1 Corinthians 14:1-20
1 Corinthians 14:1-5-“Pursue love.” Now that Paul has explained the role of love...he commands (“pursue” is in the Imperative Mood...a grammatical term identifying a command) them to keep it at the forefront, always the medium by which they practice spiritual gifts.
Follow, Follow After:
(a) "to drive away," Mat 23:34;
(b) "to pursue without hostility, to follow, follow after," said of righteousness, Rom 9:30; the Law, Rom 9:31; 12:13, hospitality ("given to") lit., "pursuing" (as one would a calling); the things which make for peace, Rom 14:19; love, 1Cr 14:1; that which is good, 1Th 5:15;
righteousness, godliness, faith, love, patience, meekness, 1Ti 6:11; righteousness, faith, love, peace, 2Ti 2:22; peace and sanctification, Hbr 12:14; peace, 1Pe 3:11;
(c) "to follow on" (used intransitively), Phl 3:12, 14, RV, "I press on;" "follow after," is an inadequate meaning.
“Earnestly desire” those gifts that most benefit other people. Paul has used this expression previously...telling them to “earnestly desire the greater gifts” (12:31). He showed us the “more excellent way”, the principle of love by which to practice these gifts in chapter 13. Now, in chapter 14 he is going to explain what he meant by “greater gifts.” He begins with the lesser of the gifts...tongues. The spiritual gift of tongues is the supernatural ability to speak in a language not known to the speaker, one that he has never sought to learn. Tongues is a lesser gift because what is said is only understood by God (unless there is an interpreter)...and therefore, it is less beneficial to the church body. Prophecy is a greater gift because it benefits men (the church) by giving (:3)...
edification...The consistent teaching of the Word of God in such a manner that the believer is strengthened in his faith.
Build, Builder, Building:
"a building, or edification" (see A, No. 1), is used
(a) literally, e.g., Mat 24:1; Mar 13:1, 2;
(b) figuratively, e.g., Rom 14:19 (lit., "the things of building up"); 15:2; of a local church as a spiritual building, 1Cr 3:9, or the whole Church, the Body of Christ, Eph 2:21. It expresses the strengthening effect of teaching, 1Cr 14:3, 5, 12, 26; 2Cr 10:8; 12:19; 13:10, or other ministry, Eph 4:12, 16, 29 (the idea conveyed is progress resulting from patient effort). It is also used of the believer's resurrection body, 2Cr 5:1.
Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G3619&t= NASB
EDIFICATION. A Pauline metaphor meaning spiritual and moral growth among believers (Gk. oikodomḗ “act and result of building”; cf. 2 Cor. 10:8, “building up”; Matt. 7:24, 26 refers to the literal construction of a house). The apostle exhorts mature believers to consider their immature fellows in Christ and to help them “become stronger” (so JB; Rom. 15:2). At 1 Cor. 14 he urges the Corinthian Christians, especially those who had been speaking in tongues (v. 4), to act also for the “benefit” of others and for the “common good” (vv. 17, 26, JB). At 1 Tim. 1:4 the RSV reads “training” (Gk. oikonomÌa; JB “design”; NIV “work”) rather than “edifying” (KJV; Gk. oikodomÌa), which is the result of disciplined faith and is nothing like mythic or genealogical “speculations” (so RSV).
Logos Bible Software, 1 Corinthians 14:3
Edify (edified, edification) is a key term in chapter 14...being used 6 times (:3,4,5,12,17,26). The Greek word comes from the combination of two words...”house” and “to build”. So, its root meaning is a reference to building a house. In the context of 1 Corinthians...Paul uses it to speak of that which is used to build the house of God, the church. When we edify someone we are building up, strengthening the church.
exhortation...Speaking in such a manner that God’s Word is “called alongside” to the very issue which a person is dealing with and provides counsel that results in comfort. A form of this word is actually used to refer to the ministry of the Holy Spirit (John 16:7-“Helper”-NASV).
Comfort, Comforter, Comfortless:
means "a calling to one's side" (para, "beside," kaleo, "to call"); hence, either "an exhortation, or consolation, comfort," e.g., Luk 2:25 (here "looking for the consolation of Israel" is equivalent to waiting for the coming of the Messiah); Luk 6:24; Act 9:31; Rom 15:4, 5; 1Cr 14:3, "exhortation;" 2Cr 1:3-7; 7:4, 7, 13; 2Th 2:16; Phm 1:7. In 2Th 2:16 it combines encouragement with alleviation of grief. The RV changes "consolation" into "comfort," except in Luk 2:25; 6:24; Act 15:31; in Hbr 6:18, "encouragement;" in Act 4:36, "exhortation." RV (AV, consolation"). Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G3874&t= NASB
consolation...The one speaking demonstrates an attitude of sincere interest and compassion for the person who is hearing, not just an interest in the recitation of Biblical facts.
Comfort, Comforter, Comfortless:
primarily "a speaking closely to anyone" (para, "near," muthos, "speech"), hence denotes "consolation, comfort," with a greater degree of tenderness than No. 1, 1Cr 14:3.
Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words http://www.blueletterbible.org/lang/lexicon/lexicon.cfm?Strongs=G3874&t= NASB
When someone prophesies, the whole church is benefited (:4). On the other hand, when someone speaks in a tongue, only that person is benefited (:4). On top of that, even the person speaking in tongues doesn’t understand what he is saying. What he is saying is a “mystery” even to him (:2). He is benefited simply by the realization that he is speaking in tongues. He is blessed by the realization that it is a spiritual gift...but the blessing ends there. He is blessed in his spirit...but there is no further understanding that his mind can grasp and benefit from, or share with others (:14-17). The bottom line is that we should seek more
eagerly that gift which is most beneficial to the whole church, rather than to the individual member...”so that the church may receive edifying” (:5,12).
1 Corinthians 14:6-20-Tongues don't “profit” others because they cannot understand what is being said.
signifies "to be useful, do good, profit," Rom 2:25; with a negative, "to be of no use, to effect nothing," Mat 27:24; Jhn 6:63, "profiteth;" Jhn 12:19, "prevail;" in Luk 9:25, AV, "(what is a man) advantaged?" RV, "profited."
Paul is not opposed to speaking in tongues. In fact, he wishes that they all had that gift (:5). But, they would be much better off if they could also understand what they were saying. So, pray that you may also have the gift of interpretation (:6,13)...so that you can know what you have said, and you can tell others what you are saying (evidently, when a person is speaking in tongues he doesn't know himself what he is saying, :14). Paul says that unless we are able to explain to others what we are saying they will think that we are a “barbarian”...someone who is crude, uneducated.
properly meant "one whose speech is rude, or harsh;" the word is onomatopoeic, indicating in the sound the uncouth character represented by the repeated syllable "bar-bar." Hence it signified one who speaks a strange or foreign language. See 1Cr 14:11. It then came to denote any foreigner ignorant of the Greek language and culture. After the Persian war it acquired the sense of rudeness and brutality. In Act 28:2, 4, it is used unreproachfully of the inhabitants of Malta, who were of Phoenician origin. So in Rom 1:14, where it stands in distinction from Greeks, and in implied contrast to both Greeks and Jews. Cp. the contrasts in Col 3:11, where all such distinctions are shown to be null and void in Christ. "Berber" stood similarly in the language of the Egyptians for all non- Egyptian peoples.
Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words
Paul says that he would rather speak in such a way that edifies others than to just edify himself (:20). It is interesting that Paul says that he speaks in tongues more than anyone else in the church at Corinth (:18). Then in verse 19 he says, “however, in the church”. Nowhere in the New Testament is Paul recorded speaking in tongues in a public place. This suggests that the times when Paul spoke in tongues were in a private setting. Paul makes it clear how important it is that the church be benefited by the use of our spiritual gift (and not just our self) by saying that he would rather speak just five words in the church that
people can understand (prophecy), than ten-thousand words that they cannot understand (tongues).
Prayer: Father, sometimes we seek Your blessing just for ourself. Please help us to see that there is a double blessing when we help others. The person we are ministering to is blessed by our action...and, we are blessed through our ministering to them. Help me to always seek to minister to others...and not just focus on myself.