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Explaining Spanish Grammar Using the Language Chapter, Part 1

When I finished the love chapter of the Bible, I realized the next chapter was all about language, and the blogs I send out are about language, culture, history, and God, so I thought it would be appropriate to just continue into the next chapter, 1 Corinthians 14, where the Apostle Paul talks about language. In chapter 13, the love chapter, the Apostle Paul was trying to teach the people to get along because they were all arguing over who had the best spiritual gifts, and he told them those miraculous gifts they all wanted so badly were coming to an end, and they only thing they would be left with was faith, hope, and love. 1 Corinthians 13 is a beautiful chapter because it teaches us how to love one another and get along. The next chapter is just as important because the Apostle Paul is still dealing with people who are puffed up about how important they think they are because they can speak foreign languages. They think God blessed them above the others, but what we need to realize is that God gives us all gifts that are different, and it doesn’t mean one is more important than the other because we are all children of God with different talents. Let’s get started and see what the Apostle Paul says about language and what kind of grammar he uses.

Seguid el amor. (Follow love). Photo by Kristina Paukshtite on Pexels.com

Verse 1: Seguid el amor; y procurad los dones espirituales, pero sobre todo que profeticeis.

Seguid el amor – “Follow love.” Yes, this chapter is about languages, but the Apostle Paul was a very well educated man, and he knows how to make a bridge between one topic and the other, so he ended chapter 13 telling us love is the most important, and he begins chapter 14 saying to follow love. “Seguid” is the request or command form of “seguir” which means “to follow.” If we want to use a request or command form of “to follow” in English, we just leave the pronoun our and say, “Follow!” which has an understood “you” meaning that the person you are talking to knows you are talking to them, but you can’t see “you.” “Amor” (love) is a masculine noun, so it has a masculine article (el) before it. “El” means “the.” “El Amor” is the direct object of “segued” and answers the questions, “What should we follow (seguir)?”

y procurad los dones espirituales, – “And try for the spiritual gifts.” As I have said before, “y” means “and.” “Procurad” comes from “procurer” which means “to try” or “to make sure.” “Procurad” is the request or command form of “procurer” which means in English, it has that “understood you” again. “Los dones” is the plural form of “el don” (the gift). “Espirituales” meaning spiritual, is plural with “es” on the end because “los dones” is plural, and “espirituales” is an adjective that tells about “los dones.” “Los dones” is an article and a noun, a direct object, and “espirituales” comes after the noun because “los dones” (the gifts) is considered more important than the fact that they are spiritual gifts. “Los dones” is the direct object because it receives the direct action of “procured” and answers the question, “What should we try for (procured)?”

Pienso que ‘el puede profetizar. (I think he can preach.)Photo by Oladimeji Ajegbile on Pexels.com

pero sobre todo que profeticeis. – “But more than that prophecy.” “Pero” is a conjunction that means “but.” “Sobe todo” is an expression that can be translated straight through from English, “above all” or “more than.” That “que” seems a bit out of place unless you take it like “than” telling you that one is greater than the other. And here, it seems that “profeticeis” is greater than “”seguridad” (follow) and “procured” (try for). “Profeticeis” comes from “profetizar,” “to prophesy.” It seems that prophesying is more important than “following love” and “trying to get spiritual gifts.” No one will know how to love one another if no one teaches or prophesies. No one will even know spiritual gifts exist if no one prophesies.

Putting this verse all together: Follow love and try for spiritual gifts more than that prophecy.

Verse 2: Porque ‘el que habla en lenguas no habla a los hombres, sino a Dios; pues nadie le entiende, aunque por el Espiritual habla misterios.

Porque ‘el que habla en lenguas no habla a los hombres – “Because he that speaks in languages doesn’t speak to people.” “Porque” means “because” and not “why” because it is all one word. “Por que” means “why.” “‘El” has an accent mark, so it means “he,” not “the.” If there is no accent mark on “el,” it is a masculine “the.” “Que” means “that” and is a relative pronoun that begins a relative clause. Relative clauses tell about the noun or pronoun that the come after. In some ways, they are adjective phrases. This relative pronoun tells about “‘el” (he). “Habla” comes from “hablar,” to speak. “Habla” is third person singular, simple present tense. Simple present tense means it happens all the time, everyday. Third person means that the subject imbedded into this verb is either “‘el, ella, or usted.” In English, the subject imbedded would be “he, she, it, or a respectful ‘you.’.” In this case, because this relative clause refers to “‘el,” we know that “‘el” (he” is the subject of “habla.” “En” = “in.” “Lenguas” = tongues or languages. In Old England, they referred to languages as “tongues,” and from my experience with Latin languages, sometimes they do also. “A” means “to.” “Los hombres” means “the men” or “the people.” It is masculine, and if you simple had “el hombre,” it would mean “the man.” However, in Spanish, if it is plural, it very well can include both men and women, but still be in masculine form which his “los hombres” does, it includes both men and women, so I translated it “people.”

Puedes entender? (Do you understand?) Para muchos de mosotros ‘esto es un misterio. (For many of us, this is a mystery.) Pero, Dios lo entiende. (But, God understands it.) Photo by Henry & Co. on Pexels.com

Sino a Dios – “but to God.” “Sino” means “but.” “A” means “to,” and “Dios” means “God.” “A Dios” is a prepositional phrase with “Dios” as the object of the preposition, “a.” This phrase being tacked on to the one before it means that when we speak in foreign languages, we are speaking to God, not to men. Think about it, it takes a lot of effort to speak in a foreign language. As for me, I learned foreign languages, yes to communicate with people, but I wanted to communicate with people for God. If we are Christians, everything goes back to God. God is our purpose. Any language we speak God understands, so we are speaking to him.

pues nadie le entiende – “because no one understands it.” Okay, why do we study a language? Because we don’t understand. The Apostle Paul will make this more clear as he speaks. God understands all languages, but we don’t. If the person sitting next to you were speaking Chinese or Hausa, would you understand? I wouldn’t. I can speak a few languages, but I have had to work to get there, and for many people, if I don’t translate and explain on my blog, they won’t understand. “Pues” is another way to say “because.” “Nadie” means “no one.” “Le” is a direct object pronoun meaning “it.” Yes, English speakers, you just have to get used to direct object pronouns at times being places before the verb in Spanish. “Entiende” comes from “entender” which means “to understand.” Often, those of us who have had high school Spanish in America, learned “comprender” for “to understand.” We learn it because it is like the verb “to comprehend” in English. However, a native speaker of Spanish is more likely to use “entender” for “to understand.” “Entiende” is in third person singular simple present tense. Simple present tense means always, everyday. Third person singular means the pronouns that are imbedded here are “he, she, it, or because this is Spanish, a formal ‘you.'” The subject of “entiende” is actually “nadie,” so the pronoun would be “he.”

aunque por el Espiritu habla misterios – “though by the spirit he speaks mysteries.” “Aunque” means “though.” “Por” means “by.” “El Espiritu” means “the spirit.” “Espiritu” is a singular masculine noun, so needs a singular masculine article, “el” which means “the.” “Habla” comes from “hablar” (to speak.) “Habla” is simple present tense, third person singular. That means it happens everyday, all the time, and the pronoun that is imbedded in “habla” this time is “he” again. “Misterios” is the plural form of “mysteries.” If we don’t know a language, but hear it, it is surely a mystery to us.

Putting verse 2 together: “Because he that speaks in languages doesn’t speak to people, but to God because no one understands it, though by the spirit he speaks mysteries.

This is something those of you who took high school Spanish will want to learn:

Intiendo = I understand, intiendes = you understand, intiende = he, she, or formal you understands, intendemos = we undersand, intienden = they understand. intiende’ = I understood. intiendiste = you understood. intiendo’ = he, she, or formal you understood. intendemos = we understood. intendieron = they understood. Voy a intender= I am going to understand. vas a intender = you are going to understand. va a intender = he, she, or formal you is going to understand. vamos a intender = we are going to understand. van a intender = they are going to understand.

We are going to have to continue to actually know what the Apostle Paul is talking about. Let’s do verse 3.

La iglesia necesita edificacion, exhortacion, y consolacion. (The church needs edification, exhortation, and consolation.)Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Verse 3: Pero ‘el que profetiza habla a los hombres para edificacion, exhortacion, y consolacion.

Pero ‘el que profetiza habla a los hombres – “But he that prophesies speaks to the people.” “Pero” means “but.” “‘El” has an accent mark, so it means “he.” “Que” is a relative pronoun that begins a relative clause and meants “that.” The relative clause will tell us about “‘el.” “Profetiza” comes from “profetizar” which means “to prophesy.” “Profetiza” is simple present tense, third person singular.” Simple present tense means it is all the time, everyday. Third person singular means that it has a pronoun imbedded into it, and in this case, it is “he” because of the “‘el” that is before “que.” “Que profetiza” is the relative clause that functions as an adjective clause telling about “‘el.” Next, we find out what “‘el” (he) does, “habla.” “Habla” means “he speaks.” “A” means “to,” and “los hombres” means “the men” or “the people.”

para edificacion, exortacion, y consolacion – “For edification, exhortation, and consolation.” This is pretty easy to see and understand because the grammar mirrors English grammar and the words are so similar between English and Spanish here. “Para” (for) is a preposition. “Edificacion, exortacion, y consolacioin” is a compound object of the preposition. “Compound” simply means there is more than one object of the preposition. They are all nouns, and objects of the preposition must be nouns. They are in a list which means like in English, there should be a comma after eat word, and “y” (and) before the last item on the list.

Putting verse 3 together: “But he that prophecies speaks to the people for edification, exhortation, and consolation.”

This guy who is preaching (prophesying) is speaking to the people to build them up (edification), to try to get them to do good things (exhortation), and to make them feel good (consolation.)

To help these three verses make more sense, let’s do a fourth verse so we can connect this to language.

Si no estas de Japonia, ‘estas mujeres son extranas para tu. (If you aren’t from Japan, these women are foreigner to you.) Ellas hablan una lengua extrana. (They speak a foreign language.)Photo by CHLOE HUISS on Pexels.com

Verse 4: ‘El que habla en lengua extrana, a si mismo se edifice; pero ‘el que prfetiza, edifice a la iglesia.

El que habla en lengua extrana – “He that speaks in a foreign language.” “‘El” with that accent mark, means “he.” Again, “que” (that) is a relative pronoun that begins a relative clause that will be an adjective clause telling about “‘el.” “Habla,” again, is “he speaks.” “En” means “in.” “Lengua” means “language.” “Lengua” is a direct object noun of “habla.” “extrana.” means “strange” or “foreign.” In many countries, the word for “foreigner” actually translated into English as “stranger” and the word for “foreign” as “strange.” This “extrana” is an adjective that tells you about “lengua” (language). “que habla en lengua extrana” is the relative clause that means “speaks in a foreign language.”

Cuando hombres vienen de Mexico al Los Estados Unidos y no hablan la lengua ingles, ellos solamente pueden edifican a si mismos. (When people come from Mexico to the United States and don’t speak English, they can only edify themselves.)Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

a si mismo se edicfica – “edifies himself.” “A si mismo” is a phrase in Spanish that means “himself.” “Mismo” actually means “the same,” “a” actually means “to,” and “si” means “if” because there is no accent mark over it. If there were an accent mark over it, it would mean “yes.” “To if the same” really means nothing in English, but we also have phrases like this in English that can’t translate word for word. “A si mismo” actually means “to himself.” “Se” is a reflexive pronoun meaning “himself” in this case. “Se edifice” is used as a reflexive verb because it has that reflexive pronoun before it. “Se edifice” means “he edifies himself.” Basically, this guy who speaks in a foreign language, at this point, is doing it for his own benefit.

pero ‘el que profetiza – “but he that prophesies.” “Pero” means “but.” “‘El” has an accent mark, so it mans “he.” “Que” is the relative pronoun that begins a relative clause again that means “that.” “profetiza” comes from “profetizar” which means “to prophesy” or “to preach.” “Que profetiza” (that prophesies) is a relative clause telling about “e’l” (he).

edifica a la iglesia. – “edifies the church.” “Edifica” comes from “edificar” meaning “to edify.” It is in third person singular simple present tense. That means it happens everyday, all the time. The pronoun embedded in “edifice” is “he.” “A” means “to.” We don’t use “to” here in English, but if the direct object is a person or people, in Spanish, you must put “a” in front of it, and “la iglesia” (the church) is people, so needs “a” in front of it. “La iglesia” is a singular, feminine noun with a singular feminine article (la) before it that means “the.” What does “he” edify? He edifies “the church” (la iglesia.” This means that “la iglesia” is the direct object of “edifice.”

Putting verse 4 all together: ” He that speaks in a foreign language builds himself up, but he that preaches builds up the church.

Si profetezas, Dios piense que eres mas importante que ellos que hablan las lenguas estranas porque puedes ayudas mas gente. (If you preach, god thinks that you are more important than the people who speak foreign languages because you can help more people.).Photo by Rene Asmussen on Pexels.com

Does this mean that the Apostle Paul is down on people who speak foreign languages? No. He is simply saying that the preacher’s message does the church more good than the person who speaks a foreign language that the others don’t understand does. If we keep on through this chapter, the function of people who speak a foreign language will become more clear. However, Rome wasn’t built in a day, and I can’t conquer the whole chapter in one blog. Here in Oklahoma, there are a lot of Spanish speakers now who have come here from Mexico. Some only speak Spanish, and others speak both English and Spanish. However, the church as a whole speaks English. The message that the preacher is preaching must be preached in English so the church as a whole can understand because that message the preacher is preaching is more important than whether or not someone can speak a foreign language. In Korea, there were preachers who came who only spoke English. Some chose not to use translators, and it made no sense to me because Korean was the language of the people, and it was like that preacher was speaking to the air. The Apostle Paul addresses this problem too. Whenever I taught a Bible class in Korea, I made sure that everyone listening could understand me. It was hard sometimes because some needed English, and some Korean, so I ended up saying a sentence in English, then translating it to Korean, saying a sentence in English, then translating it to Korean. It wasn’t easy, so a friend of mine decided to be my translator so everyone could understand without it being such a burden on me. There is a place for speaking foreign languages, and the Apostle Paul will explain it all. Just hang on for more blogs about this chapter.

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