There is only one instance of Jesus mentioning speaking in tongues and it is in Mark 16:17. Jesus that speaking in tongues was one sign that would follow the believer’s life. Since this was before Pentecost we know that Jesus was prophesying to His apostles about what was to come.
“And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues“ (Mark 16:17)
Jesus revealed so much about tongues in just one verse.
The first thing Jesus revealed was that speaking in tongues is for all believers. We know this because He said, “These signs will follow those that believe.”
He did not say, “Here are some of the signs that will follow those who believe.” No, but He said, “These signs will follow those that believe.” Meaning every sign mentioned will follow every believer.
This is a very important distinction because it reveals that this is for everyone not just some.
The second thing Jesus revealed was that these tongues would be “new.” Meaning they have never happened before.
Speaking in tongues is a gift reserved for the New Testament believer, and only for the New Testament believer.
Some think that Jesus spoke in tongues during His earthly ministry but the Bible never says this.
All of the spiritual gifts mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12 operated in His life during His earthly ministry, except two: speaking in tongues and interpretation of tongues.
There is one instance where people believe that Jesus spoke in tongues because the scripture says that He “groaned in the Spirit”. This is found in John 11 when Jesus was resurrecting Lazarus.
“Therefore, when Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her weeping, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled.” (John 11:33)
The terms “groaning in the Spirit” and “speaking in tongues” are not speaking of the same thing.
I know this because the scripture says that groaning in the Spirit is unutterable while speaking in tongues is the Holy Spirit giving us utterance.
“Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered.” (Romans 8:26)
“And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.“ (Acts 2:4)
So for speaking in tongues, the Holy Spirit is guiding our syllables and we are praying with the Spirit, speaking mysteries directly to God. (Related article: 7 Biblical Purposes for Speaking in Tongues).
But when we are groaning in the Spirit, the Holy Spirit is interceding for us and helping our weaknesses.
Groanings are a very intense prayer to God when we don’t have the words to say because of our natural weaknesses.
Jesus experienced this as well. He came to earth as a Man and He subjected Himself to all of our limitations (Philippians 2:5-9).
Jesus did not know everything on this earth. We know this cause the scripture says that Jesus had to “grow in wisdom and in stature” (Luke 2:52)
He knew a whole lot, but He did not know everything. He had to rely on the Holy Spirit to assist Him, which is why He groaned in the Spirit in this situation.
And when I say that “He did not know everything” I mean at that time while He was on the earth. But now that He has been resurrected, He has returned to His former glory and He knows all things (John 17:5).
So, in short, Jesus revealed that (1) speaking in tongues is a sign that is supposed to follow all believers and (2) that speaking in tongues is a gift reserved for the New Testament believer.
In the next section, we will cover if Jesus was really referring to the supernatural gift of speaking in tongues, or if He was referring to something else.
What did Jesus mean when He said you will speak in new tongues?
Jesus meant that the new supernatural sign of speaking in tongues will follow the life of a person who believes and follows Jesus.
Some say that the “new tongues” that Jesus was referring to were not the supernatural gift of speaking in tongues.
Their claim is that once someone believes in Christ their life will be changed and they will no longer lie, cuss, or deceive with their tongue, but instead they will speak good things with their tongues.
The people who believe this believe that this change is the “new tongues” that Jesus was referring to.
Although this is true that when we believe in Jesus our life changes and our speaking will change as we renew our minds, this is not what this passage is talking about.
We know this because every sign mentioned by Jesus in Mark 16 were supernatural signs that cannot be explained by natural means.
“And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; they will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mark 16:17-18)
So the additional signs mentioned here are; casting out of demons, being able to drink deadly things and take up serpents and not hurt them, and being able to heal the sick. [Related article: How to Walk in the Gift of Healing (A Complete Guide)].
These are very supernatural signs! None of these can be explained by natural means, which means that the “new tongues” Jesus was referring to was indeed the supernatural gift of speaking in tongues.
And just as we see the other supernatural gifts mentioned in Mark 16 following a believer’s life throughout the book of Acts, we see the gift of tongues following them as well.