(week 50/01)
Olubi Johnson

In our last article we looked at the power gifts of the Holy Spirit, this week we will look at the vocal or utterance gifts.


These are gifts of the Holy Spirit, which are used to say something. They are three in number:

– Prophecy.

– Diverse kinds of tongues.

– Interpretations of tongues.

They are the most common of all the gifts of the Holy Spirit because they can easily be activated through the mouth. These gifts come in ‘flashes’: spontaneously with unction or anointing from the Holy Spirit as He wills.

1Corinthians 12:11 (KJV): But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.

Since they can easily be operated from the mouth there is a tendency for these vocal gifts to be abused. Saints sometimes will try to give a prophecy or an utterance in tongues and interpretation without the unction of the Holy Spirit. Christians should avoid doing this, however on the other hand when there is an anointing present they should boldly speak forth in faith (Rom.12: 6). The vocal gifts speak forth the present mind of God for edification, exhortation and comfort (1Cor. 14:3).

Romans 12:6 (KJV): Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;

1Corinthians 14:3 (KJV): But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.


This is the first of the vocal gifts. Prophecy is the spontaneous speaking forth of the mind of God in a known language for edification, exhortation and comfort. Prophecy is not just the teaching or preaching of the Word, which comes through study. Though sometimes there could be a part of preaching or teaching that could be prophetic.

The operation of the simple gift of prophecy carries no prediction of the future and is a forth telling rather than a foretelling and so it is limited only to exhortation, edification and comfort.

Difference between the simple gift of prophecy and the prophetic office:

All Christians can, and are commanded and encouraged to prophesy and covet the gift of prophecy. However not all Christians are prophets.

1 Corinthians 14:1 (KJV): Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.

1 Corinthians 14:31 (KJV): For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.

1 Corinthians 14:39 (KJV): Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.

1 Corinthians 12:29 (KJV): Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?

No, we are not all prophets at the same time. All prophets prophesy but not all who prophesy are prophets. In the office of a Prophet, when the gift of prophecy is in operation it usually contains a word of wisdom or word of knowledge which reveal specifics of time, people and events and sometimes predicts the future.

As a consequence of the high potential for abuse of the gift of prophecy all prophecy should be judged and not just accepted gullibly.

1 Corinthians 14:29 (KJV): Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.

1Thessalonians 5:19-21 (KJV): Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.

These scriptures show that while we should not quench the Spirit or despise prophecy we are to judge prophecy and only accept that part of it which is good. This means that some prophecies may be a mixture of the Holy Spirit and the natural mind.

We judge prophecy by 3 things in this order:

Does contradict any principle in scripture?

Does it contradict the character of God: lovingkindness, righteousness and justice?

Does it agree with the witness of the Spirit of God in our hearts?

Any prophecy or part of it that contradicts these things is to be rejected and only those or the part of them that pass these conditions are to be accepted as being from God, so that they can be believed and acted upon.

Exercising the gift of prophecy in worship

We can and should exercise the gift of prophecy in our worship of God both privately and corporately.

We do this by singing a song or chorus of worship in the spirit: in tongues, and then singing out by faith the interpretation in the understanding. As we practice this regularly we will develop a greater sensitivity to the Holy Spirit and the gift of prophecy in our lives. In fact this is how to stir up the gifts of the Holy Spirit in us. This is because all the other gifts are given as the Spirit wills but this gift of prophecy in worship can be activated by us, as we will.

1 Corinthians 14:15 (KJV): What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.

Timothy 1:6 (KJV): Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.

1 Chronicles 25:1-3 (KJV): Moreover David and the captains of the host separated to the service of the sons of Asaph, and of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who should prophesy with harps, with psalteries, and with cymbals: and the number of the workmen according to their service was: Of the sons of Asaph; Zaccur, and Joseph, and Nethaniah, and Asarelah, the sons of Asaph under the hands of Asaph, which prophesied according to the order of the king. Of Jeduthun: the sons of Jeduthun; Gedaliah, and Zeri, and Jeshaiah, Hashabiah, and Mattithiah, six, under the hands of their father Jeduthun, who prophesied with a harp, to give thanks and to praise the LORD.

It is important to reiterate that it is only in this area of worship we are permitted to stir up the gift of prophecy, as we will. We can stir up as we will vocational and ministry gifts, but not the gifts of the Holy Spirit except in this area of worship.

Divers Kinds of Tongues and Interpretations of Tongues

The gift of diversities of tongues is a spontaneous supernatural utterance given to a saint to speak forth the mind of God in a language or combination of languages that is unknown to the speaker. The Holy Spirit through either the speaker or some other Christian who operates the gift of the interpretations of tongues at that time then interprets this utterance.

The gift of divers kinds of tongues is different from the gift of unknown tongues given to every born again Christian as a supernatural prayer language when baptized in the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:4, 10:44, 19:6). When you receive the gift of the Holy Spirit and speak in tongues, you can and should continue to speak in tongues as you often as you will as a part of your daily prayer life.

1 Corinthians 14:5 KJV: I would that ye all spake with tongues,

1 Corinthians 14:15 KJV: What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.

1 Corinthians 14:18 KJV: I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all:

So it is the will of God that we all speak or pray in tongues more and more every day. We do this, as we will. However the gift of diverse kinds of tongues is given to us as the Holy Spirit wills for the purpose of speaking a message to us through a corresponding interpretation. In fact the combination of tongues and interpretation is equivalent to prophecy.

You should only give an utterance in diverse tongues and interpret when there is an unction present from the Holy Spirit to do so. However you can pray in ‘ordinary’ tongues any time you like whether you sense an unction or not. In fact many times you start praying in tongues by faith when you are feeling dry and sense no unction at all.

This gift of diverse tongues and the corresponding interpretation comes in ‘flashes’: spontaneously, when God wants to speak to us prophetically through these gifts.

The interpretations of diverse tongues usually follow the gifts of diverse of tongues and interprets the indefinite language uttered in the divers tongues. As mentioned above both the gift of diversities of tongues and the interpretations of tongues can come through one person, or through two or more speakers.

Now it is important to realize that there is more than one interpretation, hence the pluralisation of the word in original Greek as interpretations and not just interpretation of tongues. An interpretation this is not a translation, which implies a verbatim, word-for-word correlation between the expressed, supernatural message in tongues and the meaning. An interpretation gives the sense and meaning of what the speaker is saying. One interpretation may be clearer than another.

For instance, in my language, Yoruba, we say “Igi ganganran ma gun mi loju, okere la tin wo”. The translation of this is that “to avoid a stick that is pointing outwards from pricking my eyes I look at it from a safe distance.” However the interpretation could be “abstain from all appearance of evil” (I Thess. 5:22) or “Remove your way far from an adulterous situation” (Prov. 5:8).

Because there is usually more than one interpretation, it is possible to have interpretations of divers tongues with differing degrees of clarity or emphasis, from one interpreter to another. This in turn is because of differences in spiritual growth and development or the particular message the Holy Spirit wants to give to particular people at a particular time.

The Best Gifts

In 1Cor.12: 31 we are exhorted to covet earnestly the best gifts.

Ordinarily, the best gifts are the ones needed to meet the needs being faced at the time. For instance you don’t need the gift of prophecy when somebody is dying of cancer unless the prophecy brings a word of knowledge and a gift of healing to heal the person. In such a situation the best gift would a gift of healing for cancer.

However, a close study of the gifts reveal that in each group there is one gift that is the best, in that operating alone it functionally produces the essence of the other two gifts.

In particular, in the revelation group, the discernings of spirits would convey either a word of knowledge or word of wisdom or both. However the word of wisdom, which reveals the mind of God concerning the future intrinsically, contains a word of knowledge and gives insight into the spiritual realm. So while the word of knowledge or discernings of spirits operating alone may not convey a word of wisdom, the word of wisdom operating alone will convey the essence of the other two gifts. This makes the word of wisdom the best, in this sense, of the revelation gifts.

In the power group, the gift of special faith will produce workings of miracles which intrinsically can produce healings. However the gifts of healings are not workings of miracles since in ordinary healings there is no creative miracle done. So operating alone the gift of special faith will produce workings of miracles and the essence of gifts of healings.

In the vocal group, it is obvious that the gift of prophecy operating alone will produce the same effect as the combination of divers kinds of tongues and the interpretations of tongues.

In our next article, we will look briefly at the ministry gifts.