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Bible Commentaries
1 Corinthians 14

Concordant Commentary of the New TestamentConcordant NT Commentary

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Verses 1-23

11 The time came when the apostle admonished and taught in order that he should present every man mature in Christ ( Col_1:28 ). Epaphras struggled in prayers that they should stand mature and complete in all the will of God ( Col_4:12 ). It is evident that maturity came with the last ministry of Paul, when he was a prisoner at Rome. Till then the saints, as a whole, were in a state corresponding to a man who has not yet attained his majority. But then, as was the case when a boy assumed the duties of manhood, there was a vast revolution. As a man discards the toys of his childhood, so they discarded the marks of minority. Chief among these were the gifts, especially prophecy and languages. Those who claim these now cannot avoid marking themselves as immature.

12 At this time the present secret administration ( Eph_3:9 ) had not been publicly revealed. The destiny of the saints who had received Paul's evangel was clouded in mystery. Only a little was known. Their celestial allotment was still concealed. Israel's fate was still in the balance. It was not till their final rejection at the close of the book of Acts, that the secret was revealed that the ecclesia which is His body, to which Paul ministered, was not to have a place on earth subordinate to Israel, but was to be blessed with transcendent spiritual blessings among the celestials. Now that maturity has come, we no longer are in an enigma, but realize something of the unutterable grace which is ours in Christ Jesus.

13 Faith, expectation, and love are the abiding trinity in this administration of God's grace. Neither faith nor expectation will remain in the glory. Love alone will abide His coming. Let us believe God. Let us glory in expectation. But, above all, let us charge our hearts to love Him and His with a fervency which His love alone can inspire. These graces will not abide in heaven, to which they are usually relegated. Hope will then be past, faith unnecessary. This is the time of "perfection" or maturity.

1 Prophecy prepared them for further unfoldings and maturity. Languages tended to draw them back to the kingdom proclamation and its attendant signs.

10 Though without any manuscript evidence, it may be that the original reading of "nothing is soundless" was "none of them is senseless ". This seems to be demanded by the context, which insists on sense as well as sound. A single letter P (which is the equivalent of our R) would change aphonon , soundless, to aphronon , senseless. As our Version is founded on facts, rather than the judgment of its editor, he could not make this alteration, however much it may appeal to him.

12 The gifts were given for mutual edification, not for entertainment or vain display. The misuse of the gift of languages was a clear indication of the childish immaturity of the Corinthians, for they were eager to display the possession of the gift without any regard for the edification of others. A foreign language is a mere babel of sounds to those who do not understand it. And even if it should be interpreted, of what real gain is it to use such a circuitous method when the same things could be told just as well without the need of interpretation? Such was not the divine intention in giving this gift. On the day of Pentecost this gift was used in a useful and rational way, for it was a sign that Jehovah was speaking to His people. Moreover, this sign is not for believers, or even to reach unbelievers, for it is written "neither thus will they be hearkening to Me" ( 1Co_14:21 , Isa_28:12 ). Surely it is far better to speak five instructive words in the vernacular than any number in an unknown language, even if it be the exhibition of a spiritual endowment. The same argument applies with even more force to the use of a foreign language, which no one understands, in a church ritual. It may be imposing and spectacular but it fails utterly in edifying the saints.

22 Paul's high regard for the gift of prophecy is founded on the fact that it was the chief means used to bring the saints to that maturity which he earnestly desired they should attain. The gift of teaching, the exposition of the Scriptures, now takes the place of prophecy, for God has fully revealed His will in His word.

Verses 24-40

24 Predicting, or foretelling, is not necessarily involved in the gift of prophecy. The prophet, in Scripture, is the mouthpiece or spokesman of God. He may speak of the past, the present, or the future. Prediction is incidental, not essential, to prophecy. Before the canon was complete it was needful for the saints to have some means of knowing the mind of God. The Scriptures fully meet that need now. What a decided contrast there would be between a meeting at which all declared God's mind in sober succession, so that all are helped, and one in which each seeks an opportunity to display a gift which is of no benefit to his fellow saints! Even unbelievers have discrimination enough to see how foolish it is to talk into the air, and can appreciate the solemn declaration of God's spokesmen.

27 To curb their childish desire to talk in unknown languages the apostle lays down rules to govern the exercise of this gift. It was not to be exercised unless there was an interpreter, so that the message would not be lost on the meeting. Not more than two or three were to speak in unknown languages in succession, and their speaking was to be in installments, that is, they were to pause at frequent intervals to allow for interpretation. If no one could interpret, they were not to speak in the ecclesia.

29 Prophecy, also, was to be exercised within bounds. It was not to be like the turbulent, unrestrained ranting of the oracles of the false gods to which they were accustomed, whose spirits were beyond their control, but peaceful, discriminating discourse, two or three in succession, yet ready to yield to another who may receive a revelation. The spirits of the prophets of the Greek gods were not subject to them. They worked themselves into a frenzy, foaming at the mouth. They were controlled by demon spirits rather than the Spirit of God.

34 "Now if anyone is ignorant, let him be ignorant!" ( 1Co_14:38 ) is the apostle's indignant protest to those who presume to oppose these words. And again "If anyone is presuming to be a prophet or spiritual, let him be recognizing that what I am writing to you is a precept of the Lord."

1 There is a notable contrast between the methods with which the apostle deals with fundamental doctrinal error and moral evil. The wicked man ( 1Co_5:5 ) is delivered to Satan, but those who denied the resurrection are not put away. In these days the contrary course is pursued. Doctrinal differences, not nearly so vital as the denial of the resurrection, are made the ground for disfellowshipping godly saints, while moral evil is often condoned and overlooked. Differences in doctrine do not demand a severance of fellowship, or Paul would have so dealt with the Corinthians who denied the one doctrine which, because it involves all others, has the right to be called "fundamental".

3 The evangel which Paul preached was concerned with Christ . Not, however, with His life , but with His death , burial , and resurrection . These are the fundamental facts of the evangel. Not His death only, for that would be no evangel at all, but His burial and His resurrection.

5 The evidence for the resurrection of Christ is as conclusive as it is possible for any evidence to be. There were over five hundred witnesses and some of these were especially appointed and given ample opportunity to convince themselves. But the crowning proof was the descent of the glorified Christ to call Saul, upon the Damascus road. Saul was His enemy, and would have done much to prove that He was not roused. His testimony is of special weight. The resurrection is of the utmost consequence to Paul, for he did not know the Lord before His death, like the twelve apostles. Consequently he never would have known Him nor would he have seen Him unless He had been raised. In a very special sense Paul is the apostle of the ascended and glorified Christ. He never bases his teaching on the life of Jesus before His death and resurrection.

9 Paul's persecution of the ecclesia was the necessary prelude to the transcendent grace which called and sustained him so that he became at once the least and the greatest of the apostles. It was necessary that he should be the most undeserving in order that he might become the pattern for God's present dealings in grace.

Bibliographical Information
"Commentary on 1 Corinthians 14". Concordant Commentary of the New Testament. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/aek/1-corinthians-14.html. 1968.
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