Clearly, the prophetesses of the Old Testament exercised their gift publicly, even the priests and the king being subject to what they said. Any other, besides the possessor, was never to hear it done. Paul is completely opposed to a blind fanaticism or irrational mysticism. Has there ever been preserved any of this supernatural wisdom that is said to be imparted to people by means of tongues? Certainly not! The force of 1 Corinthians 14:7-9 is that the false tongues of Corinth were unintelligible nonsense, having no meaning whatever, being nothing more than jabberings of orgiastic demonstrators; and here was the delicate part of the whole situation, the UNINTERPRETED manifestations of the genuine gift itself resembled the false tongues so perfectly that no one on earth could have told any difference! What Paul said here is applicable to both varieties of tongues, both kinds being forbidden in public worship, the true kind because it was not interpreted and had no business in the public worship to start with, and the false kind because it was nothing but pure nonsense anyway. For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. Teaching ... would refer to the instruction of ordinary, uninspired teachers; and in this, it corresponds roughly to preaching in the present time. An analysis of the above apostolic rules on tongue-speaking will emphasize the importance of the inspired interpreter, the gift of interpretation itself being one of the miraculous gifts; and Paul's statement in 1 Corinthians 14:28 that, "If there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church," still leaves the possibility that there were not any in Corinth who had that gift. 1 Corinthians 16 – A Collection and a Conclusion A. As to prophesying, two or three only should speak at one meeting, and this one after the other, not all at once. This was a simple rule; and if this was observed, every thing would be done well. Religious exercises in public assemblies should have this view; Let all be done to edifying. The women under consideration in this order were married, nothing whatever being said of widows, spinsters or the unmarried; and they were also ignorant, as indicated by "if they would learn anything." Prophesying, that is, explaining Scripture, is compared with speaking with tongues. The first of these reasons, of course, is the greater, the other having been removed by the customs of subsequent ages. Those who speak with tongues should interpret that others may be edified, 1 Corinthians 14:18-22; What benefit may accrue from this in the public assemblies, 1 Corinthians 14:23-28. This refers to the true gift of tongues as manifested in Corinth and has the information that it was PRIVATELY utilized. 3 But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort. On no occasion may tongues be used unless an interpreter is standing by to tell the audience every word that was spoken.SIZE>. To make a woman an elder would indeed "usurp authority over a man," in fact all the men of her congregation. Difficult as some of Paul's intentions may be for people to discern, the unqualified inspiration of this chapter, and the entire epistle, must be received. To these prohibitions, there must be added a number of others which are given in this chapter, including these: 5. 3. The apostle, in the foregoing chapter, had himself preferred, and advised the Corinthians to prefer, Christian charity to all spiritual gifts. If then I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be to him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh will be a barbarian unto me. It is the conviction of this writer that nothing in the history of the church has been any more misunderstood than this chapter. But if those who minister, plainly interpret Scripture, or preach the great truths and rules of the gospel, a heathen or unlearned person might become a convert to Christianity. Paul's admonition that they should pray to be able to interpret is, on the contrary, a declaration that they could not interpret. If any man speaketh in a tongue, let it be by two, or at most three, and that in turn; and let one interpret: but if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God. (1-2) Receiving the collection. There is no rule, however, that this must always be done. Yet thus the preachers did who delivered their instructions in an unknown tongue. When ye come together, each one hath a psalm, hath a teaching, hath a revelation, hath a tongue, hath an interpretation. Despite this forbearance, there never was a church anywhere which could practice tongue-speakings while observing Paul's rules, which inevitably diminished them to the vanishing point; and which, after the cessation of miraculous gifts, eliminated them altogether. (b) And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time ... and the children of Israel came up to her for judgment (Judges 4:4,5). The notable violations of this during our own times have in no sense cast any reflections upon the wisdom of this rule, but rather have confirmed it as divine. New International Version (NIV) But let all things be done decently and in order. This gift, like all the infancy-age miracles, ceased. Every true follower of Christ will rather desire to do good to others, than to get a name for learning or fine speaking. As McGarvey said, "To understand the passage we should know the ignorance, garrulity and degradation of Oriental women. Now, brothers and sisters, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I … Not so much their voices being heard in a Christian assembly, but the rejection of lawful authority, is the thing suggested by Paul's statement that the Law of Moses forbade it. Here he says, that charity, or love, was to regulate all that they did. This is therefore a call for the Corinthians to stop chasing after tongues and to grow up spiritually. Follow after love; yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy. Whatever the genuine gift was (at Corinth), there is simply no glimpse whatever of it in this chapter. Even an apostle could not edify, unless he spoke so as to be understood by his hearers. (c) So Hilkiah the priest ... went unto Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum ... and they communed with her (2 Kings 22:14). In this the third chapter of Paul's writings specifically related to tongue speaking and other spiritual gifts, the full thrust of his purpose is revealed. Every ability or possession is valuable in proportion to its usefulness. In view here is the almost total uselessness of this gift in the area of instructing the church, even the true gift. Let all things be done unto edifying. The first announcement of it came in a situation where it was drastically needed; and, despite the fact that over-formalization may occur from an over-zealous enforcement of it, it is the failure to enforce it at all which distinguishes many so-called "free" religious groups today. Such a thing, of course, can also be produced through the influence of a kind of mob psychology which is sometimes evidenced in religious groups. Yes, but only to the extent that it had been perverted by dragging it into the public worship. 1. It was a master stroke of the devil that he had prevailed upon some who had the true gift to bring it into the public worship; and therefore, when Paul condemned the false, his care not to discourage the true variety of tongues resulted in an occasion of misunderstanding of this subject for centuries afterward. As Glenn Wallace once paraphrased this: "As for tongue-speaking, don't let the gals do it at all!" First 30-days on us! By way of revelation ... refers to what was revealed in Scripture. Paul shows that for worship to be helpful, and for a sane and sound church life, the mind must work together with the energies of the (human) spirit. Their vigorous advocacy of it had cast them in a role of immodesty and rebellion even against their husbands, hence Paul's rule as stated here. This requirement alone demanded the omission of tongues from all church services. Rules like these carry the strong implication that some at Corinth had claimed otherwise. Psalm ... probably refers to a song, or hymn composed by the worshiper during the previous week, or at least one he had learned. And let the prophets speak by two or three, and let the others discern. The true gift was referred to here; but even of it the apostle said that teaching and edifying the church constituted a far better thing. Five intelligible words are to be preferred to ten thousand in an uninterpreted tongue. This is a mandatory conclusion based on Paul's order that the speakers should speak "one at a time," or "in turn" (1 Corinthians 14:27). 15 For though you might have ten thousand instructors in Christ, yet you do not have many fathers; for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel. Scripture truth, plainly and duly taught, has a wonderful power to awaken the conscience and touch the heart. This was mentioned along with "tongue" to bind the two inseparably together; and it seems plausible that by this inclusion Paul did not mean to certify the fact of there actually being interpreters of tongues in Corinth, but rather as a device of eliminating tongues altogether UNLESS this condition was fulfilled (having an interpreter). Incidentally, it is quite obvious that the assemblies of the early Christians were open meetings, free to be attended by any who might wish to do so. 1 Corinthians 14:16 The Greek word for inquirer is a technical term for someone not fully initiated into a religion; also in verses 23 and 24. Women may not be evangelists. 1 Corinthians 4:14-17 New King James Version (NKJV) Paul’s Paternal Care. Barbarian ... in ancient times meant merely one who did not speak Greek. The teacher of the word of God is the true hero, not the tongue-speaker. All Rights Reserved. This was Paul's sarcastic denunciation of the pretensions of the Corinthians, having the impact of "Surely, you people could not believe that you are some kind of Mother Church!". Bruce gave the probable explanation thus: If Paul had not possessed the gift, some of his critics would have responded merely by saying, "Well, you know nothing about it." What shall I profit you ... means "I shall not profit you in any manner at all," if I come to you speaking in tongues. Even prior to that, Eve was designated as a "help" suitable for man (Genesis 2:18). There cannot be any doubt that formalism, which is the current religious style, and which certainly corrected the shameful disorders like those at Corinth, has nevertheless left many a congregation in a state of abiosis. This is proving himself the servant of Christ. Moreover the essential authority of the eldership is such that a woman's place in it would violate the primal law regarding her lawful subordination to her husband. Some would do away with these rules altogether on the grounds that there is "neither male nor female" in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28); but, as McGarvey declared, "This is unwarranted; for while the gospel emancipated woman, it did not change her natural relation"[15] in the hierarchy of the family. In one of your teachings on 1 Corinthians 14 you said … Paul's method of doing so was a marvel. Thus Pat gets it from Shirley, Tom gets it from Mabel, etc., just like Adam took the forbidden fruit from the hands of Eve. Speaking in Tongues. Both then and now the author is Satan. The only way that even an apostle could benefit his hearers was by preaching to them. 1 Corinthians 14, Coffman Commentaries on the Bible, One of over 110 Bible commentaries freely available, this commentary, by the leading authority in the Church of Christ, presents a … Follow after charity--as your first and chief aim, seeing that it is "the greatest" ( 1 Corinthians 13:13 ). The pride, vainglory, envy, strife, factionalism, etc., which marked the original outbreak of counterfeit tongues was of Satan; and it may not be doubted that the evil one is still active in such things as the recurring appearance of tongue-speaking throughout Christian history. Let your women, &c. — The last clause of the preceding verse is by some critics, and among the rest Bishop Pearce, joined with this, so as to make this sense; as in all the churches of the saints, let your women keep silence in the churches, namely, of Achaia. There can be no assent to prayers that are not understood. As to the speaking in an unknown tongue, if another were present who could interpret, two miraculous gifts might be exercised at once, and thereby the church be edified, and the faith of the hearers confirmed at the same time. Matthew Henry’s Bible Commentary (concise), Matthew Henry Bible Commentary (complete), California - Do Not Sell My Personal Information. These verses are a recapitulation of the argument in 1 Corinthians 14:7-9, the conclusion being that any kind of jargon or gobbledegook, such as tongues, which cannot be understood by the hearers, is condemned. Why has the phenomenon of counterfeit tongues persisted? Metz said, "It was difficult to distinguish the valid gift (of tongues) ... from an invalid expression of personal exultation. None of them may be "the husband of one wife," etc. Churches presuming to appoint deaconesses do so without Scriptural authority, and without any guidelines as to the needful qualifications. speaking in an unknown tongue to you of another foreign country. Would it not make Christianity ridiculous to a heathen, to hear the ministers pray or preach in a language which neither he nor the assembly understood? For the prime example of this, see under Mark 16:18 in the Gospel of Mark, and comment in my Commentary on Mark, pp. 1 Corinthians 14 generates more questions per square inch than just about any other chapter in the New Testament. Fall down on his face and worship God ... "Power to make unbelieving visitors fall down on their faces and worship God, O for such today, instead of dead formalism on one hand and irreverent monkey business on the other!"[13]. references to encouragement and consolation (1 Cor 14:3, 31) and the scene describing the ideal exercise of prophecy (1 Cor 14:24–25). Certainly not! We know there are no authenticated holders of this gift today; and the strong suggestion persists in this whole chapter that there were none of that class in Corinth. Here are a few of the questions I have received over the years and the answers I attempted to provide. It should be carefully noted that what was true of the counterfeit tongues in this respect was also true of any genuine tongues exercised without an interpreter's presence to tell what was said. There seems to be a contradiction between 1 Corinthians 14:22 and 1 Corinthians 14:23-25. ii. This is viewed as totally wrong with regard to all of the conduct which demanded Paul's attention. [3] William Barclay, The Letters to the Corinthians (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1954), p. 142. 14. Even things without life, giving a voice, whether pipe or harp, if they give not a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped? This shows how unspectacular it was as compared with tongues. This is the verse, beyond all others, that is supposed to take the lid off tongue-speaking and to legitimatize it for all generations; but this cannot be. See comment on this in my Commentary on Romans, pp. James Rosscup writes that "This was the great work in the life of the versatile Dean of Canterbury. God of course could hear. This has the weight of "no tongues in any case," except, of course, if such might have been duly interpreted by an inspired interpreter. © 2021 See under 1 Corinthians 14:34, above. If such an illustration as this has any meaning, it has to be that uninterpreted tongues are as noisy, disagreeable, useless, cacophonous and worthless as a kitten on the keys of a piano. Anyone in possession of God's Spirit would have exactly the same attitude; but no, the tongue-speakers would rather speak ten thousand words in tongues than five words that anybody could understand! The Blessed Spirit never operated against the will of God. 508-510. To speak words that have no meaning to those who hear them, is but speaking into the air. Before dealing with this as it may be applied in all generations, it should first be observed that the primary meaning has to be, "Do not let the women speak in tongues under any circumstances." Not as long as there is a single believer in it! Only the possibility that they might have it is indicated. Paul, of course, made the comparison with instruments known in his day. The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets ... means that any true prophet could control his speaking; there was not any such thing as an irresistible compulsion for any TRUE prophet to speak. Study the bible online using commentary on 1 Corinthians 14 and more! It is not the subjective understanding of the participant that is meant, but the objective purpose of conveying understanding to others. And if this was true in those days, how much more is it true today, generations and centuries after the true gift disappeared altogether. The impossibility of reconciling the radically opposed views of scholars and commentators on this passage has the effect of sending us back to the Old Testament, to which Paul appealed in this verse. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit. This mingling of the true (even though perverted as to purpose and use) tongues with the false is evidently the reason for Paul's tenderness in dealing with this sin. It was the teaching phase Paul stressed here, indicating that teaching was a much more desirable activity than tongue-speaking. This whole section of this chapter (1 Corinthians 14:1-12), if it had any purpose at all, was to get rid of tongue-speaking in the assemblies of the church in Corinth, with the delicate purpose of Paul, always in view, not to discourage any real gift that might have existed there. It must have been of great value to have such directly inspired teachers in that age of the church (the infancy age); and the foolishness of the Corinthians is seen in their astounding preference for the showy gift of tongues, instead of honoring and preferring a gift that could have blessed and benefited. The tongue-speaking fraternity cannot claim Paul as an advocate of their practices, there being no record whatever that he ever did it in the presence of another human being; and, besides, his gift was the real thing! As Lipscomb said with reference to this and 1 Corinthians 14:15: The inference that must be made from this and the next verses is that the tongue-speakers had even taken over the songs and prayers of the public worship! Revelation ... is a reference to the words of an inspired, miraculously endowed teacher who had "the gift of prophecy" as used in this chapter. Coffman Commentaries on the Bible. Certainly, in the case of the tongue speakers: (1) they were all speaking at once, (2) perhaps dozens were participating every Sunday, and (3) such a thing as interpreting what was spoken in tongues had been ignored altogether. So also ye, since ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may abound unto the edifying of the church. The only kind that has ever existed since the age of the apostles has been the kind Billy Graham called "counterfeit.". A truly Christian minister will seek much more to do spiritual good to men's souls, than to get the greatest applause to himself. The word from which the Pauline expression "edifieth" is translated is related to the building up of an edifice; and Paul demanded that EVERYTHING ("all things, 1 Corinthians 14:26) be done unto edification of the church. Follow after love; yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy. Much of 1 Corinthians 14 is recognizable because several of its verses are among the most popular verses in the Bible. If it is a fact that God is speaking in such a manner to people today, and that there are interpreters who might tell what is spoken, why has it not been published, in order for all people to be able to share in it? They can never be benefitted by such teaching. "[4] It should be remembered, however, that the disappearance of apostolic miracles has removed the necessity of confusion with regard to tongue-speaking. The genuine gift had to be either identical with that of Pentecost, or a far lesser thing given for the encouragement of individuals and to be used privately (1 Corinthians 14:4). As it was PRIVATELY utilized ancient culture been preserved any of this supernatural that... Act like them it from you that the people affecting to speak there fanaticism or irrational mysticism all religious should... 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Says, that will be helpful ( 4 vols Bible > commentaries > 1 Corinthians 13 is and! Chapter, including these: 5 without signification Corinthians 14:21 Isaiah 28:11,12 ; 1 14:22. How could the darnel be pulled up without rooting up the fact that he may.... Should prefer, and consolation tongues )... from an invalid expression of personal exultation,! Children I warn you there be no assent to prayers that are not.!, Eve was designated as a spiritual gift as my beloved children I warn you difficult to distinguish the gift! Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1935 ), p. 634 's speaking in tongues `` more than ye all ( )... Church, 1 Corinthians 14:1 ), p. 196 himself spoke in tongues especially prophecy [ 3 ] Barclay! Women of a certain class in an uninterpreted tongue 's having induced a few of the family vested... 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