What Does The Bible Say About Speaking In Tongues Without An Interpreter?

What Does The Bible Say About Speaking In Tongues Without An Interpreter?

Speaking in tongues is a spiritual gift that requires speaking in a language people don’t understand. Speaking in tongues edifies both the speaker and the listeners. Jesus foretold about speaking in tongues in Mark 16:17 where he said the believers shall speak in new tongues .

The first record of speaking in tongues was on the day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit descended on the apostles. However, the crowd could understand what the apostles said at this time as every man heard them speaking in their own language.

What happens when you speak in tongues without an interpreter? Can people still understand what you’re saying?

What Does the Bible Say About Speaking in Tongues Without an Interpreter?

The gift of being able to speak in languages no one knows is called the gift of tongues, and there are only five references to this in the Bible.

In 1 Corinthians 14, Paul speaks of the different languages and that they all have meaning. The Bible mentions the need for an interpreter and that the Corinthians misused the gift. They consistently spoke it even though no one understood them, and there was no one available to interpret the meaning of what they said. 

The Corinthians spoke in tongues to impress others rather than edifying the congregation without an interpreter. Whatever the nature of the language, the interpreter turns the congregation’s attention from the person speaking in tongues to God. Therefore, apostle Paul insisted that every time a person speaks in tongues, they should interpret it. (I Corinthians 14:27).

While there might not be a need to interpret the tongue language outside of a church meeting, it’s crucial to translate the language during church meetings. The interpretation is a gift of the Holy Spirit which is why it differs from our personal prayer.

Interpretation means that the hidden wisdom becomes a revelation our mind can receive. 

How do You Know if You Are Speaking in Tongue?

If you have the Holy Spirit, you will just know it. A presence of God comes with it and brings you into a deeper level of consecration in Him. However, many still doubt that they’re in the Holy Spirit or speaking in tongues.

The word of God gives insight into this in Mark 16:17 “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues;

As long as you believe, you can speak with new tongues. You’ll find that you’re repeating the same few words repeatedly. When you’re speaking in tongues, the Holy Spirit takes over your utterances and gives you things to say. The Spirit enables you to speak in a new and unlearned language. 

Paul also shared in Corinthian 14 that his mind is unproductive when his Spirit prays. This means you might not speak in tongues when the mind is involved in speaking. When speaking in new tongues, the new language comes from the Spirit of man; it is the opposite of learned speech. 

Can a Person Interpret Their Tongues

Yes, it’s entirely possible for those who have the gift of the tongue to also have the gift of interpretation. Therefore, a person can also interpret their own words.

In 1 Corinthians 14:5, Paul says, “Now I would like all of you to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. One who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so the church may be built up.” 

This supports the concept that the one who utters the tongue can also be the one to interpret.

Can You Have the Holy Ghost Without Speaking in Tongues?

What Does The Bible Say About Speaking In Tongues Without An Interpreter?

Believers don’t have to speak in tongues when they have the Holy Spirit. This is because God gives different spiritual gifts to different believers. All gifts help us bless and edify each other, as Paul explains in 1 Corinthians 12:4.

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The Spirit of God usually determines the gift each believer should have according to God’s will and purpose. 

Paul explains that it is God’s purpose that we all have different gifts so that we all need each other and function together like the many members of one body.

Therefore, a Christian can have the Holy Spirit and possess the gifts of the Spirit, but not the gift of tongues. Paul’s logic assumes that most believers do not have the gift of tongues, similar to all parts of the body not being eyes or mouths. 

Each spiritual gift edifies and brings us together. Many believers would argue that speaking in tongues is an outward sign of a believer being filled with the Holy Spirit.

However, texts like 1 Corinthians 12 say it doesn’t happen every time.

What Did Paul Say About Speaking in Tongues

We can find everything Paul says about speaking in tongues in 1 Corinthians 14:2-19. It is a famous passage in the Bible, and many people have debated it. At the beginning of this scripture, Paul seems to be critical about speaking in tongues.

However, it’s clear by verse 5 that he acknowledges it is a legitimate gift of God.

Paul seems critical of the gift because, in Corinth, assemblies were chaotic. Many believers were frequently shouting out in tongues with others giving prophecies.

Due to this, most voices were constantly interrupting each other. Paul was concerned that this might seem madness to those visiting the gathering for the first time.

Therefore, he advised that there should be an interpreter when someone speaks in tongues so that visitors could understand. If you don’t interpret tongues immediately, others in the gathering wouldn’t understand the proclamations.

Therefore, contrary to popular opinions, Paul wasn’t rejecting the gift of speaking in tongues as a valid gift of the Spirit.

Instead, he was cautioning that emphasis should be placed on interpreting this gift to foster the growth of God’s kingdom.

Does Everyone Get the Gift of Tongues and Interpretation?

Does everyone get the gift of tongues, or is it only meant for some people? Anyone can get the gift of tongue. However, not everyone will have it.

This can be confusing for believers as in 1 Corinthians 12; Paul mentions that the gifts of tongues were part of the gifts of the Spirit; therefore, not everyone receives the same gifts. However, in 1 Corinthians 14:4, Paul says that he wants all believers to speak in tongue and prophesy.

The answer to this significant question lies in understanding the function of the gift of tongues. Tongues can be a sign of the presence of the Spirit, and it is a prayer language that’s valuable for your spiritual growth.

Therefore, while anyone with the Holy Spirit can access the gift of tongues and interpretation, not everyone would get it.

An example is the day of Pentecost, where the scriptures record that all spoke in tongues as the Spirit gave them the ability.

However, they all went on to serve the Lord differently, each person’s gift building the body of Christ.

When Speaking in Tongues, What Language Is It?

There is much confusion today surrounding what language one speaks when one speaks in tongues. It is the most unusual gift, and it manifests itself in different ways.

Yet, most people are uncomfortable with this gift because it sounds like gibberish and doesn’t appear as miraculous as the unique gift of miracles.

You might even be wondering if it is a real language and what language it is.

To put it simply, speaking in tongues is a real language. However, it is not a known, natural language. The gift of tongues gives you access to a supernatural language that provides direct communication with God.

When you speak in tongues, people cannot understand without divine interpretation. However, believing that you’re speaking directly to God is what brings value to the words we speak.

We’re not speaking earthy, natural languages when we speak in tongues. If this were the case, we wouldn’t need divine interpretation. When you speak in a tongue, you’re not speaking to men but God.

Things You Should Know About the Speaking in Tongues

Speaking in tongues remains a controversial topic to date and therefore requires our close attention. To help you understand the gift of tongues, below are three things you should know about speaking in the tongue. 

1. The Tongues spoken on Pentecost Day Were Real Human Languages

Acts 2 describes the tongues spoken on the Pentecost day of not hearing one’s language but hearing in one’s language.

As the disciples spoke different tongues through the Holy Spirit, they were immediately translated by the same Holy Spirit into the languages of the listeners.

Therefore, t was both a miracle of speech and understanding, all facilitated by the Holy Spirit.

2. Speaking in Tongues Can Be in Heavenly Dialects

Speaking in tongues continues throughout church history. It is widespread today, and many believers have the Spirit-prompted ability to pray and praise in a heavenly dialect. Believers can speak in an angelic language not related to anything spoken on earth.

This is possible through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit personally crafts and creates a unique language that Christians speak to God in prayer and thanksgiving. 

3. The Gift of Tongue Works for Prayer, Praising and Self-Edification

The scripture says in 1 Corinthians 14:2 that one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but God. This means that when you speak in tongues, you’re offering a form of prayer. It is also a type of praise and a way of giving thanks, according to 1 Corinthians 14:15-17.

It is also a way to edify and strengthen each other. Tongues edify others the way prophecy does, especially when interpreted.


The Bible makes it very clear that when we speak in tongues, we might not understand what we are saying, but we speak directly to God. However, the listeners might not understand what is being said, hence the need for an interpreter. When the word is interpreted, it illuminates and strengthens the Spirit of the speaker and the listeners. 

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