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Tuesday, July 23rd, 2024
the Week of Proper 11 / Ordinary 16
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Bible Commentaries
1 Corinthians 14

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

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Verse 1


1) "Follow after charity and desire spiritual gifts," (diokete ten agapen, zeloute de ta pneumaiika) "Pursue ye the love yet earnestly desire the spiritual gifts." Keep on following, pursuing the goal of love, the divine attribute on which hang the law and the prophets, Paul exhorted. True love opened and led the way to the proper use of all other charismatic gifts, Matthew 22:35-40; Romans 5:5. After a parenthetical (1 Corinthians 13:1-13) emphasis of the greatest of spiritual gifts, 1 Corinthians 12:31, Paul considered further the gifts of prophecy and tongues.

2) "But rather that ye may prophesy." (mallon de hina propheteuete) "Yet more than (all) in order that ye may prophesy." More than, rather than, or stronger than a desire for any other charismatic gift, the Corinth brethren were admonished, other than love, to make the charismatic gift of prophecy their chief aim, goal, or object, above all other gifts. The relative practical value of tongues and prophecy are the subject matter of this entire chapter.

Verse 2

1) "For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue," (ho gar lalon glosse) "For the one speaking in a tongue (language)." This is the charismatic language, an intelligible language, other than the language or languages that he knows. The term "unknown" is not in the original language. The gift of "tongues" was not senseless "gibberish."

2) "Speaketh not unto men, but unto God:" (anthropois lalei ouk alla theo) "He speaks not to men, but to God." The person speaking in the charismatic gift of tongues spoke not to the masses of men (anthropois), not for the benefit of the masses, but God who hears the language understandingly. If only he and God knew the language, let him speak to God in this language privately, not publicly.

3) "For no man understandeth him;" (ouders gar akouer) "For not one (intelligibly) hears." People understood the sound, but there was no sense or immediate comprehension or profit, except there was an interpreter present, a believer who had the charismatic gift of interpretation of tongues, 1 Corinthians 14:23; 1 Corinthians 14:28.

4) "Howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.”

(pneumati de lalei musteria) "Yet in spirit he speaks mysteries or matters of hazy understanding." Quivering lips of men or angels, if they speak unclearly, indistinctly, short of intelligent disclosure, only tantalize the hearers, to no profit. To covet such a gift for the glory of it was selfish, unprofitable. This was Paul’s premise in contending that the gift of prophecy should have precedent priority in Corinth church members’ lives for the profit or edification of the church, one another, and winning the lost.

Verse 3

1) "But he that prophesieth" (ho de propheteuon) "But the one prophesying." He who speaks forth the words of God, actively, progressively, and intelligibly, in contrast with the unintelligible personal nature of the tongues gift.

2) "Speaketh unto men to edification," (anthropois lalei oikodomen) "Speaks to edification of men." The term (oikodomen) means to the maturity, building up of the house of one’s life. Prophesying was a priority gift to help build men up in the person of Christ and the work of His church.

3) "And exhortation, and comfort." (kai paraklesin kai paramethian) "And encouragement and comfort." The gift of prophecy was a pragmatic or practical gift to motivate the members of the church in helping others, putting others first, even as God’s love put His interest in man first, above all other creatures. This is set forth clearly, 2 Corinthians 4:3-4. Prophecy motivates the will, life, and spirit of the Christian worker.

Verse 4

1) "He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself;" (ho lalon glosse heauton oikodomei) - The one speaking in a tongue (intelligible language) strengthens or helps himself." The one centered on speaking in a language that the masses do not understand, even if it were by charismatic gift, if no interpreter be present, helps himself only, selfishly, disturbs others, steals their time to his ego profit, Paul asserted, 1 Corinthians 14:14; 1 Corinthians 14:28.

2) "But he that prophesieth edifieth the church." (ho de propeteuton ekklesian oikomei) "But the one prophesying edifies, strengthens, or builds up the church." This is why Paul desired that the Corinth brethren pursue prophecy rather than tongues and other spiritual gifts, even before the Bible was completed, 1 Corinthians 14:1; 1 Corinthians 14:12. The issue was should one be selfish or unselfish in the motive of the charismatic gift he pursued, Matthew 6:33? The cause of God should always have first place, priority in one’s will of pursuits in life.

Verse 5

1) "I would that ye all spake with tongues." (thelo de pantas humas lalein glossais) "Now I wish (strongly) all you to speak with tongues." Paul did not deprecate, speak lowly of tongues - they were a desirable gift, if and when used properly, but not as helpful as the gift of prophecy.

2) "But rather that ye prophesied:" (mallon de hina propheteuete) "Yet rather in order that ye may prophesy." This is repeated from verse one to emphasize the practical, more profitable value in the gift of prophecy, to the glory of God, 1 Corinthians 10:31.

3) "For greater is he that prophesieth" (meizon de ho propheteuon) "And greater (in influence) is the one prophesying." The one prophesying, edifying the church, is a greater person, with a greater gift, than the one speaking in tongues, because his service is greater.

4) "Than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret." (he ho lalon glossais, ektos. ei me diermeneue) "Than the one continually speaking in tongues, except or unless he interprets." One might have both the gift of tongues and interpretation, yet it would take him twice as long as the one prophesying. See?

5) "That the church may receive edifying." (hina he ekklesia oiko domen labe) "In order that the assembly or church may receive edification, strength, help, or be built up." Acts 20:32; 1 Peter 3:15; 2 Peter 3:18,

Verse 6

1) "Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues," (Nun de adelphoi ean eltho pros humas glossais lalon) "But now and hereafter brethren if I come to you continually speaking with tongues, a conglomeration of languages," Paul posed a hypothetical absurdity of what would happen to the Corinth church if he came to them speaking in tongues only.

2) "What shall I profit you, except I speak to you either," (ti humas opheleso, ean me humin laleso) "What to you shall I profit, if I do not speak to you intelligently, or in a comprehending manner."

a) "By revelation" (he en apokalupsei) "By an unveiling," or by making something clear and understanding -? else there would be no help.

b) "Or by knowledge" (he en gnosei) "in" (locative)--"in the realm of human understanding" -he should make known by some" understandable means.

c) "Or by prophesying" (he en propheteio) by means of speaking forth boldly the will of God.

d) "Or by doctrine?" (he didache?) By means of orderly teaching. The idea set forth is that men must speak to men in the language men can understand to be most helpful to them.

Verse 7


1) "And even things without life giving sound," (homos ta apsucha phonen didonta) "Yet even lifeless things giving (out) a sound." Even inanimate, lifeless things with sounds that are serviceable or helpful must be intelligible,

2) "Whether pipe or harp," (eite aulos eite kithara) "Whether pipe or harp." Whether stringed or percussion instrumental sounds. When Solomon’s temple was dedicated, musical sounds were "as one," 2 Chronicles 5:12-13.

3) "Except they give a distinction in the sounds," (ean diastolen tois phthogois me ido) "If they give not a distinction in the sounds," variety, distinction, and differentiation of sounds, harmoniously put together make music, convey a message; otherwise the sounds are vexing, useless.

4) "How shall it be known what is piped or harped?" (pos gnosthesetai to auloumenon he to kitharizomenon) "How will it be known -- the thing being piped or the thing being harped?" There is no way to profit from musical sounds except they be unified in purpose. Whether they be a call to victory or retreat, praise or sorrow. In like manner tongues must be interpreted, distinct, made intelligible to the audience, else they would be useless.

Verse 8

1) "For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound," (kai gar ean adeion salpigks phonen do) "For indeed if a trumpet gives an uncertain (unintelligible) sound" - one not comprehended by the hearer. The harp and pipe, musical instruments of peace, must make distinct sounds. The warlike trumpet furnishes a stronger example.

2) "Who shall prepare himself to the battle?" (tis paraskeuasetai eis polenon) "Who will prepare himself with reference to war or polemics?" The question is rhetoric in nature; it suggests no one will prepare for war, will he? The suggested or implied answer is "No." How shocking, disastrous, should sounds of advance or retreat be unclear, in time of battle! See?

Verse 9

1) "So likewise ye," (houtos kai humeis) "So also ye," or "it is likewise important in your case," the tongues proposition. A clear signification, a clear understanding must be conveyed to and understood by the hearer if members of the church are to profit.

2) "Except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood” - (dia tes glosses ean me eusemon logon dote) "if you all give not through the tongue or language a clear or understandable word or expression."

3) "How shall it be known what is spoke ?" (pos gnosthesetai to laloumenon) "How will the thing being said be known?" Except the language (tongue) of the speaker is understood by the ear of the hearer, it is like Shakespeare’s "tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing."

4) "For ye shall speak into the air." (esesthe gar eis aera lalountes) "For you all will be speaking into the air." This is a proverbial expression like "talking to the wind," or "talking through your hat," a senseless exertion of unachieving energy.

Verse 10

1) "There are, it may be," (ei tuchoi) "There are, or exist, it may be." Ever so many voices, dialects, exist, yet the real nature, personality, difference in each is distinct.

2) "So many kinds of voices in the world." (tosauta gene phonon eisin en kosmo) kinds of sounds or voices in the world." Such therefore offers proof that clarity or distinction must exist in the makers and be understood or interpreted to the hearer, if it would profit both the speaker and hearer.

3) "And none of them is without signification." (kai ouden aphonon)- “And- not one is voiceless, or meaningless as a sound." There is no voice that is not meaningful to somebody. By man’s words he is judged for blessings or condemnation, Matthew 12:36-37.

Verse 11

1) "Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice," (ean oun me eido ten dunamin tes phones) "if therefore I know or perceive not the dynamics of the sound-voice."

2) "I shall be to him that speaketh a barbarian," (esomai to lalounti barbaros) "I shall be or exist to the one speaking, like a foreigner, heathen, or barbarian."

3) "And he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me." (kai ho lalon en emoi barbaros) "And the one speaking in (to) me shall be as a foreigner or barbarian." Though precious the message, it confuses, disturbs, obstructs, rather than helps the hearer, if there be no interpreter, Romans 1:14-15.

Verse 12

1) "Even so ye," (houtos kai humeis) "Even so or just like this ye" - members of the Corinth church, and like churches in every topographical area, the letter was to be circulated.

2) "Forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts”

(epei zelotai este pneumaton) "Since ye are all zealots of spiritual things;" zeal is becoming to every person, but it should be according to knowledge or intelligible zeal, Numbers 25:13.

3) "Seek that ye may excel" (zeteite hina perisseuete) "Seek ye in order that ye may abound, increase, or enlarge." One should pursue zeal, seek to excel in godly profitable ways, Titus 2:14.

4) "To the edifying of the church." (pros ten oikodomen tes ekklesias) "To or toward the edifying, enlarging, or building up of the church." Galatians 4:18; Revelation 3:19. Above all that Paul desired was that the brethren use spiritual gifts to the glory of God and the edification of His church, through which He is to receive continual, eternal glory, Ephesians 3:21.

Verse 13

1) "Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue," (dio ho lalon glosse) "Wherefore the one speaking in a tongue." Note: the term "unknown" is not in the original language of the Bible. The term "tongue" as a charismatic gift simply referred to one’s having a gift to speak in one of the languages he had never learned, but one usually understood by some of his acquaintances.

2) "Pray that he may interpret." (proseuchestho hina diermeneue) "Let him pray in order that or for the purpose of interpreting." To speak in another language had limited profit, except the speaker himself could then also interpret what he had said, so that all who heard might understand the thing spoken. The ideal in tongue speaking was to be able thereafter to rationally interpret the message so that all who heard might understand.

Verse 14

1) "For if I pray in an unknown tongue," lean gar proseuchomai glosse) "For if I pray in a tongue- or language." True prayer takes its rise to God in the spirit, in sincerity and in truth.

2) "My spirit prayeth," (to pneuma ’mou proseuchetai) "My spirit prays." Normal prayer goes through the spirit into conception and expression of the intellect in intelligible words, Romans 8:23-25. Public prayer without understanding of the hearer, .becomes an empty show, a vain fantasy. Even so did tongues uninterpreted, Matthew 6:2; Matthew 6:5.

3) "But my understanding is unfruitful." (ho de nous mou akarpos estin) "But my mind (in speaking) is unfruitful, barren, unproductive, or empty." It is as if only the one casting the pearls profits from the senseless, unachieving expenditure of energy. Matthew 7:6. The best fruit of the speaker is found in the profit of the hearer.

Verse 15

1) "What is it then?" (ti oun estin) "What therefore is it?" The tongue gift has been marked as inferior among the gifts, because it does not edify others and it does not reflect the speaker’s own intelligence to the hearers.

2) "I will Pray with the spirit," (proseukomai to pneumati) "I will pray with (in harmony with) the spirit." Paul asserted that he was determined to offer prayers of worship in harmony with the spirit, prayers that would be helpful to the hearers, to guide them in confession of sins, thanksgiving, gratitude, and petitions. John 4:24.

3) "And I will pray with the understanding also;” (proseukosmai de kai to noi) "And I will also pray the mind of intelligence." He was resolved to offer intelligent prayers, not flowery orations, as his Pharisee, scribe, and Sadducee acquaintances did, Matthew 6:5-7.

4) "I will sing with the spirit," (psalo to pneumati) I will sing to instrumental music in harmony, close touch with the spirit." The term (psalo) means first 1) instrumental music, and 2) second, to sing or chant in harmony with the music of psalms.

5) "And I will sing with the understanding also." (psalo de kai to noi) "And I will sing to instrumental music with intelligence, in harmony with intelligence." This is the type of singing and praise Paul commanded to be used in church worship, as he preached and instructed in the doctrine of Christ. Ephesians 5:18-20; Colossians 3:15-17.

Verse 16

1) "Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit," (epei ean euloges [en] pneumati) "Otherwise if thou shouldest bless or give thanks in harmony with the spirit" 2 Corinthians 1:22. To bless in the spirit only -without understanding - to the bystander would become frustrating not helpful.

2) “How shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned," (ho anapleron ton topon tou idiotou pos) "How should the one occupying the place of the uninstructed," This refers to the hearer who has little or no knowledge of the general pattern of Christian truth.

3) "Say Amen at thy giving of thanks " (erei to amen epi te se eucharistia) "How would he say the Amen at the point of thy giving thanks (in another language)?" Services, even prayers prayed, could not be concluded in decency and public order this way.

4) "Seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?" (epeide ti legeis ouk oiden) "Since what thou sayest he does not perceive or comprehend," (if it be in another tongue or language)? 1 Corinthians 14:34.

Verse 17

1) "For thou verily givest thanks well," (su men gar kalos eucharisteis) "For (suppose or assume) thou indeed givest thanks well." Colossians 3:17; Ephesians 5:20. Paul evaluates the devotion and maturity of the church and her members by a spiritually utilitarian or practical standard, based on actions that honor, God and helps ones fellowman.

2) "But the other is not edified." (all’ ho heteros ouk oikodomeitai) "But the other person (of another language) is not edified, enlightened, built up, or helped," 2 Peter 3:18; Acts 20:32. The abstractly beautiful, the outwardly ostentatious, is placed subordinate to the edifying in life.

Verse 18

1) "I thank my God," (eucharisto to theo) "I give or offer thanks to God." Paul used himself as an example for the brethren to follow in this matter of the charismatic desire and use of the gifts of tongues and prophecy. 1 Corinthians 9:22-27.

2) "I speak with tongues more than ye all:" (panton humon mallon glossais lalo) ’I speak in tongues more than all of you all." Rather than speak lightly of tongues or languages, Paul exalts or glories in them. As a learned scholar and international traveler he could speak five languages, plus any special charismatic one.

Verse 19

1) "Yet in the church," (alla en ekklesia) "But (strong adversative meaning instead or in contrast) in a church or church service assembly."

2) "I had rather speak five words with my understanding," (thelo pente logous to noi mou lalesai) "I much prefer to speak five words with the intelligence of mind." Paul preferred to use every day speech, depend on the Word of God, above use of a charismatic tongue.

3) "That by my voice I might teach others also," (hina kai allous latecheso) "in order that I may also instruct or catechize others (of my brethren)." The necessary inference is that charismatic speaking in tongues obstructed, impeded, or delayed general worship and praise and teaching in assembly worship. Ethics, morals, and holy service are based on teachings of the Word, not a tongue.

4) "Than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue” (he murious logous en glosse) "Than a myriad, or ten thousand, words, in a tongue (not understood by my brethren - Gk. heteros)." Paul had already admonished the Corinthian brethren to "follow him," as he followed Christ, 1 Corinthians 11:1. As he chose to recognize and use the spiritual gifts, based on their order or rank of practical benefit and use he desired to see the same in others.

Verse 20

1) "Brethren, be not children in understanding;" (adelphoi, me paidia ginesthe tais phresin) "Become ye not play-children (frivolous) in your minds, mentality, or way of thinking." The child prefers the amusing, the exciting, the spectacular, rather than the useful, lacking discriminating judgment.

2) "Howbeit in malice be ye children," (alla te kakia nepiazete) "But in the malice (disposition) be infant-like." Be quick to forgive, to overlook, and to put old grudges away, behind, remember them against one another no more, in the spirit of the Lord, Jeremiah 31:34; Hebrews 8:12; Hebrews 10:17.

3) "But in understanding be men." (However in your mentality, comprehension) become ye mature ones - grown up ones." In contrast with undiscerning childishness of mind, Paul exhorted the Corinth brethren to be mature, to be men in judgment or evaluation, in order to be most serviceable to the church and one’s fellowman. This is the practical spirit of prophecy.

Verse 21

1) "In the law it is written," (en to nomo gegraptai) "In the law it has been recorded or written" Paul alludes to Deuteronomy 28:49; Isaiah 28:11-12. The Mosaic prophesy of Deuteronomy, ’God’s purpose to warn Israel, before serious judgment through foreigners, other languages.

2) "With men of other tongues and other lips," (hobi en heterglossois kai cheilesin heteron) "That in other tongues (languages of another order or kind) and in lips (of articulation and diction) of another order or kind than their own." This was fulfilled in Gentile captivities, brought to an ultimate climax through warnings to Israel by charismatic tongues at Pentecost, Acts 2:1-47.

3) "Will I speak unto this people " (laleso to lao) "I will speak to this people." The "this people" referred to Israel, the chosen of God, before He through Christ and His church turned to the Gentiles, grafted them in.

4) "And yet for all that," (kai oud’ houtos) "And not so" (in spite of this speaking to them in another language or tongue, in fulfillment of prophecy in the law that I wrote to them); which reached its ultimate appeal on Pentecost.

5) "Will they not hear me, saith the Lord.." (eisakousontai mou, legei kurios) "Will they (not) give heed to me, says the Lord." If Israel would not give heed to or guided by God’s voice through tongues, specifically given to warn them, in addition to or supplement to the law, why should Gentiles clamor for the sensational, the flare of tongues, Paul argued.

Verse 22

1) "Wherefore tongues are for a sign,." (hoste hai glossai eis semeion eisin) "So the tongues are as a sign." In the context of Old Testament prophecies tongues were a verification of judgment upon those who had rejected prophetic modes of instruction clearly given in their own language.

2) "Not to them that believe.” (ou’ tois pisteususin) "Not to the ones believing." These Israelites had often been given over to captivities of the Babylonians, Assyrians, and Greeks, yet for all these judgments that came upon them under people of other tongues, they rejected Jesus.

3) "But to them that believe not;" (alla tois apistois) "But (in contrast they are a sign) to the ones not trusting or unbelievers." Wicked and adulterous people of Israel demanded signs, yet they in unbelief rejected the Christ in life and He spoke to them in another tongue or other tongues, charismatically at Pentecost, Matthew 16:4; Acts 2:11.

4) "But prophesying serveth not for them that believeth not.” (he de propheteia ou tois apistois) "But the gift of prophecy (is) not directed to or for the unbelievers." This gift of prophecy was helpful to the believer in witnessing and strengthening brethren of the church, because each had the spirit.

5) "But for them which believe." (alla tois pisteuosin) "But to or for the edifying of the believers." 1 Corinthians 2:12-14. The sum of the matter appears to be that the charismatic gift of tongues was ordained primarily as a "sign" to the Jews, not to the Gentiles. Those to whom the witnessing was done in Jerusalem, on Pentecost, appear to have been primarily Jews of the dispersion, from seventeen different nations and four continents, in addition to the stiff-necked of Israel in Judea and Galilee. Yet, in spite of the gift of tongues, the witnessing of the one hundred and twenty and the sermon of Peter, Acts 2:1 to Acts 3:26, most of Israel rejected the Christ.

Verse 23


1) "If therefore the whole church," (ean oun he ekklesia hole) "If therefore the whole church or assembly - all the members of the congregation." If speaking in tongues had been the highest manifestation of the spirit, as some Corinthians believed, note the consequence.

2) "Be come together into one place," (sunelthe epi to auto) "Be come together of their own accord at one place." And every member should come together for a manifest demonstration of charismatic tongue gift - Paul explained the base results as follows:

3) "And all speak with tongues," (kai pantes lalosin glossais) "And all should talk in tongues or a plurality of languages" Such clamor and confusion would hinder, not help the hearers.

4) "And there come in those that are unlearned or unbelievers." (eiselthosin de idiotai he apistoi) "And there should enter either an uninstructed person or unbelievers." Persons who needed help most. The spiritual gifts were to help, not hinder the hearers, 1 Corinthians 12:11.

5) "Will they not say that ye are mad?" (ouk erousin hoti mainesthe) "Will they not report that ye rave?" People do not put faith in maniacs, those they cannot understand. Those who come to the church for help would justly leave reporting they had been to a lunatic fringe gathering.

Verse 24

1) "But if all prophesy" and there come in one that believeth not," (ean de pantes propheteuosin eiselthe de tis apistos) "But if all should prophecy and some unbeliever should enter" - The unbelieving visitor hears common testimonies and understands.

2) "Or one unlearned," (he idiotes) "Or an unlearned, illiterate, or uninstructed person." This hypothetical condition was one of regular, frequent possibility and experience, used to emphasize the priority benefit of prophesying, over tongues speaking.

3) "He is convinced of all" (elegchetai hupo panton) "This one is touched, convinced, convicted, or helped by all or each who prophesied or spoke forth intelligent words," Acts 7:51-54; John 4:16; John 4:29; John 4:39.

4) "He is judged of all:" (anakrinetai hupo panton) "Led by the spirit of God, to witness for Christ, one’s testimony accompanied by the Spirit, touches the conscience and soul of the unsaved," puts him on trial for the consequence of his sins, and brings him face to face with God for a decision regarding his salvation, Acts 1:8; Acts 4:12.

Verse 25

1) "And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest " (ta krupta tes; kardia autou phanera ginetai) "The hidden or covert things of his heart become manifest, real or visible to him." He sees himself a sinful, accountable, needy soul before God, Romans 10:8-13.

2) "And so failing down on his face he will worship God," (kai houtos peson epi prosopon proskunesei to theo) "And so failing on his face, or bowing, humbling himself to or toward God," in posture of surrendered will and life he falls – Acts 16:25-34. To convince men that God is in her, speaking to the world is the work of the church.

3) "And report that God is in you of a truth." (Apangellon hoti ontos ho theos; en humin estin) "Announcing or heralding that truly the God is among you," Acts 8:14; Acts 11:19-21. This disposes of any question of whether the charisma of tongues or prophecy was more to be coveted. Even when one had the gift of tongues it was to be discretely used, under the following regulations:

Verse 26

1) "How is it then, brethren?" (ti oun estin adelphoi?) "What therefore is it, (the manner or purpose) dear brethren?"

2) "When ye come together, every one of you," (hotan sunerchesthe) "Whenever you all assemble, or come together, by agreement, of your own accord" (hekastos) "each of you," or "each one of you."

a) "Hath a psalm" (psalmon echei) "has a psalm, or a psalmoid instrument - a musical instrument," or a charismatic gift for a psalm.

b) "Hath a doctrine" (didachen echei) "has a teaching," or a gift of charismatic teaching, a spiritual help to teach.

c) "Hath a tongue" (glossan echei) "has a tongue or language gift" - a gift to speak in another language.

d) "Hath a revelation" (apokalupsin echei) "has an unveiling, uncovering, a disclosure from God by charismatic gift."

e) "Hath an interpretation” (ermeneian echei)

has an interpretation, a charismatic gift to interpret a message or testimony of one given in another language.

3) "Let all things be done unto edifying." (panta pros oikodomen ginestho) "Let all things be with a view to edification" (when ye come together) - not for excitement - display, or to make a show, was Paul’s appeal to the Corinthian brethren in their worship and witnessing and teaching assembly.

Verse 27

1) "If any man speak in an unknown tongue" (eite glosse lalei) "if anyone speaks in a tongue (or language) other than his own, by charismatic gift."

2) “ Let it be by two" (kata duo) "Let it be limited, to two, two persons who spoke in tongues.

3) "Or at the most by three " (he to pleiston treis) "Or at the maximum three," (at one meeting or public service).

4) "And that by course" (kai ana meros) "And one at a time (at that) or in turn" - not all confusedly speaking at once.

5) "And let one interpret." (kai eis diermeneueto)

And let one (of the) assembly interpret." The use of more than one interpreter in a service would occasion delay, confusion, or disorder.

Verse 28

1) "But if there be no interpreter.” (ean de me he diermeneutes) "But if there is not an interpreter present." The speaker in tongues was to refrain from such speaking unless it were ascertained that an interpreter was present.

2) "Let him keep silence in the church;" (sigato en ekklesia) "Let him (the tongue-charismatic) be silent, not speak in assembly." This indicates that the speaker in charismatic tongues was in control of his gift, to use or not to use.

3) "And let him speak to himself, and to God." (heauto de laleito kai to theo) "Let him speak to (communicate with) himself and God." This clearly indicates that the charismatic tongue speaker was not overwhelmed by some emotional ecstatic seizure over which he had no volitional control.

Verse 29

1) "Let the prophets speak two or three," (propatai de duo he treis laleitosan) "And let two or three prophets speak," in one service. It appears that those who spoke in tongues and interpreters had the first part of the services followed orderly by the prophets.

2) "And let the other judge." (kai hoi alloi diakrinetosan) "Arid let the others (of the prophets and congregation) discern, judge, or evaluate what the speakers have to say."

Verse 30

1) "If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by," (ean de allo aopkaluphthe kathemeno) "But if something is revealed or disclosed to another of the assembly, other than the one speaking."

2) "Let the first hold his peace." (ho protos; sigato) "Let the first in order or rank, the one speaking, be silent a moment." The speaker may not be the only person specially led by the spirit in the congregation, 1 Thessalonians 5:19-20.

Verse 31

1) "For ye may all prophesy one by one," (dunasthe gar kath’ ena pantes propheteuen) "For you are all able (just one at a time) or singly to prophesy," to speak forth in testimony and experience.

2) "That all may learn," (hina pantes manthanosin) "in order that all may learn, by sharing practical testimonies and experiences" - Each redeemed may speak forth at times to help others, Psalms 107:2.

3) "And all may be comforted." (kai pantes paraklontai) "And in order that all may be encouraged," In this type of testimony, experience, and problem sharing hour, as prophets spoke, all members of the congregation might share, Matthew 5:15-16; 2 Corinthians 1:3-4; Philippians 2:1.

Verse 32

1) "And the spirits of the prophets. " (kai pneumata propheton) "And spirits of prophets," The charisma of prophecy, as all charismatic gifts, distributed by the Holy Spirit, was to be used for edifying the church body.

2) "Are subject to the prophets." (prophetais hupotassetai) "Are under control of or subject to (the) prophets." And this gift, like all divinely distributed gifts, was under the control and responsibility of the will or volition of the possessor, 1 Corinthians 12:4; 1 Corinthians 12:11; 1 Corinthians 14:34; Psalms 39:2-3.

Verse 33

1) "For God is not the author of confusion. " (ou gar estin akatastasias he theos) "For God is not the author or instigator of a tumult or confusion of chattering." God is a God of order, not an originator or contributor to disorder.

2) "But of peace," (alla erenes) "But he is the author, instigator, or originator of peace," Our Lord left His peace with His saints, His church, John 14:27; John 16:33; men are admonished by Paul to pursue things that make for peace, Romans 14:19; 1 Thessalonians 5:13; Hebrews 12:14.

3) "As in all churches of the saints." (hos en pasais tais ekklesiais ton hagion) "As in all the assemblies, congregations, or churches of the saints." All peace that men have comes from faith in and obedience to Jesus Christ, Romans 5:1. And the greatest degree of peace in soul and life may be realized in the service of the Lord, in church-assembly fellowships of saints. Ephesians 3:21; John 20:21-22.

Verse 34

1) "Let Your women keep silence in the churches:" (hai gunaikes en tais ekklesiais sigatosan) "Let the women in the churches or assemblies be silent." The exhortation to silence seems to concern two things: 1) teaching in any sense of usurping authority over men, and 2) speaking in tongues, in contrast with prophesying, or speaking forth.

2) "For it is not permitted unto them to speak;" (ou gar epitrepetai autais lalein) "Because it is not permitted for them to speak." This appears to exclude the a) tongues speaking or interpreting and teaching in the sense of usurping authority over men, 1 Timothy 2:12. It does not seem to exclude them from praying or prophesying, witnessing, 1 Corinthians 11:5; 1 Corinthians 14:31.

3) "But they are commanded to be under obedience." (alla hupotassesthosen) "But let them be subject," Subjection, modesty, and obedience as the weaker vessel, to the husband in the home and men in public worship leadership, is sanctioned throughout the Scriptures, Genesis 3:16; Ephesians 5:22; Ephesians 5:24; Colossians 3:18; Titus 2:5; 1 Peter 3:1-7.

4) "As also saith the law." (kathos kai ho nomos legei) "Just as the law also says." Genesis 3:16; 1 Corinthians 11:3. The woman’s veil or head covering was an Old and New Testament symbol of obedience or subjection to the husband. While Christians are not under the Law of Moses, the principle of woman’s subjection to man in the home life and church role of teaching leadership, seems to be Divinely directed. This liberty of man is, however, not to be used as an occasion to the flesh, Galatians 5:13; Ephesians 5:22-24; Ephesians 5:28; Ephesians 5:33; 1 Peter 3:7.

It appears that the New Testament approves that Christian women may 1) pray in public worship, 1 Corinthians 11:5; 1 Corinthians 2) prophecy or speak forth witnessing in public worship, 1 Corinthians 11:5; 1 Corinthians 14:31; 1 Corinthians 3) play musical instruments and sing in public worship, Ephesians 5:18-19; Colossians 3:15-16; 1 Corinthians 14:26. The two things specifically forbidden for women were 1) speaking in tongues and 2) public teaching that would usurp authority in any way over man, 1 Timothy 2:12.

Verse 35

1) " And if they will learn any thing," (ei de ti mathein thelousin) "Yet, if they have a strong will to learn a thing," If a genuine desire to learn is the motive of their speaking up in the church assembly - this recognizes a possible strong will of a woman to learn.

2) "Let them ask their husbands at home:" (en oiko tous idious andras eperotatosan) "Let them inquire of their own husbands at or in their homes." Paul laid down their speaking at all church services. Women were not as generally knowledgeable or educated as today, nor were they as apt to understand other languages as their husbands.

3) "For it is a shame." (aischron gar estin) Because it is a shame or scandal," Women by simple custom were not recognized as public teachers or leaders in either secular or religious assemblies. To assume such an attitude was scandalous.

4) "For women to speak in the church." (gunaiki lalein en ekklesia) "To or for a woman to speak in an assembly, congregation, or church assembly." This order was given as a general, predominating principle of Divine and secular sanction, for church worship and polity or government. Note the exclusion of their speaking was relative, not absolute. It was relative to 1) usurping authority in teaching over men in the church activity and 2) to speaking in tongues, which required that either the tongue speaker be able to interpret what he had said or that an interpreter be present. The exclusion of speaking and direction of silence was not absolute, else they could not pray, sing, testify, or request a prayer or audibly be heard in worship, which position would contradict other divine orders, instructions and precedences of New Testament worship and service.

Verse 36

1) "What? came the word of God out from you?" (e aph’ humin ho logos tou theou ekselthen) "Did the Word of God come from you?" This is a tone of chiding, of indignant protest, that Paul offers io the presumptuous brethren of Corinth.

2) "Or came it unto you only?" (e eis humas monos katentesen) "Or did it reach you all only?" Do you assume to know everything, all the will of God; and that you only have a franchise on current divine knowledge? the apostle reprimands.

Verse 37

1) "If any man thinketh himself to be a prophet, or spiritual," (ei tis dokei propetes einai e pneumatikos) "if anyone thinks or seems (himself) a prophet or spiritual man to be" A high value of self-esteem or self-estimation had been assumed by some of the brethren, Romans 12:5.

2) "Let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you." (epiginosketo ha grapho humin)” Let him clearly recognize that the things which I write to you all," The true prophet of God, having a kindred spirit with true prophets, speaks harmoniously with others, not contradictory, and will know welI of Divine things, John 7:17; John 8:31.

3) "Are the commandments of the Lord." (hoti kuriou entole) "that they are commandments of the Lord," or what the Lord commands. This is a firm, direct claim to inspiration, by the superintending Holy Spirit, charismatic gift direction and control, under which Paul wrote this Corinth letter, to correct errors of moral and ethical nature and actions among the Corinth brethren, and to instruct them in proper conduct of daily life and service and public worship and service, 1 Corinthians 2:10-16; 1 Corinthians 7:40.

Verse 38

1) "But if any man be ignorant," (ei de tis agnoei) "But if anyone is ignorant." This ignorance concerns the fact of Paul’s claim to be writing by inspiration as God had commended him. One who would not recognize his apostolic and prophetic instructions was to be considered as a false prophet.

2) "Let him be ignorant," (agnoeitai) "Let him be ignorant." Treat him as an ignorant person, ignore or reject him and his claims. Many shall be cast out by our Lord who had claimed to prophecy in His name, Matthew 7:21-23; 1 John 4:1; 3 John 1:9-12.

Verse 39

1) "Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy”(hoste adelphoi mou, zelouete to propheteuein) "So then, my brethren, be ye eager or zealous to prophecy" To prophecy, to speak forth constructively, to edify, is better than merely tongue speaking, 1 Corinthians 14:1.

2) "And forbid not to speak with tongues." (kai to lalein me koluete glossais) "And do not forbid to speak in tongues or languages" The lesser in practical value of the two specific charismatic gifts - (tongues and prophecy) discussed as the particular theme of this chapter. Prophecy is encouraged, but tongues were permitted, recognized as helpful under restrictions of 1 Corinthians 14:13; 1 Corinthians 14:28.

Verse 40

1) "Let all things be done" (panta de ginestho) "And let all things (kind of things, charismatics, subject matter of the last three chapters) be done, carried on, effected.

2) "Decently and in order" (euschemonos kai kata taksin) "Becomingly, or decently and according to order." The God of order, whom men worship, desires orderly worship, and the spiritual gifts of 1 Corinthians 12:1 to 1 Corinthians 14:40 were given to aid, not confuse that worship, 1 Corinthians 7:35; 1 Corinthians 11:34; John 4:24.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 14". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/1-corinthians-14.html. 1985.
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