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1 Corinthians 14:1-20

Context
Prophecy and Tongues

14:1 Pursue love and be eager for the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. 14:2 For the one speaking in a tongue does not speak to people but to God, for no one understands; he is speaking mysteries by the Spirit. 1  14:3 But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, 2  encouragement, and consolation. 14:4 The one who speaks in a tongue builds himself up, 3  but the one who prophesies builds up the church. 14:5 I wish you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets so that the church may be strengthened.

14:6 Now, brothers and sisters, 4  if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I help you unless I speak to you with a revelation or with knowledge or prophecy or teaching? 14:7 It is similar for lifeless things that make a sound, like a flute or harp. Unless they make a distinction in the notes, how can what is played on the flute or harp be understood? 14:8 If, for example, the trumpet makes an unclear sound, who will get ready for battle? 14:9 It is the same for you. If you do not speak clearly with your tongue, how will anyone know what is being said? For you will be speaking into the air. 14:10 There are probably many kinds of languages in the world, and none is without meaning. 14:11 If then I do not know the meaning of a language, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me. 14:12 It is the same with you. Since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, 5  seek to abound in order to strengthen the church.

14:13 So then, one who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret. 14:14 If 6  I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unproductive. 14:15 What should I do? 7  I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind. I will sing praises with my spirit, but I will also sing praises with my mind. 14:16 Otherwise, if you are praising God with your spirit, how can someone without the gift 8  say “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since he does not know what you are saying? 14:17 For you are certainly giving thanks well, but the other person is not strengthened. 14:18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you, 14:19 but in the church I want to speak five words with my mind to instruct others, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue.

14:20 Brothers and sisters, 9  do not be children in your thinking. Instead, be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.

1 tn Or “with the spirit”; cf. vv. 14-16.

2 tn Grk “edification.”

3 sn The Greek term builds (himself) up does not necessarily bear positive connotations in this context.

4 tn Grk “brothers.” See note on the phrase “brothers and sisters” in 1:10.

5 tn Grk “eager for spirits.” The plural is probably a shorthand for the Spirit’s gifts, especially in this context, tongues.

6 tc ‡ Most witnesses, including some important ones (א A Ds Ψ 048 Ï lat sy bo), have γάρ (gar, “for”) here, while an equally impressive array of witnesses lack the conjunction (Ì46 B F G 0243 1739 1881 sa). This conjunction was frequently added by scribes in epistolary literature as a clarifying word, making the connection with the preceding more explicit. As such, it has the earmarks of being a motivated reading and thus should be rejected. NA27 places the word in brackets, indicating doubts as to its authenticity.

7 tn Grk “what then is it?”

8 tn Grk “how can someone who fills the place of the unlearned say ‘Amen.’”

9 tn Grk “brothers.” See note on the phrase “brothers and sisters” in 1:10.



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