27 “If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret. 28But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God.”
We come now to specific regulations for gifts in public worship.
If anyone speaks in a tongue,
Paul laid down three guidelines for speaking in tongues in public worship.
let there be two or at the most three,
No more than two or at the most three were to speak in foreign languages in one worship service.
each in turn,
Each speaker was to wait for the next speaker to finish before speaking. Two speakers in foreign languages at the same time would cause confusion. Speakers in foreign languages should not all speak simultaneously but consecutively.
and let one interpret.
No speaker in a foreign language should speak in that language without a translator. There was to be “one” translator, not two or three. Interpretation is important because meaning is essential to edification.
But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church,
If there was no translator, then the person with the gift of languages was to keep quiet in public worship. The imperative “let him” implies the tongues speaker had full control of his gift. A church service must keep all gifts in control and in order.
and let him speak to himself and to God.
The person who spoke in foreign languages was to keep his message to himself if there was no translator present.
Order in worship is consistent with God’s character.
Order and decorum is important for worship services. God does not sponsor ecstatic or out-of-control worship services.