1 Corinthians 14 is a chapter of much debate and confusion addressing the subject of speaking in tongues, a gift of grace new to the New Testament, from Acts 2 onward. So, why would Paul have need to spend so much time on sorting out issues arising from this one gift in this church, when eight others were mentioned alongside it? What were the Corinthians doing in regards to this gift that prompted Paul to issue such sharp rebukes, and using terms such as “ignorant, babies, and fools?” What was behind their behavior? They obviously had equated it to being the “Holy Spirit”, but Paul had something else to say on the matter. And why, after having received correction from Christ’s chosen Apostle, did they rise up in revolt against him, and his apostolic authority, and begin to work in opposing the Gospel message he was commissioned to preach? They labelled Paul a heretic for bringing Light to their error. That surely doesn’t sound like the work of the Holy Spirit to me, does it you? Jesus warned more about deception than any other message He preached. But the amazing thing about deception is that it’s…well…. deceiving. But seriously, people who are deceived don’t know they’re deceived. They think everyone else is. Remember Paul too was once deceived in thinking he was doing piety to God by killing Christians. Then he met Jesus, laid aside his religious “denominational” and pharisaic filters, and became willing to hear Christ. Hey, it obviously took a little blindness to get his attention, but God tends to get our attention when He wants to. A look into Corinth’s church history and the canonical words of Paul will bring this chapter and situation into the Light of Truth.
Side-note: Anyone ever find it strange that God chose the Jew, who knew the Torah and Tanakh better than all the disciples, to be the one to carry the gospel to the Gentiles? You’d think by human logic that God would have used Paul to help the Jews see Scripture rightly. I guess God thought a little “blindness” would do them some good as well. As we’ll see in the verses ahead, blindness is judgment for rejecting God’s Word in the context in which He gave it. Blindness is judgment for not receiving correction and persisting in our own views, as if scripture is subjective.
The image above is a typical FALSE doctrine outline for this gift. Points 2 and 3 are scripturally unfounded when the text is rightly interpreted. Tongues is never a private prayer language, as point 2 suggests from a misapplication of what 1 Corinthians 14:2 is saying, and the “tongues of angels” comment from chapter 13 by Paul is completely hypothetical. He didn’t say there were angelic languages, or that he spoke such. He said “If I were to be able to……”. But let’s let the text be the text. “Yea, let God be true and every man a liar.”
Chapter 12 is a preface of the intent of spiritual gifts. They were dispersed to the churches to whom the Spirit of God willed to have each specific one, and it is made clear that every person will not have a gift of tongues. In context, both letters to Corinth are corrective. Why? Because they were deceived and behaving out of God’s order, and Word, in God’s name. Let’s skim the texts…
1 Corinthians 12:4-11 “Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all variously in whom He chooses. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills.”
This is corporal dispersion. Everyone does not, nor is intended to speak in tongues. Paul goes on to impress upon them that the body has body parts, each performing a unique function. A foot cannot perform what a hand does, and vice-versa. Therefore, if everyone is professing to have tongues in this church, where are the rest of the “body parts”, such as healings, faith, discerning of spirits, a word of wisdom, or knowledge? He is stressing the fact that something is awry in what they are projecting, because the Spirit doesn’t do what they are projecting that He has done. There was deception and Paul is going to shine the Light on it. He asks at the end of this body part speech, …..
1 Corinthians 12:29-30 “Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? Do all possess gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret?”
The answer to all of these is no. No. No. No. Concerning tongues, it too, as all the gifts mentioned above, is for the common good of others. The purpose of this gift has a two-fold application, and it is always human languages. It is NOT ecstatic utterances, or some other-worldly dialect. Above all, tongues is to the lost, as a witness of God’s power. In this use it would be a person gifted to speak in a language (or languages) to God that they do not know naturally, heard in the ears of a lost person who naturally does know this language, and that lost person will be convinced by the miracle, and their heart will be opened to hear the Gospel. I mean, what was the point of these gifts anyway? For the establishment of the New Covenant. Remember, there was no New Testament….YET. The records of these gifts being witnessed, alongside the hand-chosen Apostles’ teaching, are what the New Testament is. Now we have the full message of God in written form. The Gentile nations and people in the day of writing did not.
Secondly, the Apostle Paul says this gift can function in equality to the gift of prophesy, which is a divinely inspired word of exhortation, edification, and comfort to the Body of Christ. But Paul still emphasizes prophecy over tongues, because it eliminates the useless aspect of interpreting a language no one understands, by simply speaking in a common one. Practical, just like God. In this operation, a person, within the rules of this taking place in public meetings, would speak an inspired word in a foreign tongue he or she has been gifted with, and there would be a known, gifted interpreter present to make understood to the assembly what was said. If this order is not able to be met, then tongues are forbidden to be spoken in the assembly, no exceptions, whether pew, or pulpit, as we will see Paul address ahead.
1 Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.
Paul opens in verse 1 expressing the point of love, which scripture defines as our obedience to God, being seen by others in how we keep the Law of Christ, faithfully. Paul goes on to say to Corinth to desire spiritual gifts, but especially that they may prophesy. Why does he say this? Well the church at Corinth, at this time, had become hyper-spiritual and inwardly focused. They had cast off responsible exegesis of the scripture, which at this time was the Tanakh (Old Testament) alone. There was no New Testament, as we’ve stated. They lacked love for one another, apparent in their lack of obedience to truth. So Paul emphasizes the importance of edifying and teaching right doctrine above all these gifts, because without right understanding it was impossible to show the Love of God in behavior. Wrong thinking leads to deception and poor application of the scripture. Remember Genesis 3? “Has God really said?” So the entire focus of this chapter is revealed in verse 1: To do ALL THINGS to the building up of others, into walking in true faithfulness. That is the Love of God.
2 For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit.
A person given a gift of tongues can not be understood if the language is not known to the hearer(s), whether the hearer is a believer, or unbeliever. In some Bible translations the term “unknown” is ascribed to tongues. This was added later by interpreters to bring clarity to the fact that the speaker does not naturally know the language he/ she is speaking. Tongues is never spoken in addressing men. When the gift of tongues is in operation, the speaker is speaking only toward God in praises and thanksgiving, declaring His Majesty.
Acts 2:11 “….we hear them speaking in our own languages the great deeds of God!” The disciples weren’t speaking to the diaspora (dispersed Jews) directly, just in their presence to be witnessed. Paul establishes this as well in this chapter in verse 16, in that we obviously don’t give praise and thanksgiving to the people in church, or to sinners, and that our praise to God through a tongue doesn’t help anyone who doesn’t know the language spoken. Again, Paul is driving home the fact that tongues is not a gift for self edification or gratification. It is about helping OTHERS. This gift is about public ministry. Why would there be a need for it to function with no person present who naturally speaks the language to be witnessed, or no gifted interpreter present in a meeting so the church may hear the interpretation of the praises spoken to God, and be edified by them? Otherwise, we can simply pray normally, right? Sure, that is logical, but not kosher with those who worship a spectacle. Trying to have this gift be some self serving thing, rather than performing its intended function, is the epitome of someone being given a cordless drill and walking around pulling the trigger just to make noise until the battery dies. It is intended to drill holes and drive screws, not make sounds for no reason. Hello?
1 Corinthians 14:16 Otherwise, if you give thanks with your spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider say “Amen” to your thanksgiving when he does not know what you are saying?
It would appear that Paul has asked, “Why are you speaking in tongues when it is not serving a purpose to the hearers?” The gift is for the hearers, not the speaker. This chapter, like Acts 2, is dealing with translatable, human tongues.
Note: Tongues is always praise toward God, in application. In a service, if someone appears to speak to another person in what sounds like a tongue, it is automatically exposed as a false spirit, or faked. It is not Biblical, and a sign of fraud and deception. If there is a supposed interpretation and it is anything other than praises to God, it is false. It is either self-willed or the presence of a deceptive spirit. Either way, it is evil. Notice who Paul puts the emphasis of the gift of tongues as being for: OTHERS (Lost people, or edification of the saints in the church, IF interpretation is present.)
“A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign.”- Matthew 12:39
3 On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their exhortation, edification, and comfort.
Paul contrasts with verse 2 in that how one who functions in a gift of prophecy is greater than one who does in tongues (without interpretation), because it actually accomplishes the purpose of edifying other believers, and the witnessing of God to the lost.
4 The one who speaks in a tongue (alone) builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church.
Paul is explaining the contrast between tongues and prophecy, and showing why one should prefer prophesy over uninterpreted tongues, by contrasting the two. He says that speaking in a tongue alone serves no kingdom purpose, which is what? Building up others. Tongues are not for self edification, although the spectacle presented today portrays something else, but it is no marvel. Most doctrine today is self-focusing. Tongues are a sign to unbelievers. Prophecy is for the church. But tongues is permitted, with restraint, as performing an equal role to prophecy, IF interpreted. Otherwise, it is not to be spoken, nor heard by anyone in the assembly. Otherwise the command is to keep silent. Sssshhhhhh!!!!
This verse has been proof-texted, out of this obvious context, to justify ecstatic utterances, or a “private prayer language” by modern Charismatic circles. But that is exactly what Corinth was doing to evoke this rebuke by Paul, as we’ll see. They were the original Charismatic movement, and they were rebuked by God’s Apostle. Let that sink in. In light of what we see in some “christian” television charlatans, can you hypothetically imagine “brother Aristarchus” back in 50 A.D. hosting “healings meetings” where he swings his toga across his crowd and they all fall backward, “slain in the spirit?” Sheer delusional behavior. False signs and lying wonders! Isn’t that what the allegorical Antichrist, in the Book of Revelation and Thessalonians, is said to do? Exactly, and his metaphorical character is a symbolic embodiment of a spirit that rejects Truth. This spirit has been in the world since Christ came, and has lived in the hearts of men all along. How does this illustrative ‘personality‘ enter “the Temple of God” and declare himself as God? First ask, in this New Covenant, what is the Temple? Is it a stone building in Jerusalem, like under the Old Covenant? Not at all. The “New Temple” too is a metaphor for the covenant people of God in Christ Jesus. So if this Antichrist figure, and the Temple are figurative, then it must be that Antichrist personality enters the church in willful human hearts who reject the Word for what they want to believe. Getting it yet?
5 Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up.
Paul says he wants “you all” to speak in tongues? But didn’t he say all don’t speak in tongues? Yes. So who is “all” here in the context of this letter of rebuke? The churches at Corinth. Unlike the modern worldview, these letters are oratory decrees to Christians in a city region. The letters went to the hub area of the region and its message was orally dispersed. Context is KING in scripture. Learn Hebrew! You’ll learn that fact quickly!!
Again, Paul keeps emphasizing the role of tongues, and how it is subordinate to the gift of prophecy. Both gifts are public speaking gifts. [If I sound repetitive in this discourse, I am solely trying to drive home the point, so please bear with me!]
FYI: Prophecy is not soothsaying, or fortune-telling toward you and others. Prophecy is an inspired word of divine edification to the Body of Christ. When people want to give you personal messages through tongues, run!!! They’re deceived people who will unwittingly deceive anyone who doesn’t know the Truth. Prophecy, in the context of this gift, isn’t a prediction. It is a word from the Spirit to lift you up, and strengthen your heart’s resolve. God doesn’t give personal prophecies regarding your private life and materialism. His gifts are solely for the use of Kingdom advancement. What kind or color of house you buy isn’t in His plan, sorry! Who is the focus of these gifts? The speaker? No, other people. Christ is selfless.
6 Now, brothers, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I benefit you unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching?
The focus again in this verse? Outreach. Tongues benefits no one, unless what is spoken is made known by interpretation, or if it witnesses to the power of Christ to someone who actually knows the language the speaker is speaking. It is not about the speaker.
7 If even lifeless instruments, such as the flute or the harp, do not give distinct notes, how will anyone know what is played?
A metaphor of purpose given here by Paul tells us that tongues must be understood to be useful. It must meet the intended function for which it was given. Otherwise it is confusion and fruitless behavior. The power of this gift is not in the language spoken, but the understanding made known of what is spoken, and the recognition that it came by miraculous manifestations of the Holy Spirit through people who are, too, unaware of what they are speaking. For what purpose? A sign to unbelievers and for the edifying of others in the Body of Christ, (when interpreted.)
8 And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle?
Misplaced application is useless to fulfilling the role for which this gift was intended. Understanding is the name of the game. This gift opens spiritually blind eyes, and brings emotional healing to God’s people in times of loss, sadness, discouragement, and persecution. But you don’t see it function much in a church and nation that thinks that having everything the world offers is an evidence of God’s blessing. This gift, like all others, functions where the Spirit has need.
FYI: Why would the Spirit want me to operate in speaking French in a room where everyone only knows English? Common sense, huh? But I guess to have my soapbox to stand upon and look spiritual, I could just convince people of a “secondary” use of the gift as being for “myself”, and just blabber at will in public meetings. “Hey, everybody look! I’m a Corinthian!!”
9 So with yourselves, if with your tongue you utter speech that is not intelligible, how will anyone know what is said? For you will be speaking into the air.
I wonder if Paul has changed in this verse who the gift is about? Nope, still about reaching other people. He asks Corinth, “What is the purpose of speaking in a tongue that no one understands? “Hey, morons! Who are you helping with waving around your tongue banner, like… Look at me!! I’m so spiritual!?” But Paul says that their selfish use of it is purely speaking into the air, because it serves absolutely no purpose, other than to inflate their proud, selfish egos. Sounds very familiar to my upbringing. Also, in the context of Paul’s address to Corinth, and even now in our day, Corinth was babbling syllables that weren’t even a legitimate language. And so are droves of deceived people in charismania today. One who wants to continue to believe it is a prayer language for personal use may wanna say it is for their spiritual benefit, but Paul refutes this logic as being immature. Judgment for this is coming in the passages ahead.
10 There are doubtless many different languages in the world, and none is without meaning,
What does Paul say these languages (tongues) are pertinent to? The world we live in: Earth. And that all these languages have a purpose. Remember Babel, when God split the Pangaea, and the single language at that time was divided into many different tongues, because of rebellion? Remember the terminology of Genesis 10 and 11? They were all ONE (unified/ one accord), and God divided the tongues (languages)? Remember Acts 2, when this gift of tongues first appeared? What was the distinct terminology?
When the Day of Pentecost had fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting. Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
This gift was the beginning of the reconciliation of the Nations (Gentiles) whom God abandoned in Genesis, at Babel. It was a reversal of Babel’s judgment. This gift is human languages unlearned by the speaker calling back the dispersed nations by the tongues
11 but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me.
Paul keeps hammering the point and purpose of tongues to this self-focused, hyper-spiritual church. Did you realize that Corinth is the ONLY church that Paul wrote letters to in order to correct this madness and delusional behavior? Corinth looked just like the charismania going on today. He says here that if he speaks a language to someone who doesn’t understand it, they will think he is a foreigner, and likewise they would sound like a foreigner to him, if they did it. It causes pure confusion. God is not the author of that nonsense. God is a god of order and making things known. He is not in perversions of His Word, His Gifts, or His order. He judges that, rather.
12 So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church.
He tells them here that it is okay to be desirous of these gifts, so long as the desire is to build up the body, and not for vanity, and unscriptural, selfish behaviors. But let’s be honest, how much need is there today for these types of Apostolic manifestations? Very stinking little! We have the entire canon of Scripture. I’m not saying these gifts ceased altogether with the Apostles deaths, but I am saying the need for confirming evidence to establish God’s New Covenant has very little need today. Fact!
13 Therefore, one who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret.
Here again, he emphasizes the important aspect of interpretation. Otherwise tongues would be better looked at from a Cessationist’s view, which believes these gifts ceased with the Apostles. That is not true, but surely a far less dangerous view than a bunch of out of control, super-spiritual nuts running around the building, falling down, and randomly speaking ecstatic utterance to no understanding or meaning to anyone. Why pray to interpret? So you can benefit others with the understanding, and fulfill the intended purpose of the gift. I have heard nationally known television preachers call for their congregations to begin “speaking in tongues” at will, and to do this behavior in the assembly, aired on TV. Deception is off the charts these days. The Scripture is rejected for the traditions of men. “Hey, everyone! Let’s all act spiritual and chatter together in total defiance of the order for the church in this gift, then expect God to do something on our behalf!” But their ways are more exciting to the flesh, rather than be staunched by Christ’s message of servant obedience, and total self-denial.
Question: If tongues is intended to build one’s spirit in a prayer language, why the command to interpret? If it is the Spirit praying in men for personal edification, then the “pray-er” would be edified regardless, and being that no one is present, why the need of interpretation, being that this entire chapter is about edifying others? You know why? Tongues is not a prayer language. That would be partiality on God’s part, yes? It is not a gift for all to have, so therefore how is it that God would endow “special” ME to have some unique access to Him in prayer that he wouldn’t give you? The teaching is erroneous and blasphemous. It is a clear rejection of the Scripture by proof-texting for support in what people WANT to believe, yet is not found in the whole of the scriptural context.
14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful.
Paul says to praise God in a tongue is done by the spirit of a man, with the help of the Spirit, but even the speaker’s understanding is not benefited. Why is this “understanding” clause even mentioned? Without the knowledge rendered through this gift, all it accomplishes is that he gets to have a spiritual manifestation, but how does it fulfill its true function? You could go off alone and speak in a tongue, and God would understand it, but why would you need to? What purpose in God’s order would be fulfilled? None. A man can pray to God in his mind, or in his own language. Why the need to pray in a language that doesn’t bring him encouragement through understanding? It is speaking into the air. Useless. If Jesus said that “a wicked and adulterous generation seeks signs”, then why would a child of God do so? Why do they need to have supernatural experiences to feel encouraged? See the deception? David said he encouraged himself in the Lord, meaning His Word and promises. David knew nothing of tongues. How does one encourage themselves in the Lord? Through WHAT IS WRITTEN. The same people who engage in and defend this nonsense are hardly ever excited about the Word of Truth. Sure, they’re excited by their traditions, because their traditions require little of them. The Word requires ALL of them.
Three times in the temptation of Jesus, He quoted what is written, putting emphasis on understanding, and knowing the Word. Not going off and blabbering, “ha sha tah tah do mi cee vi so”, and having no understanding of a supposed conversation with a God who longs to speak to us. Not to watch us speak gibberish for the sake of feeling or appearing spiritual. I compel anyone to go tonight, when their spouse wants to talk, and reply with gibberish every time. See how that goes for you! Now imagine how the Creator feels when someone tries to evoke a gift He gave to help unbelievers, and encourage a body of believers, to speak to Him, and not be helping others. Reminds me of the parable where the guy buried the talent and didn’t use it as His Master intended. God isn’t impressed with immaturity in His people, and especially the tolerance of false brothers operating against His order in His church. Paul is gonna show us how God feels about it in the coming verses.
15 What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind (understanding) also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind (understanding) also.
Paul vacillates here between praising/ singing in the natural, and in the spirit when it is needed. He is saying to pray in whatever way builds up. Obviously, he has made it clear that tongues benefits no one where there isn’t personal understanding of what is said, so obviously I should pray like I have some sense when alone with God, yes? Yeah, logic. A great gift God bestowed on us to use our head. If there is no need for a sign to an unbeliever, and there is no proven interpretation gift present in a meeting, then tongues is not coming from the Spirit.
16 Otherwise, if you give thanks with your spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider say “Amen” to your thanksgiving when he does not know what you are saying?
And this finishes my point of the last verse. We looked at this verse in verse 2. What benefit is tongues without understanding? None! Zero!!!And who is the gift for? Self edification? No, it’s for others. People want to justify their pet, traditional doctrines, because, ” How can a million monkeys be wrong??? “Newsflash: If you believe the Bible, the majority is ALWAYS wrong. Conform to the apostolic teaching. Never try to make God’s Word affirm you. That is deception. This verse has too been used to support this “prayer language” phenomenon. But if that were true, why would Paul point out the fact that Corinth kept jabbering, but “outsiders” (everyone who didn’t understand what is spoken) weren’t being edified?
Paul, in this chapter, is toggling between the two primary operations of tongues: To unbelievers, then to the body, but never to self. The individual, according to Paul, doesn’t gain any understanding from the gift either, unless interpreted by the unbeliever, whose language the Spirit is speaking, or by a gifted believer in church who interprets. All he gets is a supposed supernatural experience, or at best self-gratification, which is contrary to Christ in every way. But how many times does this sign need to happen for a believer if one truly believes God? What’s the point? He isn’t encouraged, informed, and nor does he understand. He just hears fruitless babble that doesn’t help him either. That is why the tongues is for helping other people. Otherwise, this person is a sign seeker, and rebel, seeking another Jesus.
Remember Jesus’ correction to the twelve disciples? “Rejoice not that the demons are subject to you, but rather that your names are written in Heaven? “Why did He say that? Because Believers are not to be enamored with signs and wonders. Believers are not to seek signs! These signs were given as a witness of God to unbelievers in the establishment of the New Covenant.
17 For you may be giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not being built up.
Tongues is doing what when spoken? Speaking to, and praising God. But uninterpreted, it is useless to anyone. It certainly isn’t helping God.
18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you.
Paul drops a boulder on them here. He speaks in other languages by the Holy Spirit more than all of these people in this church, yet there is not one single record of him ever doing it in a public meeting. It wouldn’t be hard to imagine why Paul would speak in tongues so much, being that he was the Apostle chosen to go to the Gentile nations as a witness of the Gospel to foreigners. Did you know Paul puts tongues at the bottom of the list to the Corinthian Church, to undermine their idolatry towards it?
1 Corinthians 12:28- “Here are some of the parts God has appointed for the church: “First are apostles, second are prophets, third are teachers, then those who do miracles, those who have the gift of healing, those who can help others, those who have the gift of leadership, those who speak in unknown languages.”
Corinth had elevated tongues to a place of idolatry, and in so doing became deceived, and vicious toward Paul and his apostolic authority. Ever see mean spirited, “Spirit filled” tongue-talkers? Yeah…. I’ll let that rabbit run…….
19 Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a foreign tongue.
Paul again speaks here of the importance of understanding in church. Have I mentioned how understanding and the benefit of others is the theme of this chapter?
It’s all about making disciples who speak, think, and act like Jesus. You know He went into the Temple TWICE in His ministry with a whip, and beat a bunch of religious people who were perverting His Word, and causing well-intending people to get tripped up in it, right? Yeah, that is the True Messiah, not the picture on your church wall of the tanned hippie American with blues eyes, holding a sweet little lamb. Yeah, the biblical Jesus will hold us accountable for what we preach as being Truth.
20 Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.
A mature Christian isn’t interested in broadcasting a gift that isn’t serving a purpose for the good of other people under God’s order. To speak out without interpretation in church is rebellious and immature according to Paul. He commands it not to take place, because it is confusion, otherwise. Paul tells them not to act like babies, but grow up into maturity in these things. But as to their mean, malicious infighting, and lack of real love for their fellow church family, they needed to be humbled like children. Paul is getting ready to drop a judgment bomb on their doctrines, and hyper-charismatic behaviors, fueled by having brought their paganistic, cultural thinking into the church. This bunch was so deceived that they had a dude sleeping with his dad’s wife in the church, and they wouldn’t even expel the two. Sounds a lot like today. Hey, there are rebellious people who should be thrown out of assemblies. Not “loving” enough? Read your Bible. Most modern church “leaders” serve people, not God. They compromise obedience to God’s scriptural order to appease families, and keep their supporters. You can’t build nice towers of Babel in God’s name otherwise! How do they serve people? They cater to what people want and how they want it served to them. They tolerate blatant sin from church goers, never eject them for rebellion, as commanded, and allow greedy idolaters to remain in meetings. Beyond that, the clear process for leadership is rarely ever even considered, so they put a novice in the pulpit, then he has a moral failure just like scripture says he will, and then often leave him there because of “God’s grace and mercy”, even though the text commands discipline. So what’s the real reason for ignoring scripture? Their towers need to remain in tact in order to keep funding, building plans, and appearances up! Why do they allow just anyone with some talent on a worship team, even though the scriptural order is the same for all leadership? Because that band needs to be ‘kickin’ to draw the attention to the tower. Hey, scripture says a deacon must be able to teach. Not today! You just gotta be someone the pastor and elders think will be conducive to the status quo!!! Forget what God says! The Antichrist spirit once again sits on the throne in God’s house and declares itself as God!!!!
Titus 3:10- “Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them.”
1 Corinthians 5:11-13 “But now I am writing to you not to associate with anyone who calls himself a Christian who is sexually immoral, or greedy, or an idolater, or verbally abusive, or a drunkard, or a swindler. Do not even eat with such a person. For what do I have to do with judging those outside? Are you not to judge those inside? But God will judge those outside. Remove the evil person from among you.”
Kick them out! a little leaven infects the whole loaf. Next, Paul references and reapplies a situation that Isaiah addressed….
21 In the Law it is written, “By people of strange tongues and by the lips of foreigners will I speak to this people, and even then they will not turn and listen to me, says the Lord.”
This is a quote from Isaiah 28:11. In that narrative, Isaiah foretells judgment to drunken priests who were profaning the Temple. They were preaching to the people lackadaisical renderings of God’s Word. So God, through the prophet, tells them He will send in foreign tongues to mock them, being that they obviously didn’t want to hear Truth. So Assyrians, enemies of God, were given way to enter the Temple and speak over these people to no understanding or benefit to them. God gave them over to what THEY wanted to hear, which was rubbish, and let them be deceived. In the Hebrew Bible, in Isaiah 28, verses 10 and 13 are written with syllabic gibberish that was intended to show mocking, much like we would do with “blah blah blah blah blah” in English.
The Lexham English Bible got it right. Verse 9 is repeated in verse 13, preceded by, “And the word of Yahweh will be to them as….and then followed by the curse. Notice how “falling backward” is part of the deception sent to them.
“And to them the word of Yahweh will be ‘blah-blah blah-blah blah-blah blah-blah gah-gah gah-gah gah-gah gah-gah, (‘In this context, the Hebrew expressions tsaw-tsaw and qaw-qaw are meant to sound like baby talk.)
“a little there, a little there, so that they may go and stumble backward, and be broken, and ensnared, and captured.”- Isaiah 28:13
It was mimicry and judgment. It is also the only place in all of Hebrew scripture where those syllabic writings exist. The KJV translators were not believers. They translated it to say something that is not even there. They were paid to translate. So they made it say the closest thing to Hebrew they could find. In reality, it says nothing.
So why does Paul reference this passage of judgment upon the Temple? Because the Corinthian Church was disregarding the structural order of tongues and its function, and engaging in all manner of Pagan infused behaviors that had been assimilated into their version of “Christianity.” So Paul references this passage as a stern warning for their error and brings correction. They rejected him for it, just like Isaiah was ignored, and so God allowed strange tongues to enter their gatherings as a mockery to them for rejecting the love of the Truth. And after all that, they still wouldn’t listen. They were deceived into babbling incoherent gibberish and believed they were actually operating by the power of God. Sad.
The Corinthian Church became the first charismaniacs in church history. They soon became depraved in mind, and imploded. They were the first church to tolerate ecstatic, uninterpreted utterances in their assemblies, to no understanding to anyone. God had Paul write two admonitions to them. He wrote more words to them than all other epistles combined! They refused his reproof. He left them to their own ways. They came to ruin soon after and ceased to exist as a church. This was a mighty church in their formation. They started well, and ended poorly in destruction.
Iraeneus wrote: “It is within the power of all, therefore, in every Church, who may wish to see the truth, to contemplate clearly the tradition of the apostles manifested throughout the whole world……”
He later goes on to speak of Corinth who ignored that clear example….
22 Thus tongues are a sign not for believers, but for unbelievers, while prophecy is a sign not for unbelievers, but for believers.
Who are tongues a sign for? Yeah…Tongues are for the lost, with a secondary benefit to the Body, with the addition of interpretation. Prophecy is distinctly for the church. Anyone see any contextual application for a prayer language for private use? No. But Corinth bought into that deception, hence this chapter seated in a larger contextual letter of rebuke.
23 If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds?
So, it comes to light in how church people may speak without restraint in assemblies an ecstatic use of tongues and bring a reproach of confusion upon Christ’s church and message. I have witnessed it most of my life. I have seen this foolishness scare people and they would never return. Remember the TV “pastor” I mentioned earlier, who called on his charismaniacs to all speak ecstatically at once? See the heresy? It is egregious irreverence to God’s concise order. Self-willed nonsense. This same pastor was one of the larger ministries on a well-known “christian” TV station, who ended up begging for money to stay on the air, amongst other things.
Paul poses a sobering question, very applicable to today: “If you do this foolishness, will not people think you are a bunch of nutjobs?” Let’s say you’ve been working on a friend to come to church for a year. He is lost. He finally agrees, and you know God is dealing with him. Upon arriving, he hears all these people sha la la-ing around him, and it freaks him out. He never returns again. I’ve taken people like this, and that was the outcome. But thank God at least he got out of that place! At least he is lost, and not deceived. At least there is a higher chance of God changing him. The deceived are scarcely changed. Look at Jesus’ life. How many deceived people changed for Him in the flesh? Few!
Think of a foreigner approaching you on the street and starting to rapidly speak some language you don’t know, and persists. You feel threatened right? Me too. This is not of God. And that is exactly how a lost person would feel without the interpretation. And Paul too addresses it ahead.
24-25 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you.
Paul again comes over to known language in the gift of prophecy, which he has established as the superior gift, and says that it will bring the results in the church that God intended, without the nonsense and confusion of immature, or more possibly deceived people abusing the only gift that can be faked easily, scaring away people God wants to save.
In the Isaiah 28 text, it says…..
Isaiah 28:9 “To whom will he teach knowledge, and to whom will he explain the message? Those who are weaned from the milk, those taken from the breast?
Do you realize Paul reapplies this statement of Isaiah to the Corinthians as well?
1 Corinthians 3:1-3 “But I, brothers, could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as infants in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food, for you were not ready for it. And even now you are not yet ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh and behaving only in a human way?”
“Milk” denotes ignorance and no understanding. A new seeker knows nothing. They come looking to follow Jesus, and deceived people are the example they are exposed to. The Love of God revealed in obeying God is missing. These well-intended people end up ruined as well. Rather than being able to spend his time building this church up with doctrine, Paul is spinning his wheels in having to first tear down false doctrine permeating this church. He could not teach them what they needed to grow, but had to keep hammering away at their blindness. Sad!
In the next verses, Paul deals with the commands for service concerning tongues. Notice it is a zero tolerance policy!
26 What then, brothers? When you come together, each individual has a hymn, or a lesson, or a revelation, or a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up (others).
Again, the point of church: Growth by understanding and revelation of the scriptures. Whatever is said or done in God’s house is to be within the confines of His Word, rightly interpreted, and within the parameters of how it says it is to be done. Anything outside of that is lawlessness.
27 If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret.
Here is order for tongues in church. With a known interpretation gift by a proven believer, preferably two, but no more than three people professing to have a gift of tongues are to be allowed to speak in a service, and one at a time. So it is clear that there is a notification that takes place by people with this gift that they have a tongue to share for the interpreter. It is clear that they wouldn’t spontaneously just stand up and start speaking. It is clear that there is to be ordering of the speakers! If there is no interpreter, tongues are not to be allowed to be audible in church, ever. That includes the pews. There is NO PRAYER LANGUAGE as an exception. It is a false doctrine and deception.
28 But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God.
You have the right to remain silent!!! Actually you are commanded to be silent in church unless the authorities are guiding what is taking place. That means “hush.” Period! Now this is another verse, in the latter part, where people like to pull it out of context for a support of a mystical “prayer language”. Notice the verse says “keep silent and speak to yourself and God.” Do people walk around talking to themselves audibly? Not if we are of a sound mental state. Can we pray without speaking out? Yeah….this is not saying to speak in tongues to yourself and God. Keep silent means….no utterance! Shhhhhh!!!
This brings me to another verse proof-texted WAY out of context, used to support a doctrine of a “personal prayer language”, that is not supported by the Word of God.
Romans 8:26- “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness, for we do not know how we should pray, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with inexpressible groanings.”
Now it takes little effort to see that this verse has absolutely nothing to do with speaking in tongues. It says in this translation (NET) that these are ‘inexpressible groanings’. A better rendering of the Greek is “inaudible sighs.” The KJV says “in groanings that cannot be uttered.” What is an utterance? Something spoken, right? What does inaudible mean? Can’t be heard. Tongues is spoken audibly. Tongues is an utterance. This verse is about the Spirit’s operation within us and has no sound coming forth. Hello!?!?! Stop perverting the scripture to excuse charismatic idolatry!!!
Acts 2:4- “And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit gave them utterance.” ……Yeah, tongues are utterances.
Out of all Paul’s admonition’s focus, in this chapter, being about building up others and witnessing to the lost, why do people try to hone in on one isolated comment that says,
“But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church, and speak to himself and to God?” It is self-seeking to justify a doctrine that is not the doctrine of Christ. It can be blasphemy if one has been corrected with true doctrine, but persists. Proof-texting and semantics are at the very core of false ideologies. If Paul has hammered the terms “all” and “others” as the focus of this gift, why do people look for this “speak to yourself and God” statement to justify a private use of tongues to no understanding? He says be quiet in church, and to pray to God between the two of you. Why would we need to pray “in tongues”, which is impossible without speaking out loud, which he says not to do? Tongues are an utterance. Praying doesn’t have to be. It can be done in the mind without the mouth involved.
People reach far and wide to justify their beliefs, rather than let the Truth justify them, when they apply it and surrender to it. Look at those who killed Jesus. They had learned their Bible interpretation wrongly. LEADERS, and rather than have to relearn it right, they sought to kill the Author. Sounds about right. Attack the messenger, rather than receive the Message.
29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said.
Paul here declares the responsibility to discern and sift whatever is spoken through all of scripture, whether by inferred revelation, prophecy, preaching, tongues and interpretation, etc. How do we discern it? Exactly, by the whole of Scripture. How can one discern Truth from lie, who doesn’t know scripture for themselves? They can’t. They’re vulnerable, but today we all have a Bible. These folks didn’t. They were the stories being written that we read today. But, they had a hand chosen Apostle with binding and loosing authority declaring the Lord’s doctrine firsthand, and they rejected him. People who profess to know Christ and do not know, or desire their Bible, are already deceived. You cannot know the Word (Jesus) if you don’t know the Word.
30 If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent.
Paul is continuing to address the order of God concerning speech in the church, as pertaining to other vocal operations. For instance if a person begins to speak in revelation (remember, this is pre-New Testament writings church), if a second person is prompted, it could be that the first has started to go beyond what the Spirit has actually said to them, and the Spirit is correcting or intervening in this matter, stirring another to take over. It is quite conceivable that what is disclosed or revealed to the second speaker is that the first person has now unwittingly drifted into self-deceptive, manipulative, mistaken, or merely self-important discourse and has ceased to communicate what God’s Spirit has revealed. Whether the disclosure takes this form or the revelation of a quite different insight, prophetic speech is not exempt from the same constraints of controlled utterance as mark Paul’s instructions about speaking in tongues: in both cases the speakers must not give rise to “confusion.” And remember, John made clear in 1 John 2 that there is no new revelation apart from what the Apostles established, that is now our texts. Ever!
31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged,
The dispute here is not whether all or some may prophesy; it is whether everyone who has the gift of using prophetic speech also has the reflective and critical self-awareness and control to begin, and especially to stop (v. 30), when the circumstances which are going on outside the speaker’s immediate prophetic awareness warrant it. Paul insists that there are no exemptions to the rule that prophetic speech, like speaking in tongues, remains subject to the ethics of controlled speech, even if this necessitates a critical awareness of what one is doing, and what others are doing, when one’s utterance is “inspired” or “given” by God. Perhaps some Corinthians felt that they were so privileged by their own status as to be either consciously unwilling, or allegedly unable to stop speaking, on the ground that God had seized, and “overwhelmed them” by His Spirit, and the “Spirit must not be hindered!!” Oh, how many times have I heard this exact excuse in charismatic circles? But Paul destroys that suggestion and says…..
32 and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets.
You know what that means? You are in control of you, not God. God does not possess a man and control his will, ever. Demons do that. When a person in church declare themselves unable to stop blabbering, running, falling on the floor, and any other thing, they’re either simply liars, or they are demonized. But it is never God causing such behavior. Paul is emphatic again that the purpose of all utterances in church are for the benefit of other folks, and that even though a word inspired is from the Holy Spirit, the individual gifted to operate in the action is utterly in complete control of himself, and to use discretion.
33 For God is not a God of confusion (disorder), but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints,
The nature of God is being driven home by Paul, in that God is orderly, and unchanging. Corinth was full of disorder and selfish motivation. Paul’s larger point is that this order in the nature of the God who acts coherently, faithfully, and without self-contradiction should be reflected in the lifestyle and worship of the people of God. Where this order isn’t demonstrated, well….you will find deceptive doctrines, behaviors, and selfishness, just like Corinth.
34 the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says.
All of Paul’s language in this chapter is context specific. This verse, like a million others, has been highly perverted out of this context, and used in stark contradiction to 1 Corinthians 11:5, where it is clear that women are permitted to pray and prophesy publicly. So clearly, this comment is in regard to a specific out-of-control behavior on the part of these women, which we won’t pursue in this overview. In short, it was the sifting of what was said in prophetic speech, by asking probing questions in the worship assembly that was the issue. They were disruptive about it, and answers could wait until they got home.
“Let them keep their ordered place” is a better rendering of this passage. Remember, the context of this entire discourse is about “ordered speech”, not mere speech itself. The larger issue is that this church was in disorder and not walking in the nature of Christ.
35 If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church.
It was out of order for the wives to probe in questioning what was taking place in public, and actually putting themselves in a position as judges over their husbands in public. It echoes the sentiment of where Jesus said, “A prophet was not without honor, except among his own people.” This point was made in all gospels. It denotes that because of familiarity among family, the authority of ministerial leading was often minimized within the home, and family members failed to see men as God’s vessels, but rather as common.
36 Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached?
Paul asks some motive probing questions, due to the divisiveness of attitudes in this church. They, like many today, were followers of preacher’s opinions, more than the Word/Law of Christ. One saying, “I am a disciple of Apollos”, and another saying, “I am a disciple of Paul”, and another saying, “I am a disciple of Cephas!” Paul there, and here, cuts to the heart of the nonsense, asking, “Who am I, and who the heck are you apart from Him? Is Christ divided? Were you the one to whom this Gospel came? Are you the only ones that it has reached?” They behaved as if so. The special ones! You know, those who God has elevated above the rest! But he delivers another ego crushing blow…..
37 If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord.
Try telling this to modern-day Corinth: Charismatic Evangelicals! History repeats itself!!! These rules for the function of tongues, and other speech gifts, are to be applied today, just as they were to this deceived church of the first century. They are not negotiable, and to excuse, or redefine what is clearly established by the Apostle is blasphemous and damning.
38 If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized.
A stern warning: If any person will not surrender to these commands, he is not recognized by Christ as a true believer, but a rebellious devil. Ouch!
39 So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues.
Paul speaks encouragement here to seek to build up others with sincerity, and to not overreact and go to the opposite extreme by silencing true tongues, but rather to allow them through the said criteria and order.
40 But all things should be done decently and in order.
When it comes to church, there is no justification for foolishness, and ecstatic, out-of-order behavior. We are in control of our own spirits, and confusion is born from rebellion, and ignorance. If we are either ignorant or rebellious, it is a choice to be.