(1 Corinthians 14:1-40)

There are three classes of utterances …


A known tongue/s has ONLY ever been … one or more … of the 17 proper languages spoken by the apostles in Acts 2:9-11 … and understood by at least one other Jew present.

For example, if the apostles spoke in the Parthian language (Acts 2:9) … and even if there was only one Parthian Jew present … it was a known tongue.


An unknown tongue/s has ONLY ever been … one or more … of the 17 proper languages spoken by the apostles in Acts 2:9-11 … but not understood by anyone at a gathering. If an interpreter was not present, the unknown tongue speaker was to be silent. 

For example, if the apostles spoke in the Parthian language (Acts 2:9) … but no Parthian Jew was present to understand it … it was an unknown tongue.


Not of the 17 proper languages spoken by the apostles in Acts 2:9-11.

Summary as follows:






one of the 17 at Pentecost



one of the 17 at Pentecost





Now in the light of the above, we will forensically examine 1 Corinthians 14:1-40.

v1 Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.

v2 For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue (#2) speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.

The speaker is speaking one of the 17 Pentecost languages but no-one present understands

what he is saying.

Yes he is speaking to God … but that’s not the point! Tongues were given by God to speak to men … not back to God!

Furthermore, he is speaking to God … not praying to God.

In addition, he is speaking mysteries to other men because no-one knows what he is talking about. God knows what he is saying … and it’s not a mystery to God.

But God says “I don’t need to hear back to me, what I have given you to speak to men!

v3 But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.

v4 He that speaketh in an unknown tongue (#2) edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.

The speaker builds an impressive structure to himself … yes it is one of the 17 proper languages but being misused … using God’s gift other than what it is intended.

He is also showing off and puffing himself up … but not with charity which is the most important gift
(1 Corinthians 8:1).

v5 I would that ye all spake with tongues (#1), but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues (#1 or #2), except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.

v6 Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues (#1 or #2 with an interpreter), what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?

v7 And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped?

v8 For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?

v9 So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air.

Men on the battlefield … “Hey Bob! Did the bugle mean go forward or retreat?”

Bob replies “I don’t have clue … I’m confused too … I think it’s sideways!”

v10 There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification.

These are many proper languages … and they can all be understood … except if someone is uttering made mouth noises … like toady’s Class #3 garble.  

Otherwise what’s the point?

v11 Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me.

Today’s pretend tongues speaker (#3) garbles “Boombada … shoombada … ickyvanwicky”.

Indeed, the unknown tongues speaker … even with one of the 17 Pentecost languages is to be quiet … otherwise he comes across as an idiot … a barbarian … that is an uneducated and uncivilized bogan type.

v12 Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.

v13 Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue (#2) pray that he may interpret.

v14 For if I pray in an unknown tongue (#2), my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.

This man is not praying in and with God’s Spirit (capital “S”) … the indwelling Holy Ghost. He is praying in his own spirit (small “s”).

Paul says “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit …” (Ephesians 6:18)

Dear Reader, see the glaring difference? An unknown tongue is spoken not with God’s Spirit.

v15 What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.

If I do pray or sing in man’s spirit (small “s”) with my spirit … it will be something that I understand.

v16  Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?

This is man’s spirit … not the Holy Ghost Spirit … and the listeners need to understand what is being said.

v17 For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified.

v18 I thank my God, I speak with tongues (#1) more than ye all:

v19 Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue (#2).

v20 Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men. 

v21  In the law it is written, With men of other tongues (not #1 or #2)and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord.

This Deuteronomy 28:49 … foreign conquering nations with not the 17 Pentecost languages.  

v22 Wherefore tongues (#1 or #2 with an interpreter) are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.

This clearly says that tongues were only ever for unbelieving Jews.

Furthermore, the word ‘sign’ is only ever used for Israel and the Jews … never for Christians … and this word sets the context.

This verse does not contradict verse 24 … as verse 22 is for unbelieving Jews … while verse 24 is for unbelieving Gentiles.

When a Jew believes, he will understand prophecy.

v23 If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues (#1 or #2), and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?

Why? If unbelievers come in and they can’t understand a word that is being spoken … what’s the point? 

v24 But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all:  

The unbeliever will have no excuse for being judged … as he understands what is being spoken.

v25 And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.

Because he understands.

v26 How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue (#1 or #2), hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.

v27 If any man speak in an unknown tongue (#2), let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret.

v28 But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.

29 Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.

30 If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace.

31 For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.

32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.

33  For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.

34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.

35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.

36 What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only?

37 If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.

38  But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.

39 Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues (#1 or #2).

40 Let all things be done decently and in order.

Harley Hitchcock
June 2024

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