1 Corinthians 14:21-40
1 Corinthians 14:21-25-Paul writes that the OT says that God will speak to unbelieving Jews through other languages (a sign); and yet, they will not even believe then.
14:21 (Ryrie) See Isa. 28:11-12. Tongues were given as a sign to provoke the Jews to consider the truth of the Christian message.
So, if unbelievers won't believe when they hear people speak in tongues, and tongues are not a sign for believers...why do you seek so hard to have it? Better to have the gift of prophecy...then the believer will be blessed by the truth he hears and the unbeliever will be convicted of his sin and worship God.
1 Corinthians 14:26-33-The word translated as “assemble” (:26-NASV) has the same root as the word “synagogue”…suggesting that Paul is speaking of gathering for a church service.
"to come together" (sun, "together," erchomai, "to come"), is once rendered "assemble," Mar 14:53, AV. It is frequently used of "coming together," especially of the "gathering" of a local church, 1Cr 11:17, 18, 20, 33, 34; 14:23, 26; it is rendered "resorted" in Act 16:13, AV, where the RV adheres to the lit. rendering, "came together."
(1) In Act 15:25, ginomai, "to become," is translated "having come to (one accord)," correcting the AV, "being assembled with (one accord)."
(2) Sunagoge, akin to A, No. 1, is lit., "a place where people assemble." In Act 13:43 the RV suitably has "synagogue," for the AV "congregation," the building standing by metonymy for the people therein (cp. Mat 10:17, etc.). In Jam 2:2 (AV, "assembly") the word is "synagogue" (RV).
Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words,
The key thoughts to these verses are…”Let all things be done for edification” (:26), and “God is not a God of confusion” (:33). If more than one person uses their gift at the same time…to sing a song, to speak in tongues, to teach from Scripture…it will cause confusion. And confusion does not honor God. God will not motivate someone to use their spiritual gift in such a manner that it causes confusion in the church. So, even if a person senses that God is leading him to say something…he should always be respectful of other members and give preference to them…being aware that God would never lead them to use their gift at a time that would lead to confusion because other people are also trying to speak. And, even if no one else is speaking and someone says he wants to speak in tongues in a church gathering...it is only to be allowed if there is someone to interpret (:28). Someone might say, “Well, I have to say something because my spirit is being moved,” then let him remember that we are in control of our spirit. God will not move us in such a way that we will be out of control. Paul says that “the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets”. Otherwise, he is to keep silent in the church and speak only to himself and God. Whether it be tongues, or prophecy, it is to be done in an orderly, respectful manner. God is not the author of confusion. This is quite a contrast to what some preachers and ministries do today…where people fall to the floor, or shake, or bark, or babble incoherently, or act in other manners that are out of control. Paul says that this is not of God. In fact, a close study of the New Testament shows that this kind of behavior, instead of originating with God, is actually associated with demonic influence (cf. Mark 5:1-18; Luke 4:33-35; Luke 9:38-43).
1 Corinthians 14:34-35-This passage has been hot debated and interpreted from the day Paul wrote. There are numerous suggestions concerning its meaning.
(Ryrie) "Whatever this restriction means, it must include tongues and prophecy (see vv. 27,29, where the same Greek verb for speak is used). See also 1 Tim. 2:12."
- Let your women keep silent in the churches: Paul has already assumed the right of women to pray or prophecy publicly (as stated in 1 Corinthians 11:1-16). Here, he probably is saying women do not have the right to judge prophecy, something restricted to the male leadership of the church.
- Instead of judging prophecy, women should be submissive to what the leadership of the church judges regarding words of prophecy.
- If they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home: In the ancient world, just as in some modern cultures, women and men sit in different groups at church. Among the Corinthian Christians, there seems to have been the problem of women chattering or disrupting the meetings with questions. Paul is saying, "Don't disrupt the meeting. Ask your questions at home."
- In the Jewish synagogues, men and women would sit apart. But if a woman chattered or called out to her husband sitting far off, she would be dealt with severely. The Corinthian church may have adopted the same kind of seating arrangement, but with many women from Gentile backgrounds, they did not know how to conduct themselves at a church meeting. Paul is teaching them how.
- It is shameful for women to speak in church: Again, because Paul assumed the right of women to pray and prophesy under proper authority in 1 Corinthians 11:1-16, the context suggests speak refers to either the judging of prophecy (something for the leadership of the church to do) or to disruptive speaking.
- Alan Redpath points out that Paul uses the Greek verb laleo, which means, "to talk, question, argue, profess, or chatter." Redpath says, "It has nothing to do with prophecy or prayer; it is not public speaking as such."
David Guzik :: Study Guide for 1 Corinthians 14
It is essential to ask what Paul means by speaking in this context of church practice. Since Paul expresses no reservation at all about a woman’s praying (προσευχομένη) or using prophetic speech (ἢ προφητευουσα) in 11:5, speaking cannot denote speaking of any kind without qualification. It is possible that the universal practice was more “strict,” and that Paul cites it with broad approval, subject to the qualification enunciated in 11:5 (see below). However, it is likely that the contextually presupposed understanding which does not need to be explicated for the addressees is either a failure to stop speaking (if Wire’s hypothesis about a more “liberated” and “spiritual” women’s group is valid, i.e., they would be resistant to the notion of giving priority to an ethic of controlled speech over spiritual inspiration), or more probably the disruptive sifting of prophetic speech (as in v. 29), which might involve (1) repetitive interruption with questioning; and (2) the possibility of wives cross-examining their husbands, especially if, as is developed in the Didache, issues of contextual lifestyle are part of the sifting. This scenario becomes more plausible when we review the remaining issues.
Fee observes that, apart from those who regard vv. 34–35 as a non-Pauline interpolation, the majority of (especially Protestant) commentators regard it as axiomatic that Paul refers either to some form of disruptive speech, or, as a possible alternative, that 14:34–35 is a more formal church setting than 11:2–16. The latter is not easy to sustain, since Paul at once goes on to discuss the Lord’s Supper in 11:17–33, where the immensely solemn wording about self-examination (11:28) and drinking judgment on oneself (v. 29) precludes the notion that ch. 11 is like being “at home” (ἐν οἴκῳ, v. 34). What emerges, however, is that neither silence nor speech nor church is used in a generalized, context-free way. Thus Bruce interprets the issue as one of “forbidding them to interrupt proceedings.…” In what sense they might “interrupt,” however, awaits further comment.
Thiselton, A. C. (2000). The First Epistle to the Corinthians: a commentary on the Greek text (pp. 1155–1156). Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans., Logos Bible Software
Women may be highly gifted teachers and leaders, but those gifts are not to be exercised over men in the services of the church. God has ordained order in His creation, an order that reflects His own nature and that therefore should be reflected in His church. When any part of His order is ignored or rejected, His church is weakened and He is dishonored. Just as God’s Spirit cannot be in control where there is confusion and chaos in the church, He cannot be in control where women take upon themselves roles that He has restricted to men. It is improper [aischros, “shameful, disgraceful”] for a woman to speak in church. That statement leaves no question as to its meaning.
MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1984). 1 Corinthians (p. 392). Chicago: Moody Press, Logos Bible Software
34-35. Wives must not disrupt worship, talking when they should be listening, asking questions that could more appropriately be asked of their husbands at home. God’s Book of the law guides our manners and customs here. Wives have no license to use the time of worship for unwarranted speaking.
1 Corinthians 14:36-40-Paul says that what he says is a command directly from the Lord. Anyone who will not accept this is not to be recognized in the church.
Everything should be done in an "orderly manner" (:40).
- Obedience to the Word (vv. 36–40).
“If any of you are spiritual,” says Paul, “you will prove it by obeying the Word of God!” The Spirit of God never works apart from or contrary to the Word of God, and nowhere is this principle needed more than in the area of spiritual gifts. We cannot be guided by somebody’s subjective emotional experience, but we can be guided by the unchanging objective Word of God.
Note the basic principles for spiritual worship that Paul gives to the church:
(1) The teaching and preaching of the Word takes precedence over everything else.
(2) The church must be built up.
(3) There must be nothing that would hurt the testimony before unbelievers.
(4) There must always be self-control.
(5) Everything must be done “decently and in order,” following the Word of God.
(6) Women are not to exercise authority over men.
(7) There must be understanding before there can be blessing. It is evident from Scripture that there was an informality about the meetings of the early church. We must avoid formality on one hand and fanaticism on the other. It is a fine line to toe. A planned service is not an unspiritual service, for the same Spirit can lead in the planning beforehand just as He can lead in the service itself. But even in a planned service, we must make room for the Spirit to lead, lest we grieve Him.
Wiersbe, W. W. (1992). Wiersbe’s expository outlines on the New Testament (pp. 462–463). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, Logos Bible Software
Prayer: Father, please help our church to come together in an "orderly manner". In a way that honors You and does not cause confusion among the members.