What does 1 Corinthians 14:1 mean?
ESV: Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.
NIV: Follow the way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially prophecy.
NASB: Pursue love, yet earnestly desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.
CSB: Pursue love and desire spiritual gifts, and especially that you may prophesy.
NLT: Let love be your highest goal! But you should also desire the special abilities the Spirit gives — especially the ability to prophesy.
KJV: Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.
NKJV: Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.
Verse Commentary:
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.
Verse Context:
First Corinthians 14:1–25 describes why the gift of prophecy is superior to the gift of tongues in church services, especially when nobody with the gift of interpreting tongues is available. Prophecy benefits everyone in the room with a revelation from God. Praying in a tongue, when nobody can interpret, only benefits the one praying. In fact, displaying the gift of tongues without interpretation may do more harm than good—it generates confusion and division. In contrast, the use of prophecy provides the opportunity for unbelievers to hear from God, be convicted about sin, and come to faith in Christ and genuine worship.
Chapter Summary:
Paul encourages the Corinthians to desire the gift of prophecy, especially, among the other gifts. He shows why its use in the church service is superior to the use of the gift of tongues if nobody is available to interpret. Prophecy benefits everyone; praying in tongues with nobody to interpret benefits only the speaker. Only two or three tongues-speakers should contribute to any service, and only then one at a time and followed by interpreters. The same applies to prophecy and the gift of discerning spirits. Orderliness and building up the church are guiding principles for any worship meeting. Modern churches are divided on the extent to who which these gifts are given, or should be practiced.
Chapter Context:
1 Corinthians 14 concludes Paul's teaching on the spiritual gifts begun in chapter 12. Between them, chapter 13 declared that Christlike love matters most of all. The gift of prophecy is better than the display of the gift of tongues in worship services unless someone with the gift of interpreting tongues is available. Even then, only those things which build up the church should be included in any service, and everything should be done in an orderly way, reflecting the character of God. The final two chapters of this letter discuss the resurrection of Christ and Paul's concluding remarks.
Book Summary:
First Corinthians is one of the more practical books of the New Testament. Paul writes to a church immersed in a city associated with trade, but also with corruption and immorality. These believers are struggling to properly apply spiritual gifts and to resist the ungodly practices of the surrounding culture. Paul's letter gives instructions for real-life concerns such as marriage and spirituality. He also deals with the importance of unity and gives one of the Bible's more well-known descriptions of love in chapter 13.
Accessed 4/23/2024 7:58:41 PM
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