There I sat at the kitchen table of our home after enjoying a nice dinner with special friends. Then one of my spiritual fathers, Dr. Ron Smith, spontaneously, as he would often do, turned to one of our sisters and told her that she was to give a tongue and I was to interpret. This happened twice.

Privately afterwards I told Papa Ron, as we affectionately called him, that I did not think I did a good job of interpreting our sister’s tongue. His response to my concern was a revelation to me. He told me that the onus is not on the interpreter, but on the person giving the message in tongues.

In other words, the person giving the tongue must move in an anointing and depth of diversity in word and gesture that a good interpreter will be able to pick up. The tongue should trigger revelation and authority in the interpreter.

I’m not sure Papa Ron knew that this was the first time our sister had given a public message in tongues. I had compassion on her, but this is how Papa Ron operated. He was a master at drawing the gifts out in other people, not just in public services but sometimes during informal gatherings as well. You had to be on your toes spiritually.

You might ask, “How would one know they have a message in tongues?” Through the anointing, example, and experience of it. There’s a quickening in you. You know that the Holy Spirit wants to interject an utterance and you step forth in faith and give it. You sense He wants to punctuate a sermon or a conversation with His higher thoughts and revelation.

For example, often when I am preaching in a public service my wife will stand up and give a tongue in the middle of my preaching. She has permission to do that, and in churches where liberty is given she will have an extra microphone just in case she has something from the Spirit.

In a believers gathering it is rather obvious that we are there to share what the Lord has given us for the edification of everyone present. So we should expect these things.

“How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification” (1 Cor. 14:26).

In my New King James Bible this verse places the word “revelation” in-between “tongue” and “interpretation”. I believe that is intentional and not incidental. There is a revelation in the tongue that a good interpreter will draw out.

In nearly 30 years of ministry I’ve been privileged to see varied uses of the twin gifts of tongues and interpretation and move in some of them personally and with my wife. Not only have we witnessed these gifts manifested to congregations but to individuals as well. They bring revelation, edification, exhortation, and comfort. I’ve also witnessed the use of these gifts to minister physical healing to people. They are tremendous in their diversity.

There  is much confusion concerning tongues and interpretation today because people have not been rightly taught by precept and example. Not only have people confused the private and public use of tongues, but they’ve confused their different purposes as well.

For example, in Acts 2 we see that tongues was manifested in the streets of Jerusalem as a sign to the unbelievers gathered there from many nations (v. 5-12). The newly spiritually baptized Galileans were speaking in other languages never learned that were understood by the other nationalities that were there. How wonderful! And yet, that is only one of their purposes – a sign to the unbelievers.

A second purpose of tongues and the most common, is that it is simply a means of personal edification where you build yourself up on your most holy faith (1 Cor. 14:4) (Jude 20). You can speak or sing in tongues and even pray that you would interpret with your understanding so that you mind would be fruitful (1 Cor. 14:13-15).

A third purpose is a means of praying the mysteries of God, or things we know not to pray for as we ought (Rom. 8:26). It is especially to be used in making intercession for people and for situations. It gives birth to the real purposes of God.

And the fourth and final purpose of tongues (divers) is for the public ministry of interpretation, as we’ve been sharing.

I hope these last three blogs on tongues and interpretation have been a help and blessing to you. I especially hope that they have provided clarity concerning this important topic that has been so neglected, misunderstood, and abused in today’s churches.

Here is a YouTube link of a great example of the beauty and wonder of these sacred twin gifts. You can find many other examples on there or here on our website.

Don’t forget to register for our upcoming Holy Ghost Forum on our home page.

God bless you richly.



  1. the biggest life changing even for me was when you and Papa Ron were at our church for a leadership equipping meeting,and Papa Ron had us stand up one at a time and speak in tongues. Once we did you or Pastor James interpreted what we said. It was so amazing to me that I was actually praising and exhalting God! I think first and foremost , we as believers need to believe that when we are speaking in tongues, we are actually prophesying, edifying, praising etc…. many people wonder if they are really saying anything at all or just repeating something they have heard others say. Hearing the interpretation of my utterance in the spirit brought me to a whole new level of confidence and boldness. I thank God for that meeting with you and Papa Ron 🙂

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