Tongues And Interpretation


 The Gift Of Many Kinds Of Tongues

And The Interpretation Of Tongues 

By Rodney W. Francis

Two of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:7-11are the gifts of Many Kinds of Tongues, and the Interpretation of those Tongues spoken in a public meeting. They are gifts that are often misunderstood. This study is therefore an attempt to help clarify these differences, so we can exercise the Gifts of the Holy Spirit accurately and clearly.

Many have taught that the Gift of Speaking a Tongues Message – and the Interpretation that should follow – are equal to the Gift of Prophecy. If that is so, then one-third of the nine Gifts are the “same.” My personal conviction is that each of the nine Gifts is distinctly different, and therefore we should know those differences.


The Gift of the Speaking a Tongues Message in a public gathering – and the Interpretation that should follow – is Godward. That is, the Interpretation is a Holy Spirit-inspired exaltation from our hearts to God: lifting Him up, placing Him on His throne (in our praise and worship), giving Him His rightful place, titles, position, etc. Prophecy, on the other hand, is an inspired message that comes from the heart of God through the believer to the people. Their purpose is quite opposite.

In the Scriptures, Tongues always seem to be “Godward.” They are directed toward God. They are the language of the Holy Spirit to glorify Jesus:

“The Man who speaks in a ‘tongue’ addresses not men (for no one understands a word he says) but God: and only in his spirit is he speaking spiritual secrets”(1 Corinthians 14:2, J.B. Phillips)

“For one who speaks in an [unknown] tongue speaks not to men but to God, for no one understands or catches his meaning, because in the (Holy) Spirit he utters secret truths and hidden things [not obvious to the understanding]. But [on the other hand], the one who prophesies – who interprets the divine will and purpose in inspired preaching and teaching – speaks to men for their upbuilding and constructive spiritual progress and encouragement and consolation”(1 Corinthians 14:2-3, AMP.).

On the Day of Pentecost the tongues spoken were interpreted as “We do hear them speak . . . the wonderful works of God” (Acts 2:11). It was Godward rather than “man-ward” from God.


The word “interpretation” here is from the Greek “harmeneia” meaning “explanation” or “full interpretation” (Bullinger’s). It is the ability through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to bring understandable meaning to an inspired public message in tongues. If one accepts that the Gift of Many Kinds of Tongues is directed toward God in the form of prayer, or praise, or thanksgiving, or exaltation of the Name and Majesty of God, then the Gift of Interpretation of Tongues will be of the same character – toward God. Dr. Michael Harper (U.K.) said: “We should expect the interpretation to be mainly an expression of prayer or worship and, therefore, different from a prophecy.”

It is a Spirit-inspired declaration of praise, exaltation and honouring of God Himself.

When the Gift of Many Kinds of Tongues and the Interpretation of Tongues functions in the understanding that it is Godward rather than man-ward, it releases a tremendous presence of God . . . that He is in the midst of His people.




Desire to Prophesy(v.1).

Prophecy speaks edification, exhortation and comfort to men (v.3).

Tongues and Interpretation do not speak to men   but  to  God(v.2).

No one understands tongues, for we are speaking mysteries(“that which is known to the initiated”) (v.2).

Acts 2:11 interprets the tongues of Pentecost as “speaking the wonderful works of God.”

Prophecy edifiesthe Church(v.4).

Tongues edifiesthe speaker personally(v.4).

Prophecy is greater than tongues (v.5)-

Unless the tongues are interpreted(v.5).

i.e. Tongues and Interpretation of Tongues is/are equal in value to Prophecy.

 In both Prophecy and Tongues and Interpretation it is important to know the distinction (“separation; the act oran instance of distinguishing or differentiating”)  of   what  ishappening atany part of a meeting (v.7-11).

Prophecy serves those who believe(v.22).

Speakers in Tongues in a public meeting  need  to  pray  to interpret(v.13).

Prophecy convinces others that God is  amongst  us(v.23-25).

We need to pray and sing with the spirit (tongues) and with the understanding (interpretation) (v.13-17).

Prophecy  exposes  the  heart(v.25).

Prophecy releases people under conviction (unbelievers) to worship God(v.25).

Tongues and Interpretation is “giving of thanks” (surely to God?) (v.16).

Prophecy helps people to know the God of truth is amongst us(v.25).

Tongues are a sign to unbelievers(v.22). Tongues “over done” and they will say we’re mad! (v.23).

We may ALL Prophesy one by one (v .31)!

We should expect Tongues and Interpretation of Tongues in our meetings (v.26).

Tongues and Interpretation should be limited to 2-3 per meeting (generally speaking) (v.27-28).

Let us be encouraged to exercise these wonderful Gifts of the Holy Spirit with a spiritual understanding of what they are given to us for. They are “keys” to unlock other lives, as well as to release our spirits to freely express our love and adoration to God through Jesus Christ our Lord.


  "The Gospel Faith Messenger" Ministry.  New Zealand.  Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


"The Gospel Faith Messenger" Ministry.  PO Box 57, Paraparaumu 5254, New Zealand.  Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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