1 Corinthians 14:13-25    Education not exhibition

Speaking in tongues was obviously one of the concerns, or one of the major characteristics of the Corinthian church.  The amount of space the apostle devotes to this issue indicates that it had become a problem which needed to be addressed.  Again, therefore, Paul emphasizes that Christianity is not about ecstatic trances (as were some of the pagan cults): both the mind and the spirit are to be involved when praying and singing.  Paul himself was gifted with the ability to speak in tongues, but he says that he would rather speak five intelligible words which would instruct and build up the church, than ten thousand words which no-one could understand.  Believers and also those who may still be brought to faith need to be addressed not in tongues but in prophecies.  It is the searching and convincing character of prophecy, not the spectacular but unintelligible exhibition of tongues which will bring forth from a visitor the comment, “God is certainly among you” (Zech.8:23).