1 Corinthians 14:1-40 Reading the Passage

Two Principles for Christian Worship – 1 Corinthians 14:1-40

Note: The Greek term usually translated in this present passage as, “tongues,” is here given in same way it is translated throughout the rest of the New Testament, “languages.”

14 Follow the way of love, but also have a keen interest in spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy—(2) for the one who speaks in a foreign language is not speaking to men but to God, for no one understands him, by the Spirit he is speaking mysteries. (3) But the one who prophesies is speaking to men words that will strengthen them and encourage them and comfort them. (4) The one who speaks in a foreign language is edifying himself. But the one who prophesies is edifying the church. (5) Now I wish that all of you could speak in different languages; but more than that, I wish that all of you could prophesy. The one who prophesies is of greater value than the one who speaks in a different language—unless he is able to interpret—because the church may be edified.

(6) Now, brothers, if I come to you speaking in a foreign language, what benefit will it be to you—if I do not speak to you with a revelation, or with a word of knowledge, or with a prophesy, or with a word of instruction? (7) Even in the case of lifeless instruments that make sounds, whether a flute or a harp, if there is no distinction in the notes, how will anyone know what tune is being played on the flute or the harp? (8) Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will prepare himself for battle? (9) So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how can anyone understand what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air.

(10) Undoubtedly there are all kinds of languages in the world, and none of them is without meaning. (11) So then, if I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be a foreigner to the one who is speaking, and the one who is speaking will be a foreigner to me. (12) So it is with you. Since you are greatly interested in spiritual gifts, seek to excel in the gifts that will edify the church. (13) For this reason, the one who speaks in a different language should pray that he may interpret what he says. (14) If I am praying in a different language, my spirit is praying, but my mind is not being benefited.

(15) What then should I do? I will pray with my spirit, and I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, and I will also sing with my mind. (16) Otherwise, if you praise God with your spirit, how can someone who is an inquirer say “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since he does not know what you are saying? (17) Your giving thanks is good, but the other man is not edified. (18) I thank God that I speak in different languages more than all of you; (19) but in the church I would rather speak five words with my mind, so that I might also instruct others, than speak ten thousand words in a different language. (20) Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. With regard to evil, be infants; but in your thinking become mature men.

(21) In the Law it is written, “‘I will speak to these people by men who speak a foreign language and by the lips of foreigners, but not even then will they listen to me,’ says the Lord.” (22) So then, foreign languages are intended to be a sign, not for believers, but for unbelievers. Prophecy, however, is not for unbelievers, but for believers. (23) Therefore, if the whole church is assembled together and everyone is speaking in different languages, and inquirers or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are insane? (24) But if everyone is prophesying, and some unbeliever or inquirer comes in, he will be convicted by all of you, he will be judged by all of you. (25) The secrets of his heart will be revealed; and so he will fall face down and worship God, confessing that God truly is among you.

(26) So then what shall we do, brothers? When you meet together, each one should have a hymn, or a word of teaching, or a revelation, or an utterance in a different language, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for the edification of the church. (27) If any would speak in a different language, let it be done by only two or at the most three speakers, let them take turns speaking, and let someone interpret. (28) But if there is no interpreter present, let the one who would speak in a different language remain silent in the church—let him speak to himself and to God. (29) Let only two or three prophets speak, and let the others evaluate what is said. (30) But if a revelation is given to one of the others who is sitting there, let the first speaker be silent—(31) for you can all prophesy one at a time, so that everyone may learn and everyone may be exhorted. (32) The spirits of the prophets are under the control of the prophets; (33) for God is not a God of confusion, but of peace.

As in all the churches of the saints, (34) women should keep silence in the church assemblies, for it is not permissible for them to speak. On the contrary, they should be in submission, just as the Law also says. (35) If they want to inquire about something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.

(36) Did the word of God come forth from you, or did it only come to you? (37) If anyone thinks that he is a prophet or that he is a spiritual man, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the commandment of the Lord. (38) But if anyone disregards this, disregard that man. (39) So then, my brothers, be especially interested in the gift of prophesying, but do not forbid the speaking in different languages. (40) But let everything be done properly and in an orderly manner.

Now proceed to the next section of this study, entitled, Exploring the Passage.