Gifts of the Spirit
discerning of spirits
Interpretation of Tongues
A. What Does Interpretation of Tongues Mean?
A Supernatural manifestation that comes at the will of the Holy Spirit
to give meaning to a message one has previously spoken verbally in
tongues or in another language as the spirit of God gave the utterance.
Both the tongues and the interpretation are spontaneous unplanned and by
the will of the Holy Spirit.
Like all the gifts of the spirit, we do not plan ahead of time that we
are going to have a message in tongues or an interpretation of tongues.
All supernatural gifts of the Holy Spirit are unexpected, unplanned and
spontaneous just like the coming of the Lord is going to be. Maybe these
things prepare us for that great event.
B. The reason for Tongues and interpretation
- To give us a message from the Lord- God cares that we know He is with
us. That is why Jesus left us the Holy Spirit until He returns again. He
knows that we need a reminder, a comforter and a teacher.
- To get our attention so that we hear the message from the Lord- This
is the reason we have many different types of preaching, teaching,
methods and such. God wants to get our attention. Hearing someone speak
in tongues and then another interpret the tongues really gets attention.
- To remind us of the presence of the Lord in our midst and to show us
that we are not alone. I know we have to live by faith and not by sight or feeling but Iím
thankful that our merciful God sent the Holy Spirit to us so that we can
sense His presence once in a while.
This is one reason also for our
private speaking in tongues when we worship and pray. It reminds us that
He is there and on time. He doesnít speak to everyone in the same way. I
rarely have visions and dreams of spiritual significance but that is the
way God speaks to some people. 90 percent of my praying is done in
tongues and that is the way I worship. I will not apologize for that
just because everyone does not pray like that. We must not limit God to
our own way of thinking or say that just because someone doesnít worship
the way I worship that something is bad wrong with them. First of all,
all these things are gifts from God. Letís not get all bent out of shape
if God uses people differently.
- To remind us that God is still head of the church - Sometimes we
think that we are running the church. If God doesnít move in our midst,
it may be that we donít let Him but try to plan, work and run around
doing the Lordís work but ignoring the Lord who is standing in our midst
waiting to be recognized.
- To edify, comfort and exhort the body of Christ Ė If God didnít think
we needed to be edified, exhorted and comforted, He wouldnít have sent
the Holy Spirit in the first place. The gifts were given by God for a
purpose. To ignore them is to ignore God because if they were not
necessary, He would not have given them to the church.
- To convince an unbeliever that he needs to Lord- All gifts of the
spirit is to save the lost as well as exhort the body. What if a message
in tongues speaks to one present who is unsaved and causes him to
receive Jesus Christ when nothing else has worked previously? He might
have sat through thousands of sermons but just once a message in tongues
and an interpretation finally reaches him? If we are not willing to
receive and be used by the Holy Spirit, we may miss someone's need.
- Because God gave this gift to the church so that means we must need
it. This is the best reason of all. If God gives something, it is for a
reason. Why do we attempt to explain it away. The temptation to think,
ďWell Iíve never spoken in tongues so it must not be from God.Ē Or ďIíve
never seen the sick healed so God must not heal today.Ē ďIíve never
given a message of prophecy so that was just for the apostles.Ē
Tradition of men is a big hindrance to the work of God, sin is not the
C. Interpretation and the gift of prophecy
- Interpretation of tongues is equal to the gift of prophecy and
similar to that gift. Prophecy is the same thing only without the
tongues preceding it.
- Wouldnít prophecy without the tongues be better? Whatever the Holy
Spirit prefers at the time is best. Tongues preceding a prophecy get
more attention but God may see that there is someone present who would
benefit more by a message of prophecy without tongues preceding it. A
message in prophecy is harder to recognize as a message from God.
Someone could think a person was testifying, just giving a word of
exhortation, praying out loud or just talking.
- A translation Ė Interpretation is not a word for word translation but
an interpretation of the meaning of the tongues spoken. Two people can
give an interpretation and say it differently yet it will mean the same
- Someoneís imagination Ė Interpretation is not someone imagining what
is spoken. Someone may use their imagination and the interpretation is
wrong which is why all messages must be judged but a true message is not
- Someone understanding the message as it is spoken- One giving an
interpretation usually does not understand the message in tongues when
he or she hears it but only can give the interpretation when they start
speaking out the interpretation. They do not supernaturally understand
the tongues at the time itís spoken like they would if they understood
the particular language. In other words the interpreter does not
understand in the natural what is being spoken and usually doesnít
understand it supernaturally either until he begins to speak forth the
interpretation. In my own case I usually do not remember what I said afterwards if I'm
the one who gives the interpretation. Since I donít want to limit God by my own experience, someone may have
understood the tongues when it was being spoken but Iíve never heard of
it and it has never happened to me in that same manner. If I ever
interpret tongues, I never know what Iím going to say ahead of time. I
do not understand the tongues when it is being spoken.
- The one who interprets can always interpret Ė That is not necessarily
so. Just because we may give an interpretation once does not mean we can
do it every time someone gives a message in tongues.
- The person giving the message should never
interpret the message themselves Ė Iíve heard this said from the
pulpit but the scripture does not back it up. Paul said that if any
speak in tongues that he should pray that he interpret. If someone
is willing to interpret the message given in tongues that is great but sometimes the one giving the
message also gives the interpretation either because God just gives it
to them or else no one else is available to give the interpretation.
- Not just repeating scripture- Scripture is often used in messages and
that is fine, the word of God is the ďword of God.Ē But a message in
tongues and interpretation may not contain any quoting of scripture.
However it is never to contradict scripture.
- If no one interprets the message in tongues, then the speaker is out
of order, not of God or of the devil. Ė This is the worst of all of the
misconceptions and is totally false. How can someone interpret a message
in tongues if someone doesnít obey the Holy Spirit and speak it forth?
If there is no interpretation then, either no one is available, someone
isnít obeying the Lord or itís just a mistake and the tongues are just
for praise and worship rather than a message.
Letís give people some
slack. We are never going to get people to obey the Holy Spirit if we
are ready to pounce on them with accusations the moment they try to
listen to the spirit. I hope we all quit being so scared, judgmental and
fearful that the devil is going to bring us something instead of God.
Remember if we ask God for His Holy Spirit, will He give us something
from the devil?
- An interpretation will sound like the voice of God Ė We use to think
that in order for it to be a message from God, we had to speak in the
same language as King James English or in a voice that is scary
sounding, shaky or with vibrations that sound different than we normally
speak. Thank God weíve come out of that because our voice is used by the
Holy Spirit and we donít have to change our voice. Sometimes we may
speak louder than usual in order for everyone present to hear but that
is all. How would we know how God sounds anyway?
E. Who can be used to give messages in tongues?
- Men, women or children who are filled with the Holy Spirit
- Anyone who is listening to the Holy Spirit and has made Himself
available to the Holy Spirit.
- Whoever God chooses to use
F. Will the same person always interpret the tongues?
The same person may not be used all the time. Sometimes a person may be
used only once in a lifetime. He doesnít just receive the gift of
interpretation and can be used all the time in that gift. He may be used
all the time but someone else may give the interpretation at another
time. It is possible that more than one person may receive the
interpretation. This is one area that we canít develop a set of rules
and expect the Holy Ghost to follow our rules and limitations. This work
is His, not ours. The biggest reason we may see only one person being
used in any of the gifts is because only one person is making himself
available, not because God chooses him over everybody else.
This is for all of us but all of us are not seeking God for these
things. We are being constantly scared off by the teachings of men
against these things. We are bombarded with more warnings against the
misuse of the gifts, or warnings against the gifts or stories of false
manifestations that so many of us are afraid to allow the Holy Spirit to
use us. Why do you think we see more miracles and signs when the spirit is first
outpoured on certain groups of people? Because they have not had time
for the skeptics and unbelievers to talk them out of it and tell them
God doesnít work that way anymore.
We will hear of people being raised
from the dead in third world countries, instant healings in the same
places. I believe itís because they just simply believe what they hear
and things happen. No one has told them that it just isnít done like
that in todayís world. No one has told them that they have to be perfect
in order to receive from God. We receive God first and He begins the
work of perfection within us, not the other way around.
I used to think we had to be so holy and perfect before we could be used
of God in the gifts of the spirit. If God fills someone with the Holy
Ghost, then they can be used in any of the gifts. Are people going to
make mistakes? Of course they are. We all have preconceived ideas,
formulas, faults and wrong thinking to deal with but we must start
seeking God for all that is available for the church of today and quit
waiting around for Mr. Right to come along and do everything for us.
G. How does the interpretation come?
- God puts words in our mouth and we speak. Usually we do not know
ahead of time what we are going to say. This is never forced on us. God
never forces His spirit upon anyone. We can always resist the Holy Ghost
and refuse to give a message in tongues or give the interpretation.
People use to warn against not obeying the Holy Spirit and that God will
stop using us if we donít obey the spirit but I have no scripture to
back up anything like that. I believe the minute we are willing to be
used, He will use us.
I remember the days people use to guilt us into testifying saying that
we will miss a blessing if we donít testify. As a result we use to have
to sit through so many boring testimonies that people had to think up
just to keep from missing a blessing. I was blessed to have went into a
church later that didn't teach that way. There is no such thing in the scripture that
says we will miss Godís blessing if we donít stand up in church and tell
a sad boring story. If God wants us to testify, we will know it. We
donít have to sit and think of something to say just because we are
afraid we might be doing wrong if we keep silent. If the Holy Spirit
isnít prompting us to testify, then we will most certainly should keep
- Some have seen the words visibly similar to a ticker tape and they
just simply read the words. This type of revelation has never happened
to me but a preacherís wife told me this is the way it happened to her.
This was when she was young and before her husband was called into the
God speaks to someone audibly. Again Iíve never seen or heard of this
way in my own experience.
God speaks to our spirit. This is the most common way.
There may be others ways also. We cannot limit God to our own
experience. Letís not be tempted to limit God to our own thinking but stay very
close to the word itself for our interpretation of scripture. I canít
find one biblical example of a message in tongues and interpretation but
there are many times when the spirit of God spoke in both the Old
Testament and the New but it doesnít say whether it was tongues,
interpretation or a prophecy. I have no doubt that it did occur but the
scripture doesnít tell us the method only emphasized the message and
that is what we must do. We must emphasize the message itself, not the
way it was given or by whom it was given.