A Study of I Corinthians 14 (part one)
Without an understanding of the connection between I Corinthians chapter twelve, thirteen and
fourteen you will not get the great understanding of I Corinthians chapter fourteen. As we saw, in
previous articles, chapter twelve deals with the gift of holy spirit and the operations of that gift.
Chapter thirteen teaches us that there is a better way than needing gift ministries of apostles,
prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers and that is for each member of the body of Christ to
operate the love of in the renewed mind in manifestation. Therefore, each one of us builds up the
body of believers. Now in chapter fourteen God is explaining how to conduct ourselves within a
group of Christians.
In studying I Corinthians chapter fourteen we have to, as we go through it, use the principles of
Biblical research that I have taught in previous articles, namely 1) when using the King James
Version of the Bible the italicized words were man added and could be correct or they could be
way off base. Howbeit, they have no authority and we can keep them or delete them as the
scripture dictates. 2) we have to use the Greek to see if the words were translated correctly. 3)
We must understand the context.
1 Corinthians 14:1-22 (KJV)
1 Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.
Charity is the love of God that we as Christians manifest when we study the Bible and practice
the principals directly given to the Christians.
The word “gifts” is in italics and is wrongly supplied. The Greek word is pheumaticos and means
things of the spirit or spiritual matters. But, more so, that you may prophesy. Where? Why?
We are talking about “HOW” to conduct ourselves in the Church. So, when we are in a body of
believers we are to Pursue a walk of love and covet the things of the spirit, but, more than that, in
the Church seek to prophesy.
There are two types of prophesying. Did you know that? Yup, there is! The first is “fore” telling
much like we think about in the Old Testament where men of God told what was going to
happen in the future. But, most of the prophesy is not that but is “forth” telling.
2 For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man
understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.
The word “unknown” could be removed or could be left. However, the word “him” has to be
deleted because there were, on the Day of Pentecost, men that understood what the Apostles
were saying. When a person speaks in tongues the only one guaranteed not to understand is the
person speaking. Otherwise, it would be a known language to that individual.
Understand that the word “he” is an inclusive noun and implies both men and women and
children too.3 But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort
So here it is. The REASON that we are to desire to prophesy IN THE CHURCH, is so that we
can edify (build up) the body of believers, exhort them to a more worthy endeavor and to
4 He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the
Delete the word “unknown” it is too confusing. Once you get rid of the confusing word
“unknown” this verse is very simple.
5 I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that
prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive
Why, why, why? Why would a person be greater? As you will see, Paul is explaining in verses
6-25 that we are to build up the Church and you can not do that if people don’t understand what
you are saying. That is why he that prophesies is greater than he that doesn’t or that only speaks
Let me, also, explain that prophesy and speaking in tongues with interpretation are similar. They
both edify the body.
6 Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I
shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?
7 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?
8 For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?
9 So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be
known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air.
10 There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without
11 Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a
barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me.
12 Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the
edifying of the church.
Scratch out the word “gifts” it should be spiritual matters.
Bingo! In the Body of Believers the whole purpose is for people to be blessed and you can’t do
that by using the manifestation of speaking in tongues wrongly.
13 Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret.Scratch out the word “unknown.” Let him that speaketh in a tongue BELIEVE to interpret as
well. You don’t have to pray and then wait for an answer from God! You have to believe to
operate what God has already given you.
14 For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.
Scratch out the word “unkown.”
15 What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, in my personal prayer life, and I will pray with the
understanding also: I will sing with the spirit in my personal prayer life, and I will sing with the
16 Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the
unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?
Otherwise, when you speak in tongues and don’t interpret in a fellowship no one will understand
what you are saying.
17 For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified.
Do you see what is going on? In my personal prayer life I can speak in tongues all I want, but, in
the Church nobody will understand me unless I interpret. That way everyone gets blessed.
18 I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all:
This is the great Apostle Paul who says that he spoke in tongues more than the whole Corinthian
Church put together. Now if he spoke in tongues wouldn’t it behoove us to follow his lead?
19 Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I
might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.
How simple this is. How Paul loved the Church and how he wanted to bless them. But, speaking
in tongues in a fellowship without interpretation is wrong! Speaking in tongues is of God,
speaking in tongues is perfect prayer, but, speaking in tongues in a fellowship without
interpretation only leads to confusion.
20 Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in
understanding be men.
What the Corinthians were doing was speaking in tongues in a fellowship and causing confusion.
Paul says, stop it and grow up.
21 In the 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.
22 Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: butprophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.
That is right! Speaking in tongues in a fellowship, done correctly which is to speak in tongues
WITH the interpretation is a sign to them that are unlearned that there is power, the power of
God, at work in the Church. Not only that, they hear the message from God, a message of
edification, exhortation and comfort.
Prophesy is specifically for those that are more mature believers, they aren’t neophytes. They
know the difference between a person talking and one bring forth a message from God. A
message of edification, exhortation and comfort