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Matters of Worship: Part 5
God wants all things done decently and in order
First Corinthians 14
Don Ruhl • Savage Street, Grants Pass, Oregon • May 15, In the year of our Lord Christ, 2019
- 14.1–5 | Edification Is the Goal
1 Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. 2 For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries. 3 But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. 4 He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. 5 I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification.
- Notice in the first sentence how Paul combined the topics of chapters 12 and 13, and then leading into what he will discuss in chapter 14.
- Let love guide your desire to bless the church with what the Spirit enables you to do.
- What does Paul mean by “tongue”?
- It is a language.
- Acts 2 shows this especially.
- Who understands all tongue speakers?
- Only God understands all.
- Thus in the tongue speaker’s spirit he speaks mysteries because no one understands him.
- People who speak the same tongue can understand him.
- As Paul will show, if an interpreter is present, others can understand.
- What does the prophet speak to men?
- Who does the tongue-speaker edify?
- Who does the prophet edify?
- Did everyone speak with tongues?
- What were Paul’s thoughts about the church speaking in tongues?
- What did he want more than tongue-speakers?
- Who is the greater: the tongue-speaker or the prophet?
- Tongue speaking edifies the church when what or who is present?
- While we cannot do these things miraculously today, the end result is the same.
- The end result is the speaking of God’s word for the benefit of the hearers.
- Neither tongue-speaking nor prophesying was supposed to bring glory to the speaker.
- The manner of acquiring the knowledge of God’s word miraculously has ceased, but the guidelines for speaking God’s word still exist.
- 14.6–11 | Speak to Be Understood
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? 7 Even things without life, whether flute or harp, when they make a sound, unless they make a distinction in the sounds, how will it be known what is piped or played? 8 For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare for battle? 9 So likewise you, unless you utter by the tongue words easy to understand, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air. 10 There are, it may be, so many kinds of languages in the world, and none of them is without significance. 11 Therefore, if I do not know the meaning of the language, I shall be a foreigner to him who speaks, and he who speaks will be a foreigner to me.
- How does speaking in tongues profit the church?
- The tongue-speaker must come with revelation, knowledge, prophecy, or teaching.
- Explain what is going on in this text.
- Corinth was a multi-cultural city.
- That meant that many languages group existed in Corinth.
- When Paul and his team went there, they converted people from these different groups.
- However, not everyone understood every language.
- Although Greek was the universal language, Latin, and other European languages existed there, as well as Hebrew and other Asian languages.
- Therefore, if a tongue-speaker spoke in a Germanic language, the other language groups in the congregation would not know what was being said, unless someone was present to interpret it.
- Can we know what a musical instrument means when it makes a distinct sound?
- Yes, for that is predetermined.
- So it is with speaking.
- What good is speaking if no one understands what is being said?
- How does speaking in tongues profit the church?
- 14.12–17 | Excel to Edify
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. 13 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.
- Zeal for spiritual gifts or anything else in the church should be for what purpose?
- The tongue-speaker should also pray that he can do what?
- For what reason would he want to be able to interpret?
- He needs to be understood for understanding leads to fruit.
- Understanding also leads to edification.
- The speaker, singer is not for showing off, but for bettering the church.
- We want those who are uninformed to gain understanding.
- What should we say at the giving of thanks, or at the end of a prayer?
- Notice that Paul was not just referring to the speaker.
- His point was that the speaker, even in prayer, should be understood by everyone in attendance, and if you understand what was said, and obviously if you agree, then you should say Amen.
- 14.18–19 | Teach for Understanding
18 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.
- Who provides a greater service to the church: The speaker of 10,000 words in an unknown tongue or the speak of 5 words who is understood by all?
- Why did Paul say he would rather speak 5 words with his understanding?
- He wanted to be understood.
- If he was understood, then he was teaching.
- 14.20 | Grow in Understanding
20 Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature.
- How does this fit in with the context?
- What word has appeared repeatedly in First Corinthians 14?
- NKJV – Understanding
- Our worship assembly should lead us into greater understanding.
- 14.21–22 | Tongues vs Prophesying
21 In the law it is written:
“With men of other tongues and other lips
I will speak to this people;
And yet, for all that, they will not hear Me,” says the Lord.
22 Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophesying is not for unbelievers but for those who believe.
- From where did Paul quote?
- He quoted Isaiah 28.11–12.
- Interestingly Paul referred to Isaiah’s writing as the Law.
- However, Law can sometimes refer to any place in the Hebrew Scriptures.
- See John 10.34; 12.34; 15.25.
- What was Paul’s point from Isaiah?
- What is the context of Isaiah?
- How does that fit with what Paul wrote?
- What is the point of comparison?
- For example, Peter made a point of comparison between Noah and baptism: See First Peter 3.20–21.
- What was the only point of comparison for Peter?
- What was the only point of comparison for Paul?
- For whom was miraculous tongue-speaking designed?
- For whom was miraculous prophesying designed?
- From where did Paul quote?
- VII.14.23–25 | Understanding Leads to Conviction
23 Therefore if the whole church comes together in one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those who are uninformed or unbelievers, will they not say that you are out of your mind? 24 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all. 25 And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you.
- What would those without understanding conclude if they entered an assembly full of people speaking in tongues?
- What happens if that same person were to hear prophesying?
- What is the difference?
- VIII.14.26 | Edification in the Assembly
26 How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.
- Did everyone have the same ability?
- Whatever everyone could do, for what were they to do it?
- 14.27–33 | Let There Be No Confusion
27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret. 28 But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God. 29 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. 32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. 33 For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.
- Should everyone speak in tongues at the same time, and if not, how many speakers should there be?
- When should a tongue-speaker remain silent?
- How many prophets should speak at an assembly?
- When should a prophet stop?
- All speaking should be done at once or one by one?
- What happened if they spoke one by one?
- By having a few speakers or less and by them speaking in turn, everyone could learn and everyone could be encouraged.
- What would you say to someone who says that he cannot control his speaking?
- Paul said that the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.
- What does that mean?
- Of what is God the author?
- If everyone spoke at once, would that be peace or confusion?
- If the speakers took turns, would that be confusion or peace?
- 14.34–35 | Women in the Assembly
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.
- Were any of the speakers to be women when all the church came together?
- What role are they to take?
- What is going on in verse 35?
- 14.36–38 | The Commandments of the Lord
36 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.
- What did Paul mean by his questions in verse 36?
- Robertson and Plummer say:
“The meaning is ‘Were you the starting-point of the Gospel? or were you its only destination? Do you mean to contend that you have the right to maintain these irregularities? women discarding veils in public worship, people getting drunk at the Supper, people speaking in Tongues and no one interpreting, prophets refusing to give place to one another, women claiming to prophesy and ask questions in the public worship.’”
– The International Critical Commentary, page 326.
- If we disagree with what Paul has written on matters of worship from chapter 11 through chapter 14, with what do we need to come to terms?
- We need to decide whether he spoke for the Lord or not.
- If he did, we cannot disregard anything that he said.
- If he did not, we have to throw away the whole letter.
- How do we come up with a decision?
- XII.14.39 | Speak
39 Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues.
- Do we need more men capable of public speaking?
- XIII.14.40 | Let There Be Orderliness
40 Let all things be done decently and in order.
- This has been Paul’s ruling principle for these five subjects.
- Pertaining to worship services, we need to be asking the questions:
- Is it scriptural?
- Is it decent and orderly?
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