What does 1 Corinthians say about speaking in tongues?

Speaking in tongues is a controversial topic in the Christian faith, with some believing that it is a gift of the Holy Spirit that is still present today, while others maintain that it was only relevant to the early church. One of the key passages in the Bible on this topic is found in 1 Corinthians, where the apostle Paul addresses the use of tongues in the church. In this blog post, we will explore what 1 Corinthians says about speaking in tongues and its significance in the Christian faith.

In 1 Corinthians 12:10, Paul lists speaking in tongues as one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit. He writes: “To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues.” Here, Paul suggests that speaking in tongues is a legitimate gift of the Holy Spirit, along with other spiritual gifts such as prophecy and miracles.

However, in 1 Corinthians 14, Paul also provides guidelines for the use of tongues in the church. He emphasizes that the purpose of speaking in tongues is for edification and building up of the church, rather than for personal glorification. In 1 Corinthians 14:2, Paul writes: “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.” Here, Paul suggests that speaking in tongues is a form of prayer or worship that is directed towards God, rather than towards other people.

Paul also emphasizes the importance of interpretation in the use of tongues. In 1 Corinthians 14:13-14, he writes: “Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret. For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.” Here, Paul suggests that speaking in tongues without interpretation is unfruitful, since it does not edify or build up the church.

Finally, Paul encourages the use of tongues in moderation and in a way that is orderly. In 1 Corinthians 14:27-28, he writes: “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.” Here, Paul suggests that the use of tongues should be limited to a few individuals and should be done in an orderly manner that promotes understanding and edification.

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Jamie Larson