Tongues And Interpretation


The infilling of the Holy Spirit is an experience subsequent to conversion.

This comes about through a process of yielding the complete person into

guidance and indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Have you received the Holy Spirit since you believed? Acts 19:2

Two expressions should be qualified here.


1. (a) Baptism in the Holy Spirit does not refer to conversion, whereby the believer is placed into the Body of Christ by faith in His redeemed work on the cross (1 Corinthians 12:13).

(b) The Baptism in or with the Holy Spirit – John 1: 33 and Acts 1: 5.

Is directed by the Lord Jesus Christ to be received – John 20: 22 and Acts 1: 8.

As a “Gift” given following His ascension.

  1. By a process of yielding the complete person. This does not mean passivity of mind or a self-hypnotic or trance-like state: rather refers to an assertive heartfelt quest for God. The mind is actively worshipping Jesus Christ, the Baptizer, with the Holy Spirit – John 1:33.

    The emotions are warmed, as the Love of God is poured forth into our hearts – Romans 5:5. Our physical being participates, as worship is spoken and expressed with upraised voice in prayer – Acts 4:24 or upraised hands of adoration – Psalm 63:1- 5.


    It is the Language of Devotion:

    This gift is far from simple and far from uniform. It is complex and quite an awesome phenomenon. There are exciting possibilities of joining with the cherubim and seraphim and by participating in the heavenly worship.

    Speaking in tongues is a gift of adoration:

    “The Spirit kept giving them ability to speak forth in languages different from their own in words belonging to dignified and elevated discourse” (Acts 2:4 – Wuest)

    “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance” (NKJV).

  2. ALL may speak in tongues – 1 Corinthians 14:23. Seek and receive the Baptism in the Holy Spirit. Continually be filled with the Spirit to regularly renew your life and ministry.

Exercise your prayer language as a part of the Spirit’s flow in your life – Acts 4:8 and Acts13:9. It is an act of charismatic communication, which results from an overflow of joyful praise from our most inner beings.

“On the last day that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out saying, ‘If anyone thirsts let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the scriptures has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water’” John 7:37-39.

Speaking in Tongues is always permissible to the believer, because it is a form of prayer and communion, and God is always available.

1 Corinthians 14:2 “For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to man but to God, for no one understands him; however in the Spirit he speaks mysteries.”

Clear words – The mind and brain is intensely alive and active, being quickened by the Spirit, and is wholly occupied in co-operating with Him! “The Spirit kept giving them clear and loud expression in each tongue in appropriate words” (Amplified New Testament).

Your speech forming faculties are in full swing, flowing in the Spirit, quickened, communicating, searching, and exploring Spiritual realms!

More than One Language:

1 Corinthians12:10 – Divers, different kinds of tongues.

1 Corinthians 12:28 Varieties of tongues.

Eloquence and Articulation – Control and Intonation. Become HOLY GHOST LINGUISTS.

The difference between the gift of tongues and the gift of prophecy is their direction and their purpose.

The Direction of Tongues is upwards “UP”. The one who speaks in a tongue speaks to God not to human beings – 1 Corinthians 14:2.

The tongues comes from the subconscious depths and the impulse to praise and adore “The Living God” – to sing words which are unintelligible to the conscious mind words of Praise and Worship.


  1. Tongues for personal edification – 1 Corinthians 14:4.
    He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself.
    Supernatural language the Holy Spirit prays through us.
  2. Tongues for Interpretation – 1 Corinthians 14:5.
    Manifestation of Tongues is normally presented in a public meeting – accompanied by Interpretation.

    Speaking in an angelic tongue (“Angeloralia”). In 1 Corinthians 13 Paul declares, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels but have not love, I have become a resounding gong.”
    In 1 Corinthians 14:12-14 it is unlikely that Paul is referring only to

    “xenollalia” (speaking in an unlearnt foreign tongue).

    Paul does differentiate between the tongues of Men and Angels and can also be identified in Acts 2:1-13 which describes the Gift of Tongues (plural) to speak in tongues of Men and Angels.

    The ability to speak in Tongues of Angels – “Glossaiston Angelon”.

    This charismatic ability is done under the powerful anointing of the Holy Spirit. The most common form of Tongues – speech is heavenly rather than earthy language.

  3. Tongues of deep Intercessional Prayer – Romans 8:26.
    Tongues empowers the believer to stand in the gap for his family, church, city or nation, and to intercede for an unknown situation.

  4. Tongues as a sign to the unbeliever – 1 Corinthians 14:22.

As on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:1-11), Holy Spirit transcends the intellect and language barriers – empowering to preach, teach – in a language he has not known.


Speaking in tongues involves more than one kind of language. Luke writes when the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all together in one place when suddenly there came from Heaven a sound like a gust of violent wind and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.

And they saw what happened to them like tongues of fires, which separated and then came to rest on each one of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.

Luke describes their speech in other languages and is referring to the supernatural ability to speak in unlearnt foreign languages. There were many Jewish pilgrims from all over the world nearby, celebrating the Feast of Pentecost.

They heard 120 disciples declaring the wonderful works of God in their

own native language (tongue). The miracle was not that the unbelievers had an experience of a miracle of hearing, or a supernatural gift to understand the disciples but it was that the Holy Spirit had filled the disciples with supernatural tongue and language (“xenolalia”).

Acts 2:8 – the supernatural phenomenon to speak in unlearnt human languages in a way that the glorious wonders of the God are heard and understood.

Paul points out: the Gift of Tongues is something which is not understood by unbelievers – 1 Corinthians 14:23. But in Acts 2 many unbelievers understood the tongues spoken by 120 disciples with no apparent public interpretation.


    Personal Edification:

    1 Corinthians 14:2 – “For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however in the spirit he speaks mysteries.”

    1 Corinthians 14:4 – “He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.”


    The primary purpose for tongues as the gift of the spirit is for private self- edification for spiritual strengthening and worship. It is a unique God- ward gift not a man-ward gift.

    He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself – 1 Corinthians 14:4.

    This is practiced devotionally by the believer in his most intimate and intercessory moments of communication with God as the Holy Spirit moves upon us.

    Public Exhortation:

    1 Corinthians 14:5 – "I wish you all spoke with tongues but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification."

    1 Corinthians14:13 – "Therefore let him who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret."

    Public Tongues calls for integrity in practice as the key for the preservation of order in our fellowship and worship services. It can be a vital and valuable part of worship when placed in its proper setting for the edification of the body.

    The person who speaks in tongues publicly seems to bear the responsibility of interpretation, but 1 Corinthians 12:10 allows for diversity in these two gifts.

    If no interpreter is present, the tongue is to be restrained -1 Corinthians 14:28. Unless indeed he interprets, “that the church may receive edification.”

    1. Tongues are spoken to God. Prophecy is spoken to teach man.
    2. Mysteries (or things not understood) are spoken in Tongues. All things spoken in prophecy are clear.
    3. Tongues edify the speaker. Prophecy edifies the speaker and others.


    4. Tongues enable one to commune with God. Prophecy speaks to man for “edification, exhortation and comfort.”
    5. The prophet is greater than the one who speaks in Tongues, unless the tongues are interpreted and understood.
    6. The speaker must pray for the interpretation. The prophet need not, for his message is in his own Tongue.

    Prompting by the Holy Spirit.

    An awareness that God wants to use you in this way. Bubbling up from within.

    Tongues – “ALL may speak in Tongues” – 1 Corinthians 14:23.

    Speaking in Tongues is ALWAYS permissible to the believer, because it is a form of prayer, and Communion with God is always available –

    1 Corinthians 14:2.

    Do all speak with tongues?

    1 Corinthians 12:30 – “No,” all do not use tongues as a gift ministry “in the church,” but devotionally all may do so, and should do so!

    The context of 1 Corinthians 12:14-31 is “balance in the occurrence of ministries and gifts” which is why it may seem contradictory.

    Chapter 14, however, explains “the correct use of Spiritual Gifts”, and the indications and implications are very clear and strong throughout the chapter that:


    • An Awareness that God wants to use you in this way.
    • Accessibility and Availability of the Flow of Tongues.
    • Rivers, not a trickle! – John 7:37-39.
    • Riches of might (Greek is “Dunamai”) in the inner man – Ephesians 3:16.
  • The tongue kindles a fire – James 3:5-12.
  • Edifying the Church and public exhortation – 1 Corinthians 14:2-5.
  • A sign to unbelievers – 1 Corinthians 14:22.
  • God is glorified – 1 Corinthians 14:25.
  • Personal edification – Jude 20. “Build yourself up in faith by praying in tongues.”


    The Eight Ministries Of Speaking In Tongues:

    1. PRAYER “Building yourself up in your most Holy Faith, praying in the Holy Spirit” – Jude 20.
    2. SONG – Tongues is my “love language” to the Lord.
    3. “I will sing with the Spirit” – 1 Corinthians 14:15. “Spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” – Ephesians 5:19.
    4. THANKSGIVING – Declare the wonderful works of God – 1 Corinthians 14:14-17.
    5. WORSHIP IN SPIRIT AND TRUTH – “God is spirit and those who
    6. worship Him must worship in Spirit and in Truth” – John 4:24. Worship God frequently, employing your spiritual language as well as your understanding.
    7. WORSHIP and PRAISE – Wonderful works of God – Acts 2:11.
    8. MAGNIFICATION – “For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God” – Acts 10:46. “Glossolalia” sign of the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit.
    9. INTERCESSION“The Spirit Himself makes intercession for us with groaning which cannot be uttered,” and other expressions of our heart and spirit in prayer, and are taken by the Holy Spirit and made into effectual intercession before the Throne of God – Romans 8:26-28.
    10. EDIFICATION – Paul says, “I wish you all spoke with tongues”

    1 Corinthians 14:5. "I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all."


    In 1 Corinthians 14:18 Paul did not depreciate tongues as a lesser gift, but thanked God for the self-edification afforded by the full measure of the gift in his own devotional life.


  • All clearly show tongues are a flow from man’s spirit to God! – 1 Corinthians 14:14-17.
  • Its purpose and function is to minister to the Lord! – 1 Corinthians 14:2; Acts10:46.
  • Its purpose is not as a message to man!
    Even though understood on this occasion, yet not directed to man!

    (Are tongues meant to be understood? Sometimes) – Acts 2:11.

  • Are they a known language? Only as an exception! Otherwise, why did God provide interpretation?
  • No one understands! – 1 Corinthians 14:2.

    “Let all things be done decently and in order” – 1 Corinthians 14:40. Must be interpreted, otherwise keep silent. (corporate) – 1 Corinthians 14:27-2.

    The basis of all gifts is love, not the experience of a Gift.

    The Gift requires administration of Spiritual Authority in the local congregation.

    The Word demands that we judge (“discern”) 1 Corinthians 14:29.

    Let there be two or at the most three, each in turn and let one interpret. Not a rigid number but a flexible guideline, to keep the service in balance

    – 1 Corinthians 14:27. For that reason he writes, “Do not forbid speaking in Tongues” – 1 Corinthians 14:39.

    It is a language, not jabber – for the strengthening of the Church – Acts 2:4.

    To confirm that those who exercise gifts actually do pursue love and

    desire Spiritual gifts – 1 Corinthians 13:3 and 1 Corinthians 14:1.


    The Holy Spirit is the author and dispenser of the gifts:

    • The Holy Spirit divides the gifts as He wills!
      No gifts become the exclusive possession of any believer for his personal edification and pride. Gifts are placed in the Church to be exercised by the Body for the mutual edification of the believers – 1 Corinthians 12:1- 11 and as a means for expanded ministry.
    • God knows the prayer need.
    • Gives accurate revelation – the role of Tongues.
    • The devil does not want you to pray.
    • It is beautiful having a heavenly language.
    • It flows out of an earthen vessel.
    • Jesus was the disciples’ Helper, Guide and Teacher. For us the Holy Spirit is our Partner today “He will never leave us nor forsake us.” The Holy Spirit abides with us. He is the Spirit of Truth.

    “He shall give you another Comforter” – John 14:15.

  • You can feel Him. You know when the wind is blowing. MANIFESTATIONS OF HIS PRESENCE:
    "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. However, when the Spirit of Truth has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come” – John 16:12-13.

    1. To reveal Jesus:
      "The Spirit of Truth Who proceeds from the Father, He will testify of Me” – John 15:26.

    2. To Empower believers:
      "And greater works than these he will do because I go to My Father”

      – John 14:12.

    3. Relationship:


    "At that day you will know that I am in My Father and you in Me and I in you" – John 14:20.

    “As the Spirit gave them utterance” – Acts 2:4.

    The Bible says – “They were all filled with the Holy Spirit” and it means that whatever follows goes with whatever preceded it. “And they began to speak with other tongues.”

    God has freely provided. If we do not speak in tongues it is an absence of knowledge – Acts 10:44-46 and Acts 19:1-6.

    While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell.” The Holy Spirit was poured out: “For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God.”


    1. Assurance that: you’ve been baptised in the Holy Spirit.
    2. Tongues will make you strong: “He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself” – 1 Corinthians 14:4. Edify – Spiritually strong – a lot of God’s power.
    3. Tongues make us spiritually sensitive: Helps us become aware of spiritual events and occurrences. Helps increase our sensitivity to the workings of the Holy Spirit. Helps us to discern the moves of the
      Holy Spirit.
    4. Tongues will build your faith: Jude 20 – Stirs up our faith – “But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit.” Makes our faith come alive and it stimulates our ability to trust Him.
    5. Tongues help to clean up our mouth: The tongue is the wildest member of our body. Our tongue can bring Life or Death or Blessing or Curses.
      Maturity = Control over the conduct of our mouth.
      Unbelief = Bad cursing. “The tongue no man can tame” – James 3:8.
    6. Tongues bring a spiritual refreshing: Praying in Tongues everyday keeps us Fresh, Strong, Happy and Invigorated – Isaiah 28:11.
    7. Tongues gives us power to be a witness: “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, even to the ends of the earth” – Acts 1:8. “They will speak with new tongues” – not a foreign language – Mark 16:17.


    8. A Prayer Language: “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance”
      Acts 2:4. One word is a good start. Our prayer language should grow. Our tongue will grow as we keep using it. Our language matures. “Stir up the gift of God.” Prayer in our native language keeps our mind strong and sound – 2 Timothy 1:6.

    9. Our Infirmities: “The Spirit itself makes intercession for us.” He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

    Get a revelation of this Scripture in your life – Romans 8: 26-27.

    Come alive on the inside there’s nothing we cannot overcome.
    No matter how bad it looks in the natural, He will bring you through to victory: not only infirmities, but also crises for your marriage or children. When we don’t know what to do the Holy Spirit helps us with this kind of infirmity. The Holy Spirit illuminates Scripture, and praying in tongues helps these things. He helps us when making major decisions in our life.

    Pray in Tongues – until you get a direct answer.
    Paul speaks about a Charismatic-inspired and indeed miraculous phenomenon – the Gift to interpret Glossolalia into the language of the congregation.

    We need to distinguish between two main kinds of Glossolalia. “Xenolalic” – A miracle of speech (not hearing) to speak in an unlearnt foreign language. The crowds did not need an interpretation because they heard the disciples speaking in their own languages (Acts 2:8). “Angelolalia” – Here Paul is referring to the public use of Glossolalia in the church assembly. The Tongue is primarily the Tongues of Angels, which is the transcendent, heavenly language of worship and adoration used by the Angels.
    In the local congregation, the Holy Spirit inspires us to use the Gift of Tongues and, when true interpretation is inspired, this is a miracle of hearing, and the ability to translate the language of the Angels. This is a miraculous work of the Holy Spirit.

    Paul states in 1 Corinthians 14:2 – the speaker of Tongues – speaks mysteries to God in his spirit. He speaks to God, secret mysteries known only in Heaven – Language of Heaven – Revelation 14:2.



    The importance and value of public tongues and interpretation has been underestimated. The sound of tongues in the Body of Christ testifies to the resurrection, ascension, coronation and life of Jesus – Acts 2:33; Exodus 28:33-35.

    The hem (skirts) of the high priest’s garments represent the Body of Christ – the anointing flows from the Head (Christ) down through the beard, to the rest of the Body of Christ, the hem (Psalm 133).

    When the tongues of the bells ring, you know the high priest (Jesus) is alive!


    Nature and Purpose:

    Interpretation is not Translation! In Luke 24:27 – Interpretation is explaining fully the meaning, intent and purpose of the Spirit as expressed in the tongue, and is coloured by the personality of the person interpreting,
    i.e. if flowery or plain language, brief or detailed in speech. This accounts for different duration of the tongues spoken and the interpretation given!


    In 1 Corinthians 14:13-17 Paul teaches clearly that interpretation should be identical in nature and content to the specific nature and content of the tongue spoken! The gift of Interpretation the person will receive is revelation from the Holy Spirit as to the meaning of the utterance not word-forword translation but an interpretation with the essence of the message. The interpretation may be longer or shorter in length than the tongue.


    This means the Body or Local Congregation will be encouraged (built up) and strengthened in the Lord – 1 Corinthians 14:5. When the Gift of Interpretation is in operation, the word “Hermencia” = Interpretation explains and expresses what is said that is unclear or obscure into words of inspired clarity.

    Eight Functions of Tongues and Interpretation: It follows then that Tongues of:

  • PRAYER should be interpreted as PRAYER.
  • SONG should be interpreted as SONG.
  • THANKSGIVING should be interpreted as THANKSGIVING.
  • WORSHIP should be interpreted as WORSHIP.
  • PRAISE should be interpreted as PRAISE.
  • MAGNIFICATION should be interpreted as MAGNIFICATION.
  • INTERCESSION should be interpreted as INTERCESSION.
  • EDIFICATION should be interpreted EDIFICATION.
    The content and direction of interpretation should be similar to the tongues it interprets.

    If Tongues is ministry to the Lord (1 Corinthians 14:2) then Interpretation should also be ministry to the Lord! And it should consist of at least eight distinct flows! These eight ministries of Tongues and Interpretation are all dynamically directional towards God.

    SIX of them are powerful, inspirational flows capable of glorifying and exalting God.

    Therefore they have the potential to quicken, inspire, liberate and set free the church in a special and unique manner! This paves the way for other gift flows because faith and revelation are quickened by the six ministries (possible exception: intercession). This is in line with a basic principle God has taught us: Ministry to the Lord is a priority and brings about the special revelation of the Spirit of the purposes of God for the body of Christ! – Acts 13:2.


    Tongues with Interpretation are chiefly a “love ministry” to the Lord! If the nature of interpretation were to be simply exhortation, edification and comfort (the definition of prophecy), why would God duplicate a gift?

    Excellence in Spiritual Gifts is attained by those who speak in Tongues exercising Interpretation as well – either of their own or others’ utterance in tongues – 1 Corinthians 14:12, 13 & 27. One reason we have not reached this excellence is lack of sound vision of God’s full purpose in this wonderful pair of gifts! Notice that no one who speaks in Tongues is excluded from the exciting potential of Interpretation! – 1 Corinthians 14:13.

    Interpretation is Great and Special:

    Prophecy is singled out as special, and is greater than speaking in tongues, but if interpreted is of equal value! – 1 Corinthians 14:1 & 5. Prophecy is singled out because it blesses all! A “Shotgun effect.” So, likewise interpretation! Other gifts are often more like a “rifle shot.”

    N.B. The effect of interpretation is equal in value, but not one and the same in nature, purpose or content!! In 1 Corinthians 12:7-11, Paul lists the Nine Spiritual Gifts. Two of those Nine Gifts, i.e. Gift of Diverse (many) kinds of Tongues and the Gift of Interpretation of Tongues, are “married” and function as one. When there comes forth Tongues in a

    meeting, there should always come an Interpretation. When these two gifts manifest together they have the same effect as the Gift of Prophecy.

    The Vocal Gifts are – Tongues, Interpretation of Tongues, and Prophecy. God uses these to communicate to people – they are also known as Utterance Gifts.


    When the Gift of Tongues and Interpretation manifest in a meeting:

  • They often come without warning.
  • Someone in the meeting, or Leadership team, will speak out.
  • It could be an unknown language.
  • If we are discerning in the Spirit, we will sense these gifts are present.
    If you are sensing a “tongue,” it does not necessarily mean you are to give it.


    Remain still – When unction comes you will have a strong knowing.

    It will feel like it’s “boiling up” from within you; like water boiling on the stove.

  • As the heat gets hotter it will bubble up and overflow.
  • An unction will just keep coming up in you stronger and stronger until you can’t hold it back. Boom! What happened? – God used you to manifest the Gift of Tongues.
    Those in the congregation are now supposed to wait for someone to give the interpretation. The same person could give the interpretation, or someone else clear across the room. When a public Tongue comes, there is to be an interpretation, event, and time so that everyone in the room can understand – 1 Corinthians 14:27-28.

    If you have a new person in the meeting, you do not leave him asking,

    “What in the world was that?”

    If an unbeliever comes into the church – and they hear someone speaking in Tongues – won’t they think you are crazy?!

    No, Tongues are a sign to those who are not saved, as well as to those who have not received the fullness of the Holy Spirit yet! – 1 Corinthians 14:22.

    Tongues are a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not.

    I have seen some churches embarrassed about the Gift of Tongues and Interpretation.

    Tongues are a sign to the visitor.

    Religion gets upset about Tongues. In 1 Corinthians 14:39, Paul said: “Therefore brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy and do not forbid to speak with Tongues.”



    What if there is no interpretation? There is a person in the meeting who received the Interpretation . . . but is holding back. They grieve the Spirit of God. Someone else will give it. The gift will flow if the congregation is fluent in Spiritual things – and have no fear among them.

  • If I reach out to God I will usually get the gist of it.
  • There could be a series of Tongues in the meeting.
  • Fear can cause us to stop flowing. Everyone thinks you’re crazy – you’re nuts!
  • Quieten your mind down so your spirit can have freedom to do what it needs to do.
  • Are you afraid of making a mistake if you speak it out?
  • What if my Tongue and Interpretation is not right? We will not embarrass you we will help you. The Spirit of God will make the adjustments.
  • When it comes just give it. We need to hear the Holy Spirit speak. Let’s hear the Holy Spirit talk to us. We can usually sense when the Spirit of God is going to move.


“Wherefore let him that speaks in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret” – 1 Corinthians 14:13.

Interpret what?? That which he prays in an unknown tongue? This verse does not pertain to the Gift of Tongues and Interpretation for public assembly, but about interpreting our own prayer language.

How then do we receive an interpretation of our personal prayer language? By the operation of the Gift of Interpretation.

Make time for the interpretation. Allow the Lord to speak to you in great detail about what you are praying about! While praying in Tongues you could instantly understand as the Holy Spirit starts interpreting your personal language.

Len and Linda Buttner
Eagle Ascend Ministries