1 Corinthians 12:10 – To another is given the interpretation of tongues.

Seven of the Gifts of the Spirit are common to both Testaments, but two gifts, the gift of tongues and the gift of interpretation of tongues have come into operation since the Day of Pentecost. The gift of interpretation of tongues is the only gift dependent upon another. It could have no meaning without the gift of tongues.

Interpretation of Tongues is the supernatural showing forth by the Spirit of God the meaning of an utterance in tongues. It is not an operation of the mind of an individual, but of the Mind of the Spirit of God. The interpreter never understands the tongue being interpreted. The interpretation is just as much a miracle as the original utterance in tongues. The purpose of the gift is to render the gift of tongues intelligible to others, so that the church may be edified (I Corinthians 14:5, 27).

Note, it is “the gift is interpretation of tongues, not the translation of tongues. A “translation” is a rendering from one language to another in equivalent words. An interpretation is a declaration of the meaning (1 Corinthians 14:11). The Greek word means to explain thoroughly. Many varieties of expression might be used and many details added without altering the sense of the words. This explains why sometimes the message in tongues is much briefer than the interpretation. The speaker is not translating, but interpreting. The Holy Spirit is explaining the meaning in a miracle of utterance called the “gift of interpretation.”

There are two reasons, I suggest, why this gift is not experienced as much as other gifts. First, as Paul explains in the fourteenth chapter of First Corinthians, the gift is given to bring understanding to the church when the gift of tongues is exercised to declare the gospel in the known language of an unbeliever coming into the assembly. Paul encourages in the church gathering the use of the gift of prophecy where no interpretation is needed. In the early days of the Pentecostal movement in the twentieth century, tongues and interpretation were common. Today, the gift of prophecy is emphasized for the corporate gathering. Tongues are encouraged for one’s prayer life, bringing balance to these gifts and a great alignment to Paul’s teachings.

You may or may not ever operate in this gift of the Spirit. Yet today, ask the Lord for a great sensitivity to the Spirit’s presence and His desire to use you to help another understand more perfectly God’s mind and His will for them.