Gifts of the Holy Spirit 10

The Interpretation of Tongues

by Pastor John Hamel


We have now come to the third and final Utterance Gift.


You will remember that the three Utterance Gifts say something.  


This final Gift is called the Interpretation of Tongues. 


By definition the Interpretation of Tongues is a supernatural utterance inspired by the Holy Spirit, which interprets an unknown Tongue. 


“Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret.” (1Corinthians 14:13)


Here the Apostle Paul tells us that we should pray, asking the Holy Spirit to enable us to interpret our Tongues.  He is referring to the Believer interpreting what they pray out in other Tongues during their private or corporate prayer times.


Tongues for Private & Public Ministry Differ 


There is another type of Interpretation of Tongues as well.  


This is the public Interpretation of Tongues for use in public services.  


Everyone can pray and interpret their own Tongues in private.  However, not everyone can pray and interpret their own Tongues or another’s Tongues in public services.  This is a separate and a unique form of the Gift that is not possessed by every Believer. 


Let’s read what the Apostle Paul said.  “Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?” (1 Corinthians 12:30


Here Paul could only be referring to the public Gift of Tongues and Interpretation, because the Baptism with the Holy Spirit and the speaking with other Tongues is promised to every Believer. 


"In that last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst let him come unto Me, and drink. He that believeth on Me, as the Scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water. But this spake He of the Spirit, which they that believe on Him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified." (John 7:37-39) 


"But ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you." (Acts 1:8)


We see clearly from these verses of Scripture that the private Gift of Tongues is indeed promised to every Born Again believer.  


However, the public Gift of Tongues and Interpretation for use in assemblies is not promised to every Believer.  


It is the public Gift of Tongues and Interpretation that Paul referred to when he asked, “Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?”  


Of course, all do not possess the public Gift of Tongues and Interpretation which is for use in assemblies.  


Therefore, the implied answer to Paul’s question is, “No.  All do not possess the public Gift of Tongues and Interpretation for use in assemblies.”


However, Jesus and Paul both said that all can possess the private use of Tongues and Interpretation for private and corporate prayer.


So we see that there are indeed two separate manifestations of the Gift of Tongues and Interpretation.  


Whether you possess the public Gift as well as the private Gift, or only the private Gift, interpretation basically operates the same way.  Let’s look at how that happens.


Privately & Publicly Interpreting Other Tongues


It is not the easiest job in the world to explain how Spiritual Gifts operate but it is doable.  


Although the Interpretation of Tongues is the ability to translate into a known tongue something that has been spoken in an unknown Tongue, it does not just end there.  


There are different ways for interpretations to come.  


I will describe my experiences, which are similar to the experiences of many.


I have had times when I, or someone else, would speak forth in an unknown Tongue, publicly or privately.  I would then see something, on the inside of my spirit.  Something like a still picture, possibly even a moving picture.  In the pre-DVD era, one highly respected Prophetess of God, Sister Jeanne Wilkerson, referred to this as seeing “Video prophecies.”  


I would then simply describe aloud what I was seeing in my spirit in a way that was in line with Scripture, would honor God and edify the hearers.  This is one way an interpretation can come. 


Other times, one or two words will come to me.  As I am obedient to speak those words forth by faith, not knowing where they are leading me, the rest of the interpretation always follows.  


This took a little getting used to, but after a time or two I realized that the Holy Spirit will always be there to meet me if I will just step out and speak by faith the few words He has already given.  


Perhaps this method of Interpretation may sound a little scary to you, but the Holy Spirit will never leave you hanging.  He won’t embarrass you. If you will step out in faith and speak what few words He has already given you, He will take you on.  He will honor your faith and He will give you the rest of the interpretation. 


Stepping out to interpret Tongues by faith in this way is very pleasing to Him.


"But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him." (Hebrews 11:6)


Then there are times when I actually just know down in my spirit what the “gist” of the interpretation is.  


Sometimes it is a Scripture verse.  


Sometimes it is a subject or a theme, such as love, faith or obedience.  Sometimes it is healing or standing strong, etc.  


When this is the case, I will then begin to explain aloud that subject which I am knowing inwardly.  The Holy Spirit always helps me to present it in a Scriptural and an encouraging, uplifting manner.


There are also times when I hear God's voice speak to me and I simply speak forth what I have heard.


Many times the interpretation that I give forth has no revelation or prediction in it. It is simply to edify, comfort and encourage the hearer or the hearers.  


But then there are also times when the Holy Spirit's interpretation results in a Word of Knowledge, a Word of Wisdom or a prophetic word being given to an individual, individuals or an entire congregation. 


Just keep this in mind.  Interpreting Tongues, publicly or privately, is a whole lot simpler than describing how to interpret Tongues, publicly or privately. 


Some individuals are gifted by God to both speak and interpret Tongues publicly.  


Some individuals are gifted only to speak Tongues out publicly but they are unable to interpret publicly.  


These individuals should always be sure that there is an interpreter present before they speak in a public Tongue.  If no interpreter is present, the Tongue should not be given.


“But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.” (1 Corinthians 14:28)


If one speaks publicly in Tongues and no one interprets it for them, there is no condemnation for making a mistake.  But keep in mind, it is best to not speak out again until an interpreter is known to be present.  


However, speaking in Tongues in one's private prayer time is quite another matter altogether.  One may speak and pray in Tongues at will and ask the Lord for the interpretation. 


"Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret." (1 Corinthians 14:13)  


If it is God's will at that time, He will surely give the interpretation to you.  If it is not, He will simply not do so. 


Interestingly, I have discovered that whatever or whomever continues to come to mind while I’m privately praying in Tongues is usually for what or for whom I am praying.  I then simply focus in on that.  


Interpretation of Tongues can indeed come in the form of what consistently comes up out of your spirit and into your mind while you are praying.  Once you get settled down in prayer and get into the Spirit, this becomes a common occurrence.


Keep in mind, just like the Gift of Prophecy, there are two kinds of Tongues and Interpretation.  


One can simply be for edification, exhortation and comfort of the Saints, containing no revelation or prediction.  


The other can contain revelation or prediction, pointing towards things that will happen in the future. 


By picking up your Bible and simply reading First Corinthians chapter fourteen, you can learn much about both kinds of Tongues and Interpretation.


Two Five-Dollar Bills Equal One Ten-Dollar Bill 


Finally, the Interpretation of Tongues is equivalent to the Gift of Prophecy.  This is because an interpreted Tongue has now become inspired utterance in a known tongue - which is exactly what Prophecy is. 


It has been often stated, “Tongues plus Interpretation equals Prophecy.” 


Think of it this way.  


Pretend Speaking in Tongues is one five-dollar bill.  


Pretend the Interpretation of those Tongues is another five-dollar bill.  


Pretend Prophecy is a ten-dollar bill.  


Tongues, one five-dollar bill, plus Interpretation, another five-dollar bill, equals Prophecy, a ten-dollar bill.  


Tongues plus Interpretation equals Prophecy even as two five-dollar bills equal one ten-dollar bill.  Although they are totally different, the end result is exactly the same.


We have come to the end of our abbreviated study on the nine Gifts of the Holy Spirit and their three categories.  


In closing this series, I would like to remind you of something that I said to you way back in the Introduction.   


It would be good for you to memorize the name of each of the nine Spiritual Gifts as well as their definitions.  This was the first thing I did when I discovered them well over 30 years ago. 


Soon you will recognize which of the Gifts the Holy Spirit has imparted to you.  


The Holy Spirit’s Gifts operate best through those who recognize and understand them most.


Please keep in mind that each of these nine Gifts is a Supernatural Gift.  They operate by the supernatural power of God.  They have nothing to do with man’s natural abilities in either origin or operation. 


Please also keep in mind that you cannot turn your Gifts on and off at will.  The Holy Spirit decides when and how your Gifts will operate. 


Manifestations, demonstrations and operations of the Holy Spirit come according to His will, not man's will.


"But all these worketh that one and selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will." (1 Corinthians 12:11)  


The best thing one can do is to spend time worshipping God, praying in other Tongues and reading His Word.  


This always leads to greater manifestations of the nine Spiritual Gifts of the Holy Spirit.


Be Blessed … John and Barbara Hamel



How to Be Born Again (Receive Christ as Your Savior)


How to Receive The Holy Spirit & Power



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