The Holy Bible – Knox Translation
The First Epistle of the Blessed Apostle Paul to the Corinthians
Make charity your aim, the spiritual gifts your aspiration; and, by preference, the gift of prophecy.
The man who talks in a strange tongue is talking to God, not to men; nobody understands him, he is holding mysterious converse with his own spirit;
whereas the prophet speaks to edify, to encourage, to comfort his fellow men.
By talking in a strange tongue, a man may strengthen his own faith; by prophesying he can strengthen the faith of the church.
I would gladly see you all speaking with strange tongues, but I would rather you should prophesy, because the prophet ranks higher than the man who speaks with strange tongues. It would be different if he could translate them, to strengthen the faith of the church;
but as things are, brethren, what good can I do you by coming and talking to you in strange languages, instead of addressing you with a revelation, or a manifestation of inner knowledge, or a prophecy, or words of instruction?
Senseless things may be vocal, a flute, for example, or a harp; but even with these, there must be distinctions between the sounds they give, or how can we recognize what melody flute or harp is playing?
If a trumpet, for that matter, gives out an uncertain note, who will arm himself for battle?
So it is with you; how can it be known what your message is, if you speak in a language whose accents cannot be understood? Your words will fall on empty air.
No doubt all these different languages exist somewhere in the world, and each of them has its significance;
but if I cannot understand what the language means, the effect is that I am a foreigner to the man who is speaking, and he is a foreigner to me.
So the case stands with you. Since you have set your hearts on spiritual gifts, ask for them in abundant measure, but only so as to strengthen the faith of the church;
the man who can speak in a strange tongue should pray for the power to interpret it.
If I use a strange tongue when I offer prayer, my spirit is praying, but my mind reaps no advantage from it.
What, then, is my drift? Why, I mean to use mind as well as spirit when I offer prayer, use mind as well as spirit when I sing psalms.
If thou dost pronounce a blessing in this spiritual fashion, how can one who takes his place among the uninstructed say Amen to thy thanksgiving? He cannot tell what thou art saying.✻
Thou, true enough, art duly giving thanks, but the other’s faith is not strengthened.
Thank God, I can speak any of the tongues you use;✻
but in the church, I would rather speak five words which my mind utters, for your instruction, than ten thousand in a strange tongue.
Brethren, do not be content to think childish thoughts; keep the innocence of children, with the thoughts of grown men.
We read in the law, I will speak to this people with an unknown tongue, with the lips of strangers, and even so they will not listen to me, says the Lord.✻
Thus talking with a strange tongue is a sign given to unbelievers, not to the faithful; whereas prophecy is meant for the faithful, not for unbelievers.
And now, what will happen if the uninstructed or the unbelievers come in when the whole church has met together, and find everyone speaking with strange tongues at once? Will they not say you are mad?
Whereas, if some unbeliever or some uninstructed person comes in when all alike are prophesying, everyone will read his thoughts, everyone will scrutinize him,
all that is kept hidden in his heart will be revealed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, publicly confessing that God is indeed among you.✻
What am I urging, then, brethren? Why, when you meet together, each of you with a psalm to sing, or some doctrine to impart, or a revelation to give, or ready to speak in strange tongues, or to interpret them, see that all is done to your spiritual advantage.
If there is speaking with strange tongues, do not let more than two speak, or three at the most; let each take his turn, with someone to interpret for him,
and if he can find nobody to interpret, let him be silent in the church, conversing with his own spirit and with God.
As for the prophets, let two or three of them speak, while the rest sit in judgement on their prophecies.
If some revelation comes to another who is sitting by, let him who spoke first keep silence;
there is room for you all to prophesy one by one, so that the whole company may receive instruction and comfort;
and it is for the prophets to exercise control over their own spiritual gifts.
God is the author of peace, not of disorder; such is the teaching I give in all the churches of the saints.✻
And women are to be silent in the churches; utterance is not permitted to them; let them keep their rank, as the law tells them:
if they have any question to raise, let them ask their husbands at home. That a woman should make her voice heard in the church is not seemly.
Tell me, was it from you that God’s word was sent out? Are you the only people it has reached?
If anybody claims to be a prophet, or to have spiritual gifts, let him prove it by recognizing that this message of mine to you is God’s commandment.
If he does not recognize it, he himself shall receive no recognition.✻
Set your hearts, then, brethren, on prophesying; and as for speaking with strange tongues, do not interfere with it.
Only let us have everything done suitably, and with right order.
The Holy Bible