Archive for February 18th, 2020

1 Corinthians 14:30-35

In 1 Corinthians 14:30-35 Paul is still teaching about spiritual gifts, now with a focus on prophecy. Paul makes it plain that no one is “overwhelmed” by prophecy. They are still in control of the exercise of the gift, even when the Holy Spirit is moving upon them. “If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent.” If the Spirit gives a word to another it is important for the person currently speaking to hold their tongue. When we are using spiritual gifts, we don’t lose control of who we are and what we do. Paul makes that clear here – that the person prophesying may need to stop quickly if God moves in another way.

Order is a big part of how God intends spiritual gifts to be exercised in the church. It should never be the wild west with chaos and confusion running free. “For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged, and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets.” Anything beside order will cause the outcome to miss God’s intent – to build up and encourage those in the Body of Christ. Gifts are not the main event. Not ever. The gifts are merely servants to this purpose of edification of the Body. The purpose of meeting is never to have a tongue or a prophecy as the purpose. You can have a hundred tongues, or a thousand prophecies, but if no one learns or is encouraged, there is no point to it.

And Paul again drives home the truth that God is all about using gifts in an orderly manner to create an atmosphere of peace and worship. “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.” If there is confusion and disorder at a church meeting, it isn’t from God. God may do things we don’t understand, and things that seem strange or unpredictable to us, but there will not be a general atmosphere of confusion or weirdness. This is the very nature of God and who He is. He won’t waver from that, and if we see activity that creates the opposite of God’s peace, we can be assured it is not from God. He never moves.

So Paul has been addressing primarily the use of tongues and prophecy in the church. Now he takes a big turn and addresses the place or men and women in the church. This was based on the norms of his day, and we must be careful in how we apply it today. “As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says.” Paul probably means that women do not have the right to judge prophecy, something restricted to the male leadership of the church. He has already said that women have the right to pray or prophecy publicly back in 1 Corinthians 11.

In the ancient world, just as in some modern cultures, women and men sat in different groups at church. Among the Christians in Corinth, there seems to have been the problem of women chattering or disrupting the meetings with questions. Paul is saying, “Don’t disrupt the meeting. Ask your questions at home.” “If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.” This is definitely not the way most churches function today, but the idea that a spouse or kids should learn from their husband or father would certainly change the dynamics of many homes. Men do need to step up and be the educators and teachers of their families. They shouldn’t have to ask at church because their spiritual leader of the house – the father – should be training and educating them in God’s Word!

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