The Gift of Tongues (and Interpretation of Tongues)

December 19, 2023

Written byAdelekan Bolanle

Originally posted on May 25, 2023 @ 11:55 am

and to another the working of [a]miracles, and to another prophecy [foretelling the future, speaking a new message from God to the people], and to another discernment of spirits [the ability to distinguish sound, godly doctrine from the deceptive doctrine of man-made religions and cults], to another various kinds of [unknown] tongues, and to another interpretation of tongues. 

1 Corinthians 14:10 AMP

I have always wondered why the gift is referred to as “gift of tongues” until I understood that “tongues” means “language”. The gift of tongues and the interpretation of tongues are remarkable and powerful. God uses these gifts to reveal concealed secrets. I have been in churches where the gift is fully functional, and I am usually amazed by how dynamic the Spirit of God is.

What is the Spiritual Gift of Tongues?

The spiritual gift of tongues is the ability to speak in a language inspired by the Holy Spirit, and to deliver a message as directed by the Holy Spirit to believers and unbelievers alike. The gift of tongues, also called “diverse kinds of tongues,” means to speak many languages as the Holy Spirit gives utterance.

The Spiritual Gifts of healing

The Gift of Discernment

Gift of Working of miracles

The Spiritual Gift of Faith

The Gift of Prophecy

What is the Purpose of the Gift of Tongues?

The gift of tongues has numerous purposes similar to the other spiritual gifts.

  • To help the body of Christ grow 1corinthians 14:14
  • It reveals the mind of God to the congregation or a specific person.
  • It is a sign to unbelievers; to help them see the power and workings of God.

Where is the Gift of Tongues in the Bible?

The major example of the manifestation of the gift of tongues is the event that happened on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2). The disciples gathered together in a room to pray, which led to an outpouring of the Holy Spirit as prophesied by Jesus. They began to speak in other tongues (tongues that were different from their native language).

Is there any difference between Speaking in Tongues and the Gift of Tongues?

 Yes, there is a slight difference between speaking in tongues and having the gift of tongues. Although they are very similar, the differences between them include:

  • Speaking in tongues is evidence of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.
  • Speaking in tongues is for communicating with God, while the gift of tongues is for delivering the word of God to a congregation of believers. Most times when we speak in tongues, it is for personal prayers or direct communication with God, but the gift of tongues helps to deliver the message of God to a congregation of believers.
  • The gift of tongues is only activated by the Holy Spirit whenever he wants to use it to deliver a message, while speaking in tongues can be activated by the believer whenever he or she wants to communicate with God.
  • Speaking in tongues does not need interpretation because it is speaking directly to God, while the gift of tongues requires an interpreter (either the person speaking or someone else) to be effective.
  • Speaking in tongues can be done regularly, while the gift of tongues manifests only when it is needed.

It is possible to have the gift of tongues but not the ability to speak in tongues.

Types of Tongues in The Bible

There are two types of tongues as described by the bible and they are:

  • Tongues of Man

The tongues of man is a type of tongue spoken in an earthly language. It is recognisable and understood by people who speak the language. An example is the day of Pentecost; when the Holy Spirit came upon the apostles, they spoke in the languages people could understand (Acts 2:6–11). That is an example of speaking in the tongues of men.

  • The Angelic or Heavenly Tongue

An angelic or heavenly tongue simply means speaking the language of heaven, which gives direct access to God (1 Corinthians 13:1). Speaking in an angelic tongue manifests when baptised with the Holy Ghost or with the Gift of Tongues. If God wants to communicate using the angelic tongue, then there is a need for someone who has the gift of interpreting tongues.

What is the Gift of the Interpretation of Tongues?

The gift of interpretation of tongues is the supernatural ability to interpret words spoken through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. This gift is given to build up the church by helping the congregation of believers understand the words spoken by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The gift of interpretation of tongue can come as a prophecy, correction, word of knowledge, word of wisdom, or giving of instructions.

The main purpose of the gift is to illuminate the meaning of what is said through the gift of tongues. The purpose of the message given through the gift of tongues then determines the purpose of the gift at that time.

The gift of interpretation of tongues also manifests sometimes during our private prayers. I have heard many people say they understood what they said while they were praying in tongues in their private prayers. I have also had this experience several times. I’ll just notice that I can understand the prayers I was praying while speaking in tongues, but I have never manifested the gift of tongues publicly.

Some Facts About Both Gifts

  • They are the only gift Jesus did not manifest during his earthly ministry. 
  • Both gifts were not manifested in the Old Testament.
  • Jesus himself prophesied that these gifts would come. (Mark 16:17)
  • The devil can easily manipulate this gift to pollute the church.

A Real Life Testimony

One time I witnessed this form of tongues as an actual foreign language. It was understood by a native speaker of this particular dialect, as led by the Spirit. This occurred at a Dunamis Project located at First Presbyterian Church in San Mateo, California.
In the meeting, a woman stood up and gave a public message in tongues. It sounded like a Chinese dialect to me. 
But I could not understand it fully. We were waiting for the interpretation when a Chinese man ran to the front of the church. He threw himself down and started weeping and praying in this language.
In Mandarin Chinese, he cried many times, “Yes, Jesus! Yes, Jesus, I’ll go! I’ll go! I’ll obey! Please fill me with your Holy Spirit to empower me to be your witness in that difficult place.” 
At our debriefing meeting that followed the service, the Chinese brother told us that he had been struggling with a call to return to China as an evangelist.
He was not sure that this was really from Jesus and did not want to go there unless he was sure of God’s guidance.
When the message from the woman was given in this particular tongue, the gentleman told us it was in his grandmother’s dialect.
She had been saying, “Come over and help us. Please come over and help us; come help us know the way of salvation.”
The giver of the message, the woman who spoke in tongues, made it clear that she could not speak Chinese, much less an uncommon dialect.

PRMI

Questions on the Gift of Tongues

Is the gift of tongues biblical?

The gift of tongues is biblical. Some churches believe the gift disappeared after the death of the apostles, which isn’t true. If we still manifest everything Jesus said in Mark 16:17, I believe tongues shouldn’t be an exception

Is the gift of tongues for everyone?

The gift of tongues is bestowed upon anyone the Holy Spirit chooses. However, Paul encourages us to covet any spiritual gift we desire, which means the Holy Spirit can give it to anyone who desires it for the edification of the church.

Can I learn the gift of tongues?

The gift of tongues cannot be learned; it manifests whenever the Spirit want. Learning it makes the tongue spoken demonic or human.

How can I receive the gift of interpretation?

You can receive the gift of interpretation of tongues if the Holy Spirit decides to give it to you. The Holy Spirit is the one who decides which gift he gives to whom based on our abilities.

How do I know if I have the gift of interpreting tongues?

The obvious sign is that you are able to understand when people speak in tongues because the gift of interpretation of tongues is only for interpreting what is said through the gift of tongues.

There appeared to them tongues resembling fire, which were being t
The Gift of Tongues (and Interpretation of Tongues) 2

Finally, always remember that the gifts given by the Holy Spirit are for the growth of the church. If you have the gift of tongues, use it for the benefit of the body of Christ.

References

TONGUES THE “SPIRITUAL GIFT” VS TONGUES THE “PRAYER LANGUAGE”

Four Types of Tongues Found in the Bible

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