Be eager in your pursuit of this Love, and be earnestly ambitious for spiritual gifts, but let it be chiefly so in order that you may prophesy.
For he who speaks in an unknown tongue is not speaking to men, but to God; for no one understands him. Yet in the Spirit he is speaking secret truths.
But he who prophesies speaks to men words of edification, encouragement and comfort.
He who speaks in an unknown tongue does good to himself, but he who prophesies does good to the Church.
I should be right glad were you all to speak in `tongues,' but yet more glad were you all to prophesy. And, in fact, the man who prophesies is superior to him who speaks in `tongues,' except when the latter can interpret in order that the Church may get a blessing.
But, brethren, as things are, if I come to you speaking in `tongues,' what benefit shall I confer on you, if the utterance is neither in the form of a revelation nor of additional knowledge nor of prophecy nor of teaching?
Even inanimate things--flutes or harps, for instance--when yielding a sound, if they make no distinction in the notes, how shall the tune which is played on the flute or the harp be known?
If the bugle--to take another example--gives an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle?
And so with you; if with the living voice you fail to utter intelligible words, how will people know what you are saying? You will be talking to the winds.
There are, we will suppose, a great number of languages in the world, and no creature is without a language.
If, however, I do not know the meaning of the particular language, I shall seem to the speaker of it, and he to me, to be merely talking some foreign tongue.
Therefore, seeing that you are ambitious for spiritual gifts, seek to excel in them so as to benefit the Church.
Therefore let a man who has the gift of tongues pray for the power of interpreting them.
For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is barren.
How then does the matter stand? I will pray in spirit, and I will pray with my understanding also. I will praise God in spirit, and I will praise Him with my understanding also.
Otherwise, if you bless God in spirit only, how shall he who is in the position of an ungifted man say the `Amen' to your giving of thanks, when he does not know what your words mean?
Rightly enough you are giving thanks, and yet your neighbor is not benefited.
I speak in a tongue, thank God, more than all of you;
but in the Church I would rather speak five words with my understanding--so as to instruct others also--than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.
Brethren, do not prove yourselves to be children in your minds. As regards evil, indeed, be utter babes, but as regards your minds prove yourselves to be men of ripe years.
In the Law it stands written, "`By men of unknown tongues and by the lips of an unknown nation will I speak to this People, but even then they will not listen to Me', says the Lord."
This shows that the gift of tongues is intended as a sign not to those who believe but to unbelievers, but prophecy is intended not for unbelievers but for those who believe.
Accordingly if the whole Church has assembled and all are speaking in `tongues,' and there come in ungifted men, or unbelievers, will they not say that you are all mad?
If, on the other hand, every one is prophesying and an unbeliever or an ungifted man comes in, he is convicted by all and closely examined by all,
and the hidden evils of his heart are brought to light. And, as the result, he will fall on his face and worship God, and will report to others that of a truth God is among you.