14 Eagerly pursue and seek to acquire [this] love [make it your aim, your great quest]; and earnestly desire and cultivate the spiritual endowments (gifts), especially that you may prophesy ([a]interpret the divine will and purpose in inspired preaching and teaching).
2 For one who speaks in an [unknown] tongue speaks not to men but to God, for no one understands or catches his meaning, because in the [Holy] Spirit he utters secret truths and hidden things [not obvious to the understanding].
3 But [on the other hand], the one who prophesies [who [b]interprets the divine will and purpose in inspired preaching and teaching] speaks to men for their upbuilding and constructive spiritual progress and encouragement and consolation.
4 He who speaks in a [strange] tongue edifies and improves himself, but he who prophesies [[c]interpreting the divine will and purpose and teaching with inspiration] edifies and improves the church and promotes growth [in Christian wisdom, piety, holiness, and happiness].
5 Now I wish that you might all speak in [unknown] tongues, but more especially [I want you] to prophesy (to be inspired to preach and interpret the divine will and purpose). He who prophesies [who is inspired to preach and teach] is greater (more useful and more important) than he who speaks in [unknown] tongues, unless he should interpret [what he says], so that the church may be edified and receive good [from it].
6 Now, brethren, if I come to you speaking in [unknown] tongues, how shall I make it to your advantage unless I speak to you either in revelation (disclosure of God’s will to man) in knowledge or in prophecy or in instruction?
7 If even inanimate musical instruments, such as the flute or the harp, do not give distinct notes, how will anyone [listening] know or understand what is played?
8 And if the war bugle gives an uncertain (indistinct) call, who will prepare for battle?
9 Just so it is with you; if you in the [unknown] tongue speak words that are not intelligible, how will anyone understand what you are saying? For you will be talking into empty space!
10 There are, I suppose, all these many [to us unknown] tongues in the world [somewhere], and none is destitute of [its own power of] expression and meaning.
11 But if I do not know the force and significance of the speech (language), I shall seem to be a foreigner to the one who speaks [to me], and the speaker who addresses [me] will seem a foreigner to me.
12 So it is with yourselves; since you are so eager and ambitious to possess spiritual endowments and manifestations of the [Holy] Spirit, [concentrate on] striving to excel and to abound [in them] in ways that will build up the church.
13 Therefore, the person who speaks in an [unknown] tongue should pray [for the power] to interpret and explain what he says.
14 For if I pray in an [unknown] tongue, my spirit [by the [d]Holy Spirit within me] prays, but my mind is unproductive [it bears no fruit and helps nobody].
15 Then what am I to do? I will pray with my spirit [by the [e]Holy Spirit that is within me], but I will also pray [intelligently] with my mind and understanding; I will sing with my spirit [by the Holy Spirit that is within me], but I will sing [intelligently] with my mind and understanding also.
16 Otherwise, if you bless and render thanks with [your] spirit [[f]thoroughly aroused by the Holy Spirit], how can anyone in the position of an outsider or he who is not gifted with [interpreting of unknown] tongues, say the Amen to your thanksgiving, since he does not know what you are saying?(A)
17 To be sure, you may give thanks well (nobly), but the bystander is not edified [it does him no good].
18 I thank God that I speak in [strange] tongues (languages) more than any of you or all of you put together;
19 Nevertheless, in public worship, I would rather say five words with my understanding and intelligently in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a [strange] tongue (language).
20 Brethren, do not be children [immature] in your thinking; continue to be babes in [matters of] evil, but in your minds be mature [men].
21 It is written in the Law, By men of strange languages and by the lips of foreigners will I speak to this people, and not even then will they listen to Me, says the Lord.(B)
22 Thus [unknown] tongues are meant for a [supernatural] sign, not for believers but for unbelievers [on the point of believing], while prophecy (inspired preaching and teaching, interpreting the divine will and purpose) is not for unbelievers [on the point of believing] but for believers.
23 Therefore, if the whole church assembles and all of you speak in [unknown] tongues, and the ungifted and uninitiated or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are demented?
24 But if all prophesy [giving inspired testimony and interpreting the divine will and purpose] and an unbeliever or untaught outsider comes in, he is told of his sin and reproved and convicted and convinced by all, and his defects and needs are examined (estimated, determined) and he is called to account by all,
25 The secrets of his heart are laid bare; and so, falling on [his] face, he will worship God, declaring that God is among you in very truth.
26 What then, brethren, is [the right course]? When you meet together, each one has a hymn, a teaching, a disclosure of special knowledge or information, an utterance in a [strange] tongue, or an interpretation of it. [But] let everything be constructive and edifying and for the good of all.
27 If some speak in a [strange] tongue, let the number be limited to two or at the most three, and each one [taking his] turn, and let one interpret and explain [what is said].
28 But if there is no one to do the interpreting, let each of them keep still in church and talk to himself and to God.
29 So let two or three prophets speak [those inspired to preach or teach], while the rest pay attention and weigh and discern what is said.
30 But if an inspired revelation comes to another who is sitting by, then let the first one be silent.
31 For in this way you can give testimony [prophesying and thus interpreting the divine will and purpose] one by one, so that all may be instructed and all may be stimulated and encouraged;
32 For the spirits of the prophets (the speakers in tongues) are under the speaker’s control [and subject to being silenced as may be necessary],
33 For He [Who is the source of their prophesying] is not a God of confusion and disorder but of peace and order. As [is the practice] in all the churches of the saints (God’s people),
34 The women should keep quiet in the churches, for they are not authorized to speak, but should take a secondary and subordinate place, just as the Law also says.(C)
35 But if there is anything they want to learn, they should ask their own husbands at home, for it is disgraceful for a woman to talk in church [[g]for her to usurp and exercise authority over men in the church].
36 What! Did the word of the Lord originate with you [Corinthians], or has it reached only you?
37 If anyone thinks and claims that he is a prophet [filled with and governed by the Holy Spirit of God and inspired to interpret the divine will and purpose in preaching or teaching] or has any other spiritual endowment, let him understand (recognize and acknowledge) that what I am writing to you is a command of the Lord.
39 So [to conclude], my brethren, earnestly desire and set your hearts on prophesying (on being inspired to preach and teach and to interpret God’s will and purpose), and do not forbid or hinder speaking in [unknown] tongues.
40 But all things should be done with regard to decency and propriety and in an orderly fashion.
- 1 Corinthians 14:1 G. Abbott-Smith, Manual Greek Lexicon.
- 1 Corinthians 14:3 G. Abbott-Smith, Manual Greek Lexicon.
- 1 Corinthians 14:4 G. Abbott-Smith, Manual Greek Lexicon.
- 1 Corinthians 14:14 Marvin Vincent, Word Studies.
- 1 Corinthians 14:15 Marvin Vincent, Word Studies.
- 1 Corinthians 14:16 Joseph Thayer, A Greek-English Lexicon.
- 1 Corinthians 14:35 W. Robertson Nicoll, ed., The Expositor’s Greek New Testament.
- 1 Corinthians 14:38 Joseph Thayer, A Greek-English Lexicon.
- 1 Corinthians 14:38 Marvin Vincent, Word Studies. Some manuscripts read: “he is not known.”
- 1 Corinthians 14:16 : I Chron. 16:36; Ps. 106:48.
- 1 Corinthians 14:21 : Isa. 28:11, 12.
- 1 Corinthians 14:34 : Gen. 3:16.