1 Corinthians 14:1 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

1 Corinthians 14:1, NIV: "Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy."

1 Corinthians 14:1, ESV: "Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy."

1 Corinthians 14:1, KJV: "Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy."

1 Corinthians 14:1, NASB: "Pursue love, yet earnestly desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy."

1 Corinthians 14:1, NLT: "Let love be your highest goal! But you should also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives--especially the ability to prophesy."

1 Corinthians 14:1, CSB: "Pursue love and desire spiritual gifts, and especially that you may prophesy."

What does 1 Corinthians 14:1 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Paul has concluded a section on why God's love is greater than spiritual gifts. Without love, he insisted, spiritual gifts become worthless and even destructive. Still, Paul is not dismissing the importance of spiritual gifts in the life of the church, including the gifts of tongues and prophecy.

Paul values both love and spiritual gifts, but he makes a distinction. Christians must pursue love. That is, believers must strive to make loving choices in their relationships with God and with each other. Love requires commitment, practice, and sacrifice.

On the other hand, Paul tells them to earnestly or eagerly desire spiritual gifts. He does not tell them to "pursue" the gifts because gifts are, by definition, given. Gifts are received. Paul instructs believers to want them, but he makes clear by the contrast that there is nothing we can do to get them on our own or with our effort.

Paul finishes the thought by urging them to desire, especially, the gift of prophecy. Modern Bible scholars describe this gift of prophecy in various ways. For some, it involves the God-given, Spirit-powered ability to preach an impactful message. Others understand this gift to involve suddenly receiving a revelation of information from God meant to be delivered to believers and unbelievers. The prophet, in all cases, is one who speaks on behalf of God. It may or may not include revelations of any kind about what would otherwise be unknowable about the past, present, or future.

Paul's teaching here will show that in Corinth, at least, God's intention was to use prophecy through a variety of individuals to reveal truth and build up the church. Some churches and movements today still recognize and practice this. Others believe the need for this kind of prophetic revelation mostly died out once the New Testament was recognized as God's Word in its current form.