1 Corinthians 14
this ‘Framework' we use our usual text PLUS comment style to enable
you, as simply as possible, to catch the sense of his writing.
1 Corinthians 14: Administering Gifts
Desire Intelligible Gifts
Be Eager for Gifts that Build the Church
Ensure Good Order in Meetings
Synopsis: A powerful
and comprehensive chapter which some unwisely write off through
fear, as not being for the present day. In churches where these
things are applied there is life and vitality. Paul repeats his
call to eagerly desire spiritual gifts [in order to minister the
love of Jesus] and clearly distinguishes the two most commonly
used gifts – tongues and prophecy – pointing out the additional
value to the church of personal prophecy. He points out that these
are to build the church and so when they are expressed in the
congregation there should be order. A challenging chapter which,
when God comes in Revival or Renewal, will take on a new significance.]
Desire Intelligible Gifts
love undergird everything but desire gifts, especially prophecy)
way of love and eagerly desire gifts of the Spirit, especially
are fine but as prayer to God no one else knows what you are saying)
who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God. Indeed,
no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit.
on the other hand, strengthens, encourages and comforts [and we
need that]) But
the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening,
encouraging and comfort.
blesses the speaker, prophecy the church) Anyone
who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves, but the one who prophesies
edifies the church.
wants all to have tongues but even more to prophesy because to
bless the church tongues needs an interpreter ) I
would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather
have you prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the
one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that
the church may be edified.
Paul came speaking in tongues that would not help them as much
as if her prophesied or taught) Now,
brothers and sisters, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what
good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge
or prophecy or word of instruction?
with musical instruments there needs a sense of purpose and direction)
Even in the
case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the pipe or
harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there
is a distinction in the notes?
example a trumpet call needs to be specific) Again,
if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready
with tongues people will be left clueless) So
it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your
tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just
be speaking into the air.
languages all have meaning) Undoubtedly
there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them
is without meaning.
we need interpreters with different languages) If
then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am
a foreigner to the speaker, and the speaker is a foreigner to
Synopsis: Yes, start
and finish with love but eagerly desire these gifts that bring
blessing, especially prophecy. Great store is sometimes given
to tongues speaking – and Paul does want us all doing it – but
prophecy is much more useful and powerful in blessing people because
tongues (which is prayer) blesses the individual but without interpretation
leaves the congregation wondering.]
Be Eager for Gifts that Build the Church
key is seeking gifts (and asking God for them) that will bless
and build the church) So
it is with you. Since you are eager for gifts of the Spirit, try
to excel in those that build up the church.
tongues speaker needs an interpretation [from themselves or form
this reason the one who speaks in a tongue should pray that they
may interpret what they say.
tongue flows through the spirit, not the mind) For
if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful.
will seek to do these things with both my mind and my spirit)
So what shall
I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my
understanding; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing
with my understanding.
(if it's only in the Spirit, others are left out) Otherwise
when you are praising God in the Spirit, how can someone else,
who is now put in the position of an inquirer, say “Amen” to your
thanksgiving, since they do not know what you are saying? You
are giving thanks well enough, but no one else is edified.
used tongues a lot) I
thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you.
with the church he would prefer prophecy to instruct others and
build the church) But
in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to
instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.
need to grow up in our understanding) Brothers
and sisters, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be
infants, but in your thinking be adults.
spoke of these things) In
the Law it is written: “With other tongues and through the lips
of foreigners I will speak to this people, but even then they
will not listen to me, says the Lord.” [Isa
a sign challenging outsiders tongues grab their attention more
while prophecy is more openly received by the church) Tongues,
then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy,
however, is not for unbelievers but for believers.
unless we have a balance of both tongues and prophecy outsiders
will be confused) So
if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues,
and inquirers or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you
are out of your mind?
because although tongues will grab their attention, prophecy can
convict them) But
if an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while everyone is prophesying,
they are convicted of sin and are brought under judgment by all,
as the secrets of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall
down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!”
these gifts as ways God builds and blesses His church is at the
heart of this passage. Tongues is beautiful prayer but prophecy
teaches and challenges. For outsiders tongues grabs their attention
but prophecy can convict.]
Ensure Good Order in Meetings
when we come together let's see what God will give to each of
us to bless and build up the church) What
then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together,
each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation,
a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that
the church may be built up.
there are public tongue speakers [with faith to speak out their
gift] limit the number and look for interpretations) If
anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak,
one at a time, and someone must interpret.
no interpretation, for the sake of good order, no spoken out tongues)
If there is
no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and
speak to himself and to God.
there are prophets, only two or three should speak out) Two
or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully
what is said.
( if God gives another revelation, the first should stop )
And if a revelation
comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should
prophecies can come to bless all [note distinction between people
with gift of prophecy and ‘prophets' – those mature in holding
the heart of God) For
you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed
should be subject to one another) The
spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets.
God is a God of order [implies the gift is available for the prophet
but should not always be used publicly]) For
God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations
of the Lord's people.
[as better able talkers? [i.e. relational building communicators]]
need to restrain themselves) Women
should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to
speak, but must be in submission, as the law says.
within the culture of the day, there was a cultural order to be
they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own
husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in
you the only church God needs to speak to) Or
did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people
it has reached?
you are Spirit-gifted you will know I speak the truth) If
anyone thinks they are a prophet or otherwise gifted by the Spirit,
let them acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord's
people who ignore this teaching) But
if anyone ignores this, they will themselves be ignored.
finally, eagerly listen for God to speak His word through you
and go for tongues as you are able) Therefore,
my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid
speaking in tongues.
just maintain an orderly approach to these things) But
everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.
are various issues that will be raised by this passage. i)
everyone can have some gift [v.26] with which to bless
and build the church, ii) although gifts are
inspired by the Spirit, the individual can control the amount
of their usage [v.27-33], and iii) culturally
at that time men were seen as the leaders in the community and
thus also in church. We should suggest the intended curbing of
women's ability for disorderly chattering in their congregation
there, should not exclude them from being either public tongue-bringers
or prophecy bringers as Joel's prophecy applied by Peter on the
Day of Pentecost [Acts 2:16,17] included male and female. iv)
the goal of blessing and building the church through gifts is
subject to it being in an orderly manner and not creating chaos.]