1 Corinthians 12:10, “To another speaking in different kinds of tongues…”

The eighth spiritual gift is “speaking in different kinds of tongues.” The gift of speaking in different kinds of tongues is, “a supernatural message given in an unknown tongue (language) that brings edification, exhortation and comfort.”

The gift or message in tongues must always be interpreted because it is spoken directly to people as a message; it’s not private prayer to God.

The two major differences between “praying in tongues” and the “message in tongues” are direction and purpose. (1) Direction: The message in tongues is directed towards man (1 Corinthians 14:13) and praying in tongues is directed towards God (1 Cor. 14:2). (2) Purpose: The message of tongues to men is basically used as a prophecy (1 Cor. 14:5) and praying in tongues to God is for intercession, personal edification and worship (1 Cor. 14:14).

Sometimes well-intentioned Christians confuse the prayer in tongues (given at the baptism of the Holy Spirit), with the message of tongues. They’ll say, “We shouldn’t speak in tongues in the church unless it’s interpreted.” However, that is not what Paul taught nor what Luke records in Acts. Paul said the only time spiritual tongues needed to be interpreted was when it was directed to people as a message (1 Cor. 14:19). In Acts 10:46, Cornelius and his family spoke in tongues without any interpretation because it was not meant to be a message to men but rather to God. In regards to praying and worshipping in tongues Paul said, “For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit” (1 Cor. 14:2). But in regards to a message given in tongues he wrote, “The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be edified” (1 Cor. 14:5).

Paul was very clear to encourage and promote the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in other tongues. He taught that the church should not forbid speaking in tongues (1 Cor. 14:39), that he spoke in tongues often- even more than those in the Corinthian church (1 Cor. 14:18) and that when Christians pray and sing in church to God, they should be given freedom to do it both in spiritual tongues and known languages (1 Cor. 14:14-15).

At the same time, Paul didn’t want disciples using their prayer language as a means of communicating with each other. That is why he wrote in 1 Corinthians 14:19, “But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.” He didn’t want people confusing the direction and purpose of spiritual languages. The gift of tongues is supposed to be interpreted and then function as a prophecy; otherwise, we should keep the tongues between God and us.

Lester Sumrall wrote, “Paul had previously stated, ‘I would that ye all spake with tongues’ (1 Cor. 14:5). If the Word of God says all of us should have this gift, then without exception all of us should have it.” Don’t be confused about the usage of tongues, pray to receive a message in tongues and have it be interpreted for the edification of the church!


Do you desire for God to give you a message in tongues?


  1. Recall a time you gave a message in tongues or heard one.
  2. Ask God to give you the gift of tongues.
  3. Whenever you are in church be available for God to use you in this gift.

One Year Reading Plan

1 Kings 20:1-21:29, Acts 12:24-13:15, Psalm 137:1-9, & Proverbs 17:16. Click here to read online.