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The Blue Letter Bible

Don Stewart :: What Is the Proper Procedure for Using Tongues in a Meeting?

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Don Stewart

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The Bible makes it clear that tongue-speaking in a Christian assembly should follow definite rules.

Build Up Believers

The purpose of exercising the gift of tongues at a meeting is to build up believers, not for personal edification:

Even so you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel (1 Corinthians 14:12).

Interpreter Present

Whenever the gift is exercised in a meeting, there must be an interpreter present.

Therefore let him who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret (1 Corinthians 14:13).

Limited Numbers

The Bible places a limit on the number of people allowed to speak in tongues durin eting.

If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret (1 Corinthians 14:27).

No Congregational Tongue-Speaking

The entire congregation is not supposed to speak in tongues:

Therefore if the whole church comes together in one place, and all speak with tongues, and there comes in those who are uninformed or unbelievers, will they not say that you are out of your mind? (1 Corinthians 14:23).


The one speaking in tongues has control over both his volume and his behavior. Any tongue speaking that is out of control is not led by God.

And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints (1 Corinthians 14:32).

Even with these restrictions, tongue-speaking is not to be forbidden in meetings:

Do not forbid to speak in tongues (1 Corinthians 14:39).

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