It would seem reasonable to conclude that the content of the interpretation would depend entirely on the content of the tongues utterance. Therefore, we must ask another question first: what is said when one speaks in tongues? The Apostle Paul describes tongues as prayer (1 Cor. 14:2), praise (1 Cor. 14:16), and thanksgiving (1 Cor. 14:16).
If the interpretation must correspond to the utterance, the former will come forth in the form of prayers, praise, and expressions of gratitude to God. The interpretation will be a God-ward utterance, no less than is the tongues utterance on which it is based.
The standard view among most charismatic believers is that when an utterance in tongues is interpreted it becomes the equivalent of prophecy. As such, it is horizontal in its orientation, which is to say, it is directed to other individuals in the church. But if tongues is always prayer, praise, or thanksgiving, would not its interpretation be the same? Mark Stibbe writes:
“If an interpretation is offered which is not in the form of prayerful adoration, we should be cautious about regarding it as a genuine interpretation. If it is offered in the form of praise language, then it has a much better chance of being the true ‘interpretation’” (Know Your Spiritual Gifts, 179).
This article originally appeared on SamStorms.com.
Sam Storms I am an Amillennial, Calvinistic, charismatic, credo-baptistic, complementarian, Christian Hedonist who loves his wife of 45 years, his two daughters, his four grandchildren, books, baseball, movies, and all things Oklahoma University. In 2008 Sam became Lead Pastor for Preaching and Vision at Bridgeway Church in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Sam is on the Board of Directors of Desiring God, and also serves as a member of the Council of The Gospel Coalition. Sam is a past President of the Evangelical Theological Society, and currently serves on its Executive Committee.