1 Corinthians Chapter 14

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Prophecy and Tongues
  1. Earnestly pursue love, yet zealously desire the spiritual gifts, and especially that you might prophesy.
  2. For the man who speaks in a tongue doesn’t speak to men, but to God.  For no one understands him, but in his spirit[1]his spirit” is literally ” but spirit he speaks mysteries”.  In view of 1 Corinthians 14:14, “spirit” here shouldn’t be understood as the Holy Spirit, but rather the man’s spirit.  Further, this sentence lacks the typical grammatical markers for referencing the Holy Spirit. he speaks mysteries.
  3. But the man who prophesies speaks for building up, and encouragement, and consolation.
  4. The man who speaks in a tongue builds himself up; but the man who prophesies builds up a church.
  5. And I want all of you to speak in tongues, but prefer that you prophesy.  And the man who prophesies is greater than the man who speaks in tongues, unless[2]literally “except unless” he interprets so the church might receive edification.
  6. And now brothers, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I benefit you unless I speak to you in revelation, or in knowledge, or in prophecy, or in a teaching?
  7. Even lifeless things which make a sound – whether flute or harp – if the sounds they make aren’t distinct, how will it be recognized what’s played on the flute or harp?
  8. For also, if a trumpet makes an unrecognizable sound, who will prepare himself for battle?
  9. And in the same way, unless you make easily understood[3]“easily understood” The Greek word here more literally means “clear to the understanding” words with your tongue, how will it be known what’s spoken?  For you’ll be speaking into the air.
  10. There are, perhaps, a great many national[4]“national” is more accurately “ethnic” or “racial”.  The Greek word refers to the offspring of a common ancestor, and thus families, races, or nations.  It’s used this way consistently throughout the New Testament, and sometimes translated “kinds” – as in various kinds of families/races/nations – but it retains the focus on a common ancestor, and thus should be translated accordingly. languages in the world, and none is without meaning.
  11. Therefore, if I didn’t – and don’t – know the meaning of the language, I will be an incomprehensible foreigner[5]“incomprehensible foreigner” This Greek word here is “βάρβαρος” (barbaros), which is a technical word referring to anyone who didn’t speak Greek.  The Greek thought themselves so superior, that over time it became nearly an insult, and is the root of our word “barbarian”. to the man who speaks, and the man who speaks an incomprehensible foreigner[6]“incomprehensible foreigner” This Greek word here is “βάρβαρος” (barbaros), which is a technical word referring to anyone who didn’t speak Greek.  The Greek thought themselves so superior, that over time it became nearly an insult, and is the root of our word “barbarian”. to me.
  12. It’s also this way with you.   Since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to make them abound for the building up of the church.
  13. For this reason, let the man who speaks in a tongue pray that he might interpret.
  14. For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful.
  15. Therefore, what is fruitful?  I will pray with the spirit, but I will also pray with the mind.  I will sing with the spirit, but I will also sing with the mind.
  16. Otherwise if you bless in spirit, how will the man who fills the ungifted place say “Amen” at your thankfulness, since he didn’t – and doesn’t – know what you say?
  17. For you indeed give thanks well, but the other man isn’t built up.
  18. I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you.
  19. But in the church, I want to speak five words with my mind so I might teach others, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue.
  20. Brothers, don’t become children in your thoughts – yet be infants in evil – but become mature in your thoughts.
  21. It was – and is – written in the law; “By other tongues, and by other men’s lips I will speak to this people; and they won’t even listen to Me this way, says the Lord.”[7]quotation/allusion to Isaiah 28:11-12
  22. So then, tongues aren’t a sign to the men who believe, but to the unbelievers.  But prophecy isn’t for the unbelievers, but for the men who believe.
  23. Therefore, if the whole church assembles at the same place and all speak in tongues, but ungifted men or unbelievers enter, won’t they say that you’re mad?
  24. But if all prophesy and some unbelievers or ungifted men enter, he is convicted by all and examined by all.
  25. The secrets of his heart become revealed, and falling on his face he will worship[8]“worship” This Greek word comes from the words: “pros” (meaning “towards”) and “kyneo” (meaning “to kiss”). It literally refers to bowing down on your hands and knees and kissing the ground in front of a superior or authority figure. Some Egyptian pictographs have the hand outstretched, as if to send the “kiss” toward the one being revered. God, declaring that God is truly among you.
Be Orderly When You Assemble
  1. Therefore brothers, what is proper?  Whenever you assemble, each has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation; let everything be done to build up one another.
  2. And if someone speaks in a tongue, it must be by two (or at the most three) and each in turn; and one must interpret.
  3. But if there’s no interpreter, he must be silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God.
  4. And let two or three prophets speak and let the others[9]“others” In Greek, this is a single word which means “another of the same kind”, which contextually refers to prophets. judge what’s prophesied.
  5. But if something is revealed to another who’s sitting, let the first be silent.
  6. For you are all able to prophecy one by one, so that all might learn and all might be strengthened.[10]“strengthened” Other possible interpretations of this word in this context include: exhorted, encouraged, instructed, admonished.
  7. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.
  8. For God isn’t the God of chaos, but peace, as in all the churches of the saints.
  9. The women must be silent in the churches, for it’s not allowed for them to speak, but they must be in submission;[11]“they must be in submission” could also be translated “they must be in obedience”.  The Greek word here is “ὑποτάσσω” (hupotassó).  The middle and passive Greek endings are the same here, so either could be intended.  In the middle voice, it contains reflexive force and more properly means “obey”, with the sense of putting oneself in obedience/submission.  Even in the passive voice, it retains some middle force and thus has a similar meaning. just as the law also says.[12]“just as the law also says” Paul might be referring to the submission aspect here.  In that case, the only verse in the law that might fit is Genesis 3:16.
  10. But if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it’s shameful for a woman to speak in the church assembly.  [13]Verse Note: in the list of things done in the assembly (verses 26-32), the Greek words which could be used to determine the genders of the teachers, prophets, etc. are all masculine.  None of them are feminine or neuter.
  11. Or did the word of God come from you?  Or did it only come to you?
  12. If someone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, he must recognize that the things I write to you are the Lord’s command.
  13. But if someone won’t recognize this, he must not be recognized.[14]The Greek word “ἀγνοέω” (agnoeó) is used twice in this verse; once in the active indicative (factual declaration = “won’t recognize”) and once in the middle/passive imperative (command = “he must not be recognized”).  It literally means “ignorant” in the sense of someone doesn’t know.  However it can also contain the idea of willful ignorance, and in this sense carries the connotation of sinning.  In this view, the verse could be translated “But if anyone won’t know this, he must not be known” i.e. by God, which could be a salvific statement.
  14. So my brothers, zealously desire to prophesy and don’t forbid speaking in tongues,
  15. yet do everything properly and with order.


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