Thursday, July 27, 2017

1 Corinthians Chapter 14: Speaking in Tongues Prophecy Women



    1: Pursue love and desire spiritual gifts[1] but especially that you may prophesy[2] 2: For speaking glossa (tongues) speaks not to [any] human but to God (only) for no person understands Howbeit in the spirit they speak mysteries[3] 3: But they who prophesy speak to all to edification and exhortation and comfort 4: They who speak in tongues edify themselves but they who prophesy edify the church[4] 5: I would that you all spoke tongues but rather that you prophesied for greater are they who prophesy than they that speak tongues[5] except they interpret[6] that the church may receive edification Isaiah 28:11 6: Now brethren if I come to you speaking tongues what shall I profit you except I shall speak to you either by revelation or by knowledge or by prophesying or by teaching 7: And even things without life giving sound whether pipe or harp except they give a distinction in the sounds how shall it be known what is piped or harped 8: For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound who shall prepare themselves to the battle 9: So likewise you except you utter by the tongue words easy to be understood how shall it be known what is spoken for you shall speak into the air[7] 10: There are it may be so many kinds of voices in the world and none of them is without signification 11: Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice I shall be to them that speak a (as an unintelligible) barbarian and they that speak shall be a (as a) barbarian to me 12: Even so you forasmuch as you are zealous of spiritual gifts seek that you may excel to the edifying of the church 13: Wherefore let them that speak tongues pray that they may interpret 14: For if I pray [in] tongues my spirit prays but my understanding is unfruitful Romans 8:26 15: What is it then I will pray with the spirit Jude :20 and I will pray with the understanding[8] also I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the understanding also 16: Else when you shall bless with the spirit how shall they that occupy the room of the unlearned say Amen at your giving of thanks seeing they understand not what you say 17: For you truly give thanks well but the other is not edified 18: I thank my God I speak tongues more than you all[9] 19: Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding that by my voice I might teach others also than ten thousand words in tongues 20: Brethren be not children in understanding howbeit in malice be ye children but in understanding be adults 21: In the law it is written With other tongues and strange lips will I speak to this people Isaiah 28:11 and yet for all that will they not hear me says the Lord 22: Wherefore tongues are for a sign not to them that believe but to them that believe not[10] but prophesying serves not for them that believe not but for them which believe 23: If therefore the whole church be come together into one place and all speak with tongues and there come in those that are unlearned or unbelievers will they not say that you are insane 24: But if all prophesy and there come in one that believes not or one unlearned they are convinced of all they are judged of all 25: And thus are the secrets of their hearts made manifest and so falling down on their faces they will worship God and report that God is in you of a truth 26: How is it then brethren when you come together every one of you has a psalm hath a teaching has a tongue has a revelation has an interpretation Let all things be done unto edifying 27: If any speak tongues let it be by two or at the most by three and that by course but let [only] one interpret 28: And if there be no interpreter let them keep silence in the church and let them speak to themselves and to God 29: Let the prophets speak two or three and let the others judge 30: If anything be revealed to another that sits by let the first hold their peace 31: For you may all prophesy one by one that all may learn and all may be comforted 32: For the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets[11] 33: Indeed God is not the author of confusion[12] but of peace as in all churches of the saints 34: Let your [unbelieving] wives hold their peace in the assemblies For it is not entrusted to them to speak [their minds concerning the Word of God] rather to yield as also the law teaches 35: And if they are resolved to learn anything[13] let them ask their husbands at home[14] for it is indecorous for [unbelieving] wives to speak [out] in the assembly [of believers] 36: What came the word of God out from you or came it to you only 37: If any are deemed as prophets or spiritual let them acknowledge that the things that I write to you are the commandments of the Lord 38: But if any be ignorant [let them] be ignorant 39: Wherefore brethren covet to prophesy and forbid not to speak with tongues 40: Let all things be done decently and in order.


[1] When Paul exhorts believers to desire spiritual gifts, he is not talking only to the early Church. From his letter to the Ephesians, we know that he understood that the Gifts of the Holy Spirit were going to be present and available to the Church until Jesus comes again and makes all things complete.  But he is clear in his admonition that though spiritual gifts are worthy of our passive longings—even yearnings—our active efforts of pursuit, should be wholly focused on walking and growing in love. If we can accomplish that, there is no spiritual law we will violate, and we will grow from children to adults in the Lord Matthew 22:37-40 Luke 10:27-28, 1 Corinthians 13:11 & 13, Galatians 5:14.
[2] The Greek word, propheteuo, G4395 (verb), is one of several words translated as prophesy. It means to foretell; break forth under divine impulse; speak forth under divine inspiration; declare a thing which can only be known by divine revelation. Many try to say it has a simple meaning of preaching, and indeed, all preaching should be speaking forth under divine inspiration, but that is not always the case. In any case, the Bible differentiates between preachers, teachers, prophets, and their respective gifts. All are ministry gifts of the Holy Spirit, given to the Church [until Jesus returns and makes all things complete] but they are not the same gift. In this passage, Paul encourages believers to desire [but not pursue (pursue only love)] spiritual gifts and most especially that they might be used in the gift of prophecy.
[3] 1 Corinthians 14:1 is the second clear witness (in Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians) that tongues (glossa) are not always earthly languages. The apostle wrote that when a person speaks in tongues no one understands them except God. There are tongues of men, but there are also, as Paul states in chapter 13, tongues of angels as well.
[4] There is nothing wrong with edifying (building up) one’s self. Indeed, we cannot build other’s up if we are not built up ourselves. Paul is not telling Christians to neglect their own spiritual health. He is simply making the point that when we come to together for corporate worship, prayer, and exhortation, we must think about the Body of Christ as a whole, and exercise the spiritual gifts that will benefit others as well as ourselves.
[5] Paul’s reference to “greatness,” in connection with the gift of prophecy, may give insight into the statement of Jesus that his followers would do “greater” things than he did. We know that no single person can do anything greater than our Savior did. After all, what is greater than raising people from the dead, healing incurable diseases, performing miracles, speaking prophetically into people’s lives, giving one’s own life for someone else? All of these things have been done by Christians, through the gifts of the Holy Spirit. But how do we do greater things than that? The answer is, we cannot. But Jesus said we would. Now, we know the statement of Paul [about the prophet being greater than the one who speaks with tongues], had nothing to do with quantitative prominence, that of being highly esteemed by large numbers of people (sinful to desire that), or even by the public in general. It is rather a qualitative promise, that the gift of prophecy does greater good over the gift of tongues, because the gift of prophecy is designed for public ministry, whereas the gift of tongues can be limited to simply a private and personal refreshing. There is nothing wrong with that. When such is the case, it is meant to be exercised between the individual believer and God alone. The statement of Jesus [about believers doing greater works than he] contains both a quantitative and a qualitative promise. Believers can do greater things than Jesus, only because they exist in greater numbers. Every member of the Body of Christ, is indwelled by his Holy Spirit. Therefore, large numbers of believers can benefit great numbers of people—often simultaneously—by the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, followers of Christ will do greater works than he did, and those who prophesy are greater than those who speak with tongues. 
[6] All tongues are not meant to be interpreted. At the beginning of 1 Corinthians, chapter 14, Paul stated that when one spoke in tongues they were speaking to God alone, and no one could understand them. He wrote to the Romans that when we did not know how to pray as we ought, the Holy Spirit would pray for us with unintelligible groanings and utterings, which includes (but not limited to) praying in tongues. Paul called praying in tongues, praying in the Holy Spirit. Prayer is between the believer and God—not the between the believer, and God, and the church. But, the gift of tongues can also be exercised in tandem with the gift of interpretation. When that happens, The gift becomes a public blessing, with the two gifts—tongues and interpretation of tongues—being equal to the one gift of prophecy.
[7] Entire denominations use this passage, to disparage the gift of tongues, but the apostle was not forbidding, or even discouraging use of the gift of tongues, he was simply instructing the Corinthian believers in the proper use of it. He knew his words would be construed by some to forbid the use of tongues altogether, so in this same passage, he was careful to add the words, “forbid not to speak with tongues.” To get around this clear command, some teach that the gifts of the Holy Spirit are not for the church, today. But in the letter to the Ephesians, we read that they are. Also, in the letter to the Corinthians, chapter 13, we read that the gifts of tongues and prophecy, specifically, will be with the church till that which is complete comes—i.e., the coming of Christ himself.
[8] Since praying in the Spirit is not the same as praying in our understanding, we can infer from this verse, that praying in the Spirit is praying in tongues. Jude wrote that one of the benefits of praying in the Spirit is that our faith is built up.
[9] Some use this chapter as a means to disparage the gift of tongues, but that teaching is not found in this chapter, nor anywhere else in scripture. Those who acknowledge this, yet continue to oppose tongues, simply do away with the gifts of the Holy Spirit altogether, by teaching the gifts were only for the early church. There is not a single verse in the Bible that testifies to such.
[10] Paul, here, speaks specifically of the gift of tongues in connection with the gift of interpretation of tongues. These two gifts together are equal to the gift of prophecy, and are for the edification of the Church and also a sign to any unbelievers who may be present.
[11] All of the gifts of the Holy Spirit are supernatural, with God initiating the manifestation of his gifts. But it is entirely up to believers whether or not they allow God to use them in the prophetic gifts. Regarding the gift of tongues, the speaker must judge whether it is time to withhold the tongue [glossa] and allow an interpreter to speak. This, is what is meant by the phrase, “The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.” Regarding the audible gifts of tongues and interpretation, the scriptures instruct believers in the proper execution of these gifts in public assemblies.  In private, believers may pray in tongues as much as they like. Much good is brought about (in terms of faith building and praying the perfect will of God) by praying in the Holy Ghost. During church services, however, the Holy Spirit may give more than one believer a prophetic message in tongues. The person giving the message in tongues, may or may not be given the interpretation. God may give five or ten believers the same message in tongues, but that does not mean everything single one must be brought forth. The scriptures are clear, after two or three [of the same] message spoken consecutively [in tongues], it must then be interpreted, or the remainder of believers [who were given that tongue] must remain silent. This does not mean that the Holy Spirit is restricted to only two or three separate messages in tongues and interpretations in a single meeting—only that believers have a limit on how many times they will bring forth a single message before it is interpreted.
[12] This short phrase is often used to forbid tongues. However, the Bible commands believers not to forbid the gift of tongues. When exercised properly, and interpreted in public assemblies, the gift of tongues does not cause confusion, but brings great blessing. There are many instances in diplomacy (and other situations) where interpreters are needed for earthly dialects and languages. No one accuses the speakers and interpreters on these occasions of causing confusion. Neither do the gifts of tongues and interpretation cause confusion.
[13] It is unlikely that Paul would choose to deliberately alienate unbelieving married women by being rude to them, by bluntly telling them to shut-up, go home, and let their husbands teach them. This would contradict the entire tenor of scripture that reveals apostle’s main goal in life was winning souls. There is no doubt the souls of wives were just as important to him as the souls of husbands. The common translation of this verse is supplementally rude and misogynistic. There is no viable reason to retain it, just as there is no textual reason not to exercise optional alternatives in the translation that conveys good intentions on the part of the apostle [towards unsaved wives]. It is much more likely that Paul used the gentler approach of assuming the sincerity of the women by telling them that if they were resolved to learn about the Christian faith, that having private discussions with their husbands at homes was better than publicly disrupting preaching or teaching services.
[14] The says nothing about women being under obedience. Paul must have been referencing unauthoritative Jewish tradition. Women are not singled out for oppression here. As is true, today, the same was true back then, that unsaved wives are more likely to go to church with believing husbands, than are the husbands with the wives. The Church at Corinth likely had quite a few couples attending where only the husband was a believer. Since Paul had previously instructed both women and men in New Testament public speaking protocol (Joel prophesied of this and was quoted by Peter), the context implies that the apostle was not speaking to women in general—nor, indeed, to all wives. The context of this passage indicates that the Greek word, gyne G1135, has been mistranslated, in verse :34. The word should have been translated as wives—not as women. In this verse, the women commanded to silence are instructed to ask questions of their husbands at home. Since all women do not have husbands, only wives can be referred to, here. But not all wives. Joel’s prophecy about God’s daughters preaching and prophesying is not limited to his unmarried daughters. This leads to the obvious conclusion, that the wives Paul referred to were not qualified to speak in church. This means they were yet saved, for there is no time limit imposed upon new believers before they are permitted to speak in assemblies. Born again Jewish husbands were bringing their unbelieving Jewish wives to the church adjoining the synagogue in Corinth. The unsaved women, were obviously taking advantage of the new-found freedom Christian women experienced in assemblies, and were disrupting the services with questions about the new faith. There is also the possibility that some of these wives were reluctant attendees at the Christian church services, and resented being there at all. There could have been some deliberate disruption going on. In ancient times, husbands routinely ordered wives about. A first century wife could easily interpret an invitation from a husband [to attend church with him] as a command. 

Additional commentary pending for this chapter
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When we understand God's great Redemption, Bible prophecy is neither complicated nor mysterious