Tongues and Prophecy
1 Put love first; but there are other gifts of the Spirit at which you should aim also, and above all prophecy. 2 When a man is using the language of ecstasy he is talking with God, not with men, for no man understands him; he is no doubt inspired, but he speaks mysteries. 3 On the other hand, when a man prophesies, he is talking to men, and his words have power to build; they stimulate and they encourage. 4 The language of ecstasy is good for the speaker himself, but it is prophecy that builds up a Christian community. 5 I should be pleased for you all to use the tongues of ecstasy, but better pleased for you to prophesy. The prophet is worth more than the man of ecstatic speech - unless indeed he can explain its meaning, and so help to build up the community. 6 Suppose, my friends, that when I come to you I use ecstatic language: what good shall I do you, unless what I say contains something by way of revelation, or enlightenment, or prophecy, or instruction?
7 Even with inanimate things that produce sounds - a flute, say, or a lyre - unless their notes mark definite intervals, how can you tell what tune is being played? 8 Or again, if the trumpet-call is not clear, who will prepare for battle? 9 In the same way if your ecstatic utterance yields no precise meaning, how can anyone tell what you are saying? You will be talking into the air. 10 How many different kinds of sound there are, or may be, in the world! Nothing is altogether soundless. 11 Well then, if I do not know the meaning of the sound the speaker makes, his words will be gibberish to me, and mine to him. 12 You are, I know, eager for gifts of the Spirit; then aspire above all to excel in those which build up the church.
13 I say, then, that the man who falls into ecstatic utterance should pray for the ability to interpret. 14 If I use such language in my prayer, the Spirit in me prays, but my intellect lies fallow. 15 What then? I will pray as I am inspired to pray, but I will also pray intelligently. I will sing hymns as I am inspired to sing, but I will sing intelligently too. 16 Suppose you are praising God in the language of inspiration: how will the plain man who is present be able to say 'Amen' to your thanksgiving, when he does not know what you are saying? 17 Your prayer of thanksgiving n may be all that could be desired, but it is no help to the other man. 18 Thank God, I am more gifted in is ecstatic utterance than any of you, 19 but in the congregation I would rather speak five intelligible words, for the benefit of others as well as myself, than thousands of words in the language of ecstasy.
20 Do not be childish, my friends. Be as innocent of evil as babes, but at least be grown-up in your thinking. 21 [ Is.28.11-12, Dt.28.49. ] We read in the Law: 'I will speak to this nation through men of strange tongues, and by the lips of foreigners; and even so they will not heed me, says the Lord.' 22 Clearly then these 'strange tongues' are not intended as a sign for believers, but for unbelievers, whereas prophecy is des-gned not for unbelievers but for those who hold the faith. 23 So if the whole congregation is assembled and all are using the 'strange tongues' of ecstasy, and some uninstructed persons or unbelievers should enter, will they not think you are mad? 24 But if all are uttering prophecies, the visitor, when he enters, hears from everyone something that searches his conscience and brings conviction, 25 and the secrets of his heart are laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, crying, 'God is certainly among you!'
All Things to be Done in Order
26 To sum up, my friends: when you meet for worship, each of you contributes a hymn, some instruction, a revelation, an ecstatic utterance, or the interpretation of such an utterance. All of these must aim at one thing: to build up the church. 27 If it is a matter of ecstatic utterance, only two should speak, or at most three, one at a time, and someone must interpret. 28 If there is no interpreter, the speaker had better not address the meeting at all, but speak to himself and to God. 29 Of the prophets, two or three may speak, while the rest exercise their judgement upon what is said. 30 If someone else, sitting in his place, receives a revelation, let the first speaker stop. 31 You can all prophesy, one at a time, so that the whole congregation may receive instruction and encouragement. 32 It is for prophets to control prophetic inspiration, 33 for the God who inspires them is not a God of disorder but of peace.
34 As in all congregations of God's people, women should not address the meeting. They have no licence to speak, but should keep their place as the law directs. 35 If there is something they want to know, they can ask their own husbands at home. It is a shocking thing that a woman should address the congregation. 36 Did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people to whom it came? 37 If anyone claims to be inspired or a prophet, let him recognize that what I write has the Lord's authority. 38 If he does not recognize this, he himself should not be recognized. 39 In short, my friends, be eager to prophesy; do not forbid ecstatic utterance; 40 but let all be done decently and in order.
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