1 Corinthians 14:32 Parallel Verses [⇓ See commentary ⇓]

1 Corinthians 14:32, NIV: The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets.

1 Corinthians 14:32, ESV: and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets.

1 Corinthians 14:32, KJV: And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.

1 Corinthians 14:32, NASB: and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets;

1 Corinthians 14:32, NLT: Remember that people who prophesy are in control of their spirit and can take turns.

1 Corinthians 14:32, CSB: And the prophets' spirits are subject to the prophets,

What does 1 Corinthians 14:32 mean? [⇑ See verse text ⇑]

Perhaps some in Corinth misunderstood how spiritual gifts like speaking in tongues or prophecy worked. They may have thought that those with these gifts were taken over by the Holy Spirit and lost control of themselves, speaking in an unknown language in a frenzy or speaking a revelation from God in a kind of trance. Some of the idol worship in Greek cities like Corinth involved similar behavior: worshippers seemingly becoming possessed by the gods they served, ranting and moving in a frenzy.

Paul has made it clear that this is not how spiritual gifts work in the Christian church. He has instructed those who speak in tongues not to do so if they are not chosen to contribute to the service, or if nobody is available to interpret what they say. He has commanded those with the gift of prophecy to stop talking if someone else receives a revelation from God.

Now Paul puts it in plain language: The "spirits of prophets are subject to prophets." By this he means that the Holy Spirit does not "take over" a person's spirit to the point where that person loses restraint. The opposite is true—one of the nine characteristics of the fruit of the Holy Spirit listed by Paul in Galatians 5:22–23 is self-control. Anyone legitimately expressing a spiritual gift can always decide when and how to start or stop expressing that gift.