1 Corinthians 14:1-14

1 Corinthians 14:1-14

14 Let love be your highest goal! But you should also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives—especially the ability to prophesy. For if you have the ability to speak in tongues, you will be talking only to God, since people won’t be able to understand you. You will be speaking by the power of the Spirit, but it will all be mysterious. But one who prophesies strengthens others, encourages them, and comforts them. A person who speaks in tongues is strengthened personally, but one who speaks a word of prophecy strengthens the entire church.

I wish you could all speak in tongues, but even more I wish you could all prophesy. For prophecy is greater than speaking in tongues, unless someone interprets what you are saying so that the whole church will be strengthened.

Dear brothers and sisters, if I should come to you speaking in an unknown language, how would that help you? But if I bring you a revelation or some special knowledge or prophecy or teaching, that will be helpful. Even lifeless instruments like the flute or the harp must play the notes clearly, or no one will recognize the melody. And if the bugler doesn’t sound a clear call, how will the soldiers know they are being called to battle?

It’s the same for you. If you speak to people in words they don’t understand, how will they know what you are saying? You might as well be talking into empty space.

10 There are many different languages in the world, and every language has meaning. 11 But if I don’t understand a language, I will be a foreigner to someone who speaks it, and the one who speaks it will be a foreigner to me. 12 And the same is true for you. Since you are so eager to have the special abilities the Spirit gives, seek those that will strengthen the whole church.

13 So anyone who speaks in tongues should pray also for the ability to interpret what has been said. 14 For if I pray in tongues, my spirit is praying, but I don’t understand what I am saying.

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I see two primary things.  1.) Not everyone is expected to speak in tongues, just as not everyone is able to prophecy.  Paul is clear on this.  These are not universal gifts.  That also seemed clear in Chapter 12, where the comparison was made with the diversity of the human body.  In the same way, the gifts are diverse.  It appears the Corinthians saw tongues as something elitist–so they all wanted the gift.  But obviously, not everyone got that gift.

2.) We are to seek the gifts, but not for personal benefit.  We are to seek the gifts that will strengthen the whole church.  Must be how A. W. Tozar came up with this formula for tongues–”seek not; forbid not.”

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