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  • Writer's pictureSteve McAtee

Tongues & Interpretation

Updated: Nov 3, 2020

Notes completed by Marty Zide and Steve McAtee

Tongues were the God-given ability to speak in another language. On Pentecost people heard people speaking their own native language by those who did not know it. The gift of interpretation gave an individual the opportunity to interpret a language that they did not know or understand.

1 Cor. 12:10 - to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues.

A couple of observations will lead us in the right direction in our understanding of these gifts.

Tongues were a sign to Israel Tongues were a sign to unbelievers Tongues required an interpreter Tongues had to be done in an orderly fashion

1 Cor. 14:21 - In the Law it is written, “By men of strange tongues and by the lips of strangers I will speak to this people, and even so they will not listen to Me,” says the Lord.

1 Cor. 14:22 - So then tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophecy is for a sign, not to unbelievers but to those who believe.

1 Cor. 14:23 - Therefore if the whole church assembles together and all speak in tongues, and ungifted men or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are mad?

1 Cor. 14:27-28 - If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at the most three, and each in turn, and one must interpret; but if there is no interpreter, he must keep silent in the church...

From 1 Cor. 13:8, it seems that tongues ceased along with some other temporary gifts.

1 Cor. 13:8 - Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away.

7. Apostleship

This gift has a limited and unlimited meaning to it. In its’ limited sense, it refers to the 12, plus Matthias and Paul. In its’ unlimited sense, it refers to one who is sent or a messenger. The word missionary comes from the Latin word for the apostle. Since all are sent into the world to make disciples, all true believers can be said to be apostles or better, missionaries in the general sense.

1 Cor. 12:28 - And God has appointed in the church, first apostles.

According to Eph. 2:20, the church was built upon the apostles and prophets. Neither of these gifts is functioning at the present time. However, early on, they were absolutely essential.

Eph. 3:20 - having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus Himself being the corner stone.

8. Knowledge

This is possibly one of the least understood of the gifts. Although we as believers are commanded to grow in knowledge, there was a gift of knowledge that was to be phased out. Today, knowledge comes by working and studying hard with diligence so we can accurately interpret and explain the Word of God.

1 Cor 12:8 - For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit.

The gift involved the supernatural ability to receive an oral revelation or a written revelation that was to be added to the Word of God. It has nothing to do with supposedly knowing that something is happening to someone, usually out of town concerning healing.

We should be thankful for all that the Lord has chosen to reveal to us about Himself. Although we can learn much about the Godhead here, we will spend eternity getting to know our great God.

May God Bless You.


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