1 Corinthians 14:1; 2-5;39-40
Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.
For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries. 3 But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. 4 He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. 5 I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for* he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification.
39 Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues. 40 Let all things be done decently and in order. (NKJV)
"Prophecy and Speaking in Tongues"
I. Gift of Prophecy versus Speaking in Tongues (versus 1-5)
a. Pursue love and desire spiritual gifts- especially prophesy.
b. Things of "Disadvantage"about speaking in tongues without an interpreter
1. The person (s) speaking in tongues are talking to God and not people.
2. Nobody understands them.
3. The person speaks mysteries in the spirit.
4. The person edifies themselves. The church is edified only if there is an interpreter to convey the message spoken in tongues.
5. Paul wished that the church (Corinthian) as a whole spoke with tongues, but perferredthat they all prophesied, that is proclaimed the Word of God and forthtold.
c. Things of "Advantage" about the gift of prophesy
1. Prophesying speaks edification, exhorts and comforts the people.
2. Prophesying edifies the church.
3. Prophesying is a greater gift and is more valuable than speaking in tongues wher no interpreter is present..
II. The Importance of Interpretation of tongues (versus 6-17)
a. 4 ways speaking in tongues(foreign language) would be beneficial (vs.6)
By revelation, by knowledge, by prophesying, and by doctrine
b. Example: musical instruments have their own distinct sound- without the distinction in sound, you couldn’t tell which instrument is which. (vs. 7)
c. Military Example: Trumpet: if the trumpet gave an uncertain sound, the army would not know what to do next. The instrument would be useless…(vs. 8-11)
d. By contrast, if there was no interpreter present, speaking in tongues (a foreign language) would be useless- it’s barbaric-it would be as if no one is present when you speak because you can’t engage them in conversation. Speak in a language the people understand!
A. Seek to edify the church! SINCE you have a zeal for spiritual gifts.(vs. 12)
B. Let the person who speaks in tongues, pray that God gives them the ability to interpret: pray in tongues (2 or 3 sentences at a time)…..BUT…
C. If I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit (pnuema) my psyche, mind (using my affections) but my understanding is “unfruitful” (vs. 13)
Barnes Commentary Notes makes the following analogy:
In 1 Corinthians 14:13, the word "spirit" is often used in the Scriptures as the seat of the affections, and emotions, and passions of various kinds; see Matt 5:3, "Blessed are the poor in spirit;" Luke 10:21, "Jesus rejoiced in spirit." So it is the seat of ardor or fervor (Luke 1:17; Acts 18:25; Rom 12:11); of grief or indignation; Mark 3:12; John 11:33; 13:21; Acts 17:16. It refers also to feelings, disposition, or temper of mind, in Luke 9:55; Rom 8:15.
Here it refers, to the person’s heart, their will, their disposition, their feelings, and the person’s sense is, "My feelings find utterance in prayer; my heart is engaged in devotion; my prayer will be acceptable to God, who looks upon the feelings of the heart, and I may have true enjoyment; but my understanding will be unfruitful, that is, will not profit others. What I say will not be understood by them; and of course, however much benefit I might derive from my devotions, yet they would be useless to others."
III. Question: What Shall I do? (verse 15)
a. I will pray with the spirit .. I will do all I can to "blend" all the advantages I have from praying ; by using a common language all the people understand and I will "unite" all the benefits I get from it to so other people can benefit;. I deem it of vast importance to pray with the spirit in such a way that my "heart" and my "affections" may be engaged, so all can benefit.
b. I will pray with the understanding So that others may understand me. I will make the appropriate use of the intellect, so that it may convey ideas, and make suitable impressions on the minds of others.
c. I will sing with the spirit because it is evident that the same thing might take place in singing which occurred in prayer. It might be in a foreign language, and might be unintelligible to others. The affections of the man himself might be excited, and his heart engaged in the duty, but it would be profitless to others. Paul, therefore, says that he would so celebrate the praises of God as to excite the proper affections in his own mind, and so as to be intelligible and profitable to others.
This passage lets us know:
(1) The praises of God are to be celebrated among Christians, and that it is a very important part of worship;
(2) The person’s heart should be fully engaged when we give praises, and that it should be so performed as to excite proper affections in the hearts of those who are engaged in it; and,
(3) Giving praises should be so done as to be "intelligible" and edifying to others. The spoken words should be so uttered as to be distinct and understood. There should be clear enunciation as well as in prayer and preaching, since the design of sacred music in the worship of God is not only to utter praise, but it is to impress the sentiments which are sung on the heart by the aid of musical sounds and expression more deeply than could otherwise be done. If this is not done, the singing might as well be in a foreign language.
Note: There is no part of public worship in which there is greater “imperfection” than the music ministry. At the same time, there is scarcely any part of the devotions of the sanctuary that may be made more edifying or impressive. It has the "advantage" –(the music ministry that is) an advantage which preaching and praying have not-of using the sweet tones of melody and harmony to "impress" sentiment on the heart and it should be done.
IV. Sing with “the” understanding- Otherwise if? (verses 17-18)
a. If you bless with the spirit how would the “uninformed” know to say Amen when you give thanks in tongues? Remember:
1. The uninformed doesn’t understand what’s being said.
2. When you give thanks in this manner, without interpretation, others are not edified.
Paul’s response: I thank God that I speak with more tongues (languages) than all of you, yet…in the church, I rather speak 5 works with my understanding that I may teach others also rather than 10,000 words spoken in an unknown tongue.
V. Tongues: a “sign” to unbelievers (verses 20-25)
a. Don’t be childish in your level of understanding .Stop acting immature. People are usually fascinated with anything spiritual or otherwise that is “novel”, the “exotic”, but might not have any real intrinsic value in their Christian walk.
b. Don’t get hung up on speaking in tongues and stop having ill will towards each other. . Act worthy of the gifts God did give you.
c. Remember in times past God used people who spoke a foreign language to get Israel’s attention (Isaiah 28:11-12) holding them captive in a foreign land as God disciplined them for rebelling against HIM.
d. Remember: tongues are for a “sign” to the unbeliever.
e. Prophesying benefits the believers. (verse 24)
1. If all prophesy in a common language, the unlearned and the unbeliever will be convicted of their sin, they will understand what was said. They will not have any excuse to repent and follow the dictates of the Gospel and give their lives to Jesus Christ,
2. They are led to see the "real" designs and motives of their heart. Their conscience would be awakened; they would review their current state in life; and see it is steeped in evil; and the present state of his heart would be made known to himself. It is possible that he would "suppose that the speaker was aiming directly at him, and "revealing" his feelings to others; for such an effect is often produced. (The convicted sinner often supposes that the preacher knows their personal business, wonders how the preacher knows so much about them" and often supposes that preacher is about to put their business in the street.
VI. Proper Order in the Worship Service (verses 26-33)
a. Let all things be done in order and for edification of the whole body, not just individuals.
b. If any speak in other tongues: no more than 3 at one instance and out of the 3, one must interpret. If there is no “bonafide” interpreter, let all 3 remain silent and pray silently to themselves and to God.
c. If 3 wish to prophesy, let 2 or 3 do so, while the others judge (give validity to or reject as a false prophecy)
d. If something is revealed to a “sitter-by” allow them to speak while the first remain silent.
e. You can prophesy one by one.
1. That all may learn and all may be encouraged.
2. The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.
Remember: God is not the Author of Confusion…but Peace in all churches (vs.33)
f. Let your women keep silent (Corinthian Church) Refer back to chapter 11 to get a fuller understanding if this declaration:
1. They are not permitted to speak.
2. They are to be submissive.
3. If they need to learn something, ask their husbands at home.
4. It is shameful for the women to speak in the church.
VII. The Word of God: Did is “come out of you”? Or did it “come unto you only” ? (verse 36-40)
a. Out of You: (verse 36)
The question is really asking:, "Is the church at Corinth the "mother church?" Was it first established; or has it been alone in sending forth the Word of God? (No) You have adopted customs which are unusual. You have permitted women to speak in a manner unknown to other churches; (see 1 Corinthians 11:16). You have admitted irregularity and confusion unknown in all the other churches. You have allowed many to speak at the same time, and have tolerated confusion and disorder. Have you any "right" thus to differ from other churches? Have you any authority, as it were, to dictate to them, to teach them, contrary to their uniform custom, to allow these disorders? Should you not rather be conformed to them, and observe the rules of the churches which are older than yours?
" The "argument" here is, that the church at Corinth was "not" the first church that was established; that it was one of the "last" that had been founded; and because of this fact, that it couldn't, claim any right whatsoever to differ in any way from the other churches, or to prescribe to them.".
b. Unto You only
The Question raised here is: since you are not the first church group of those who believed, neither are you the “only ones”. God has sent the same gospel to others, and it is traveling over the world. Others, therefore, have the same right as you to originate customs and special habits; and as this would be attended with confusion and disorder, you should all follow the same rule, and the customs which do not prevail in other churches should not be allowed in yours.
VIII. Pertaining to the call of a Prophet (verses 37-40)
a. If any man think (professes to be or is repudiated to be) he’s a prophet (vs. 37)
b. Or professes to be “spiritual” ( under a “extraordinary” influence- prophetic anointing)
Show it by the following ways:
1. Acknowledge My (Paul’s) authority (apostleship)
2. Yield to the commands in obedience which I (Paul) utter by the authority of the Lord.
Every church is supposed to operate by the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ
c. If any be ignorant, that is if any reject the notion that I (Paul) have authority under God and jurisdiction over the affairs of this church, or doubt that I’m inspired under the unction of the will of God and the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
Let them be ignorant at their own risk and suffer the consequences. Noting:
1. They do this at their own peril, if this their position and they refuse to change it,let him remain so, and suffer the consequences.
2. I shall not take any further trouble to debate with them( I’m not going to argue with them) I have clearly stated my God given authority.
3. I have delivered the commands of God. And now, if they disregard them, and still doubt whether all this is said by divine authority, let them suffer the consequences of rejecting the law of God. I have given full proof of my divine commission. I have nothing more to say on this matter. And now, if they choose to remain in ignorance or incredulity, the fault theirs, and they must answer for it to God.
Summation: (verses 39-40)
d. Desire to prophesy for the purpose of edifying the Church and don’t forbid anyone from speaking in tongues, as long as they follow spiritual protocol.
e. Again, let everything be done DECENT AND IN ORDER!