“to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.”
to another different kinds of tongues,
“Tongues” was the ability to speak a foreign language without studying for it. The word “tongues” in Greek is glossa, from which we get the English word “glossary.” A glossary is an index or dictionary. The normal, customary usage of the term in the first century was “language.”
The gift of speaking in a foreign language without studying for it was limited to a few (1 Co 12:8-11, 29,30) because the gifts are sovereignly bestowed (12:8). The Greek of 1 Corinthians 13:8 says that tongues would come to an absolute stop (Greek pauo). This cessation would happen at one point in time (aorist tense). First Corinthians 14 identifies this gift as a sign gift (14:21,22). It is not the ability to learn a language quickly, for non-Christians have that ability.
to another the interpretation of tongues.
“Interpretation of tongues” was the translation of actual, extant languages. This gift was the ability to translate a language a person had never learned instantaneously. This was what happened on the Day of Pentecost when believers translated 16 languages, to the utter amazement of non-Christians present. That event established the validity of the New Testament truth as right.
Tongues and the interpretation of tongues are sign gifts that established the New Testament as the Word of God.
The gifts of languages and translation of languages were crucial for authenticating the New Testament, especially to Jews who believed only in the Old Testament. Jews needed to know that God extended His revelation from the Old Testament to the New Testament. Therefore, languages (tongues) and translation of languages (interpretation of tongues) were sign gifts to establish divine truth.