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1 Corinthians 14 Expanded Bible (EXB)

Desire Spiritual Gifts

14 ·You should seek after [Pursue; Make your aim] love, and ·you should truly want to have [eagerly desire; be zealous for] the spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy. ·I will explain why. [L For] Those who ·have the gift of speaking in different languages [or speak with ecstatic utterance; L speak in a tongue; 12:10, 29, 30; 13:1] are not speaking to people; they are speaking to God. No one understands them; they are speaking ·secret things [mysteries] ·through [by; in; with] the Spirit. But those who prophesy are speaking to people ·to give them strength [for edification/upbuilding], encouragement, and ·comfort [consolation]. The ones who speak in different languages are ·helping [edifying; building up] only themselves, but those who prophesy are ·helping [edifying; building up] the whole church. I wish all of you ·had the gift of speaking in different kinds of languages [L spoke in tongues; v. 2], but more, I wish you would prophesy. Those who prophesy are greater than those who ·can only speak in different languages [L speak in tongues; v. 2]—unless someone ·is there who can explain what is said [L interprets (the tongues)] so that the whole church can be ·helped [edified; built up].

Brothers and sisters, how will it help you if I come to you speaking in ·different languages [L tongues; v. 2], unless I bring you a ·new truth [revelation] or ·some new knowledge [L knowledge], or prophecy, or teaching? It is the same as with lifeless things that make sounds—like a flute or a harp. If they do not make ·clear [distinct] musical notes, ·you will not [L how will you…?] know what is being played. And in a war, if the trumpet does not give a clear sound, who will prepare for battle? It is the same with you. Unless you speak ·clearly [intelligible words] with your tongue, ·no one can [L how will anyone…?] understand what you are saying. You will be talking into the air! 10 It may be true that there are all kinds of sounds in the world, and none is without meaning. 11 But unless I understand the meaning of what someone says to me, we will be like ·foreigners [barbarians] to each other. 12 It is the same with you. Since you ·eagerly desire [are zealous for] ·spiritual gifts [or manifestations of the Spirit], seek ·most of all to have [to excel in] the gifts that ·help the church grow stronger [build up/edify the church].

13 [L Therefore] The one who has the gift of ·speaking in a different language [or ecstatic utterance; L tongues] should pray for the gift to interpret what is spoken. 14 If I pray ·in a different language [or with ecstatic utterance; L in a tongue], my spirit is praying, but my mind ·does nothing [L is unfruitful]. 15 So what should I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind. I will ·sing [sing praises/psalms] with my spirit, but I will also ·sing [sing praises/psalms] with my mind. 16 [L Otherwise] If you ·praise God [or pronounce a blessing] with your spirit, those persons there ·without understanding [or without the gift; or who are inquirers/seekers; vv. 23, 24] cannot say “Amen” [C from a Hebrew term meaning “it is true”; 1 Chr. 16:36] to your prayer of thanks, because they do not know what you are saying. 17 You may be thanking God ·in a good way [well enough], but the other person is not ·helped [edified; built up].

18 I thank God that I speak ·in different kinds of languages [or with ecstatic utterance; L in tongues] more than all of you. 19 But in the church meetings I would rather speak five words ·I understand [L with my mind] in order to teach others than thousands of words ·in a different language [or with ecstatic utterance; L in a tongue].

20 Brothers and sisters, do not think like children. In evil things be like ·babies [infants], but in your thinking you should be ·like adults [mature; grown-up]. 21 It is written in the ·Scriptures [L Law; C referring here to all of Scripture]:

“With people who use ·strange words [L different tongues/languages] and ·foreign languages [L different lips]
    I will speak to these people.
But even then they will not ·listen to [or obey] me [Is. 28:11–12; see also Deut. 28:49],”

says the Lord. [C Israel didn’t listen when God used foreign-speaking Assyrians to punish them; similarly people won’t benefit from hearing tongues they don’t understand.]

22 So ·the gift of speaking in different kinds of languages [or ecstatic utterance; L tongues] is a sign for unbelievers, not for believers [C tongues served as a warning of judgment and a call to repentance; see Acts 2:4, 21, 38–40]. And prophecy is for believers, not for unbelievers. 23 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]. 24 But suppose everyone is prophesying and unbelievers or ·those who does not understand [or inquirers/seekers] come in. If everyone is prophesying, ·their sin will be shown to them [L they will be convicted by all], and they will be judged by ·all that they hear [L all]. 25 The secret things in their hearts will be made known. So they will ·bow down [L fall face down] and worship God saying, “Truly, God is ·with you [among you; in your midst].” [C Though prophecy is for believers (v. 22), it also convicts unbelievers better than uninterpreted (and so incoherent) tongues (see vv. 27–28), since it is a coherent message from God.]

Meetings Should Help the Church

26 So, brothers and sisters, what should you do? When you meet together, one person has a ·song [psalm; hymn], and another has a teaching. Another has a ·new truth from God [L revelation]. Another speaks ·in a different language [or with ecstatic utterance; L tongue], and another person ·interprets that language [L an interpretation]. The purpose of all these things should be ·to help the church grow strong [L for edification/building up]. 27 When you meet together, if anyone speaks ·in a different language [or with ecstatic utterance; L in a tongue], it should be only two, or not more than three, who speak. They should speak one after the other, and someone should interpret. 28 But if there is no interpreter, then they should ·be quiet [remain silent] in the church meeting. They should speak only to themselves and to God.

29 Only two or three prophets should speak, and the others should ·judge [evaluate; consider; weigh] what they say. 30 If a ·message from God [L revelation] comes to another person who is sitting, the first speaker should stop. 31 [L For] You can all prophesy one after the other. In this way all the people can be taught and encouraged. 32 The spirits of prophets are ·under the control of [subject to] the prophets themselves [C unlike in pagan religions, where a spirit would seize control of a speaker, causing frenzy, mania or ecstasy]. 33 [L For] God is not a God of ·confusion [disorder] but a God of peace.

As is true in all the ·churches [assemblies] of ·God’s people [T the saints; C some commentators take this clause as part of the previous sentence], 34 ·women [or wives] should keep quiet in the ·church meetings [churches; assemblies; C the context here may be the evaluation of prophecy (v. 29), rather than general worship (where women presumably could speak; see 11:2–16)]. [L For] They are not allowed to speak, but they must ·yield to this rule [or be in submission; or keep their ordered place] as the law says [C perhaps Gen. 3:16, or a nonbiblical Jewish tradition]. 35 If they want to ·learn something [or ask questions], they should ask their own husbands at home. It is ·shameful [disgraceful; improper] for a woman to speak in ·the church meeting [the assembly; church]. 36 Did ·God’s teaching [the word of God] ·come from [originate with] you? Or are you the only ones to whom it has come? [C Apparently, some women were being disruptive during meetings.]

37 Those who think they are prophets or spiritual persons should ·understand [or acknowledge] that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command. 38 Those who ignore this will ·be ignored by God [or themselves be ignored].[a]

39 So my brothers and sisters, you should ·truly want [be eager] to prophesy. And do not ·stop people from using the gift of speaking in different kinds of languages [L forbid/hinder speaking in tongues]. 40 But let everything be done in a ·right [proper; fitting] and orderly way.


  1. 1 Corinthians 14:38 Those… God. Some Greek copies read “Those who are ignorant of this will stay ignorant.”
Expanded Bible (EXB)

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