For anyone who speaks in a tonguea1 does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him;2 he utters mysteries3 with his spirit.b3
But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening,4 encouragement5 and comfort.
He who speaks in a tongue6 edifies7 himself, but he who prophesies8 edifies the church.
I would like every one of you to speak in tongues,c but I would rather have you prophesy.9 He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues,d unless he interprets, so that the church may be edified.106
Now, brothers, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation11 or knowledge12 or prophecy or word of instruction?137
Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the flute or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes?
Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle?149
So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air.
Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning.
If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and he is a foreigner to me.1512
So it is with you. Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts,16 try to excel in gifts that build up17 the church.