A. WHAT IT IS NOT
1. NOT SIMPLY IMAGINATION
It cannot be the imagination of the mind, as some teach, because it works through the spirit of
man, and not his mind. Mental ability is no more employed in interpretation of tongues than
medical science was used when Paul said, "stand up right on your feet," and the man leaped and
2. NOT THE ABILITY TO TRANSLATE LANGUAGES
Interpretation of tongues cannot be a translation of languages. One without the Spirit of God can
have the natural talent of translating languages.
3. IT IS NOT TRANSLATION BUT IS INTERPRETATION
Because it is not a word for word translation, it may be given in first, second, or third person. It is
not always in the first person. For instance, one person may bring the interpretation like this:
"Behold, I am coming soon; be ye ready." The next one may say, "The Lord says He is coming
soon and He says for you to be ready." Still another may bring the same message in other words,
as "The Lord is coming very soon; be ye ready." This gift does not always quote the exact words
as translators; for interpretation is not translation. It tells the meaning of a message as one may tell
the meaning of a dream, a symbol, parable, sign, or an action. Two preachers bringing the same
message from God do not use the same words. I may understand one better because he is from
the same part of the country as I am. One interpreter may speak such large words that it would
have to be interpreted to someone in the audience who did not have a large vocabulary. Danielís
interpretation of the heavenly language written on the wall (Dan. 5) consisted of many times the
number of words on the wall. One interpretation may consist of just one-half as many words as
another because one congregation may be better educated.
4. NOT REPETITION OF SCRIPTURE
This gift is not repetition of scripture, but can be sometimes.
5. NOT SIMPLY THE GIFT OF INTERPRETATION
This gift is not the gift of interpretation, but interpretation of tongues. It is not and cannot be used if
there has been no supernatural tongues spoken. It is not interpretation of people, thoughts, hard
sayings, actions, riddles, dreams, or anything in the natural; but it is interpretation of supernatural
tongues. It cannot be learned at school in a million years, but can be given by the Spirit in a
moment of time to any Spirit-filled person.
B. WHAT IT IS
The Spiritual gift of the interpretation of tongues is the supernatural manifestation of the Spirit of
God using one's vocal organs, giving utterance in one's own language, telling the meaning of the
words which have been spoken with tongues.
This Spiritual gift is telling the meaning of what is spoken in a supernatural language. It is a vocal
miracle. Paul says that interpretation of tongues is equal to prophecy (I Cor. 14:15). He says this
gift helps us to profit (14:16). God says for us to pray for this gift if we speak with tongues (14:5),
and for us all to speak with tongues (14:5&13). Paul said LET someone interpret (v. 27). There
should be SOMEONE to interpret each message. There does not need to be a CERTAIN one;
neither should there be competition (I Cor. 14:27).
The meaning may be told in divers manners (I Cor. 12:6, 14:6). It is possible sometimes to
get the interpretation of prayers, psalms, praise, and songs, as well as a message to people.
Although God may manifest this gift through any of His children, as He wills, we should prefer
one who is more experienced to use this gift if he is present. The leader of an assembly is not
required to wait until the "official interpreter" (if there be such a thing) is there for a message
in tongues to be given and interpreted; for God will give the interpretation to the leader
(I Cor. 14:5, 13).
C. BIBLE EXAMPLES
There are many places in the Bible where it states "the Holy Ghost said" or "Hear what the Spirit
saith unto the churches." It is not known in every case whether it was interpretation or prophecy.
But some things we do know are:
1) The gift of interpretation of tongues was set in the Church (I Cor. 12)
2) This gift is NECESSARY (v. 22)
3) This gift was never taken out of the Church
4) This gift was used all down through Church history,
5) Paul taught the members the church at Corinth to use this gift (I Cor. 14).