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1 Corinthians 14:2

    1 Corinthians 14:2 Translations

    King James Version (KJV)

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

    American King James Version (AKJV)

    For he that speaks in an unknown tongue speaks not to men, but to God: for no man understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries.

    American Standard Version (ASV)

    For he that speaketh in a tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God; for no man understandeth; but in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.

    Basic English Translation (BBE)

    For he who makes use of tongues is not talking to men but to God; because no one has the sense of what he is saying; but in the Spirit he is talking of secret things.

    Webster's Revision

    For he that speaketh in a tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God; for no man understandeth; but in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.

    World English Bible

    For he who speaks in another language speaks not to men, but to God; for no one understands; but in the Spirit he speaks mysteries.

    English Revised Version (ERV)

    For he that speaketh in a tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God; for no man understandeth; but in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.

    Clarke's Commentary on 1 Corinthians 14:2

    For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue - This chapter is crowded with difficulties. It is not likely that the Holy Spirit should, in the church, suddenly inspire a man with the knowledge of some foreign language, which none in the church understood but himself; and lead him to treat the mysteries of Christianity in that language, though none in the place could profit by his teaching.

    Dr. Lightfoot's mode of reconciling these difficulties is the most likely I have met with. He supposes that by the unknown tongue the Hebrew is meant, and that God restored the true knowledge of this language when he gave the apostles the gift of tongues. As the Scriptures of the Old Testament were contained in this language, and it has beauties, energies, and depths in it which no verbal translation can reach, it was necessary, for the proper elucidation of the prophecies concerning the Messiah, and the establishment of the Christian religion, that the full meaning of the words of this sacred language should be properly understood. And it is possible that the Hebrew Scriptures were sometimes read in the Christian congregations as they were in the Jewish synagogues; and if the person who read and understood them had not the power and faculty of explaining them to others, in vain did he read and understand them himself. And we know that it is possible for a man to understand a language, the force, phraseology, and idioms of which he is incapable of explaining even in his mother tongue. We shall see, in the course of these notes, how this view of the subject will apply to the illustration of the apostle's words throughout the chapter.

    Speaketh not unto men, but unto God - None present understanding the language, God alone knowing the truth and import of what he says: -

    In the spirit he speaketh mysteries - Though his own mind (for so πνευματι is understood here by many eminent critics) apprehends the mysteries contained in the words which he reads or utters; but if, by the spirit, we understand the Spirit of God, it only shows that it is by that Spirit that he is enabled to speak and apprehend these mysteries. See the note on 1 Corinthians 14:19.

    Barnes' Notes on 1 Corinthians 14:2

    For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue - This verse is designed to show that the faculty of speaking intelligibly, and to the edification of the church, is of more value than the power of speaking a foreign language. The reason is, that however valuable may be the endowment in itself, and however important the truth which he may utter, yet it is as if he spoke to God only. No one could understand him.

    Speaketh not unto men - Does not speak so that people can understand him. His address is really not made to people, that is, to the church. He might have this faculty without being able to speak to the edification of the church. It is possible that the power of speaking foreign languages and of prophesying were sometimes united in the same person; but it is evident that the apostle speaks of them as different endowments, and they probably were found usually in different individuals.

    But unto God - It is as if he spoke to God. No one could understand him but God. This must evidently refer to the addresses "in the church," when Christians only were present, or when those only were present who spoke the same language, and who were unacquainted with foreign tongues. Paul says that "there" that faculty would be valueless compared with the power of speaking in a manner that should edify the church. He did not undervalue the power of speaking foreign languages when foreigners were present, or when they went to preach to foreigners; see 1 Corinthians 14:22. It was only when it was needless, when all present spoke one language, that he speaks of it as of comparatively little value.

    For no man understandeth him - That is, no man in the church, since they all spoke the same language, and that language was different from what was spoken by him who was endowed with the gift of tongues. As God only could know the import of what he said, it would be lost upon the church, and would be useless.

    Howbeit in the Spirit - Although, by the aid of the Spirit, he should, in fact, deliver the most important and sublime truths. This would doubtless be the case, that those who were thus endowed would deliver most important truths, but they would be "lost" upon those who heard them, because they could not understand them. The phrase "in the Spirit," evidently means "by the Holy Spirit," that is, by his aid and influence. Though he should be "really" under the influence of the Holy Spirit, and though the important truth which he delivers should be imparted by his aid, yet all would be valueless unless it were understood by the church.

    He speaketh mysteries - For the meaning of the word "mystery," see Note, 1 Corinthians 2:7. The word here seems to be synonymous with sublime and elevated truth; truth that was not before known, and that might be of the utmost importance.

    Wesley's Notes on 1 Corinthians 14:2

    14:2 He that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaks, in effect, not to men, but to God - Who alone understands him.