What does 1 Corinthians 14:31 mean?
ESV: For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged,
NIV: For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged.
NASB: For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted;
CSB: For you can all prophesy one by one, so that everyone may learn and everyone may be encouraged.
NLT: In this way, all who prophesy will have a turn to speak, one after the other, so that everyone will learn and be encouraged.
KJV: For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.
Verse Commentary:
Paul is providing rules for how the gatherings of the church in Corinth should be conducted. Now he applies both of his main principles to those who would exercise the gift of prophecy in the church setting. This gift involved explaining a revelation given to the prophet by God, and a careful assessment of that revelation by those who hear (1 Corinthians 14:29; 1 John 4:1; Acts 17:11).

First, Paul has said that only three people at the most should express this gift in the service, yielding their time if someone else receives a revelation while they are speaking. Now he emphasizes that only one prophet should speak at a time, one by one, so that all may learn and be encouraged.

The reason for being orderly in this way is for the gift of prophecy to accomplish its purpose of building up the others in the church. If two or more people are speaking at once, nobody is really heard and no one in the church learns anything. This follows Scripture's earlier indication that chaos and gibberish are not God's intent (1 Corinthians 14:23–25).
Verse Context:
First Corinthians 14:26–40 includes specific instructions to the Corinthians on an orderly worship service. These meetings should reflect the character of God. Everyone should have an opportunity to bring a hymn, a lesson, a prophetic revelation from God, and even to speak in a tongue if someone is able to interpret. Each must happen one at a time, in turn, and only two or three tongues-speakers or prophets should contribute during a single service. Wives must remain silent and be in submission to their husbands. Only that which builds up the church should be included.
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.
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