Archive for February 19th, 2020

1 Corinthians 14:36-40

In 1 Corinthians 14:36-40 Paul wraps up this chapter primarily focused on spiritual gifts and how they are demonstrated in the church. As he wraps up this chapter he begins to lay down the law for the Corinthians. “Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached?” Paul wonders if some of the Corinthian Christians want to contend with him on these topics. If so, he will have none of it. The word of God did not come from the Corinthian Christians; it came to them from Paul. They need to sit and listen and be teachable instead of contending with the apostle Paul.

Paul heads the church off about his authority as an Apostle. “If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord.” We might imagine at the next meeting among some of the Corinthian Christians, someone standing up with a “word from the Lord,” saying, “Paul is all wrong!” Paul forewarns them, saying that if anyone is really a prophet or spiritual, they will agree with Paul. It wasn’t negotiable. Paul knew his standing with God and the church, and there is no room for interpretation. “If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized.” It was his way, or the highway, because he was sent as a messenger of truth by God.

Some people think that if they are really spiritual, they don’t have to obey God’s word on these matters. In their own minds, they are so spiritual that the rules don’t apply to them. But if we are really spiritual, we will stick to the Word of God, and not go “beyond” it. Paul reminds them to seek the Spirit and let Him share the appropriate gifts at the right time. “So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues.” He continues to remind them that prophesy, or a word from God, edifies the Body far more than tongues. But he doesn’t shut the door on tongues being of value for the church either.

He does remind them of one very important principle related to spiritual gifts. There will always be order in how the Spirit gives gifts to people. God wants order when the church comes together. When the gifts of the Spirit are given an unscriptural focus, it discredits the true work of the Holy Spirit, and often leads people to deny the gifts because they see unbiblical excess. “But all things should be done decently and in order.” When the human control takes over, the focus moves to self rather than obeying the Spirit and things can rapidly spiral out of control and order. That’s not God. He will never create an environment of chaos in the church!

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