We’re continuing to go through Paul’s first letter to the Corinthian church. He’s dealing with the lack of love evident in their services. In chapter 14, the apostle is talking specifically about the gifts of prophecy and tongues.
But that brings me to an important point that many people miss who try to forbid the use of prayer in the spirit (tongues). They use these verses because they sound somewhat against this gift.
There’s a reason for this. Paul’s not giving us a complete teaching on the gift of tongues. He’s talking specifically about the Corinthian church’s abuse of it during their public gatherings. That’s the application of this section.
I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may be edified.
1 Corinthians 14:5
We have to understand that this entire verse is Scripture. There is absolutely no basis upon which to conclude that “I would rather have you prophesy” negates “I would like every one of you to speak in tongues.”
It’s Paul’s (and the Holy Spirit’s) desire that everyone uses their spiritual language in prayer. However, because of the love issue in this church, Paul would rather see the church edified.
In order for this to happen, they need to hear a Word from God. More than that, they need to hear it in a language that they understand.
In this church, it must have been common for someone to get up before the congregation and pray in the spirit for a great length of time. The speaker was built up, but the congregation was untouched. There was nothing there to build anyone up.
That’s the situation that Paul was addressing. When people come to a church gathering, there should be an expectation that they’ll receive something life-changing. We’re not there to simply watch a spiritual show.
There needs to be something that will speak power into the lives of the hearers. That means either a prophetic word or an interpretation of tongues.
That brings me to my next important point. What exactly is the interpretation of tongues?
When I pray in tongues, I’m speaking mysteries to God. My mind doesn’t know what’s being communicated. So there are some who have concluded that a true interpretation will always be directed toward God.
It turns out there are two related Greek words that are used for the gift of interpretation. In English, I would describe them as interpretation and interpretation-through.
I believe that interpretation is speaking forth in my native language exactly what is being communicated to God in my spirit. Interpretation-through is God’s response to what I just said to Him in my spirit. That’s why many times the length of the interpretation has no relationship to the length of the prayer in tongues.
The Greek word used in the above verse is interpretation-through. That’s how the church is edified. We’re built up either through a prophetic word from God or God’s personal response to a spiritual inquiry from our hearts.
We need all the Gifts of the Spirit active in the church to see God’s will accomplished in the earth.
Question: How have you experienced the gift of interpretation?
© 2019 Nick Zaccardi