1 Corinthians 14:1-40 NIV
Intelligibility in Worship
1Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy. 2For anyone who speaks in a tonguea 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,b but I would rather have you prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues,c 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 inquirer,d 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.”e
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 inquirers or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind? 24But if an unbeliever or an inquirer 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.
34Womenf 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 inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.g
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.h
39Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40 But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.
In this chapter the subject is continued with special reference to the subject of "prophecy," as being the most valuable of the miraculous endowments, or the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit. He recommends us to desire prophecy; 1 Corinthians 14:1. He then proceeds to set forth the advantage of speaking in intelligible language, or of speaking so that the church may be edified, by the following considerations, which comprise the chapter:
1. The advantage of being understood, and of speaking for the edification of the church; 1 Corinthians 14:2-5.
2. No man could be useful to the church except he delivered that which was understood, any more than the sound of a trumpet in times of war would be useful, unless it were so sounded as to be understood by the army; 1 Corinthians 14:6-11.
3. It was the duty of all to seek to edify the church; and if a man could speak in an unknown tongue, it was his duty also to seek to be able to interpret what he said; 1 Corinthians 14:12-15.
4. The use of tongues would produce embarrassment and confusion, since those who heard them speak would be ignorant of what was said, and be unable to join in the devotions; 1 Corinthians 14:16-17.
5. Though Paul himself was more signally endowed than any of them, yet he prized far more highly the power of promoting the edification of the church, though he said but five words, if they were understood, than all the power which he possessed of speaking foreign languages; 1 Corinthians 14:18-19.
6. This sentiment illustrated from the Old Testament; 1 Corinthians 14:20-21.
7. The real use of the power of speaking foreign languages was to be a sign to unbelievers, an evidence that the religion was from God, and not to be used among those who were already Christians; 1 Corinthians 14:22.
8. The effect of their all speaking with tongues would be to produce confusion and disorder, and disgust among observers, and the conviction that they were deranged; but the effect of order, and of speaking intelligibly, would be to convince and convert them; 1 Corinthians 14:23-25.
9. The apostle then gives rules in regard to the proper conduct of those who were able to speak foreign languages; 1 Corinthians 14:26-32.
10. The great rule was, that order was to be observed, and that God was the Author of peace; 1 Corinthians 14:33.
11. The apostle then gives a positive direction that women are not allowed to speak in the church, even though they should claim to be inspired; 1 Corinthians 14:34-35.
12. He then required all to submit to his authority, and to admit that what he had spoken was from the Lord; 1 Corinthians 14:36-37. And then,
13. Concludes with directing them to desire to prophesy, and not to forbid speaking with tongues on proper occasions, but to do all things in decency and order; 1 Corinthians 14:38-40,