Interpretation of Spiritual Tongues
How to Interpret Spiritual Tongues
Do you have the spiritual gift of tongues? Perhaps you don't, but know someone who does. Did you know you can ask God for any gift He offers and when you trust Him to give you this gift, He will do it? A list of the Spiritual gifts is shown in 1 Corinthians 12. These differ from the fruit of the Spirit shown in Galatians 5:22-23.
You might wonder how or why God would give such a holy gift to an unholy person. We are all sinful. But when we get "saved" or "born again", our sin is washed away. By His death and resurrection, we receive His Spirit when we ask Him into our hearts and yield to His baptism (see hub John and Jesus: About BAPTISM). The Spirit can only dwell in a holy place. We are not holy of ourselves, but Jesus is. Because of Him, the Spirit can now dwell in us, even while we are yet stuggling with sin. That's why Jesus says in John 14:6 that He is the way, the truth and the life; no man can come to the Father except through Him. 1 Corinthians 5:21 states that He [God] made Him [Jesus/God in the flesh - 1 Tim 3:16 KJV] who knew no sin to become sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.
Acts 19:2 “'Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?' And they said to him, 'No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit." Verse 6 “And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they began speaking with tongues and prophesying.”
I prayed for the gift of tongues years ago, and shortly after a couple came up to me and asked, "Have you asked God for the baptism of the Holy Spirit; for the gift of tongues?" I was ever so glad! They explained the laying on of hands and after they laid hands on me in prayer, I experienced releasing my innermost soul by praying in a new language given by God. It's a perfect and spiritual prayer. There are no rules to the syllables or usage; I just let my spirit flow. But how in the world did I know what I was saying?
What about when another prays over YOU in tongues? How do you know what is being said? How can you trust such a supernatural thing? It can seem very frightening (as in awe)!
I Corinthians 13:1 states that Paul spoke with tongues of men and of angels. Both need interpreting when speaking to another person. However, we can pray in the Spirit and trust His Spirit (who is Jesus interceding for us) to pray His perfect will.
Romans 8:26 states "In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words;". This is what is meant by 1 Corinthians 14:4a "He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself"
The Bible states in 1 Corinthians 14:13: Therefore let one who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret. How is this possible? You must pray for this gift first. I tested this when I first asked God for the gift of interpretation. In a Christian meeting, a woman spoke out to the group in a tongue. I meditated on the Lord while she spoke and spiritually "heard" with my own understanding. I dared not "interpret" to the group until I had confirmation that what I thought of was accurate. I listened to another person interpret. Indeed, a pastor gave the same interpretation, except in his own words!
Before we go any further, it is important to note that 'translation' and 'interpretation' are two different things. Anyone can translate a human language; spiritual tongues cannot be translated; they are interpreted.
Translate - to reproduce a written or spoken text in a different language while retaining the original meaning (i.e. toda / eucharisteó soi = thank you). The Hebrew and Greek text was translated into many languages.
Interpret - to establish or explain the meaning or significance of something. For instance, the Angel gave the interpretation of the dream to Daniel: Dan 7:17 "The four great beasts (dream) are four kingdoms that will rise from the earth (interpretation)."
This is how interpretation works. Imagine you are looking at a painting. Perhaps you are standing next to a blind person or talking on the phone with someone who can't see the painting. You need to describe what you see to the blind person or the one on the phone using your own words. Someone else viewing the same painting may describe it a bit differently. Both of you speak English, but both of you may choose different words to describe the same painting to others.
Likewise, when you pray in tongues or hear a tongue given to the church, don't listen to the spiritual language as though you can piece it together like an earthly language. Instead, meditate as you pray or hear the spiritual tongue to "see the painting", then describe what you see. It should be confirmed by others as accurate.
What if no one else confirms? How do you know the message is from God? One answer: it has to agree with the Bible. If it is contradictory to the Bible, it is not of God. Remember that when Moses went before Pharaoh to set the Israelites free, God gifted Moses with miraculous signs to prove to the King he was sent by God. Pharaoh also had magicians that could do the very same things! Remember this: signs and wonders FOLLOW THEM that believe (Mark 16:17-20). We are not necessarily to FOLLOW AFTER signs and wonders, but to know that the Word (Bible) is confirmed by them.
This brings us to the responsibility you must carry when yielding to the gift of tongues and interpretation. You need to KNOW the Bible. Know how to study it to test whether the interpretation is truly in alignment with God's Word. If you look up Precepts Ministries online, Kay Arthur is an excellent instructor with study tools to help you. Many churches offer Precepts studies or "inductive" Bible study classes. They will teach you how to use a concordance, a Bible dictionary, and how to cross-reference. You can learn how to study just a word, a verse, a chapter, a character, theme or doctrine thoroughly. I have also written a hub to give you a good example of how to do inductive Bible study. The link is below.
I recommend reading my hub Healed of Spinal Meningitis! to see the miraculous knowledge and power that comes when yielding to speaking in tongues and receiving the revelation of the truth of God. AMAZING.
How To Do An Inductive Bible Study Hub:
- How to do an Inductive Bible Study
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