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1 Cor. 14:1 Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy. (KJV) . . . Chapter 14 speaks of the use of tongues in the church. It says nothing about private prayer in tongues, nor does it say that in any other Passage of Scripture. Our prayer language should be in our native tongue or one that we fully understand.
“Follow” means to pursue or press forward after “charity” (God’s love). To “desire” means to be jealous over, be zealous for, covet earnestly spiritual gifts, meaning the things disclosed by the Holy Spirit.
1 Cor. 12:31-A But covet earnestly the best gifts: . . . (KJV) . . . So . . . which spiritual gifts are the “best”? The Bible tells us.
1 Cor. 12:4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. (KJV) . . . Different spiritual gifts, but one Spirit!
1 Cor. 12:7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. (KJV) . . . The Spirit's Presence is shown in some way in each person by the spiritual gift they have bestowed upon them, for the good of all.
1 Cor. 12:11 But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will. (KJV) . . . It is the same Spirit who gives us gifts; as He sees fit. He gives different gifts to different people.
Acts 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. (KJV) . . . This was a one time event, as was the resurrection of Christ. It is NOT repeated in today's time. It was for the early church.
Hebrews 2:4 God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will? (KJV) . . . Each Christian receives spiritual gifts according to God’s will, NOT our will.
Rom.11:29 For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance. (KJV) . . . Repentance here means irrevocable, not to be repented of, not to want something else. God knows best!
So . . . what the Bible tells us is, the best gifts that we are to be zealous for are the ones that God has gives to us personally. We are responsible to use our spiritual gifts to profit the church.
Ephes. 4:11-12 And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;  For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: (KJV) . . . The Biblical meaning of “tongues” was/is translatable languages, NOT ecstatic gibberish like in modern Pentecostal churches.
The problems Paul had and was trying to correct here was people showing off their ability to speak in different languages and people not properly controlling their gifts. An “unknown tongue” was then a language the church members didn’t know and thus couldn’t understand. That is why Paul said that there must be someone who could translate or interpret.
1 Cor. 14:27-32 If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret.  But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.  Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.  If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace.  For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.  And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. (KJV) . . . Again! An “unknown tongue” was then a language the church members didn’t know and thus couldn’t understand. That is why Paul said that there must be someone who could translate or interpret.
1 Cor. 14:2 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. (KJV) . . . When a person speaks in another language, he doesn’t speak to people but to God, for the people do not understand him. His spirit is speaking mysteries to those listening.
Anyone that is showing off his knowledge of a foreign language that no one else knows, edifieth himself alone (vs 4), because he speaketh not unto men, but unto God (vs 2), because God understands ALL languages. When I hear French, German, Russian, Spanish, etc., . . . it is a mystery to me because I do NOT know what is being said. Even though I was raised with grandparents who spoke Lithuanian, if I heard it today, 50 years later, I probably couldn’t understand it. Tongues is languages!
1 Cor. 14:3 But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. (KJV) . . . He that prophesieth in today’s world means to tell the will of God, to preach the Good News of Jesus found in God’s Word. When a person speaks the Truth according to God’s revealed Word, he is prophesying even though he does not have the gift of prophesy. Today’s prophets may have the gift of exhortation (Rom.12:8) which is used to win souls to Christ, and teaching and preaching for the edification, and exhortation, and comfort of the church. ALL spiritual gifts, including tongues (speaking in different languages), are for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: (Ephes. 4:11-12)
Much of the “tongues” in Corinth was unscriptural and self-edifying. This same problem and error is magnified and enhanced many times over in today’s Charismatic churches.
1 Cor. 14:4 He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church. (KJV) . . . Those who speak in strange languages help only themselves, but those who proclaim God's message help the whole church.
1 Cor. 14:5 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 edifying. (KJV) . . . Paul starts out by saying that he wished they all could speak in foreign languages, for if they could, everyone would understand what everyone else was saying. Tongues mean languages, NOT ecstatic, unintelligible gibberish; for Paul would never "wish" for the latter in their behalf. Greater . . . because prophesying is more useful. Unless someone interprets the unknown language, the church cannot be edified (built up). There is NO edification without interpretation.
1 Cor. 14:6 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? (KJV) . . . Revelation or prophesying are similar one to the other. Revelation is the unveiling of divine truths to man, prophesying is the proclaiming to men of such revelations (the truths of salvation). So too, knowledge is similar to doctrine, which is the gift of teaching to others what God has graciously taught us.
1 Cor. 14:7-8 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?  For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? (KJV) . . . Even musical instruments, though they are lifeless, show the need for speaking in plain language. For no one will recognize the melody unless the notes are played clearly. And if the bugler doesn't sound a clear call, how will the soldiers know they are being called to battle?
1 Cor. 14:9 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. (KJV) . . . As I stated above, unless you talk to people in a language they understand, they will not know what you mean. You might as well talk to an empty room.
1 Cor. 14:10 There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification. (KJV) . . . There are many different languages in the world, and all of them have meaning if they are understood.
1 Cor. 14:11 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. (KJV) . . . If I do not know the language being spoken, those using it will be foreigners to me and I will be a foreigner to them.
1 Cor. 14:12 Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church. (KJV) . . . Since you are eager to have the gifts of the Spirit, you must try to excel in your gift so that you help the church grow.
1 Cor. 14:13 Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret. (KJV) . . . So, if a person speaks in another language, he should interpret what he says.
1 Cor. 13:13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity. (KJV) . . . In morally corrupt Corinth, love was a term with little meaning. What about today? Most people today think "love" is sex, but in fact, love is the greatest of all human qualities, and it is an attribute of God Himself (1 John 4:8). Love involves unselfish service to others, showing people that you care. Faith is the foundation and content of God’s message; hope is the attitude and focus; love is the action. So, what is the best "gift"? Love, Godly love! LOVE is the three C's: Care, Concern and Compassion!
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