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1 Corinthians 14:1 [study!]

American Standard Version (ASV 1901) [2]
— Follow after love; yet desire earnestly spiritual [gifts], but rather that ye may prophesy.
King James Version (KJV 1769)
— Follow after charity, and desire spiritual [gifts], but rather that ye may prophesy.
New American Standard Bible (NASB ©1995)
— Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual [gifts], but especially that you may prophesy.
Webster's Revision of the KJB (WEB 1833)
— Follow after charity, and desire spiritual [gifts], but rather that ye may prophesy.
Darby's Translation (DBY 1890)
— Follow after love, and be emulous of spiritual [manifestations], but rather that ye may prophesy.
Rotherham's Emphasized Bible (EBR 1902)
— Pursue love; nevertheless be envious of the spiritual gifts,—and, rather, that ye may be prophesying.
Young's Literal Translation (YLT 1898)
— Pursue the love, and seek earnestly the spiritual things, and rather that ye may prophecy,
Douay-Rheims Challoner Revision (DR 1750)
— Follow after charity, be zealous for spiritual gifts; but rather that you may prophesy.
Original King James Bible (AV 1611) [2]
— Follow after charitie, and desire spirituall giftes, but rather that yee may prophesie.
John Etheridge Peshitta-Aramaic NT (1849)
— Follow (then) after love, and be emulous of the gifts of the Spirit, but especially that you may prophesy.
James Murdock Peshitta-Aramaic NT (1852)
— Follow after love; and be emulous of the gifts of the Spirit, and especially, that ye may prophesy.

Strong's Numbers & Red-LettersGreek New TestamentColor-Code/Key Word Studies
Follow y1377
[1377] Standard
A prolonged (and causative) form of a primary verb δίω [[dio]] (to flee; compare the base of G1169 and G1249); to pursue (literally or figuratively); by implication to persecute.
<5720> Grammar
Tense - Present (See G5774)
Voice - Active (See G5784)
Mood - Imperative (See G5794)
Count - 592
after x1377
(1377) Complement
A prolonged (and causative) form of a primary verb δίω [[dio]] (to flee; compare the base of G1169 and G1249); to pursue (literally or figuratively); by implication to persecute.
charity, 26
{0026} Prime
From G0025; love, that is, affection or benevolence; specifically (plural) a love feast.
and 1161
{1161} Prime
A primary particle (adversative or continuative); but, and, etc.
desire 2206
{2206} Prime
From G2205; to have warmth of feeling for or against.
<5720> Grammar
Tense - Present (See G5774)
Voice - Active (See G5784)
Mood - Imperative (See G5794)
Count - 592
spiritual 4152
{4152} Prime
From G4151; non-carnal, that is, (humanly) ethereal (as opposed to gross), or (daemoniacally) a spirit (concretely), or (divinely) supernatural, regenerate, religious.
[gifts], but 1161
{1161} Prime
A primary particle (adversative or continuative); but, and, etc.
rather 3123
{3123} Prime
Neuter of the comparative of the same as G3122; (adverb) more (in a greater degree) or rather.
that 2443
{2443} Prime
Probably from the same as the former part of G1438 (through the demonstrative idea; compare G3588); in order that (denoting the purpose or the result).
ye may prophesy. 4395
{4395} Prime
From G4396; to foretell events, divine, speak under inspiration, exercise the prophetic office.
<5725> Grammar
Tense - Present (See G5774)
Voice - Active (See G5784)
Mood - Subjunctive (See G5792)
Count - 352
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary

1 Corinthians 14:1

_ _ 1 Corinthians 14:1-25. Superiority of prophecy over tongues.

_ _ Follow after charity — as your first and chief aim, seeing that it is “the greatest” (1 Corinthians 13:13).

_ _ and desire — Translate, “Yet (as a secondary aim) desire zealously (see on 1 Corinthians 12:31) spiritual gifts.”

_ _ but rather — “but chiefly that ye may prophesy” (speak and exhort under inspiration) (Proverbs 29:18; Acts 13:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:20), whether as to future events, that is, strict prophecy, or explaining obscure parts of Scripture, especially the prophetical Scriptures or illustrating and setting forth questions of Christian doctrine and practice. Our modern preaching is the successor of prophecy, but without the inspiration. Desire zealously this (prophecy) more than any other spiritual gift; or in preference to “tongues” (1 Corinthians 14:2, etc.) [Bengel].

Matthew Henry's Commentary

1 Corinthians 14:1-5

_ _ The apostle, in the foregoing chapter, had himself preferred, and advised the Corinthians to prefer, Christian charity to all spiritual gifts. Here he teaches them, among spiritual gifts, which they should prefer, and by what rules they should make comparison. He begins the chapter,

_ _ I. With an exhortation to charity (1 Corinthians 14:1): Follow after charity, pursue it. The original, dikete, when spoken of a thing, signifies a singular concern to obtain it; and is commonly taken in a good and laudable sense. It is an exhortation to obtain charity, to get this excellent disposition of mind upon any terms, whatever pains or prayers it may cost: as if he had said, “In whatever you fail, see you do not miss of this; the principal of all graces is worth your getting at any rate.”

_ _ II. He directs them which spiritual gift to prefer, from a principle of charity: “Desire spiritual gifts, but rather that you may prophesy, or chiefly that you may prophesy.” While they were in close pursuit of charity, and made this Christian disposition their chief scope, they might be zealous of spiritual gifts, be ambitious of them in some measure, but especially of prophesying, that is, of interpreting scripture. This preference would most plainly discover that they were indeed upon such pursuit, that they had a due value for Christian charity, and were intent upon it. Note, Gifts are fit objects of our desire and pursuit, in subordination to grace and charity. That should be sought first and with the greatest earnestness which is most worth.

_ _ III. He assigns the reasons of this preference. And it is remarkable here that he only compares prophesying with speaking with tongues. It seems, this was the gift on which the Corinthians principally valued themselves. This was more ostentatious than the plain interpretation of scripture, more fit to gratify pride, but less fit to pursue the purposes of Christian charity; it would not equally edify nor do good to the souls of men. For, 1. He that spoke with tongues must wholly speak between God and himself; for, whatever mysteries might be communicated in his language, none of his own countrymen could understand them, because they did not understand the language, 1 Corinthians 14:2. Note, What cannot be understood can never edify. No advantage can be reaped from the most excellent discourses, if delivered in unintelligible language, such as the audience can neither speak nor understand: but he that prophesies speaks to the advantage of his hearers; they may profit by his gift. Interpretation of scripture will be for their edification; they may be exhorted and comforted by it, 1 Corinthians 14:3. And indeed these two must go together. Duty is the proper way to comfort; and those that would be comforted must bear being exhorted. 2. He that speaks with tongues may edify himself, 1 Corinthians 14:4. He may understand and be affected with what he speaks; and so every minister should; and he that is most edified himself is in the disposition and fitness to do good to others by what he speaks; but he that speaks with tongues, or language unknown, can only edify himself; others can reap no benefit from his speech. Whereas the end of speaking in the church is to edify the church (1 Corinthians 14:4), to which prophesying, or interpreting scripture by inspiration or otherwise, is immediately adapted. Note, That is the best and most eligible gift which best answers the purposes of charity and does most good; not that which can edify ourselves only, but that which will edify the church. Such is prophesying, or preaching, and interpreting scripture, compared with speaking in an unknown tongue. 3. Indeed, no gift is to be despised, but the best gifts are to be preferred. I could wish, says the apostle, that you all spoke with tongues, but rather that you prophesied, 1 Corinthians 14:5. Every gift of God is a favour from God, and may be improved for his glory, and as such is to be valued and thankfully received; but then those are to be most valued that are most useful. Greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, unless he interpret, that the church may receive edifying, 1 Corinthians 14:5. Benevolence makes a man truly great. It is more blessed to give than to receive. And it is true magnanimity to study and seek to be useful to others, rather than to raise their admiration and draw their esteem. Such a man has a large soul, copious and diffused in proportion to his benevolence and bent of mind for public good. Greater is he who interprets scripture to edify the church than he who speaks tongues to recommend himself. And what other end he who spoke with tongues could have, unless he interpreted what he spoke, is not easy to say, Note, That makes most for the honour of a minister which is most for the church's edification, not that which shows his gifts to most advantage. He acts in a narrow sphere, while he aims at himself; but his spirit and character increase in proportion to his usefulness, I mean his own intention and endeavours to be useful.

John Wesley's Explanatory Notes

1 Corinthians 14:1

Follow after love — With zeal, vigour, courage, patience; else you can neither attain nor keep it. And — In their place, as subservient to this. Desire spiritual gifts; but especially that ye may prophesy — The word here does not mean foretelling things to come; but rather opening and applying the scripture.

Geneva Bible Translation Notes

1 Corinthians 14:1

Follow (1) after charity, and desire spiritual [gifts], but rather that ye may (a) prophesy.

(1) He infers now of what he spoke before: therefore seeing charity is the chiefest of all, before all things set it before you as chief and principal. And so esteem those things as most excellent which profit the greater part of men (such as prophecy, that is to say, the gift of teaching and applying the doctrine: which was condemned in respect of other gifts, although it is the chiefest and most necessary for the Church) and not those who for a show seem to be marvellous, as the gifts of tongues. This was when a man was suddenly endowed with the knowledge of many tongues, which made men greatly amazed and yet of itself was not greatly of any use, unless there was an interpreter.

(a) What prophecy is he shows in the third verse.

Cross-Reference Topical ResearchStrong's Concordance

Proverbs 15:9 The way of the wicked [is] an abomination unto the LORD: but he loveth him that followeth after righteousness.
Proverbs 21:21 He that followeth after righteousness and mercy findeth life, righteousness, and honour.
Isaiah 51:1 Hearken to me, ye that follow after righteousness, ye that seek the LORD: look unto the rock [whence] ye are hewn, and to the hole of the pit [whence] ye are digged.
Romans 9:30 What shall we say then? That the Gentiles, which followed not after righteousness, have attained to righteousness, even the righteousness which is of faith.
Romans 14:19 Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.
1 Timothy 5:10 Well reported of for good works; if she have brought up children, if she have lodged strangers, if she have washed the saints' feet, if she have relieved the afflicted, if she have diligently followed every good work.
1 Timothy 6:11 But thou, O man of God, flee these things; and follow after righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness.
Hebrews 12:14 Follow peace with all [men], and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:
1 Peter 3:11-13 Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. ... And who [is] he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?
3 John 1:11 Beloved, follow not that which is evil, but that which is good. He that doeth good is of God: but he that doeth evil hath not seen God.


1 Corinthians 13:1-8 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become [as] sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. ... Charity never faileth: but whether [there be] prophecies, they shall fail; whether [there be] tongues, they shall cease; whether [there be] knowledge, it shall vanish away.
1 Corinthians 13:13 And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these [is] charity.
2 Timothy 2:22 Flee also youthful lusts: but follow righteousness, faith, charity, peace, with them that call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
2 Peter 1:7 And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.


1 Corinthians 12:1 Now concerning spiritual [gifts], brethren, I would not have you ignorant.
1 Corinthians 12:31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.
Ephesians 1:3 Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly [places] in Christ:


1 Corinthians 14:3-5 But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men [to] edification, and exhortation, and comfort. ... I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater [is] he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.
1 Corinthians 14:24-25 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: ... 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.
1 Corinthians 14:37 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.
1 Corinthians 14:39 Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.
1 Corinthians 13:2 And though I have [the gift of] prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
Numbers 11:25-29 And the LORD came down in a cloud, and spake unto him, and took of the spirit that [was] upon him, and gave [it] unto the seventy elders: and it came to pass, [that], when the spirit rested upon them, they prophesied, and did not cease. ... And Moses said unto him, Enviest thou for my sake? would God that all the LORD'S people were prophets, [and] that the LORD would put his spirit upon them!
Romans 12:6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, [let us prophesy] according to the proportion of faith;
1 Thessalonians 5:20 Despise not prophesyings.
1 Timothy 4:14 Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery.
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Chain-Reference Bible Search

Nu 11:25. Pv 15:9; 21:21. Is 51:1. Ro 9:30; 12:6; 14:19. 1Co 12:1, 31; 13:1, 2, 9, 13; 14:3, 24, 37, 39. Ep 1:3. 1Th 5:20. 1Ti 4:14; 5:10; 6:11. 2Ti 2:22. He 12:14. 1P 3:11. 2P 1:7. 3Jn 1:11.

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