(Rom. 8:26-27) Does this refer to speaking in tongues?

CLAIM: Paul writes, “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; 27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God” (Rom. 8:26-27). Pentecostal theologians hold that this refers to speaking in tongues. Is this the case?

RESPONSE: While the passage mentions “groanings too deep for words,” this doesn’t explicitly refer to speaking in tongues. This is reading too much into this expression. Moreover, we need to discern who is the person speaking in these “groanings.” On a closer reading, we see that the Holy Spirit speaks in these groanings—not us. For this reason, we cannot believe that this passage refers to believers speaking in tongues, because Paul explicitly states that not all believers speak in tongues (1 Cor. 12:30). For further reading, see our earlier article “The Charismatic Gifts.”