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14. Gifts of Prophecy and Tongues

1Follow after love; yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy. 2For he that speaketh in a tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God; for no man understandeth; but in the spirit he speaketh mysteries. 3But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men edification, and exhortation, and consolation. 4He that speaketh in a tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church. 5Now I would have you all speak with tongues, but rather that ye should prophesy: and greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying. 6But now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, unless I speak to you either by way of revelation, or of knowledge, or of prophesying, or of teaching? 7Even things without life, giving a voice, whether pipe or harp, if they give not a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped? 8For if the trumpet give an uncertain voice, who shall prepare himself for war? 9So also ye, unless ye utter by the tongue speech easy to understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye will be speaking into the air. 10There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and no kind is without signification. 11If then I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be to him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh will be a barbarian unto me. 12So also ye, since ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may abound unto the edifying of the church. 13Wherefore let him that speaketh in a tongue pray that he may interpret. 14For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. 15What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. 16Else if thou bless with the spirit, how shall he that filleth the place of the unlearned say the Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he knoweth not what thou sayest? 17For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified. 18I thank God, I speak with tongues more than you all: 19howbeit in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that I might instruct others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue. 20Brethren, be not children in mind: yet in malice be ye babes, but in mind be men. 21In the law it is written, By men of strange tongues and by the lips of strangers will I speak unto this people; and not even thus will they hear me, saith the Lord. 22Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to the unbelieving: but prophesying is for a sign, not to the unbelieving, but to them that believe. 23If therefore the whole church be assembled together and all speak with tongues, and there come in men unlearned or unbelieving, will they not say that ye are mad? 24But if all prophesy, and there come in one unbelieving or unlearned, he is reproved by all, he is judged by all; 25the secrets of his heart are made manifest; and so he will fall down on his face and worship God, declaring that God is among you indeed. 26What is it then, brethren? When ye come together, each one hath a psalm, hath a teaching, hath a revelation, hath a tongue, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying. 27If any man speaketh in a tongue, let it be by two, or at the most three, and that in turn; and let one interpret: 28but if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God. 29And let the prophets speak by two or three, and let the others discern. 30But if a revelation be made to another sitting by, let the first keep silence. 31For ye all can prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be exhorted; 32and the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets; 33for God is not a God of confusion, but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints, 34let the women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but let them be in subjection, as also saith the law. 35And if they would learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home: for it is shameful for a woman to speak in the church. 36What? was it from you that the word of God went forth? or came it unto you alone? 37If any man thinketh himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him take knowledge of the things which I write unto you, that they are the commandment of the Lord. 38But if any man is ignorant, let him be ignorant. 39Wherefore, my brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues. 40But let all things be done decently and in order.

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1Co 14:1-25. Superiority of Prophecy over Tongues.

1. Follow after charity—as your first and chief aim, seeing that it is "the greatest" (1Co 13:13).

and desire—Translate, "Yet (as a secondary aim) desire zealously (see on 1Co 12:31) spiritual gifts."

but rather—"but chiefly that ye may prophesy" (speak and exhort under inspiration) (Pr 29:18; Ac 13:1; 1Th 5:20), whether as to future events, that is, strict prophecy, or explaining obscure parts of Scripture, especially the prophetical Scriptures or illustrating and setting forth questions of Christian doctrine and practice. Our modern preaching is the successor of prophecy, but without the inspiration. Desire zealously this (prophecy) more than any other spiritual gift; or in preference to "tongues" (1Co 14:2, &c.) [Bengel].

2. speaketh … unto God—who alone understands all languages.

no man understandeth—generally speaking; the few who have the gift of interpreting tongues are the exception.

in the spirit—as opposed to "the understanding" (1Co 14:14).

mysteries—unintelligible to the hearers, exciting their wonder, rather than instructing them. Corinth, being a mart resorted to by merchants from Asia, Africa, and Europe, would give scope amidst its mixed population for the exercise of the gift of tongues; but its legitimate use was in an audience understanding the tongue of the speaker, not, as the Corinthians abused it, in mere display.

3. But—on the other hand.

edification—of which the two principal species given are "exhortation" to remove sluggishness, "comfort" or consolation to remove sadness [Bengel]. Omit "to."

4. edifieth himself—as he understands the meaning of what the particular "tongue" expresses; but "the church," that is, the congregation, does not.

5. Translate, "Now I wish you all to speak with tongues (so far am I from thus speaking through having any objection to tongues), but rather IN ORDER THAT (as my ulterior and higher wish for you) ye should prophesy." Tongues must therefore mean languages, not ecstatic, unintelligible rhapsodie (as Neander fancied): for Paul could never "wish" for the latter in their behalf.

greater—because more useful.

except he interpret—the unknown tongue which he speaks, "that the Church may receive edifying (building up)."




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