1 Corinthians 14
Tongues and Prophecy
1Let love be your highest goal! But you should also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives—especially the ability to prophesy. 2For if you have the ability to speak in tongues,#14:2a Or in unknown languages; also in 14:4, 5, 13, 14, 18, 22, 26, 27, 28, 39. you will be talking only to God, since people won’t be able to understand you. You will be speaking by the power of the Spirit,#14:2b Or speaking in your spirit. but it will all be mysterious. 3But one who prophesies strengthens others, encourages them, and comforts them. 4A person who speaks in tongues is strengthened personally, but one who speaks a word of prophecy strengthens the entire church.
5I wish you could all speak in tongues, but even more I wish you could all prophesy. For prophecy is greater than speaking in tongues, unless someone interprets what you are saying so that the whole church will be strengthened.
6Dear brothers and sisters,#14:6a Greek brothers; also in 14:20, 26, 39. if I should come to you speaking in an unknown language,#14:6b Or in tongues; also in 14:19, 23. how would that help you? But if I bring you a revelation or some special knowledge or prophecy or teaching, that will be helpful. 7Even lifeless instruments like the flute or the harp must play the notes clearly, or no one will recognize the melody. 8And if the bugler doesn’t sound a clear call, how will the soldiers know they are being called to battle?
9It’s the same for you. If you speak to people in words they don’t understand, how will they know what you are saying? You might as well be talking into empty space.
10There are many different languages in the world, and every language has meaning. 11But if I don’t understand a language, I will be a foreigner to someone who speaks it, and the one who speaks it will be a foreigner to me. 12And the same is true for you. Since you are so eager to have the special abilities the Spirit gives, seek those that will strengthen the whole church.
13So anyone who speaks in tongues should pray also for the ability to interpret what has been said. 14For if I pray in tongues, my spirit is praying, but I don’t understand what I am saying.
15Well then, what shall I do? I will pray in the spirit,#14:15 Or in the Spirit; also in 14:15b, 16. and I will also pray in words I understand. I will sing in the spirit, and I will also sing in words I understand. 16For if you praise God only in the spirit, how can those who don’t understand you praise God along with you? How can they join you in giving thanks when they don’t understand what you are saying? 17You will be giving thanks very well, but it won’t strengthen the people who hear you.
18I thank God that I speak in tongues more than any of you. 19But in a church meeting I would rather speak five understandable words to help others than ten thousand words in an unknown language.
20Dear brothers and sisters, don’t be childish in your understanding of these things. Be innocent as babies when it comes to evil, but be mature in understanding matters of this kind. 21It is written in the Scriptures#14:21a Greek in the law.:
“I will speak to my own people
through strange languages
and through the lips of foreigners.
But even then, they will not listen to me,”#14:21b Isa 28:11-12.
says the Lord.
22So you see that speaking in tongues is a sign, not for believers, but for unbelievers. Prophecy, however, is for the benefit of believers, not unbelievers. 23Even so, if unbelievers or people who don’t understand these things come into your church meeting and hear everyone speaking in an unknown language, they will think you are crazy. 24But if all of you are prophesying, and unbelievers or people who don’t understand these things come into your meeting, they will be convicted of sin and judged by what you say. 25As they listen, their secret thoughts will be exposed, and they will fall to their knees and worship God, declaring, “God is truly here among you.”
A Call to Orderly Worship
26Well, my brothers and sisters, let’s summarize. When you meet together, one will sing, another will teach, another will tell some special revelation God has given, one will speak in tongues, and another will interpret what is said. But everything that is done must strengthen all of you.
27No more than two or three should speak in tongues. They must speak one at a time, and someone must interpret what they say. 28But if no one is present who can interpret, they must be silent in your church meeting and speak in tongues to God privately.
29Let two or three people prophesy, and let the others evaluate what is said. 30But if someone is prophesying and another person receives a revelation from the Lord, the one who is speaking must stop. 31In this way, all who prophesy will have a turn to speak, one after the other, so that everyone will learn and be encouraged. 32Remember that people who prophesy are in control of their spirit and can take turns. 33For God is not a God of disorder but of peace, as in all the meetings of God’s holy people.#14:33 The phrase as in all the meetings of God’s holy people could instead be joined to the beginning of 14:34.
34Women should be silent during the church meetings. It is not proper for them to speak. They should be submissive, just as the law says. 35If they have any questions, they should ask their husbands at home, for it is improper for women to speak in church meetings.#14:35 Some manuscripts place verses 34-35 after 14:40.
36Or do you think God’s word originated with you Corinthians? Are you the only ones to whom it was given? 37If you claim to be a prophet or think you are spiritual, you should recognize that what I am saying is a command from the Lord himself. 38But if you do not recognize this, you yourself will not be recognized.#14:38 Some manuscripts read If you are ignorant of this, stay in your ignorance.
39So, my dear brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and don’t forbid speaking in tongues. 40But be sure that everything is done properly and in order.
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