Series that considers the Gifts given by the Holy Spirit to Believers
page is one of a number that seeks to provide basic study material for
the Christian who wishes to see what the Bible says about the gifts
of the Spirit.
in practice, there so often seems to be confusion about the gift of
interpretation, we will add this additional note to the general notes
on tongues and interpretation. So often in practice we hear the “interpretation”
being given in the form of a prophecy, which is quite the opposite of
what the Scriptures indicate it is.
we do in our practices as “church” we should seek to be guided by Scripture.
In this area, there is plenty of guidance. We should do all we
can to ensure we are careful in our interpretation of God's word.
Paul's Teaching in 1 Corinthians 14
anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God .
is very clearly speaking TO God
everyone who prophesies speaks to men
therefore comes from God to men
he who speaks in a tongue edifies himself but he who prophesies edifies
blesses the individual, prophecy the church
unless he interprets so that the church may be edified
can edify or bless the church
if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you unless
I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction?
first sight, this verse and this verse alone gives a possible sense
that the interpretation could be a) revelation from God, b) knowledge
from God, c) prophecy from God or d) a word of instruction from God
have emphasised in each case “from God” because each of those things
must be from God. In verse 26 they are shown to be distinct from interpretation.
everything in all the surrounding verses (as we've already noted above,
and will go on to note in the following verses) says that tongues
is towards God.
now say, therefore, that the “interpretation” of the tongue is from
God makes a mockery of the word “interpret”.
of hermeneutics suggest that if there appear two possible understandings
of a verse, and one understanding goes contrary to the context, we
should therefore accept the understanding that is in harmony with
than apply the meaning of this verse in a manner that completely reverses
all that Paul has said and is going on to say, an alternative interpretation
of it could be arrived at by simply adding the implied word at the
end of the verse, “as well”. An even better understanding is suggested
at the end of these notes.
then goes on to emphasise the point he has been previously making.
If you want to edify or build up the church you do need to do it in
a language everyone understands, and tongues doesn't do that.
for if I pray in a tongue
note direction - pray - to God
if you are praising God with your spirit
- praising - towards God
you may be giving thanks… but the other man is not edified
- giving thanks - to God
everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue
or an interpretation
Paul lists a variety of things that people can bring in the gathering,
a list of different things
and interpretation are therefore listed as distinctly different from
a word of instruction or a revelation, to confirm what we've said
in verse 6.
Listing particular applications
confirm the point made immediately above, in these verses Paul makes
particular comment of the various gifts and covers tongues (v.27),
interpretation (v.27,28), prophecy (v.29) and revelation (v.30).
again, prophecy and revelation are set against and distinct from interpretation.
Paul is distinguishing between prophecy and tongues
the “interpretation of the tongue” to be prophecy blurs his whole
tongue is clearly towards God and to make the “interpretation” from
God makes a mockery of language. [Vines Expository Dictionary : interpretation
= to explain fully the meaning of words in a different language. Not
to change the meaning. Interpretation declares the meaning of the
prayer, praise, thanksgiving that comes via the spirit.]
at Pentecost - Acts 2:4,11
when understood as literal foreign languages here is heard to be praises
of God - towards God.
for the Gentiles - Acts 10:46
again were heard to be praising God - towards God.
So What is the Interpretation?
all that has gone before we see that tongues, as distinguished from
prophecy, is prayer to God.
interpretation must, therefore, be an interpretation of a prayer.
we know that when we pray we often find ourselves being inspired in
the way we pray, and our prayer may have a revelatory edge to it,
a prophetic edge, or even an edge of knowledge about a situation,
but it is still prayer.
the communion of the Holy Spirit with our spirit is at the innermost
or deepest level of our being, the expression of this communion frequently
has a most beautiful aspect to it.
that innermost prayer is revealed through interpretation, the impact
on the listeners is indeed edification, but not merely through the
mind, but to the spirit as well. When brought “in the right
direction” the interpretation of tongues can add a new beautiful dimension
to our times of worship.
we would suggest, is the beauty of interpretation, which is so often
missed when, through misunderstanding of Scripture, the “interpreter”
turns it round and turns it into prophecy.
with any gift, increased use of the gift brings greater understanding
of it and greater expression of it. By this the church will be blessed
and built up and hopefully God will be glorified in a greater way
than is normally seen in many worship meetings.