Interpreting tongues


The gift of interpretation of tongues is a separate gift of the spirit from speaking in tongues

Scripture makes it quiet clear that the gift of interpreting tongues is a separate gift from speaking in tongues.

But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good……to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. 1 Corinthians 12:7+10b

In order to give guidelines to interpreting tongues let us first look at how speaking in tongues is defined in scripture:

Speaking in tongues is a pure expression of your spirit towards God.

When you are speaking in a tongue your spirit is talking to God in prayer and you are:

Expressing the mysteries of your innermost desires to God:

1 Cor 14:2 “For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries.”

1 Cor 14:14 “For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful.

Romans 8:26-27 “And 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 to deep for words; 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.”

The interpretation of a tongue expressing our innermost desires will be like the passages in the psalms where David and others bare their hearts to God.

“God, listen! Listen to my prayer; listen to the pain in my cries. Don’t turn your back on me just when I need you so desperately. Pay attention! This is a cry for help! And hurry – this can’t wait!” Psalm 102:1-2 (the Message)

Expressing what God has done for you:

Acts 2:11 “We hear them in our own tongues speaking of the mighty deeds of God.”

Acts 10:46 “For they were hearing them speaking with tongues and exalting God.”

1 Cor 14:16 “If you are praising God with your spirit, how can one who finds himself among those who do not understand say “Amen” to your thanksgiving since he does not know what you are saying? You may be giving thanks well enough but the other man is not edified.” (NIV)

Again the psalms are a good example of expressing what God has done for you:

“I waited and waited and waited for God. At last he looked; finally he listened. He lifted me out of the ditch, pulled me from deep mud. He stood me up on a solid rock to make sure I wouldn’t slip. He taught me how to sing the latest God-song a praise song to our God.” Psalm 40:1-4 (the Message)

The most likely interpretation of a tongue therefore will be a God-ward expression of a person’s spirit either as a psalm-like expression of prayer /petition towards God, or an expression of praise of what God has done. It will not normally be a prophecy, as the gift of prophecy is a separate gift from God!

Why does a prophecy often follow a tongue in a service?

Why then are prophecies sometimes expressed as an interpretation of a tongue? Quite often speaking in tongues in a meeting will spark off something in people’s spirits, freeing prophecy in those who would otherwise be reluctant to bring it. Acts 19:6 makes it clear that there is a difference between speaking in tongues and prophesying, and that prophecy will often follow tongues as a separate gift.

Acts 19:6 “And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying.”

Sometimes an interpretation will sound like a prophecy because of the way it is presented. There is no difference in truth between saying “God says He loves you” and “You, God, love me,” but the object of the statement is different. The first one sounds like a prophecy rather than a God-ward expression of what He has done for the person.

When a person speaking in tongues sounds above other voices in a meeting, this is when an interpretation is required.

1 Cor 12:10 “To another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues.”

1 Cor 14:13 “Therefore let one who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret.”

1 Cor 14:27-28 “ If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at the most three, and each in turn, and one must interpret; but if there is no interpreter, he must keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God.”

1. What is speaking in tongues?
2. Tongues restores our spiritual order
3. The promise of the Holy Spirit and speaking in tongues
4. Speaking in tongues builds you up inside
5. Tongues is your spirit expressing itself to God
6. Examples of the tongues of men
7. Under construction
8. The public use of speaking in tongues
9. Interpreting tongues
10 Tongues as a sign for unbelievers
The secret of moving in the power of God
The word of knowledge
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