The Tongue of Angels


Nephi describes speaking with the “Tongue of Angels” in 2 Nephi 32:1-6. He teaches us that angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost and what they tell us constitutes the “words of Christ”.  (v5) He further teaches that the “words of Christ will tell you all things what ye should do.”

We already hear the voice of the Holy Spirit guiding us day by day. The voice of the Holy Spirit begins as our conscience. What this description adds to our understanding is where that voice comes from. It originates with Jesus Christ, is delivered by angels empowered by the Holy Ghost, and comes into the heart of mankind just as you have always experienced it: as promptings, impressions, understandings, feelings and other ways. It could be drawn this way:

Jesus Christ –> Angels / HG –> Man

Nephi terms this revelatory process the “Tongue of Angels” because they are so involved in the revelatory chain. We seldom think of how the Holy Spirit works, or that living, intelligent beings are involved. We mostly just consider that it is from Jesus Christ, which is very true, but incomplete. Angels are the superhighway of revelation. It works this way now, and has from the beginning of creation.

He also assures us that we can speak with the Tongue of Angels when we are likewise inspired by the Holy Ghost. That process would look like this:

Jesus Christ –> Angels / HG –>  Man / HG –> Man

Speaking with the Tongue of Angels becomes more plain when laid out in the formula above because it is showing us that we obtain the “Words of Christ” from Christ via inspired angels, and when we let them inspire us in our words and acts, then our words become the “words of Christ” and the “Tongue of Angels”.

This is what it means to speak “In the name of Jesus Christ”, that Jesus Christ Himself inspired and delivered these words to us to say. When we obtain great faith in this process, in these “words of Christ” we obtain great power.  This is how all righteous people have worked miracles in His name. This is how Peter raised the dead, how Moses divided the Red Sea, and how Enoch walked and talked with God.

Moroni described the same process nearly a thousand years later in this way:

“And the office of their (the angels) ministry is to call men unto repentance, and to fulfill and to do the work of the covenants of the Father, which he hath made unto the children of men, to prepare the way among the children of men, by declaring the word of Christ unto the chosen vessels of the Lord, that they may bear testimony of him.” (Moroni 7:31)

A vessel is a container, in this case for the Holy Ghost and the “word of Christ”. These “vessels” are chosen through every era of mankind to “bear testimony of him.” It is of course true that this includes all of the prophets of every dispensation, but as Nephi shows us, it also includes ourselves. We are among the “chosen vessels” when we attune our spiritual ears to hear Him.

When He places words in our mouths to say, then we speak the “words of Christ” by the gift of the “Tongue of Angels” unto those people to whom we are sent. Only the prophets have a global voice. Ours is only to those specific people within our families, our stewardships, and among whom God sends us to serve. Moroni further proclaims that God does this for the purpose of fulfilling His covenants with mankind.

“And by so doing, the Lord God prepared the way that the residue of men may have faith in Christ, that the Holy Ghost may have place in their hearts, according to the power thereof; and after this manner bringeth to pass the Father the covenants which he hath made unto the children of men.” (Moroni 7:32)

Moroni is describing the same revelatory process with slightly different terms for the last two links.

Jesus Christ –>  Angels / HG –>  Chosen Vessels –> Residue of Man

Nephi then instruct us that:

“Behold, this is the doctrine of Christ, and there will be no more doctrine given until after he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh. And when he shall manifest himself unto you in the flesh, the things which he shall say unto you shall ye observe to do.” (2 Nephi 32:6).

This was written about 545 BC. Nephi was not speaking of Christ’s appearance in Bountiful after His resurrection or to us prior to the Millennium. He was speaking of when Christ will manifest Himself “unto you in the flesh” in a personal visitation.

Nephi’s experiences with Christ were the power behind his life and his writings. He knew that this great and last privilege was available to his people, and to any people who will yield to Christ’s voice and become His chosen vessels.

This is the greatest power of the “Tongue of Angels” that it will teach us all things which we must do to return to the presence of God, in this life, and in the next.

Brother John

© March 2012, John M. Pontius, all rights reserved. Non-commercial reproduction permitted.

About John Pontius

I am a lover of truth.
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11 Responses to The Tongue of Angels

  1. I have to admit that I am delighted to find numerous individuals who have any understanding of 2Nephi 32. My experience has been that most LDS have some self-concocted interpretation of speaking with the tongue of angels, such as, “That’s the language spoken in the Celestial Kingdom!”

    In one instance a well educated individual (an MD actually) came up after a class and and challenged me with, “So what you are saying is we shouldn’t listen to the prophet anymore!” Trust me neither Nephi nor I nor the Words of Christ hinted at any such thing. There are days when I would like to run from the building screaming and pulling my hair out. Have others encountered opposition when these things are taught? Appreciate the article very much.

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    • Dear Scott,

      One of the treads that has come up several times in the UnBlog is how people respond when someone tries to “teach” things that are not well understood but true, and which they have found to bring great joy in the Gospel. It is a challenging reality, and one which leaves most people like you and I feeling isolated and wondering if anyone “gets it”. It can also make you wonder what is wrong. You might be able to pick up the topic with this posting and comments .

      Thanks for your comment,

      JMP

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  2. Forest says:

    Steve’s discussion about the young man in the Sunday School class illustrates a concept I have been grappling with. How do we explain concepts of truth in a way that convinces others? For example, how do I explain to a friend why there is a need for more scriptures than the Bible? To a daughter, how do I explain why criticism of others is actually very harmful to her? To a neighbor, how do I explain that the tragic death of three members of his family in one night do not negate the exsistance of a Loving God. To a relative who publicly publishes criticism of the church, how do I explain that logical debate will not prove what is Truth, but only prove who is the best at the sport of debate?

    My conclusion is that I cannot! The more I explain, the deeper the philosophical hole gets in these situations. I cannot put into words concepts of truth in a way that will change the heart of another. I can speak of truth, but if they cannot see it (or feel it) for themselves, my words are meaningless. I believe the Tongue of the Angels is the convincing light that is within the heart that allows a person to see or feel truth when it is presented before them. Actual spoken word is almost inconsequential in this process. (I said “almost”).

    A person has a dimmer switch for the Light of Truth. They can turn the switch up to full capacity or they can turn the switch down as dark as they like it, but it is Christ who is the generating source of power and if I am ever part of the circuit for another soul, it is only because Christ allows it and not simply because I want it.

    In 3 Nephi 28:29-30, my attention is captured by this phrase, “…because of the convincing power of God that is in them. And they are as the angels of God…” This references the disciples who were never to taste of death. There are many other examples in the scriptures of those who had this convincing power. I believe it is the Tongue of Angels that is the language Christ uses to convince others of Truth.

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    • I agree of course. These inspired words are what we are given to say in the very circumstances you highlighted. But, angels don’t always get through either. L&L rejected their angelic and miraculous tesimonies many times. We can only do what we are inspired to do, and then let the Lord take it from there. I also think that as the sheep and goats are more and more polarized, that we will find more and more of what you say, and greater opposition and evil until it feels impossible, and our hearts want to faint. This is good practice for when the real trials rain down upon us.

      Good comment.

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  3. Darren says:

    I loved this post. Do you have any insight into the word choice in the following scriptures– why the words of Christ will “tell” you all things… vs the Holy Ghost will “show” unto you all things… A small point but one I have often wondered about. Thank you!

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  4. Pearl says:

    I like what you said here:
    “We seldom think of how the Holy Spirit works, or that living, intelligent beings are involved.”

    We also seldom think that the Holy Ghost is not one individual, but many.

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    • I understand what you’re trying to say. I would be more inclined to describe it as the Holy Ghost is one person, a member of the Godhead, but the Holy Spirit is not a person, but a power which is administered by many angels authorized and empowered to do what they do by that member of the Godhead who is the Holy Ghost.

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  5. Steve Hansen says:

    I had always thought thescripture meant that since angels speak by the power of the Holy Ghost, and when we speak inspired by the Holy Ghost, we speak with the tongue of angels and are as angels to those to whom we are speaking. I love your insight into nuances.

    What do you believe regarding guardian angels, by the way?

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    • Let me take a look at Guardian Angels in greater depth before I attempt to answer that.

      Angels are what you said above, and the HG does inspire us. My observation is just that Angels are directly involved in that process. It’s not a vital insight, but it is intriguing, and all truth is saving.

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  6. Steve Hansen says:

    I once taught a 14-15 year old Sunday school class, and one of the boys, a little more on the rebellious side (I wonder why people only seem to rebel against what is right and good and decent), asked, “What’s so bad about profanity? I mean swear words are just words.” I used this scripture and asked him if he could imagine angels using profanity. He answered, “That would be cool!” I slapped my forehead.

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