Didn't Paul say he could speak in the language of angels?


In reading the answer to the Azusa Street revival I was confused on your stance on that revival. A lot of the people quoted kept saying the "tongues were in gibberish" not another language like they thought it would be. But plainly in I Corinthians 13 it plainly says I will speak in tongues in the languages of men and angels. I have watched a couple of different programs on the revival and am convinced it was a remarkable move of God.


I not too surprised that you thought the conclusion of the article unclear since it didn't match your own thoughts about the revival. I documented what took place by citing both supporters and detractors and then showed how those events contradicted the teachings in the New Testament.

Paul's statement in I Corinthians 13:1 is done in hyperbole. "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal." Paul is not saying he is speaking in the tongues of men and angels without love. He is stating that even if he spoke in every language of the world and languages not of this world, all that speaking would be worthless if love wasn't behind what was being said. Without love those words would be just noise. This is not a claim that he is speaking all these languages, but an assertion that such an ability doesn't have value in and of itself. Nor did any of the other miraculous gifts have value by themselves. "And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing" (I Corinthians 13:2). Again this is hyperbole. Paul isn't claiming he could remove mountains or that he understood everything. He is saying that even if he had those extreme abilities it would not profit him if love was missing.

A bit later Paul again addresses the value of speaking in other languages by pointing out that without actual communications, speaking in other languages is worthless. "So likewise you, unless you utter by the tongue words easy to understand, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air. There are, it may be, so many kinds of languages in the world, and none of them is without significance. Therefore, if I do not know the meaning of the language, I shall be a foreigner to him who speaks, and he who speaks will be a foreigner to me" (I Corinthians 14:9-11). You could speak to me all day in Korean, yet your words would be useless to me because I do not understand Korean. It isn't that Korean is a bad language, it is a perfectly fine language, but since I can't speak it no communication can take place in it for me.

Along with that even speaking in a language I did know, speaking solely for speaking sake is worthless. Something worthwhile to be relayed must be spoken. "But now, brethren, if I come to you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you unless I speak to you either by revelation, by knowledge, by prophesying, or by teaching? Even things without life, whether flute or harp, when they make a sound, unless they make a distinction in the sounds, how will it be known what is piped or played? For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare himself for battle?" (I Corinthians 14:6-8). Just as playing an instrument without a tune is mere noise, talking without a point to be communicated is also merely noise.

Yet, those who advocate speaking in tongues cannot speak in another language which they had not previously spoken. When called on it, they fall back on the age old claim of speaking in the language of angels. They congratulate themselves on doing something that Paul said was absolutely worthless and just a bunch of noise. And it isn't even what made tongue speaking amazing! "Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, "Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born?" (Acts 2:7-8). Tongue speaking is impressive to the hearer because communication is taking place in the language they are most comfortable in using. Hearing gibberish is not impressive.

Oh, there are claims of actual speaking in another language among the Pentecostals, but it is like all other miraculous events they claim. There is a claim that they know of someone who seen it, but never directly. Unlike the miracles of the New Testament, there are no witnesses among the unbelievers and there is no way to verify that the claim is accurate.