Suppose the whole church meets together and everyone speaks in ·different languages [L tongues]. If some people come in who ·do not understand [or are inquirers/seekers; v. 16] or are unbelievers, they will say you are ·crazy [insane; C unintelligible tongues sound like babbling].
If therefore, when the whole Church is come together in one, and all speak strange tongues, there come in they that are unlearned, or they which believe not, will they not say, that ye are out of your wits?
That means that tongues are a sign of God’s power, not for those who are unbelievers, but to those who already believe. Preaching the word of God, on the other hand, is a sign of God’s power to those who do not believe rather than to believers. So that, if at a full church meeting you are all speaking with tongues and men come in who are both uninstructed and without faith, will they not say that you are insane? But if you are preaching God’s word and such a man should come in to your meeting, he is convicted and challenged by your united speaking of the truth. His secrets are exposed and he will fall on his knees acknowledging God and saying that God is truly among you!
To be perfectly frank, I’m getting exasperated with your infantile thinking. How long before you grow up and use your head—your adult head? It’s all right to have a childlike unfamiliarity with evil; a simple no is all that’s needed there. But there’s far more to saying yes to something. Only mature and well-exercised intelligence can save you from falling into gullibility. It’s written in Scripture that God said, In strange tongues and from the mouths of strangers I will preach to this people, but they’ll neither listen nor believe. So where does it get you, all this speaking in tongues no one understands? It doesn’t help believers, and it only gives unbelievers something to gawk at. Plain truth-speaking, on the other hand, goes straight to the heart of believers and doesn’t get in the way of unbelievers. If you come together as a congregation and some unbelieving outsiders walk in on you as you’re all praying in tongues, unintelligible to each other and to them, won’t they assume you’ve taken leave of your senses and get out of there as fast as they can? But if some unbelieving outsiders walk in on a service where people are speaking out God’s truth, the plain words will bring them up against the truth and probe their hearts. Before you know it, they’re going to be on their faces before God, recognizing that God is among you.
Imagine what would happen if the entire church gathered together speaking in different languages, one foreign to the next. Then people who have never heard of such a thing or unbelieving people walk up on all that’s going on. Would they not think each and every one of you were raving lunatics?
Therefore if all the church come together into one, and all men speak in tongues, if unlearned men, either men out of the faith enter, whether they shall not say [soothly if idiots enter, or men out of the faith, whether they say not], What be ye mad?