Appropriate Use of Prophecy and Tongues

14 Pursue love, and strive for spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. For the one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God, because no one understands, but by the Spirit[a] he speaks mysteries. But the one who prophesies speaks to people edification and encouragement and consolation. The one who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but the one who prophesies edifies the church. Now I want you all to speak with tongues, but even more that you may prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks with tongues, unless he interprets, in order that the church may receive edification.

But now, brothers, if I come to you speaking with tongues, how do I benefit you, unless I speak to you either with a revelation or with knowledge or with a prophecy or with a teaching? Likewise, the inanimate things which produce a sound, whether flute or lyre, if they do not produce a distinction in the tones, how will it be known what is played on the flute or on the lyre? For indeed, if the trumpet produces an indistinct sound, who will prepare for battle? And so you through the tongue, unless you produce a clear message, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air. 10 There are probably so many kinds of languages in the world, and none without meaning. 11 Therefore, if I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be a barbarian to the one who is speaking, and the one who is speaking will be a barbarian in my judgment. 12 In this way also you, since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek for the edification of the church, in order that you may abound.

13 Therefore the one who speaks in a tongue must pray that he may interpret. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unproductive. 15 Therefore what should I do[b]? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind. I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will also sing praise with my mind. 16 For otherwise, if you praise in your spirit, how will the one who fills the place of the outsider say the “amen” at your thanksgiving, because he does not know what you are saying? 17 For indeed you are giving thanks well, but the other person is not edified. 18 I give thanks to God that I speak with tongues more than all of you, 19 but in the church I prefer to speak five words with my mind, in order that I may instruct other people, than ten thousand words in a tongue.

20 Brothers, do not become children in your understanding, but with respect to wickedness be as a child, and in your understanding be mature. 21 In the law it is written:

“By those who speak a foreign language
    and by the lips of others
I will speak to this people,
    and not even in this way will they obey me,”[c]

says the Lord. 22 So then, tongues are for a sign not to those who believe, but to unbelievers, but prophecy is not for unbelievers, but for those who believe. 23 Therefore, if the whole church comes together at the same time and all speak with tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds? 24 But if all prophesy, and some unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is judged by all, 25 the secret things of his heart become evident, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God, proclaiming, “God is truly among you!”

Specific Instructions for Orderly Worship Services

26 Therefore what should you do[d], brothers? Whenever you come together, each one of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. All things must be done for edification. 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, it must be on one occasion two or at most three, and one after the other[e], and one must interpret. 28 But if there is no interpreter, he must be silent in the church, but let him speak to himself and to God. 29 Let two or three prophets speak, and the others evaluate. 30 And if something is revealed to another who is seated, the first must be silent. 31 For you are all able to prophesy in turn[f], in order that all may learn and all may be encouraged, 32 and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. 33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace.

As in all the churches of the saints, 34 the women must be silent in the churches, for it is not permitted for them to speak, but they must be in submission, just as the law also says. 35 But if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home, for it is shameful for a woman to speak in church. 36 Or has the word of God gone out from you, or has it come to you only?

37 If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual,[g] he should recognize that the things which I am writing to you are of the Lord.[h] 38 But if anyone ignores this, he is ignored.[i] 39 So then, my brothers, desire to prophesy, and do not prevent speaking with tongues. 40 But let all things be done decently and according to proper procedure.


  1. 1 Corinthians 14:2 Or “in the Spirit”; or “in his spirit”
  2. 1 Corinthians 14:15 Literally “what therefore is it”
  3. 1 Corinthians 14:21 A quotation from Isa 28:11–12
  4. 1 Corinthians 14:26 Literally “what therefore is it”
  5. 1 Corinthians 14:27 Literally “in turn”
  6. 1 Corinthians 14:31 Literally “one at a time
  7. 1 Corinthians 14:37 Or “or one who possesses the Spirit”
  8. 1 Corinthians 14:37 Some manuscripts have “are a command of the Lord”
  9. 1 Corinthians 14:38 Or “if anyone is ignorant, let him be ignorant”