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Speak in Ways That Can Be Understood

14 Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially the gift of speaking what God has revealed. When a person speaks in another language, he doesn’t speak to people but to God. No one understands him. His spirit is speaking mysteries. But when a person speaks what God has revealed, he speaks to people to help them grow, to encourage them, and to comfort them. When a person speaks in another language, he helps himself grow. But when a person speaks what God has revealed, he helps the church grow. I wish that all of you could speak in other languages, but especially that you could speak what God has revealed. The person who speaks what God has revealed is more important than the person who speaks in other languages. This is true unless he can interpret what he says to help the church grow. Brothers and sisters, it wouldn’t do you any good if I came to you speaking in other languages, unless I explained revelation, knowledge, prophecy, or doctrine to you.

Musical instruments like the flute or harp produce sounds. If there is no difference in the notes, how can a person tell what tune is being played? For example, if the trumpet doesn’t sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? In the same way, if you don’t speak in a way that can be understood, how will anyone know what you’re saying? You will be talking into thin air.

10 No matter how many different languages there are in the world, not one of them is without meaning. 11 If I don’t know what a language means, I will be a foreigner to the person who speaks it and that person will be a foreigner to me. 12 In the same way, since you’re eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in them so that you help the church grow. 13 So the person who speaks in another language should pray for an interpretation of what he says.

14 If I pray in another language, my spirit prays, but my mind is not productive. 15 So what does this mean? It means that I will pray with my spirit, and I will pray with my mind. I will sing psalms with my spirit, and I will sing psalms with my mind. 16 Otherwise, if you praise God only with your spirit, how can outsiders say “Amen!” to your prayer of thanksgiving? They don’t know what you’re saying. 17 Your prayer of thanksgiving may be very good, but it doesn’t help other people grow. 18 I thank God that I speak in other languages more than any of you. 19 Yet, in order to teach others in church, I would rather say five words that can be understood than ten thousand words in another language.

20 Brothers and sisters, don’t think like children. When it comes to evil, be like babies, but think like mature people. 21 God’s word says,

“Through people who speak foreign languages
    and through the mouths of foreigners
        I will speak to these people,
            but even then they will not listen to me,
                says the Lord.”

22 So the gift of speaking in other languages is a sign for unbelievers, not for believers. The gift of speaking what God has revealed is a sign for believers, not for unbelievers. 23 Suppose the whole congregation gathers in the same place and you speak in other languages. When outsiders or unbelievers come in, won’t they say that you’re out of your mind? 24 Now suppose you speak what God has revealed. When unbelievers or outsiders come in you will show them where they are wrong and convince them that they are sinners. 25 The secrets in their hearts will become known, and in this way they will quickly bow with their faces touching the ground, worship God, and confess that God is truly among you.

Maintain Order in Your Worship Services

26 So what does this mean, brothers and sisters? When you gather, each person has a psalm, doctrine, revelation, another language, or an interpretation. Everything must be done to help each other grow. 27 If people speak in other languages, only two or three at the most should speak. They should do it one at a time, and someone must interpret what each person says. 28 But if an interpreter isn’t present, those people should remain silent in church. They should only speak to themselves and to God.

29 Two or three people should speak what God has revealed. Everyone else should decide whether what each person said is right or wrong. 30 If God reveals something to another person who is seated, the first speaker should be silent. 31 All of you can take your turns speaking what God has revealed. In that way, everyone will learn and be encouraged. 32 People who speak what God has revealed must control themselves. 33 God is not a God of disorder but a God of peace.

As in all the churches of God’s holy people, 34 the women must keep silent. They don’t have the right to speak. They must take their place as Moses’ Teachings say. 35 If they want to know anything they should ask their husbands at home. It’s shameful for a woman to speak in church. 36 Did God’s word originate with you? Are you the only ones it has reached?

37 Whoever thinks that he speaks for God or that he is spiritually gifted must acknowledge that what I write to you is what the Lord commands. 38 But whoever ignores what I write should be ignored.

39 So, brothers and sisters, desire to speak what God has revealed, and don’t keep anyone from speaking in other languages. 40 Everything must be done in a proper and orderly way.

Intelligibility in Worship

14 Follow the way of love(A) and eagerly desire(B) gifts of the Spirit,(C) especially prophecy.(D) For anyone who speaks in a tongue[a](E) does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them;(F) they utter mysteries(G) by the Spirit. But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening,(H) encouraging(I) and comfort. Anyone who speaks in a tongue(J) edifies(K) themselves, but the one who prophesies(L) edifies the church. I would like every one of you to speak in tongues,[b] but I would rather have you prophesy.(M) The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues,[c] unless someone interprets, so that the church may be edified.(N)

Now, brothers and sisters, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation(O) or knowledge(P) or prophecy or word of instruction?(Q) Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the pipe or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes? Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle?(R) So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air. 10 Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning. 11 If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and the speaker is a foreigner to me.(S) 12 So it is with you. Since you are eager for gifts of the Spirit,(T) try to excel in those that build up(U) the church.

13 For this reason the one who speaks in a tongue should pray that they may interpret what they say.(V) 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays,(W) but my mind is unfruitful. 15 So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit,(X) but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing(Y) with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding. 16 Otherwise when you are praising God in the Spirit, how can someone else, who is now put in the position of an inquirer,[d] say “Amen”(Z) to your thanksgiving,(AA) since they do not know what you are saying? 17 You are giving thanks well enough, but no one else is edified.(AB)

18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. 19 But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.(AC)

20 Brothers and sisters, stop thinking like children.(AD) In regard to evil be infants,(AE) but in your thinking be adults. 21 In the Law(AF) it is written:

“With other tongues
    and through the lips of foreigners
I will speak to this people,
    but even then they will not listen to me,(AG)
says the Lord.”[e]

22 Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy,(AH) however, is not for unbelievers but for believers. 23 So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and inquirers or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind?(AI) 24 But if an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted of sin and are brought under judgment by all, 25 as the secrets(AJ) of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!”(AK)

Good Order in Worship

26 What then shall we say, brothers and sisters?(AL) When you come together, each of you(AM) has a hymn,(AN) or a word of instruction,(AO) a revelation, a tongue(AP) or an interpretation.(AQ) Everything must be done so that the church may be built up.(AR) 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. 28 If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and to God.

29 Two or three prophets(AS) should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said.(AT) 30 And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. 31 For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. 32 The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets.(AU) 33 For God is not a God of disorder(AV) but of peace(AW)—as in all the congregations(AX) of the Lord’s people.(AY)

34 Women[f] should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak,(AZ) but must be in submission,(BA) as the law(BB) says. 35 If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.[g]

36 Or did the word of God(BC) originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached? 37 If anyone thinks they are a prophet(BD) or otherwise gifted by the Spirit,(BE) let them acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command.(BF) 38 But if anyone ignores this, they will themselves be ignored.[h]

39 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager(BG) to prophesy,(BH) and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40 But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly(BI) way.

Footnotes

  1. 1 Corinthians 14:2 Or in another language; also in verses 4, 13, 14, 19, 26 and 27
  2. 1 Corinthians 14:5 Or in other languages; also in verses 6, 18, 22, 23 and 39
  3. 1 Corinthians 14:5 Or in other languages; also in verses 6, 18, 22, 23 and 39
  4. 1 Corinthians 14:16 The Greek word for inquirer is a technical term for someone not fully initiated into a religion; also in verses 23 and 24.
  5. 1 Corinthians 14:21 Isaiah 28:11,12
  6. 1 Corinthians 14:34 Or peace. As in all the congregations of the Lord’s people, 34 women
  7. 1 Corinthians 14:35 In a few manuscripts these verses come after verse 40.
  8. 1 Corinthians 14:38 Some manuscripts But anyone who is ignorant of this will be ignorant

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