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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
Use Spiritual Gifts to Help the Church
1Love should be the goal of your life, but you should also want to have the gifts that come from the Spirit. And the gift you should want most is to be able to prophesy. 2I will explain why. Those who have the gift of speaking in a different language are not speaking to people. They are speaking to God. No one understands them—they are speaking secret things through the Spirit. 3But those who prophesy are speaking to people. They help people grow stronger in faith, and they give encouragement and comfort. 4Those who speak in a different language are helping only themselves. But those who prophesy are helping the whole church.
5I would like all of you to have the gift of speaking in different languages. But what I want more is for you to prophesy. Anyone who prophesies is more important than those who can only speak in different languages. However, if they can also interpret those languages, they are as important as the one who prophesies. If they can interpret, then the church can be helped by what they say.
6Brothers and sisters, will it help you if I come to you speaking in different languages? No, it will help you only if I bring you a new truth or some knowledge, prophecy, or teaching. 7This is true even with lifeless things that make sounds—like a flute or a harp. If the different musical notes are not made clear, you can’t understand what song is being played. Each note must be played clearly for you to be able to understand the tune. 8And in a war, if the trumpet does not sound clearly, the soldiers will not know it is time to prepare for fighting.
9It is the same with you. If you don’t speak clearly in a language people know, they cannot understand what you are saying. You will be talking to the air! 10It is true that there are many different languages in the world, and they all have meaning. 11But if I don’t understand the meaning of what someone is saying, it will just be strange sounds to me, and I will sound just as strange to them. 12That’s why you who want spiritual gifts so much should prefer those gifts that help the church grow stronger.
13So those who have the gift of speaking in a different language should pray that they can also interpret what they say. 14If I pray in a different language, my spirit is praying, but my mind does nothing. 15So what should I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind. I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind. 16You might be praising God with your spirit. But someone there without understanding cannot say “Amen” to your prayer of thanks, because they don’t know what you are saying. 17You may be thanking God in a good way, but others are not helped.
18I thank God that my gift of speaking in different kinds of languages is greater than any of yours. 19But in the church meetings I would rather speak five words that I understand than thousands of words in a different language. I would rather speak with my understanding, so that I can teach others.
20Brothers and sisters, don’t think like children. In evil things be like babies, but in your thinking you should be like full-grown adults. 21As the Scriptures#14:21 Scriptures Literally, “law,” which sometimes means the Old Testament. say,
“Using those who speak a different language
and using the lips of foreigners,
I will speak to these people.
But even then, they will not obey me.” Isaiah 28:11-12
This is what the Lord says.
22And from this we see that the use of different languages shows how God deals with those who don’t believe, not with those who believe. And prophecy shows how God works through those who believe, not through unbelievers. 23Suppose the whole church meets together and you all speak in different languages. If some people come in who are without understanding or don’t believe, they will say you are crazy. 24But suppose you are all prophesying and someone comes in who does not believe or who is without understanding. Their sin will be shown to them, and they will be judged by everything you say. 25The secret things in their heart will be made known. So they will bow down and worship God. They will say, “Without a doubt, God is here with you.”#14:25 See Isa. 45:14 and Zech. 8:23.
Your Meetings Should Be Helpful to All
26So, brothers and sisters, what should you do? When you meet together, one person has a song, another has a teaching, and another has a new truth from God. One person speaks in a different language, and another interprets that language. The purpose of whatever you do should be to help everyone grow stronger in faith. 27When you meet together, if anyone speaks to the group in a different language, it should be only two or no more than three people who do this. And they should speak one after the other. And someone else should interpret what they say. 28But if there is no interpreter, then anyone who speaks in a different language should be quiet in the church meeting. They should speak only to themselves and to God.
29And only two or three prophets should speak. The others should judge what they say. 30And if a message from God comes to someone who is sitting, the first speaker should be quiet. 31You can all prophesy one after the other. This way everyone can be taught and encouraged. 32The spirits of prophets are under the control of the prophets themselves. 33God is not a God of confusion but a God of peace. This is the rule for all the meetings of God’s people.
34The women should keep quiet in these church meetings. They are not allowed to speak out but should be under authority, as the Law of Moses says. 35If there is something they want to know, they should ask their own husbands at home. It is shameful for a woman to speak up like that in the church meeting.
36God’s teaching did not come from you, and you are not the only ones who have received it. 37If you think you are a prophet or that you have a spiritual gift, you should understand that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command. 38If you do not accept this, you will not be accepted.
39So my brothers and sisters, continue to give your attention to prophesying. And don’t stop anyone from using the gift of speaking in different languages. 40But everything should be done in a way that is right and orderly.