This question is geared towards Pentecostals and Charismatics (although all views are welcome), can Satan understand the tongues that are spoken by a person that is speaking in tongues as uttered by the Holy Spirit?

Here is one passage that when taken literately can imply that only God can hear the spoken utterance, but it context it doesn't really hold up since the context is order of worship. but if there is no interpreter, he must keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God. (1 Cor 14:28)

Since Satan was an angel and has been around the earth since the creation (and Babel), is it possible that he is able to understand the utterance of men and angels If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. (1 Cor 13:1)

One more argument that one can make is that the "Holy Spirit" is Holy and Satan is not, therefore Satan cannot understand the Holy utterances of the Holy Spirit. But I have been unable to find biblical support for this claim.

This question popped up during a casual discussion with my Charismatic friend and I'm Pentecostal.

  • Interesting question. Is the point like if he didn't know your language, 1 Peter 5:8 would no longer apply to you? Jun 10, 2014 at 5:05
  • I'm not trying to nullify that application, as Satan is real and you need faith for utterances and faith to withstand his attacks and deceptions; this is just a question of curiousity
    – Alex
    Jun 10, 2014 at 5:11
  • A question...Do Charismatics ever experience relevant temptations whilst speaking "in tongues"? e.g. Are they tempted to become proud about the "knowledge" they have attained whilst having the experience? If so, then I assume that the Tempter has understood what they are saying and tempts them accordingly....Just a thought.
    – user5197
    Jun 12, 2014 at 21:57
  • Good question. From my experience, it's just like any other thing that you do for the Lord/Kingdom of God. The Pride temptation sometimes comes after the fact, like you're more "Spiritual" or "Better" than others. I've haven't had it happen during prayer. Some other people may have other experiences.
    – Alex
    Jun 12, 2014 at 22:51
  • @user5197 My experience has tended to just the opposite: Firstly you don't receive revelation/knowledge from tongues directly - you would need to exercise the gift of interpretation with the combination becoming equivalent to prophetic revelation - in this combined form, the revelation could be used by the Tempter to induce pride; But for tongues itself, it is more of a 'foolishness to the natural mind' that tends to keep you humble and more aware of your connection to and dependence on the Spirit. I've personally found it always beneficial in mitigating all temptation that I'm aware of. Jul 18, 2014 at 18:32

1 Answer 1


From experience, it is a relatively common teaching in Pentecostal and Charismatic circles that one of the benefits of praying in tongues is that Satan can't understand it (and can't stand it!). As well as the verses you've cited, this doctrine is also supported by Romans 8:26-27 -

26 Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. 27 And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (ESV)

For those unfamiliar with Pentecostal/Charismatic doctrine, where the bible talks about 'praying in the Spirit' it is taken as synonymous with praying in tongues (cf. 1 Cor 14:14-15)

  • Thanks for the answer, I'm very familiar with this verse, but if we pray in our native language as intercession for others, Satan/evil spirits should be able to understand that. One thought comes to mind as people cast out demons using tongues; how are the demons able to understand the language since it's an utterance. Is there any Biblical support for the teaching that Satan is not able to understand?
    – Alex
    Jun 10, 2014 at 5:35
  • @Alex I'm not familiar with the practice of 'casting out demons using tongues' - some people approach exorcism by connecting with the Lord through praying in the Spirit, but from what I've seen and been taught, actual commanding is done in intelligble speech. Jun 10, 2014 at 5:41
  • 2
    I'm marking this answer as accepted, because this is the teaching in the denominations although there is no (to my knowledge or liking) biblical support
    – Alex
    Jun 16, 2014 at 2:40

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