1 Corinthians Chapter 14

(Tap footnote to read it.  Old Testament quotations are underlined.  "Love" with a caret ("^love") is agapé.1"agapé" The Greek words ἀγάπη (agapé, noun), and ἀγαπάω (agapaó; verb) are typically translated "love".  However, unlike our English word "love" – which primarily speaks of affection and feelings – agapé centers on choice and behavior.  It’s the "love" based on will, choice, behavior, and action; not feelings.  (Feelings-based love is the Greek word φιλέω (phileó), which properly means "brotherly love/affection".)  Thus, you could hate someone passionately and still treat him with "agapé".  Agapé "love" is best understood as the pursuit of what is most beneficial to someone or something, regardless of the cost to yourself or the type of response received from the person or thing.  It can also indicate a preference for someone or something over other things. )

Prophecy and Tongues
  1. Earnestly pursue ^love, yet zealously desire the spiritual gifts, and especially that you might prophesy.
  2. For the man speaking in a tongue doesn’t speak to men, but to God.  For no one understands him, but he speaks mysteries in his spirit.
  3. But the man prophesying speaks to men for building up, and encouragement, and consolation.
  4. The man speaking in a tongue builds himself up; but the man prophesying builds up the church.
  5. And I want all of you to speak in tongues, but prefer that you prophesy.  And the man prophesying is greater than the man speaking in tongues, 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 either in revelation, or in knowledge, or in prophecy, or in a teaching?
  7. Even lifeless things making a sound – whether flute or harp – if they don’t have a distinction in the sounds, 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 it’s the same way with you; unless you make easily understood1“easily understood” The Greek word here more literally means “clear to the understanding” speech 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 national2“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 don’t *know the meaning of the language, I will be an incomprehensible foreigner3“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 speaking, and the man speaking an incomprehensible foreigner4“incomprehensible foreigner” see previous note. to me.
  12. It’s also this way with you.   Since you are zealous for spiritual gifts for the building up of the church, so then seek to make them abound.
  13. For this reason, let the man speaking 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 filling the place of the ungifted say “Amen” at your thankfulness, since he 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 also 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 is *written in the law; “By other tongues, and by other men’s lips I will speak to this people; and they won’t listen to Me even this way, says the Lord.”5quotation/allusion to Isaiah 28:11-12
  22. So then, tongues exist for a sign, not to the men believing, but to unbelieving men.  But prophecy isn’t for unbelieving men, but for the men believing.
  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 speak as madmen?
  24. But if all prophesy and any unbeliever or ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all and examined by all.
  25. The secrets of his heart become revealed, and thus having fallen on his face he will worship God, declaring that God is truly among you.
Be Orderly When You Assemble
  1. Therefore brothers, what is proper?  Whenever you assemble, each man has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation; let all things happen for building up one another.
  2. And if some man 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 other prophets6“other prophets” 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 all you men7“all.. …men” is one masculine word in Greek, and “one” is masculine also.  All of the Greek words from verse 26-32 that could be used to determine the gender of the person in question are masculine. are able to prophecy one by one, so that all might learn and all might be strengthened.8“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 of peace.    As in all the churches of the saints,
  9. [your] women must be silent in the church assemblies.  For it’s not allowed for them to speak, but they must submit themselves,9“submit themselves” The Greek word here is “ὑποτάσσω” (hupotassó) The endings for its middle and passive voice are the same, so either could’ve been intended.  In the middle voice, it contains reflexive force and thus has the connotation of voluntary obedience, so “wives must obey” is more accurate to the intended sense (though less literal, despite this meaning being in the lexicons).  In the passive voice it could be translated “must be submitted”.  The middle voice is more likely because the passive voice could indicate that their submission/obedience is being done to them (i.e. they’re being made to submit). just as the law also says.10“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.  11Verse 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 these things I write to you are the Lord’s command.
  13. But if someone doesn’t know this, he isn’t known.12The Greek word “ἀγνοέω” (agnoeó) is used twice in this verse; once in the active indicative with negation (“won’t know”) and once in the middle/passive indicative (“he isn’t known”).  It literally means to “not know” a person or thing, and can refer to willful ignorance.  In this latter sense it carries the connotation of sinning.  Many commentators have suggested this is a reference to Matthew 7:23, saying that the man “isn’t known” by God for his “willful ignorance”/sin.   There is a textual variant in this verse which makes the second instance a 3rd person imperative (command = “let him not be known”). In this view, the command to not know the man is likely pointing to church discipline, again likely because of his “willful ignorance”.
  14. So my brothers, zealously desire to prophesy and don’t forbid speaking in tongues,
  15. yet let all things happen properly and with order.


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