Do we need the gift of tongues to be filled with the Holy Spirit?
“There are those who give testimony to a dynamic and life-changing encounter with the Holy Spirit who have never spoken in tongues. … it cannot be said that they are filled with the Spirit in the New Testament sense of the term. There is an essential link between that experience and speaking in other tongues …” (ag.org)
Can a person be filled with the Holy Spirit without speaking in tongues?
1 Corinthians 12:28-30
And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.
Before you continue reading this article, go and read Corinthians 12 in its entirety.
This is a portion of the Corinthian letters in which Paul is directly responding to a letter the church in Corinth (verse 1, “now concerning spiritual gifts”) wrote to him with questions, with this portion specifically about the gifts manifested by the Holy Spirit. There was some level of disagreement over the manifestations in the church members, probably there were some who believed certain gifts made the user superior to those who were not gifted in that area. Paul’s response is an intriguing one. In verse 18 through to 20, “If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.”
In his commentary on the Corinthians, C.K. Barret writes “Paul checks the idea … that all –or perhaps all of a group who thought themselves superior Christians –might enjoy every gift. … ‘Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? DO all interpret (that is, interpret the tongues with which others speak.)? It was evident that the answer is No.
Let the Text be the Text
Don’t take my word, or even Barret’s, on this. Go and read the passage for yourself and see if you can come to the conclusion that all of the people filled with the Holy Spirit must speak in tongues to truly be filled ”in the New Testament sense.”
There are other examples of non-tongue speaking people who are filled with the Holy Spirit in the Bible. There is no indication in scripture anywhere that Jesus spoke in tongues, and yet no one would dare assume that he wasn’t filled. When Elizabeth sees Mary and she is filled with the Spirit, what is the reaction? She speaks a prophecy over her, but does not speak in tongues. How can she be filled without the initial physical evidence that we find in AG doctrine? What of St. Augustine? Or Calvin? Or Luther? Were these men also never filled with the Holy Spirit?
Now, I speak in tongues in my personal life and do so often. Paul extorts the Corinthians in chapter 14 to “earnestly desire the spiritual gifts” and to this I say amen, and I believe all should seek tongues alongside seeking prophecy and discernment and the fullness of the gifts. But do not let the eye say to the hand that its job is less important. Tongues should not be elevated in status above other spiritual gifts, and in no way should it be a requirement for one to be truly filled with the Holy Spirit.