I Corinthians 14 naturally divides itself into 3 divisions. They are 14:1-12 – The Gift of Tongues; 14:13-25 – The Gift of Interpretation; 14:26-40 – The Author of Peace. My proposal is to look at each division separately.
The first verse is an encouragement to edify the Church. The very idea of speech is to convey thoughts and ideas for the edification of others. The encouragement by Paul is to prophesy. This is so that man might enlighten the Church. The follow-up in verse two says that no man understands one that speaks in tongues. Paul’s substantive statement in verse 5 should convince doubters – “…for greater is he that propesieth than he that speaketh with tongues…” So many so-called tongue speakers leave the impression that this is the greatest thing, speaking in tongues. Paul does not agree. Paul says, in verse 6, there is no profit for others. What is profitable to others? Knowledge, prophesying, and doctrine.
Then Paul calls for words easy to be understood. “See that ye may excel to the edifying of the church. That is fairly plain to understand. We do not want to be called “…barbarian…” therefore we should seek to speak plain, simple words of understanding that others may understand and be edified and glorify God.