Daily Devotion Text

December 18, 2019

1 Corinthians 14 – 2019-12-18

By carmenhsu In 1 Corinthians, Devotion Text with Comments Off on 1 Corinthians 14 – 2019-12-18


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    “This significant chapter deals with two important subjects: (1) the relative value and use of prophecy and speaking in tongues (vv.1-25) and (2) orderly conduct in public worship (vv.26-40).”[1] 

    v.1 “What makes prophecy so important? Prophecy is a message that edifies, comforts or encourages the church (v.3). Since Paul places a premium on strengthening the church, he values prophecy highly.  Prophecy is understandable to the mind (unlike speaking in tongues). Like Old Testament prophecy, New Testament prophecy was intended to challenge and strengthen the church.  People see various expressions of prophecy in preaching, teaching and spontaneous exhortations, among others.”[2]

    v.2 “The gift of speaking in a tongue was a concern of the Corinthian church because the use of the gift had caused disorder in worship. Speaking in tongues is a legitimate gift of the Holy Spirit, but the Corinthian believers were using it as a sign of spiritual superiority rather than as a means to spiritual unity. Spiritual gifts are beneficial only when they are properly used to help everyone in the church. We should not exercise them only to make ourselves feel good.”[3]

    vv.13-14 “With the possibility of a non-understood tongue before them, Paul now argues that its interpretation be sought. He urges this not only so that those who hear but do not understand may know the meaning, but also that the speaker himself may be benefited by getting an intellectual as well as a spiritual blessing from the exercise. The expression ‘my mind is unfruitful’ means that the mind does not intelligently share in the blessing of the man’s spirit. The mind (the nous) is that faculty involved in conscious, meaningful reasoning and understanding of a thinking, reasoning person.[…] Paul desires the Corinthians to have a complete blessing here, both in their spirits and in their minds.”[4]

    “There is a proper place for the intellect in Christianity. In praying and singing, both the mind and the spirit are to be fully engaged. When we sing, we should also think about the meaning of the words. When we pour out our feelings to God in prayer, we should not turn off our capacity to think. True Christianity is neither barren intellectualism nor thoughtless emotionalism. See also Ephes. 1:17-18; Phil. 1:9-11; Col. 1:9.”[5]

    v.20 “Verse 20 forms the transition to the last paragraph of this first section of chapter 14.  A preoccupation with tongues without concern for their effect on oneself and others is childish.”[6]

    vv.22-25 “The way the Corinthians were speaking in tongues was helping no one because believers did not understand what was being said, and unbelievers thought that the people speaking in tongues were crazy. Speaking in tongues was supposed to be a sign to unbelievers (as it was in Acts 2). After speaking in tongues, believers were supposed to explain what was said and give the credit to God. The unsaved people would then be convinced of a spiritual reality and motivated to look further into the Christian faith. While this is one way to reach unbelievers, Paul says that clear preaching is usually better (1 Cor. 14:5).”[7]

    v.25 “When Paul imagines that outsiders who are converted by the word of prophecy will declare, ‘God is really among you,’ he is recalling a scenario long envisioned by Israel’s prophets: the Gentiles will come to acknowledge that the God of Israel is the one God of the whole world.  First Corinthians 14:25 echoes the language of Isaiah 45:14, which says Gentiles from Egypt and Ethiopia will come and bow down before Israel, saying, ‘God is with you alone, and there is no other; there is no god besides him” (cf. also Zech. 8:22-23; Isa. 49:23; 60:10-16).  Thus when the church prophesies authentically, it becomes the instrument through which God accomplishes the eschatological conversion of the nations—or at least a foretaste of that final event.  In short, Paul sees prophecy as a powerful tool of evangelism, but he sees tongues (in public worship) as a hindrance to making the gospel understood.”[8]

    vv.26-30 “The third person imperatives ‘it must be done’ in these verses show that Paul is not so much addressing his remarks to particular individuals as to the corporate entity, the church, which itself should maintain this decorum. All these imperatives are in the present tense, indicating that the church was to keep a constant supervision over all these aspects of its service.”[9]

    v.26 “Everything done in worship services must be beneficial to the worshipers. This principle touches every aspect—singing, preaching, and the exercise of spiritual gifts. Those contributing to the service (singers, speakers, readers) must have love as their chief motivation, speaking useful words or participating in a way that will strengthen the faith of other believers.”[10]

    vv.34-35 “Does this mean that women should not speak in church services today? It is clear from 1 Cor. 11:5 that women prayed and prophesied in public worship. It is also clear in 1 Cor. 12-14 that women are given spiritual gifts and are encouraged to exercise them in the body of Christ. Women have much to contribute and can participate in worship services.

    “In the Corinthian culture, women were not allowed to confront men in public. Apparently some of the women who had become Christians thought that their Christian freedom gave them the right to question the men in public worship. This was causing division in the church. In addition, women of that day did not receive formal religious education as did the men. Women may have been raising questions in the worship services that could have been answered at home without disrupting the services. Paul was asking the women not to flaunt their Christian freedom during worship. The purpose of Paul’s words was to promote unity, not to teach about women’s role in the church.”[11]

    v.40 “His final word on the matter is directly connected with the number one priority of edification: all things should be done decently and in order (40).  The first word focuses on the way Christian worship appears to onlookers, the second on the ability of each individual Christian to function properly in his or her own place.  As the latter is encouraged in an atmosphere of true love, so the net result will be a community life which attracts outsiders by its harmony and beauty.”[12] 

    [1] Frank E. Gaebelein, Gen. Ed. Expositor’s Bible Commentary CD, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1992) notes for 1 Corinthians 14.

    [2] Quest Study Bible, notes on v.1 (Grand Rapids, MI:  Zondervan Publishing House, 1994) 1585.

    [3] Life Application Study Bible, study notes (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers and Zondervan, 1991) 2083.

    [4] Frank E. Gaebelein, Gen. Ed. Expositor’s Bible Commentary CD, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1992) notes for 1 Corinthians 14:13-14.

    [5] Life Application Study Bible, study notes (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers and Zondervan, 1991) 2084.

    [6] Craig Blomberg, 1 Corinthians, The NIV Application Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994) 270.

    [7] Life Application Study Bible, study notes (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers and Zondervan, 1991) 2084.

    [8] Richard B. Hays, First Corinthians, Interpretation Series (Louisville: John Knox Press, 1987) 239.

    [9] Frank E. Gaebelein, Gen. Ed. Expositor’s Bible Commentary CD, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1992) notes for 1 Corinthians 14:26-30.

    [10] Life Application Study Bible, study notes (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers and Zondervan, 1991) 2084-2085.

    [11] Life Application Study Bible, study notes (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House Publishers and Zondervan, 1991) 2085.

    [12] David Prior, The Message of 1 Corinthians, The Bible Speaks Today Series (Downers Grove, IL:  Inter-Varsity, 1992), 253.

  • BIBLE TEXT: 1 Corinthians 14:1-5 (ESV) 

    1 Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. 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. 3 On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. 4 The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church. 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.

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