The Proper Function of the Gifts of Languages and Prophecy

(If you are not studying this chapter in connection with the book:
The Biblical View of the Gift of Languages, then you may want to refer to it.)

In this chapter, Paul is discussing the "function" of the gift within the local church; its scope, its purpose, its content.

In chapter 12, Paul established the fact that the gift of tongues, as with all the gifts, was not given universally to all believers, verses 29-30.

Not everyone had the gift. But since the Corinthians had a pre-conversion religious background of the Greek mystery cults where the speaking in mystery language was common place and required for acceptance in the cult, it was very easy for the vast majority of these believers to return to the past. Once they had become spiritually neutralized by their petty personality disputes, strife, jealousy and envy (1 Corinthians 3:1-3), it would be a simple step to "latch onto" what was a bona fide manifestation for "some" believers and try to imitate it and then require it for all the members of the church. It is this error which Paul is addressing in the Corinthian letter.

Verse la: Pursue THE love: this is the only character issue in the Christian way of life. All problems are solved, all goals are met.

1. Pursue is diokō as a present active imperative, 2nd person plural, and indicates an aggressive attitude and action in reaching a goal.

2. The love (agapā) refers to beneficent love as the character expression that comes from the growth structure in the soul as described by the word, edification. The goal of spiritual growth is love (1 Tim. 1:5), "out from a cleansed heart, and a good conscience and an un-hypocritical faith."

3. The 15 virtues of beneficent love are described at 1 Cor. 13:4-7 and are amplified at Romans 12:9-21.


Verse lb: And desire: this is zaloō as a present active imperative, 2nd plural, and means to express great zeal toward something.

1. the spirituals: This is the adjective pneumatikos, as a neuter plural and refers to the spiritual gifts, although it literally says, the spiritual things.

2. The desire that is mentioned is not for the possession of the gifts but the proper function of the gifts in the public assembly.

In chapter 12:28-31, Paul establishes the FACT that ALL do not have every gift and that God determines who has what gift. The issue is the proper function of the gifts within the local assembly. To "desire" the spirituals means to desire the "function" of those gifts in your church, not to desire the possession of them for yourself. It does not say to "ask" for any particular gift or gifts, but simply to desire. Since Paul says, "not all speak in tongues, etc.," then it is contradictory for Paul to then tell each individual believer to desire the "possession" of a particular gift or gifts.

Paul does not want to discourage the proper function of the gifts, just the distortions.

Verse 1c, But especially:

1. mallon, indicates the greater value for the body.
2. That you might prophesy: prophāteuo is a present active subjunctive, 2nd person plural, and refers to the church body as a collective whole rather than every individual. Cf. verse 12:29

A. So the desire is for the function of prophecy to dominate the service
B. The reason is for edification as will be clarified in verses 2-3.
C. This exhortation is given because they were distorting and abusing the gift of tongues. They were making it the most important and de-emphasizing the ministry of teaching.

See Topic: Gift of Prophecy


Verse 2

1. For: gar gives an explanation of mallon.
2. the one who speaks: present active participle of laleo + def. article.

3. in a tongue: glossa refers to a known human language in most cases. However, based on ocultic and cultic superstitions and practices, the word can sometimes be used for the emotional gibberish that was practiced in these cults. When Paul uses the word, glossa, here, he has in mind a language as so interpreted by the Corinthians. But their view is based on the mystery cult influence from their past.

A. They think it is a heavenly language or a mystical human language or even the language of angels (1 Corinthians 13:1).

B. But in actuality, what they are doing is an emotional humanly produced gibberish without order or meaning.

C. So, speaking in a "tongue" here at the beginning, does not refer to using the genuine gift of languages, but to the cultic gibberish that they had resurrected from their past involvement with the cults.

4. does not speak to men: laleo is a present active indicative with a negative. This is the issue! There is no ministry to people.

A. because no one understands: akouo (present active indicative) means to hear, but not just hear a sound. Understanding is involved; to hear with perception.

B. This violates 1 Corinthians 12:7; 14:26 and Romans 14:19


5. But to God: Paul is making reference to what they think they are doing, based on the same practice in the mystery cults. They are not actually speaking to God in a bona fide way. What they are doing is inconsistent with God's purpose for the genuine gift, so how could such a practice be bona fide or acceptable to God? It could not.

6. But in his spirit: This is not a reference to the Holy Spirit. The word pneuma occurs with no definite article and no possessive so that literally, it should read, "in spirit." This means that he is performing this activity within his own human structure, which includes the soul and the human spirit. When the human spirit is emphasized there is more of an emotional expression indicated than an intellectual. The emotional expression of the person can be either good or bad based on the principles of how the soul is governed.

The soul is made up of mentality and emotion.
The proper function is for the mentality to control the soul.

As a result of knowledge/truth in the soul, the emotions should respond and express appreciation and joy. The distortion is when the emotions do not use the "knowledge" in the soul as its governor, but instead become their own governor and seek to control the life based on what does or does not "feel" good and what is "experienced" instead of the absolutes of Bible truth. The distortion is what is going on here (Verses 14-17).

See Topic: The Emotions

7. he speaks: This is a present active indicative of laleo to indicate a verbal activity, but not necessarily speech in normal human language.

8. mysteries: This is musterion (plural) and refers to things unknown to others because in actuality, what is spoken is meaningless gibberish. But in the speaker's opinion, it is angelic language or a language from God.

We previously demonstrated how the Greek mystery cults practiced an emotional ecstatic gibberish that they believed was the language of the gods or angels. When they practiced this gibberish, they were speaking the "mysteries" of the cult as a basis for contact and fellowship with the gods or angels. They did not understand what they were speaking, but believed it was genuine communion with these spiritual beings.

Paul seeks to expose the emotional imitation for what it is by referring back to their cultic practices when they were unbelievers. He points out that they do not know what they are saying. That is, that their mind is unfruitful, and that such activity is totally without mutual benefit for the members of the church body.

This is all consistent with the mystery cults, and the present day imitation, but inconsistent with the genuine gift from God.


Verse 3

1. But the one who prophesies: present active participle of prophāteuo, indicates one who uses the gift which emphasizes communication of truth. No mysteries here, but clearly stated facts of Divine viewpoint.

2. speaks to men: present active indicative of laleo to indicate speech that communicates understandable ideas.

3. for: This word is not here. We have 3 nouns in the accusative case which function as direct objects of speak. This indicates what is spoken through the gift of prophecy.

4. edification: oikodomā means "a building up" by putting knowledge content in the soul. Ie, doctrinal instruction. This is the primary purpose of the teaching gifts; the dissemination of bible truth so that a growth structure can be built up in the soul of the believer and then be the basis for properly handling every situation in life.

5. and paraklāsis: This word means exhortation, and refers to motivational type teaching designed to encourage the believer to be proactive in applying the truths and principles that have been built up in his soul. Obviously, this type of teaching is dependent on an earlier successful edification.

6. and paramuthia: This word means comfort, and refers to motivational type teaching designed to encourage the believer to handle problems and pressure by using the truths and principles that have been built up in his soul.


Verse 4

1. One who speaks in a tongue: present active participle of laleo.
This is the cultic gibberish that is in view, not the genuine gift.

2. edifies himself: oikodomeo (present active indicative)

A. This refers to an emotional exhilaration rather than the reception of truth into the soul. There is no receiving of truth in the soul for the "mind is unfruitful," (Verse 14).
The edification is a "pseudo" edification, imagined because of the emotional "high" that is involved and the belief that the person is participating in his own secret "god-talk."

B. Verse 14 indicates that even the speaker does not understand.

C. Now in the genuine gift, this is true also, but proper spiritual activity includes interpretation and does not involve a ministry to "himself."

D. This is a selfish seeking of an emotional high without concern for the mutual benefit of the local body.

E. If the Holy Spirit were involved and the believer were in fellowship with God, then he would be functioning in this gift according to the guidelines that God has put into place.
Paul reminds them of these guidelines later in the chapter.

3. But the one who prophesies edifies the church.
This refers to both emotional and intellectual building.
The only type building that is truly beneficial.
Emotional building alone does not build a stabilized structure in the soul that can handle the problems and pressures of life. That would be a pseudo-structure that cannot withstand the storms of crisis.


Verse 5

1. Now I wish: thelo is a present active indicative. This expression is for emphasis.

A. It must be viewed in connection with 12:29-30 which indicates that not all can have any one particular gift.

B. So, his desire is impossible to be fulfilled; and he does not presume to be wiser than the decision of the Holy Spirit.

2. That you all speak in tongues:

A. He has in view the genuine gift, but knows that it is quite impossible.

B. This desire reflects the idea that the more evangelistic activity that takes place, the greater would be the outreach to the specific recipients of this "evangelistic" sign gift. And in this case, it would be to the Jews, for whom Paul has a very special evangelistic concern (Romans 9:1-3; 10:1).

C. But the very point he is making is that they cannot all have it.

D. He is also going to make the point that there is more to Christianity than just evangelism. Believers need to grow up in the faith. This requires the gift of prophecy (forth-telling) and pastor-teacher.

3. But even more that you would prophesy.
This too is impossible, but he wants to emphasize the contrast between the two. They cannot all have the gift of prophecy, but were it possible for all believers to have one gift, then Paul's desire would be that they all would have the gift of "teaching."

4. And greater: meidzōn, contrasts the two and establishes the priority of prophecy over tongues.

A. Unless tongues is interpreted. Then there is equality because mutual benefit (sumpheron) instruction is accomplished.
B. However, even then, the believer requires balance. Tongues is only an evangelistic gift and does not provide the instruction needed to grow to maturity.


5. The purpose: so that the church may receive edification.

A. hina plus the subjunctive mood indicates a purpose.
B. The church (ekklāsia) refers to the local church assembly which is the recipient of the teaching.

C. Lambano in an aorist active subjunctive plus the noun, oikodomā, which indicates the purpose for spiritual instruction. That purpose is edification.

1. 2 Timothy 3:16-17
2. Ephesians 4:11-12

D. Even though the gift of tongues is evangelistic in scope, when the message is understood by all, then there is mutual participation in the evangelistic outreach and a mutual sharing and rejoicing in the
proclamation of God's salvation truths.


Verse 6

1. But now brethren: nun de adelphoi
This expresses the gentleness of the exhorter before the hammer (verses 36-38). Paul consistently recognizes the Corinthians as fellow believers although they are errant in understanding and activity.
He does not want to drive them away, but wants them to see the error of their ways and recover.

2. If I come to you speaking in tongues.

Here, he uses himself as an example of one who possesses the gift of tongues. He uses a genuine language; The genuine use of the gift in order to minister to those for whom it will have meaning.
The sign gift, "good news" proclaimed in a Gentile language, is designed to make an impact on any unbelieving Jew so they might be convicted of Messiah's arrival, person and work. The proclamation of truth in a "Gentile" language has "sign" significance ONLY to those of Israel (verses 21-22; Isaiah 28)

3. What shall I profit you: This implies no profit (no benefit) because there is no understanding.
This is what they were doing, but the difference is that they were not using the bona fide gift. If it were genuine, God would provide an interpretation. God was not providing interpretation because the TRUE gift of languages was not being manifested, but an emotional, self-produced gibberish.

4. unless: introduces the potential for benefit.

A message with understandable content. A language that the hearers can understand. If a message is given in a foreign language, it benefits no one except those who understand the language. If someone
EMOTIONALLY speaks his "personal" gibberish, then NO ONE understands.

5. I speak: present active subjunctive of laleo.
There needs to be content to the message; content that can be understood by the hearers because it is communicated in a REAL human language in four categories of instruction.

6. by way of: en plus the locative case of sphere, should be rendered as "with" or "in the sphere of." The following four spheres of divine truth refers to the type of content and not to any specific gift.

A. revelation: (apokalupsis) refers to communication that is directly from God to a bona fide communicator such as apostle or prophet. Ephesians 3:3-5; Acts 11:27-28 and 21:10-11

B. knowledge: (gnosis) refers to the communication of general factual information concerning the viewpoint and history of Christianity.

C. prophecy: (prophāteia) refers to the communication of prophetic information that is relevant to the church body. It relates facts about future events; teaching of prophetic information.

D. doctrine (teaching): (didachā) Refers to the communication and explanation of viewpoint and policy information.


7. They were neglecting these four spheres of edification and exalting the "idea" of tongues and the "practice" of a non-edifying gibberish that they imagined came from God. For even then it was not the genuine gift of tongues being exalted as Paul will clarify. But first an illustration in verses 7-11

Verses 7-11 Illustration of the Corinthian tongues which were not bona fide.

Verses 7-8
Music needs to be precise or it is unpleasant and not beneficial.

Verse 9
So with language, if it is not understandable, you are speaking into the air.

Verse 10 bona fide languages have meaning

Verse 11 But if I do not know the meaning, then there is no communication.

A. bad music = no edification
B. unknown language = no edification

Verse 12

1. So also (houtos kai) in the same way: following the same principle as just given in verses 7-11 with specific application to the spiritual gift of languages.

2. You: plural, refers to the Corinthian congregation

3. Since you are zealous: zaloō as a present active indicative means to have a strong desire for, or be occupied with something. They were certainly "excited" about the spiritual gifts that God had given to the church. However, because they had allowed pride and self centeredness to dominate their souls, their zeal was controlled by emotions rather than the absolutes of divine viewpoint, and this resulted in an inordinate focus on various aspects of Christian activity. And specifically, it resulted in the infiltration of cultic practices from their previous days as unbelievers.

4. of spirituals: Ie. the spiritual gifts, and specifically, the phenomenon of tongues.

5. seek: zāteo as a present active imperative indicates a consistent desire to promote edification in the public assembly.

6. to abound: This is hina + present active subjunctive of perisseuō and indicates what should be the proper direction of their zeal. The word means to overflow or be abundant. Paul is saying that their zeal should overflow to the promotion of genuine edification to the church rather than a self centered emotional high.

7. for the edification of the church: oikodomā is the word that refers to the primary purpose of the teaching gifts; the dissemination of bible truth so that a growth structure can be built up in the soul of the believer and then be the basis for properly handling every situation in life.

See Topic: GROWTH

8. This command is given because of their zealousness which was doing just the opposite. Instead it was promoting participation in a self-centered, emotional gibberish, just like they did in the Greek mystery cults.

Verse 13

1.Therefore: based on the instruction of verse 12.

2. The one who speaks in a tongue: What is SUPPOSED to be a genuine human language used as a sign for the Jews.

When one has the gift and is motivated to exercise it, it is his responsibility to be assured from God that the use of the language will have an interpretation. This is the required procedure. Those who use the GENUINE gift will of course have vindication from God. But those who are involved with the counterfeit expression, will find no vindication from God. However, in his empty zeal, he may either falsely "claim" an interpretation or simply "emote" up an interpretation in the same way that he emoted the gibberish in the first place. He may also just ignore this instruction and participate in his counterfeit "language" without concern for interpretation.

3. Let him pray to interpret: The present active imperative of proseuchomai indicates an interaction with God that results in a clear communication from Him concerning the exercise of this gift.

A. Obviously, this is to be done before he speaks. The function of this gift is not spontaneous or uncontrolled. The person knows he has the gift and knows there is occasion (presence of an unbelieving Jew) to use the gift. He then waits for confirmation from God before he speaks.

B. Verse 27 indicates that he probably does not have his own interpretation, but another has it.

C. So the prayer is to be answered before he speaks. This would probably come as some kind of assurance from God that there will be an interpretation.

D. If there is no interpretation or promise of interpretation revealed to the person, then he must not speak (Verse 28).

E. If the ability to speak is genuine, then an interpretation from God will probably be provided.
F. If the ability is false, then no interpretation will be provided from God.

Verses 14-19, explanation of why an interpretation is necessary.

Verse 14

1. if: The 3rd class condition indicates potential; the idea of maybe I will, maybe I won't based on verse 13. If there is no interpretation promised, then I should not speak.
But If I speak anyway, then I am violating Divine policy and there is no real benefit for the hearers or for myself.

2. If I pray in a tongue: obviously outlaid and without the promise of interpretation. They were extending this counterfeit activity into the area of public prayer. What results is that my emotions are participating in what "I want to do" and not providing edification benefit for others and certainly no "mental" benefit for the speaker.

3. my spirit prays: My spirit refers to the human spirit as the expression of intent, emotion and personality. My "intent" is to pray and my emotional expression is praying, but there is no reality.

This is what I think I am doing because I have substituted my own emotional criteria in place of God's policy. This same thing happens in all the areas of worship. Christians out of fellowship often substitute their own worship policy instead of following God's. Examples can be seen in prayer, the communion, baptism, music, decor, clothing, building design and even in communication protocol.

4. But my mind: The word, nous, refers to the place of intellect and knowledge content, and the place in the soul where ultimately, all truth is vindicated or repudiated.

5. is unfruitful: present indicative of eimi + akarpos = no fruit

A. There is no production and no benefit.
B. There is no genuine, conscious (comprehended) participation in the activity but just an emotional expression which "I" interpret as praying.


Verse 15, The conclusion and the solution

1. Since semiconscious activity is not active promotion of truth, and since incomprehensible data is useless, something must be corrected.

2. I shall pray with the spirit AND with the mind.
This is the proper function of the soul.
The mind relates to truth and the spirit reflects emotional response.

3. But this can only be done if I pray in a language I know.

And since UNDERSTANDING is required, there will be no such "prayer" in a foreign language; no praying in tongues. There is no indication in scripture that there was ever any PRAYING in tongues.

Romans 8:26-27 does not refer to any praying in tongues, but refers to a SILENT communication by the Spirit to the Father because of our inherent inability to communicate on God's level.

4. I will sing --

The expression of pseudo tongues had also extended into the area of singing, so the same rule applies. The "many" were all singing in their private emotional gibberish and no one was understanding anything. Paul is teaching that singing should be done with comprehension. Emotional expression is certainly a part of singing, but unless their is understanding with the mind, then it becomes empty and non beneficial.

A. This will result of course, in no singing in tongues.
B. There is no indication in scripture that singing in tongues was a bona fide practice.


Verse 16

1. Otherwise: if you don't follow Divine policy in this area.
2. If you bless: eulogeo (present active subjunctive) means to speak well of or concerning someone or something. The context indicates a giving of thanks and praise or an expression of grace. This is your emotional purpose to begin with, but your giving of thanks comes from a wrong premise.

3. in the spirit: based on verse 14, it is "your" spirit and refers to total emotional activity without mental participation.

4. How will the one who fills the place of the ungifted.

A. The word is idiotās and indicates one who is uneducated in a particular area. In general, it refers to someone who does not know the particular language that is being spoken. That is why there must be an interpretation.

B. However, in the case of the Corinthians, the person does not know your private mystery language and since there can be no genuine interpretation, there will be no benefit, and the person will conclude that the participants are crazy or weird or both.


5. Say amen: since he does not know what you are saying he is unable participate in your private self-centered "worship."

A. He sees and hears your emotional expression, but is unable to evaluate and either accept or reject.

B. Unless of course, he produces his own experience in order to share in your emotional high.
C. But this is pseudo-fellowship and does not fulfill verses 12:7 and Hebrews 3:13


Verse 17

Your giving of thanks: your emotional activity, your exhilaration, is clear enough.

2. well enough: kalōs (adverb) you are fulfilling your own emotional intent. To praise and thank God, but you are not doing it according to God's policy.

3. But the other man is not edified: ouk + present passive indicative of oikodomeo indicates there is no instructional benefit for others.

4. The kalōs (well enough) of your own emotional intent is pure human viewpoint that rejects God's viewpoint.

5. Once again, this activity violates God's policy as given in
1 Corinthians 12:7; 14:26; Romans 14:19; Hebrews 3:13

6. It is imperative to recognize that God requires a diligent adherence to His established policy both for salvation and for worship activity. Man in his independence seeks to do things he own way, inventing or following what has been invented by others in order to relate to God on his own human viewpoint terms. Although the intent might seem genuine, in actuality, it is rebellion against God and totally unacceptable to Him.

This is exactly what was wrong with Cain's offering of his vegetables to God. Cain wanted to please God; wanted to be right with God, but he wanted this on his own human viewpoint terms instead of on God's. This is why God rejected his offering and why Cain was depressed when God rejected him.


Verse 18 Paul has the bona fide gift of tongues and recognizes its value, and how and when the gift is to be used.

Verse 19

1. however: but (alla) strong contrast between having the gift and thinking you can use it anyway and anytime you choose.

2. in the church: the place where believers assemble for the purpose of BOTH instructional and emotional edification.

A. Here, tongues is to be used at a minimum.

B. The reason is given in verses 20-22.
Tongues is evangelistic in scope. It is for unbelievers.

3. I desire to speak five words with my mind: (with my nous) I understand and others understand.

4. so that I may instruct others: katacheo (aorist active subjunctive) This of course is instructional edification in contrast to emotional interaction without genuine doctrinal content.

5. rather than: the alternative is what they were doing. They were unconcerned with instruction. They wanted the good feeling of emotional highs.

It is very clear at this point alone, that Paul strongly rejects the practice of tongues as practiced in the Corinthian church. And he would be just as critical of the modern day practice of the personal emotional gibberish that has enslaved so many.

6. Ten thousand words in a tongue.
This refers to a glossa (a mystery language) as practiced in Corinth. No interpretation. No mind benefit. No mutual benefit.


Verses 20-22 The proper perspective on the gift of tongues

Verse 20

1. Brethren: still the gentle, informative approach.
But once the information is clearly provided, Paul expects unconditional compliance (Verses 37-38).

2. Do not be: This word is ginomai as a present middle indicative + negative, and means to become. It indicates a change of status or activity. Since this word indicates a change of status, the context often views the results of that change as a new status and can accordingly be rendered as "be." We need to understand that the "be" of the English translation is acceptable if we see it as the result of a volitional change on the part of the believers involved. This "new" status comes about through refusing to accept and apply the principles of divine viewpoint on this particular subject. In actuality, they are already acting like children but Paul is encouraging them toward right application by exhorting them to not let their present activity turn into a perpetual status.

3. Children: paidion is the Greek word and it usually refers to a child who is under formal instruction and therefore in need of teaching. The child is un-knowledgable and inexperienced. He wants them to move beyond the state of having no knowledge, but to understand God's truth on this.

4. in thinking: phrān only occurs here (2 times) and is in the plural; minds.

A. It refers to the function of the mind (nous) in the area of perception and understanding.

B. knowledge content and perceptive capacity.
The child is limited in content and therefore limited in capacity.

C. Paul does not want this. He wants them to use their minds as adults. 1 Corinthians 12:1, "I do not desire that you be ignorant (agnoeo).

5. But in evil: kakia has emphasis on the overt practice of evil. basically, anything contrary to Divine standards. In context, it refers directly to their practice of tongues. He is actually calling it evil.

6 be babes: nāpiadzo is a present active imperative (only here) and once again communicates the status Paul desires for the Corinthians.

The child has no knowledge and experience of evil. Just the inherent inclination from the sin nature. This is an exhortation to sinless consistency through knowledge and application of God's word.

7. Now in your thinking: minds (phrān), with emphasis on understanding and capacity to properly evaluate truth.

8. ginomai (present middle imperative) again indicates a desired change in status. The present tense indicates the progress toward that status which comes about as a result of growth.

A. be progressing to a status of completeness. The Greek word, teleios, indicates full growth or maturity. It is often used to indicate a completeness concerning particular knowledge issues.

B. In the secular realm it indicates that one has learned the facts of responsible moral living and has the capacity to use the facts.

C. In the spiritual realm it involves having learned the basics of spiritual living. This means having the capacity to use the truths and to properly relate to God and man, and to make further progress.

9. This exhortation prepares them to be objective about tongues and keep the spiritual gift in the place of its design, which he is going to establish in the next verses.

Verse 21 The Old Testament prophecy of the sign

1. In the law it is written: ho nomos is a technical term for the Old Testament scriptures.

A. John 10:34 refers to the Psalms
B. John 8:17 refers to Deuteronomy
C. John 12:34 to the Psalms
D. John 15:25 to the Psalms
E. Here it refers to Isaiah (or the prophets, as a whole).


2. It stands written: grapho as a perfect passive indicative is used to reference quotes or principles found in the Old Testament. But this is not a direct quote from either the Hebrew or the LXX (Septuagint).

Paul's reference reproduces the spirit of the Old Testament passage not the letter. In order to properly understand this section, it is necessary to study and understand Isaiah chapter 28 and its context.

If this chapter is being study within the context of the TONGUES study, then this background information has already been studies. Otherwise, see Topic: Tongues

3. By men of strange languages (tongues): This is en plus the instrumental case of the adjective, heteroglossos (substantive use).

A. The word heteros means different and the word glossa means language. B. It occurs in the masculine plural to indicate either a group of men or a mixed group of both men and women. It literally should read, by ones, or men, or people of another language.

C. The issue is, in languages other than the Hebrew language, and this was fulfilled at the Day of Pentecost when Hebrews were speaking, but not speaking Hebrew.

D. I suggest also, that the entire body of 120 people did not speak in a foreign language at that time, but only certain ones and men only out from among the group.


4. And by the lips of strangers: heteros is the adjective used as a substantive to indicate a different person or a stranger; one who was foreign to the nation of Israel or outside the nation. In this case, it refers to the members of a new nation different from Israel, and yet not another physical nation at all. It refers to the new nation of believers in Christ, comprised of both Jew and Gentile, but who are all now made citizens of the kingdom of God and have become a "holy nation," designated as ones to proclaim the glories of God (1 Peter 2:9). Again, this was initially fulfilled at Pentecost in 30 AD and at various times after that, upon any occasion where the "sign" of the gift of languages would be needed to evangelize unbelieving Jews.

5. Will I speak to this people: "this people" refers to the Jews of the Messiah generation; those who witness his birth, his life, and who survive Him for about 40 years. In actual time it goes from about 5 BC until 70 AD, when the final judgment on the nation occurs.

6. And not even then will they hear me:

Maximum negative volition that results in public rejection of Messiah and then the 5th cycle of discipline on the nation.
Isaiah 28:13-18; Matthew 21:33-45; 23:36-39

See Topic: National discipline on Israel

7. The quote is given to indicate the purpose of tongues. It was for a sign to the unbelievers of the nation of Israel to tell them that the nation was to be set aside and replaced by a different nation. Deuteronomy 32:21; Isaiah 65:1-16

Verse 22

1. So then: hoste is used to state a conclusion based on the Old Testament documentation.
2. Tongues: the genuine gift of languages
3. is for a sign: sāmeion is a spectacular phenomenon that attests to the validity of something or portends something. In this case, it is a sign of the removal and replacement of Israel as God's priestly nation and includes a message of cursing and/or blessing.

4. Not to those who believe: pisteuō (present active participle)
Those who have trusted in Jesus as the promised Messiah/Savior are part of the new body and do not need the sign.

5. but to unbelievers: apistos in the context refers to an unbelieving member of the nation of Israel.

6. But the prophecy: the prophāteia refers to the gift of prophecy and more specifically the message content of forth-telling as at verse 3.

A. edification
B. exhortation
C. comfort

7. Not to unbelievers: the only issue for the unbeliever is salvation. In this context, the salvation message is connected with the message to Israel that they, as a nation, are being displaced by God, and the only way they can continue to function as God's evangelistic nation is as individuals who recognize and trust in Jesus as the Messiah.

8. But to believers: The message content of edification, exhortation and comfort has value only to those who are already in the royal family of God (royal priesthood of 1 Peter 2:9). It is these who need and can benefit from such teaching. The unbeliever has no capacity to benefit from these things for they are unable to understand "the things that God has prepared for those who love Him," (1 Corinthians 2:6-14).


Verse 23 The bad effect of unauthorized policy

1. Therefore: This introduces an evaluation of their church services based on a proper understanding of the purpose of tongues.

2. If the whole church should assemble together: the "if" clause here is a 3rd class condition which indicates the possibility that this could occur, and in fact, at Corinth, was occurring.

3. and everyone speaks in tongues: Paul wants to make a point concerning the misuse of the bona fide gift of languages and then apply it to the cultic gibberish that the Corinthians were practicing. IF, it were possible for "everyone" to be speaking in tongues and there not be an interpretation, then the result would be that no one would understand. However, with the practice of their cultic gibberish, that is exactly what is happening.

The word "everyone" indicates that there is no order or authority, and that results in no content, no truth, and no impact. The construction implies that there are "many" who are talking, and that the talking is entirely (everyone) the practice of their cultic gibberish. It does not refer to the genuine gift of languages, because not "everyone" would have that gift. But they think that they are worshiping God properly, so Paul seeks to expose their error.

4. and the uneducated: idiōtās refers to someone who has not been taught the particular language that is being spoken. In this case, it is obvious that neither he nor anyone else in the assembly can understand the gibberish that is being mouthed. These visitors are probably believers (in contrast with apistos) who have come to worship with others, but instead find a chaotic bunch of noise that makes no spiritual impact and provides no edification. This happens quite frequently in the assemblies of the charismatics who practice this gibberish. Only those who have been raised in it or have been emotionally maneuvered into it can find some pseudo affinity and accept it. Both need to be taught the fallacy of the practice and to discard it. It needs to be acknowledged that there is indeed a "number" popularity within the charismatic churches, but that is based on an emotional subjectivity rather than hunger for doctrinal truth and purity. An observation by Lewis Sperry Chafer made many years ago is still valid today.

"The cessation of signs and wonders after the first generation of the Church has given occasion to counterfeit manifestations. This cessation is not due to lack of faith or faithfulness. The greatest of all saints, though like Abraham and Daniel, have not done mighty works in this age. The usual belief that all supernatural manifestations arise with God gives Satan the opportunity to confirm in the minds of many his misrepresentation of doctrine. Without exception, those manifestations of super-natural power which are acclaimed as Divine today, appear in support of false or incomplete doctrine. As an example of this such manifestations as have been published are found among people who receive not enough of the truth respecting saving grace to believe that once saved is always saved, and such limitation of doctrine so devitalizes the Gospel that it becomes another gospel. Yet these misunderstandings are sealed in the minds of many by what is supposed to be manifestations from God, though serving really as a sanction to the perversion of doctrine."

Lewis Sperry Chafer Chafer's Systematic Theology Volume V, page 170

5. or unbelievers: apistos, again refers to one who has not trusted in Christ, and can include both Jew or Gentile. Since there is no REAL language being spoken, there is no gospel message being communicated. The result is that, there will be no perception, no conviction and no positive response from these visitors to that local assembly or to Christianity.

6. Will they not say you are mad? mainomai (present active indicative) means to be insane, crazy, delusional. They will think you are maniacs.

This word occurs only four other times in the New Testament (John 10:20; Acts 12:15; 26:24, 25).

A. There is no order - but chaos
B. There is no instruction - but gibberish
C. There is no truth - but religion and emotionalism
D. There is no conviction - but alienation

Verse 24 The positive effect from proper communication activity

1. But if all: reference to order and authority based on verses 29-33.
This does not refer to everybody teaching, for not everyone has a communication gift, but it refers to "all" those who are authorized to speak and indicates that they are communicating understandable words. The "if" is a 3rd class condition again and indicates the potential for proper communication activity within the local assembly and the potential for positive impact on those present.

2. prophecy: The word is prophāteuo as a present active subjunctive (to correspond with the 3rd class IF clause) and indicates the fulfillment of the mutual benefit mandate in the areas of edification, encouragement and comfort (verse 14:3). The communication of these three can be further divided into the two areas of Bible truth.

A. Bible doctrine (theology, prophecy, morality, spiritual integrity)
B. Bible history (chronology, biography, geography, genealogy)

3. and if an unbeliever: Again, it is apistos to refer to the one who is not convinced of Christian truth. Only truth taught clearly will communicate to him through the convicting ministry of the Holy spirit.

The Holy Spirit does not minister to the soul apart from clear communication in a known human language. And this includes the very often misunderstood passage at Romans 8:26-27.

4. or an idiōtās: This is not talking about intelligence but education in some human language. Words have meaning and God uses those words to communicate his revelation to his people, and the gospel to the unbeliever. If information is not communicated in a known human language, then there is no perception and no understanding and no benefit. But if there is proper communication, then the result is proper understanding which the Holy Spirit uses to convict of sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:8-11).

5. He is convicted by all:

A. by all: This is hupo + pas (all) to indicate the teaching and content authority of the one teaching. The hearer is convicted "under the authority" of the teaching ministry of the communicator as the Holy Spirit uses that communication gift.

B. The "all" goes back to the presence of more than one communicator but there is only one teaching at a time.

C. The word convicted is elegcho, which means to expose, convict and rebuke. It occurs as a present passive indicative in order to state the principle of reality that is fulfilled when truth is taught. The Holy Spirit WILL use that information to pierce into the inner soul of the hearers and convict them of their true inner selves and their spiritual status (Hebrews 4:12-13).

6. called into account (NASB): The Greek word is anakrino (present passive indicative) which means to question or examine someone. The idea is to put someone "on the spot" concerning issues that have been clarified to them. In this case with the passive voice of the verb, it means that the hearer "receives" questioning and examination by the content of the message as the Holy Spirit works in the soul. After truth convicts, it then demands some kind of decision.


Verse 25 continues with the positive results from the convicting ministry of the Holy Spirit.

1. The secrets of his heart: kruptos (an adjective used as a substantive) means something that is hidden and refers to the inner thoughts of the soul as described in Hebrews 4:12.
The soul of man is comprised of two basic elements, mentality and emotion.

A. The mentality of the soul is called the heart and is the controller of the soul. (Hebrew = lābh; Greek = kardia) Prov. 4:23

B. The emotion of the soul is called reins or bowels and is the responder and appreciator of the soul.

2. The heart contains three elements of character and personality. Mind, conscience and self consciousness. CF. Titus 1:15 (mind and conscience)

A. MIND: Luke 1:51; Hebrews 4:12, contains both memory and frame of reference.

B. CONSCIENCE: Hebrews 10:22; 1 Samuel 24:5-6; Deuteronomy 4:9 This contains the standards of the soul; the measurement for right and wrong.

C. SELF CONSCIOUSNESS: Awareness of who you are; ego; volition.
Proverbs 16:9; 24:32; Psalm 10:6; 36:1-2; Ecclesiastes 1:16

3. At Hebrews 4:12 we find two words which respectively refer to the mind and the self-consciousness.

A. thoughts: enthumāsis refers to the reasonings (the application of logic) of the mind. This function takes place in the mind (nous) which is also called the understanding (dianoia). The mind contains the memory, frame of reference, reasoning, and common sense.

B. intentions: ennoia only occurs here and refers to the motivations or the true attitude in the soul.
It corresponds to the self-consciousness and volition.

C. After the process of reasoning reaches a logical conclusion the self consciousness (the ego) settles into a chosen attitude and course of action.

D. Both the process of logic and the conclusion (the chosen attitude and action) is intricately evaluated and exposed by Truth.

E. are disclosed (become manifest): This translates two Greek words; a verb and an adjective. The verb is ginomai (present middle indicative), which means to become something that it was not before.
The adjective is phaneros, which is generally translated as, manifest, visible, evident. The idea is that the inner motivations of the heart are clearly exposed to the person's self consciousness with the result that he is able to make new decisions based on that new knowledge. Obviously this is manifested to him as an inner conviction, and not publicly.

F. The power of Divine truth brings to light, exposes and evaluates the inner man.

G. The word of God is a critic, judge, evaluator and discerner of man's inner workings (Greek word, kritikos, Hebrews 4:12).


4. And so (kai houtōs): this is the response that is made possible when truth is proclaimed accurately and consistently.

A. This does not mean that every person will accept the teachings of truth.

B. But Paul's point is that the issues will be perfectly clear.

C. If the practice of verse 23 goes on, then there is no opportunity for anyone to hear and respond to truth.

D. Two examples illustrate both a positive and negative response to conviction.

1. Positive response: Acts 2:36-37
2. Negative response: Acts 5:31-33; 7:51-54

5. He will fall on his face: This is an aorist active participle of pipto and would literally be rendered, falling on his face.

A. This was a common overt expression to indicate recognition of authority.
B It was used toward man or God or gods.
C. It portrays both creature and sin humility which are necessary to express true worship

6. he will worship Cod: This is the word proskuneo as a future active indicative, which indicates the attitude and action of accepting God's jurisdiction over one's life and expressing thankfulness for it.

This word explains the purpose of falling on the face. Worship is the actual attitude, actions and speech that accepts the authority, character and provision of God.

7. Declaring that God is certainly among you:
This initial act of worship includes a confession of recognition and acceptance.

The greatest impact a church can have is the proclamation of truth. But human viewpoint always thinks otherwise. Therefore there are many different things practiced in the churches that replace the clear, dogmatic and consistent teaching of the Word of God. So many churches would rather emphasize social life than spiritual growth; musical programs instead of solid doctrinal instruction; emotional orgies instead of adherence to the clear teachings of God's word.


Verses 26-35

Verse 26 Proper procedures for the services

1. What is the outcome (ti oun estin, verse 15): This is literally, what is it then, and introduces a conclusion and summary of how the public worship service should be conducted.

2. brethren: still gentle and coaxing

3. when you assemble: sunerchomai (aorist passive subjunctive) with the temporal adverb, hotan should be translated as "whenever." Whenever you are assembled.

4. each one: refers to everyone who has a bona fide gift from God and is willing to follow God's policy for the expression of that gift. Paul is not saying that "everyone" has something they want to say, but rather, there are several who have a contribution to make to the assembly.

5. Has: The verb is echo as a present active indicative, to indicate the fact that there are a variety of communication functions available for the edification of the local assembly.

A. A Psalm: From the Old Testament which is to be read or sung.
This apparently is not a "gift" function but is something that a member wants to do as an expression of worship and sharing.

B. A teaching: didachā, refers to teaching from a prophet or pastor.
C. A revelation: apokalupsis, refers to direct information from God, which would come from the gift of knowledge, wisdom or prophecy.

D. A tongue: A message in a genuine human language which has an evangelistic focus for members of the nation of Israel.

E. An interpretation: The interpretation of that language so that everyone in the assembly can understand the message.

6. In the case of the Corinthians, there was no order for the expression of these communication functions, because there was no concern for the mutual benefit of the members but only for self expression and self satisfaction. God will not honor the function of the gifts in a disorderly anti-biblical environment.

7. let all things (pas): everything done in the service must have as its ultimate goal the mutual benefit of edification.

8. be done for edification: The verb is ginomai again and indicates that the proper procedure must BECOME, since it is not being practiced by these people. In order for there to be edification; the building up of the soul through the communication of God's word, there must be the presence and orderly function of proper communication gifts (verse 40).


Verses 27-28 The policy for the gift of languages

1. Two or three only during any particular meeting time.
2. In turn, which means orderly and one at a time.

3. One interpreter: This could mean that either one interpreter per person or one interpreter for all three. In either case, the order is maintained by not having a variety of people "suggest" interpretations for someone who has used the gift of languages.

4. If there is no interpreter then there is to be absolutely no use of the gift of languages.

A. Let him keep silent: sigao as a present active imperative to indicate an absolute prohibition.

1. in the church: This recognizes that outside the church, the gift of languages needs no interpretation because it is directed to a particular unbeliever(s) only and he understands the language used.

2. The believer using the gift finds encouragement from the proper use of the gift in an evangelistic situation.

3. Other believers present do not need edification from the situation. They are encouraged because they understand the evangelistic impact that is being made to the unbelieving Jew.

4. But in the church this not bona fide. There must be edification.

B. Let him speak to himself: laleo in the present active imperative, again gives an absolute mandate for the function of this gift.

1. This "speaking" would be in silence and it would not be in a foreign language.

2. Speaking to himself in a language he does not know would violate the purpose of the gift and the principle of having understanding that Paul established at verses 14-15.

3. Speaking to self would be personal meditation on the other teachings that are delivered.

4. Communing within himself around a personal gift of speaking in a language would remove him from participating in worship through the communication activity of the other gifts.

C. and to God: This refers to communion with God through prayer and acceptance of truth as it is taught by others.

Verses 29-33 Policy for prophecy

Verse 29

1. Let two or three prophets: there may be more than three present but only three may speak and as with the gift of languages, this is still one at a time.

2. The others pass judgment: diakrino means to discern or evaluate.

A. This is a word for participation in the teaching by using your frame of reference.
B. It is the basis for agreement and for emotional appreciation.
C. This command (present active imperative) fulfills the instruction found at 1 Thes. 5:20-22

D. The others COULD refer only to the other prophets, but it seems more reasonable that it refers to EVERYONE who is listening.

Verse 30 The procedure here outlined concerns only the prophets of the church. Not just anyone can stand up and teach.
The prophets often received specific revelation from God which was pertinent to the local assembly (Acts 11:27-28; 21:10-14).

1. But: de is used to indicate a smooth transition.

2. If: This is a 3rd class condition which indicates a potential occurrence. There might be some new information provided to one of the prophets. In such cases, there should be an orderly transition from one communicator to the next.

3. A revelation is made: The verb is apokalupto (aorist passive subjunctive) and indicates that God has actually chosen to reveal some new information through one of the prophets.

This is the ministry of the Holy Spirit that communicates information directly to a pre-canon teaching gift.
This could be instructional information such as at Ephesians 3:5.
Or it could be guidance information such as at Acts 21:10-11.
Or it could be general warning information such as at Acts 11:27-28.

4. to another: allos, which in this context refers to another prophet.

5. who is seated: kathāmai (present middle participle)

A. One prophet is teaching
B. The other ones are discerning.
C. God reveals some truth to one of the prophets seated.
D. Based on verses 33 and 40, the seated prophet will probably make some gesture to the speaker to indicate that he now has something to say.

E. He does not just stand up and start speaking.
F. The first one will quickly finish his point and then allow the next one to speak. (let the first keep silent)


Verse 31

1. for: gar introduces the explanation of the procedure.
2. you can all: refers to the prophets in the church, not "everybody."
3. prophecy one by one: They can all function in their gift, but it must be according to order (verse 29).

4. So that: hina + subjunctive indicates the purpose for the order.
5. you can all learn: manthano (present active subjunctive)
This word explains the basis for edification. It is learning.

6. and all be exhorted: parakaleo (present passive subjunctive) refers to motivational type teaching; exhortation, encouragement. This is based on learning truths about God's character and plan.

7. This refers to the mutual benefit issue.

A. If there is no order, there will be no clear teaching of truth.

B. Also, in the pre-canon period, the prophets did not have access to all the truth. They depended on other teachers to fill in the gaps.

C. In the post-canon (apostolic) period, all truth is in writing.
All believers, including those with a communication gift, depend on others to teach them and lead them to maturity. There will no longer be a revelation made to a seated listener but the written canon of Scripture will always be the authority and guideline for divine truth. During the post-apostolic period, there still needs to be order in the public assembly, and these guidelines of order should probably be applied also to the function of the pastor-teacher and the other communication gifts of exhortation, evangelist and counselor. In other words, there should still be only one person speaking at a time, and that includes the various emotional comments and outbursts made by the audience while the communicator is teaching; as well as any private conversations that individuals engage in during the teaching of God's word.

D. Once having reached maturity, the primary communicator (pastor-teacher) will no longer need to sit under the "teaching authority" of another, but will be equipped to minister over his own flock, and continue to advance in his growth through his independent study. All other believers continue to be part of a flock and will depend on the teaching ministry of their communicator in order to stay "in tune" with the flock an make further progress in their growth. The function of their respective gifts will operate within the parameters of a local assembly, and that in itself requires participation in a local assembly (Heb. 10:25).


Verse 32

1. And the spirits of the prophets: This refers to the human spirit.

A. The human spirit is the reflection or expression of the soul.
B. Character and personality are manifested from the heart through the spirit and then to overt expression. Job 15:12-13; 1-5; Psalm 78:8; Proverbs 15:13

C. So this is talking about the overt manifestation of the prophets character and extends to the content of his teaching.

2. are subject to the prophets: hupotasso (present passive indicative) means to be under the authority of the prophets.

A. The spirit as a reflection of the soul is capable of negative expressions. 2 Corinthians 7:1
B. What they say and do is their own responsibility.
C. They can wait for Divine revelation before speaking.
D. They can signal to speak without having received revelation.
E. Even with Divine revelation, they can choose to speak what they want.
F. The evaluation of the prophet's message must be based on revealed truth; the Old Testament, Jesus and the Apostles.

G. Anything that is heard which is clearly in conflict with revealed truth needs to be rejected (1 Thessalonians 5:20-22).

H. But the judgment of the prophet's motivation must be left in God's hands. cf. Hebrews 13:17

I. If error is taught, then the other leaders and the congregation must take action on that basis.

Verse 33

1. for: gar introduces the testimonial reason for order
2. God is not a God of confusion: akatastasia

A. kata is the preposition of norm or standard.
Thus the idea of according to standard.

B. stasia, comes from the verb, histāmi, which means to stand. Stasis refers to existence or a stand. It can carry the idea of procedure.
Thus, the idea of "existing" according to an established standard for how the assembly worship activities should be conducted.

C. The negative (a) in front of the word indicates an existence or procedure that is not based on an established standard, and thus the idea of confusion.

3. but of peace: The word is eirānā and it refers to the opposite of confusion and chaos. There must be definite restrictions in the teaching arena so that no personal conflicts should result. If everyone understands and accepts the established policy, then there will be order, and everyone will be able to benefit from the teaching, exhortation and comfort provided by the communicators in the local assembly.

4. As in all the churches of God: This establishes a standard operating procedure for all the churches. Paul is trying to bring the Corinthians back into conformity to how God wants all the churches to be governed and to function.


Verse 34

1. Let the women keep silent: sigao in the present active imperative, should be taken to refer to both the function of communicating in the public assembly and speaking out with questions or comments. Women do not have any of the primary communication gifts (apostle, prophet, pastor-teacher, evangelist). Philip's daughters at Acts 21:9, were not "prophetesses," but he had 4 daughters "who prophesied" or more specifically, taught. This teaching would be to other women and children, but not in a public assembly in authority over a man (1 Timothy 2:11-12). Notice that when God wanted to communicate an actual "prophetic" message, he used Agabus at verses 10-11. However, at Corinth, this was another one of those errors that had infiltrated and was causing a great deal of confusion and chaos. Since they encouraged everyone to cultivate the cultic private "god-talk," the women would also be participating in this.

2. in the churches: This is standard operating procedure for all the churches and has in view worship activity in the public assembly.

3. for it is not permitted: This is very clearly stated and further supported by 1 Timothy 2:11-12. The main verb is epitrepo as a present passive indicative followed by a present active infinitive of laleo (to speak).

4. But let them be in submission: hupotasso as a present passive imperative refers to teaching submission within the public assembly. This includes the humility attitude of teachability, which is the desire to learn; to be taught, and the silence that is conducive to learning.

5. just as also (kathōs kai) the law says: lego (present active indicative).

A. There is no specific reference in the Old Testament to this.
B. It refers to the pattern established in Genesis 3:16, where the man is said to have a "rule" or a function of spiritual and moral authority over the woman.

C. This is explained by Paul in 1 Tim. 2:11-15. Since the woman abused her role as a "helper" and contributed false doctrine to the relationship, God has chosen to memorialize this and guard against it in the future, by denying the woman any role in formal communication of spiritual truth.


Verse 35

1. and if: This is a first class condition "if clause," which indicates this as a very real possibility with the women in the public assembly.

2. They desire: thelo (present active indicative) indicates hunger for clarification of truth that goes beyond the immediate provision of the instruction.

3. to learn anything: manthano (aorist active infinitive) refers to additional details of truth not provided in the class.

4. let them ask their husband at home: This is a suggested way to meet the need. The woman may not be married. In such cases, they should ask their parents or even some of the elders of the church; perhaps the pastor himself. The point of the restriction is to avoid any disruption DURING the public assembly teaching session. I suggest that after the formal teaching has been completed, questions from anyone would be allowed and addressed by the leadership of the church.

5. For it is improper: aischros means shameful or dishonorable and is used four other times in the New Testament (Ephesians 5.12; 1 Cor. 11.6; Titus 1.11) A verb that is related (kataischuno) occurs 13 times. The significance of this shame or dishonor is that the activity in view is inconsistent with established moral and/or spiritual standards that God has designed for the orderly function of the human race. And although such moral standards are for both believers and unbelievers, believers, as members of God's royal family, have a greater responsibility and purpose in following those standards. Compare this with 1 Corinthians 11:14 where the disgrace of verses 4-6 is connected with the word dishonor (atimia), "does not nature (phusis) teach you."

6. for a woman to speak in the church: even asking a question within the formal parameters of the public assembly, puts her in a place of authority within that assembly.

7. I suggest that the only exception to this policy would be a request for something to be repeated; a statement, a reference, a word.


Verses 36-38 Affirmation of apostolic authority

Verse 36 Two rhetorical questions designed to rebuke them and get them to accept Paul's apostolic authority.

1. Question 1: The issue of source

A. or: This little word anticipates opposition to his instructions.

B. was it from you: apo su, as a plural genitive to reference the Corinthians as a whole without any particular focus on one individual. This occurs with the word "went forth" and indicates source and authority.

C. the word of God: This refers to Divine viewpoint information in areas of both doctrine and policy. The Corinthians would actually be claiming apostolic prerogatives by claiming to be the source of doctrine and policy. There were in fact, a group of people who were claiming such apostolic authority, whom Paul references in 2 Corinthians 11:12-13 and 10:7-12. This question is intended as a rebuke to offset their rejection of his teaching and an insistence on clinging to their own viewpoint and practices.

D. went forth: exzerchomai as an aorist active indicative to indicate a "point" in time when the viewpoint or policy was established. It speaks of both source and authority.


2. Question 2: the issue of exclusiveness

Or has it come to you only: katantao, also as an aorist active indicative, indicates the possession of truth, and specifically a body of truth that is unique to them ("only" - monos) and has precedence over what the apostles receive and teach.

Verse 37, Rebuke of the Corinthian teaching presumption

1. if: This is a first class condition "if" and anticipates their attitude of arrogance.

2. anyone thinks: The verb dokeo (present active indicative) means to presume something; to assume a character or status that may or may not be verified by reality.

3. he is a prophet: He presumes he is a recipient and representative of Divine truth.

4. or spiritual: pneumatikos means to be characterized by the Holy Spirit, and refers to the filling-control of the Spirit that occurs when the believer is in fellowship with God. That is, when there are no un-confessed sins in that believer's life.


5. Let him recognize: epiginosko (present active imperative) is used for having all the facts and using them to evaluate reality.
If these people are really interested in promoting truth, they will accept the authority of the apostle.

6. The things which I write: the information of chapters 12-14

7. is (present indicative of eimi, in the singular) the commandment: The word is entolā (singular) and refers to God's revealed policy for His people.

Verse 38 The possibility of continued rebellion

1. but: de is used to indicate a smooth transition which can be designated with either "now" or "and" or "but."

2. if: The first class condition "if" recognizes the reality of their rejection.

3. does not recognize: agnoeo as a present active indicative states the nature of their rebellion as being a rejection of Paul's apostolic authority in both doctrine and policy. The word, "this," is implied in the sentence and refers to the truths Paul has just stated concerning the validity of his teaching.

4. he is not recognized: agnoeo again, but this time as a present passive indicative. The alternate manuscript reading, "Let him not be recognized (imperative)," has good support, but is less forceful than the indicative mood. Both readings communicate adequately the intensity of Paul's verdict concerning these "false" teachers; that by virtue of this letter, and later, by his personal presence, they are rejected by both Paul and by God.

A. They have no authority in the church and should not be accepted.
B. The standard for acceptance and recognition is adherence to Divine truth as it is here represented by the apostle's teaching.


Verses 39-40 CONCLUSION

1. Therefore (hoste): based on all the facts of the three chapters.
2. my brethren: Paul's grace attitude is expressed through the consistent use of this term.

3. desire earnestly: zāloo as a present active imperative, plural, repeats what he wrote at verses 12:31 and 14:1, and is still directed to the entire body of believers as a whole. They are to desire the function of this gift within the public assembly. This is not saying that each and every believer should desire the particular gift for himself.

4. to prophesy: prophāteuo, as a present active infinitive, refers to the gift of prophecy as it has been discussed in this section.

5. and do not forbid: koluo (present active imperative) indicates that the proper function of the gift of languages is both valid and desirable.

6. to speak in languages: Again, the present active infinitive (laleo) is used to indicate the gift of languages.

7. We must recognize the existence of these two gifts at this time in the church age but verse 40 regulates their use in conformity with verses 26-35. The command must be kept within the context of the divine purpose for these gifts. The gift of languages, very clearly, had a temporary role in the church and ceased after 70 AD. The gift of prophecy, as with the other revelation communication gifts, had a temporary function in the church in preparation for the completed canon of Scripture, after which completion, they were discontinued.

Verse 40

1. but: de, as a particle for mild transition, can be rendered as now, and/or but.

2. let all things: everything for the local church activity which includes the function of the spiritual gifts.

3. become: ginomai, suggests a change. It means to become something that was not before. The idea is that up to this time, the local church activity at Corinth was not in conformity with the divine policies that God had revealed to Paul. The present middle imperative then, commands them to follow the policy outlined.

4. properly: euschāmōs, is an adverb that means in a manner that is according to proper design. The proper design is as Paul has taught in this passage.

5. and according to order (kata taxis): indicates the absence of chaos.

The preposition, kata, indicates a norm or standard of the noun that follows it. In this case, taxis (order), refers to the orderly arrangement of worship activity so that there is no confusion and interruptions. This facilitates concentration and mutual benefit as already clarified through the development of this chapter.


The practice of tongues today is in total violation of what Paul has written in this chapter. Instead, it is a religious and emotional device that takes peoples' minds off of the true spiritual issues of doctrinal purity and emotional control. It is not the speaking of a REAL language, but is instead, an emotional, gibberish that is elicited from people through emotional and peer pressure. Sometimes the emotional brainwashing is so intense that this gibberish comes out as emotional spontanaity, but is none the less fabricated by the imagination of the speaker. But most often this practice is simply initiated and stopped by a conscious decision of the person doing it.

This self-centered, self-pleasuring practice does not minister to the whole congregation for mutual benefit. It does not minister to unbelieving Jews in a context of imminent national destruction and displacement by a new evangelistic agent. It allows, and in fact, promotes the possession of this device by women. It encourages and in some cases demands that EVERY believer manifest this device.


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İRon Wallace, http://www.biblefragrances.com. Anyone is free to reproduce this material and distribute it,
but it may not be sold under any circumstances whatsoever without the author's consent.


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