1 Corinthians 14


Karen Miller


I Corinthians 14


· The Corinthians are zealous for spiritual gifts

· Paul encourages them both in vs. 1 and vs. 39 to desire the gift of prophecy, creating bookends to this section of verses
· 7 times Paul reminds the Corinthians that the purpose of gifts, and prophecy in particular, is the edification or building up of the church
· Paul spends 20 verses comparing the gifts of tongues and prophecy
· Prophecy:
    o Is for edification (building up) of the church,
    o Is for exhortation (encouragement/help) of the church
    o Is for consolation (comfort) of the church
    o Can disclose the secrets of an unbelieving man’s heart
    o Can cause the believing man to fall on his face in worship to God
· Tongues is:
    o Spoken to God
    o Edifying to the one speaking in tongues
    o Needing interpretation for the edification of the church
    o Compared to the flute and harp which make no distinct sounds
    o Compared to the bugle that can’t sound the battle cry
    o Compared a barbaric language that no one can understand
    o An ineffective witness to the unbeliever (vs.21 they will not listen, vs. 23 are they mad?)
    o Desirable, but not in the church, unless there is a interpreter
· Paul also encouraged orderly conduct when the church assembled
o Paul envisioned a gathering where multiple people were contributing: a psalm, a teaching, a revelation, a tongue, an interpretation
    o Only two or three speaking in tongues with someone to interpret
    o Two or three prophets might speak but the rest are to judge their words
    o All this is to be one by one
    o Women were not to speak
    o Women were supposed to learn from their husbands at home
· Vs. 39-40 is a summary statement: desire earnestly to prophecy; don’t forbid tongues; do so in a properly and orderly manner


· I should desire gifts that edify and build up the body of Christ
· As a leader I should encourage people to use their gifts, especially prophecy, for the building up of the body.
· As a leader/teacher I should allow for multiple people to speak and contribute to the building up of the body.
· I should encourage those with gifts of tongues to use and enjoy their gifts in the right contexts.
· My personal understanding of the verses about women not speaking in the church is this. In Corinth and in many parts of the world today the women were uneducated and did not speak the formal language spoken in the church. So they would talk to their husband so they could learn what someone was saying. Their talk was disruptive to the service. A modern comparison might be if someone chatted with their neighbor while the pastor was preaching. Paul was encouraging these women to wait until they got home to learn.


Heavenly Father, we want your church to be edified, exhorted and consoled. We ask that you would bring in all the gifts that the church needs to become your beautiful bride who is bringing light to a dark world. Help us to desire those gifts that really edify the church. Teach us how to wisely use our gifts for the building of your kingdom and for your glory. Help us to use the gifts you’ve given us with humility. As we use our gifts may we always be motivated by love for You and love for others.

21 comments (Add your own)

1. Jan Ramirez wrote:
Thank you, Karen.
Yes, Lord, help us to not be content where we are in you, but grow us; Use each one of your kids as you have planned, that we would be your church shining on the hill, guiding others to you. Speak through us, not for our glory, but for your's, strengthening, encouraging, and comforting your body.
In Jesus' name,

Tue, April 14, 2015 @ 10:45 AM

2. Rob Schulze wrote:
Karen... thank you for edifying me through soaping this chapter. Paul is remarkably clear how the Body can edify one another when it assembles. As "Bible" congregations are becoming more open to gifts of the Spirit being used when it gathers and "Spirit" churches becoming more biblical and orderly in the use of the gifts... it's neat to see increasing unity in the Body of Christ.

Thanks also for sharing your understanding of why Paul tells women to be silent. Corinthians would easily understand this context which fits with Paul's exhortation to women WHEN THEY SPEAK within the church in 1 Cor 11:5 - "But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is the same as having her head shaved."

Chapter 14 indeed gives us a good picture how the early church worshiped together and I'm challenged by verse 26 - "When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation..." When they "came together" multiple people would prophesy (up to 3), bring a word of instruction, be open to sharing a revelation or song or a tongue or interpretation. When we come together at Trinity I can easily become passive and look to be edified vs. looking to edify others. I need to be open to the Spirit's promptings to use me and/or others during our gatherings to build up our body.

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