1 Corinthians 14:1-25
Building Up the Body
Date: 9-Jan-11
Required Resources: Use of Spiritual Gifts (comedy).mpg (2min 21sec); A PRIVATE PRAYER LANGUAGE
Purpose (Why am I teaching this lesson? What effect did the writer expect it to have on the recipients?)
The purpose of this lesson is to open up dialog regarding what the gift of tongues is and is not

Theme (What central idea does this passage communicate?)
Tongues must be used for the edification of the Body

Review & Homework:
A. Salutations & Reminders (v1:1-1:9)
B. Divisions within the church (v1:10-4:21)
C. …of conduct unbecoming a believer (v5:1-13) {church discipline}
D. Dealing with offenses in The Body (v6:1-11)
E. The bondage of sexual sin (v6:12-20)
 – Now For The Matters You Wrote About —
F. Marriage, Divorce & Singleness (v7:1-40)
G. Christian Liberty (v8:1-11:1)
H. Order in Worship (v11:2-14:39 )
        1. Submission to established order (v11:2-16)
        2. Order in the Observance of the Lord’s Table (v11:17-34)
        3. About Spiritual Gifts (v12:1-11)
        — Indentifying your Spiritual Gift(s) –
        4. The functioning of Spiritual Gifts (v12:12-31a)
        5. The rule of using Spiritual Gifts (v12:31b -13:13)
  Ü 6. Proper use of the sign gifts (v14:1-25)
        7. Orderly worship (v14:26-39)
  • Read 1 Corinthians 14:1-25 and complete a page in your study booklet
  • Come to class with one (or both) of these:
    • What can you glean from this passage about the nature and purpose in the gift of tongues?
    • What problems does this passage create? (Does it challenge your thinking?  Are there apparent contradictions?  What problems has it created in the church as a whole?)
    à Bring all your “problems” with this passage to class and let’s discuss them to bring light to this area.

    This chapter is crowded with difficulties.  It does not seem likely that the Holy Spirit should, in a church, suddenly inspire a man with the knowledge of some foreign language, which none in the church understands without an interpreter – why not speak in the plain language of the hearer?  One the other hand, if the language referred to is a “heavenly language” for personal edification then how does it fit into the class of gifts which edify the body?

    Some have reconciled this by saying it WAS a known language, like ancient Hebrew, which no one knows today.  The rationale being possibly that Hebrew was a reminder that Truth came through the Jewish nation.

    There is no doubt that tongues was being abused at Corinth.  After a discussion of spiritual gifts and their diversity and function within the body, followed by a discourse in active love as the method of use, the apostle spends a significant amount of time to specifically address the proper use of tongues within the church.
    Before we look at this difficult passage we must first clearly discern what the central message is.  After we have determined this central message we can place all our observations and questions in the context of that central message.
    1. What is the occasion (reason) for the writing of 1 Corinthians?
    2. What verse in the boot best sums up the theme of 1 Corinthians? [hint:see cover of study guide – 1 Cor. 1:10]
    3. In the greater passage (1 Corinthians 11-14), what is the central message? [Order in worship]
    4. Within this text what are the main ideas which all other text seems to support? Note: in several translations the translators built paragraphs around what they thought were developed thoughts… Do you agree with the translators (don’t assume they got it right)?
    5. Consolidate the main ideas into one central idea [v14:1, 3, 6, 13, 25 – were what I see as central]
      THESIS: “eagerly desire… prophecy(v1)… everyone speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort”
      Restated: “Be eager to do what builds others up for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort”
    6. TEST: Does this thesis fit the immediate context, greater context and the letter as a whole?
    7. Pray and meditate on this – what does God say?

    The Text
    1 Corinthians 14:1-5
    What to Chase After

    1 Follow the way of love and eagerly desire spiritual gifts, especially the gift of prophecy.
    2 For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit.
    3 But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort.
    4 He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.
    5 I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may be edified.

    Follow the way of love” – better translated “Pursue love” (NASB) – diōkō (grk) = “to pursue; to hunt, chase with intensity”  In some contexts it is translated “persecute”

    eagerly desire
    ¿: Is the apostle saying we should not be content with the gift(s) we were given?
    ¿: Can we decide the gift we have?
    ¿: What reaction is expected when the hearers hear “Follow the way of love and eagerly desire…”? [they will be less enamored by what currently holds their attention]

    There is considerable debate over the nature of “speaking in a tongue.”  Was tongue speaking a known language of men or was it a “heavenly” language?

    Tongues – known or unknown language?
    Ü v13:1 – language of angels?
    Ü v14:4 – praying “in the spirit?”

    ¿: Why does v2 say tongues “speaks to God?”
    Ü Matthew 6:7 addresses meaningless repetition in prayer. Does this apply?
    Ü The Lord’s prayer is a model of a simple prayer (cf. Matt 6:9-13; Luke 11:2-4)

    v4 seems to refer to personal edification.  See Romans 8:26.
    ¿: What are your thoughts?

    ¿: In light of 1 Cor. 12 & 13 do you think Paul is building up the use of a private use of tongues?
    Ü The gifts were given for common good (cf. 1 Cor 12:7), this does not exclude personal benefit, but it does mean that its direct usage was to be primarily focused within the Body.
    Ü Love focuses on others not self (1 Cor. 13:4-8)

    I would like every one of you to speak in tongues
    ¿: Was this a command? (see 1 Cor 7:7 re: celibacy)
    ¿: Did Paul expect all to speak in tongues? [1 Cor 12:29-30]

    Obviously they didn’t all have the gift of tongues nor would they.  Paul uses this hyperbole to elevate speaking intelligible words in prophecy.  The point is not that he actually desires all to prophesy, the point is that tongues is relatively unimportant when it comes to edifying the body. It’s about edifying the Body.

    ¿: Does this mean there is not a private prayer language?

    From these verses we can deduce that tongues was:
    1) known language, but unknown to the hearers (as at the day of Pentecost)
    2) language unknown to mankind that requires interpretation for men to understand

    Either way, the following passage clarifies the proper use of this speaking…
    1 Corinthians 14:6-12
    Intelligibility Edifies

    6 Now, brothers, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction?
    7 Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the flute or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes?
    8 Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle?
    9 So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air.
    10 Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning.
    11 If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and he is a foreigner to me.
    12 So it is with you. Since you are eager to have spiritual gifts, try to excel in gifts that build up the church.

    For a message to be profitable it must be understood

    Note that Paul is not discouraging their zeal in the use of tongues, instead he is encouraging the desire they edify the church with their gift.

    Ü There is no dispute that one sense of the gift of tongues was speaking in a known language without having studied it for the purpose of communicating God’s truth while at the same time validating the message was from God.

    READ: A Private Prayer Language

    Ü There is no clear teaching which speaks of a second variation of this gift for personal use as a language unknown to man.  This IS NOT to say God doesn’t use whatever means He wishes to communicate with us today.
    1. We know that the gifts were given for the “common good”
    2. We know that when God speaks He will often validate His word through unique methods so we have no doubt it is Him speaking.  This may include some unique circumstance, visions, dreams, His Word, etc.  This does not exclude a supernatural utterance.

    A key factor would be, “is the meaning of what God is saying to me clear?”
    Ü God may give a supernatural utterance as a confirming sign and that’s a clear meaning.
    Ü But if someone continually speaks in tongues with no idea what is being said, it seems improbable that the spirit can edify because of the emphasis placed on understanding in this chapter.  The clearest way to edify is simplest.
    1 Corinthians 14:13-19
    1 Corinthians 14:13-17

    13 For this reason anyone who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret what he says.
    14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful.
    15 So what shall I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind; I will sing with my spirit, but I will also sing with my mind.
    16 If you are praising God with your spirit, how can one who finds himself among those who do not understand say “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since he does not know what you are saying?
    17 You may be giving thanks well enough, but the other man is not edified.
    18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you.
    19 But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.

    10,000 is the largest Greek number

    ¿: John MacArthur sees this section as sarcastic in tone (he also validates this thinking because of the singular and plural tenses used with the word tongues – in one sense it’s counterfeit in the other it’s anointed). He says counterfeit tongues are being reprimanded, thoughts?
    1 Corinthians 14:20-25
    1 Corinthians 14:22-25

    20 Brothers, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.
    21 In the Law it is written: “Through men of strange tongues and through the lips of foreigners I will speak to this people, but even then they will not listen to me,” says the Lord.
    22 Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is for believers, not for unbelievers.
    23 So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and some who do not understand or some unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind?
    24 But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all,
    25 and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!”

    stop thinking like children” – children prefer amusement to usefulness; flashy things to stable things.

    ¿: How does this phrase have application in our lives: “Be childlike when it comes to evil but in other matters think and act with maturity?”
    v21 is a quote from Isaiah 28:11.  In this verse God says that because the children of Israel had rejected His message and had mocked it, He would speak to them through a foreign language.  The fulfillment of this took place when the Assyrian invaders came into the land of Israel, and the Israelites heard the Assyrian language being spoken in the midst.  This was a sign to them of their rejection of God’s word.

    v22 makes it clear that tongues was intended by God to be used for unbelievers (as in the context of Isaiah 28:11), so therefore should not be so valued in the assembly.

    some who do not understand” – implication is that some do understand.

    ¿: How would you reconcile the apparent contradiction between “a sign for unbelievers” (v22) and “unbelievers come in, and say they’re out of their mind.?”
    Ü v22 is listed for those who have rejected the word and closed their hearts. – for them it’s a sign of judgment.
    Üv23 & 24 are for those unbelievers who are open, as evidenced by their physical presence – for them there will be no understanding

    secrets of his heart” – it’s the truth that will expose the hearers heart and convict him of sin.

    Personal Application:
    ¿: Did you personally glean any truths from this passage?
    ¿: Where the tools (methods) useful for other scriptures?

    • Read 1 Corinthians 14:26-39
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