languages

But if there is no interpreter, he must keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God.

This is just a little ‘did you know’ informational post on the subject of speaking in tongues, shared as some food for thought. It goes along with a statement made in the first post: “Paul wanted the entire group of believers to be edified when they gathered together.”

Did you know the Bible teaches that when believers gather together, people should not be speaking in tongues all at the same time? Are you aware that the number of believers who should speak in tongues in a gathering is limited to no more than three, with each speaking separately? Did you know that if anyone does speak in tongues at a service, they should only do so if someone is there to interpret?

Surprised? I imagine many are. Apostolic and Pentecostal churches encourage people to speak in tongues during gatherings. Yet if the apostle Paul were alive today, he would be telling them to stop this practice. He would consider this to be out of order and causing confusion to guests, just as he did with the church at Corinth. He taught that when believers were gathered together it should be with the purpose of everyone being edified. Tongues without interpretation does not edify the body of believers or guests simply because they do not understand what is being spoken. This is why he encouraged those who spoke in tongues to also pray that they would be able to interpret, as was covered in the first post.

In 1 Corinthians 14:27-28 Paul wrote:

  • If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at the most three, and each in turn, and one must interpret; but if there is no interpreter, he must keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God. NASB
  • If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and to God. NIV
  • If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret. But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God. KJV
  • No more than two or three should speak in tongues. They must speak one at a time, and someone must interpret what they say. But if no one is present who can interpret, they must be silent in your church meeting and speak in tongues to God privately. NLT