14:1 Follow 1 after charity, and desire spiritual [gifts], but rather that ye may a prophesy.
(1) He infers now of what he spoke before:
therefore seeing charity is the chiefest of all, before all things set it
before you as chief and principal. And so esteem those things as most
excellent which profit the greater part of men (such as prophecy, that is to
say, the gift of teaching and applying the doctrine: which was condemned in
respect of other gifts, although it is the chiefest and most necessary for the
Church) and not those who for a show seem to be marvellous, as the gifts of
tongues. This was when a man was suddenly endowed with the knowledge of many
tongues, which made men greatly amazed and yet of itself was not greatly of
any use, unless there was an interpreter.
(a) What prophecy is he shows in the third verse.
14:2 2 For
he that speaketh in an [unknown] b
tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth [him];
howbeit in the c spirit he speaketh
(2) He reprehends their perverse judgment
concerning the gift of tongues. For why was it given? The answer: so that the
mysteries of God might be the better known to a greater number. By this it is
evident that prophecy, which the gift of tongues ought to serve, is better
than this: and therefore the Corinthians judged incorrectly, in that they made
more account of the gift of tongues than of prophesying: because no doubt the
gift of tongues was a thing more to be bragged of. And hereupon followed
another abuse of the gift of tongues, in that the Corinthians used tongues in
the congregation without an interpreter. And although this thing might be done
to some profit of him that spoke them, yet he corrupted the right use of that
gift because there came by it no profit to the hearers. And common assemblies
were instituted and appointed not for any private man's commodity, but for
the profit of the whole company.
(b) A strange language, which no man can
understand without an interpreter.
(c) By that inspiration which he has received of
the Spirit, which nonetheless he abuses, when he speaks mysteries which none
of the company can understand.
14:3 But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men
[to] d edification, and exhortation, and
(d) Which may further men in the study of
14:4 He that speaketh in an [unknown] tongue
edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the e
(e) The company.
3 And even things without life giving
sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how
shall it be known what is piped or harped?
(3) He sets forth that which he said by a
similitude, which he borrows and takes from instruments of music, which
although they speak not perfectly, yet they are distinguished by their sounds,
that they may be the better used.
14:9 So likewise ye,
except ye utter by the tongue words f
easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak
into the air.
(f) That fitly utter the matter itself.
There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them
[is] without signification.
(4) He proves that interpretation is necessarily
to be joined with the gift of tongues, by the manifold variety of languages,
insomuch that if one speak to another without an interpreter, it is as if he
did not speak.
14:11 Therefore if I know not the meaning of
the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that g
speaketh [shall be] a barbarian unto me.
(g) As the papists in all their sermons, and they
that ambitiously pour out some Hebrew or Greek words in the pulpit before the
unlearned people, by this to get themselves a name of vain learning.
Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual [gifts], seek that ye may
excel to the edifying of the church.
(5) The conclusion: if they will excel in those
spiritual gifts, as it is proper, they must seek the profit of the church. And
therefore they must not use the gift of tongues, unless there is an
interpreter to expound the strange and unknown tongue, whether it is himself
that speaks, or another interpreter.
14:13 Wherefore let him that speaketh in an
[unknown] tongue h pray that he may
(h) Pray for the gift of interpretation.
For i if I pray in an [unknown] tongue,
my k spirit prayeth, but my
understanding is l unfruitful.
(6) A reason: because it is not sufficient for us
to speak so in the congregation that we ourselves worship God in spirit (that
is according to the gift which we have received), but we must also be
understood of the company, lest that is unprofitable to others which we have
(i) If I pray, when the church is assembled
together, in a strange tongue.
(k) The gift and inspiration which the spirit
gives me does its part, but only to myself.
(l) No fruit comes to the church by my prayers.
14:15 What is it then? I will pray with the
spirit, and I will pray with the m
understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the
(m) So that I may be understood by others, and
may instruct others.
Else when thou shalt bless with the n
spirit, how shall he that o occupieth
the room of the unlearned say p Amen at
thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?
(7) Another reason: seeing that the whole
congregation must agree with him that speaks, and also witness this agreement,
how will they give their assent or agreement who know not what is spoken?
(n) Alone, without any consideration of the
(o) He that sits as a private man.
(p) So then one uttered the prayers, and all the
company answered "amen".
I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all:
(8) He sets himself as an example, both that they
may be ashamed of their foolish ambition, and also that he may avoid all
suspicion of envy.
14:19 Yet in the church I had rather speak q
five words with my understanding, that [by my voice] I might teach others also,
than ten thousand words in an [unknown] tongue.
(q) A very few words.
Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children,
but in understanding be men.
(9) Now he reproves those freely for their
childish folly, who do not see how this gift of tongues which was given to the
profit of the Church, is turned by their ambition into an instrument of
cursing, seeing that this same cursing is also contained among the punishments
with which God punished the stubbornness of his people, that he dispersed them
amongst strangers whose language they did not understand.
14:21 In the r
law it is written, With [men of] other tongues and other lips will I speak unto
this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord.
(r) By the "law" he understands the
Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that
believe not: but prophesying [serveth] not for them that believe not, but for
them which believe.
(10) The conclusion: therefore the gift of
tongues serves to punish the unfaithful and unbelievers, unless it is referred
to prophecy (that is to say, to the interpretation of scripture) and that what
is spoken is by the means of prophecy is understood by the hearers.
If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak
with tongues, and there come in [those that are] s
unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?
(11) Another argument: the gift of tongues
without prophecy is not only unprofitable to the faithful, but also hurts very
much, both the faithful as well as the unfaithful, who should be won in the
public assemblies. For by this means it comes to pass that the faithful seem
to others to be mad, much less can the unfaithful be instructed by it.
(s) See (Acts
12 How is it then, brethren? when ye
come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue,
hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.
(12) The conclusion: the edifying of the
congregation is a rule and measure of the right use of all spiritual gifts.
If any man speak in an [unknown] tongue, [let it be] by two, or at the most [by]
three, and [that] by course; and let one interpret.
(13) The manner how to use the gift of tongues.
It may be lawful for one or two, or at the most for three, to use the gift of
tongues, one after another in an assembly, so that there is someone to expound
their utterances. But if there are none to expound, let him that has the gift
speak to himself alone.
Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.
(14) The manner of prophesying: let two or three
propound, and let the others judge of that which is propounded, whether it is
agreeable to the word of God or not. If in this examination the Lord indicates
that nothing was wrong, let them give him leave to speak. Let every man be
admitted to prophesy, severally and in his order, so far forth as it is
required for the edifying of the church. Let them be content to be subject to
each other's judgment.
And the t spirits of the prophets are
subject to the prophets.
(t) The doctrine which the prophets bring, who
are inspired with God's Spirit.
Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them
to speak; but [they are commanded] to be under obedience, as also saith the law.
(15) Women are commanded to be silent in public
assemblies, and they are commanded to ask of their husbands at home.
What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only?
(16) A general conclusion of the treatise of the
right use of spiritual gifts in assemblies. And this is with a sharp
reprehension, lest the Corinthians might seem to themselves to be the only
ones who are wise.
14:37 If any man think himself to be a
prophet, or u spiritual, let him
acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the
(u) Skilful in knowing and judging spiritual
But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.
(17) The church ought not to care for those who
are stubbornly ignorant, and will not abide to be taught, but to go forward
nonetheless in those things which are right.
Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.
(18) Prophecy ought certainly to be retained and
kept in congregations, and the gift of tongues is not to be forbidden, but all
things must be done orderly.