Speaking in Tongues & Interpretation


Reference Act 2: 1-19

Further in Acts, Paul states he wish all could speak in tongues (like himself) but goes on to say that the Gift of Tongues is not the only gift and mentions Interpretation as a gift.

In the above reference, Pentecost and Descent of the Holy Spirit, we have “all those present in the room” after the Spirit’s descent on each, speaking in Tongues.

Then we have all in the crowd wondering about “all those present speaking…” and hearing them in their native language.

Peter then becomes the dominant speaking, says these speaking aren’t drunk and reaches back into Hebrew Tradition and sites a passage about the Lord doing great works and the "sons and daughters prophesying.

MY QUESTION: and this may only be the way I received this as a child - were those gifted with Tongues speaking charismatically as we know today, and are those hearing them speak “in their own language”, being gifted with Interpretation.

I have always thought, having been told that those speaking in tongues, were speaking the languages of all those present. And, yet, reason, which is a very weak word, suggests that both gifts of Tongues and Interpretation are present.


Acts 1: 1-4 is within the Upper Room. Here the Tongues would be the common gift of praying in Tongues. Praying in Tongues is directed to God and thus no human interpreter is needed.

Acts 1: 5-13 shifts to the crowd of pilgrims outside. Here there is the Miracle of Hearing.

1 Corinthians 12: 4-11 contains St. Paul’s classical list of nine Holy Spirit Gifts which are intended to build up the Church which is why they are usually used in an assembly. Within the nine gifts are the two separate gifts of Speaking in Tongues and Interpretation of Tongues.

1 Corinthians14: 4. also uses the English word “speaks.” Because of the context, we know that this “speaking” in Tongues refers to the common gift of praying in Tongues; therefore no interpreter is needed. Other references refer to the classical gift or ministry of Speaking God’s message in Tongues. This requires an interpreter.

To answer your question, I cannot speak for all charismatic movements.

Today, the Catholic Charismatic Renewal follows St. Paul in both praying in Tongues and in Speaking God’s message in Tongues. Usually, the gift of hearing a regular known foreign language in one’s own language is considered a miracle not necessarily related to Tongues as taught in 1 Corinthians chapters12 and 14.


The overwhelming amount of Catholic interpretation of the passages is that the usual charismatic gift is to receive the gift of speaking in a language one does not know which is the native language of the place, or in speaking so that everyone present hears their own tongue. A fair number of missionaries have received this gift in one or both of its forms, including St. Francis Xavier. Generally this gift only works as a booster, however, and you still have to learn the language afterward.

Being able to interpret the native speech of someone without knowing the language is also pretty common in Catholic history. Priests hearing Confession sometimes receive this gift.

Technically, speaking in a tongue which nobody present can understand is an ecstatic gift. There’s nothing wrong with it, but it’s not particularly useful in isolation. If you have someone speaking ecstatically and someone interpreting ecstatically, that’s more in the realm of prophecy than anything else (although sometimes it’s more a mystical thing).

Charismatic gifts are generally given for the sake of other people, whereas ecstatic or mystical gifts are generally meant for one’s own spiritual growth.

With either kind of gift, however, it’s not the “freaky thing that happens” that is important. They are signs that point to Christ; they are not the point itself.


this was one of my teachers–

as saint paul said – the natural mind is in opposition to spiritual gifts-

John Bevere- Don’t forbid speaking in tongues


Published on Sep 22, 2014

1Co 14:1, 2, 4 Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy. For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto

God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.
He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.

1Co 14:14 For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth

1Co 14:39, 40 Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues. Let all things be done decently and in order.

Jud 20 But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit.

Rev 22:18, 19 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.


So, what you’re saying is what I have always understood although, as a child, the message was confusing.

It stands to reason and logic that, based on the circumstances, two very different miracles were taking place.

If you think about it, Acts indicates 3000 converts were made from those assembled. It’s hard to imagine X number of people assembled and, with all the crowd noise, hearing a small group of people assembled, front and centered to the crowd, making prophetic proclamations in languages [supposedly unknown to themselves] and yet those in the crowd hearing what is being said and hearing in their native tongue.

Is there any literature that addresses this aspect in the Gospel?


Sounds like you might be referring to two different phenomena here; glossolalia and xenoglossia.

Glossolalia is the so-called “speaking in tongues”, i.e. in the broadest terms, a “language” that sounds completely unintelligible which may or may not be “interpreted” by another person. Glossolalia, in simple terms, is essentially subconcious word play; much the same as what babies do when first learning to speak. They “play” with the sounds of the language(s) they hear. No one who speaks in tongues uses any sounds that do not exist in their own languauge (or any language they may be familiar with).

Xenoglossia is speaking in a known human language without ever having had any conatct with that language (“contact” here is used in the broadest term). In all documented cases of xenoglossia it was eventually determined that the speaker had, at some point in their life, some contact with the language in question(even though in some instances that contact was minimal).


Before that incident where God ‘jumbled’ all the peoples languages, we can only wonder what the language everyone used before this happened…maybe this is the ‘language’ those speaking in tongues are speaking when it happens today?

BTW, Ive seen people speaking and praying in tongues, its amazing to see imo! You can feel the holy spirit in the air when you are in a group like that…oddly Ive only felt this a couple times and this was in a Pentecostal church gathering. Its not something they can fake, or even try to replicate, Ive seen a few try, it doesnt work.


It is easier to understand the gift of praying in Tongues when one refers to sounds instead of language.

When a person yields one’s speech mechanism to the Holy Spirit, the Holy Spirit uses that speech mechanism to form prayer made up of sounds. There have been reports that some prayer sounds have contained familiar sounds from a language. However, the vast majority of people allowing the Holy Spirit to use their speech mechanism, will discover that their prayer sounds may have the cadence of a language but are not necessarily a formal language.

Because the gift or praying in Tongues is under the control of the person, the sounds can be soft, loud, sung, or without breath so that the prayer is quiet or soundless.

The bottom line is that praying in Tongues is personally directed to God. Therefore, there is no need for people to eavesdrop.


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