1 Corinthians 14:1-19
Contemporary English Version
Speaking Unknown Languages and Prophesying
14 Love should be your guide. Be eager to have the gifts that come from the Holy Spirit, especially the gift of prophecy. 2 If you speak languages that others don’t know, God will understand what you are saying, though no one else will know what you mean. You will be talking about mysteries that only the Spirit understands. 3 But when you prophesy, you will be understood, and others will be helped. They will be encouraged and made to feel better.
4 By speaking languages that others don’t know, you help only yourself. But by prophesying you help everyone in the church. 5 I am glad for you to speak unknown languages, although I had rather for you to prophesy. In fact, prophesying does much more good than speaking unknown languages, unless someone can help the church by explaining what you mean.
6 My friends, what good would it do, if I came and spoke unknown languages to you and didn’t explain what I meant? How would I help you, unless I told you what God had shown me or gave you some knowledge or prophecy or teaching? 7 If all musical instruments sounded alike, how would you know the difference between a flute and a harp? 8 If a bugle call isn’t clear, how would you know to get ready for battle?
9 That’s how it is when you speak unknown languages. If no one can understand what you are talking about, you will only be talking to the wind. 10 There are many different languages in this world, and all of them make sense. 11 But if I don’t understand the language that someone is using, we will be like foreigners to each other. 12 If you really want spiritual gifts, choose the ones that will be most helpful to the church.
13 When we speak languages that others don’t know, we should pray for the power to explain what we mean. 14 For example, if I use an unknown language in my prayers, my spirit prays but my mind is useless. 15 Then what should I do? There are times when I should pray with my spirit, and times when I should pray with my mind. Sometimes I should sing with my spirit, and at other times I should sing with my mind.
16 Suppose some strangers are in your worship service, when you are praising God with your spirit. If they don’t understand you, how will they know to say, “Amen”? 17 You may be worshiping God in a wonderful way, but no one else will be helped. 18 I thank God that I speak unknown languages more than any of you. 19 But words that make sense can help the church. That’s why in church I had rather speak five words that make sense than to speak ten thousand words in a language that others don’t know.Read full chapter