The Gifts (Acts) of the Holy Spirit – (6) The Gift of Interpretation of Tongues

Let’s start this letter by saying that Spiritual gifts working through the believers are absolutely necessary if the church is to function properly and accomplish for God in the Earth what He has purposed in this age. Yes, they are necessary to God and man, in carrying out the will of God, as the members are necessary to the natural body as taught in 1 Cor 12:12-26. The sixth Gift, The Gift of Interpretation of Tongues within, Classification #2: The Gifts of Inspiration, or the Vocal Gifts.

  • 1 Corinthians 14:5 I wish you all had the gift of speaking in tongues, but even more I wish you were all able to prophesy. For prophecy is a greater and more useful gift than speaking in tongues, unless someone interprets what you are saying so that the whole church can get some good out of it. 

This gift is the only one that is dependent upon another, because it is useless unless there are tongues to interpret. It is the same in principle and operation as the tongues, only it is the interpretation of the tongues that are spoken. Most of what has been said in the previous letter on the gift of Prophecy applies to the gift of interpretation. For the two are very similar except that the speaking in tongues always precedes an interpretation.

Because of their similarity, the question arises, “What is the purpose of the gift of interpretation and why not have it all prophecy in the assembly?” Here are some reasons:

Without the gift of interpretation there would be no speaking in other tongues in a public congregation, for the speaker is told to be silent unless there is an interpreter present. The speaker in other tongues is a sign “to them that believe NOT”.

  • 1 Corinthians 14:22 So you see that speaking in tongues is a sign, not for believers, but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is for the benefit of believers, not unbelievers.

Yes, there may be some that refuse or reject this truth because of unbelief, but others has been awakened to the reality of the supernatural as a result of the manifestation of the gift.

Another reason for the manifestation of the gift of tongues is that it alerts the congregation as to when the Holy Ghost is about to speak. It gives the people time to get into a reverent attitude of prayer to receive before the giving of the message.

To the person that is new to this type of manifestation, the effect is greatly enhanced when a message is spoken in an unknown tongue and than skillfully interpreted. It is also an excellent demonstration of two or more members of the Body of Christ working together.

It is not uncommon for someone present, when a message is given or spoken in the unknown tongue, to recognize the language spoken as his own native language. Such an occurrence usually leaves a very deep impression upon the person, as did on the day of Pentecost. The gift of tongues and the accompanying interpretation, given under a strong anointing, usually results in great edification and blessing to the listeners.

The purpose of the gift of interpretation of tongues is to make tongues clear to the church (1 Cor 14:5, 27-28), or to make the speaker in tongues know what he has said (1 Cor 14:13-16).

Remember, it is the interpretation of tongues, not the translation of them. Interpretation is the rendering of the sense and meaning of tongues, while translation is the rendering from one language into another by the exact words and phrases.

At times the interpretation may seem briefer or larger than the tongues spoken. In other words, interpretation is the summing up by the Holy Spirit what was said in the unknown language…it may come word by word or a summary of the tongue, however the Holy Spirit wants to relay his own words. Paul’s instructions to the Church concerning the Gift of Interpretation…Speaking in other tongues is not permitted in the public assembly when there is no interpreter. Tongues with interpretation, is acceptable and is equal to prophecy (1 Cor 14:5).

Other factors worth noting:

  • If there is no interpreter present in the congregation, then he who speaks in an unknown tongue should pray that he might interpret or he should keep silent as stated in 1 Corinthians 14:13 “So anyone who has the gift of speaking in tongues should pray also for the gift of interpretation in order to tell people plainly what has been said.” In 1 Cor. 12:31, Paul’s says to “covet earnestly the best gifts.” He also states in 1 Cor. 14:39, “COVET TO PROPHESY.”  Since interpretation is the equivalent to prophecy we must also place this gift on our list.
  • Paul limits the number of messages in the unknown tongue to three at the most in one service. The normal is one or two. The reason for the limit is there is a limited time in a service and must be given time for other important things such as prayer, singing, preaching, altar services, etc.
  • While several persons may speak in the unknown tongue, only one should interpret. The reason for this is that there would be confusion with two persons interpreting at the same time.

If man played no part in prophecy and interpretation and the prophecy and interpretation were all God, there would be no need for these instructions; but since these utterance gifts represents the fusing of the human mind with the divine mind, the human will is involved and becomes an active factor in the manifestation of the gift. As stated in 1 Corinthians 14:33 “For God is not a God of disorder but of peace…”Prophecies and interpretation are to be judge. 1 Corinthians 14:29 Let two or three prophesy, and let the others evaluate what is said.

The gifts are indeed from God…but their operation depends on man. For man is fallible and God is not. Because of the human element involved prophecies are to be judged. As stated in the Scriptures, there must be a separation of the chaff from the wheat. We are not to blindly accept just anything, especially if it appears to be out of harmony with the Word of God. In general your spirit will bear witness to their spirit, in other words, what is said will bear witness to your spirit.The advantages far outweigh any risks involved.

Let’s use the Scriptures to sum it all up as Paul very well states the point in:

  • 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21, Do not stifle the Holy Spirit. Do not scoff at prophecies, but test everything that is said. Hold on to what is good.

10 ReasonsWHY ALL SAVED MEN DO NOT HAVE THE GIFTS

Because… of ignorance of them.
Because… of unbelief in them.
Because… they are ashamed of them.
Because… they do not seek for them.
Because… they do not want them.
Because… they do not realize their importance.
Because… they are not yielded to God.
Because… they have grieved the Spirit.
Because… of the many excuses of unbelief.
Because… they think they have them.

To exercise the Gifts… they should be exercised in conjunction with THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT which is stated in:

  • Galatians 5:22 But when the Holy Spirit controls our lives, he will produce this kind of fruit in us: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Here there is no conflict with the law.

The nine-fold fruit of the Spirit is for character, not for power. The Nine Gifts are for power, not for character.

As stated in 1 Cor.13 the nine-fold fruit is summed up in the word “charity” or divine love. Yes, every element of the fruit of the Spirit should be in every life as well as the nine gifts; if one is to reach or gain the fullness of God. Again let me mention, the Nine Gifts of the Holy Spirit is distributed whenever and to whom ever the Holy Spirit desires. Another way to say this would be when their is a need the Holy Spirit will use the vessel opened and yielded to Him.

In conclusion…we, the believers makeup the members to the body of Christ, and the gifts are His eyes, feet, hands, and lips. Believers are saved and endued with power…

  • To be…His lips to speak for Him,
  • To be…His hands to work for Him,
  • To be…His eyes to see for Him,
  • To be…His feet to walk for Him, and
  • To be…His other necessary bodily parts to function for Him in defeating satanic forces in the world.

Let’s began to desire the gifts of the Spirit…available to be used as a voice of God…to and for His people.

Love in Christ Jesus,
Paul Lundmark

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