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Speaking in Uknown Tongues


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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

I've heard many Baptist pastors, including some IFBs, when addressing the topic of speaking in unknown tongues, say that the use of "unknown tongues" is a mistranslation. (1 Corinthians 14:2) They argue that the translators of the KJB were wrong to add the word "unknown". Some even argue this mistranslation (what they call it) in the KJB is the reason the speaking in tongues movement got started.

I understand the point of their argument, but if they insist this is an error in the KJB on the translators part wouldn't that have to mean the KJB isn't entirely accurate? Admittedly, some of the Baptist pastors aren't KJO, but some of them are, which makes the use of this argument even more confusing (how can they claim the KJB is the perfect Word of God yet claim there is a mistranslation in it?).

My question is, how do we best address what they say about this matter?

 

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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

Perhaps I look at it too simply...I don't know.

I know there are folks who believe the translators were inspired to include the extra words that they did; however, I personally don't believe that. Like all italicized words in the KJB, the word "unknown" was added by the translators to help clarify what was being said when there wasn't an actual (or adequate) English word to translate with from the Greek/Hebrew. Otherwise, it would have just been speaking in a tongue (language)...and everyone speaks a language. This was obviously referencing a supernatural ability to speak in a language previously unknown and unlearned by the speaker, and since the translators included "unknown", the meaning is clear. 

In their effort to translate God's word as accurately as possible, they added the italicized words...MAKING IT KNOWN...that those certain words were added by them and weren't part of the manuscripts they translated from. 

I think it's a far reach to try and bring down the KJB by attacking an italicized word for that very reason (in my view).

I also think it's a far reach to attack the KJB because certain denominations twist the meaning of scripture. Blame the Bible instead of the people who twist it? Blame the Bible instead of the people who didn't study the Bible to see what it actually means?

By the way, there's plenty of "tongue-speakers" who don't use the KJB today...but I guess it's still the KJB's fault.  :nuts:  I guess the MVs get a pass even though they're still speaking in "unknown" tongues.

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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

This is how the error of modern day unknown tongues has always been explained from the pulpit of any IFB Baptist church I have ever attended.

1 Corinthians 13:8-10 (KJV)
8  Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
9  For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10  But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 

The "That which is perfect is come" is NOT Jesus.  He had already of course come and was now siting at the right hand of God.  What only other perfect thing did they NOT have yet in the Corinthian church?  A complete perfect word of God in translatable print, they could only preach that which is in part from what parchments they had or from Paul's preaching.  Once the perfect and preserved printed word was made available, which could then be translated into all languages, then the need for prophesiers to speak in unknown tongues would pass away. 

If someone were marooned in a area completely cut off from all civilization and populated solely by people who spoke in a tongue unknown to him (sounds like a reality show plot) I believe that God could and would according to His will, give that preacher the REAL unknown tongues gift to be able to preach to those peoples. 

Bro. Garry

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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

NN,

Thank you for your response. My main concern was with regards to the tongues issue, in how we can better address the tongues issue without going about it the way these preachers are, but also to the points you addressed as well.

The preachers I was speaking of were not attempting to attack the KJB, they were attempting to address the matter of tongues being human languages the speakers didn't know rather than an "unknown tongue", as in speaking an unknown language (not English, Russian, Korean, etc.).

I'll have to give more thought on the italics aspect you brought up. In many cases I've wondered why they added the italic word since the sentence would have flowed well and with the same meaning without the italic word. At the same time, there are places where something did need to be added. Be that as it may, there are enough italic words in the KJB that if a person could argue the italic words are not a part of the perfect preserved Word of God, they could claim the KJB to be full of extraneous stuff or error. That would call into question the validity of the KJB since in many cases the italic words have a direct impact upon our understanding and interpretation.

These preachers refer to the Greek and claim it's obvious the KJB translators should have wrote something along the lines of speaking another language (I can't recall their actual wording) rather than saying "unknown" which they contend confuses people into believing the language they spoke was not a known human language, but some unknown to humans language. Which, they say, is where some get the idea of a "heavenly language" or a "prayer language" and such.

To be clear, as far as I can tell, none of the ones I've heard speak on this were in any way attempting to denounce or discredit the KJB. As I pointed out above, some of them are KJO pastors. Even so, it would seem to me their attempt to deal with the "unknown tongues" matter in the way they do does open the door for others to question, or worse, the KJB.

Back to what I intended the main question to be, how do we properly address the "unknown tongues" matter and also address the way these pastors have chosen to address it?

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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

 

Word Origin and History for un-known

adj. c.1300, "strange, unfamiliar" (of persons, places), from un- (1) "not" + past participle of know. Cf. Old English ungecnawen. In reference to facts, attested from early 14c. The noun meaning "unknown person" is recorded from 1590s.

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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

Word Origin and History for tongue

n. Old English tunge "organ of speech, speech, language," from Proto-Germanic *tungon (cf. Old Saxon and Old Norse tunga, Old Frisian tunge, Middle Dutch tonghe, Dutch tong, Old High German zunga, German Zunge, Gothic tuggo), from PIE *dnghwa- (cf. Latin lingua "tongue, speech, language," from Old Latin dingua ; Old Irish tenge, Welsh tafod, Lithuanian liezuvis, Old Church Slavonic jezyku). For substitution of -o- for -u-, see come. The spelling of the ending of the word apparently is a 14c. attempt to indicate proper pronunciation, but the result is "neither etymological nor phonetic, and is only in a very small degree historical" [OED]. Meaning "foreign language" is from 1530s. Tongue-tied is first recorded 1520s.

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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

This is how the error of modern day unknown tongues has always been explained from the pulpit of any IFB Baptist church I have ever attended.

1 Corinthians 13:8-10 (KJV)
8  Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
9  For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10  But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. 

The "That which is perfect is come" is NOT Jesus.  He had already of course come and was now siting at the right hand of God.  What only other perfect thing did they NOT have yet in the Corinthian church?  A complete perfect word of God in translatable print, they could only preach that which is in part from what parchments they had or from Paul's preaching.  Once the perfect and preserved printed word was made available, which could then be translated into all languages, then the need for prophesiers to speak in unknown tongues would pass away. 

If someone were marooned in a area completely cut off from all civilization and populated solely by people who spoke in a tongue unknown to him (sounds like a reality show plot) I believe that God could and would according to His will, give that preacher the REAL unknown tongues gift to be able to preach to those peoples. 

Bro. Garry

​I've heard several IFB pastors preach this too. However, I've also heard just as many preach that these verses are referring to the return of Christ and the establishment of His Kingdom on earth.

There was a missionary in China who spent years there and couldn't learn the language. He was about to give up when there was some disturbance and as he went forward to speak to the crowd he suddenly realized he was speaking fluent Chinese (I don't recall the specific dialect). If I recall correctly, this was in the 19th or early 20th century. I read this in a Baptist publication many years ago but have been unable to find out anything about this since. If anyone knows of this, please fill in the details.

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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

The King James says that God's word is "very pure", and that He will "preserve them", I just believe He did what He said He did: He gave us the perfect, pure, preserved and accurate word in the King James. I don't believe that he INSPIRED the KJ translators, but I believe that His providence made sure they translated it accurately, italics and all. BTW, I know a lot of Pentecostal folks who use the King James. I wish all Baptists did too.

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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

John,

As heartstrings pointed out, "tongue" meant "language" when the KJB was translated. The word "language" is only used one time in the New Testament, and it's a completely different Greek word than what "tongue" is translated from. The translators were correct to add "unknown" under the circumstances in which it was used. Why didn't they use the word "language"? As I said, it's a completely different word. Both Greek words are referring to a language, but the word "tongue" carries the meaning of an unknown "language". The translators were only being as exact as possible. 

Why are these preachers not studying their Bibles to see why the word was included instead of attacking why it was included? If the translators had used the word "language" instead of "tongue", it wouldn't have been an accurate translation. There's an obvious difference between the two words. The one time that the word "language" is used, the Greek word just means "dialect". Where "tongue" is used, the Greek word means "other-tongued, i.e. a foreigner". Big difference. Everyone has a dialect. Not everyone can speak in a foreign language. 

It's not that hard to study a little and find out what words meant when the KJB was translated...it might open their eyes to the superiority of the KJB instead of wanting to be lazy and be spoon-fed a MV:coverlaugh:

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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

My question is, how do we best address what they say about this matter?

 

Use the argument you believe to be the truth and address them directly, one on one, by letter or email if face to face isn't available. Then you share the real or perceived concern with a brother. After that you have to present your evidence before the church (in this case us). This is the proper way for you to respond to a brother who is in error or you believe to be in error, right?

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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

John,

As heartstrings pointed out, "tongue" meant "language" when the KJB was translated. The word "language" is only used one time in the New Testament, and it's a completely different Greek word than what "tongue" is translated from. The translators were correct to add "unknown" under the circumstances in which it was used. Why didn't they use the word "language"? As I said, it's a completely different word. Both Greek words are referring to a language, but the word "tongue" carries the meaning of an unknown "language". The translators were only being as exact as possible. 

Why are these preachers not studying their Bibles to see why the word was included instead of attacking why it was included? If the translators had used the word "language" instead of "tongue", it wouldn't have been an accurate translation. There's an obvious difference between the two words. The one time that the word "language" is used, the Greek word just means "dialect". Where "tongue" is used, the Greek word means "other-tongued, i.e. a foreigner". Big difference. Everyone has a dialect. Not everyone can speak in a foreign language. 

It's not that hard to study a little and find out what words meant when the KJB was translated...it might open their eyes to the superiority of the KJB instead of wanting to be lazy and be spoon-fed a MV:coverlaugh:

In the 1560 Geneva they used "strange", and "diverse", where the KJB uses "unknown"; and different forms of the word 'language' instead of forms of 'tongue', (amongst using the word "tongues" also).

Now, using that may point out to some here the errors of the 1560, yet it does point out the accuracy of what some of you here believe about the meanings discussed.

I hope no offense taken. Just wanting to show support from other men of God who happened to be translators.

By the way, the word "strange" means "of another country; foreign; alien."

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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

Witnessing to others I sometimes feel as if I'm speaking in an unknown tongue.

1 Corinthians 2:14 But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

"Unknown" from the point of view of the speaker.  The context was uneducated Jews speaking a language that they were never taught.  In context, it was a (partial) fulfillment of Joel's prophecy.  Complete fulfillment takes place during the Tribulation, when the entire earth (all dialects/languages) will be preached the Gospel in their own dialect/language, down to the smallest tribe,,, by Jewish (Hebrew) evangelists.

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  • Lady Administrators

Isn't it interesting to realize that there was no real question of what "unknown tongue" meant until the Charismatic movement became so popular?

We've always taught that it simply means a language not known by most people present.

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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

My wife has accused me of this in the past. From another room, she has said words to the effect of, "What did you say, I couldn't understand you?" Granted their was no profanity but, if she couldn't interpret it I was not about to translate for her...not on my life ;)

 

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  • 2 weeks later...
  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

John,

If I may attempt to shed a little more light on the "unknown" aspect of your question. As NN said, the word used for tongue here (glossa) referred axiomatically to a language but also carried the connotation speaking in a language that was not one's native language. Culturally, "unknown" is bound up in the word itself. When you rewind to Acts 2 where the first instance of speaking in tongues is found, a different word is used--dialektos, from which we get dialect--that was usually accompanied by a region or ethnic group that specified the origin of the language. Thus, dialektos implied a language of known origin whereas glossa implied a language of unknown origin from the perspective of the speaker/writer. That is to say, they refer to actual language spoken by existing people/people groups.

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

I've heard many Baptist pastors, including some IFBs, when addressing the topic of speaking in unknown tongues, say that the use of "unknown tongues" is a mistranslation. (1 Corinthians 14:2) They argue that the translators of the KJB were wrong to add the word "unknown". Some even argue this mistranslation (what they call it) in the KJB is the reason the speaking in tongues movement got started.

I understand the point of their argument, but if they insist this is an error in the KJB on the translators part wouldn't that have to mean the KJB isn't entirely accurate? Admittedly, some of the Baptist pastors aren't KJO, but some of them are, which makes the use of this argument even more confusing (how can they claim the KJB is the perfect Word of God yet claim there is a mistranslation in it?).

My question is, how do we best address what they say about this matter?

 

​The context within  2 Corinthians confirms that unknown is accurate.  Look at verses 5 through 20.  there are words and phrases such as interpret, uncertain, easy to be understood, distinction, how shall it be known, signification, know not meaning of  the voice, barbarian, understanding, edify, unfruitful etc, that backs up the word unknown.

1 Corinthians 14 :5  I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.

1 Corinthians 14 :6  Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?

1 Corinthians 14 :7 And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped?

1 Corinthians 14 :8 For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?

1 Corinthians 14 :9 So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air.

1 Corinthians 14 :10  There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification.

1 Corinthians 14 :11 Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me.

1 Corinthians 14 :12 Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.

1 Corinthians 14 :13 Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret.

1 Corinthians 14 :14 For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.

1 Corinthians 14 :15 What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.

1 Corinthians 14 :16 Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?

1 Corinthians 14 :17 For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified.

1 Corinthians 14 :18 I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all:

1 Corinthians 14 :19 Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.

1 Corinthians 14 :20 Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.

 

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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

Baptist, by and large, have abandoned any proper teaching about the Holy Spirit due to the over-reaction against the Charismatics (beginning with the "Foursquare").  I learned to proper teaching concerning the Holy Spirit through the ministry of Campus Crusade for Christ.  Baptists, by and large, consider teaching about the H.S. to be somewhat "spooky" due to the "tongues" issue.  "Tongues" were for a sign to the Sect of the Nazarenes, headed by Peter, and in fulfillment of Joel's prophecy.  Consider the many references that the Apostle to the Gentiles (Paul) makes concerning "walking in the Spirit" and being "spiritually minded".

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  • Independent Fundamental Baptist

That's incredibly unbiblical. 

  1. Acts 2:5 And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. 6:Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. This was so they could hear the preaching and be born again. Men couldn't learn all of those languages in the 50 days from Passover to Shavuot. 
  2. Acts 24:2 For we have found this man (Saul/Paul) a pestilent fellow, and a mover of sedition among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes: 3 Who also hath gone about to profane the temple: whom we took, and would have judged according to our law. John 19:19 And Pilate wrote a title, and put it on the cross. And the writing was, JESUS OF NAZARETH THE KING OF THE JEWS. That's not Peter that is Paul. Christianity isn't a sect. Tertullus was lost and the devil was using him to accuse Paul of being evil, by preaching Jesus to Jews. That's why they had him in Jewish Court.  
  3. This is replacement theology. That the gentiles have replaced the Jews. The Church was established for the Jews. Gentiles have not replaced the Jews, we are only allowed to join in.  
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