I Corinthians 14:15-25

1 Corinthians 14:15-25

15 Well then, what shall I do? I will pray in the spirit, and I will also pray in words I understand. I will sing in the spirit, and I will also sing in words I understand.16 For if you praise God only in the spirit, how can those who don’t understand you praise God along with you? How can they join you in giving thanks when they don’t understand what you are saying? 17 You will be giving thanks very well, but it won’t strengthen the people who hear you.

18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than any of you. 19 But in a church meeting I would rather speak five understandable words to help others than ten thousand words in an unknown language.

20 Dear brothers and sisters, don’t be childish in your understanding of these things. Be innocent as babies when it comes to evil, but be mature in understanding matters of this kind. 21 It is written in the Scriptures:

“I will speak to my own people
    through strange languages
    and through the lips of foreigners.
But even then, they will not listen to me,”
    says the Lord.

22 So you see that speaking in tongues is a sign, not for believers, but for unbelievers. Prophecy, however, is for the benefit of believers, not unbelievers.23 Even so, if unbelievers or people who don’t understand these things come into your church meeting and hear everyone speaking in an unknown language, they will think you are crazy. 24 But if all of you are prophesying, and unbelievers or people who don’t understand these things come into your meeting, they will be convicted of sin and judged by what you say. 25 As they listen, their secret thoughts will be exposed, and they will fall to their knees and worship God, declaring, “God is truly here among you.”


It seems like from this passage that “toungues” can also refer to other known languages.   I’ve met two people–one in Cambodia and one in the Ukraine–who got the spiritual gift of speaking in English.  One was in a refugee camp where he was chosen to speak to the “English” speakers who ran the camp, even though he didn’t know English.  He spoke English.  The other was a pastor, who stop speaking in the US through an interpreter, and preached in perfect English.  But speaking in tongues can refer to both a known language and an unknown language.

The adds that the purpose of praise is to strengthen those believers around you.  Paul make that point several times.  He urges us to be mature in our understanding.  How can I be mature in my understanding?

1.) Keep in mind that what I do effects other believers.

2.) Pay attention to the needs of unbelievers.

3.) Do things corporately that convict the unbeliever.

4.) Stay away from evil.

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