1 Corinthians 14

A language that people know is better than special languages

1 So, want to love more than you want anything else. Also, want very much to have gifts from God's Spirit. And want most to tell messages from God. Want that gift more than the other gifts. 2 Anyone who speaks in a special language speaks only to God. That person is not speaking to other people, because the other people do not understand him. The Spirit is causing him to speak about secret things, but other people do not understand. 3 But anyone who tells messages from God is speaking to other people. That person is helping other people to understand more, so that they become stronger. Also, he is helping people to be more sure and happier. He is helping them to be without trouble in their minds. 4 Anyone who speaks in a special language helps only himself. But a person who tells messages from God helps all the church to be stronger.

5 I want all of you to speak in special languages. But even more, I want you to tell God's messages to people. Anyone who can tell messages from God is a very valuable person. That person is greater than someone who can speak in special languages. Anyone who speaks in special languages is less valuable to you. That person is less valuable unless they themselves can explain their special words. Then everyone can understand those words, and so they will help the church.

6 My friends, if I come to visit you, perhaps I may speak in special languages to you. But that by itself will not help you. But I may tell you something that God has shown to me. Then, that will help you. I may tell you something that I know about God. Then, that will help you too. If I tell you a message from God, that will help you. Or if I teach you something, that will help you. 7 Think about music. The different kinds of instrument that we use to make music are not alive. We can use them to make clear, different sounds. If we do not use them like that, then nobody can recognise the music. 8 Soldiers will not prepare to fight the enemy unless they hear a clear sound from the trumpet.

9 It is the same for you. You must speak words that people can understand. Only then will your message be clear. If people do not understand your words, then you will only be speaking those words into the air. 10 Certainly, there are many different languages in this world, and all of them mean something. 11 Perhaps a person will speak to me in a language that I do not know. But I will not understand what his words mean. So, I will be like a foreign person to him. And he will be like a foreign person to me also. 12 You yourselves really want the gifts that come from God's Spirit. That is good. But the best gifts are those that will help the church to become stronger. So, want those gifts more than any other gifts.

13 So, anyone among you who speaks aloud in a special language should pray to God about it. Ask God to help you explain those words. 14 If I pray in a special language, only my spirit prays. But I do not use my mind while I pray like that. 15 So, the best way is this: I should pray both with my spirit and with my mind. Also, I should sing both with my spirit and with my mind. 16 If you thank God only with your spirit, other people cannot understand. They listen. But they do not understand what you are saying. So, they cannot agree with you and they cannot say ‘Amen’. 17 You may be really thanking God, but your words do not help anyone else there.

18 I thank God that I speak in special languages more than all of you. 19 But when the church meets together, I want you to understand my words. When we worship God together, I want you to learn more about him. So, I would rather say five words that you understand then. I would rather say five words like that than thousands of words in a special language.

20 My friends, do not think like children think. Babies do not know very much about bad things. So, with bad things, be like babies. But do not think and understand things like children. No, instead, think and understand like proper men and women. 21 It says in the Bible:

‘I will cause foreign people to speak my messages to my people. These foreign people will speak to them in strange languages.

But my people will not listen to me, even if I speak to them by foreign people.’ That is what the Lord said.

22 So then, the gift from God that causes people to speak in special languages is a sign. It shows something to people who do not believe God. But it is not a sign for those people who do believe God. Also, the other gift from God that causes people to speak his messages is a sign. It shows something to those people who believe God. But it is not a sign for those people who do not believe.

23 Think about when the whole church meets together. Think about what might happen. All of you might be speaking in special languages, and then some strangers might come in. Those strangers might not know very much, or they might not believe God. Then certainly, they would say that you are crazy! 24 But if all of you are telling messages from God, it will be different. If a stranger comes in, then he will listen. He might not know very much, or he might not believe God. But still, he will understand that he is not right with God. The messages that all of you are telling will make him sure about that. 25 The messages from God will show every secret thought that the stranger thinks. And so, he will bend himself down and he will worship God. He will say with a loud voice: ‘Certainly, God is here among you.’

How the church should worship properly

26 So, this is what you should do in your meetings, my friends. You meet together to worship God. And then, each person among you has something to bring. One of you can suggest a song that all of you can sing to God. Another person has something to teach you. Someone else has something that God has shown to him. Another person has words that he speaks aloud in a special language. So then someone else will explain what those words mean. Do all these things for one reason. Do them so that you help to make the church stronger.

27 No more than two or three people should speak aloud in special languages. They should speak one person at a time. Then someone must explain what each person said. 28 But perhaps there is nobody there who can explain the special languages. Then, those people who can speak aloud in special languages must be quiet. They must speak only to themselves and to God.

29 Two or three people can tell messages from God. Then those of you who are listening must think carefully about each message. You should decide carefully whether each message is good. 30 Perhaps someone among you will receive a message from God during the meeting. Then, if another person is already telling a message at that time, that other person should stop. 31 Each person among you can tell a message from God, but you must speak one person at a time. Then everyone will learn something and it will help all of you to believe God more. 32 All of you who can speak messages from God have authority over your own spirits. 33 God does not want anyone to confuse his people. No, he wants us to do things properly. He wants us to be friends and to be without trouble among ourselves.

14:32This probably means, ‘You can decide in your own mind when you should speak, or not speak.’

As in all the churches of God's people everywhere, 34 the women should be quiet in the meetings. They should not speak, because they should be under authority. That is what God's Law says also. 35 If a woman wants to ask about something, she should ask her husband at home. Women should be ashamed if they speak in the church. 36 Remember that the word of God certainly did not start from you! You are not the only people who have heard it, either.

37 Someone may think that he really tells messages from God well. He may think that he has received gifts from God's Spirit. So, that person should understand about what I am writing to you. He should recognise that it comes from the Lord himself. The Lord is telling his people that they must do it. 38 If that person refuses to recognise this, you should not believe his messages. Do not believe what he says.

39 So, my friends, you should really want to tell messages from God. And do not stop someone when they speak in a special language. 40 But you must do everything in a right and proper way.