The tongue (γλῶσσα) describes the member of our body that is primarily used in speech and is therefore synonymous with what language we speak. In Scripture, tongue is always used of a known language upon the earth, even if the hearers do not understand it (1 Corinthians 14:11). How we use our tongue is important, for it has great power in influencing our path in life.

In the upper room, on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples, tongues were divided unto them, Acts 2:3. These tongues were specific dialects of the devout Jews that were in Jerusalem at this time, Acts 2:11. This was a very specific event that was only repeated a few other times for a sign to the Jews. It is not the Spiritual gift of speaking in tongues. They did not continue to speak in tongues after this because the Holy Spirit mentally controlled (πίμπλημι) them to enable this, where today the Holy Spirit fills us where we lack (πληρόω) so that we are able to use our Spiritual gift and produce His fruit (Galatians 5:22-23). We see this sign again when Peter is in the house of Cornelius, a devout Gentile. While Peter is telling them of the death and resurrection of Christ, they begin to speak in tongues, causing the Jews with Peter to wonder, Acts 10:46. What caused them to wonder was not that the Gentiles could speak in another language, but that they were speaking the wonders of God, for God said that He would give the Jews a sign by speaking to them in other tongues, 1 Corinthians 14:21. One of the healings that Jesus did as a sign to the Jews was to a deaf and mute man releasing his tongue so that he spoke correctly, Mark 7:35. The speaking in tongues and the releasing of the tongue are all signs for the Jews.

In describing the condition of the human race, Paul speaks of the tongue being full of deceit and the poison of asps upon the lips, Romans 3:13. James describes our tongue as a small member, yet it is a fire, a world of unrighteousness, able to defile the whole body, James 3:5-6. One who thinks himself to be religious but does not bridle his own tongue is deceiving himself, James 1:26. A double tongued person is not to hold a position of authority within the assembly, 1 Timothy 3:8. This is someone who talks in a different way around certain people. Such as the way they speak around the Pastor differing from their normal speech, or how they speak face to face to someone compared to when they are not around.

A mature man refrains his tongue from wrong and his lips from speaking deceit, 1 Peter 3:10. This comes from an understanding that one of Satan’s attacks is to get us to use rotten communication. Rather, we are to speak that which is beneficial with a bit of grace, so the hearer is edified, Ephesians 4:29. Nor are we to just love with our word or tongue; rather, our love is to be in truth and works, 1 John 3:18. For what man loves God if he is not willing to do what is best for his fellow saint?

Even with the Spiritual gift of speaking in tongues, the meaning holds true as a known language. It is never described as speaking gibberish and is to be verified. In Corinth, the saints were called out for misusing the gift, for they were using it within the assembly; however, this Spiritual gift is not for the assembly; rather, it is a specific sign to the unbelieving Jew, 1 Corinthians 14:22, and if someone has something to say in a tongue, what they have to speak is only to be spoken if there is someone to interpret it, 1 Corinthians 14:27. This gift caused itself to cease when Israel rejected the salvation from God and therefore it went to the Gentiles, 1 Corinthians 13:8; Acts 13:46.

Therefore, as we express who we are in Christ, let us control our tongue so that our speech is with a bit of grace, giving a benefit to the listener that does not consider merit, while being seasoned with a bit of salt by using words that are more palatable for the hearer so that we are ready to answer as is necessary, not with rotten speech, but with truth. For if in this world we have troubles, let it not be because of our own tongue.