The interpretation of speaking in tongues
Interpretation translates, according to the spirit and the letter, the words spoken by the one speaking in tongues. Under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, someone who does not speak English may start speaking perfect English, and someone who has never heard English may translate it faithfully into a language understood by all. When these two individuals are no longer under the influence of the Holy Spirit, they will not be able to speak a single word of English, let alone interpret it.
Let’s clarify the meaning of interpretation in Daniel 5:24-30:
“Therefore he sent the hand that wrote the inscription. This is the inscription that was written: mene, mene, tekel, and parsin. And this is the interpretation of the words. Mene: God has numbered the days of your reign and brought it to an end. Tekel: You have been weighed on the scales and found wanting. Parsin: Your kingdom is divided and given to the Medes and Persians. Then at Belshazzar’s command, Daniel was clothed in purple, a gold chain was placed around his neck, and he was proclaimed the third highest ruler in the kingdom. That very night Belshazzar, king of the Chaldeans, was slain.“
This passage provides a clear explanation of interpretation. One day, the king celebrated his birthday. He and his guests used sacred vessels taken from the temple of Jerusalem to drink and eat in honor of their idols.
During the feast, they saw the hand writing on the wall. The king became frightened and called the Chaldeans, astrologers, magicians, and diviners, who could not tear the writing, let alone provide an explanation.
The king was even more terrified. The queen informed him that there was a slave among the Jews named Daniel, who had the spirit of God in him and could explain these things. Daniel was summoned. When Daniel arrived, he deciphered the writing and interpreted it. The Holy Spirit that inspired this writing also gave Daniel the explanation.
Interpretation is a gift from the Holy Spirit. The gift of interpreting languages can enable us to interpret all languages of the world and even that of angels. Speaking in tongues can become a song on our lips, which will also lead the interpreter to sing. It is a great gift. Paul recommends that the one speaking in tongues should pray for the gift of interpretation (1 Corinthians 14:13). He also advises every interpreter to exercise self-control and not immediately launch into interpretation because the one with the gift of speaking in tongues may also have the gift of interpretation.
If, after speaking, they do not interpret, this is when the one with the gift of interpretation comes into play. Paul also calls for discipline in gatherings, as in 1 Corinthians 14:26-28:
“What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up. If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and to God.“
In prayer assemblies, there are Christians who want to be the only ones to interpret. This reflects their selfishness. It is often necessary to know when to be silent and listen to others interpret.
Let us not imagine ourselves to be the only ones capable of interpreting and take advantage of it to mislead others. One day, I was at a Bible conference and was entrusted with the intercession part of the conference. While I was speaking in tongues, an elderly woman decided to invent an interpretation. But thanks to the discernment of spirits, I knew it did not come from God. However, I was uncomfortable humiliating her in public.
At the end of the prayer, I went to meet her and reproached her for her act. She immediately admitted her subterfuge and said she took the initiative to interpret my words to edify the group.
Just like other gifts, we should aspire to the gift of speaking in tongues and the gift of interpretation.
This text is an excerpt from the book “The new discovery of the Holy Spirit” written by Prophet Emmanuel SAWADOGO.