Some of the elders of Israel came to me and sat down in front of me.
Then the word of the LORD came to me:
"Son of man, these men have set up idols in their hearts and put wicked stumbling blocks before their faces. Should I let them inquire of me at all?
Therefore speak to them and tell them, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: When any Israelite sets up idols in his heart and puts a wicked stumbling block before his face and then goes to a prophet, I the LORD will answer him myself in keeping with his great idolatry.
I will do this to recapture the hearts of the people of Israel, who have all deserted me for their idols.'
"Therefore say to the house of Israel, 'This is what the Sovereign LORD says: Repent! Turn from your idols and renounce all your detestable practices!
" 'When any Israelite or any alien living in Israel separates himself from me and sets up idols in his heart and puts a wicked stumbling block before his face and then goes to a prophet to inquire of me, I the LORD will answer him myself.
I will set my face against that man and make him an example and a byword. I will cut him off from my people. Then you will know that I am the LORD.
" 'And if the prophet is enticed to utter a prophecy, I the LORD have enticed that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand against him and destroy him from among my people Israel.
They will bear their guilt--the prophet will be as guilty as the one who consults him.
Then the people of Israel will no longer stray from me, nor will they defile themselves anymore with all their sins. They will be my people, and I will be their God, declares the Sovereign LORD.' "
The word of the LORD came to me:
"Son of man, if a country sins against me by being unfaithful and I stretch out my hand against it to cut off its food supply and send famine upon it and kill its men and their animals,
even if these three men--Noah, Daniel and Job--were in it, they could save only themselves by their righteousness, declares the Sovereign LORD.
"Or if I send wild beasts through that country and they leave it childless and it becomes desolate so that no one can pass through it because of the beasts,
as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, even if these three men were in it, they could not save their own sons or daughters. They alone would be saved, but the land would be desolate.
"Or if I bring a sword against that country and say, 'Let the sword pass throughout the land,' and I kill its men and their animals,
as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, even if these three men were in it, they could not save their own sons or daughters. They alone would be saved.
"Or if I send a plague into that land and pour out my wrath upon it through bloodshed, killing its men and their animals,
as surely as I live, declares the Sovereign LORD, even if Noah, Daniel and Job were in it, they could save neither son nor daughter. They would save only themselves by their righteousness.
"For this is what the Sovereign LORD says: How much worse will it be when I send against Jerusalem my four dreadful judgments--sword and famine and wild beasts and plague--to kill its men and their animals!
Yet there will be some survivors--sons and daughters who will be brought out of it. They will come to you, and when you see their conduct and their actions, you will be consoled regarding the disaster I have brought upon Jerusalem--every disaster I have brought upon it.
You will be consoled when you see their conduct and their actions, for you will know that I have done nothing in it without cause, declares the Sovereign LORD."
Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy.
For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit.
But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort.
He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.
I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may be edified.
Now, brothers, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction?
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?
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.
So it is with you. Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church.
For this reason anyone who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret what he says.
For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful.
So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind.
If you are praising God with your spirit, how can one who finds himself among those who do not understand say "Amen" to your thanksgiving, since he does not know what you are saying?
You may be giving thanks well enough, but the other man is not edified.
I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you.
But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.
Brothers, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.
In the Law it is written: "Through men of strange tongues and through the lips of foreigners I will speak to this people, but even then they will not listen to me," says the Lord.
Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is for believers, not for unbelievers.
So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and some who do not understand or some unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind?
But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all,
and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, "God is really among you!"
What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church.
If anyone speaks in a tongue, two--or at the most three--should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret.
If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God.
Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said.
And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop.
For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged.
The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets.
For God is not a God of disorder but of peace. As in all the congregations of the saints,
women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says.
If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.
Did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached?
If anybody thinks he is a prophet or spiritually gifted, let him acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord's command.
If he ignores this, he himself will be ignored.
Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues.
But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.
Now, brothers, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand.
By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain.
For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures,
that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures,
and that he appeared to Peter, and then to the Twelve.
After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep.
Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles,
and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born.
For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them--yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.
Whether, then, it was I or they, this is what we preach, and this is what you believed.
But if it is preached that Christ has been raised from the dead, how can some of you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?
If there is no resurrection of the dead, then not even Christ has been raised.
And if Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith.
More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that he raised Christ from the dead. But he did not raise him if in fact the dead are not raised.
For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either.
And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins.
Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost.
If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.
But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man.
For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive.
But each in his own turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him.
Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power.
For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet.
The last enemy to be destroyed is death.
For he "has put everything under his feet." Now when it says that "everything" has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ.
When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.
Now if there is no resurrection, what will those do who are baptized for the dead? If the dead are not raised at all, why are people baptized for them?
And as for us, why do we endanger ourselves every hour?
I die every day--I mean that, brothers--just as surely as I glory over you in Christ Jesus our Lord.
If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus for merely human reasons, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised, "Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die."
Do not be misled: "Bad company corrupts good character."
Come back to your senses as you ought, and stop sinning; for there are some who are ignorant of God--I say this to your shame.
But someone may ask, "How are the dead raised? With what kind of body will they come?"
How foolish! What you sow does not come to life unless it dies.
When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else.
But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body.
All flesh is not the same: Men have one kind of flesh, animals have another, birds another and fish another.
There are also heavenly bodies and there are earthly bodies; but the splendor of the heavenly bodies is one kind, and the splendor of the earthly bodies is another.
The sun has one kind of splendor, the moon another and the stars another; and star differs from star in splendor.
So will it be with the resurrection of the dead. The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable;
it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory; it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power;
it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.
So it is written: "The first man Adam became a living being"; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit.
The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual.
The first man was of the dust of the earth, the second man from heaven.
As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the man from heaven, so also are those who are of heaven.
And just as we have borne the likeness of the earthly man, so shall we bear the likeness of the man from heaven.
I declare to you, brothers, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable.
Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed--
in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.
For the perishable must clothe itself with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.
When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: "Death has been swallowed up in victory."
"Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?"
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
The word of the LORD came to me:
"Son of man, how is the wood of a vine better than that of a branch on any of the trees in the forest?
Is wood ever taken from it to make anything useful? Do they make pegs from it to hang things on?
And after it is thrown on the fire as fuel and the fire burns both ends and chars the middle, is it then useful for anything?
If it was not useful for anything when it was whole, how much less can it be made into something useful when the fire has burned it and it is charred?
"Therefore this is what the Sovereign LORD says: As I have given the wood of the vine among the trees of the forest as fuel for the fire, so will I treat the people living in Jerusalem.
I will set my face against them. Although they have come out of the fire, the fire will yet consume them. And when I set my face against them, you will know that I am the LORD.
I will make the land desolate because they have been unfaithful, declares the Sovereign LORD."