Proper Use of Spiritual Gifts
14 It is good that you are enthusiastic and passionate about spiritual gifts, especially prophecy.[a] 2 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] 3 But when someone prophesies, he speaks to encourage people, to build them up, and to bring them comfort.[c] 4 The one who speaks in tongues advances his own spiritual progress,[d] while the one who prophesies builds up the church. 5 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.
6 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] 7 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? 8 If the bugle makes a garbled sound, who will recognize the signal to show up for the battle? 9 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!