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1 Corinthians 14Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)

Use Spiritual Gifts to Help the Church

14 Love should be the goal of your life, but you should also want to have the gifts that come from the Spirit. And the gift you should want most is to be able to prophesy. I will explain why. Those who have the gift of speaking in a different language are not speaking to people. They are speaking to God. No one understands them—they are speaking secret things through the Spirit. But those who prophesy are speaking to people. They help people grow stronger in faith, and they give encouragement and comfort. Those who speak in a different language are helping only themselves. But those who prophesy are helping the whole church.

I would like all of you to have the gift of speaking in different languages. But what I want more is for you to prophesy. Anyone who prophesies is more important than those who can only speak in different languages. However, if they can also interpret those languages, they are as important as the one who prophesies. If they can interpret, then the church can be helped by what they say.

Brothers and sisters, will it help you if I come to you speaking in different languages? No, it will help you only if I bring you a new truth or some knowledge, prophecy, or teaching. This is true even with lifeless things that make sounds—like a flute or a harp. If the different musical notes are not made clear, you can’t understand what song is being played. Each note must be played clearly for you to be able to understand the tune. And in a war, if the trumpet does not sound clearly, the soldiers will not know it is time to prepare for fighting.

It is the same with you. If you don’t speak clearly in a language people know, they cannot understand what you are saying. You will be talking to the air! 10 It is true that there are many different languages in the world, and they all have meaning. 11 But if I don’t understand the meaning of what someone is saying, it will just be strange sounds to me, and I will sound just as strange to them. 12 That’s why you who want spiritual gifts so much should prefer those gifts that help the church grow stronger.

13 So those who have the gift of speaking in a different language should pray that they can also interpret what they say. 14 If I pray in a different language, my spirit is praying, but my mind does nothing. 15 So what should I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind. I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind. 16 You might be praising God with your spirit. But someone there without understanding cannot say “Amen” to your prayer of thanks, because they don’t know what you are saying. 17 You may be thanking God in a good way, but others are not helped.

18 I thank God that my gift of speaking in different kinds of languages is greater than any of yours. 19 But in the church meetings I would rather speak five words that I understand than thousands of words in a different language. I would rather speak with my understanding, so that I can teach others.

20 Brothers and sisters, don’t think like children. In evil things be like babies, but in your thinking you should be like full-grown adults. 21 As the Scriptures[a] say,

“Using those who speak a different language
    and using the lips of foreigners,
I will speak to these people.
    But even then, they will not obey me.”

This is what the Lord says.

22 And from this we see that the use of different languages shows how God deals with those who don’t believe, not with those who believe. And prophecy shows how God works through those who believe, not through unbelievers. 23 Suppose the whole church meets together and you all speak in different languages. If some people come in who are without understanding or don’t believe, they will say you are crazy. 24 But suppose you are all prophesying and someone comes in who does not believe or who is without understanding. Their sin will be shown to them, and they will be judged by everything you say. 25 The secret things in their heart will be made known. So they will bow down and worship God. They will say, “Without a doubt, God is here with you.”[b]

Your Meetings Should Be Helpful to All

26 So, brothers and sisters, what should you do? When you meet together, one person has a song, another has a teaching, and another has a new truth from God. One person speaks in a different language, and another interprets that language. The purpose of whatever you do should be to help everyone grow stronger in faith. 27 When you meet together, if anyone speaks to the group in a different language, it should be only two or no more than three people who do this. And they should speak one after the other. And someone else should interpret what they say. 28 But if there is no interpreter, then anyone who speaks in a different language should be quiet in the church meeting. They should speak only to themselves and to God.

29 And only two or three prophets should speak. The others should judge what they say. 30 And if a message from God comes to someone who is sitting, the first speaker should be quiet. 31 You can all prophesy one after the other. This way everyone can be taught and encouraged. 32 The spirits of prophets are under the control of the prophets themselves. 33 God is not a God of confusion but a God of peace. This is the rule for all the meetings of God’s people.

34 The women should keep quiet in these church meetings. They are not allowed to speak out but should be under authority, as the Law of Moses says. 35 If there is something they want to know, they should ask their own husbands at home. It is shameful for a woman to speak up like that in the church meeting.

36 God’s teaching did not come from you, and you are not the only ones who have received it. 37 If you think you are a prophet or that you have a spiritual gift, you should understand that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command. 38 If you do not accept this, you will not be accepted.

39 So my brothers and sisters, continue to give your attention to prophesying. And don’t stop anyone from using the gift of speaking in different languages. 40 But everything should be done in a way that is right and orderly.


  1. 1 Corinthians 14:21 Scriptures Literally, “law,” which sometimes means the Old Testament.
  2. 1 Corinthians 14:25 See Isa. 45:14 and Zech. 8:23.
Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)

Copyright © 2006 by Bible League International


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