Is Interpreting our Own Tongues Biblical?

Jason Dulle


Can a person interpret his/her own tongues for the edifying of the church?



While there is no express passage that would positively assert that a person is to interpret his/her own tongues, I Corinthians 14:13 seems to have such a thing in mind. Paul said, "Therefore let him who speaks in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret." The person who prays in an unknown tongue is the same person that should pray that he may interpret, seemingly his own tongues. Paul made this statement in the context of teaching how one personally does not understand the meaning of their utterances in tongues (v. 14), and neither do those present who hear them (vs. 6-11, 16). While the former is edified (v. 4), the latter is not. It was preferred that words be spoken that can be understood by all so that all might be edified, and not just one individual; i.e. the person speaking in tongues. The solution was found, not in the abolition of tongues-speaking (vs. 5, 39), but in the interpretation of those tongues. Who was to pray to interpret these tongues?--the same person who prays in those tongues. Why? It would seem that the reason was to allow the person speaking in tongues to interpret his own tongues for the edification of others. If such a meaning can be deduced from this verse in its context, by no means could Paul's statement be made restrictive so that it excludes interpreting others' tongues also. The ability to interpret tongues would also include the interpreting of tongues in general, even those of others, as I Corinthians 14:27-28 indicates.

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