Building up believers and the New Testament church

Spiritual Gifts

"...To another the interpretation of tongues..."

Interpretation of tongues is a supernatural showing forth, by the Spirit, of the meaning of an utterance in other tongues. This interpretation is not an operation of the mind of the one interpreting, but of the mind of the Spirit of God. The interpreter, or the one who is exercising the gift of interpretation, never understands the tongue he is interpreting. The interpretation is just as much a miracle as the original utterance of tongues. Both utterances are equally direct from the mind of the Spirit of God. We see very plainly by reading the fourteenth chapter of I Corinthians that the gift of interpretation of tongues is dependent entirely upon the operation of the gift of tongues.

Unless the gift of tongues is in operation there can be no interpretation of tongues. With the gift of prophecy this is not so, and we see in the fourteenth chapter of I Corinthians that tongues with interpretation is considered equal with the gift of prophecy. Both gifts are for use in the assembly of believers. The gift of interpretation is not the translation of tongues, but an interpretation or declaration of the tongues--declaring the meaning of the message brought forth in tongues. The Greek word in the original means to explain thoroughly; it does not mean to translate.

There is one important fact pertaining to the three utterance gifts used in the assembly of believers, and this should be held utmost in the mind of the believers when the gifts are in operation. When the gift of tongues is brought, the believers should reverence the supernatural utterance of the Spirit. They should listen for the interpretation of that tongue in order to understand what God is saying to them, and that they might be edified, exhorted, and comforted. For too long we have not given the voice of God its proper reverence or place in our worship service, so let us reverence the gifts of God that we might be edified, and go forth when we have been built up in Him, to accomplish his purpose in our lives.

We do not feel that scripture has put any limits on the amount or number of manifestations of these gifts, but the believer should be wise and all things done for edification. If gifts are used in excess continually, they could lose their effectiveness in fulfilling the purpose of God. In many gatherings the gifts themselves are glorified rather than being used to build up the church in Christ. The scriptures reveal that the spirit of the prophet is subject unto the prophets, so let us be wise in all things, that the Lord might be glorified as the Head of His body.

In closing this discussion of gifts of the Spirit, let us say this: God has put gifts in the midst of the church that He might use all members; therefore let no one monopolize the gifts of the Spirit, but let us wait on the Lord, that He might use all the members who will yield to the Spirit.

"But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ." (I Corinthians 12:11,12)