New International Reader's Version

1 Corinthians 14

Worship in a Way That Helps People Understand

1Follow the way of love. You should also want the gifts the Holy Spirit gives. Most of all, you should want the gift of prophecy. Anyone who speaks in a language they had not known before doesn’t speak to people. They speak only to God. In fact, no one understands them. What they say by the Spirit remains a mystery. But the person who prophesies speaks to people. That person prophesies to make people stronger, to give them hope, and to comfort them. Anyone who speaks in other languages builds up only themselves. But the person who prophesies builds up the church. I would like all of you to speak in other languages. But I would rather have you prophesy. The person who prophesies is more helpful than those who speak in other languages. But that is not the case if someone explains what was said in the other languages. Then the whole church can be built up.

Brothers and sisters, suppose I were to come to you and speak in other languages. What good would I be to you? None! I would need to come with new truth or knowledge. Or I would need to come with a prophecy or a teaching. Here are some examples. Certain objects make sounds. Take a flute or a harp. No one will know what the tune is unless different notes are played. Also, if the trumpet call isn’t clear, who will get ready for battle? It’s the same with you. You must speak words that people understand. If you don’t, no one will know what you are saying. You will just be speaking into the air. 10 It is true that there are all kinds of languages in the world. And they all have meaning. 11 But if I don’t understand what someone is saying, I am a stranger to the person speaking. And that person is a stranger to me. 12 It’s the same with you. You want the gifts of the Spirit. So try to do your best in using gifts that build up the church.

13 So here is what the person who speaks in languages they had not known before should do. They should pray that they can explain what they say. 14 If I pray in another language, my spirit prays. But my mind does not pray. 15 So what should 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 Suppose you are praising God in the Spirit. And suppose there are visitors among you who want to know what’s going on. How can they say “Amen” when you give thanks? They don’t know what you are saying. 17 You are certainly giving thanks. But no one else is being built up.

18 I thank God that I speak in other languages more than all of you do. 19 In the church, I wouldn’t want to speak 10,000 words in an unfamiliar language. I’d rather speak five words in a language people could understand. Then I would be teaching others.

20 Brothers and sisters, stop thinking like children. Be like babies as far as evil is concerned. But be grown up in your thinking. 21 In the law it is written,

“With unfamiliar languages
    and through the lips of outsiders
I will speak to these people.
    But even then they will not listen to me.” (Isaiah 28:11,12)
That is what the Lord says.

22 So speaking in other languages is a sign for those who don’t believe. It is not a sign for those who do believe. But prophecy is not for those who don’t believe. It is for those who believe. 23 Suppose the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in other languages. And suppose visitors or unbelievers come in. Won’t they say you are out of your minds? 24 But suppose unbelievers or visitors come in while everyone is prophesying. Then they will feel guilty about their sin. They will be judged by all. 25 The secrets of their hearts will be brought out into the open. They will fall down and worship God. They will exclaim, “God is really here among you!”

Proper Worship

26 Brothers and sisters, what should we say then? When you come together, each of you brings something. You bring a hymn or a teaching or a message from God. You bring a message in another language or explain what was said in that language. Everything must be done to build up the church. 27 No 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. 28 If there is no one to explain, the person speaking should keep quiet in the church. They can speak to themselves and to God.

29 Only two or three prophets are supposed to speak. Others should decide if what is being said is true. 30 What if a message from God comes to someone else who is sitting there? Then the one who is speaking should stop. 31 Those who prophesy can all take turns. In that way, everyone can be taught and be given hope. 32 Those who prophesy should control their speaking. 33 God is not a God of disorder. He is a God of peace, just as in all the churches of the Lord’s people.

34 Women should remain silent in church meetings. They are not allowed to speak. They must follow the lead of those who are in authority, as the law says. 35 If they have a question about something, they should ask their own husbands at home. It is shameful for women to speak in church meetings.

36 Or did the word of God begin with you? Or are you the only people it has reached? 37 Suppose anyone thinks they are a prophet. Or suppose they think they have other gifts given by the Holy Spirit. They should agree that what I am writing to you is the Lord’s command. 38 But anyone who does not recognize this will not be recognized.

39 Brothers and sisters, you should want to prophesy. And don’t stop people from speaking in languages they had not known before. 40 But everything should be done in a proper and orderly way.