Languages and Interpretation of Languages

Two important supernatural abilities given to some in the early church were the ability to speak and interpret languages they could not formerly speak or understand.

There are many differing beliefs and opinions about the gift of languages given on the Festival of Pentecost after the death and resurrection of Christ, and Paul's reprimand and instructions regarding these supernatural abilities given to the elect at Corinth.

A major problem in understanding the use of these supernatural abilities is that we are dealing with a subject whose history has been lost, with the exception of the biblical account. There is a reason for everything God does, and so it is with the supernatural ability to speak and interpret languages.

Christ's Promise

"Afterward he appeared to the eleven as they sat eating, and reprimanded them for their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe the ones who saw him after he had risen. And he said to them, you go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believes and is baptized shall be saved and he that does not believe shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name they shall cast out devils; they shall speak with new languages. They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover" (Mk.16:14-18 Para.).

Many people feel that Christ said that all true Christians will speak in new languages. However, a careful analysis of his statement "These signs shall follow them" shows that he was making a general statement. There does not seem to be anything in the original Greek language indicating that all of the signs (i.e., supernatural abilities) Christ mentioned would be given to each of the elect. The apostle Paul confirms this analysis in 1.Corinthians, chapter 12 when he wrote of different supernatural abilities being given to individuals.

Christ mentions the supernatural ability to speak new languages (i.e., new to the individual) as one of the things that will be evident among the elect as they proclaim the good news message. And the apostle Paul speaks of the interpretation of languages along with many other supernatural abilities given to the elect:

"But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same spirit; To another faith by the same spirit; to another the gift of healing by the same spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another different kinds of languages; to another the interpretation of languages" (1.Cor.12:7-10 KJV).

The following are four questions about the supernatural ability to speak and interpret languages that need to be answered in order to understand why these abilities were necessary in the early church and why they will be necessary to fulfill Christ's prophetic statement: "And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness to all nations; and then shall the end come" (Matt.24:14):

  1. Why is there a need to speak in a foreign language?

  2. Why is there a need for an interpreter?

  3. Are these abilities just an enhancement of a person's existing abilities or are they totally new?

  4. Are the accounts found in Acts, chapter 2 and 1.Corinthians, chapters 12, 13, and 14 speaking of the same things?

  5. A good place to begin finding answers to these questions is in Acts, chapter 2 where the gift of languages is first mentioned.

In the Fullness of Time

"When the Day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the holy spirit and began to speak in other languages as the spirit enabled them" (Acts 2:1-4 NIV Para.).

No biblical or historical record of a similar event can be found before the advent of Christ. Moreover, nowhere in the record of the early church does the exact same thing happen again, and we do not find it happening in this age of the church. This was a one-time event, which was performed at a specific moment in history for a specific purpose. For an explanation of verses 1-4 get a copy of the Book Synagogue of Satan and Doctrines of Demons, ISBN 978-0-9844608-8-5 and review Chapter 19, The Tongues Question or visit

The Meeting Place

In Acts, chapter 2 verse 2, the English word house is translated from the Greek word oikos, which means a dwelling (literal or figurative).

The scriptures seem to indicate that the apostles and the others were meeting in one of the open rooms available for the use of people located in the area adjacent to the temple where the money changers and the merchants who sold sacrificial animals were located. This makes sense because of what happens after verse 4.

Four Events

The following are the four supernatural events shown in verses 2-4:

  1. There was a loud sound of wind.

  2. There was an appearance of something like flames of fire resting on these people.

  3. All of these people were filled with the holy spirit and transformed into the Sovereign Father's earthly children.

  4. Each of these individuals was given the supernatural ability to speak languages that they had not previously known.

Tongues of Fire

The writer of Acts very concisely relates the events of this Pentecost which makes it difficult to determine exactly what it was that came to rest on each person:

"They were all filled with the holy spirit and began to speak in foreign languages as the spirit gave them the gift of speech" (Acts 2:4 TLB).

This verse describes a group of people (both men and women) beginning to speak in languages that they had not known how to speak before that moment.

Jerusalem was an international city where many people were most likely already multilingual; however, this supernatural ability enabled them to speak in languages they had not known or learned. This would not only have been surprising to the ones speaking, but also to the ones who knew that some individuals in the group could not speak or understand certain languages or dialects.

"And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. Now when this was spoken about, a multitude came together and were puzzled, because everyone heard them speak in their own language" (Acts 2:5-6 Para.).

This shows that there were people passing by who heard the elect speaking in their own language.

Perhaps a group of individuals passing by heard one of the elect say something about God in a language that they understood and said to their companions, "Did you hear those Galileans speaking about God in my native language"? And another might have said, "They were speaking in my native language."

Because so few details were recorded about the speaking and hearing of these languages, and because this specific type of event has not been repeated according to the historical record, we are left to speculate about the details. However, we can know with certainty why this ability was necessary at that time. The biblical record is very clear about the reason it was given that day, why it was given to other individuals after that Pentecost, and why it will again be given before Christ returns.

"And they were all amazed and wondered, saying one to another, See, are not all these which speak Galileans? How does it happen that each of us hears them in our native language where we were born? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, those residing in Mesopotamia, Judaea, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, parts of Libya about Cyrene, and residence of Rome, Jews and proselytes, Cretes and Arabians, we hear them speak in our language the wonderful works of God" (Acts 2:7-11 Para.).

These Galileans were all heard speaking in the various languages and dialects of the individuals who came from many different countries and language groups.

Perhaps this supernatural ability to speak other languages was not only a miracle of speaking, but also of hearing (i.e., words spoken in one language being translated into the recipients’ language either audibly or into their mind).

There are at least 17 different languages referred to in Acts, chapter 2. What was so astonishing to those present was the fact that each person heard the wonderful works of God spoken in their own native language.

"And they were amazed and were in doubt, saying one to another, What does this mean? Others mocking said, These men are full of new wine [i.e.,wine with a high alcohol content]" (Acts 2:12-13 Para.).

Many people clearly understood what was being said, whereas others apparently did not, because they thought those speaking were drunk. This seems to indicate that those who did not understand what was being said thought they were hearing meaningless gibberish.

It seems clear that both speakers and hearers were the beneficiaries of a special miracle. There was no incoherent speech, no unknown languages to decipher, no interpreters were needed—all those who were intended to hear and understand what was being said did.

But, did those who were speaking know what they were saying in another language? If those speaking knew what they were saying in another language, they must have been extremely surprised at their new knowledge and ability. One possibility is that those who spoke, did so in their native language and then what they said supernaturally translated into another language or as many languages as necessary for the people listening. But we will not know what the speakers experienced until this ability is given to those who need it to perform their functions and responsibilities as members of the Father's earthly family a short time before Christ returns. See Matt.24:14.

Fulfilment of Prophecy

What we know for certain is that the giving of this supernatural ability to the early church was a fulfillment of a prophecy recorded by Joel. In order to explain why the apostles and the others with them had the ability to speak in languages foreign to them, Peter quotes the prophet Joel and says that this was being done in order to fulfill this prophecy about events which would happen in the end of the age of human rule:

"But Peter, stood up with the eleven, and said to them, You men of Judea, and all you that dwell in Jerusalem, know this, and pay attention to my words: For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day [about 9 a.m.]. But this is what was spoken of by the prophet Joel; And it will come to pass in the last days, says God, I will pour out my spirit on all flesh: and your sons and daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out my spirit in those days; and they shall prophesy" (Acts 2:14-18 Para.). See Joel 2:28; Isa.44:3.

The English phrase they shall prophesy in verse 18 is translated from the Greek verb propheteuo, can mean to foretell events, divine, speak under inspiration, or exercise the prophetic office. Depending on the context in which propheteuo is used, it can express more than one of its meanings. Perhaps, both the foretelling of future events and the speaking of divine counsel were being manifested by those speaking.

There is no doubt that on this Festival of Pentecost, both the speakers and the hearers were the beneficiaries of a special miracle. There was no incoherent speech, no unknown languages to decipher, no interpreters were needed—all those who were intended to hear and understand what was being said to them understood it clearly.

Types of Gifts

In his letters to the elect at Corinth, Rome, and Ephesus, the apostle Paul mentions over twenty individual supernatural abilities given to the elect in order for them to perform various functions and responsibilities during the gospel age of salvation. He also states that each of these abilities is given for the purpose of benefiting the entire church and its work:

"But the manifestation of the spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same spirit; To another faith by the same spirit; to another the gift of healing by the same spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another different kinds of languages; To another the interpretation of languages" (1.Cor.12:7-10 KJV Para.).

The record in the Books of Acts and 1.Corinthians show the following four primary purposes for the gift of languages:

  1. To supernaturally proclaim the good news message to people in their native language

  2. To show that the person proclaiming the good news message is sent from God

  3. To educate, instruct, and inspire the elect

  4. To reveal God's mysteries to the elect

Languages within the Congregations

What Paul says about the giving of different supernatural powers to specific individuals in 1.Corinthians, 12:8-10 is the first indication that 1.Corinthians, chapters 12 through 14 may not contain the exact same subject matter discussed in Acts, chapter 2.

"Pursue godly love, and desire the spiritual gifts, but much more that you may prophesy" (1.Cor.14:1 KJV Para.).

The English word spiritual in verse 1 is translated from the Greek word pneumatikos, which refers to the supernatural (i.e., things pertaining to the spirit realm). The use of the word pneumatikos tells us that Paul is urging the elect at Corinth to desire to be spiritual (i.e., righteous) in their thought, attitude, and behavior.

The word gifts is not in the Textus Receptus and was added by the King James translators. The addition of the word gifts obscures Paul's intent to urge the elect to desire things pertaining to godly spirituality (i.e., godly characteristics).

The English phrase you may prophesy is translated from the Greek word propheteuo, which can mean to foretell events, divine, speak under inspiration, exercise the prophetic office. In the context of verse 1, propheteuo means to speak things which are divinely inspired.

The attribute which is to be most sought after and increased is godly love in one's life. And we should desire to have other gifts of the spirit, but even more so the ability to say things which are divinely inspired.

"Therefore speaking a supernaturally acquired language does not speak to people, but to God: for nobody else understands; but in the spirit he speaks mysteries. But he that speaks under divine inspiration speaks to people edifying, and exhorting, and comforting. He that speaks in a foreign language edifies himself; but he that speaks under divine inspiration edifies the church" (1.Cor.14:2-4 Para.).

In order to understand what Paul is attempting to convey to the elect at Corinth in verses 2-4 about their misuse of the gift of languages, we need to remember that there seems to be a problem with some of these elect misusing their supernatural abilities and/or thinking that their supernatural abilities from the Father are the most important. This seems to be especially true with the gift of languages, because Paul goes on to explain in great detail that this ability is to be used to serve, edify the elect, and proclaim the Father's message of salvation.

Edify the Elect

If a man speaks in a language that only he understands, he is only speaking to himself and to God. The phrase edifies himself seems to imply a selfish motivation. In essence, Paul says that a man who is inspired to speak or teach the elect, whether to educate, instruct, inspire, reveal God's mysteries, or foretell future events, should do so to edify the elect, not for personal enjoyment or aggrandizement:

"I would that you all speak with languages but rather that you prophesied: for greater is he that prophesies than he that speaks with languages, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying" (1.Cor.14:5 KJV Para.).

The English words prophesied and prophesies in verse 5 are both translated from the Greek verb propheteuo, which can mean to foretell events, divine, speak under inspiration, or exercise the prophetic office. Because Paul is writing about edifying the elect, it seems logical that in verse 5 propheteuo means to speak under inspiration of the holy spirit.

Paul says that he wished all those who spoke to the congregation in Corinth had the supernatural ability to speak in other languages. However, he wished even more that these men would be inspired speakers who were able to explain God's truth, because the one who can explain God's truth has a far better gift than the one who is multilingual, unless the multilingual preacher or teacher can also explain and expound God's truth in the foreign language with clarity.

The most plausible reason that Paul wanted all who speak to the congregation in Corinth to be multilingual like he was is that the church of Corinth was a multilingual congregation. Remember, this church was in a city that was an ethnic melting pot. Because of this, language would naturally be a barrier to learning. Therefore, multilingual preachers and teachers who could expound the truth of God would be of great benefit to the entire church.

Speak to Convey Understanding

"Now, brethren, if I come to you speaking with languages, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?" (1.Cor.14:6 KJV).

Paul tells them that it would not benefit them if he said something they could not understand, but revealing knowledge and understanding to them was what benefitted them. In verses 7 through 11, he continues this line of thought to reinforce the need to speak in a language that can be understood by everyone in the congregation and to clearly explain what was being said.

"And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped? For if the trumpet gives an unidentifiable sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? So likewise you, except you speak a language and words easily understood, how can it be known what you are saying? for you speak into the air" (1.Cor. 14:7-9 KJV Para.).

Why would a person speak in a language that others do not understand? The only reasons that make sense are self-importance, pride, ego, or vanity.

"There are, it may be, many kinds of sounds in the world, and none of them is without signification. Therefore, if I do not know the meaning of the sound, I shall be to him that speaks a foreigner, and he that speaks a foreigner to me" (1.Cor.14:10-11 KJV Para.).

If there is not intelligent and understandable communication between two people, neither one benefits.

Speak to Edify

"Even so you, forasmuch as you are zealous to be spiritual, endeavor to edify the church. Therefore, let him that speaks in a foreign language pray that he may interpret" (1.Cor. 14:12-13 KJV Para.).

In verses 12-13, Paul mentions the zeal of these men to be spiritual and tells those who were exercising their supernatural ability to speak in other languages that they should endeavor to be extremely proficient in building the congregation.

The English word interpret in verse 13 is translated from the Greek word diermeneuo, which means to explain thoroughly, and by implication, to translate.

If a man is going to speak before the congregation, he should be able to explain in detail what he is saying; otherwise, it is of no benefit to those listening. Therefore, Paul tells the speakers to pray for the ability to explain clearly what they are saying.

Verses 12 and 13 reveal that the elect who use either the gift or natural ability to speak other languages to a multilingual congregation of the elect should ask the Father for the ability to translate (i.e., interpret) what they are saying to those of the congregation who cannot understand the language they are speaking.

When the gift of languages is being used to proclaim the gospel to the unconverted, they hear the message in their native language as documented in Acts, chapter 2, "How does it happen that each of us hears them in his own native languages?" (Acts 2:8 TLB). Therefore, there is no need for an interpreter. But, within a multilingual congregation, there may be a need for individuals who have the ability to translate different languages because the same situation does not exist as with the unconverted of Acts, chapter 2.

Verses 14 through 17 are very confusing in most translations because of the beliefs held about the gift of languages by those who did the translating. Additionally, many words have been added that are not in the Textus Receptus.

The King James translators rendered verse 14: "For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful."

The Living Bible's rendering of verse 14 makes what Paul said more understandable: "For if I pray in a language I don't understand, my spirit is praying, but I don't know what I am saying."

In verse14, Paul speaks of one of the functions of the holy spirit which allows a person to speak in different languages:

"What is it then? Pray with the spirit and pray with understanding also: sing with the spirit, and sing with the understanding also. Otherwise when praising with the spirit, how are those with you to understand and agree with your thankfulness, seeing they do not know what you said? For you truly gave thanks well, but the others are not edified" (1.Cor.14:15-17 KJV Para.).

The English word sing in verse 15 is translated from the Greek word psallo, which is derived from psao (to rub or touch the surface). But seems to be referring to playing on a stringed instrument (perhaps to celebrate worship with music and accompanying odes).

Although the definition of psallo is difficult to determine, it is not difficult to understand that Paul is not speaking of making unintelligible sounds, but of sounds which are easily understood.

When Paul refers to praying, singing, praising, and giving gratitude in the spirit, he is referring to the supernatural ability to communicate in a foreign language which can be understood—not in some unknown language.

Scripture indicates that, if a man who is speaking to the elect in a congregational meeting, speaks in a language that others do not understand, it is only God who understands what is being said.

What also seems to be apparent from the scriptures is that the ability to speak in a supernaturally acquired language is within the control and discretion of the individual with this ability; that person can either speak in their native language or other languages, depending on the circumstances.

Paul Was Multilingual

Because the elect at Corinth knew that Paul could speak many languages, to emphasize the point he was making about using the gift of languages within the congregations of the elect, he said, "I thank my God, I speak with languages more than you all" (1.Cor.14:18 KJV Para.).

Why was Paul thankful that he was multilingual? The following are two plausible answers to this question:

  • Paul not only spoke his native tongue, Aramaic, but also he could read and speak many languages, including the dead language of ancient Hebrew in which the Hebrew scriptures were written. This ability gave him great credibility with the common Jews, as well as the Levitical priesthood, because only the most educated people could read and understand the Hebrew scriptures.

  • Paul was the apostle to the non-Israelites, and the houses of Israel and Judah. Because his travels took him to many distant lands, he needed to know many languages in order to fulfill his commission to preach the gospel to those with whom he came in contact. More than likely, the apostle Paul had the natural ability to speak many languages along with the gift of languages mentioned in the Book of Acts and his letters.


Paul clearly understood that the misuse of the gift of languages by the elect at Corinth was hindering their spiritual growth; therefore, he continued to stress the proper preaching, teaching, and conduct within the congregational setting:

"Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, so as to instruct others also, than ten thousand words in a foreign language. Brethren, do not be children in understanding: but, you be children in wickedness, but in understanding be of full age" (1.Cor.14:19-20 KJV Para.).

Because of the confusion being caused by those who were multilingual within the congregation, Paul instructs them to stop thinking as children, but to keep the innocence of a young child and think as adults.

Unbelievers and Believers

"In the law it is written, With other languages and other lips will I speak to this people; and yet for all this will they not hear me, says the Lord" (1.Cor.14:21 KJV Para.). See Isa.28:11-12.

Verse 21is another indication that, when the gift of languages is being exercised, everyone God wants to understand his message will understand it clearly, but those who he intends to hide it from will not understand it.

In verse 22, Paul explains the two distinctly different uses of the supernatural ability to speak in various languages:

"Therefore languages are for a sign, not for them that believe, but for those who do not believe. But prophesying does not serve those who do not believe, but those that believe" (1.Cor.14:22 KJV Para.).

The evidence for the difference in the usage of this ability is found in the Greek language. The following seems to be a more accurate translation of verse 22 that makes what Paul wrote clear:

"The gift of languages is not a mark or indication for people who believe, but for people who do not believe. But inspired preaching or revelation of divine counsel does not serve people who do not believe, but does serve people who do believe" (1.Cor.14:22 Para.).

The simple truth that Paul explained to the church at Corinth was that, if a man is given the supernatural ability to speak in foreign languages, it is to be used to preach the gospel in an evangelistic manner and for the benefit of the church through teaching and revelation of God's truth and mysteries. It is not to be used as a display of intellectual vanity.

Chaos Versus Order

"If therefore the whole church comes together in one place, and everyone is speaking different languages, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that you are mad?" (1.Cor.14:23 KJV Para.).

Paul says that for the church as a whole to speak in different languages at the same time would give the impression that those who speak are insane.

In verses 24-25, Paul explains the effect a proper use of speaking in foreign languages will have on a person who is visiting a congregation of the elect and is being called to salvation by the Father:

"But if all give divinely inspired messages, and some come in who are ignorant and do not believe. They will be warned by everyone and known by everyone. The secrets of their heart being made public; and so falling down on their face they will worship God, and report that God is actually in you" (1.Cor.14:24-25 KJV Para.).

The ability to speak in many different languages and to interpret what is said is a powerful tool when used to evangelize, instruct, and teach within a multilingual congregation of the elect.

"How is it then, brethren? when you come together, everyone of you has a psalm, has a doctrine, has a foreign language, a revelation, an interpretation. Let all things be done to edifying" (1.Cor.14:26 KJV Para.).

Perhaps the elect at Corinth felt peer pressure to have something spiritual to say when they met together; otherwise, they would feel inferior to other members. Or perhaps this was just an expression of self-importance, ego, pride, or vanity. Whatever the reason, Paul reprimanded them for their wrong attitude and behavior regarding how they were conducting themselves when they met together:

"If any speak in a foreign language, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one translate. But if there is no one to explain what is said, keep silent in the church; and speak to yourself, and to God" (1.Cor.14:27-28 KJV Para.).

In order for Paul's instructions in verse 27 to be followed, the congregation must have either a person who has the supernatural ability to translate languages and explain what is said, or a person who has the natural ability to translate and explain what is said.

Whichever is the case, these men must be known to be in the congregation before the person or persons with the gift of languages can speak to the congregation.

In verses 27 and 28, Paul gives detailed instructions to multilingual speakers about how they should conduct themselves. He says that, if any man is going to speak in multiple languages, he must not use more than two or three languages during his dissertation and he should not mix these languages as he speaks, but he should speak them consecutively. Paul further instructs the speaker to search out interpreters for these languages, but if none can be found, the speaker should not speak to the church; instead, he should keep his thoughts between him and God.

The Interpreter

Several times Paul addresses a need for an interpreter when someone is going to speak to the congregation in a language other than the one commonly spoken. The reason for this is that, if a speaker is to transmit understanding, the hearer must be able to comprehend what is being said. How could the entire congregation benefit if the speaker were to expound some wonderful truth but some in the congregation could not understand what he was saying?

The whole tone of Paul's instructions regarding multilingual preachers and teachers shows that there must be a logical orderly progression of events whenever a speaker feels he has to use several different languages in order to express his thoughts to the church. It is evident that Paul was not advocating the practice of spontaneous outbursts of speaking in foreign or unknown languages, which is the common practice of many charismatic churches today.

"Let the divinely inspired speakers, speak two or three, and the others stay seated and reflect on what is being said" (1.Cor.14:29 Para.).

Paul establishes the order in which inspired speakers are to present a subject and instructs other inspired speakers to refrain from interrupting.

"If a revelation comes to another that sits by, let the first keep silent" (1.Cor.14:30 Para.).

Obviously, if another inspired speaker has something to add or to clarify, this man should either wait until the one speaking is finished with what he has to say or get the attention of the speaker—perhaps by lifting the hand to indicate that he would like to speak. Whatever these signals are, this should be worked out in advance, so there is no unexpected interruption during the speaker's presentation.

"For you may all speak under inspiration one by one, that all may learn, and all may receive encouragement. And the spirits of the inspired speakers are subject to the inspired speaker. For God is not of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints" (1.Cor.14:31-33 Para.).

A man who is gifted as an inspired speaker must not be vain, but must be humble, respectful, and willing to listen to what others have to say in order to receive more knowledge, understanding, and correction if necessary for the benefit of himself and others. Clearly, order must be maintained in a congregational setting if there is to be an atmosphere where people can worship respectfully and learn God's truth.

Men and Women

Is the gift of languages only for men? The answer is no? The Book of Acts shows both men and women receiving the gift of languages. Under certain circumstances, such as witnessing about Christ or women teaching other women and children the Father's truth, the gift of languages might be necessary for a woman. See Mk.16:17; Acts 2:16-18.

However, within the setting of a formal congregational worship or teaching service women are not allowed to speak or teach:

"Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted for them to speak; but to be subordinate, as also says the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church. What? came the word of God out from you? or came it to you only?" (1.Cor.14:34-36 KJV Para.).

Paul only states what the law states in reference to who is to be a spiritual leader among God's people and in keeping order in the congregation for the benefit of all.

"If any think they are an inspired speaker, or spiritual, he will recognize that the things that I write to you are the commandments of the Lord. But if anyone is ignorant, let them stay ignorant. Therefore, brethren, desire to speak with inspiration, and do not forbid the speaking in foreign languages. Let all things be done decently and in order" (1.Cor.14:37-40 KJV Para.).


There is a proper time and a place for the exercise of the gifts of the spirit. And the proper use of the supernatural ability to speak other languages and to translate them is important for the following reasons:

  • It provides someone with this gift the ability to proclaim the Father's message of salvation to people in their native language.

  • It enables a person with this gift to teach and inspire the elect in a multilingual group.

The supernatural gift to interpret languages seems only to apply in a multilingual congregational setting where there is a need to interpret what is being said by a speaker to the congregation so that everyone will understand what is being said.

Although it is not stated by Paul, there seems to be an indication that, sometimes when a person with the gift of languages speaks to a multilingual crowd of people, this gift of languages acts the same as it did on the Day of Pentecost where what a person said in their native language was translated into the mind of a person who speaks a different language.

By B.L. Cocherell b14w9