Pursue love and desire spiritual gifts, and above all that you may prophesy.
For the person who speaks in [another] language is not speaking to men but to God, since no one understands him; however, he speaks mysteries in the Spirit.a3
But the person who prophesies speaks to people for edification, encouragement, and consolation.
The person who speaks in [another] language builds himself up, but he who prophesies builds up the church.
I wish all of you spoke in other languages, but even more that you prophesied. The person who prophesies is greater than the person who speaks in languages, unless he interprets so that the church may be built up.
But now, brothers, if I come to you speaking in [other] languages, how will I benefit you unless I speak to you with a revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching?
Even inanimate things producing sounds-whether flute or harp-if they don't make a distinction in the notes, how will what is played on the flute or harp be recognized?
In fact, if the trumpet makes an unclear sound, who will prepare for battle?
In the same way, unless you use your tongue for intelligible speech, how will what is spoken be known? For you will be speaking into the air.
There are doubtless many different kinds of languages in the world, and all have meaning.b11
Therefore, if I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be a foreignerc = in Eng a barbarian. To a Gk, a barbaros was anyone who did not speak Gk. to the speaker, and the speaker will be a foreigner to me.
So also you-since you are zealous in matters of the spirit,d seek to excel in building up the church.
Therefore the person who speaks in [another] language should pray that he can interpret.
For if I pray in [another] language, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful.
What then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with my understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with my understanding.
Otherwise, if you bless with the spirit, how will the uninformed persone say "Amen" at your giving of thanks, since he does not know what you are saying?
For you may very well be giving thanks, but the other person is not being built up.
I thank God that I speak in [other] languages more than all of you;
yet in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, in order to teach others also, than 10,000 words in [another] language.
Brothers, don't be childish in your thinking, but be infants in evil and adult in your thinking.
It is written in the law: By people of other languages and by the lips of foreigners, I will speak to this people; and even then, they will not listen to Me, f says the Lord.
It follows that speaking in other languages is intended as a sign,g not to believers but to unbelievers. But prophecy is not for unbelievers but for believers.
Therefore if the whole church assembles together, and all are speaking in [other] languages, and people who are uninformed or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your minds?
But if all are prophesying, and some unbeliever or uninformed person comes in, he is convicted by all and is judged by all.
The secrets of his heart will be revealed, and as a result he will fall down on his face and worship God, proclaiming, "God is really among you."