreign countries, they were filled with awe and wonder! Then Peter stood up and talked about the gift of the Holy Spirit and free salvation. And he led thousands of people to believe in Jesus Christ that day!
A while after this incident, when Peter was at the house of a non-Jewish, Roman commander, everyone was filled with the Holy Spirit the same way as on the day of the Pentecost and experienced the baptism of the Holy Spirit. And the Jewish people who came with Peter heard non-Jewish people speaking in unlearned languages (Acts 10:44-46).
The events recorded in the book of Acts may appear as if everyone filled with the Holy Spirit speaks in an unlearned or other language. Yet, with a closer look and considering other verses, such as Acts 4:31, we realize that believers were filled with the Holy Spirit but didn’t speak in unearned languages. Contrary to that assumption, Apostle Paul addresses and clarifies this confusion:
“Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?” 1 Corinthians 12:30 (NKJV)
The Holy Spirit has undeniably changed the lives of millions of people. Yet, some have the gift of speaking in unlearned languages, and some don't because the gifts of the Holy Spirit are granted to us only by the discretion and foreknowledge of the Holy Spirit. Interestingly, in 1 Corinthians 13:1, Apostle Paul elaborates further on divine love and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, referring to two groups of unlearned languages, the "language of angels" and the "language of people." We can recall several occasions (Acts 2:6-8 and Acts 10:46) when God spoke directly to people with the "language of people" without any interpretation.
In contrast, the gift of speaking in the "language of angels" requires interpretation when spoken in a group. Therefore, someone with the gift of interpreting should interpret for others to understand (1 Corinthians 14:27). While speaking in the language of angels edifies the speaker (1 Corinthians 14:4), neither their human minds nor their audience comprehend the message (1 Corinthians 14:14).
Now, looking closely at those two significant events referenced earlier, followers of Jesus were filled with the Holy Spirit and spoke in the "language of the people." Those were the languages spoken in other countries, languages they didn't learn. But obviously, there was no need for interpretation because the Jewish people born in those countries knew and understood those languages. So, likewise, the Holy Spirit bestowed the gift of the "language of people" in Cornelius's house. When a group of Jewish people that came with Peter saw that non-Jewish people also spoke in unlearned languages, they were in shock and awe!
So, each type of language has a specific purpose and goal. For example, if disciples spoke with the "language of angels" on the day of the Pentecost," someone had to interpret. But how would bystanders believe it was extraordinary if it was interpreted? How would people even trust that the interpretation wasn't fake or manufactured? Therefore, speaking and worshipping in unlearned "languages of people" on those two occasions was the perfect proof for people from other countries to believe God was at work.
Speaking in an unlearned language is a miracle. Because we learn it directly from the Holy Spirit, not other people. When the Holy Spirit gives someone the gift of speaking an unlearned language, he also gives them the ability to speak (Acts 2:4). Although a group of Christians may believe that every Christian should make an effort or be helped to speak in unlearned languages, that practice conflicts with the principles of the Scriptures. Because it is only at the discretion of the Holy Spirit to enable one to speak. Ignoring such delicate matters will have unpleasant consequences for the church and its members. Those filled with the Holy Spirit, but having a gift other than speaking in other languages, may think they don’t deserve the gift of speaking in unlearned languages and may feel God doesn’t love them enough. Consequently, some may be tempted to fake speaking in tongues, and some may leave the church or their group.
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