Appropriate Use of Prophecy and Tongues

14 Pursue love, and strive for spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. For the one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God, because no one understands, but by the Spirit[a] he speaks mysteries. But the one who prophesies speaks to people edification and encouragement and consolation. The one who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but the one who prophesies edifies the church. Now I want you all to speak with tongues, but even more that you may prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks with tongues, unless he interprets, in order that the church may receive edification.

But now, brothers, if I come to you speaking with tongues, how do I benefit you, unless I speak to you either with a revelation or with knowledge or with a prophecy or with a teaching? Likewise, the inanimate things which produce a sound, whether flute or lyre, if they do not produce a distinction in the tones, how will it be known what is played on the flute or on the lyre? For indeed, if the trumpet produces an indistinct sound, who will prepare for battle? And so you through the tongue, unless you produce a clear message, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air. 10 There are probably so many kinds of languages in the world, and none without meaning. 11 Therefore, if I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be a barbarian to the one who is speaking, and the one who is speaking will be a barbarian in my judgment. 12 In this way also you, since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek for the edification of the church, in order that you may abound.

13 Therefore the one who speaks in a tongue must pray that he may interpret. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unproductive. 15 Therefore what should I do[b]? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind. I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will also sing praise with my mind. 16 For otherwise, if you praise in your spirit, how will the one who fills the place of the outsider say the “amen” at your thanksgiving, because he does not know what you are saying? 17 For indeed you are giving thanks well, but the other person is not edified. 18 I give thanks to God that I speak with tongues more than all of you, 19 but in the church I prefer to speak five words with my mind, in order that I may instruct other people, than ten thousand words in a tongue.

20 Brothers, do not become children in your understanding, but with respect to wickedness be as a child, and in your understanding be mature. 21 In the law it is written:

“By those who speak a foreign language
    and by the lips of others
I will speak to this people,
    and not even in this way will they obey me,”[c]

says the Lord. 22 So then, tongues are for a sign not to those who believe, but to unbelievers, but prophecy is not for unbelievers, but for those who believe. 23 Therefore, if the whole church comes together at the same time and all speak with tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds? 24 But if all prophesy, and some unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is judged by all, 25 the secret things of his heart become evident, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God, proclaiming, “God is truly among you!”

Specific Instructions for Orderly Worship Services

26 Therefore what should you do[d], brothers? Whenever you come together, each one of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. All things must be done for edification. 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, it must be on one occasion two or at most three, and one after the other[e], and one must interpret. 28 But if there is no interpreter, he must be silent in the church, but let him speak to himself and to God. 29 Let two or three prophets speak, and the others evaluate. 30 And if something is revealed to another who is seated, the first must be silent. 31 For you are all able to prophesy in turn[f], in order that all may learn and all may be encouraged, 32 and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. 33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.

As in all the churches of the saints, 34 the women must be silent in the churches, for it is not permitted for them to speak, but they must be in submission, just as the law also says. 35 But if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home, for it is shameful for a woman to speak in church. 36 Or has the word of God gone out from you, or has it come to you only?

37 If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual,[g] he should recognize that the things which I am writing to you are of the Lord.[h] 38 But if anyone ignores this, he is ignored.[i] 39 So then, my brothers, desire to prophesy, and do not prevent speaking with tongues. 40 But let all things be done decently and according to proper procedure.

Footnotes

  1. 1 Corinthians 14:2 Or “in the Spirit”; or “in his spirit”
  2. 1 Corinthians 14:15 Literally “what therefore is it”
  3. 1 Corinthians 14:21 A quotation from Isa 28:11–12
  4. 1 Corinthians 14:26 Literally “what therefore is it”
  5. 1 Corinthians 14:27 Literally “in turn”
  6. 1 Corinthians 14:31 Literally “one at a time
  7. 1 Corinthians 14:37 Or “or one who possesses the Spirit”
  8. 1 Corinthians 14:37 Some manuscripts have “are a command of the Lord”
  9. 1 Corinthians 14:38 Or “if anyone is ignorant, let him be ignorant”

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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