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Bible Commentaries

International Critical Commentary NT

1 Corinthians 14

Verses 1-99

14:1-40. THE SUBJECT OF SPIRITUAL GIFTS CONCLUDED

In ch. 12 the human body was given as an instructive illustration of a Christian Church. In 13 it was shown that the principle which ought to quicken and regulate every member of the Church is love. In 14 the influence of this principle is traced in the selection of the gifts that are most useful to the whole body, and also in the manner of employing them. Following after love does not impede the desire for special gifts, but it regulates it. The love which seeks not its own advantage must prefer a gift which benefits all to one which is a delight and a help to no one but its possessor. Not that the latter is to be despised; God does not bestow worthless gifts: but it is possible to mar any gift by misusing it.

The chapter has four divisions: (1) Prophesying or inspired preaching is superior to Tongues, both in reference to believers and to unbelievers, 1-25. (a) Regulations for the orderly exercise of these two gifts in Christian assemblies, 26-33. (3) Regulations respecting women, 34-36. (4) Conclusion of the subject, 37-40.

In the first and main portion of the chapter the superiority of inspired preaching to Tongues is stated at once (2-5); and this is supported by two series of arguments (6-11 and 14-19) connected with two exhortations (12, 13). The whole chapter shows that ‘prophesying’ is not the gift of prediction, but that of preaching; and that ‘Tongues’ are not foreign languages, but a mode of utterance different from all human language.

The main result of the chapter is that, just as it is love which gives value to character and conduct (13.), so it is love which teaches the true value and proper use of the charismata. See Zahn, Introd. to N.T. 1. p. 280.

You are right in desiring these supernatural gifts, but take care that you do so from the right motive; and the right motive is love. Those gifts which benefit others are to be preferred to those which glorify ourselves; hence inspired preaching is more to be desired than Tongues. In the congregation, Tongues (unless interpreted at once) are a hindrance to worship. Even the experienced cannot join in devotions which they do not understand, while the inexperienced or the unbelievers, if any be present, are lost in contemptuous amazement. But inspired preaching is a great help to all who hear it, whether believing or unbelieving.

Unless an interpreter is present, Tongues should be exercised in private. In public worship, all who are inspired to preach may do so in turn, and the whole Church, including themselves, will be the gainer.

This does not apply to women. So far from preaching, they ought not even to ask questions.

In all matters of public worship decorum and order must be studied.

1 What you have to do, therefore, is persistently to strive to make this love your own, while you continue to long to have the gifts of the Spirit, and especially to be inspired to preach. 2 For he who speaks in a Tongue is speaking, not to men, but to God, for no man can understand one who in a state of rapture is speaking mystic secrets. 3 It is otherwise with one who is inspired to preach: he does speak to men, and to good purpose,—words of faith to build them up, words of hope to quicken them, words of love to hearten and console. 4 Not that Tongues are useless; one who exercises this gift may build up his own spiritual life by it: but the inspired preacher builds up the spiritual life of the Church. 5 Now I could wish that you should all have the gift of Tongues; but I would greatly prefer that you should be inspired to preach, this being far more important, unless, of course, the Tongues should at once be interpreted, so that the Church may thereby receive spiritual advantage. 6 But, Brethren, seeing that Tongues without explanation are useless, suppose that, when next I visit you, I speak with Tongues, what good shall I do you, if I shall fail to explain to you some glimpse of the unseen or some knowledge of truth, the one to inspire you, the other to instruct you? 7 Why, there are instruments which, although lifeless, make a sound,—a pipe, for instance, or a harp; yet if they make no distinction in the notes, how is one to know the tune which the pipe or the harp is playing? 8 A trumpet-blast is a still stronger instance: if that gives an uncertain sound, who will get ready for battle? 9 It is just the same with you: if with your tongue you do not make intelligible speech, how is one to know what you are saying? For you might as well be saying it to the winds. 11 Well, then, if I show that I do not understand the meaning of the language used, the person who speaks to me will conclude that I talk gibberish, just as from my point of view he is talking gibberish to me; and we both wish that we could talk to some advantage. 12 It is just the same with you: seeing that you are so enthusiastic for inspirations, let it be for the spiritual advantage of the Church that you seek to abound in them. 13 Therefore he that speaks in a Tongue should pray that he may be able to interpret what he utters. 14 For if I am praying in a Tongue, it is quite true that my spirit is praying, but my understanding is doing no good. 15 What does that imply? I must go on praying with the spirit, that, of course, for my own sake: but for the sake of others I must pray with the understanding also. I must sing with the spirit, but I must sing with the understanding also. 16 Else, suppose that you are blessing God in ecstasy, how is he who has no experience of such things to say the Amen at your giving of thanks, seeing that he does not know what you are saying? 17 For although you are giving thanks beautifully, yet the other is getting no spiritual advantage. 18 I thank God I have the gift of Tongues in a higher degree than all of you. 19 Nevertheless, in public worship I would rather speak five words with my understanding, and thereby give others also some solid instruction, than thousands and thousands of words in an ecstatic Tongue.

20 My brethren, do not behave as if you were still children in mind: and it is childish to prefer what glitters to what does good. Of course, in jealousy and ill-will be children, nay, be very babes; but in mind behave as full-grown men. 21 In the great Prophet of the old Covenant it stands written that, because Israel would not obey God’s word spoken in language which they could understand, thay would be punished in being conquered by Assyrians whose language they could not understand, and that even this sign would fail to teach them obedience. 22 This shows us that unintelligible Tongues are a sign, not of course to those who believe, but to those who fail to do so; while inspired preaching is for the benefit, not of those who do not believe, but of those who do. 23 Consequently, if, when you all meet together in one place for public worship, you one after another do nothing but speak with Tongues, and there come in those who have no experience of such things,—and still more so if unbelievers come in,—will they not say that you must be mad? 24 Whereas, if one after another you utter inspired teaching, and there comes in an unbeliever,—and still more so if an inexperienced brother comes in,—by preacher after preacher he is convinced of his sinfulness, his heart is searched, 25 its secret evils are revealed to him, and the blessed result will be that he humbles himself before God and man, and from that moment proclaims that, little as he thought so till then, it is God who is with you.

26 How then does the matter stand, Brethren? Whenever you meet together for worship, each of you is ready to manifest some gift,—to sing a song of praise, to give instruction, to reveal a truth, to utter a Tongue, or to interpret one. By all means exercise the gifts with which you have been endowed, always provided that they are exercised to build up the spiritual life of others and not to glorify yourselves. 27 If those who speak with Tongues are preferred, let only two, or at most three, speak in any one meeting, and one at a time, and let one interpreter serve for each. 28 But if no interpreter be present, let whoever has this gift be silent in public worship, and exercise it in private between himself and God. 29 And of those who are inspired to preach, let two or three speak in each meeting, and let the rest of them exercise the gift of discernment as to what is being spoken. 30 But if a revelation be made to one of those who thus sit listening, let the preacher give place to him. 31 For he can stop and be silent, and in this way it will be in the power of all of the inspired to preach one by one, so that all, whether inspired or not, may learn something and be quickened. 32 Yes, he can stop: an inspired man’s spirit is under the inspired man’s control, for the God who inspires him is a God, not of turbulence, but of peace. This holds good of all the assemblies of His people.

34 When I say that all in turn may preach, I do not include your wives. They must keep silence in the assemblies. Utterance, whether in a Tongue or in preaching, is not allowed to them, for this would violate the rule of subjection which has been imposed upon them since the Fall. 35 Even their asking questions, which might seem to be compatible with subjection, cannot be allowed in the assemblies. Let them ask their own husbands at home, and the husbands can ask in the assembly. It is shameful for a woman to speak there. 36 Perhaps you think that you have the right to do as you please in such matters. What? are you the Mother-Church, or the only Church, that you make such claims?

37 If any one claims to be inspired as a preacher or in any other way, let him give evidence of his inspiration by recognizing that what I am writing to you is inspired; it is the Lord’s command. 38 But it any one fails to recognize this, I have no more to say. God deals with such. 39 So then, my Brethren, the sum of the whole discussion is this. Long earnestly to be inspired to preach, and if any one has the gift of Tongues, do not forbid him to use it. But let everything be done in accordance with natural feelings of propriety as well as established rule.

1. Διώκετε τὴν�Romans 9:30, Romans 9:31, Romans 9:14:19; 1 Thessalonians 5:15, etc.) ‘the more excellent way,’ and to desire with intensity (12:31, 14:39; 2 Corinthians 11:2; Galatians 4:17) supernatural gifts; but (more than all the rest) that they may be inspired to preach. The ἵνα is definitive, not telic. For the other meaning of ζηλοῦν, ‘boil with envy and hatred,’ comp. 13:4. Love is a grace, which all Christians by earnest endeavour can attain. Prophesying, Tongues, etc. are gifts, which may be eagerly desired, but which no amount of effort can secure. Those alone receive them to whom they are given (12:11). The Apostle assures them that his praise of love does not mean that the gifts are to be despised. But no man is made morally the better by a gift, for character depends upon personal effort. Yet the gifts may be instruments of personal improvement, as well as of service to others, although the latter is of higher importance: hence μᾶλλον δὲ ἵνα προφητεύητε. For ζηλοῦτε see Mayor on James 4:2, p. 128.*

2. ‘For he who speaketh in a Tongue, not to men doth he speak, but to God, for no man heareth him (to any purpose). This meaning of�Acts 9:7 and 22:9. In the one place the men hear the voice; in the other they did not hear the voice of Him who was speaking to Saul, i.e. they heard a sound but did not hear it as words addressed to any one. Also in the story of Babel; Συγχέωμεν ἐκεῖ αὐτῶν τὴν γλῶσσαν, ἵνα μὴ�Genesis 11:7; comp. 42:23). Verse after verse shows that speaking in foreign languages cannot be meant. Tongues were used in communing with God, and of course this was good for those who did so (v. 4). Tongues were a sort of spiritual soliloquy addressed partly to self, partly to Heaven. Compare the proverb, Sibi canit et Musis. It is equally clear that οὐδεὶς�

πνεύματι δὲ λαλεῖ μυστήρια. ‘As it is in the spirit that he speaketh what are in effect mysteries.’ Explanatory use of δέ; not uncommon after a negative, but in v. 4 without a negative. ‘In the spirit,’ but not ‘with the understanding’ (v. 14), and therefore unintelligible to others. Μυστήριον in the N.T. commonly means ‘truth about God, once hidden, but now revealed.’ In this sense it is very common in St Paul: see Lightfoot on Colossians 1:26 and Swete on Mark 4:2; Beet on 1 Corinthians 3:4, p. 40. Mysteries must be revealed to be profitable; but in the case of Tongues without an interpreter there was no revelation, and therefore no advantage to the hearers. See Hatch, Essays in Bibl. Grk. pp. 57 f.

3. ὁ δὲ προφητεύων. ‘Whereas he who exerciseth the gift of prophesying does speak to men, what is in effect edification and exhortation and consolation.’ With λαλεῖ οἰκοδομήν comp. κρίμα ἐσθίει and τοῦτό μου ἐστὶ τὸ σῶμα (11:24, 29): in each case ‘what is in effect’ is the meaning. The metaphorical sense of οἰκοδομή, ‘building up the spiritual life,’ is peculiar to St Paul in the N.T., in Rom., 1 and 2 Cor., and Eph.: elsewhere (Matthew 24:1; Mark 13:1, Mark 13:2) of actual buildings or edifices. Παράκλησις, ‘a calling near,’ is sometimes ‘supplication’ (2 Corinthians 8:4), ‘exhortation’ (Philippians 2:1), ‘consolation’ (2 Corinthians 1:4-7) or a combination of the last two, ‘encouragement’ (Hebrews 6:18, Hebrews 12:5). ‘Exhortation’ or ‘encouragement’ is right here. ‘Consolation’ or ‘comfort’ must be reserved for παραμυθία, which occurs nowhere else in the N.T.; in the LXX, Wisd. 19:12. But in Philippians 2:1 we have παραμύθιον coupled with παράκλησις, and in 1 Thessalonians 2:11 we have παρακαλοῦντες καὶ παραμυθούμενοι. Prophesying was the power of seeing and making known the nature and will of God, a gift of insight into truth and of power in imparting it, and hence a capacity for building up men’s characters, quickening their wills, and encouraging their spirits. The three are co-ordinate: not build up by quickening and encouraging, nor build up and quicken in order to encourage. Compare Barnabas = ‘son of prophecy’ = υἱὸς παρακλήσεως (Acts 4:36). Exhortatio tollit tarditatem, adhortatio timiditatem. See W. E. Chadwick, The Pastoral Teaching of St Paul, ch. ix.; Weinel, St Paul, 113 f.


4. ὁ λαλῶν γλώσσῃ ἑαυτὸν οἰκοδομεῖ. By communing with God in supernatural language the man who spoke in a Tongue built up himself. But, as Chrysostom says, What a difference between one person and the Church! Although there is no τήν before ἐκκλησίαν, ‘the Church’ is nearer the meaning than ‘a Church’ or ‘a congregation’; yet either of the latter is admissible. See Alford and Ellicott, ad loc. But there is no sarcasm; se ipsum aedificat, ut ipse quidem putat; sibi placet. Revera autem neminem aedificat.

In both v. 2 and v. 4, D E with Arm. and other authorities have γλώσσαις for γλώσσῃ. Some (A E K L) insert τῷ before Θεῷ in v. 2, but here none insert τήν before ἐκκλησίαν.

5. θέλω δὲ πάντας ὑμᾶς λαλεῖν γλώσσαις, μᾶλλον δὲ ἵνα προφητεύητε. The change from the infinitive to ἵνα is perhaps meant to make the wish more intense; but this is sufficiently expressed by the μᾶλλον. See J. H. Moulton, Gr. p. 208. Nowhere else does St Paul use θέλω ἵνα, but it is not rare (Matthew 7:12; Mark 6:25, Mark 6:9:30; Luke 6:31; John 17:24): in such cases the telic force is lost, and the ἵνα gives the object of the wish. ‘Now I wish that all of you might speak with Tongues, yet I wish still more that ye should prophesy; as (δέ as in v. 2) greater is he,’ etc. The ‘for’ of AV. is a little too pronounced, but is defensible, even without γάρ for δέ: see below. The Corinthians are exhorted ne, praepostero zelo, quod praecipuum est minoribus postponant (Calv.). As M. Aurelius (viii. 59) says, “Men are made for one another.” As for the unsatisfactory ones, “either teach them better or put up with them.”


The apodosis (τί ὑμᾶς ὠφελήσῶ;) is placed between two protases, which are co-ordinate, the second, on the negative side, being complementary to the first, on the positive side; ‘If I come speaking with Tongues, instead of speaking either in the way of revelation,’ etc.

ἐκτὸς εἰ μὴ διερμηνεύῃ. Pleonastic combination of ἐκτὸς εἰ and εἰ μή: ‘with this exception, unless he interpret’; comp. 15:2; 1 Timothy 5:19. The man who spoke in a Tongue might also have the gift of interpreting Tongues, and si accedat interpretatio, jam exit prophetia (Calv.). The δια- in διερμηνεύειν may indicate either ‘being a go-between’ or ‘thoroughness.’ One who interprets his own words intervenes between unintelligible utterance and the hearers: comp. 13, 27, 12:30.



μείζων δέ (א A B P, Copt.) is to be prefered to μείζων γάρ (D F K L, Latt. Syrr. Arm. Aeth.). Nisi forte interpretetur (Vulg.), ‘unless possibly he should interpret,’ is not exact: this would require ἐάν. Omit forte: the εἰ intimates that his interpreting decides the point. It would be known that he possessed the gift of interpretation. On ἐκτὸς εἰ μή see Deissmann, Bible Studies, p. 118, and on εἰ with the subjunctive see J. H. Moulton, Gr. i. p. 187, and Ellicott on 1 Corinthians 9:11. where some good texts have θερίσωμεν. This is the only sure instance in the N.T., and it means that his subsequent interpretation is regarded as quite possible.


6. The first of a series of three arguments, drawn from their experience of him as a teacher. They are hoping to see him again. What good would he do them, if all that they got from him was ecstatic language, in which he excelled, but which they would not understand. To do them good he must speak intelligible language, of which he gives four examples in pairs that correspond: revelation is imparted by inspired preaching, and knowledge by doctrine; i.e.�

‘But, as it is (seeing that without interpretation there can be no general edification), if I should come unto you (16:3) speaking in Tongues, what shall I profit you (Galatians 5:2)? What shall I profit you, unless I should speak to you either in the way of revelation?’ etc. See the paraphrase above.

νῦν (א A B D* F G P) rather than νυνί (E K L). The νῦν is logical, as in 5:11, 7:14, 12:18, 20, and as νυνί in 13:13, not temporal; and in the construction of the verse τί ὑμᾶς ὠφ. is virtually repeated. ‘Teaching,’ the act of giving instruction,’ is better than ‘doctrine’ (AV.) for διδαχή: ‘doctrine’ would be διδασκαλία (Ephesians 4:14; Colossians 2:22; 1 Timothy 1:10, etc.). But the distinction is not always observed.

7. Second argument, from the sounds of inanimate instruments. What use would they be, if the notes were indistinguishable? The αὐλός (here only in N.T.) and κιθάρα (Revelation 14:2) are given as representatives of all wind and stringed instruments. They were the commonest in use at banquets, funerals, and religious ceremonies. The music must be different, if it is to guide people to be joyous, or sorrowful, or devout. Soulless instruments can be made to speak a language, but not if all the notes are alike.

‘Yet things without life giving a voice, whether pipe or harp, if they should give no distinction to the sounds, how shall be known what is piped and what is harped?’ AV. has ‘sound’ for both φωνή and φθόγγος, and both AV. and RV. ignore the repetition of the τό. Except for Romans 10:18, φθόγγοις might be translated ‘notes.’ Perhaps, as in Galatians 3:15, the ὅμως is attracted out of its place, and the sentence is meant to run—‘Inanimate things, although giving a voice, yet, unless,’ etc. Ἄψυχος occurs Wisd. 13:17, 14:29, but nowhere else in N.T.

In Judith 14:9 we have ἔδωκεν φωνήν, and in Wisd. 19:18, ὤσπερ ἐν ψαλτηρίῳ φθόγγοι τοῦ ῥυθμοῦ τὸ ὄνομα διαλλάσσουσιν. For τοῖς φθόγγοις א A D E K L P, Vulg.), B, d e Arm., Ambrst. have φθόγγου, and for δῷ (א A B D*), E F L P have διδῷ. See Matthew 24:31; Revelation 14:2, Revelation 18:22 for φωνή, of musical sound; and Romans 3:22, Romans 10:12 for διαστολή as meaning ‘distinction’ and not ‘interval’ (διάστημα). But in music the difference of meaning is not great.


8. Another and stronger illustration. Of all musical sounds the military trumpet is the most potent, and far clearer than pipe or lyre. If sound is to be a signal, it must differ from other sounds.

‘For if a trumpet also should give an uncertain voice, who will make ready for battle?’* The context makes ‘battle’ more probable than ‘war.’ In Homer and Hesiod the meaning of ‘battle’ is commonest (Il. 7:174 of a duel), in class. Grk. that of ‘war.’ Cf. Numbers 10:9; Jeremiah 50:42; Ezekiel 7:14. In the Synoptists, ‘war’ is the better translation. In James 4:1 πόλεμοι καὶ μάχαι means bitter quarrels between individuals. Compare Clem. Rom. Cor. 46. On military signals with trumpets see Smith, Dict. Ant. ‘Exercitus,’ 1. p. 801; ‘Tuba,’ 2. p. 901. For ἄδηλος see the unmarked graves, τὰ μνημεῖα τὰ ἄδηλα (Luke 11:44): the word is found nowhere else in N.T. and is rare in LXX. Here, ἄδηλον σάλπ. φων. is the right order, and also the most effective.


9. If the military trumpet is more potent than pipe or lyre, still more expressive is the human tongue; but that also can produce sounds which convey no meaning.

‘So also ye, unless by means of the tongue ye give speech that is distinct, how shall it be known what is spoken?’ The tongue here means the organ of speech, not the ecstatic Tongue, which never gave εὔσημον λόγον, but rather what was ἄσημον, excepting to one who had the gift of interpretation. Εὔσημος (here only, but classical) means ‘well-marked,’ ‘definite,’ ‘significant.’ Origen suggests that this text intimates that the obscure portions of Scripture, such as the account of the sacrifices in Leviticus and of the Tabernacle in Exodus, ought not to be read in public worship, unless some one explains their meaning.

ἔσεσθε γὰρ εἰς�

τοσαῦτα, εἰ τύχοι, γένη φωνῶν … καὶ οὐδὲν ἄφωνον. ‘There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices (Genesis 11:1, Genesis 11:7) in the world, and no kind (of course) is voiceless’ (12:2; Acts 8:32). But here ἄφωνος does not mean ‘dumb’ but, what may be worse, ‘unintelligible.’ Voiceless voice, i.e. meaningless sound, had better be inaudible; it is mere distracting noise. This was just the case with Tongues in a congregation without an interpreter. Wetstein gives many examples of εἰ τύχοι, ‘if it so happens,’ or ‘I dare say.’ It implies that the number is large, but that the exact number does not matter: ‘There are, I dare say, ever so many kinds.’ For ἐν κόσμῳ without the article, ‘in existence,’ comp. 8:4; 2 Corinthians 5:19.† Probably γένος is to be understood with ουδέν: to say that nothing is without a voice of some kind would hardly be true. But the Vulg. takes it so; nihil sine voce est; nihil horum mutum (Calv.); nihil est mutum (Beza); which moreover destroys the oxymoron in φωνὴ ἄφωνος: comp. χάρις ἄχαρις, βίος ἄβιος or�


No doubt ἐστίν (K L Chrys. Thdrt.) is a grammatical correction of εἰσίν (א A B D E F G P); but the plural is deliberate, to emphasize the number of different kinds. A few authorities insert τῷ before κόσμῳ, αὐτῶν after οὐδέν, and ἐστίν after ἄφωνον: in all cases א* A B P with other witnesses omit.

11. All kinds of languages met at commercial Corinth with its harbours on two seas, and difference of language was a frequent barrier to common action. Moreover, it was well known how exasperating it could be for two intelligent persons to be unintelligible to one another. Yet the Corinthians were introducing these barriers and provocations into Christian worship, and all for the sake of display!

ἐὰν οὖν μὴ εἰδῶ … ἐν ἐμοὶ βάρβαρος. ‘Unless, therefore, I know the meaning of the voice, I shall be to him who speaks to me a barbarian, and he who speaks will in my estimation be a barbarian.’ The second result is more obvious than the first; but the Apostle assumes that the foreigner sees quite plainly that his words are not understood. Comp. Romans 1:14; Colossians 3:11; Acts 28:2, Acts 28:4. Βάρβαρος, like ‘gibberish,’ is probably meant to imitate unintelligible sounds. AV., with D E F G, Latt. Syrr. Copt. Arm., Chrys, omits the ἐν before ἐμοί: ‘unto me.’ Compare Hdt. ii. 158; Ovid, Trist. v. 10, 11; and see J. H. Moulton, p.103.

12. οὕτως καὶ ὑμεῖς … ἵνα περισσεύητε. ‘So also ye (v. 9), seeing that ye are earnestly desirous of spiritual manifestations (enthusiastic after spirits), let it be for the edifying of the Church that ye seek to abound.’ The Corinthians were eager for these brilliant charismata. St Paul does not blame them, but charges them to have a right motive for desiring them, viz, the building up of others rather than their own gratification. Origen says that the way to increase one’s charismata is to use them for the good of others: otherwise the gifts may wane. Cf. Philo, De Decalogo, 105. For οὕτως see 6:5, 8:12; for ζηλωταί, Galatians 1:14; Acts 22:3; for πνευμάτων in this sense, 12:10; for the inversion of order for the sake of emphasis, 3:5, 7:17; Romans 12:3. Some would translate; ‘For the edifying of the Church seek (them), that ye may abound (in them).’ This is not so probable as the other. There is perhaps a touch of irony or of rebuke in ‘seeing that ye are so eager for.’ This exhortation closes the first series of arguments. The next verse (13) is a corollary from πρὸς τὴν οἰκοδομὴν …, and leads to the second series.

13. Διὸ ὁ λαλῶν γλώσσῃ προσευχέσθω ἵνα διερμηνεύῃ. ‘It follows from this (12:3; Galatians 4:31, etc.) that he who speaks in a Tongue should pray that he may interpret,’ i.e. have the gift of interpretation also. This prayer might precede or follow the ecstatic speech. The verse does not necessarily mean ‘Let him in his ecstasy pray that he may be allowed to interpret’; still less, ‘Let him in his ecstasy pray in such a way as to make his utterance intelligible.’ It was characteristic of glossolalia that the speaker could not make his speech intelligible; and apparently he had no control over the sounds that he uttered, although he could abstain from uttering them. It does not follow that, because we have προσεύχωμαι γλώσσῃ in v. 14, therefore γλώσσῃ is to be understood with προσευχέσθω in v. 13: γλώσσῃ is indispensable in v. 14. Διό is found in all groups of the Pauline Epp., except the Pastorals, and is specially frequent in this group.


14. First argument of the second series. The gift of Tongues is inferior to other gifts, because in it the reason has no control; and the Apostle has misgivings about devotions in which the reason has no part (v. 19). Strange that Corinthians should need to be told that intellect is not to be ignored, but ought to be brought to full development (v. 20). “Feeling is a precious gift; but when men parade it and give way to it, it is weakness instead of strength” (F.W. Robertson, Corinthians, p. 228).

ἐὰν γὰρ προσεύχωμαι γλώσσῃ. ‘For if ever I pray in a Tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful,’ because it does no good to others. There is no οἰκοδομή for the congregation, because what he utters is not framed by his intellect to convey any meaning to them. Hilary says that Latins sometimes sang Greek songs for the mere pleasure of the sound, without understanding what they sang. Note that it is the πνεῦμα, not the ψυχή, that prays; and prayer here includes praise and thanksgiving. The preacher’s fruit is to be sought in the hearer’s progress, not in his own delight or in their admiration of his gift. Aristotle (Eth. Nic. iv. iii. 33) speaks of τὰ καλὰ καὶ ἄκαρπα, objects of beauty which do not pay, though they delight all and dignify the possessor. For νοῦς see Luke 24:45; Revelation 13:18, Revelation 17:9.

15. τί οὖν ἐστίν; ‘What then is the outcome?’ How do we stand after this discussion (v. 26; Romans 3:9, Romans 3:6:15; Acts 21:22) as to the conditions of being of use to others in one’s devotions? Unreasoning emotionalism will not do. ‘I will pray with the spirit (that of course); but I will pray with the understanding also,’ so as to be able to edify others: ‘I will sing praise with the spirit, but,’ etc. There is no thought here of liturgical music; it is the individual spontaneously using a special gift in the congregation; “impromptu utterance of sacred song” (Beet). Comp. Ephesians 5:19; Colossians 3:16: ψάλλω originally meant playing on a stringed instrument; then singing to the harp or lyre; finally, singing without accompaniment, especially singing praise—τῷ κυρίῳ, τῷ ὀνόματι αὐτοῦ κ.τ.λ. It is possible that the ecstatic utterances sometimes took the form of an inarticulate chant, songs without intelligible words or definite melody. Compare ψάλατε συνετῶς (Psalms 47:8).


16. Second argument. Tongues are a stumbling-block to the ungifted, for ineffable emotion is a hindrance rather than a help to those who witness it.

‘For else, if ever thou art blessing God in spirit,’ i.e. thanking Him in ecstasy, ‘how shall he who occupies the place of the ungifted say the (usual) Amen after thy giving of thanks, seeing that he knows not what thou art saying?’ You may be engaged in the highest kind of devotion, nobilissima species orandi (Beng.), but it conveys no meaning to those who cannot interpret the language used. It is obvious that εὐχαριστία here cannot mean the Eucharist. The minister at that service would not speak in a Tongue. Nor is it probable that in ‘the Amen’ there is indirect reference to the Eucharist. The use of the responsive Amen at the end of the prayers, and especially of the reader’s doxology, had long been common in the synagogues (Nehemiah 5:13, Nehemiah 5:8:6; 1 Chronicles 16:36; Psalms 106:48), and had thence passed into the Christian Church, where it at once became a prominent feature (Justin M. Apol. 1. 65; Tertul. De Spectac. 25; Cornelius Bishop of Rome in Eus. H.E. vi. xliii. 19; Chrys. ad loc.), especially at the end of the consecration prayer in the Eucharist. So common did it become at the end of every prayer in Christian worship that the Jews, it is said, began to abandon it; Jerome says that it was like thunder. The Rabbis gave similar instructions about the ἰδιώτης: the language should be such as he can understand. Hastings, DCG. 1. p. 51, DB. 1. p. 80; Dalman, The Words of Jesus, p. 226. In the LXX the Hebrew word is retained in the responsive passages (Nehemiah 5:13, Nehemiah 5:8:6; 1 Chronicles 16:36; 1Ch_1 Esdr. 9:47; Tobit 8:8), but in the Psalms and elsewhere it is translated γένοιτο. The Vulgate has fiat in the Psalms, elsewhere ‘Amen.’ It is evident from this passage that a great deal of the service was extempore, and both the Didache and Justin show that this continued for some time. Apparently the prophets had more freedom in this respect than others. For ἐπί see Philippians 1:3; 1 Thessalonians 3:7.

The precise meaning of both τόπος and ἰδιώτης is uncertain. But it is unlikely that at this early period, when the Christians in each town met for common worship in private houses, there was a portion of the room set apart for the ἰδιῶται, or that these were laymen as distinct from officials. No clearly marked distinctions had as yet been drawn between ministers and laity. In Acts 4:13 (see Knowling’s note), ‘without special training,’ ‘uneducated,’ seems to be the meaning, and in 2 Corinthians 11:6 the Apostle probably means that he was not a trained orator or professional speaker. Here ‘unlearned’ or ‘inexperienced’ may be the meaning; but RV. margin is probably right; ‘without gifts,’ i.e. having no gift of Tongues, or of interpretation, or of prophesying. It would therefore be somewhat like�


εὐλογῇς (א A B D E P) rather than εὐλογήσῃς (F G K L, Latt. benedixeris), and πνεύματι (א* A F G 17, Vulg. Syrr. Arm. rather than ἐν πνεύματι (B D) or τῷ πν. (K L, Chrys.), or ἐν τῷ πν. (P).

17. σὺ μὲν γὰρ καλῶς εὐχαριστεῖς. The σύ is emphatic, εὐχαριστεῖς is synonymous with the preceding εὐλογῇς, and there is perhaps a touch of irony in the καλῶς : ‘Thy beautiful thanksgiving is quite lost on the poor ἰδιώτης.’ Or the καλῶς may mean, ‘Do not think that I consider Tongues to be worthless; God’s gifts, if rightly used, are always valuable to the receiver; but Tongues are no good to the ungifted hearer.’ Note�

19.�Romans 2:18; Galatians 6:6; Luke 1:4) implies thorough instruction by word of mouth; of what is sounded down into the ear. The verb in N.T. is found in Paul and Luke only. La Rochefoucauld (Max. 142) contrasts the grands esprits who convey much meaning in few words with those who have le don de beaucoup parler et de rien dire.*

20. This verse is better taken as the beginning of a new portion of the subject rather than as the conclusion of what precedes. It opens affectionately. Comp. 10:14; Romans 10:1; Galatians 3:15, Galatians 3:6:1; 1 Thessalonians 5:25: in each case the opening Ἀδελφοί makes a fresh start.

‘Brethren, do not prove children in your minds, but in jealousy of one another show yourselves (not merely children but) babes: in your minds (Proverbs 7:7, Proverbs 9:4) prove full-grown men’; i.e. ‘Play the part of babies, if you like, in freedom from malice: but in common sense try to act like grown-up people.’ A severe rebuke to those who prided themselves on their intelligence. Children prefer what glitters and makes a show to what is much more valuable; and it was childish to prefer ecstatic utterance to other and far more useful gifts.† Nowhere else in N.T. does φρένες occur, but in LXX it is frequent in Proverbs in the phrase ἐνδεὴς φρενῶν, which St Paul may have in his mind. AV. and RV. are probably right in translating κακία ‘malice’ or ‘maliciousness,’ rather than ‘wickedness’ or ‘vice,’ in all the places in which it occurs in St Paul (v. 8; Romans 1:29; Ephesians 4:31; Colossians 3:8; Titus 3:3, where it is joined with φθόνος). In 1 Peter 2:1 (see Hort) it is joined with δόλος, φθόνοι, and καταλαλιαί. In class. Grk. κακία in the moral sense is opposed to�Malachi 4:4. Everywhere in St Paul the Vulgate has malitia, and even in Matthew 6:34; but in Acts 8:22 nequitia. Νηπιάζειν occurs nowhere else in the Bible: comp. 13:11; Romans 16:19.

21. ἐν τῷ νόμῳ γέγραπται. ‘In the Law it stands written.’ The reference is to Isaiah 28:11, Isaiah 28:12, and ὁ νόμος here means Scripture generally; Romans 3:19; John 10:34, John 12:34, John 15:25. See Orig. Philocalia ix. 2; Suicer, 2. p. 416: πᾶσαν τὴν παλαιάν, οὐ μόνον τὰ Μωσαϊκά (Theoph.). But the connexion of the quotation with the argument here is not easy: perhaps something of this sort; ‘I have pointed out that Tongues are a blessed experience to the individual believer, and that, if interpreted, they may benefit the believing congregation. Tongues have a further use, as a sign to unbelievers; not a convincing, saving sign, but a judicial sign. Just as the disobedient Jews, who refused to listen to the clear and intelligible message which God frequently sent to them through His Prophets, were chastised by being made to listen to the unintelligible language of foreign invaders, so those who now fail to believe the Gospel are chastised by hearing wonderful sounds which they cannot understand.’ If this is correct, we may compare Christ’s use of parables to veil His meaning from those who could not or would not receive it. The quotation is very free, and is not from the LXX.*

1 Corinthians 14:21. LXX of Isaiah 28:11, Isaiah 28:12.


Ὅτι ἐν ἑτερογλώσσοις καὶ ἐν χείλεσιν ἑτέρων λαλήσω τῷ λαῷ τούτῳ καὶ οὐδʼ οὕτως εἰσακούσονταί μου, λέγει Κύριος. διὰ φαυλισμὸν χειλέων, διὰ γλώσσης ἑτέρας· ὅτι λαλήσουσιν τῷ λαῷ τούτῳ λέγοντες αὐτοῖς, Τοῦτο τὸ�

‘For with alien-tongued men and with lips of aliens will I speak to this people, and not even thus will they hearken unto Me, saith the Lord.’ The ὅτι is not recitative, but is part of the quotation, representing what might be rendered ‘Yea’ or ‘Truly for.’ In Isaiah the men with alien tongue are the Assyrians. Isaiah’s opponents are supposed to have jeered at him for repeating the same simple message; “We are not children, requiring to be told the same thing over and over again.” Then he threatens them with the terrible gibberish (like stammering) of foreign invaders. See W. E. Barnes, ad loc. The main part of the application here is the conclusion, οὐδʼ οὕτως εἰσακούσονταί μου, where the compound is stronger than the simple�Luke 1:13; Acts 10:31; Hebrews 5:7—of God’s listening to prayer.


ἑτέραις γλώσσαις F G, Vulg. in aliis linguis, Tert.) for ἑτερογλώσσοις, and ἐτέροις (D E F G K L P, Latt.) for ἑτέρων (א A B 17 and other cursives) are probably corrections of scribes. Ἑτερόγλωσσος is found, in Aquila, but not in LXX.

22. ὥστε. ‘So then (i.e. in harmony with this passage of Scripture), the Tongues are for a sign to men who do not believe.’ He does not say that they are a sign, but that they are intended to serve as such—εἰς σημεῖον: Genesis 9:13; Numbers 16:38, Numbers 16:17:10; Deuteronomy 6:8, Deuteronomy 11:18, etc. Nor does he say what kind of a sign, but the context shows that it is for judgment rather than for salvation: comp. εἰς μαρτύριον (Mark 1:44, Mark 6:11, etc.), which is equally indefinite. No εἰς ση. after προφητεία.

23. But it is obvious that, even for unbelievers, prophesying is more valuable than Tongues. ‘If, therefore, the whole Church be come together to one place, and all are speaking with Tongues, and there come in ungifted people or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are raving?’ It was strange that what the Corinthians specially prided themselves on was a gift which, if exercised in public, would excite the derision of unbelievers. The Corinthians were crazy, although not exactly as heathen might suppose. Compare the charge of drunkenness at Pentecost; Acts 2:13.

If ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτό means ‘for the same object,’ the object might be the Tongues: the Corinthians came together to enjoy this spiritual luxury and exhibit it to others: but both here and 11:20 it probably means ‘to the same place’ (Luke 17:35; Acts 1:15, Acts 2:1, Acts 3:1). In any case, πάντες does not mean that they all spoke at once: πάντες cannot mean that in v. 24, and therefore does not mean it here. It means that one after another they uttered unintelligible language, and no one said anything that ordinary persons could understand; the service consisted of glossolalia. Note the changes of tense; συνέλθῃ and εἰσέλθωσιν of what took place once for all, λαλῶσιν of what continued for some time. Perhaps in both verses (23, 24) he is assuming an extreme case for the sake of argument, that all present have the gift of Tongues, and that all present have the gift of prophesying. The latter would be very much better.

Evidently, the heathen sometimes obtained admission to Christian assemblies as to the synagogues. This may have depended upon local custom, or upon the character of the intruders, who might be friends of the family in whose house the assembly was held. See Swete on Revelation 3:8.


24. ἐὰν δὲ πάντες προφητεύωσιν. ‘Whereas, if all should be prophesying, and there should come in some unbeliever or ungifted person.’ The change to the singular and the change of order have point. A good effect would be more probable in the case of an individual than of a group; and if the ἄπιστος was deeply moved by what he heard, a fortiori the ἰδιώτης would be. In the former case the argument is the other way: if ἰδιῶται said that they were demented, still more would ἄπιστοι do so. Speaking with Tongues infidelem sibi relinquit; inspired preaching ex infidelibus credentes facit, et fideles pascit (Beng.).

ἐλέγχεται ὑπὸ πάντων. ‘He is convicted by all’; by all the inspired speakers, whose preaching arouses his conscience (Hebrews 4:12). ‘He is convinced of all’ (AV.) is ambiguous and misleading. ‘Convince’ formerly = ‘convict’ or ‘refute’ (John 8:46; Job 32:12). For ‘of’ = ‘by’ see 11:32; Philippians 3:12; Matthew 6:1; Luke 14:8; and “may of Thee be plenteously rewarded.”

ἀνακρίνεται ὑπὸ πάντων. ‘He is searched into by all’; 9:3, 10:25, 27; Luke 23:14, etc. There are three stages in the process of conversion: (1) he is convinced of his sinful condition; (2) he is put upon his trial, and the details of his condition are investigated; (3) the details are made plain to him. On the unsatisfactory renderings of κρίνω and its compounds in the AV. see Lightfoot, On Revision, pp. 69 f.

25. The scrutiny in the court of conscience �1 Samuel 19:20-24). With ‘fall down on his face’ comp. the Samaritan leper (Luke 17:16). In the Gospels προσκυνεῖν is frequent, but here only in St Paul. The ἰδιώτης is almost forgotten in this stronger instance: if an unbeliever is thus τετραχηλισμένος (Hebrews 4:13), how much more the ungifted or inexperienced Christian.

ἀπαγγέλλων ὅτι ὄντως ὁ Θεὸς ἐν ὑμῖν ἐστίν. ‘Proclaiming that (so far from your being mad, and little as he had hitherto supposed that you were thus blessed) verily God is among you.’ In�Galatians 3:21; Mark 11:32.


The A V., with some inferior MSS., has ‘and thus’ (καί οὔτω or καὶ οὔτως) at the beginning of the verse (א A B D* F G, Vulg. omit), and repeats ‘and so’ in the proper place.

26-33. Regulations for the Orderly Exercise of Tongues and Prophesying in the Congregation

St Paul has here completed his treatment (12-14.) of πνευματικά. He now gives detailed directions as to their use.

26. Τί οὖν ἐστίν,�Exo_15.), Balaam (Num. 23., Numbers 23:24.), Deborah (Jdg_5), and the Canticles (Luke 1:2). It is remarkable that there is no προφητείαν ἔχει. Was that gift so despised at Corinth that those who possessed it did not often come forward? Ψαλμός occurs in N.T. in Paul and Luke only. Ἐρμηνία occurs nowhere else in N.T., excepting 12:10.


The ὐμῶν after ἕκαστος (D E F G K L, Vulg. A V.) is probably spurious: א A B 17, Copt. RV. omit. And�

27. εἴτε γλώσσῃ τις λαλεῖ. As in 12:28 (οὓς μέν) a construction is begun and left unfinished. This is the first member of a distributive sentence, which ought to have gone on εἴτε … εἴτε. But there. is no second member: at v. 29, where it might have come, a new construction is started, perhaps because the εἴτε is forgotten, or perhaps deliberately, because the presence of prophets in the assembly is assumed as certain. Moreover, there is no verb with κατὰ δύο κ.τ.λ., but λαλείτωσαν is readily understood (1 Peter 4:11). There might be many ready to speak with Tongues, but the number was to be limited down to (distributive use of κατά) two, or at most three, who were to speak in turn. The insertion of�


28. σιγάτω ἐν ἐκκλησίᾳ. In strict grammar, this should mean that the interpreter must keep silence, but the change of subject is quite intelligible, and indeed necessary. The verb is one of many which in N.T. are found only in Paul and Luke (Hawkins, Hor. Syn. p. 191).

ἐαυτῷ δὲ λαλείτω. The pronoun is emphatic: ‘to himself let him speak,’ that is, in private, not in the congregation. It cannot mean that he is to ‘commune with his own heart,’ in public, ‘and be still.’† The whole point of λαλεῖν throughout the chapter is that of making audible utterance. If he cannot interpret his Tongue, and there is no interpreter present, he must not exercise his gift until he is alone. The difference between διερμηνευτής (A E K L) and ἑρμηνευτής (B D* F G) is unimportant. The latter occurs Genesis 42:23, the former nowhere else in Biblical Greek.


29. The directions with regard to prophesying are much the same as those with regard to Tongues, but are less explicit. Not more than three are to prophesy on any one occasion, and of course only one at a time; but ἢ τὸ πλεῖστον is here omitted. Of those who speak with Tongues, three in one assembly, with one interpreter, is an absolute maximum; of those who prophesy, three would generally be a convenient limit.

οἱ ἄλλοι διακρινέτωσαν. ‘Let the others discern,’ caeteri dijudicent; let them discriminate whether what is being said is really inspired. This ‘discerning of spirits,’ διάκρισις πνευμάτων (12:10), was a gift, and it is assumed that an inspired preacher would possess it. There was the possibility that ἑαντῷ τις λαμβάνει τὴν τιμήν of prophesying, without being καλούμενος ὑπὸ τοῦ Θεοῦ (Hebrews 5:4). The listening prophets are therefore to use this gift: they are etiam tacendo utiles Ecclesiae (Calv.) by preserving the congregation from being misled by one who is not really guided by the Spirit, but “by some evil spirit fashioning himself into an angel of light,” as Origen puts it. It is a mistake to say that in the Didache a contrary instruction to this is given. There the command is: πάντα προφήτην λαλοῦτα ἐν πνεύματι οὐ πειράσετε οὐδὲ διακρινεῖτε· πᾶσα γὰρ ἁμαρτία�Matthew 12:31).

As in Philippians 2:3 (άλλήλους) and 4:3 (τῶν λοιπῶν), ‘the other’ (AV.) is here plural: comp. Joshua 8:22; 2 Chronicles 32:32; Job 24:24. But ‘let the other judge’ now seems to apply to only one of the listening prophets: comp. v.17.


οἵ�

30. ἐὰν δὲ ἄλλῳ�Luke 4:16; Acts 13:16). The ἄλλος would no doubt give some sign that he had received a call to speak, and in that case the one who was then speaking was to draw to a close. The Apostle does not say σιγησάτω, ‘let him at once be silent,’ but σιγάτω, which need not mean that. Those who often addressed the congregation would be open to the temptation of continuing to speak after their message was delivered, and they would certainly need the exhortations and warnings of other inspired preachers. No one was to occupy the whole time to the exclusion of others, and each ought to rejoice that others possessed this gift as well as himself (Numbers 11:28).


31. δύνασθε γὰρ καθʼ ἕνα πάντες προφητεύειν. ‘For ye have the power, one by one, all of you, to prophesy.’ If each preacher stops when another receives a message, all the prophets, however many there may be, will be able to speak in successive assemblies, three at each meeting. They are capable of making room for one another, and (like the rest of the congregation) they are capable of receiving instruction and encouragement. The congregation would learn more through a change of preachers, and the preachers also would learn more through listening to one another.*

32. καὶ πνεύματα προφητῶν προφήταις ὑποτάσσεται. ‘And prophets’ spirits are subject to prophets. The present tense states an established fact or principle. The spirits of sibyls and pythonesses were not under their control; utterance continued till the impulse ceased. But this is not the case with one who is inspired by God; a preacher without self-control is no true prophet: and uncontrolled religious feeling is sure to lead to evil. This therefore is a second justification of ὁ πρῶτος σιγάτω: he can hold his peace, for prophets always have their own spirits under the control of their understanding and their will.

Some would make προφητῶν refer to those who speak, and προφήταις to those for whom the speakers have to make room. But the juxtaposition of the two words is against this. Moreover, he does not say ‘ought to be subject to,’ as a matter of order, but, ‘are subject to,’ as a matter of fact. Again, why say ‘spirits of prophets’ instead of ‘prophets’? It would have been much simpler to say ‘Prophets must be in subjection to one another’ if this had been his meaning. It is probable that πνεύματα means the prophetic charismata rather than the spirits of the persons who possess them, although the interpretation of the sentence is much the same in either case: comp. 12:10 and see Swete on Revelation 22:6. The omission of the article in all three places makes the saying more like a maxim or proverb; comp. ‘Jews have no dealings with Samaritans’ (John 4:9).


πνεύματα(א A B K L, Vulg. Copt.) may safely be preferred to πνεῦμα (D F, Aeth.), which probably was substituted under the influence of 12:4-13. Novatian has spiritus prophetarum prophetis subjectus est (De Trin. 29.).

33. οὐ γάρ ἐστιν�Romans 16:20). For�2 Corinthians 12:20; James 3:16; Luke 21:9.*

ὡς ἐν πάσαις ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις τῶν ἁγίων. Added, as in 11:16, as conclusive, and the addition of τῶν ἁγίων is made with some severity. Orderly reverence is a characteristic of all the Churches of the saints, a fact which raises doubts as to whether the Church at Corinth is a Church of saints: comp. 4:17, 7:17. Some editors place these words at the beginning of the next paragraph, where ἐν ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις makes them seem somewhat superfluous. Moreover, it is more probable that St Paul would begin the paragraph with the subject of it, αἱ γυναῖκες, as in Ephesians 5:22, Ephesians 5:25, Ephesians 5:6:1, Ephesians 5:5; Colossians 3:18-22; 1 Peter 3:1, 1 Peter 3:7. Chrysostom mixes this clause with 4:17 and 7:17 and quotes οὕτω γὰρ ἐν πάσαις ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις τῶν ἁγίων διδάσκω.† If St Paul had written this, it would of necessity belong to what precedes, and not to v. 34. Assuming that it is best taken with what precedes, to which of the preceding clauses does it belong? Possibly to οὐ γάρ ἐστιν κ.τ.λ. Reverent submission to order is everywhere a note of the Church. Others take it with καὶ πνεύματα προφητῶν κ.τ.λ., making οὐ γάρ ἐστιν parenthetical. WH. make from καὶ πνεύματα to εἰρήνης parenthetical, and take this clause with ἵνα πάντες μανθάνωσιν κ.τ.λ. This makes a very awkward parenthesis, and ὡς ἐν πάσαις τ. ἐκ comes in too late to add much force to ἵνα πάντες μανθάνωσιν. Perhaps the worst punctuation is to, take ὡς ἐν πάσαις τ. ἐκ. with what precedes, and τῶν ἁγίων with αἱ γυναῖκες ἐν ταῖς ἐκ. See Hort, The Chr. Eccl. pp. 117, 120.


34-40. Directions as to Women; Concluding Exhortations

34. The women are to keep silence in the public services. They would join in the Amen (v. 16), but otherwise not be heard. They had been claiming equality with men in the matter of the veil, by discarding this mark of subjection in Church, and apparently they had also been attempting to preach, or at any rate had been asking questions during service. We are not sure whether St Paul contemplated the possibility of women prophesying in exceptional cases.* What is said in 11:5 may be hypothetical. Teaching he forbids them to attempt; διδάσκειν δὲ γυναικὶ οὐκ ἐπιτρέπω, a rule taken over from the synagogue and maintained in the primitive Church (1 Timothy 2:12). Discarding the veil was claiming equality with man; teaching in public was αὐθεντεῖν�

ὑποτασσέσθωσαν, καθὼς καὶ ὁ νόμος λέγει. So far from their having dominion over men, ‘let them be in subjection, even as also the Law saith.’ The reference is to the primeval command, Genesis 3:16; comp. Ephesians 5:22. Had the Apostle heard of Gaia Afrania, wife of Licinius Buccio, a contentious lady who insisted on pleading her own causes in court, and was such a nuisance to the praetors that an edict was made prohibiting women from pleading? She died b.c. 48. For Greek sentiment on the subject see Thuc. 2:65:2.


There should probably be no ὕμῶν after αἱ γυναῖκες (א A B 17, Vulg. Copt. Arm. Aeth. omit): but if it be accepted (D E F G K L, Syrr.), it is in contrast to τῶν ἁγίων. ‘Let your women (or your wives) not act differently from those among the saints.’

If ὑποτάσσεσθαι (D F G K L, Vulg. Arm.) be read instead of ὑποτασσέσθωσαν (א A B 17, Copt. Aeth.) there is a touch of irony: ‘women are not permitted to speak; they are permitted to keep their proper place’: non enim permitlitur eis loqui, sed subditas esse. So also Chrys., who with K has ἐπιτέτραπται, for ἐπιτρέπεται, perhaps on the analogy of γέλραπται.

35. εἰ δέ τι μαθεῖν θέλουσιν, ἐν οἴκῳ κ.τ.λ. ‘And moreover, if they wish to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home.’ The women might urge that they did not always understand the prophesying: might they not ask for an explanation. Asking to be taught was not self-assertion but submissiveness. But the Apostle will not allow this: questions may be objections to what is preached, or even contradictions of it: ἐν οἴκῳ (in emphatic contrast to ἐν ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις) they can ask their own husbands, and if these do not know, they can ask in the assemblies. It is assumed that only married women would think of asking questions in public; unmarried women could get a question asked through the married. Origen quotes, πρὸς τὸν ἄνδρα σον ἡ�Genesis 3:16). Perhaps husbands, by analogy, would cover brothers and sons. Compare Soph. Ajax 293, γύναι, γυναιξὶ κόσμον ἡ σιγὴ φέρει. Eur. Phoeniss. 200; Tro. 649. But ne videretur eas etiam discere prohibuisse, ostendit eas domi debere discere (Primasius).

αἰσχρόν. A strong word, used of women being clipped or shorn (11:6): comp. Ephesians 5:12; Titus 1:2—the only other instances in the N.T. It is really a scandalous thing for a woman to address the congregation or disturb it by speaking. What follows is still more severe, but it is put sarcastically.


γυναικὶ λαλεῖν ἐν ἐκκλησίᾳ (א A B 17, Vulg. Copt. Aeth.) rather than γυναιξιν ἐν ἐκκ. λαλεῖν (D E F G K L, Syrr.). A few authorities have γυναικὶ ἐν ἐκκ. λαλ. or γυναιξὶν λαλ. ἐν ἐκκ. The plural is an obvious correction to agree with the preceding plurals.

36. Ἤ�Psalms 19:6); and see J. A. Robinson on Ephesians 4:13. For Corinthian assumption of independence see 4:6, 5:2.

We cannot infer from εἰς ὑμᾶς being used rather than πρὸς ὑμᾶς that the idea of “entering as it were into them” is included; for εἰς is the regular construction after καταντάω (10:11; Ephesians 4:13; Philippians 3:2); also in the literal sense of arriving at a place (Acts 16:1, Acts 16:18:19, Acts 16:24, etc.). In the N.T. the verb is peculiar to Acts and St Paul. Nor must we infer that, if Corinth had been the Mother-Church, the Apostle would have allowed that it had the right to sanction such things. His sarcastic argument is that they seem to be claiming a monstrous amount of authority and independence. The verse sums up his indignation.


37, 38. He here sums up his own authority in a manner very similar to 11:16: both passages begin with εἴ τις δοκεῖ. Comp. also 3:18, 8:2. The meaning of δοκεῖ must in each case be determined by the context. ‘If any man thinketh himself to be a prophet or endowed with any spiritual gift’; not ‘seemeth to be,’ videtur (Vulg.) but ‘sibi videtur’ (Beza). It is what the man is in his own eyes that is the point here.

ἐπιγινωσκέτω ἂ γράφω ὑμῖν, ὅτι Κυρίον ἐστὶν ἐντολή. ‘Let him continually take knowledge of what I am writing to you, that it is the Lord’s commandment.’ Κυρίον is very emphatic. ‘Let him prove his own inspiration by fully recognizing my absolute authority.’ The sureness of a divinely appointed Apostle is in the verse: non patitur Paulus demum quaeri an recte scribat (Beng.). He is conscious that what he says does not come from himself; he is the mouthpiece of Christ: 2:10-16, 7:40; 2 Corinthians 13:3; comp. 1 John 4:6.* But he is not claiming authority to regulate these details for the whole Church throughout all time: no such vast extension is in his mind. What he is claiming is authority to regulate them for the Corinthian Christians at that time (9:2). And the ἃ γράφω covers all that he has been saying about disorders in public worship (11-14.). His indignation in v. 36 is provoked by all these irregularities, and ἅ γράφω has the same extension. It is a mistake to limit either to the question of women speaking in Church.


εἰ δέ τις�

But it is possible that the true reading is�Galatians 4:9. But in one passage Origen has expressly�

39. ὥστε,�1 Thessalonians 5:19, 1 Thessalonians 5:20.

40. πάντα δὲ εὐσχημόνως καὶ κατὰ τάξιν γινέσθω. ‘Only (δέ) let all things be carried on (pres. imperat.) with seemliness and in order.’ For εὐσχημόνως comp. Romans 13:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:12, where see Milligan’s note and quotations from papyri. Ecclesiastical decorum is meant; beauty and harmony prevail in God’s universe, where each part discharges its proper function without slackness or encroachment; and beauty and harmony ought to prevail in the worship of God. In κατὰ τάξιν we probably have a military metaphor. The exact phrase occurs nowhere else in either N.T. or LXX, but is used of the Greeks’ manner of fighting at Salamis as opposed to the disorderly efforts of the barbarians (Hdt. 8:86). Possibly εὐσχημόνως refers to the celebration of the Supper and the behaviour of the women, κατὰ τάξιν to the exercise of the gifts.


In these three chapters (12-14.) the Apostle has been contending with the danger of spiritual anarchy, which would be the result if every Christian who believed that he had a charisma were allowed to exercise it without consideration for others. He passes on to the danger of one form of philosophic scepticism,—doubt as to the possibility of resurrection.









* Magna distantia est inter res temporales et spiritales: temporales enim, cum non habentur, multum desiderantur; si vero habeantur, fastidiunt atque vilescunt: spiritales autem, cum non habentur, minus desiderantur; cum vero habentur, magis magisque desiderium in nobis accendunt (Atto of Vercelli).

D D (Sixth century.) Codex Clarmontanus; now at Paris. A Graeco-Latin MS. 14:13 διο͂ ὁ λαλῶν-22 σημεῖον ἐστίν is supplied by a later but ancient hand. Many subsequent hands (sixth to ninth centuries) have corrected the MS. (See Gregory, Prolegomena , pp. 418-422).

E E (Ninth century). At Petrograd. A copy of D, and unimportant

A A (Fifth century.) The Codex Alexandrinus; now at the British Museum.

K K (Ninth century). Codex S. Synod. xcviii. Lacks 1:1-6:13 ταύτην καί: 8:7 τινὲς δὲ—8:11�

G G (Late ninth century). Codex Boernerianus; at Dresden. Interlined with the Latin (in minluscules). Lacks 1 Corinthians 3:8-16, 1 Corinthians 6:7-14 (F).


d d The Latin text of D

e e The Latin text of E

* Here ‘make ready’ or ‘make preparations’ is better than ‘prepare himself.’ The intransitive use of the middle is older and more common than the reflexive. Undoubted instances of the reflexive are rare in the N.T., J. H. Moulton, Gr. p. 156. The καί may be ‘even’; ‘For if even a trumpet.’

* The rare compounds,�Act_13. Ninth century.) At Paris (Nat. Gr. 14). See Westcott and Hort., Introd. §§ 211, 212.


f f The Latin text of F

* On this verse Erasmus remarks; “They chant nowadays in our churches what is an unknown tongue and nothing else, while you will not hear a sermon once in six months telling people to amend their lives. Modern church music is so constructed that the congregation cannot hear one distinct word. The choristers themselves do not understand what they are singing” (Froude, Life and Letters of Erasmus, p. 117).

† Repuerascere nos eta postolus jubet secundum deum, ut malitia infantes per simplicitatem, ita demum sapientes sensibus (Tert. Adv.Valent. 2).

* Origen says, ταῦτα τὰ ῥήματα εὔρομεν παρὰ Ἀκύλᾳ καὶ ταῖς λοιπαῖς ἐκδό σεσιν, οὐ μὴν παρὰ τοῖς ἐβδομήκοντα: and again, εὗρον τὰ ὶσοδυναμοῦντα τῇ λέξει ταύτῃ ὲν τῇ τοῦ Ἀκύλου ἑρμηνείᾳ κείμενα (Philocalia ix. 2). On γέγραπται of Scripture, see Deissmann, Bible Studies, pp. 112f. The connexion with the argument may be; ‘Tongues do not engender faith, while prophecy does’ (v. 24); or, ‘Tongues appeal to no faith, as prophency does, in the hearers. Tongues, then, are a sign to unbelivers.’

* Abbott, Johannine Grammar, 2534b, expands the passage thus; ‘Just when ye are assembling for sacred worship, and ought to be thinking of Christ and of Christ’s Body, the congregation, each one is perhaps thinking of himself, ‘I have a Psalm,’ ‘I have a Doctrine,’ ‘I have a Revelation.’ Have done with this! Let all be done to edification.’

* In St Paul�

* Tertullian takes it so; caeterum prophetandi jus et illas habere jam ostendit, cum mulieri etiam prophetanti velamen imponit (Adv. Marcion. 5:8). So also does Harnack, The Mission and Expansion of Christianity, 2. pp. 65, 71; pp. 395, 400, ed. 1902. Weinel suspects that this verse is an interpolation by a later hand, and that 1 Timothy 2:12 also is late. Hilgenfeld, Holsten, Schmiedel, and others regard vv. 34, 35 as an interpolation: see Moffatt, Historical N.T., pp. 727 f. In some MSS of Ambrosiaster, vv. 34 and 35, with the notes, are transferred to the end of the chapter, after v. 40 (A. Souter, A Study of Ambrosiaster, p. 189).


* Haec quae vobis trado, tenere debetis, non vestra instituta meis traditionibus praeferre, et caeteris fidelibus quasi fontem religionis velle tradere. Quoniam a nobis qui de circumcisione sumus coepit evangelica praedicatio, non a vobis; nec beneficium vos dedistis, sed accepistis. Nec quasi singulariter electi debetis gloriari, aut de singulari scientia extolli (Herveius).

* It is possible that with D* F G, Orig. we ought to omit ἐντολή: the brief ὅτι Κυρίου ἐστίν is imopressive. The AV. follows E K L, Vulg. Syrr. in reading εἰσὶν ἐντολαί. Resch assumes an unrecorded saying of Christ (Agrapha, p. 31).

* μὴ κωλύετε cannot mean ‘cease to hinder,’ for they had been too eager to encourage speaking with Tongues. Perhaps the previous ζηλοῦτε has caused the pres. imperat. to be used. Or, St Paul may be alluding to his own apparent discouragement of the exercise of this gift. ‘Do not, in consequence of what I have said, attempt to hinder.’ Comp. μὴ�1 Timothy 4:14, 1 Timothy 5:22), where ‘cease to’ seems to be quite out of place. J. H. Moulton, Gr. p. 125.

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Bibliographical Information
Driver, S.A., Plummer, A.A., Briggs, C.A. "Commentary on 1 Corinthians 14". International Critical Commentary NT. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/icc/1-corinthians-14.html. 1896-1924.