After last Sunday’s church service, one of our congregation members approached me with an intriguing question. He had come across many verses that spoke about the tongue and did not understand how a small and fleshly organ could be mentioned so many times in the Bible. From my vast knowledge, I was able to explain the significance of the tongue from a Biblical perspective and why it has been mentioned many times. Furthermore, I even found an answer to the question; ‘how many times is the tongue mentioned in the Bible’.
The word tongue is mentioned about 130 times in the Bible, in both the Old and New Testaments. In most instances, it is used figuratively to refer to the words that a person speaks since people speak using their tongue. It is also used to refer to the gift of the Holy Spirit of speaking in tongues, which refers to one speaking in a language completely foreign to them, by the power of the Holy Spirit, for the sake of sharing the gospel.
Join me as I explore what the Bible says about the tongue, some of the best Bible verses about the tongue, and what the power of the tongue means, among others. If you are interested in this and more, keep reading.
What does Bible say about the tongue?
In scripture, the tongue is used in both literal and metaphorical ways. It is also used as a figure of speech, known as metonymy. In metonymy, one word stands in for another. For example, in Proverbs 18:21, the tongue is stated to have the power of life or death. The tongue is a body organ, and cannot in itself produce life or death. However, the words that the tongue speaks are what produce life or death. In this case, the tongue is what represents the words spoken.
Types of Tongues Found in the Bible
Tongues as an actual foreign language
The first time we witness tongues being spoken as foreign languages is in the book of Acts 2:4.
In this account, the disciples were gathered in a room out of hiding as their lives were threatened. The Holy Spirit then entered the room in the form of a mighty wind. Afterward, the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in foreign languages.
The Holy Spirit empowered them to speak in foreign languages so fluently, that the native speakers of that language could fully understand them, even though the disciples had never spoken that language before.
Tongues as a form of praise
According to the book of 1st Corinthians 14:15-16, Paul talks of praising the Lord in the Spirit.
This means that during moments of praise, the Holy Spirit can guide the believers and give them words to sing praises to God. The words or tongues could be a foreign language or a language one is fluent in speaking.
Tongues as a prayer language
In the book of Romans 8:26, Paul states that the Holy Spirit helps us in our weaknesses in the place of prayer, especially when we do not know what we ought to pray for.
In this case, tongues are instrumental in helping the believer to pray, even if it comes out as wordless groans. When the Holy Spirit is helping the believer pray, He is interceding on his behalf.
Tongues with interpretation
Paul in the book of 1st Corinthians 14:27-28, gives instructions on the proper use of the gift of tongues in a corporate setting, like a church service.
He states that whenever there is an individual who speaks in a tongue or three at most, should do so when an interpreter of tongues is present. The interpreter will then interpret the tongues into an understandable language so that the other believers present will understand.
What is the power of the tongue according to the bible?
According to the Bible, the power of the tongue is in creating life or death.
This is clearly stated in the book of Proverbs 18:21, which states that the tongue has the power of life or death.
In this case, life can be referred to as using your words wisely to encourage and uplift others, thus bringing life. On the other hand, words can bring death upon others in the form of insults, speaking discouraging words, gossip, and slander.
Best Bible Verses About the Tongue
The following are six of the best Bible verses about the tongue.
In Proverbs 15:4, the author makes a contradiction between a tongue that is soothing and perverse. He compares a soothing tongue to a tree of life, and a perverse one as one that crushes the spirit.
In the book of Proverbs 21:23, the author instructs believers to guard their mouths and tongues, to protect themselves from falling into calamity.
The verse in Psalms 34:13 is a warning to believers to keep their tongues from evil, and their mouths from telling lies.
According to Proverbs 18:21, the tongue has the power of life and death. According to the words one speaks, one can either experience and cause life or death.
According to the verses in Proverbs 12:18-19, the tongue of the wise is known to bring healing, and those who use their tongues to speak the truth, speak words that endure forever. On the other hand, words spoken recklessly pierce like swords, and tongues that speak lies last only a moment.
The verses in James 3:5-6 refer to the tongue as a small organ, but one that has a tremendous effect. It is compared to a fire, and when used to speak evil words, it corrupts one entirely and sets the course for their life, towards hell.
What does the bible say about speaking in tongues?
The Bible states in 1st Corinthians 12:10 that speaking in tongues is a gift of the Holy Spirit.
Among the many gifts that the Holy Spirit gives, speaking in tongues is one of them. A believer who has been given this gift of speaking in tongues manifests it by fluently speaking a foreign language for the sake of sharing the gospel with the native speakers of that language. The Holy Spirit is the one who gives this believer the power and ability to fluently speak a language that they have never spoken before.
This gift aims to share the gospel to the native speakers of that language, so that they may come to Christ.
Who was the first person to speak in tongues?
The disciples of Jesus Christ were the first people to speak in tongues.
According to Acts 2:4, it was during the day of Pentecost. On that day, the disciples were filled with the Holy Spirit, and as a result, they began to speak in tongues. The tongues being spoken were foreign languages, and the native speakers of those languages could fully understand the disciples, even though they were not native speakers.
As a devout Christian, I have always been passionate about the Christian faith. This inspired me to pursue a degree in Religious studies and a Masters in Theology in college. I have also been privileged to teach 4 Christian courses in a college and university. Since I am dedicated to spreading the word of God, I am actively involved in the Church. Additionally, I share his word online and cover diverse topics on the Christian faith through my platform. You can read more about me on the about us page.