Now it is time to tie up any loose ends and instruct the Corinthians in what it means to be the Church of Jesus Christ. As the Apostle Paul closes this section of his epistle, this is what he does. We have seen what the gifts are and what they are able to accomplish in chapter 12. We have seen in chapter 13 that without love they are worse than useless. As we transitioned into chapter 14 we have been instructed that they are merely the tools that we use to get the job of ministry done. As tools are important to the tradesman, the gifts are important to the Christian who is serving Christ and his brothers and sisters in the Church. From 1 Corinthians 14:6-40 Paul shows us how these things should fit together as he critiques the Corinthian’s order of worship.
1 Corinthians 14:6 But now, brethren, if I come to you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you unless I speak to you either by revelation, by knowledge, by prophesying, or by teaching?
First, remember that whatever gift we have it is used for edification of the Body. There is no profit in speaking in a language that is not able to be understood. The benefit is in instruction, “what shall I profit you unless I speak to you either by revelation, by knowledge, by prophesying, or by teaching?” Therefore:
1 Corinthians 14:12 Even so you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel.
So Paul gives them instruction on how this Gift of Tongues is to be used in the context of a church service. 1 Corinthians 14:13-17 Therefore let him who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful. 15 What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding. 16 Otherwise, if you bless with the spirit, how will he who occupies the place of the uninformed say “Amen” at your giving of thanks, since he does not understand what you say? 17 For you indeed give thanks well, but the other is not edified.
So then a Tongue, or Language that does not communicate some kind of content that is understood does not edify and so it must be translated or it is of no use in the church.
1 Corinthians 14:18-19 I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all; 19 yet in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue.
In the context of the church service the Gift of Tongues is expendable. Paul goes on to say that it is a sign, or a miracle that is intended to be given to unbelievers. He goes on to speak of it as a sign of judgment on Judah who did not want to be instructed by God and so He sent them people who spoke in a language they could not understand (1 Corinthians 14:21-25). It seems that this applies to the Corinthians as they abused a gift that was more outwardly showey and rejected the more important gift of prophecy or proclaiming God’s truths. Therefore he puts restrictions on this gift that only two or three can speak this way and only when it is interpreted.
Next he tells them: 1 Corinthians 14:29-31 “Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. 30 But if anything is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged.” Prophets are able to speak or preach to the congregation, again only two or three at a meeting. All of the prophets speak “one by one” in order that the meeting is kept in order. This is Paul’s main point in all of it.
1 Corinthians 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion but of peace.
The question comes, “Are Tongues in use today?” And I believe that they are not. God used those gifts to verify the message of Jesus and the Apostles (Hebrews 2:3-4). The message is here and complete. As controversial as this may be the next two verses are even more so.
1 Corinthians 14:33b-35 As in all the churches of the saints. 34 Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. 35 And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church.
Again, this needs to be understood in the nature of the Apostle’s critique of the Corinthian order of worship. Things must be done in order and for edification. Order is the key here. Paul only speaks of this two other places, 1 Corinthians 11:3-12 and 1 Timothy 2:11-12. In both places he refers to the Created Order. Women cannot usurp the order of creation and be in order in the worship service. This does not demean women any more than subjecting Himself to the Father demeans Christ! How much is that?
Philippians 2:5-9 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name,
Things work best when we do them as God has prescribed. That is all that there is to it. As a matter of fact, Paul is really strong on this as we see in the next few verses.
1 Corinthians 14:36-38 Or did the word of God come originally from you? Or was it you only that it reached? 37 If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord. 38 But if anyone is ignorant, let him be ignorant.
WOW! Paul drives it right home here. This is how the Lord has said to do it. It is His plan and His authority. To change it is to take upon ourselves the prerogative of dispensing the truth of God. And then Paul says, “But if anyone is ignorant, let him be ignorant.” That is, your ignorance won’t change a thing! God’s truth stands.
And so the conclusion to the matter is; 1 Corinthians 14:39-40 “Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues. 40 Let all things be done decently and in order.” Order, God’s order is the rule of the matter. Order. Edification. The gifts given by God’s Spirit, exercised for the unity and edification of His Body according to his prescription and we can then all say Amen!
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