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1 Corinthians 14 The Passion Translation (TPT)

Proper Use of Spiritual Gifts

14 It is good that you are enthusiastic and passionate about spiritual gifts, especially prophecy.[a] When someone speaks in tongues, no one understands a word he says, because he’s not speaking to people, but to God—he is speaking intimate mysteries in the Spirit.[b] But when someone prophesies, he speaks to encourage people, to build them up, and to bring them comfort.[c] The one who speaks in tongues advances his own spiritual progress,[d] while the one who prophesies builds up the church. I would be delighted if you all spoke in tongues, but I desire even more that you impart prophetic revelation to others. Greater gain comes through the one who prophesies than the one who speaks in tongues, unless there is interpretation so that it builds up the entire church.

My dear friends, what good is it if I come to you always speaking in tongues? But if I come with a clear revelation from God, or with insight,[e] or with a prophecy, or with a clear teaching, I can enrich you.[f] Similarly, if musical instruments, such as flutes or stringed instruments, are out of tune and don’t play the arrangement clearly, how will anyone recognize the melody? If the bugle makes a garbled sound, who will recognize the signal to show up for the battle? So it is with you. Unless you speak in a language that’s easily understood, how will anyone know what you’re talking about? You might as well save your breath!

10 I suppose that the world has all sorts of languages, and each conveys meaning to the ones who speak it. 11 But I am like a foreigner if I don’t understand the language, and the speaker will be like a foreigner to me. 12 And that’s what’s happening among you. You are so passionate[g] about embracing the manifestations of the Holy Spirit! Now become even more passionate about the things that strengthen the entire church.

13 So then, if you speak in a tongue, pray for the interpretation to be able to unfold the meaning of what you are saying. 14 For if I am praying in a tongue, my spirit is engaged in prayer but I have no clear understanding of what is being said.

15 So here’s what I’ve concluded. I will pray in the Spirit, but I will also pray with my mind engaged. I will sing rapturous praises in the Spirit, but I will also sing with my mind engaged. 16 Otherwise, if you are praising God in your spirit, how could someone without the gift participate by adding his “amen” to your giving of thanks, since he doesn’t have a clue of what you’re saying? 17 Your praise to God is admirable, but it does nothing to strengthen and build up others.

18 I give thanks to God that I speak in tongues more than all of you, 19 but in the church setting I would rather speak five words that can be understood than ten thousand exotic words in a tongue. That way I could have a role in teaching others.

The Function of the Gifts

20 Beloved ones,[h] don’t remain as immature children in your reasoning. As it relates to evil, be like newborns, but in your thinking be mature adults.

21 For it stands written in the law:

I will bring my message to this people with strange tongues and foreign lips, yet even then they still will not listen to me, says the Lord.[i]

22 So then, tongues are not a sign for believers, but a miracle for unbelievers. Prophecy, on the other hand, is not for unbelievers, but a miracle sign for believers.

23 If the entire church comes together and everyone is speaking in tongues, won’t the visitors say that you have lost your minds? 24 But if everyone is prophesying, and an unbeliever or one without the gift enters your meeting, he will be convicted by all that he hears and will be called to account, 25 for the intimate secrets of his heart will be brought to light. He will be mystified and fall facedown in worship and say, “God is truly among you!”[j]

Guidelines for Use of the Gifts

26 Beloved friends,[k] what does all this imply? When you conduct your meetings, you should always let everything be done to build up the church family. Whether you share a song of praise,[l] a teaching, a divine revelation, or a tongue and interpretation, let each one contribute what strengthens others.

27 If someone speaks in a tongue, it should be two or three,[m] one after another, with someone interpreting. 28 If there’s no one with the interpretation, then he should remain silent in the meeting, content to speak to himself and to God.

29 And the same with prophecy. Let two or three prophets prophesy and let the other prophets carefully evaluate and discern what is being said. 30 But if someone receives a revelation while someone else is still speaking, the one speaking should conclude and allow the one with fresh revelation the opportunity to share it.[n] 31 For you can all prophesy in turn and in an environment where all present can be instructed, encouraged, and strengthened. 32 Keep in mind that the anointing to prophesy doesn’t mean that the speaker is out of control[o]—he can wait his turn.[p] 33 For God is the God of harmony, not confusion,[q] as is the pattern in all the churches of God’s holy believers.

34 The women[r] should be respectfully silent during the evaluation of prophecy in the meetings.[s] They are not allowed to interrupt,[t] but are to be in a support role, as in fact the law teaches.[u] 35 If they want to inquire about something, let them ask their husbands when they get home, for a woman embarrasses herself when she constantly interrupts the church meeting.[v]

36 Do you actually think that you were the starting point for the Word of God going forth? Were you the only ones it was sent to? I don’t think so![w] 37 If anyone considers himself to be a prophet or a spiritual person,[x] let him discern that what I’m writing to you carries the Lord’s authority. 38 And if anyone continues not to recognize this, he should not be recognized!

39 So, beloved friends,[y] with all this in mind, be passionate[z] to prophesy and don’t forbid anyone from speaking in tongues, 40 doing all things in a beautiful[aa] and orderly way.[ab]


  1. 1 Corinthians 14:1 Or “that you crave spiritual things” or “that you crave spiritual realities.”
  2. 1 Corinthians 14:2 This verse makes it clear that the tongues Paul refers to are not known languages but Spirit-inspired utterances.
  3. 1 Corinthians 14:3 The Greek word paramythia (a hapax legomenon) could also be translated “soothing, calming speech” or “affirmation.” Paul does not describe prophecy here as predictive, but as influential to advance the spiritual welfare of the body.
  4. 1 Corinthians 14:4 See Rom. 8:26.
  5. 1 Corinthians 14:6 Or “intimate knowledge through experience.”
  6. 1 Corinthians 14:6 Paul uses these four ministries as examples of what builds up the church. Every congregation needs to focus on all four (revelation from God, insights of truth, prophecy, and teaching), as they are all necessary today.
  7. 1 Corinthians 14:12 The Greek word implies a boiling over with affection and emotion.
  8. 1 Corinthians 14:20 Or “brothers and sisters.”
  9. 1 Corinthians 14:21 See Deut. 28:49; Isa. 28:11-12.
  10. 1 Corinthians 14:25 Or “Truly God is in you.”
  11. 1 Corinthians 14:26 Or “brothers and sisters.”
  12. 1 Corinthians 14:26 Or “a psalm.”
  13. 1 Corinthians 14:27 This could be a Greek idiom (lit. by twos and threes) meaning “just a few.”
  14. 1 Corinthians 14:30 God wants a fresh word spoken to his people. The churches must allow God’s “now” voice to be heard and evaluated by the written Word.
  15. 1 Corinthians 14:32 Or “The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.” The Aramaic allows for this translation: “The prophecies (spiritual words) of the prophets are subject to the prophets,” which could imply that the prophet is to be accountable with his/her prophecies.
  16. 1 Corinthians 14:32 From the context it appears that the Corinthians were speaking in tongues and prophesying without regarding others in the body who also had prophetic words to share or a tongue and interpretation. This caused disorder and confusion in the church meetings, with people speaking up and giving their opinions about what was spoken.
  17. 1 Corinthians 14:33 Or “instability.”
  18. 1 Corinthians 14:34 Or “wives.”
  19. 1 Corinthians 14:34 Implied in the greater context. The theme Paul is addressing is unity and mutual edification, not simply the role of women. Women are permitted to speak in church, to prophesy, and to minister the gospel. See 1 Cor. 11:2-16; 14:31. Paul is apparently prohibiting interrupting the leaders as they evaluate prophetic utterances. It is likely that Paul was addressing a specific issue taking place in the church fellowship of Corinth with women interrupting the meetings with their opinions and questions about the prophetic words just spoken, possibly even words spoken by their husbands.
  20. 1 Corinthians 14:34 Or “speak.” Interrupting the meeting is implied when compared with 1 Cor. 11:2-16; 14:31; Acts 2:16-21; 21:9.
  21. 1 Corinthians 14:34 See Gen. 2:18-24; 3:16.
  22. 1 Corinthians 14:35 One interpretation of this passage is that Paul is quoting from a letter written by the Corinthians to him. They were the ones saying a woman should remain silent and Paul is responding to their questions. In other words, they were imposing a rule in the church that Paul refutes in v. 36. Some manuscripts move vv. 34–35 to after v. 40, which causes a few scholars to consider this as evidence of an early introduction into the text by Jewish scribes. The only two places in the New Testament where Paul writes about women being quiet or not teaching in the church are in his letters to the church of Ephesus (1 Timothy) and Corinth. Both cities were centers of worship to the goddess Artemis (Diana), where women had the leading roles of teaching and temple prostitution was commonplace. To the Galatians Paul writes that there is no distinction between believing men and women (Gal. 3:28).
  23. 1 Corinthians 14:36 Inferred by the rhetorical question and the disjunctive particle.
  24. 1 Corinthians 14:37 Or “a spiritually gifted person.”
  25. 1 Corinthians 14:39 Or “brothers and sisters.”
  26. 1 Corinthians 14:39 The Greek word zēloō means “a boiling fervor.”
  27. 1 Corinthians 14:40 Or “respectably.” The Aramaic can be translated “with the right design.”
  28. 1 Corinthians 14:40 This is the Greek word taxis, which can also mean “in battle array.” Here are some summary observations concerning believers’ gatherings: (1) When the believers gathered, they ate together and frequently observed the Lord’s Table. See 1 Cor. 11:7-33. (2) Men and women participated together and used their spiritual gifts. See 1 Cor. 11:2-16; 12. (3) The main purpose of gathering together was the mutual building up and encouragement of one another. See 1 Cor. 14:1-26. (4) Several people would speak in the meetings, and the leaders would discern and direct. See 1 Cor. 14:26-40. (5) Expressing love was more important than gifts, teachings, or prophecies. See 1 Cor. 13. (6) Everything was to be done in a beautiful way and in order. See 1 Cor. 14:40.
The Passion Translation (TPT)

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1 Corinthians 14 New International Version (NIV)

Intelligibility in Worship

14 Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy. For anyone who speaks in a tongue[a] does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit. But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort. Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves, but the one who prophesies edifies the church. I would like every one of you to speak in tongues,[b] but I would rather have you prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues,[c] unless someone interprets, so that the church may be edified.

Now, brothers and sisters, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction? Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the pipe or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes? Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air. 10 Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning. 11 If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and the speaker is a foreigner to me. 12 So it is with you. Since you are eager for gifts of the Spirit, try to excel in those that build up the church.

13 For this reason the one who speaks in a tongue should pray that they may interpret what they say. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful. 15 So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my understanding. 16 Otherwise when you are praising God in the Spirit, how can someone else, who is now put in the position of an inquirer,[d] say “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since they do not know what you are saying? 17 You are giving thanks well enough, but no one else is edified.

18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. 19 But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.

20 Brothers and sisters, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults. 21 In the Law it is written:

“With other tongues
    and through the lips of foreigners
I will speak to this people,
    but even then they will not listen to me,
says the Lord.”[e]

22 Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is not for unbelievers but for believers. 23 So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and inquirers or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind? 24 But if an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted of sin and are brought under judgment by all, 25 as the secrets of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!”

Good Order in Worship

26 What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up. 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. 28 If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and to God.

29 Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. 30 And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. 31 For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. 32 The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. 33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord’s people.

34 Women[f] should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. 35 If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.[g]

36 Or did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached? 37 If anyone thinks they are a prophet or otherwise gifted by the Spirit, let them acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command. 38 But if anyone ignores this, they will themselves be ignored.[h]

39 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40 But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.


  1. 1 Corinthians 14:2 Or in another language; also in verses 4, 13, 14, 19, 26 and 27
  2. 1 Corinthians 14:5 Or in other languages; also in verses 6, 18, 22, 23 and 39
  3. 1 Corinthians 14:5 Or in other languages; also in verses 6, 18, 22, 23 and 39
  4. 1 Corinthians 14:16 The Greek word for inquirer is a technical term for someone not fully initiated into a religion; also in verses 23 and 24.
  5. 1 Corinthians 14:21 Isaiah 28:11,12
  6. 1 Corinthians 14:34 Or peace. As in all the congregations of the Lord’s people, 34 women
  7. 1 Corinthians 14:35 In a few manuscripts these verses come after verse 40.
  8. 1 Corinthians 14:38 Some manuscripts But anyone who is ignorant of this will be ignorant
New International Version (NIV)

Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

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