Interpretation of Tongues

Interpretation of Tongues

Have you ever been in a church setting and heard people speak or sing out in a language you have never heard before?

They are simply speaking or singing out in ‘tongues’. This is a God given language available to ALL believers and a beautiful and powerful gift from God.

You will hopefully remember I started this series explaining all about this wonderful gift and how it can encourage and bless the church and the individual. I explored how we can use it, why we use it and how to do it.

How have you been getting on with this gift?

Today I want to explain what it means to have the Gift of Interpretation, which is a separate gift but goes hand in hand with Speaking in tongues.

1Cor 12:10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues.


The dictionary says that an interpretation is simply: The action of explaining the meaning of something.

The bible is our first point of reference on anything to do with spiritual gifts and for an understanding of this gift, the bible tells us:

1Cor 14:27-28 If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret. 28 But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God.

This spiritual gift is the supernatural ability to understand and explain messages uttered in an unknown language and in this verse, it explains that when somebody brings a tongue that there will hopefully be someone present who can interpret what has been said in the language of the hearers. The interpreter would be hearing it as we do but then God would give them an interpretation of what has been spoken to convey to those present.

This verse makes the point that if there is nobody there who can interpret it is better to not bring it at all as it would be ‘wasted’ if people can’t understand what is being said as it can’t do what it was intended for, to encourage and bless those present.

This verse should be read in context to the time of writing, as back when it was written one of the problems they experienced in Corinth was that people were speaking out in tongues in meetings with no interpreter present. The tongues speaker would then attract lots of attention but there would be no value to the words spoken and they were not beneficial to the meeting or the hearers.

1Cor 14:9 It’s the same for you. If you speak to people in words they don’t understand, how will they know what you are saying? You might as well be talking into empty space.

What could so easily happen then would be an element of showmanship and pride on the behalf of the person bringing the tongue when the whole point of the gift is to encourage and bless others not to bring glory to oneself.

Depending on the sort of church you go to you will probably know whether there are people in the congregation that have this gift. You could always talk to your pastor or eldership if you are not sure.

The next verse that mentions the gift of tongues also encourages individuals to pray for the interpretation gift too, so that they can bring an interpretation themselves.

1 Cor 14:13-14 Therefore let him who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful.

So, it is possible to bring a tongue and then bring the interpretation of what you feel God is saying yourself.

As with all gifts we move through different stages of the gifting as we learn how to operate in it (like with most things in life).

Until next time I pray that you would continue to step out and be courageous in the gifting’s that God has given you to bless the world around you.

Keep being amazing, world changers!

Not sure what your spiritual gifts are yet? Take this test to give helpful pointers: Spiritual Gift test


For those of you who are interested in some research carried out by neuro-scientists on what is happening as an individual is speaking in tongues I have attached an interesting article that was published in The New York Times in 2006. It is written by a neuro-scientist about their research into the activity in the human brain when people are speaking in tongues. It is a fascinating read!

Gifts of the Spirit Series:

Speaking in Tongues

Gift of Exhortation

Gift of Healing

Gift of Mercy

Gift of Prophecy

Gift of Giving

Word of Knowledge

Interpretation of Tongues

Gift of Faith

Word of Wisdom

Discerning of Spirits













14 thoughts on “Interpretation of Tongues

  1. Of course I know about these gifts, and I have seen them in operation several time. But I have noticed that there appears to be less emphasis on them nowadays compared to how they were a few years back.

    1. Wow that is a real shame. I am part of a church where we use the gifts and I’m also involved in a ministry school which emphasise using and growing in the gifts. I’m so thankful for that. I pray that you would see a new season of people moving out in their God given gifts. Thanks for the feedback my friend.

  2. 🙂 I have been encouraging a local pastor of a traditional church who “believes” in tongues in theory but in practice is a bit averse. Lol. He is actually starting to, well…not be so skeptical. Haha

      1. Definitely not out loud, ever. I mean what would people think? Lol.
        It is a small town, very traditional church. I have taken a look at their doctrine statements and they “believe” in tongues but it is frowned upon at best. No need to be all super spiritual and repent of the traditions that are keeping them for obeying the Holy Spirit and the New testament.

        I have nothing but love for these people but when they give their reasons for why they don’t walk in the gifts of the Spirit it is hard to not either weep for the blessing they are rejecting or laugh at the absurdity of their reasons for doing so.

      2. Yes I agree it’s sad. I’m so grateful for the freedom I have to move in using the spiritual gifts. I pray that you find a place to worship that’s what you’re looking for and you might enjoy the same freedom. Blessings my friend.

  3. Speaking in Tongues is fascinating to me. I’ve heard it a few times and each time it blows me away. I also was intrigued about the neuro-science behind it, and especially enjoyed the article!
    Thank you for this series, Sarah!

    1. Thanks so much for the encouragement Caitlin. I am really enjoying writing this series and I am passionate about people getting an understanding about the beautiful and varied gifts of the spirit. I hope you were encouraged and that you know that the gift of tongues is available to you too! Just ask God for it, believe in faith you have it and then see what happens. Its a beautiful prayer language.
      Be blessed Sarah xx

  4. A quick story, well..maybe not. Years ago I was praying for people in a small group I was given responsibility for. A young woman who was an interpreter for the deaf was visiting.
    When I began to pray Daddy gave me nothing but tounges for 5 minutes. Nothing else. I asked if she had understood and she said “every word”.
    Years later she shared what Daddy had said and tod me that everything He had told her would happen, including the salvation of her brother, had come to pass verbatim.
    When I enquired as to whether she could understand tounges generally, she said she always did whether it was a message in tounges or someone just singing or praying out loud in their personal tounges.
    I have yet to meet anyone else with that degree of interpretation, though I have gotten interpretations myself.

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