Archive for February 14th, 2020

1 Corinthians 14:22-26

In 1 Corinthians 14:22-26 Paul continues to explain how spiritual gifts should be used in the church. He’s still focused on tongues and prophecy as two areas that clarity is needed for the Corinthians. “Thus tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers, while prophecy is a sign not for unbelievers but for believers.” In Isaiah 28, the strange tongues were not a blessing, but a curse. Paul is warning us. Clarke wrote: “Take heed that it be not the case now: that, by dwelling on the gift, ye forget the Giver; and what was designed for you as a blessing, may prove to you to be a curse… God may curse your blessings.”

Paul plainly says that tongues are a sign to unbelievers, and prophecy is a sign for those who believe. “If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds?” If unbelievers hear tongues in a meeting, they will not be blessed, but will say that you are out of your mind. There is no way an unbeliever will understand how tongues fit into God’s plan. It will be chaos and confusion and they will run away believing that the church is filled with people who are crazy. God is a God of order, and this would be the opposite.

But if unbelievers hear prophecy and are convicted in their hearts, their reaction may be to worship God and report that God is truly among you. “But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you.” That’s an entirely different outcome from what might happen if tongues are uncontrolled in the church. Tongues will not “minister” to or edify unbelievers. Tongues do nothing to bring the unbeliever closer to God; they may instead turn him off. Prophecy on the other hand, can definitely touch an unbeliever for the Kingdom.

Paul is addressing the Corinthian church and how they should act when they meet together. His overarching principle is that gifts should be used for the edification of the body. And the behavior of the body when gathered can include a number of things. “What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.” Paul sees the gathering of the church as a time when people come to participate and to give to one another, not merely to passively receive. Church is an active thing where each participates and plays their part in worship and fellowship together. But the major purpose is to build up one another in the faith!

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