Attention!
Tired of seeing ads while studying? Now you can enjoy an "Ads Free" version of the site for as little as 10¢ a day.

Bible Commentaries

Brian Bell Commentary on the Bible

1 Corinthians 14

Verses 1-19

  1. Intro:
    1. Paul now places some strict guidelines, on the value & roles, of tongues & prophesy, to the confused & curious Corinthian church, regarding gifts.
      1. Let’s remember that he is specifically concerned with the order of the gifts in the church rather than used privately.
      2. See “church” in vss. 4,5,12,19,23,28,35.
    2. Paul deals with the 2 major objectives for the church:
      1. The edifying of the believers! (12)
      2. The conversion of the unsaved! (25)
        1. This is the 2-fold purpose of the church,…let no church forget it!
        2. This chapter also shows what we should find when we go to church!
          1. Teaching & preaching(3); praying & singing(15).
    3. A worship service should lift up the Lord & build up the saints, not puff up the participants! (Warren Wiersbe, With The Word, pg.753)
    4. Outline: Building; Benefiting; Blessing... others in the church!
  2. BUILDING! (1-5)
    1. (1) Note: this chapter is set up by, “I show you a more excellent way”(12:31); all of chapter 13; & now 14:1 “Pursue love”.
    2. Pursue love – or, Let love be your highest goal! (NLT) or, Go after a life of love as if your life depended on it - because it does. (msg)
      1. Hunt after it, strive after it, pursue after it…habitually!
      2. Love should be your ultimate goal.
    3. Desire spiritual gifts – be zealous for. [Where the word Zealot comes from]
    4. (2) Tongues - γλοσσολαλια/Glossolalia (Glossa/tongues - lalein/speak)
      1. Language is an agreement between people that certain sounds have certain meanings.
      2. “Glossolalia is the spontaneous utterance of uncomprehended & seemingly random vocal sounds.” (New International Dictionary of the Christian Church.)
      3. “Speaking in tongues is Prayer or Praise spoken in syllables not understood by the speaker.” (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology.)
        1. Prayer - 1 Cor.14:14 [Note also, it is “to God!” vs.2]
        2. Praise – Acts 10:46 [Pete/Cornelius] For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God
      4. Tongues add a rich dimension to your Prayer life!
        1. “It is a gift whereby a man might be assisted in his worship of God, or in his communicating with God.” (Chuck Smith, 1 Cor.14:2 notes.)
        2. Some ask – “You don’t have to speak in tongues do you?” No, but wouldn’t you want to if the H.S. deemed to give it to you?
    5. (3) Prophesies!
    6. We tend to think of prophecy as predicting the future.
      1. Before the Scriptures were complete, Gods message came through the prophets.
      2. “So the prophet came & ministered the Word, until the Word came to minister prophecy.” (Chuck Swindoll, pg.26.)
    7. Do not put a narrow definition on this word. It literally means preaching, testimony, witnessing in our daily life. (Alan Redpath, pg.184.)
      1. William Barclay translates this as “the gift of forthtelling the truth!”
      2. It doesn’t have to mean foretelling the future, but it is the speaking forth of the mind & counsel of God, or the will & message of God.
      3. W.E. Vine says, “Though much of OT prophecy was purely predictive…prophecy is not necessarily, nor even primarily, fore-telling. It is the declaration of that which cannot be known by natural means (Mt.26:68 Prophesy to us, Christ! Who is the one who struck You?) it is the forth-telling of the will of God, whether to the reference of the past, the present, or the future.”
    8. Here is what prophesy produces & this should be the 3 arrow aim of all preaching!
      1. Aim for Edification – To build up or increase a man’s knowledge of Christian truth & his ability to live the Christian life.
        1. See teach in vs.19.
      2. Aim for Exhortation – Encouragement, consolation
        1. In every group there are those who need to be encouraged.
        2. In preaching, “you may humble a man through showing him his sin, but it is a failure unless it ends by pointing him to the grace of God that can enable him to conquer it.” (William Barclay)
      3. Slide#6c Aim for Comfort (a synonym of the previous word). It means comfort & consolation with a great degree of tenderness.
        1. “To comfort all who mourn,…To give them beauty for ashes, The oil of joy for mourning, The garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness” (Is.61:2,3)
    9. (4) Edifies himself - Don’t see this as being selfish, Jesus prayed for Himself (Jn.17).
      1. It is Ok to build yourself up in Devotions right?
      2. Also in prayer time & in the Word!
      3. But…as far as the church setting goes…that’s different!
    10. Edifies the church – thus prophesies are greater(5)
      1. Seek gifts that benefit the whole congregation.
    11. (5) Unless he interprets – Note: Acts 2 is different than anywhere else Tongues is used!
      1. In Acts 2:8, we hear each in our own language.
        1. Everywhere else tongues is mentioned, men weren’t understanding what was being spoken (1 Cor.14:2,16,19).
        2. If the Tongues talked about by Paul was the same as in Acts 2 when would there ever be an Interpretation needed?
    12. If the gift of tongues is Spirit-inspired utterance that is not intelligible; than, the gift of prophecy is Spirit-inspired utterance that is intelligible. It has a recognizable vocabulary through which God’s messages are communicated.
  3. BENEFITING! (6-15)
    1. ​​​​​​​(6) What shall I profit you? – (profit = benefit)
      1. There is no public profit when tongues are being used.
    2. (7-9) He now uses 3 analogies from…
      1. ​​​​​​​The Music world–if notes are not played w/tone/pitch/time they’re only noises
        1. ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Or, our bird Eli, trying to repeat “Jesus loves me” whistle.
      2. The Daily world – a language must be clear & distinct for the message to be understood.​​​​​​​
      3. The Military world – if the bugler just plays random notes, the troops wouldn’t know to retreat or advance. [If he whips out some Herb Alpert they wont know to advance]
    3. (10-12) Here Paul steers their zeal in the right direction. Don’t squash zeal, steer it!
    4. (13) He doesn’t normally understand what he is speaking.
      1. “Tongues are the abasement of All Pride of Intellect!”
      2. They keep us humble; help prevent intellectual pride; & remind us God is greater then our understanding & that He works in ways that transcend our understanding.
    5. (14) My spirit prays - “This is the ability to express ourselves to God w/o funneling our feelings through our intellect!”
      1. Sometimes it seems words can’t express exactly what we feel.
      2. Have you ever come to a place where your feelings are greater than your capacity to express them?
      3. This is bypassing the narrow channel of your intellect.
    6. (15) The conclusion…both are important.
      1. Note: “w/the spirit” is contrasted with “w/understanding”.
        1. And see it follow in vs.16 “w/the spirit”
  4. BLESSING! (16-19)
    1. ​​​​​​​(16,17) Giving thanks is the issue!
    2. (18) In this verse (& verse 5) Paul places the importance on Tongues!
      1. What arrogance if we willingly reject such a precious way that He has provided for us to communicate w/Him!
      2. Pray for it & earnestly seek it. [Get alone w/God – Pray, give thanks, Praise Him – In faith let your tongue go! Or, Detach your tongue from your intellect, & attach it to your spirit!]
    3. (19) In this verse (& verse 1) Paul places the importance on Prophecy!
      1. Ever sit through a church service in another language?
    4. 10,000 verses 5!
    5. 10,000 words in a tongue – We are not to come to display our spirituality.
      1. Only 5 words? – Yep, 5 would be enough!
        1. “For your sin, Christ died!”
        2. “Christ, lived, died, buried, Risen.”
        3. “Deceived, Repent, Believe, Receive, Cleave.”
        4. “Sought, Fought, Distraught, Caught, Bought.”
    6. Remember - “A worship service should lift up the Lord & build up the saints, not puff up the participants!” (Warren Wiersbe, With The Word, pg.753)
    7. (MSG) ch.14

      1-3 Go after a life of love as if your life depended on it—because it does. Give yourselves to the gifts God gives you. Most of all, try to proclaim his truth. If you praise him in the private language of tongues, God understands you but no one else does, for you are sharing intimacies just between you and him. But when you proclaim his truth in everyday speech, you’re letting others in on the truth so that they can grow and be strong and experience his presence with you. 4–5 The one who prays using a private “prayer language” certainly gets a lot out of it, but proclaiming God’s truth to the church in its common language brings the whole church into growth and strength. I want all of you to develop intimacies with God in prayer, but please don’t stop with that. Go on and proclaim his clear truth to others. It’s more important that everyone have access to the knowledge and love of God in language everyone understands than that you go off and cultivate God’s presence in a mysterious prayer language—unless, of course, there is someone who can interpret what you are saying for the benefit of all.

      6–8 Think, friends: If I come to you and all I do is pray privately to God in a way only he can understand, what are you going to get out of that? If I don’t address you plainly with some insight or truth or proclamation or teaching, what help am I to you? If musical instruments— flutes, say, or harps—aren’t played so that each note is distinct and in tune, how will anyone be able to catch the melody and enjoy the music? If the trumpet call can’t be distinguished, will anyone show up for the battle?

      9–12 So if you speak in a way no one can understand, what’s the point of opening your mouth? There are many languages in the world and they all mean something to someone. But if I don’t understand the language, it’s not going to do me much good. It’s no different with you. Since you’re so eager to participate in what God is doing, why don’t you concentrate on doing what helps everyone in the church?

      13–17 So, when you pray in your private prayer language, don’t hoard the experience for yourself. Pray for the insight and ability to bring others into that intimacy. If I pray in tongues, my spirit prays but my mind lies fallow, and all that intelligence is wasted. So what’s the solution? The answer is simple enough. Do both. I should be spiritually free and expressive as I pray, but I should also be thoughtful and mindful as I pray. I should sing with my spirit, and sing with my mind. If you give a blessing using your private prayer language, which no one else understands, how can some outsider who has just shown up and has no idea what’s going on know when to say “Amen”? Your blessing might be beautiful, but you have very effectively cut that person out of it.

      ​​​​​​​18–19 I’m grateful to God for the gift of praying in tongues that he gives us for praising him, which leads to wonderful intimacies we enjoy with him. I enter into this as much or more than any of you. But when I’m in a church assembled for worship, I’d rather say five words that everyone can understand and learn from than say ten thousand that sound to others like gibberish.

Verses 20-40

  1. Intro:
    1. Any time a judge is sitting at his bench, & his court room starts getting a little out of hand, he cries out Order in the court!”
    2. God seems to love order. He ordered relationships. He ordered the heavens (when disorder/ Lucifer, immed. dealt w/). He ordered the whole universe.
      1. Of the sea He said, When I fixed My limit for it, And set bars and doors; When I said, This far you may come, but no farther, And here your proud waves must stop!
      2. He made a path for the thunderbolt. Job.38:25
      3. He made the path of the seas. (i.e. Ocean currents) Ps.8:8
      4. He made the 4 seasons. Gen.8:22
      5. Eccl.3:1 To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven.
        1. Owning a marine aquarium I realize how fragile its eco system [It demands perfect order]
          1. Lighting system (VHO lighting fixture & LED’s to simulate a 24 hour day; dawn/dusk/daylight).
          2. Just a little too much light or temperature too high...& green algae.
          3. Aiptasia Anemones try to take over the tank like weeds.
          4. Must keep an eye on the water density, salinity, PH, ammonia, Phosphates, Nitrate, Nitrite, filtration, weekly water changes. [And I’m just dealing with 26 gal.]
          5. Gods deals with 326 million trillion gallons.
      6. Tonight, Paul’s gavel comes down & cries for order in 1 more thing, Order in the Church!
  2. TO THE UNBELIEVERS IN CHURCH! (20-25)
    1. ​​​​​​​UNBELIEVERS & TONGUES! (20-23)
    2. Corinthians & Crayons! (20)
      1. The Corinthians were acting like children playing with toys, when it came to the gifts.
      2. Be immature when it comes to knowing how to sin, but mature when it comes to understanding.
        1. Immature when it comes to Malice or, “wickedness, maliciousness, ill-will.”
    3. Corinthians & Assyrians! (21,22)
      1. This seems to be a paradoxical passage.
        1. 1st saying Tongues is for unbelievers(22); then saying it is not (23).
        2. Then the same for Prophesy. 1st it says it is not for unbelievers(22b); then it is(24,25).
          1. So which is it? Yes! All 4.
            1. It’s like Prov.26:4,5 Do not answer a fool according to his folly, Lest you also be like him. Answer a fool according to his folly, Lest he be wise in his own eyes.
            2. Don’t be drawn down to a fool’s level (4), but at times you must use the fool’s language to refute the fool, so he doesn’t become conceited.
        3. So here, all 4 points are true in it’s different cases that they are dealing with.
      2. Is.28:11,12 For with stammering lips and another tongue He will speak to this people,...Yet they would not hear.
        1. Isaiah was speaking to the whole nation of Israel at a time when the Assyrians were threatening to capture Jerusalem.
          1. Through the prophet, God was warning the nation that, if they didn’t repent, they were going to hear foreigners talking in the Holy City; they were going to hear Gentile tongues filling the streets of that city. It is a warning to Israel to face up to their relationship w/God lest He turn from them to the Gentile world
        2. If you read the Day of Pentecost in that light, you will see how fully that agrees with this prediction, for, on that day, when the streets of Jerusalem were filled with thousands and thousands of people, largely Jews, who had come from all the nations around, they heard the disciples speaking these strange, Gentile languages they had never learned. It was a sign to unbelieving Jews that God was about to turn from Israel's favored position and go to the Gentile world.
          1. Acts 2:12,13 So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, Whatever could this mean? Others mocking said, They are full of new wine.
            1. Well, they actually were Lk.5:37,38 And no one puts new wine into old wineskins; or else the new wine will burst the wineskins and be spilled, & the wineskins will be ruined. But new wine must be put into new wineskins, & both are preserved.
          2. This is one way it was a sign to unbelieving Jews!
    4. Crazy Corinthians! (23)
      1. Maybe you’ve found yourself before in this situation?
    5. UNBELIEVERS & PROPHECY! (24,25)
    6. Convincing Conviction! (24,25)
      1. In 24b what is emphasized is the fact that Prophecy is the teaching tool for believers
        1. Here we’ll see how they can profit from prophecy but it is not aimed at unbelievers.
      2. Again Prophecy doesn’t have to mean fore-telling the future, but it also is used as the speaking forth of the mind & counsel of God, or the will & message of God.
    7. When truths are understandable & comprehensible then here’s what happens, he’s: Convinced; Convicted; Exposed(revealed); Prostrated(fall down on face); & then He Reports. 5 Things!
      1. ​​​​​​​He’s Convinced! (24a)
        1. This word means to convict, To so present the evidence that one is driven to the conclusion that the argument is correct. TDNT/LKGNT
        2. He sees what he is, & is appalled.
          1. ​​​​​​​Jn.4:29 Come, see a man who told me everything I ever did. [woman @ well]
        3. Alcibiades(Al-ci-bi-a-des), friend of Socrates, politician & general of Athens, used to say to his friend, Socrates, I hate you, for every time I meet you, you make me see what I am! (William Barclay, pg.132.)
      2. He’s Convicted! (24b)
        1. To examine, To cross-examine, To put through a questioning as when on is questioned & examined by a judge in court. Lenski/LKGNT
        2. He sees he must answer for what he’s done.
        3. So far he’s been his own man, answering only to himself, living his own life, w/no thoughts of God…then he realizes, his life will have an end, & there stands God!!!
      3. He’s Exposed! (25a)
        1. ​​​​​​​His dark secrets of his heart are laid bare!
        2. The last thing we face is our own hearts.
          1. A proverb says, “There are none so blind as those who will not see.”
        3. It’s like when you stare into a mirror, really taking a look at your-self!
          1. You know the real “you!”
      4. He’s Prostrated! (25b)
        1. προσκυνεω – To fall down in worship. To prostrate oneself.
        2. He is brought to his knees before God!
        3. All Christianity begins w/a man on his knees in God’s presence.
          1. Phil.2:9-11 Therefore God exalted him(Jesus) to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
        4. (Barclay) “The gateway is so low that we can enter it only upon our knees.”
        5. Once you’ve faced God & faced yourself, all that is left for you to do is to kneel & to pray…saying, “God be merciful to me a sinner”!
      5. He Reports! (25c)
        1. He reports,“really, God is among you!”
        2. Jospeh Twitchell tells how he went to visit Horace Bushnell (a Congregational Minister & Theologian; early 1800’s) when Bushnell was an old man. - At night Bushnell took him for a walk on the hillside. As they walked in the dark, suddenly Bushnell said, “Let us kneel & pray,” & they did. Twitchell, telling it afterwards, said, “I was afraid to stretch out my hand in the darkness in case I should touch God.” (William Barclay, pg.133,4.)
    8. How wonderful to watch this process happen over & over again! (unbel’s waking up to God)
      1. We as Christians, all have had to go through this same process!
  3. TO THE BELIEVERS IN CHURCH! (26-40)
    1. ​​​​​​​ORDER WHEN YOU COME TOGETHER! (26-33)
    2. (26) What a wild service their 1st church services must have been like.
    3. (27-31) Order, so all may learn, & all may be encouraged! (31)
    4. (32) It is controllable!
    5. (33) All the churches should have order, not disorder!
    6. ROLES IN THE CHURCH! (34,35)
    7. Women! (34)
      1. Women could participate in the public worship service: In Prayer & Prophecy (see 11:5)
        1. As spiritual gifts were for both men & women.
        2. But, it seems they were flaunting their Christian liberties here!
          1. In the Corinthian culture women were not allowed to confront men in public.
        3. In that day women didn’t receive religious formal training as the men did.
          1. The questions they were asking out in service probably could have been answered at home by their husband.
    8. Now let’s address the Men regarding this.
    9. Men! (35)
      1. Paul lays a responsibility upon the men. They were to teach their wive’s spiritual truths, but to do so at home!
        1. Sad to say, in many families it is the wife who has to teach the husband!
      2. Men, it doesn’t matter if she has been saved longer than you; prays better than you; studies more than you…YOU ARE TO FIND THE ANSWERS!
        1. ​​​​​​​Be strong and conduct yourselves like men, (1 Sam.4:9)
        2. I desire therefore that the men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting; 1 Tim. 2:8
      3. Men go buy a bible dictionary (Eastons; Baker; Holman; Smiths) & a “whole bible com set”.
        1. I like: Warren Wiersbe's “The Bible Exposition Commentary”(2 vol.NT); Walvoord & Zuck’s, “The Bible Knowledge Commentary”(2 vol.OT/NT)
          1. Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology. [It formulates the bible in a Topical format of biblical truths/doctrines] [eg. the doctrine of the Godhead, Theology, Christology, Pneumatology, Angelology, Soteriology]
          2. A Biblical Theology would be a progressive/chronological unfolding of God's special revelation/redemption throughout history.
        2. Or, get a good recommendation from a friend you can trust.
        3. Ask how to use them if you don’t know.
        4. It is your responsibility!
      4. Another dynamic to think about. If a woman is always going to a male friend, or pastor for her answers, it can cause an unhealthy relationship, that starts with this dangerous thought in her mind, “I wish my husband was spiritual like that man”!
        1. ​​​​​​​I’m not saying don’t ever ask a pastor or a friend. What I’m saying is “ask your husband 1st !” – Give him a shot at it ladies!…It’s biblical!
      5. Ladies, asking your husband a spiritual question could be like being able to open the mayonnaise jar for guys! (Ps: you can question, but don’t criticize his answer)
      6. My experience is, that it is very hard for a lady to give up being the spiritual leader in the home, if she’s held that role, when the man finally recognizes his role!
        1. Work on that release.
    10. DECENT & IN ORDER! (36-40)
    11. (36) Paul speaking facetiously to the Corinthians.
    12. (38) (NIV) “If he ignores this, he himself will be ignored.”
    13. (40) Decently – Fitting, done in a proper way.
    14. In order – means doing things at one time, not all at once.
      1. He told the church at Colosse the same, For though I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.
      2. Titus1:5 For this reason I left you in Crete, that you should set in order the things that are lacking, and appoint elders in every city as I commanded you
      3. He ended 1 Cor.11 w/And the rest I will set in order when I come.
    15. Questions to ponder:
      1. What else comes in to play for a service to be decent & in order?
      2. How would you do a church service different?
      3. Does the size of the congregation help to define the order of a service?
      4. Does order look different in a church of 35 people, than a church of 2000?
      5. Is there a certain amount of freedom for churches to do their services differently?
      6. Are you too judgmental or too critical on how other churches operate?
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 14". "Brian Bell Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/1-corinthians-14.html. 2017.