Worship in a Way That Helps People Understand
1So follow the way of love, and be eager to have the gifts of the Spirit. Most of all, you should want the gift of prophecy. 2Anyone who speaks in an unknown language doesn’t speak to people. They speak only to God. In fact, no one understands them, because what they say by the Spirit remains a mystery. 3But the person who prophesies speaks to people and makes them stronger, gives them hope, and comforts them. 4Those who speak in unknown languages build up only themselves. But the person who prophesies builds up the church. 5I’d like all of you to speak in unknown languages, but I’d rather have you prophesy. The person who prophesies is more helpful than the one who speaks in an unknown language, unless someone explains what they’re saying; then the whole church can be built up.
6Brothers and sisters, if I came to you and spoke in an unknown language, what good would that do? If I really wanted to help you, I’d come with a revelation or insight or prophecy or teaching. 7Think about a musical instrument such as a flute or a harp. No one will know what the tune is unless the notes are played distinctly. 8In the army, if the bugler didn’t play the call clearly, who would get ready for battle? 9It’s the same with you. You must speak words that people understand. If you don’t, no one will know what you’re saying. You’ll just be speaking into the air. 10It is true that there are all kinds of languages in the world and they all have meaning. 11But if I don’t understand what someone is saying, I’m a stranger to the person speaking, and that person is a stranger to me. 12It’s the same with you. Since you’re eager to have the gifts of the Spirit, do your best to use the gifts that build up the church.
13So anyone who speaks in an unknown language should pray that they’ll be able to explain what they say. 14If I pray in an unknown language, my spirit is praying, but my mind is idle. 15So what should I do? I’ll pray with my spirit, but I’ll also pray with my understanding. I’ll sing with my spirit, but I’ll also sing with my understanding. 16Otherwise, if you’re thanking God in the Spirit and there are visitors present who want to know what’s going on, how can they say “Amen” when you give thanks? They don’t know what you’re saying. 17You might be giving thanks, but no one else is being built up.
18I thank God that I speak in unknown languages more than all of you. 19But in the church, I’d rather speak five words in a language people can understand, in order to teach them, than 10,000 words in an unfamiliar language.
20Brothers and sisters, stop thinking like children. Be like babies as far as evil is concerned, but in your thinking, be like adults. 21In the law it is written,
“With unfamiliar languages
and through the lips of outsiders
I will speak to these people.
But even then they won’t listen to me.”
That is what the Lord says.
22So speaking in unknown languages is a sign for those who don’t believe, not for those who do believe. But prophecy is for those who believe, not for those who don’t. 23Suppose the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in unknown languages. If visitors or unbelievers come in, won’t they say that you’re out of your minds? 24-25But if unbelievers or visitors come in while everyone is prophesying, they’ll feel as if they’re being questioned; the secrets of their hearts will be brought out into the open; and they’ll realize they’ve been doing wrong. Then they’ll fall down and worship God and exclaim, “God is really here among you!”
26Brothers and sisters, what should we say then? When you come together, each of you should bring something—a hymn, a teaching, a revelation, a message in another language, or an explanation of what was said in another language. Everything must be done to build up the church. 27No more than two or three people should speak in another language, and they should speak one at a time. Then someone must explain what was said. 28But if there’s no one to explain, they should keep quiet in the church and only speak to themselves and to God.
29Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should evaluate what they say. 30If a message comes from God to someone else who’s sitting there, the one who’s speaking should stop and let them speak. 31Those who prophesy should all take turns. In that way, everyone can be taught and encouraged. 32Prophets are able to control their own spirits. 33God is not a God of disorder; he’s a God of peace, as in all the churches of the Lord’s people.
34Women should remain silent in church meetings. They’re not allowed to speak. They must follow the lead of those who are in authority, as the law says. 35If they have a question about something, they should ask their own husbands at home. It’s not proper for women to speak in church meetings.
36Or did the word of God begin with you? Or are you the only people it has reached? 37If anyone thinks they’re a prophet or that they have other gifts from the Spirit, they should agree that what I’m writing to you is the Lord’s command. 38But anyone who doesn’t recognize this will not be recognized.
39Brothers and sisters, you should be eager to prophesy, and you shouldn’t stop people from speaking in unknown languages. 40But everything should be done in a proper and orderly way.