1 Corinthians 14

Topic: Tongues Type: Article Author: A. Allison Lewis

Translation and notes by A. Allison Lewis.

INTRODUCTION to the problem of CONFUSION [vss. 1-6]

1CO 14:1 Follow after love and desire spiritual gifts, but above all desire that you may prophesy [that is, speak for God; see also EXO 7:1]. 1CO 14:2 He who speaks in a foreign language speaks not to those present, but to God, for none of the listeners understands [See also vs. 16], even though, in the Spirit, he may speak wonderful things. 1CO 14:3 On the other hand, he who prophesies speaks to men to their profit by instruction and comfort. 1CO 14:4 He who speaks in a foreign language profits himself, but he who prophesies profits the congregation. 1CO 14:5 I would that all of you prophesied rather than spoke in foreign languages, for greater is he who prophesies than he who speaks with foreign languages, unless he interprets that the congregation may receive profit. 1CO 14:6 For example, brethren, if I come to you speaking in foreign languages, what will I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, knowledge, prophecy or teaching [understandable things]?

ILLUSTRATION 1 vss. 7, 8

1CO 14:7 Why, even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds how will it be known what is piped or harped? 1CO 14:8 For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound who will prepare himself for the battle?

Application vs. 9

1CO 14:9 So likewise you, except you utter by the tongue words easy to be understood how will it be known what is spoken? You will just speak into the air.

ILLUSTRATION 2 vss. 10, 11

1CO 14:10 There are many kinds of voices in the world and none of them is without meaning. 1CO 14:11 Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I will be to him who speaks a barbarian and he who speaks will be a barbarian to me.

Application vss. 12-17

1CO 14:12 Even so you, forasmuch as you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that you may excel to the profit of the congregation. 1CO 14:13 Therefore let him who speaks in a foreign language pray that he may interpret. 1CO 14:14 For if I pray in a foreign language, my spirit prays, but the prayer from my mind is of no profit to the hearers [as in vs. 16]. 1CO 14:15 What will I do then? I will pray with my spirit and I will pray with my mind in your language. I will sing with my spirit and I will sing with my mind in your language. 1CO 14:16 Otherwise when you bless in the spirit [in a foreign language], how will he who occupies the room of the unlearned say Amen at your giving of thanks since he does not know what you say? 1CO 14:17 For you truly give thanks well but the other is not profited.

PAUL’S EXAMPLE vss. 18-20

1CO 14:18 I thank my God, I speak with foreign languages more than all of you: 1CO 14:19 yet in the congregation I had rather speak five words with my mind, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in a foreign language. 1CO 14:20 Brethren, be not children in your thinking, though in evil be like babies, but in your thinking be mature.


1CO 14:21 In the Law it is written, With men of other languages and other lips will I speak to this people and yet for all that they will not hear Me, says the Lord [ISA 28:11]. 1CO 14:22 Wherefore foreign languages are for a sign, not to those who believe, but to those who believe not. But prophesying serves not for those who believe not but for those who do and will believe. [NOTE what our Lord said with reference to parables in MAT 13:15-16; 34, 35. Study also JOH 8:43; 9:39; 12:37-41; ISA 6:9; ACT 28:26; 2CO 4:3, 4; JER 5:21; EZE 3:27; 12:2; PSA 135:15-18; ROM 11:7-8; DEU 29:4 and 1CO 2:14-16. The only hope for sinners, dead in trespasses and sins, is the unmerited favor of God--His gift; EPH 2:1-10].


Foreign Language Problem vss. 23-25

1CO 14:23 Therefore if the congregation comes together and all are speaking at the same time and in different languages, and there come in those who are unlearned or unbelievers, will they not say that you are mad? 1CO 14:24 But if all prophesy [one at a time] and there come in one who believes not or is unlearned, he is convinced by all, he is judged by all. 1CO 14:25 Thus are the secrets of his heart made known and so falling down on his face he will worship God and confess that God is truly among you.

Other Related Problems vs. 26

1CO 14:26 How is it then, brethren, that when you come together everyone of you has a psalm, a teaching, a language, a revelation, an interpretation [total confusion]? Let all things be done to profiting.

Instructions for Speaking vss. 27-33

Limit to two or three

1CO 14:27 If any man speak in a foreign language limit it to two or at the most three and that by turns, and let one interpret.

A Translator must be present

1CO 14:28 But if there is no interpreter let him keep silence in the congregation and let him speak to himself and God.

Let the congregation judge what they say

1CO 14:29 Let those prophesing speak two or three, and let the others judge.

Do not interrupt one another

1CO 14:30 If any thing is revealed to another who sits by let him wait until the first one finishes. 1CO 14:31 For you may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. 1CO 14:32 The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets [that is, he is in control of himself]. 1CO 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all congregations of the saints.

Women’s place in the congregation vss. 34, 35

1CO 14:34 Let your women keep silence in the congregations. It is not permitted that they speak: but they are to be under obedience, as also says the Law. 1CO 14:35 If they have questions, let them ask their husbands at home; for it is a shame for a women to speak in the congregation [See also 1TI 2:11, 12].


1CO 14:36 [ARE YOU THE AUTHORITY] What? Came the word of God out from you? Or came it to you only? 1CO 14:37 If any man think himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write to you are the commandments of the Lord. 1CO 14:38 But if any man be ignorant let him be ignorant.

SUMMARY vss. 39, 40

1CO 14:39 Wherefore, brethren, desire to prophesy [speak for God]. Do not forbid to speak in foreign languages, but remember, 1CO 14:40 LET ALL THINGS BE DONE DECENTLY AND IN ORDER.


[RECOMMENDED READING: McClelland, Frank. Hold Your Tongues! Toronto: Wittenburg Publications, 1988. This booklet deals with the Bible teaching. It does NOT deal with personalities or movements in the modern day "Pentecostal-Charismatic tongues movement"].

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This Page Last Updated: 11/08/08 A. Allison Lewis aalewis@christianbeliefs.org