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 1 Corinthians Chapter 14 Part Two

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PostSubject: 1 Corinthians Chapter 14 Part Two   Sun Apr 06, 2014 4:42 am

1 Corinthians 14:21-22

This summary argument in 1Co_14:21-25 began with the citation of a portion of Isaiah’s prophecy against Israel (Isa_28:11-12). Because Israel refused to listen to God’s message proclaimed by His prophets, Isaiah predicted that another message would come. This one would be delivered in a foreign tongue unintelligible to the Israelites, yet unambiguous (cf. 2Ki_17:23). The foreign tongue symbolized God’s rejection (cf. Deu_28:49; Isa_33:19), His disciplinary response to Israel’s stiff-necked rebellion against Him (cf. 2Ki_17:14; Act_7:51). The "law" is not speaking of the Mosaic law, but is speaking of the Old Testament. We can find a reference to this in the book of Isaiah 28:11 "For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people." We, also, know that Joel spoke of this, and the Scripture in the book of Acts the second chapter is speaking of this, as well. In all of these miraculous utterings, they still did not hear. They had ears to hear, but they did not hear. In a freely rendered quotation from Isaiah Paul explains that centuries earlier the Lord had predicted that one day He would use men of other tongues, that is, foreigners speaking unknown languages, as a sign to unbelieving Israel, who “will not hear Me.” These “other tongues” are what they knew as the gift of languages, given solely as a sign to unbelieving Israel. That sign was three fold: cursing, blessing and authority. To emphasize the cursing, Paul quoted Isaiah’s words of warning to Judah of the judgment from Assyria.
The leaders thought his words were too simple and rejected him. The time would come, the prophet said, when they would hear Assyrian, a language they could not understand, indicating judgment. Jeremiah spoke similarly of the Babylonians who were also to come and destroy Judah.
When the apostles spoke at Pentecost in all those foreign languages, the Jews should have known the judgment prophesied and historically fulfilled first by the Assyrians and then by the Babylonian captivity was about to fall on them again for their rejection of Christ, including the destruction of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. as it had happened in 586 B.C. under Babylonian power.
Foreigners instead of Israel became the temporary servants of God (cf. Isa_5:26; Hab_1:6; Mat_21:43; Rom_10:19-21), and their foreign tongue was a punitive sign to Israel of what had taken place.
That seems to be the significance which Paul attached to tongues. As such, the primary arena for its exercise was not the company of believers but… unbelievers (cf. Mat_13:10-15, on parables). Uninterpreted tongues had their place but not in the church where prophecy benefited believers (1Co_14:3). Those who do not believe are looking for signs and wonders. Those who believe are basing what they believe on the Word of God. Peter, John, and the other apostles did not have to hear someone speak in other tongues to cause them to believe. The Holy Spirit given to them on the day of Pentecost was not given to them as a sign that God was real. The tongues were to show them that they had been empowered by the Holy Ghost to minister. They believed, because of the Word of God, and not because of the sign.
Explaining further, he says explicitly that all tongues are for the sake of unbelievers. In other words, that gift has no purpose in the church when everyone present is a believer.
In the completely opposite way, the gift of prophesying benefits only believers, who are able, by their new natures and the indwelling Holy Spirit, to understand spiritual truth.

1 Corinthians 14:23-25

Tongues were of benefit in an assembly of believers only if they were interpreted. But this seems not to have been the Corinthians’ practice. Instead they apparently poured forth their gift of tongues in unrestrained fashion. As a result believers with some other gifts were nonplussed by the behavior of the tongues-speakers (1Co_14:16). Furthermore, newcomers (idiōtai, those who attended but were not believers) and other unbelievers (apistoi) who were aware of but as yet unconvinced by the gospel message (unlike those of 1Co_14:21-22 who had forthrightly rejected it) would find their behavior positively ridiculous. Will they not say that you are out of your mind? To someone who did not know the Scriptures, it would seem strange. Some who were there at Pentecost thought that the disciples were drunk. Peter straightened them out when he said it was but the third hour of the day. Acts 2:15 "For these are not drunken, as ye suppose, seeing it is [but] the third hour of the day." It would be a confusing thing to come into the church as a newcomer and everyone in the place was speaking in another language other than your native language. How would this type service bring people to the saving knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ?
As Paul explains in more detail later, even for unbelievers, even when the gift of tongues was exercised in its proper time in history, when it was dominant and uncontrolled in the church, bedlam ensued and the gospel was disgraced and discredited. In Corinth, there was charismatic chaos.
This, Paul suggested, would certainly not advance the cause of Christ in Corinth. But prophecy was desirable because it would not only benefit believers (1Co_14:3) but would also expose unbelievers not to a scene of chaos but to one of conviction (cf. Joh_16:Cool and judgment (1Co_2:15) — which would lead to personal disclosure (the secrets of his heart will be laid bare) and the worship of God. It was not the speaking in tongues that brought the thousands to the Lord, but the preaching of Paul. We see in the verse above, that all are bringing this one that believed not the gospel message. It seems they were all trying to tell Him of the Lord. Their testimonies convinced him. All of them had a part in winning him to the Lord. It was by the Word of God that he was saved.
In this last section on the topic of tongues, the stress is on how they were to be systematically limited for use in the church in an orderly way. For the sake of hypothetical discussion, it is noteworthy that even if one granted that the gift was still in use today, the modern movement would be totally discredited as illegitimate by its failure to follow the clear, controlling commands in these verses.

1 Corinthians 14:26

Propriety in the use of gifts (1Co_14:26-40).
In this section Paul drew to a conclusion his discussion of gifts (chaps. 12-14). He also concluded the whole section dealing with Christian liberty in relation to worship (11:2-14:40). What is most striking to a modern reader is the apparent lack of any fixed order of service and the absence of any reference to particular individuals being responsible for specific ministries. The whole church seemed to exercise their gifts by spontaneously ministering to one another.
As he had done throughout the letter, Paul addressed the Christian community in Corinth as brothers, a general term including both sexes (e.g., 1Co_1:10; cf. 1Pe_5:9). When the church met, anyone was free to participate by contributing a hymn, or a word of instruction (cf. 1Co_14:6; probably a lesson based on the OT), a revelation from one gifted in prophecy (cf. 1Co_14:6, 1Co_14:29-32), or a word from one gifted in a tongue followed by an interpretation of what was said. The controlling principle in this free participation was the rule of love. All that was said and done was to have as its goal the need of strengthening (pros oikodomēn, “edifying”) others (cf. 1Co_14:4-5). It seems in this, that all are trying to minister at once. There was total disarray. They all have heard from God in one way or the other and they all want to share what they know.
A Psalm: “the reading or singing of an Old Testament psalm. A doctrine or teaching: probably refers to a doctrine or subject of special interest; A tongue: In the singular, this refers to the counterfeit; A revelation. Some supposed word from God, whether spurious or genuine; An interpretation: This refers to that of a tongue’s message; For edification: This was Paul’s way of calling a halt to the chaos. Edification is the goal and the Corinthian chaos could not realize it.
It seemed there was no order in the service here. If what they are doing is building up the service, fine. If it is not, it is not the time to share it.

1 Corinthians 14:27-28

Though there was no established order for a service, it was to be conducted in an orderly way (1Co_14:40). The services were to have balanced participation on the parts of gifted members. Those gifted with a tongue who wanted to contribute to a service could do so but only two or three at any one service and then only if individuals gifted in interpretation were present who could translate the language. This is said just to keep order in the church. Very little could be done with everyone trying to speak at once. Notice, how important it was, and is, to have an interpreter. It does no good for the church to have someone speak in tongues, unless you know what the message is. This should be limited, even at that, because the message through preaching is what generally saves people. Through the foolishness of preaching, men are saved.
Verses 27 and 28 provide regulations for the exercise of the gift: (1) Only two or three persons in a service; (2) only speaking in turn, one at a time; (3) only with an interpreter. Without those conditions, one was to meditate and pray silently.
If no interpreter were present, the tongues-speaker was to keep quiet. Speaking in tongues really builds up the one who is speaking in the tongue. That can be done even better in private, than in public. Speaking in tongues can build the whole church up, if there is someone who can interpret. If there is no interpreter present, then the message was exclusively for the one speaking in tongues of God.
Verses 29-31: Since Paul’s pastoral (1 and 2 Tim and Titus) do not mention prophets, it seems evident that this unique office had ceased to function in the church even before the end of the apostolic age. When Paul wrote the Corinthians, however, prophets were still control to the work of the church. Here he gave 4 regulations for their preaching: (1) Only two or three were to speak; (2) The other prophets were to judge what was said; (3) If while one was speaking, God gave a revelation, the speaker was to defer to the one hearing from God; and (4) Each prophet was to speak in turn.
Though his gift was without benefit to the church if uninterpreted, it did have some other benefits (cf. 1Co_14:4, 1Co_14:14-15, 1Co_14:22).

1 Corinthians 14:29

The directions for those exercising the gift of prophecy did not differ from those for tongues. Two or three prophets could speak at each service and what they said was to be carefully considered. Since they would speak in Greek the others in the congregation would understand and evaluate their messages. (Or perhaps “the others” referred to those with the gift to distinguish between spirits.) The words weigh carefully translate the verb diakrinetōsan, related to the noun diakriseis in 1Co_12:10, which speaks of distinguishing “between spirits.” Even the preaching should not be done by everyone there, but by one or two at each meeting. The people would tire and probably go home, if too many tried to bring a message at one meeting. It was their responsibility to ascertain if the message delivered was indeed from God (cf. 1Jn_4:1).

1 Corinthians 14:30

A prophet might have received a revelation, probably in a vision or dream, sometime prior to the meeting of the church at which he subsequently related it. However, a prophet might also experience a revelation during the service. If such occurred, a prophet in the midst of speaking should draw his message to a close to let the other gifted member speak. We can see from this, that there had been total confusion in their services. That is really the job of the pastor to see that order is maintained in the services. Whoever had the message that was the most urgent should be the one that was heard. Whatever the Corinthian services were, they were not dull.

1 Corinthians 14:31

The principle which regulated the exercise of tongues applied similarly to prophets. What was said was to benefit everyone by way of instruction or encouragement in the Christian life (cf. 1Co_14:3). At this time, many of them were at the same level of understanding and God was revealing things to each of them. It was good for each of them, on occasion, to share the things that God had revealed to them. That way, they could all share in the knowledge each of them had. The comfort, spoken of here, is in being able to share what God had revealed to them.

1 Corinthians 14:32-33

Paul apparently did not believe the prophets were any more restrained than their fellow members gifted in tongues. So he gave the prophets an instruction that was similar to what he gave the tongues-speakers (1Co_14:28). The spirits referred to a prophet’s spiritual gift, which did not control the gifted member, but he controlled it (cf. 1Co_14:30). All of the prophets could determine among themselves, who should be heard at a given time.

Not only were the prophets to judge others with discernment, but they were also to have control over themselves. God does not desire out of spirit or out of mind experiences. Those who received and proclaimed the truth were to have clear minds. There was nothing bizarre, ecstatic, trance like, or wild about receiving and preaching God’s Word, as with demonic experiences.
If two or three prophets spoke in a particular service, others gifted and with something to say could do so on another occasion. The church was not a forum for personal pontification or self-glorification; it was a place where people were to be built up and God was to be honored (cf. 1Co_10:31-33). The service and those who took part in it should reflect the character of God. He is a God… of peace, not disorder, and His Spirit worked to produce the same fruit (Gal_5:22) in believers’ lives. The confusion, spoken of here, would come from some who would push their way into the position to speak, even when the prophets had decided they were not to speak. There has to be a leader in the church which keeps all of this from happening. The pastor of the church should be the final word on who speaks, and who does not. They are responsible to God for the message that is preached in the church they are in charge of. Everything should be done decently and in order.
Here is the key to the whole chapter. The church at worship before God should reflect His character and nature because He is a God of peace and harmony, order and clarity, not strife and confusion.

1 Corinthians 14:34-36

The church members needed to exercise self-control on occasion, a self-control expressed by silence (1Co_14:28, 1Co_14:30, 1Co_14:34) in order that the assembly might be characterized by peace.
Apparently certain women in the Corinthian assembly needed to hear this refrain. More than uncovered heads were amiss in regard to their participation in worship services (1Co_11:2-16), and Paul was not about to dodge the problem.
Whether the admonition for silence was directed to all women (cf. 1Co_11:2-16) or only to those who were married may be debated. The word translated women (gynaikes) was used to refer to women generally (as in all 11 occurrences in 1Co_11:3-15), or to unmarried women (e.g., 1Co_7:34), or to married women (e.g., 1Co_5:1; 1Co_9:5; and all 14 occurrences in 1Co_7:1-40 except once in 1Co_7:34).
Two indications strongly suggest that married women were in view in this passage. The first is the word submission (hypotassesthōsan, 1Co_14:34). When it occurs elsewhere in the New Testament with specific reference to a woman, it always refers to a married woman who was to be subject to her husband (Eph_5:22; Col_3:18; Tit_2:5; 1Pe_3:1, 1Pe_3:5).
The second indication is the phrase their own husbands (1Co_14:35), whom the inquisitive women were to consult if they had questions. This would obviously be a difficult assignment for single women (e.g., 1Co_7:34) or those with unbelieving husbands (e.g., 1Co_7:13). This has been debated back and forth ever since the day it was written. In all of these lessons, we have seen Paul trying to bring a system of order to all churches that he had begun within the context of their customs. We must first look at this in the context of what we have been reading.
There seemed to be great confusion going on in this church at Corinth; everyone was trying to speak at once. There was probably so much noise that it would have been difficult to hear. Notice who the women were. Paul says, your women {the women of Corinth}. Next let us look at {also saith the law}. Whose law is this speaking of? There was no such law included in the Levitical law. This was not part of the 10 commandments, nor was it part of the over 600 regulations in Exodus and Leviticus.
It was not the law of the Christian, because we have just studied that the only law for the new Christians was that they not eat anything strangled, they not eat anything offered to idols, they not drink blood, and that they not commit fornication. Then whose law is this? It is a direct quote from the Talmud. The Talmud was not the Bible, but a commentary. In this area, women were thought of as subordinate to the men.
The Talmud was a commentative and interpretative writing involving Jewish traditions. The Talmud, to them, was like many think of the commentaries of our day. This is opinion, and not law. The Babylonians and the Palestinians came up with these teachings of customs.
We know that this was never intended by Paul to become doctrine for the Christians. He had fought hard for the Christians not to be strapped down with customs. There are so many things that tell us that this was tradition of this area, and was not to be taken as law for the Christians. First of all, you must have two witnesses to establish a thing. You only have the writings of Paul. It does not mean that what Paul said was untrue. It just means that this was tradition, and not law or doctrine of the Christians. There are several different times that Jesus mentions establishing with two witnesses, but I will give two here in His own words.
Matthew 18:16 "But if he will not hear [thee, then] take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established."
John 8:17 "It is also written in your law, that the testimony of two men is true."
This is the very reason that there were two witnesses at the temple when Jesus was dedicated to God.
Paul did not have any problem with women ministering. We see in the following Scripture, that Paul ministered with women as his assistants.

Philippians 4:3 And I in treat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and with other my fellow labourers, whose names are in the book of life."
There are many of you that will say that is not what this means, but let us look at Joel and see.
Joel 2:28 "And it shall come to pass afterward, [that] I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions;"
The root word that "prophesy" was translated from means to preach, speak by inspiration, or to make self a prophet. The second witness to this is in the book of Acts chapter 2. We, also, know that Phillip's daughters preached or prophesied. The word is interchangeable. Even in the Old Testament, there were women who were anointed of God to serve in this capacity. Debra judged in the land, and judged the men as well as the women. She led the battle with her general {or else the people would not have gone to war}.
Huldah was a prophetess in the land {2 Kings Chapter 22 verses 14} and {2 Chronicles chapter 34 verses 22}. There are many more examples, such as Lydia and Dorcas, but I believe we have said enough to settle this.
Paul said this, then, to fulfill the traditions of the area here in Corinth, and never intended this to close off women from the ministry whom God has called. I do not mean to infer by this that women are not subject to their husband in the family. Flesh and spirit are two totally different realms. With God there is no male or female.
Galatians chapter 3 verse 28. "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus."

1Ti_2:11-15, which enjoins women to be quiet in worship, is frequently cited as a parallel to this passage. But there too, married women were probably in view, as 1Ti_2:15 would not apply to an unmarried woman. Also, when Eve is named in the Old Testament, it is as Adam’s wife (Gen_3:20; cf. 2Co_11:2-3, the only other NT passage besides 1Ti_2:13-14 that names Eve), and her submission is rooted in that relationship (Gen_3:16, the text Paul probably referred to in 1Co_14:34). In addition, the noun hēsychia in 1Ti_2:11-12 means “quietness, absence of disorder,” whereas the verb sigaō in 1Co_14:28, 1Co_14:34 means “remain silent.”
Paul then wanted silence on the parts of married women whose husbands were present in the assembly, but he permitted the participation of other women when properly adorned (1Co_11:2-16). Such silence would express their subordinate relationship to their husbands. This, again, was the tradition of the Corinthians. At the time that Paul wrote this, women were not very well educated. The temple school in Jerusalem had just taught young men, and women were not thought to be interested in this type thing. We need to look at when this changed. We gave the Scripture in Joel just a few verses back about God's Spirit being poured out on all flesh, and the women as well as men prophesy. In Joel, it speaks of this as being later on.
Acts 2:16-18 "But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel;" "And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams:" "And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:"
We see from this that it was perfectly alright for the women to prophesy {preach}. One meaning of the word is speak from inspiration. What the Scripture is probably trying to convey, was here at Corinth, there was so much confusion with everyone speaking at once, that Paul is trying to stop some of the confusion.
Verses 36 and 37: Paul knew that the Corinthians would react to all these form regulations that would end the free for all in their services. The prophets, tongues speakers, and women may all have been resistant to words, so he anticipated that resistance by sarcastically challenging those who put themselves above his word, and thus, above Scripture by either ignoring it or interpreting it to fit their predisposed ideas.
If anyone was a genuine prophet or had the true spiritual gift of tongues, he or she would submit to the principles God had revealed through the apostle.

The Corinthian believers were not to think of themselves as exclusive, independent interpreters or recipients of the Word of God (1Co_14:36). They, like those in all the congregations (1Co_14:33), were to submit to God’s truth by conforming to this standard of conduct. Paul has quickly jumped to another subject. He is saying, did you start this work, or did I? Paul is explaining to them why he has the authority to establish this work with his direction, and not theirs. He in finality is saying, I brought the Word of God to you.

1 Corinthians 14:37-40

These verses were Paul’s conclusion not only to the immediately preceding directives (1Co_14:33-36) but also to all his discussion about Corinthian irregularities in worship and the needed correctives (11:2-14:36). He expected some opposition (cf. 1Co_11:16; 1Co_14:36), but warned that those who opposed him did so at their own peril (cf. 1Co_4:18-21). Paul is saying, that all he has tried to do is set the church services up the way God would have wanted them set up. Paul is, also, saying that God should have revealed to them that he was telling the truth, if they really were a prophet, or spiritual. Anyone who ignores the Lord’s commands would find himself… ignored by Him at the last day (cf. 1Co_3:17; Gen_9:6; Mat_10:32-33), because his actions would show that he never knew the Lord (cf. 1Co_8:3; Mat_7:22-23; 1Jn_4:6). That is, anyone who does not recognize the authority of Paul’s teaching should himself not be recognized as a legitimate servant gifted by God.

Some people do not want to know the truth. They are unteachable. That is what Paul is dealing with here.
The conclusion was that the Corinthians should give special attention to the gifts which were most beneficial to the church as a whole (1Co_12:31; 1Co_14:1) without denigrating the other gifts. Legitimate languages were limited in purpose and in duration, but as long as it was still active in the early church, it was not to be hindered. But prophecy was the most desirable gift to be exercised because of its ability to edify, exhort and comfort with the truth. They should see that their services were conducted in a fitting (cf. 1Co_11:2-16; 1Co_14:34-36) and orderly (cf. 1Co_11:17-34; 1Co_14:26-33) way. In this, Paul is trying to sum up what he has said. The best thing for them to do is to pray that God will give them the gift of preaching. Tongues are great, if used correctly, but can cause confusion, if improperly used. Do all decently and in order as we talked about in verse 33: “The church at worship before God should reflect His character and nature because He is a God of peace and harmony, order and clarity, not strife and confusion.”
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