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Spiritual Gifts

12 My friends, you asked me about spiritual gifts. I want you to remember that before you became followers of the Lord, you were led in all the wrong ways by idols that cannot even talk. Now I want you to know that if you are led by God’s Spirit, you will say that Jesus is Lord, and you will never curse Jesus.

There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but they all come from the same Spirit. There are different ways to serve the same Lord, and we can each do different things. Yet the same God works in all of us and helps us in everything we do.

The Spirit has given each of us a special way of serving others. Some of us can speak with wisdom, while others can speak with knowledge, but these gifts come from the same Spirit. To others the Spirit has given great faith or the power to heal the sick 10 or the power to work mighty miracles. Some of us are prophets, and some of us recognize when God’s Spirit is present.[a] Others can speak different kinds of languages, and still others can tell what these languages mean. 11 But it is the Spirit who does all this and decides which gifts to give to each of us.

One Body with Many Parts

12 The body of Christ has many different parts, just as any other body does. 13 Some of us are Jews, and others are Gentiles. Some of us are slaves, and others are free. But God’s Spirit baptized each of us and made us part of the body of Christ. Now we each drink from that same Spirit.[b]

14 Our bodies don’t have just one part. They have many parts. 15 Suppose a foot says, “I’m not a hand, and so I’m not part of the body.” Wouldn’t the foot still belong to the body? 16 Or suppose an ear says, “I’m not an eye, and so I’m not part of the body.” Wouldn’t the ear still belong to the body? 17 If our bodies were only an eye, we couldn’t hear a thing. And if they were only an ear, we couldn’t smell a thing. 18 But God has put all parts of our body together in the way that he decided is best.

19 A body isn’t really a body, unless there is more than one part. 20 It takes many parts to make a single body. 21 That’s why the eyes cannot say they don’t need the hands. That’s also why the head cannot say it doesn’t need the feet. 22 In fact, we cannot get along without the parts of the body that seem to be the weakest. 23 We take special care to dress up some parts of our bodies. We are modest about our personal parts, 24 but we don’t have to be modest about other parts.

God put our bodies together in such a way that even the parts that seem the least important are valuable. 25 He did this to make all parts of the body work together smoothly, with each part caring about the others. 26 If one part of our body hurts, we hurt all over. If one part of our body is honored, the whole body will be happy.

27 Together you are the body of Christ. Each one of you is part of his body. 28 First, God chose some people to be apostles and prophets and teachers for the church. But he also chose some to work miracles or heal the sick or help others or be leaders or speak different kinds of languages. 29 Not everyone is an apostle. Not everyone is a prophet. Not everyone is a teacher. Not everyone can work miracles. 30 Not everyone can heal the sick. Not everyone can speak different kinds of languages. Not everyone can tell what these languages mean. 31 I want you to desire the best gifts.[c] So I will show you a much better way.

Love

13 What if I could speak
all languages
of humans
    and of angels?
If I did not love others,
    I would be nothing more
than a noisy gong
    or a clanging cymbal.
What if I could prophesy
and understand all secrets
    and all knowledge?
And what if I had faith
    that moved mountains?
I would be nothing,
    unless I loved others.
What if I gave away all
    that I owned
and let myself
    be burned alive?[d]
I would gain nothing,
    unless I loved others.
Love is kind and patient,
never jealous, boastful,
    proud, or rude.
Love isn’t selfish
    or quick tempered.
It doesn’t keep a record
    of wrongs that others do.
Love rejoices in the truth,
    but not in evil.
Love is always supportive,
loyal, hopeful,
    and trusting.
Love never fails!

Everyone who prophesies
    will stop,
and unknown languages
will no longer
    be spoken.
All that we know
    will be forgotten.
We don’t know everything,
and our prophecies
    are not complete.
10 But what is perfect
    will someday appear,
and what isn’t perfect
    will then disappear.

11 When we were children,
we thought and reasoned
    as children do.
But when we grew up,
    we quit our childish ways.
12 Now all we can see of God
is like a cloudy picture
    in a mirror.
Later we will see him
    face to face.
We don’t know everything,
    but then we will,
just as God completely
    understands us.
13 For now there are faith,
    hope, and love.
But of these three,
    the greatest is love.

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. 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. But when you prophesy, you will be understood, and others will be helped. They will be encouraged and made to feel better.

By speaking languages that others don’t know, you help only yourself. But by prophesying you help everyone in the church. 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.

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? If all musical instruments sounded alike, how would you know the difference between a flute and a harp? If a bugle call isn’t clear, how would you know to get ready for battle?

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.

20 My friends, stop thinking like children. Think like mature people and be as innocent as tiny babies. 21 In the Scriptures the Lord says,

“I will use strangers
who speak unknown languages
    to talk to my people.
They will speak to them
    in foreign languages,
but still my people
    won’t listen to me.”

22 Languages that others don’t know may mean something to unbelievers, but not to the Lord’s followers. Prophecy, on the other hand, is for followers, not for unbelievers. 23 Suppose everyone in your worship service started speaking unknown languages, and some outsiders or some unbelievers come in. Won’t they think you are crazy? 24 But suppose all of you are prophesying when those unbelievers and outsiders come in. They will realize that they are sinners, and they will want to change their ways because of what you are saying. 25 They will tell what is hidden in their hearts. Then they will kneel down and say to God, “We are certain that you are with these people.”

Worship Must Be Orderly

26 My friends, when you meet to worship, you must do everything for the good of everyone there. That’s how it should be when someone sings or teaches or tells what God has said or speaks an unknown language or explains what the language means. 27 No more than two or three of you should speak unknown languages during the meeting. You must take turns, and someone should always be there to explain what you mean. 28 If no one can explain, you must keep silent in church and speak only to yourself and to God.

29 Two or three persons may prophesy, and everyone else must listen carefully. 30 If someone sitting there receives a message from God, the speaker must stop and let the other person speak. 31 Let only one person speak at a time, then all of you will learn something and be encouraged. 32 A prophet should be willing to stop and let someone else speak. 33 God wants everything to be done peacefully and in order.

When God’s people meet in church, 34 the women must not be allowed to speak. They must keep quiet and listen, as the Law of Moses teaches. 35 If there is something they want to know, they can ask their husbands when they get home. It is disgraceful for women to speak in church. 36 God’s message did not start with you people, and you are not the only ones it has reached.

37 If you think of yourself as a prophet or a spiritual person, you will know that I am writing only what the Lord has commanded. 38 So don’t pay attention to anyone who ignores what I am writing. 39 My friends, be eager to prophesy and don’t stop anyone from speaking languages that others don’t know. 40 But do everything properly and in order.

Footnotes

  1. 12.10 and some of us. . . present: Or “and some of us recognize the difference between God’s Spirit and other spirits.”
  2. 12.13 Some of us are Jews. . . that same Spirit: Verse 13 may also be translated, “God’s Spirit is inside each of us, and all around us as well. So it doesn’t matter that some of us are Jews and others are Gentiles and that some are slaves and others are free. Together we are one body.”
  3. 12.31 I want you to desire the best gifts: Or “You desire the best gifts.”
  4. 13.3 and let myself be burned alive: Some manuscripts have “so that I could brag.”

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