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14
Of speaking with tongues
1I told you to desire the greatest gifts, and that is why I bid you earnestly to pursue love, but of those other spiritual things of which I have spoken, in my opinion the best, the most useful, is prophecy or preaching. 2-4And why? Because it instructs and builds and strengthens. To utter a spiritual language known only to God is to hold converse indeed with God, to allow the Spirit itself to utter its own mysteries, and that is good. 5I would have you all to speak with such tongues as that; but this spiritual language, the tongue of God, needs interpretation; and through that interpretation man is blessed with something that comforts, consoles, and builds him up. 6-7Prophecy does this, interpreting to others the language of heaven, and building the Church on earth. Therefore is it a greater gift to prophesy than to speak the new tongues of the Spirit, for such words make the Church. The new tongues require interpretation. I shall be no help to you unless I reveal something to you, increase your knowledge of things divine, and act as a prophet and teacher. All tongues and languages and voices on earth have meaning. 8Even the trumpet, made of brass merely, can summon men to battle, the flute and the pipe can move men most variously. But what if their sounds be not understood? What if their stops and notes be so uncertainly handled that there is no recognition of their meaning? Who will arm himself then for the fray? 9-10And of the different languages which men talk, there is not one which is without meaning and interpretation. We call those “foreign” tongues which we cannot understand, and them that speak them “foreigners.” So it is with the language of heaven, the tongue that the Spirit speaks with spiritual utterings.
To speak with the understanding is of first importance
11It sounds strange and barbarous in the ears of those who do not understand it. It needs interpretation, and for those who understand it not, you do but speak into the air, not into their minds. 12-13If you be anxious and desirous for proofs of your spirituality, for the gifts and wonders of the Spirit and its activities, then let this desire for an overflowing measure of it in your hearts end always in the furthering of that great spiritual goal, the aim, as I have said, of all the operations of the Spirit, the building up of the Church, of the infinite body of the Christ. 14To that end pray and sing, bless and give thanks. 15If I pray with the mind as well as the Spirit, and sing with understanding as well as ecstasy, and interpret to the mind and consciousness the tongue of the Spirit which I utter, then is that great purpose fulfilled. 16Then will those who hearken to your blessing and giving of thanks say Amen to it. For the demands of the understanding have been fulfilled. 17But if you give thanks with spiritual voices only, in a language unknown to those who fill the place of the humble listeners and the congregation, however well you do it, the church is not fulfilled and is not edified. 18My brethren, this language of the Spirit utters itself richly in me, and in more frequent and fuller tones than in all of you, 19yet would I rather speak five words with the understanding that can help my brother than ten thousand in a language which he does not know. 20My brethren, you have become as little children in this world, but be not children in understanding, but children only in evil. This speaking with tongues, you say, is a sign, a miracle. 21Yes, God says, “With other lips and a strange tongue will I speak to this people, and yet will they not hearken to me.” (Is. xxviii. 11-12) 22They are a sign to those who have no faith, and a sign that is not accepted. 23In your own midst, when the whole church is gathered together as one, what need then of such strange and startling signs? 24For then are heard the voices of understanding that build the perfect church, psalm, and teaching, revelation, tongues and their interpretation; and when one from without enters this reasonable temple of worship, 25the thoughts of his own heart are laid bare to him, he is convicted and judged and made to cry out in his own soul, “surely God is in you” (Is. xlv. 14).
The need for orderliness
26To this great aim let all your worship tend; let psalm, teaching, revelation, tongues and their interpretation be subject to order and arrangement, and so help to build the church. 27Let not more than two or three at most speak with tongues simultaneously, and let these utterances of the Spirit invariably be interpreted and let them not be too long. 28Without interpretation there must be no speaking with tongues. Let him who feels this ability commune with himself and with God, and be silent in his ecstasy, unless he can make his meaning clear. 29Let not more than two or three members speak as prophets voicing the divine, 30and let the rest listen in silence, and distinguish carefully the truth of the words spoken; and where one or other is moved by revelation to speak, give place to him and let the first be silent. 31-32For everyone of you, and not a few only, is able to prophesy, and to do this for the good of all, for there is nothing unruly in the spirit of prophecy. It is subject to him who has the understanding of it, 33and in the churches of God all is order and peace. There is no disorder in the divine being. 34Therefore also the women are not to speak in your assemblies. This is the tradition of the law, and it must be still observed. You may think otherwise, you may even be doing otherwise in your churches. But it is forbidden. 35-38Are you the originators and only recipients of the Gospel? Did it not come first to me, and through me to you? And I tell you that the Lord has given a commandment about these things. Perhaps you do not understand it or recognise it? Then you show yourselves to be without the pale of God's ruling and guidance. Woman can learn and question and speak at home, not in public now. 39Then desire this gift of teaching and prophecy above all others, and allow the speaking with tongues, 40but let everything be done in an orderly and rational manner.
14
Intelligibility in worship
1Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy. 2For anyone who speaks in a tongue#14:2 Or in another language; also in verses 4, 13, 14, 19, 26 and 27 does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no-one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit. 3But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort. 4Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves, but the one who prophesies edifies the church. 5I would like every one of you to speak in tongues,#14:5 Or in other languages; also in verses 6, 18, 22, 23 and 39 but even more to prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues,#14:5 Or in other languages; also in verses 6, 18, 22, 23 and 39 unless someone interprets, so that the church may be edified.
6Now, 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 or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction? 7Even 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? 8Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? 9So 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. 10Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning. 11If 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. 12So it is with you. Since you are eager for gifts of the Spirit, try to excel in those that build up the church.
13For this reason the one who speaks in a tongue should pray that they may interpret what they say. 14For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. 15So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding. 16Otherwise when you are praising God in the Spirit, how can someone else, who is now put in the position of an enquirer,#14:16 The Greek word for enquirer is a technical term for someone not fully initiated into a religion; also in verses 23 and 24. say ‘Amen’ to your thanksgiving, since they do not know what you are saying? 17You are giving thanks well enough, but no-one else is edified.
18I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. 19But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.
20Brothers and sisters, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults. 21In the Law 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,
says the Lord.’#14:21 Isaiah 28:11,12
22Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is not for unbelievers but for believers. 23So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and enquirers or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind? 24But if an unbeliever or an enquirer comes in while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted of sin and are brought under judgment by all, 25as the secrets of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, ‘God is really among you!’
Good order in worship
26What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up. 27If anyone speaks in a tongue, two – or at the most three – should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. 28If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and to God.
29Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. 30And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. 31For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. 32The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. 33For God is not a God of disorder but of peace – as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.
34Women#14:33,34 Or peace. As in all the congregations of the Lord’s people, 34 women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. 35If they want to enquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.#14:34,35 In a few manuscripts these verses come after verse 40.
36Or did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached? 37If anyone thinks they are a prophet or otherwise gifted by the Spirit, let them acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command. 38But if anyone ignores this, they will themselves be ignored.#14:38 Some manuscripts But anyone who is ignorant of this will be ignorant
39Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.