What is the “Gift of Different Kinds of Tongues” Spiritual Gift? Discover Its Purpose and How to Activate It

“But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit… to another different kinds of tongues…”

—1 Corinthians 12:7-10 (emphasis added)

This spiritual gift of different kinds of tongues was one of the first to be released by the Holy Spirit after the pouring out of the Spirit on the day of Pentecost/Shavuot to the Jews as described in Acts 2:1-4…

  • “When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” (emphasis added)

The “other tongues” were not known by the speaker, but they were known by those around them (Acts 2:5-12). 

In Acts 10, the Holy Spirit was poured out onto the Gentiles…

  • “…because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.”—Acts 10:45-46 (emphasis added)

Access to your spiritual gifts comes through the inherited power of the Holy Spirit. Let’s uncover what the gift of different kinds of tongues is used for in the Church and how it manifests in a Believer’s life. 

Why You Need to Understand the Spiritual Gift of Speaking in Different Kinds of Tongues

In these last days, it is critical that Believers draw near to the Lord and have deep communion with His Spirit, inviting His presence into every area of their lives. First Corinthians 14 reminds us to pursue love and desire spiritual gifts. It tells us that when we speak in tongues, we are not speaking to men but to God. It is speaking in an intimate way with our Father, uttering mysteries. 

This deep way of talking to and communing with God is unique to each Believer as they are overwhelmed by the power of the Spirit and filled with His love in such a way it overflows, coming out in various kinds of tongues. 

Speaking in tongues is a beautiful, intimate, and magnificent way to commune with your Creator! What a loving and generous God we serve, One who knows the number of hairs on our heads and gives us a unique language between you and Him. 

The Gifts of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12

First Corinthians 12:7-10 lists nine gifts of the Spirit. It is important to remember that the Holy Spirit imparts gifts to Believers as He wills.

  • “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.—1 Corinthians 12:11 (emphasis added)

The Holy Spirit is our Teacher, Advocate, and Guide who distributes the gift of different kinds of tongues. It is not given to us because we’ve earned it. But we can activate the gift, and God wants us to steward the gift well. He wants us to open our mouths so He can fill them with His Word and Spirit so that we speak after the covenant promises He has given us. The Holy Spirit permanently resides within us, and God intends us to use these gifts to unlock our Kingdom destinies. 

What is the Gift of Different Kinds of Tongues?

The gift of different kinds of tongues is when a person supernaturally receives the ability to speak to God or others in a language unknown to them and/or the natural world. This gift is led and distributed by the Holy Spirit.

An Example of Different Kinds of Tongues in the Bible

A biblical example of the manifestation of different kinds of tongues is shown in Acts. The 12 disciples received the gift of the Holy Spirit and immediately began speaking in tongues to the crowds.

  • “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, ‘Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, those dwelling in Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya adjoining Cyrene, visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.’ So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, ‘Whatever could this mean?’”—Acts 2:4-12

The apostles were able to operate in the gift of different kinds of tongues, speaking in a language that all the people standing around could understand.

What is the Purpose of Different Kinds of Tongues?

Man screaming with his arms out, the background is several different splashes of paint - Symbolizing “different kinds of tongues gift.”

All spiritual gifts are given for the purpose of edification and building up of the Church.

  • “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

With that in mind, the Church benefits from different kinds of tongues in two ways:

  1. As a manifestation of a personal prayer language for its recipient. This serves the purpose of a more intimate relationship with the Lord.
  2. As a sign of God’s power. In other words, the language is spoken to others—both Believers and unbelievers—as a sign of God’s power and authority at work in the lives of His followers.

If we look at the story of the disciples speaking in different kinds of tongues, we see that the manifestation of this gift served as a powerful sign to the multitudes of men gathered around.

  • “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.”—Acts 2:41

Does the Gift of Different Kinds of Tongues Operate with Other Gifts of the Spirit?

Yes, quite often, the gift of different kinds of tongues will operate in agreement with other gifts of the Spirit. Most specifically, the interpretation of tongues. However, not all kinds of tongues need interpreting. 

For instance, the tongue spoken as a personal prayer language does not typically require interpreting. The tongue spoken as a sign may require interpretation from another Believer or the Believer that is operating in the gift of different kinds of tongues.

 BANNER: Gifts of the Holy Spirit Guide

Ways to Activate the Gift of Different Kinds of Tongues

Many Believers are already operating within the spiritual gift of speaking in different kinds of tongues. That being said, if you have found yourself desiring the gift of tongues but have not had it manifest in your life, it could be because of doubt influencing your mind, will, and emotions.

In our current culture, it is not uncommon for Believers to be misinformed about the relevancy of spiritual gifts. This misinformation then leads to a lack of enthusiasm for the spiritual assignments of the Believers. 

Do you have a hesitation to receive the gift of different kinds of tongues? 

This question is a personal, spiritual assessment that can expose any obstacles that may be standing in the way of the manifestation of speaking in different kinds of tongues. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the root of the hesitation or obstacles. Then you can move forward and A.C.T.—apply, change, and transform.

  • A- Apply: Apply the truths that are being revealed to you. Faithfully seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit and discern His wisdom through time spent in His presence. Finally, repent for anything that feels unresolved.
  • C- Change: Make the necessary changes in your life that will allow your spiritual gift muscle to be exercised. Ask God to reveal any generational thoughts or patterns that stand in the way of your ability to operate in the gift of speaking in different kinds of tongues.
  • T- Transform: Petition the Holy Spirit to grow your faith. Ask Him to use you as a vessel of His truth. Be mindful of opportunities to strengthen your gifts as you dwell in Him.

The Takeaway

The gift of speaking in different kinds of tongues manifests as a supernatural ability to speak in a language unknown to the person speaking and/or the natural world. It is used primarily for personal prayer or as a sign to others. 

All Believers have access to the gift of different kinds of tongues. This gift allows Believers a more intimate way of communicating with God and serves as personal edification for each person operating in the gift.