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 God.
Thoughts for Today:According to The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology: "In the case of the interpretation of tongues, it would seem that Paul is not thinking of interpretation in the sense of translating one language into another, which would presume that 'tongues' had a coherent scheme of grammar, syntax and vocabulary. Rather, interpretation here seems to be more akin to discerning what the Spirit is saying through the one who is speaking in tongues."
In our passage today, Paul says, "If there is no interpreter," rather than, "If there is no interpretation". This would imply -- before a person considered speaking in tongues -- they should first know that someone gifted with the interpretation of tongues (spiritual language versus foreign language) would be present. Therefore, if no known interpreter was present, then those with the gift of tongues were to remain silent in the assembly.
Although the gift of speaking in tongues might not be beneficial to the church body as a whole without an interpretation, there is a significant benefit to us individually when we do so in private. Paul encourages us to speak quietly to ourselves while worshipping God in prayer. In other words, it is orderly and acceptable to softly pray and praise God in tongues, even though we are in the assembly, as long as it does not disturb others.
Questions to Ponder:Have you ever felt so overcome by a situation that you couldn't find words to express your feelings? The next time you feel this way, will you allow the Spirit to take control and make His petition to the Lord on your behalf?