Interpretation of Tongues: 10 Things You Should Know about This Spiritual Gift

10. The Content of Interpretation Depends on the Content of the Tongues Utterance

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It would seem reasonable to conclude that the content of the interpretation would depend entirely on the content of the tongues utterance. Therefore, we must ask another question first: what is said when one speaks in tongues? The Apostle Paul describes tongues as prayer (1 Cor. 14:2), praise (1 Cor. 14:16), and thanksgiving (1 Cor. 14:16).

If the interpretation must correspond to the utterance, the former will come forth in the form of prayers, praise, and expressions of gratitude to God. The interpretation will be a God-ward utterance, no less than is the tongues utterance on which it is based.

The standard view among most charismatic believers is that when an utterance in tongues is interpreted it becomes the equivalent of prophecy. As such, it is horizontal in its orientation, which is to say, it is directed to other individuals in the church. But if tongues is always prayer, praise, or thanksgiving, would not its interpretation be the same? Mark Stibbe writes:

“If an interpretation is offered which is not in the form of prayerful adoration, we should be cautious about regarding it as a genuine interpretation. If it is offered in the form of praise language, then it has a much better chance of being the true ‘interpretation’” (Know Your Spiritual Gifts, 179).

This article originally appeared on Used with permission.

Sam Storms I am an Amillennial, Calvinistic, charismatic, credo-baptistic, complementarian, Christian Hedonist who loves his wife of 45 years, his two daughters, his four grandchildren, books, baseball, movies, and all things Oklahoma University. In 2008 Sam became Lead Pastor for Preaching and Vision at Bridgeway Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Sam is on the Board of Directors of Desiring God, and also serves as a member of the Council of The Gospel Coalition. Sam is a past President of the Evangelical Theological Society, and currently serves on its Executive Committee.

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This article is part of our larger resource library of terms important to the Christian faith. From heaven and hell, to communion and baptism, we want to provide easy to read and understand articles that answer your questions about theological terms and their meaning. 

What is Blasphemy and Why is it So Deadly?
What is Heresy?
The Fruit of the Spirit – What Are They?
10 Things to Know About Speaking in Tongues
What is the Tithe?
What is the Sabbath and is it Still Important?
Heaven – What is it Like, Where is it?
Hell – 10 Things You Should Know
Baptism – What Does it Mean and Why is it Important?
Communion – 10 Important Things to Remember
The Trinity – Father, Son, Holy Spirit Explained
Armor of God – What is it and How to Use it
What is Agape Love?
What is Salvation?
The Holy Spirit

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