Spiritual gifts: interpreting tongues
So we know that God gives all spiritual gifts for the glory of Himself.
God gave us gifts for one reason, to build His Church! Your gifts are to grow His Kingdom and nothing else.
“And He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ”
What is tongues?
Tongues is the spiritual gift of speaking a heavenly language to build up your relationship with God, AND/OR to build up His church through the public speaking of tongues.
What is the gift of interpreting tongues
The spiritual gift of interpreting tongues means that the person with this gift will be able to translate the message coming from a person that has spoke in tongues.
The purpose of interpretation is to be sure the church/setting/meeting understands what is being spoken, as it is a message for all.
Points to be taken from 1 Corinthians 14
V1-6 Paul is addressing here the correct way to publicly use and interpret tongues. He talks about how the church must be edified through the tongue not the speaker and that if there is a word spoken out it must be translated in order for the whole church to hear and be instructed.
Paul goes on to say he would rather people prophecy than speak out in tongues. He is addressing here that if prophecy is given all could understand, but if a tongue is spoken and no one interprets, it is potentially wasted. He is addressing orderly, correct and inclusive worship to Corinth.
This is turn teaches us that if a public message is spoken in church, there must be an interpretation, otherwise all it edifies is the speaker not the Kingdom. It also teaches us that God wants for His gifts to be used correctly and wisely and to build up His people.
V6-21 Here Paul goes onto use analogies to make his point about tongues needing to be interpreted. He asks what good it would bring if it didn't have revelation, knowledge, prophecy or instruction attached to it. He is calling for the church to excel in gifts and use them correctly and wisely not exclusively but inclusively.
Paul advises that if you speak in tongues you should also ask for an interpretation so that all hears can understand and so can you. He teaches that the church is a place of “Amen” (agreement), but if a message is brought that cannot be understood, how can there be an Amen?!
I believe this teaches us that tongues and interpretation is related to prophecy and that it is one of God's vehicles to inform church of His revelations and instructions.
God is encouraging people that have these connected gifts, if used publicly to be exclusive not inclusive, so that The Church can be a place for all.
V22-33 To summarise Paul finishes by explaining that tongues and prophecy must be used to strengthen the Church. He instructs that for orderly worship there must be an interpreter, and if non-present the speaker should remain quiet and speak to God instead.
He calls for prophets to speak and support the word in an orderly fashion reminding all that God is a God of order and peace.
This shows us that there is a correct way for the tongues to be interpreted in a public setting and that prophets should rise up to support messages brought in tongues so that unbelievers and believers may be edified.
My points in summary
- If you have the gift of tongues and you believe God is calling you to use it publicly pray also for an interpretation
- If you have the gift of interpreting tongues be prepared to use it to build the Church
- If you have the gift of prophecy recognise that you may also have the gift of interpreting tongues, ask Holy Spirit to confirm this
- If a tongue is not interpreted it is most likely not from God as He would want for there to be a translation
- Tongues can be used in a evangelistic setting as well as church as long as there is a interpretation
- The church is a place of “Amen” so if you have these gifts use them inclusively
Advice to those having this gift or eagerly desiring it
- Find out your churches/organisations/settings stance on it
- Pray for wisdom to use it correctly and inclusively
- Allow for it to be tested
- Account for it to your leaders ahead of time if you can and speak to them after delivering an interpretation so you can stay teachable
- Keep a check on your own walk and discipleship so that your motives and use of gift is held right with God.
- Get to know your prophets and interpreters of tongues in the church and pray together to see what God does.
- Excel in it so that the body of Christ can be built up, not just you.