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
New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

14 Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.

For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.

But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.

He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.

I would that ye all spake with tongues but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.

Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?

And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped?

For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?

So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air.

10 There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification.

11 Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me.

12 Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.

13 Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret.

14 For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.

15 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.

16 Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?

17 For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified.

18 I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all:

19 Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.

20 Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.

21 In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord.

22 Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.

23 If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?

24 But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all:

25 And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.

26 How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.

27 If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret.

28 But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.

29 Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.

30 If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace.

31 For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.

32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.

33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law.

35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.

36 What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only?

37 If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.

38 But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.

39 Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.

40 Let all things be done decently and in order.

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