1Corinthians Chapter Fourteen


In this chapter Paul examines the purpose, the essence, and importance of speaking in tongues as he compares it with prophecy. Verse 1 says , ‘Pursue love and be enthusiastic about spiritual gifts, but have a preference for prophecy over speaking out in tongues’

Paul gives a description of somebody speaking in the spirit. He says that with his spirit and the Spirit of God he begins to glorify God when he speaks in tongues and that his communication is not with men but with the Father. But he demonstrates that this might build up the faith of an individual but prophecy more directly builds up the faith of the church.

There was a problem here that needed correction. The members of the Corinthian Church were more concerned about themselves than the Church. Paul had to correct the overuse of tongues since that seemed to be the thing that attracted most of the people.

There are historical reasons for this situation arising. In Corinth there was a priesthood cult - the oracle of Delphi - where the people would come to get their fortunes told. The goddess ‘Python’ spoke in gibberish (other tongues that was interpreted by pagan priests) It was a pagan ritual that was centuries old. Heads of State and important families paid to get leading (Led away as gentiles by dumb idols – See chapter 12).

Paul then explains that tongues is a function of the human spirit and faith in the Holy Spirit, whereas prophecy is a function of the human mind and faith in the Holy Spirit.

When somebody prophesies they have to have faith that it is a Word from God. In their mind they conceive that there is a Word to be intelligibly spoken, understood, and directed. Their faith in the Holy Spirit releases that and they speak it out. Similarly with tongues: faith in the Holy Spirit releases what is conceived in the human spirit and we speak out in tongues. But he encourages prophecy over tongues.

Paul is not saying that the person who prophesies is more important than the one who speaks in tongues but that prophecy is more effective for building up the Body. The one who prophesies is bringing the message of God which can be understood be an encouragement and a comforts and bring the Body together.

Paul then says that if he should speak in tongues for others to hear there is no point unless there is an interpretation. He identifies four different modes of interpretation - revelation, knowledge, prophecy and teaching (vs.6). If an interpretation of tongues should sound like a prophecy, for example, that is in order. It is one of the modes listed.

In Corinth, people spoke in tongues and there was no interpretation. Paul says that if a person is going to do that and take up time in a meeting he will be like a "foreigner" or a "barbarian" {other translations}. This word comes from the Greek barbaros - a case of ‘onomatopoeia’ - for the barbarian describes somebody who goes around saying ba-ba-ba-ba. A room full of tongues-speaking people praising God can sound like that. This could only possibly be appropriate to believers. If somebody doesn't understand, it may as well be a foreigner from another country talking.

Paul goes on to explain that praying in tongues is something that the mind cannot understand; it is something our spirit does without our mind getting any meaning from it. In fact it appears repugnant to the intellectual mind. Remember that Paul's main concern was for people to get meaning in a meeting from what was being said. However he takes time to explain what is happening when someone is praying in tongues.

Paul says he speaks in tongues more than anybody there. When he prays in the spirit he is not concerned about what is happening in' his mind for he knows he is speaking mysteries to God. It is an exercise of the spirit and God is working with him. He says he would rather speak five words that people can understand and learn something from, than speak ten thousand words in tongues, and so Paul, it seems did not speak in tongues in Church publicly. It wasn't his gift for the Church. This is not to say he didn't speak in tongues quietly in Church.

He explains that tongues are for a sign TO unbelievers that something "different" is happening here. The word "sign" means something that shows the distinction between one thing and another. A sign points the way to something else that is significant. An unbeliever knows that there is something different and supernatural happening when there is a sign and it is tongues. The believer knows something supernatural is happening when he hears prophecy because he discerns it as the Word of God. He is taught and versed and encouraged in it.

Paul's plea in 1Cor 14 is for order in the Church. He is not elevating prophecy above

tongues but explaining the purpose of each with particular emphasis on operating these gifts so that order and decency prevail within the Church meeting.

RIGHT Click here to view parallel Spiritcode (CAV) with the KJV in a new Web page window - OR to download the PDF file to your desktop1corinthians14_files/1%20CORINTHANS%20CH.%2014.pdf



1. Pursue love and be enthusiastic about spiritual gifts, but have a preference for prophecy over speaking out in tongues

2. Because speaking in tongues is not really meant to be a message to other people but  is really meant for God, and other people won’t understand what is being said when  someone is speaking mysteries for only God to hear..

3. But if you are prophesying you are speaking clearly to other people to build up their faith and encourage and comfort them.

4. Speaking to God in an unknown tongue is effective in building up our individual faith, but prophesying builds up the church.

5. I would like everyone to speak in tongues but I would prefer that you prophesied because it is more beneficial for someone to prophesy than to speak in tongues, unless they interpret the message, so that the church gets built up in faith.

6. If I come into your gathering and speak in tongues what use is that for you unless I bring some revelation or knowledge or prophetic encouragement or some understanding of teaching.

7. Take for instance musical instruments that make their particular sound, whether they are wind instruments or stringed instruments. Unless they are played with clarity of tone and melody, how can anybody appreciate what is being played?

8. If a trumpet doesn’t sound the alert loud and clear, who will respond to the alert and ready himself for battle?

9. It is the same with you. Unless you speak clearly and plainly, in words that can be understood, how will anyone know what you are trying to say. You might as well be shouting into the wind, with no one hearing you

10. There are no doubt many different languages and  shades of meaning and inflection in the world, and they all have their own significance and implication

11. So if I don’t know the meaning or connotation of what I am saying, I will sound like I’m talking gibberish to someone else, and they might as well be talking gibberish back to me.

12. So if you are that enthusiastic about exercising spiritual gifts, do your absolute best to use your gift to build up the faith of the church.

13. So if someone is going to speak out loud in tongues, let them pray that they are able to bring an interpretation.

14. What is happening when I pray in tongues is that my spirit is praying, but my mind does not know what is being said.

15. So what am I going to do? I will pray in the spirit and I will also pray with understanding. I will sing in the spirit and I will also sing with understanding.

16. Otherwise when you pray a prayer in the spirit to bless everybody in the room how will those that do not know the things of the Spirit say Amen to what you are thanking God about, because he has no idea what you are talking about?

17. You might  be really doing a great job in thanking God, but it does nothing for anybody else.

18. I give God thanks for the fact that I speak in tongues more than any of you

19. But in a church gathering I would rather speak five words that people can understand and learn something from, than speak ten thousand words in tongues.

20. My friends, don’t be immature in your understanding but when it comes to immorality stay as innocent as children, while becoming mature in understanding.

21. It is written in Scripture – ‘With men of other tongues and other lips I will speak to my people, but for all that they still will not listen to me’ says The Lord.

22. So we can see that tongues is something out of the ordinary that signals that the supernatural is happening, not for those who already believe, but to those who don’t yet believe: While prophesy appears to be nothing out of the ordinary for the unbeliever, but it is for the believer.

23  If the whole church is gathered together and all everyone is doing is speaking in tongues, and people come in who don’t yet believe or understand , don’t you think they will say that you are all mad?

24. But if everyone is prophesying and someone who does not yet believe or understand comes in, they will be struck in their minds and hearts by the truth of what thy hear

25. Their inner thoughts and feelings will be exposed, and they will fall before God in reverence and tell everyone they know that God is truly in your midst.

26. So what do we do then my friends? When you come together in a group let every one of you ether have psalm to read, or a principle of truth to share, or a tongue to speak, or a revelation from God to share, or an interpretation. Lt everything that is done be for the building up of peoples’ faith.

27. If anyone does speak in tongues let there be only about two or perhaps three of you, and do it in turn, and then let someone interpret what has been said.

28. But if there is no one with the gift of interpretation in the group, the one who wants to speak in tongues should speak in tongues quietly and personally to God

29. There should only be two or three prophesying also, and the others can evaluate and consider what has been said.

30. If something is revealed to someone sitting near you, stop prophesying and let the other one have their turn.

3. You can all prophesy if you want, one by one, and everyone can learn and get encouragement and comfort.

32. Those who prophesy are in control of whether they speak or refrain from speaking

33. God does not instigate confusion and division among you but unity and peace, just as in the rest of the church.

34. The women should remain quiet in the church because they are not allowed to speak, but they are told to be in submission, as the Scripture says.

35. If they want to learn anything they can ask their husbands at home, because it is bad manners for women to speak in the church.

36. I ask you – Did God’s Word come from you? Or did it only come to you?

37. If any man thinks himself to be a prophet, or thinks of himself as a spiritual person, he should accept that what I have been saying is the commandment of The Lord.

38. But if any man chooses not to understand this then he can stay ignorant.

39 So my friends, be enthusiastic about prophesying and don’t forbid people to speak in tongues

40. Just let everything be done appropriately and in order.

Back to MainTranslations.html