A Christian missionary who once persecuted the church advises orderly prophesying and interpretation of speaking in tongues so that spiritual gifts offer encouragement and instruction to those present rather than providing a way for the Corinthians to show off among themselves or in the presence of unbelievers.
Most of 1 Corinthians is concerned with issues that affect the lives of those inside the church and have little to do with anyone outside the community of believers. In chapter 14, however, Paul gives instructions to the Corinthians both so that the whole church may be edified by worship and so that those outside the church may find Christian worship intelligible. Paul acknowledges that the gift of speaking in tongues is edifying to the one who practices it. Nonetheless, because such speaking is baffling to others, Paul concludes, “I would rather speak five words with my mind, in order to instruct others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue” (1 Corinthians 14:19).