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Theology => General Theology => Topic started by: nChrist on April 01, 2008, 07:34:45 AM

Post by: nChrist on April 01, 2008, 07:34:45 AM


Since there is considerable difference of opinion on this particular gift, more discussion will be given on this one than any of the others.

Paul is the only writer of the twenty-one Epistles of the New Testament that mentions the gift of tongues. He wrote not a word on the subject to the churches at Rome, Ephesus, Colossae, Thessalonica, Philippi, or Galatia. It is not mentioned in Timothy, Titus, Philemon or other of Paul’s epistles. James does not mention it, neither does Peter in his two books, or John in his four books. This omission of reference to tongues seems strange indeed if the gift of tongues were an essential part of the Christian experience or was to be perpetuated in the church.

There is a Greek word used for tongues in the New Testament. This word is used in three senses, each of which might be a starting point to determine the meaning of the Charism, or “gift.”

1. Primarily and literally the word is used in reference to the bodily organ. From this meaning some see in the gift an inarticulate utterance, the cry as of a brute creature in which the tongue moves while the lips refuse their office in making the sounds definite and distinct. This interpretation does not answer any of the facts of its usage in the New Testament.

2. The term may stand for the use of foreign words imparted. and half naturalized in Greek. This would be in accordance with the Greek meaning of “glossary”. According to this usage then, the gift of tongues is speaking in highly poetic language. The speakers were in a great state of excitement and expressed themselves in mystic, figurative terms. To say that this sense forms the basis for the New Testament usage of the term, one would fail to recognize that the sense of the word in the New Testament was more likely to be determined by that which it bore in the Septuagint rather than by its meaning in the Greek historians or rhetoricians. This sense also fails to meet the phenomena of the second chapter of Acts.

3. The third use of the word comes from the Hellenistic Greek which corresponds to the Hebrew word lashoue which stands for speech and language, Genesis 10:5; Daniel 1:4. This sense most likely serves as a basis for the New Testament usage. This would make the gift of tongues the ability to speak in earthly languages.’

The New Testament provides the following references to the gift of tongues:

1. Acts 2:4, 6, 11, The gift here occurred on the day of Pentecost at the establishment of the church. The gift here seems to be one of the fulfillments of the prophecy of Joel (Joel 2:20; Acts 2:16).

2. Mark 16:17, The speaking in new tongues is one of the signs promised to follow those who believe. Too much emphasis, however, must not be put on the word “new” because some ancient authorities omit it.

3. Acts 10:46, The gift of tongues here was manifested at the inauguration of the Gospel to the Gentiles at the Household of Cornelius. On the day of Pentecost, the gift of speaking with tongues was used by the Jews in the presence of Jews and proselytes only, but here it is used by Gentiles in the presence of Jewish Christians. The purpose for the gift of tongues here seems to have been to show that God approved the giving of the Gospel to the Gentiles. It is known that the manifestation of tongues here was the same as on Pentecost from Peter’s rehearsal of this incident to the Jewish brethren at Jerusalem in Acts 11, especially 11:15, “And as I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell on them, even as on us at the beginning.” Both came as a result of the baptism of the Holy Spirit.

4. Acts 19:6, The gift of tongues was given here to the twelve at Ephesus through the laying on of the hands of the apostle Paul. This gift seems to have been proof of their acceptance of God and also emphasized that John’s baptism at that date was invalid.

5. I Corinthians 12:1-10, 30, The gift here was manifested in the public assembly of the church at Corinth. The gift here always needed an interpreter to make the meaning clear to others.

6. I Corinthians 13:8, Here Paul simply states that the gifts of tongues shall cease. In this same chapter in verse one, he states that the gift of tongues is inferior to love. 1ldea taken from McClintock and Strong, op. cit. vl. 10, p. 479

7. I Corinthians 14:2; 26-32, This reference shows that the gift was liable to abuse and misuse. A description of the proper use of this gift is given. Also it is shown here that tongues are of secondary importance to prophecy, and that they are for a sign not to them that believe, but to the unbelieving. Two important differences should be noted in the Corinthian Glossolalia (the transliteration of the Greek for the gift of tongues) and the Pentecostal Glossolalia. The tongues on Pentecost did not require an interpreter whereas the Corinthian tongues did. The Pentecostal tongues were intelligible languages spoken to man, whereas the Corinthian tongues were spoken to God. (I Corinthians 14:2, “For he that speaketh in a tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God; for no man understandeth, but in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.”)

Post by: nChrist on April 01, 2008, 07:36:48 AM

There are two major opinions held respecting the gift of tongues. One, that it was what it seemed by its nature designed to be, a means of propagating the Gospel. The tongues were different earthly languages. The other opinion is that it was never used for the purpose of propagating the Gospel, but was used as a means for expressing devotion. It was an ecstatic utterance in an unintelligible jargon which was not for instruction and edification, but for adoration, wonder, and worship.

We quote noted commentators for both of these opinions. Arguments for the opinion that the gift of tongues was an ecstatic utterance are noted first:

“To speak with tongues is the gift of men who, rapt in ecstasy and no longer quite masters of their own reason and consciousness, pour forth their glowing spiritual emotions in strange utterances, rugged, dark, disconnected, quite unfitted to instruct or to influence the minds of others. The origin of the expression is apparently to be found in the fact that in Hebrew the tongue is spoken of as the leading instrument by which the praises of God are proclaimed. Psalms 34; 65:17; 125:2. The plural seems to refer to the various motions of the tongue.”1

“Speaking in tongues is an utterance proceeding from a state of unconscious ecstasy in the speaker and unintelligible to the hearer unless interpreted. It is an involuntary psalm like a prayer or song uttered from a spiritual trance; and in a peculiar language inspired by the Holy Spirit. This gift has nothing to do with the spread of the gospel among foreign peoples and in foreign languages, but purely an act of worship for the edification of the speaker himself, and indirectly through interpretation for the hearers. It appeared in the house of Cornelius and in the Corinthian church as a means of edification for believers.”2

“The gift of tongues is the supreme spirit of the ecstatic utterer encompassed and penetrated by the Holy Spirit in adorning raptures of super-natural prayer soaring beyond the range of the rational apprehension, which fails to find its natural expression in speech (rational speech) or in logos begotten of spirit; accordingly it indeed is speech engendered of the mind, but in a tongue created of the spirit. One thing seems certain, that this extemporised creation and irrepressible utterance of unknown tongues was quite distinct from the speaking in foreign languages.”3

“Speaking in tongues had nothing to do with spread of the Gospel. It was an act of self devotion, an act of thanksgiving, praying, and singing within the Christian congregation by individuals who were wholly absorbed in communion with God and gave utterances to raptured feelings in broken, abrupt, rhapsodic, unintelligible words. It was emotional, not intellectual. It was the language of excited imagination, not of cool reflection. It was the language of the spirit of ecstasy as distinct from the language of understanding. The speaker was in a state of spiritual intoxication. ‘His tongue was a lyre on which the divine spirit played celestial chimes.’ He was unconscious, or only half conscious, and scarcely knew whether he was in body or out of body. To the unbeliever it sounded like a barbarous tongue, an uncertain sound of a trumpet, like a raving of a maniac.”’

“The Pentecostal glossolalia cannot have been essentially different from the Corinthian. It was an act of worship, of thanksgiving and praise. The glossolalia began before the spectators arrived, before there was necessity of using foreign tongues.
‘Thayer, J. H., Greek English Lexicon of New Testament; pg. 118
2Schaff, Philip, op. cit. p. 438
3lbid, p. 438
‘Cook, F. C., O~. cit. vl. 3, p. 333

There was no need for foreign tongues since conquest of Alexander the Great. The Greek language was generally understood throughout the Roman empire, and the apostles scarcely ever needed any other. Greek was used by all the writers of the New Testament, even by James of Jerusalem, and in a way which shows that they had learnt it like other people, by early training and practice. There is no trace of miraculous knowledge of language after Pentecost.”2

“At Corinth no one understood the tongue, not even the speaker himself, for it seems to have been a rhapsody, an uncontrolled ecstatic outburst, and in case there was no one to interpret or explain it, the speaker was to hold his peace . .
2Schaff, Philip, op. cit. vi. 3, p. 333
3lbid, p. 237

Post by: nChrist on April 01, 2008, 07:39:15 AM

Answer These Questions

1. What does the fact that Paul is the only writer of the twenty-one Epistles to mention the gift of tongues indicate?

2. How does the second definition of the term “tongues” fail to meet the phenomena of the second chapter of Acts?

3. What is the third use of the word “tongues”?

4. There are seven references to the use of “tongues” in the New Testament. Please discuss in your own words three of the references.

5. What are the two opinions held respecting the gift of tongues?
“The tongues of this account cannot have signified the power to speak strange languages in missionary preaching, as many have inferred from the terms used in the account of the manifestation of the day of Pentecost. The Greek word implies that this ecstatic phenomenon was far from uniform; the new tongues of Mark 16:17 together with indications of Chapter 13:1 and 14 of this epistle, point to the breaking out of an exalted and mystical utterance varied at different times and places in its mode and attendant conditions, and in the impression it produced on the hearers.”1
1Nicoll, W. R., The Expositors Greek New Testament, I Corinthians, II p. 889
“The word tongue does- not do full justice to the Greek original. The Greek word indicates the speaking tongue, the tongue in action. Paul speaks of Christians who received an extraordinary gift of the Holy Spirit, a charisma, to speak or to understand a language which did not have the ordinary human characteristics, a special language formed by the Spirit, unintelligible for ordinary people. The speaking in tongues, therefore, is the speaking of a miraculous spiritual language that had its own sounds. It cannot be determined whether ‘kinds’ refers to the contents or to the sounds. More than one says this miraculous language was the language spoken in paradise.”2

“It so happened that here on this occasion at Pentecost there were Jews from all parts of the world, so that someone would understand one tongue and some another without an interpreter such as was needed at Corinth. These tongues are identical in all four cases. They are not for edification or instruction, but for adoration and worship.”3
2lnternational Coin mentary, I Corinthians, p. 288
3Robertson, A. T., Word Pictures in New Testament; Acts vi. 3

Post by: nChrist on April 01, 2008, 07:41:29 AM

Next will be considered arguments for the other opinion, that tongues were different earthly languages. The following quotations from prominent commentators seem to sustain this position: “Some say that new tongues mean ‘unheard of’ heavenly language, not earthly tongues. This adjective, ‘new’ never means new in the sense of ‘unheard of.’ This is the sense of the Greek word, an adjective never applied to the gift of tongues. This Greek word is always ‘new’ compared with what is ‘old’ or differing from the old. The Corinthians have their own language, which is old to them; and when they hear some of their own members speak in new languages, these are new to them because they are foreign languages, other than the one to which they are accustomed.”1
‘Lenski, R. C., op. cit. p. 564 if.
“The experience of Pentecost must have served as the origin of the new and special meaning of the word ‘tongue’ in the New Testament. Paul would likely use the same word in the same sense. In absence of a distinct notice to the contrary, it is probable that the gift would manifest itself in the same form at Corinth as at Jerusalem. It is easier to conceive ‘divers kinds of tongues’ as pointing to differences of language than as belonging to utterances all equally wild and inarticulate. Corinth was a seaport, and was almost as much a polyglot community as Jerusalem.”2

“Why did God give this gift to the Corinthian Church? Simply because of all places in Greece, Corinth was the one most suited for its exercise; for, on account of its position, having two ports opening to two seas, and its commercial importance, it was thronged with persons of the most varied personalities. This gift was given to certain members of the Corinthian churches solely for the purposes of instruction, that they might speak to the crowds of foreigners which thronged its streets and places of public resort, in their own tongues, the wonderful works of God. Now with this agrees the fact that all the four places in which this gift was bestowed were the resort of men of all nations by whom the reality of the gift could be at once tested. The four places are: Jerusalem, Caesarea (pronounced to be far more a Gentile than a Jewish city, having cohorts of legions from all parts of the empire in garrison there), Ephesus, the resort of pilgrims and traders from all the Asiatic provinces, and Corinth. If Christians received this gift in such places as Philippi or Thessalonica, it would, humanly speaking, be thrown away. The miracle could be of use to no one, for the speaker would speak a language which no one in the place could understand; whereas if a Christian of Corinth or Ephesus received this gift, he would find persons in every street on whose behalf he could exercise it.
2McClintock and Strong, op. cit. vi. 1.0, p. 479 if.
I Corinthians 14:22, “Tongues are a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not.” If an unbeliever (a foreigner) heard another speak to him with great apparent earnestness in a language not intelligible unto him, he would put it down to madness, verse 23. But if the same foreigner was assured that the speaker knew but a short time before not one word of his (the foreigner’s) native language, and yet heard himself addressed fluently by him in that language, it would be to the hearer as it was to multitudes on the day of Pentecost, the most overwhelming sign of the truth of the Message.”1
1Sadler, M. F. Sadler, op. cit. p. 511 if. (Acts)
It is interesting to note quotations from two prominent church fathers as evidence that the gift of tongues was used for the dissemination of the Gospel:

Irenaeus, Luke relates that the spirit descended on the disciples after the ascension of the Lord on the day of Pentecost in order that all nations might be enabled to enter into life; wherefore they united in all languages in praising God, the Holy Spirit bringing distant tribes into unity and offering the first fruits of all nations to God.”’

Origen, “I suppose that he was made a debtor to different nations because, through the grace of the Holy Spirit, he had received the gift of speaking in the languages of all nations, as he himself also said, ‘I speak in tongues more than ye all.”2

Irenaeus lived within 100 years of the day of Pentecost. Origen lived 50 or 60 years later. These lived 1700 years nearer to the times of the New Testament than those who assert that the gift of tongues was never used for the spreading of the Gospel and was never earthly languages. References can be found in the works of church fathers who lived a century or so later that the gift of tongues was used in spreading the Gospel.3

Post by: nChrist on April 01, 2008, 07:42:57 AM

More quotations are given to further sustain this position:

“Each one began to speak that which he had not acquired, and yet it was a real language, and understood by those from various lands familiar with them. It was not jargon, but intelligible language. Jesus had said that the Gospel would go to all nations and here various tongues of earth were spoken.”4

“The other tongues therefore are, according to the text, to be considered as absolutely nothing else than languages, which were different from the native language of the speakers.”5
1ibid. p. 511, quoted from Eusebius 5, chapter 7
2ibid. quoted from Wordsworth
4Robertson, A. I., op. cit. vi. on Acts p. 21
5Meyer, H. W., Handbook on Acts of Apostles; p. 45

Answer These Questions

1. Why do some people feel speaking in tongues has nothing to do with the spread of the Gospel?

2. The Pentecostal “glossolalia” was indeed different from the Corinthian — show how.

3. How is the Greek word “new” used in the New Testament?

4. Why was Corinth most suited for the exercise of the gift of tongues?

5. Show how I Corinthians 14:22 indicates the gift of tongues was a language.

6. What is the conclusion of the church fathers?

“The speaker with tongues, exercising his spiritual gift, might indeed speak the divine truths or mysteries of God; but speaking them in a foreign language [emphasis mine, R.H.] he would be understood only by God and himself, and so would only edify, etc., himself.”1

“The speaker with a gift of tongues was able to speak in various languages. The gift of tongues was designed among other things to aid Christians in proclaiming the Gospel to the barbarous peoples in their own language. When used for this purpose it was a blessing, but to employ it for the sake of vain display in addressing those who could not understand the language employed, was to make it a curse.”2

“The idea is that the church would usually speak the same language with the people among whom they dwelt; and if they made use of foreign languages which were unintelligible to their visitors, it would leave the impression that the church was a bedlam.”3

“Tongues are foreign human languages. Any speaker with a tongue may easily know in advance whether someone is present in the assembly who understands the particular language which the Spirit communicates to him. Previous tests and experiences place this beyond question. This applies to each of the two or three speakers who are allowed by Paul at any one service. Each may speak a different foreign language. Each will know the name of the particular language which the Spirit grants him to speak. A glance tells him whether an interpreter is present or not. If none is at hand, he remains silent. Such interpreters will have interpreted before and will thus be known for their ability by all.”4
‘McGarvey, J. W., The Standard Bible Commentary Thess. Cor. Gal. Rom. p. 134
2Boles, H. Leo, Commentary on I Corinthians, p. 211
3Barnes, Albert, op. cit. I Corinthians, p. 609-610
4Lenski, R. C. H., op. cit. I Corinthians, p. 269

Post by: nChrist on April 01, 2008, 07:45:31 AM

“My understanding of the ‘tongues’ described in the New Testament is that they always were in a language understood by the people. That was certainly true at Pentecost. I see no reason for believing that some sort of ‘ecstatic’ tongue, understood by no one present, but necessitating a miraculous interpreter is referred to in Corinthians. I cannot think of God using a circuitous route to enlighten people, when a direct path could be employed — as on Pentecost. That subterfuge explanation that the ‘gifts of tongues’ was a heavenly jargon indicating some special favor granted the speaker originated with some hypocrites like the founder of Mormonism.”1

In view of all the foregoing facts and comments presented, it is the opinion of the author of this thesis that the following conclusion can be made: All manifestations of the gift of tongues are essentially the same. Tongues were spoken in intelligible human languages and were used for the propagation and the dissemination of the Gospel.

The use of the term “unknown” tongue in I Corinthians 14:4 in the King James translation is one of the many reasons why some have concluded that the gift of tongues is an ecstatic, incomprehensible sort of utterance. This conclusion becomes untenable when the fact is pointed out that the word “unknown” is not in the original Greek text, but is merely an addition of the King James translators.
1Walker, W. R., Christian Standard; quoted by G. R. Phillips in Thesis, p. 11(1
According to Patristic writings (the early church Fathers), by the time of Chrysostom this gift ceased. Since that time, however, counterfeits of this gift have appeared from time to time in periods of special religious excitement:

1. Among the Camisards and prophets of the Cevennes in France during the seventeenth century.

2. Among the early Quakers and Methodists.

3. The Mormons in the early part of their movement.

4. Among the Readers in Sweden — 1841-1843.

6. Among the Irvingites or the Catholic Apostolic Church — 1831.

7. Among various Pentecostal and Holiness sects of today.

A man by the name of Bennet wrote a work on The Churchms Broken Unity in which he devoted one section to the exposure of the pretended gifts of the Irvingites. His exposure aptly describes, and is applicable not only to the Irvingites but to all who have claimed this gift since Apostolic times:

“The gift of tongues claimed by modern Irvingites has been said to be illustrative of the gift of tongues of the Apostolic age. Now first, out of the eight persons who were averred so to have spoken, one, Mr. Baxter, admitted that he was deceived. Another admitted that it was no gift at all, but that she was gradually led on to imposture. Again a Mr. Pilkington, who was for some time among them, set down various sounds which he declares he heard. Of one he says, that it burst forth with an astonishing and terrible crash. He says that it gives some idea of the sound with which the tongue was delivered by him, if ‘cras-cran-cran-crash’ were uttered with a sudden and rapid vociferation. Mr. Pilkington explains some of these words as broken English, ‘Holimoth Holif Awthaw” being “Holy Most Holy Father.”

When one of the speakers of the preceding jabbering was asked if she had spoken English, she did not deny it, but whispered to her neighbor, I didn’t speak in English, did I?’

Mary Campbell, one of the original claimants of the gift, not only uttered such sounds but wrote down what she intended to be written characters representing them. These fragments of writings were submitted to many. These characters were those which one sees on the large Chinese tea chests, some memory of which was probably floating in Mary Campbell’s mind. She did not profess to understand the characters which she traced. No one else could understand them either. Such things we are told illustrate the Pentecostal action of the Spirit of God.”1

Post by: nChrist on April 01, 2008, 07:47:28 AM

Following are descriptions of alleged occurrences of speaking in tongues among the Camisards of France and the Cevenal Prophets:

“The Camisards of France in the 18th Century were a group of persecuted Protestants. They seemed to be able after repeated fasts of three days each, to receive a ‘gift,’ sink to the ground as in death, and after a time rise up, speaking in good French (a language supposedly completely unknown to them) for as long as two hours, and then to come out of their ‘trance’ remembering nothing of what they had done. All kinds of miracles attended them. Lights in the sky guided them to places of safety, voices sang encouragement to them, shots and wounds were often harmless; they shed tears of blood, and they subsisted without food or speech for nine days.”2
1Sadler, M. F., op. cit. p. 517 (Acts)
2Encyciopedia Brittanica, 1951, vi. 4, p. 666, quoted from G. R. Phillips in Thesis, p. 24
“The Cevenal Prophets, who were in France in the latter part of the 17th Century, claimed spiritual gifts. The persons affected were men and women, the old and the young. Very many were children of nine or ten years of age. They were sprung from the people, their enemy’s said, from the dregs of the people, ignorant and uncultured for the most part; and unable to read or write. Such persons would suddenly fall backwards, and, while extended at full length on the ground, undergo strange and apparently involuntary contortions: their chests would seem to heave, their stomachs to inflate. On coming gradually out of this condition, they appeared instantly to regain the power of speech. Beginning often in a voice interrupted by sobs, they soon poured forth a torrent of words — cries for mercy, calls to repentance, exhortations, denunciations, and prophecies of coming judgment. From the mouths of those that were little more than babes came texts of Scriptures and discourses in good and intelligible French, such as they never used in their conscious hours. When the trance ceased, they declared that they remembered nothing of what had occurred, or of what they said. In rare cases they retained a general and vague impression, but nothing more.”1

The following description of the Cane Ridge Meeting in Kentucky during the beginning of the Restoration Movement in America shows that some claimed to have talked in tongues there:

“There were 25,000 people gathered and the noise was like that of Niagara Falls. Seven ministers were preaching from different places. At no time was the ground less than half covered with the victims of the religious experience. Some could not move or speak and rescue teams, called ‘bearers of the slain,’ were carrying them away. Some talked but could not move. Some beat the earth with their heels. Some, shrieking in agony, bounded about like live fish out of water. Many lay down and rolled over for hours at a time; others rushed wildly about over stumps and benches, and then plunged, shouting, ‘lost, lost’ in the forest. Many talked in Tongues [emphasis mine, R.H), some had the ‘holy laughs’ others the ‘barks.’

These fell on all fours rolling about and gathering at the foot of a tree yelping, barking, and snapping like dogs. This exercise was called treeing the devil.”2

These alleged occurrences simply do not answer the same tests, were not done for the same purposes, and were not induced the same way as the New Testament miracles and especially the gift of tongues.
1Dalton, R. C., Tongues Like as of Fire; p. 17, quoted from ibid.
2Tbe Ligttorian, p. 156, quoted from G. R. Phillips, op. cit. p. 24 if.
Answer These Questions

1. What did A. T. Robertson say about the meaning of the word “tongues.”

2. What did H. W. Meyer say?

3. What did J. W. McGarvey say?

4. What did R. C. H. Lenski say?

5. What shall we say of post-apostolic occurrences of speaking in tongues?

Post by: nChrist on April 01, 2008, 07:49:47 AM


This gift consisted in the ability to make known to others, especially to those in a congregational meeting, the meaning of that which is spoken by one possessing the gift of talking in tongues. Lenski has the following to say concerning this gift:

“One who possessed this gift was one who naturally knew a foreign language that was used by those who spoke with tongues, and who then used his natural knowledge in giving the interpretation to the congregation. Interpretation is the last and thus the lowest of all the gifts. It utilizes a natural ability by sanctifying it and employing it for spiritual ends.”

This gift is mentioned only in connection with the church at Corinth. No doubt this gift was manifested at other places, but no mention is made of it.”
(Ronnie Hanna)


Outline of Chapters Twelve, Thirteen and Fourteen


Occasion for this section was misunderstanding and abuse of spiritual gifts. Those claiming most important gifts displayed them to humiliation of those with lesser gifts.

1. Heathen oracles compared with Christian revelation, 1 Corinthians 12:1-3. The oracles pretended revelation through idols, but “dumb” idols revealed nothing: only inspired men could say “Jesus is Lord.”

2. Unity and purpose of spiritual gifts, 1 Corinthians 12:4-11.

a. Relation of the gifts to the Godhead, 4-6. To the Spirit —  gifts, manifestation, to Christ —  ministrations, or means of working; to God — workings, or evidence of divine activity in the church. This unity of gifts was against divisive use of them.

b. The gifts and their accomplishments, 7-11. They were nine in number, classified as follows:

(1) Those revealing the Gospel; “Words of wisdom” —  this gift used by apostles and prophets; “word of knowledge’ ‘ — to teach revealed truths by inspired teachers; “prophecy”  —  to predict, see Acts 11:28; 21:8-il; “Interpretation of tongues’ ‘ — an essential in revealing truth “discerning of spirits” — ability to distinguish false teachers from true, I John 4:1.

(2) Those confirming the Gospel: “faith” — conviction they could work miracles, see Matt. 17:19- 21; I Corinthians 13:2; “healings’ ‘ — power to restore the sick, Acts 5:15, 16; James 5:14,15; “miracles” — examples in Acts 5:1- 11; 13:8-11; “tongues” — ability to present the Gospel in foreign languages, as on Pentecost, Acts 2:5-11.

3. Unity in using these gifts, 1 Corinthians 12:12-27.

a. Organic unity, 12, 13. As the human body “is one,” so is the church; for by “one Spirit,” directing through His word, we were all immersed into the one body.

b. Co-operative unity, 14-27. This, too, illustrated by the human body. Thus the sinful misuse of the gifts was exposed; they were given for the common good.

4. Gradation of gifts according to importance, 28-30. By ranking the spiritually gifted men in this order, precedence of each is settled.

A more excellent way than pride and strife about spiritual gifts is the manifestation of love.

Post by: nChrist on April 01, 2008, 07:53:14 AM

5. Superiority of love in comparison with all spiritual gifts, 1 Corinthians 13:1-13.

a. The essential of love, 1:3: in speech — gift of tongues; in knowledge — to teach and predict; in faith — to work miracles; in giving — of goods and person.

b. The conduct of love, 4-7. It is personified in order to set forth its beauty and excellence in human relations.

c. The final values of love, 8-13. The following facts stand out:

(1) Prophecies, tongues, knowledge — and all the rest of the gifts — shall pass away when the “perfect” is come, namely, the Gospel fully revealed and the church fully instructed, 8-10. The gifts came into the church through the apostles and went out with them.

(2) Progressive revelation to and instruction of the church during the apostolic age illustrated by development of childhood into manhood and by reflection of a mirror, 11, 12.

(3) Instead of spiritual gifts now we have faith, hope, love-the results from these gifts, 13. “Faith” is based on testimony of the Spirit, Romans 10:17. “Hope” of the resurrection will be accomplished by the Spirit, Romans 8:11. “Love” of God is imparted by the Spirit, Romans 5:5, is the character of God, I John 4:16, hence eternal.

6. This chapter corrects the selfish, vain-glorious display of foreign tongues in the church at Corinth.

a. comparison of prophesying and speaking in tongues, 1-5. Along with love, spiritual gifts were desirable, but prophecy was superior to foreign tongues, because it edified (built up) the church in a known language.

b. The unprofitableness of speaking in a language not understood, 6-19. This is illustrated by sound without sense. Therefore, inspired speaking, praying, singing in a foreign tongue must be interpreted, or the uninstructed could not say “Amen.

c. The significance of tongues and prophesying, 20-2 5. Misuse of gift of tongues was childish — a severe reproof to wise-acres in Corinth. Tongues had a twofold purpose: (a) ability to preach in foreign languages without learning them, and (b) to prove the Gospel of divine source. As the Assyrian tongue was a sign to unbelieving Israel that their captivity was from God, so tongues in the church was a sign “to the unbelieving” “that God is among you,” believers. However, tongues must be interpreted, or unbelievers will say “ye are mad.” But intelligent prophetic preaching will convince.

7. Proper decorum in public worship, 14:26-40.

a. Number and order of speakers, 26-33. Edification of the church the one objective, hence there must be intelligent speech and division of time in use of the spiritual gifts, or confusion would result — a thing not attributive to God.

b. Women to keep silent in the assembly, 33-36. This for two reasons: (1) The law demands subjection, Genesis 3:16; Numbers 30:3-12. That is still in force, I Corinthians 11:3. (2) Local custom, “shameful for a woman.” Not so in the West. Even in early church were exceptions, Acts 21:9; I Corinthians 11:5.

8. Final word on spiritual gifts, 37-40. His teaching is by authority of Christ, received by those willing to learn. Moreover, there is to be decent and orderly exercise of those gifts. (from The New Testament Epistles, by Victor F. Hoven)

Text 1 Corinthians 12:1-3

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. Ye know that when ye were Gentiles ye were led away unto those dumb idols, howsoever ye might be led. Wherefore I make known unto you, that no man speaking in the Spirit of God saith, Jesus is anathema; and no man can say, Jesus is Lord, but in the Holy Spirit.

Post by: nChrist on April 01, 2008, 07:55:38 AM

Thought Questions 12:1-3
Please attempt an answer to these questions before you read our comment.

1. The word “gifts” is supplied by the translators. What synonym could you supply?

2. Why did Paul feel a need for writing on this subject? i.e., what were the conditions in the church at Corinth which prompted such a discussion?

3. Aren’t the Christians at Corinth still Gentiles? Why the use of the word “Gentiles” as in v. 2?

4. Who led them away to the idols?

5. Why call the idols “dumb”? Does this mean “stupid”?

6. Why were they so easily led?

7. How did idols relate to the subject of spiritual gifts?

8. Please notice that v. 3 is a conclusion of v. 2 — what is the premise of this conclusion?

9. Who was saying “Jesus is accursed” or “anathema”?

10. What is meant by saying “speaking in the Spirit of God”?

11. Evidently someone was claiming to speak by the Spirit of God, and was not — who was it?

12. In what sense are we to understand vs. 3b? i.e., is this a reference to supernaturally saying “Jesus is Lord,” or is it a reference to the ordinary confession of His Lordship? What is the point of the statement?

Paraphrase 1 Corinthians 12:1-3

1. Now, concerning spiritual men, and concerning the nature, the excellency, and the use of their gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.

2. Ye all know, that formerly ye were blind heathens, led away to worship idols that are dumb, just as ye happened to be led, by education, or custom, or the artifices of your priests.

3. Wherefore, that ye may distinguish the inspirations of God from those of evil spirits, I inform you, that no one, speaking by the Spirit of God, pronounceth Jesus a deceiver who was justly put to death; and that no one, speaking by a supernatural impulse, can declare Jesus Lord, except he be really inspired by the Holy Ghost.

Comment 1 Corinthians 12:1-3

The use and purpose of spiritual gifts is very well expressed by J. W. McGarvey and Philip Y. Pendleton in their commentary:

“In the early church the Spirit of God, fulfilling the predictions of prophecy (Joel 2:28 ff, Acts 2:17- 21), and the promise of the Lord (Mark 16:17-18; Acts 1:8 ), beginning on the day of Pentecost, endowed certain members with miraculous gifts. These were needful in that day:

1. They aided the evangelists and missionaries to propagate the faith in new fields with greater speed.

2. They assured weak converts that God was indeed in that church for which they had abandoned their former religions.

3. They edified the church, and gave it that body of perfect revealed truth which has been preserved and made permanent in the New Testament.” (pp. 119, 120)

Post by: nChrist on April 01, 2008, 07:58:02 AM

Perhaps it would be better to use the word “matters” in place of ~gifts” in v. 1, so the translation would read, “Now concerning spiritual matters, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.” It is so translated by a number of commentators as well as translators. Paul wants to instruct them on all matters spiritual whether relating to the use of supernatural powers or not. His particular concern is in the proper use of the gift of tongues, but he wishes to lay a broad foundation upon which to build his instruction. The first principle to be learned and applied relates to the confession of Jesus as Lord.

Settle it in your mind — idols have no supernatural power or approval. This can be certain because their priests and followers deny the deity and Lordship of Jesus. When you were Gentiles (ye are now children of Abraham by faith — Cf. Galatians 3:26,27), you were easily influenced by these false teachers —  remember, the idols before whom you stood were as dumb as the substance out of which they were made. If they seemed to speak, it was by the trickery of the priests who manipulated them. These priests can not possibly have the power or approval of God for they reject and blaspheme our Saviour.

It is also true that if anyone confesses that Jesus is Lord he is doing it either by the direct influence of the Holy Spirit — i.e., the Spirit speaking through him, or by the full approval of the Holy Spirit.

Whatever confusion may reign in your mind because of the misuse and abuse of these supernatural powers, please do not associate such powers with your former idolatrous worship.

Text 1 Corinthians 12:4-11

Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are diversities of ministrations, and the same Lord. And there are diversities of workings, but the same God, who worketh all things in all. But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit to profit withal. For to one is given through the Spirit the word of wisdom; and to another the word of knowledge, according to the same Spirit: to another faith, in the same Spirit; and to another workings of miracles; and to another prophecy; and to another discerning of Spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; and to another the interpretation of tongues; but all these worketh the one and the same Spirit, dividing to each one severally even as he will.

Thought Questions 1 Corinthians 12:4-11

13. Please notice and define the three important words: gifts —  ministrations — workings.

14. Notice the person who controls “gifts’ ‘ — the person who controls “ministrations’ ‘ — the person who controls “workings’ ‘ — explain the reason for attributing them to different divine persons.

15. Define the word “manifestation” as here used.

16. Who is to profit by the use of Spiritual gifts?

17. We have defined these nine spiritual gifts — could you now define in your own words these gifts?

18. Who gives Spiritual gifts? For what purpose?

19. Was there some special need or advantage in granting such gifts to the church at Corinth?

Post by: nChrist on April 01, 2008, 08:00:53 AM

Paraphrase 1 Corinthians 12:4-11

4. Now, there are diversities of gifts, but they all proceed from the same Spirit: so that in respect of their origin, the spiritual gifts are all equally divine.

5. And there are diversities of ministries, for which the different gifts are bestowed; but the same Lord is served by these ministries: so that in respect of the Lord whom they serve, the spiritual men are all equally honorable.

6. And there are diversities of inworkings on the minds of the spiritual men, but it is the same God who worketh inwardly all supernatural impressions in all: so that in respect of the authority by which they act, the spiritual men are all equal.

7. And to each is given the gift by which the presence of the Spirit with him is manifested, not for advancing his honor, but for promoting the advantage of all: so that in respect to the end for which they exercise their spiritual gifts, the spiritual men are all equal.

8. Now to one indeed, through the indwelling of the Spirit, is given the word of wisdom; the whole doctrine of the gospel: and to another the word of knowledge; the complete knowledge of the formed revelations recorded in the writings of Moses and the prophets, according to the indwelling of the same Spirit.

9. And to another, such a firm faith in the divine original of the gospel, by the same Spirit as enableth him boldly to preach and confirm it by miracles; and to another the gifts of healing diseases by the same Spirit.

10. And to another the inworking of miracles: and to another prophecy: and to another the gift of discerning spirits: and to another the faculty of speaking divers kinds of foreign languages: and to another the faculty of interpreting what is spoken in foreign languages by inspiration, for the edification and exhortation, and comfort of the church.

11. Now all these gifts and powers, the one and the same Spirit of God inworketh in the spiritual men, distributing to each his proper gifts, as he himself pleaseth, for the general advantage.

Comment 1 Corinthians 12:4-11

This section needs special care in understanding — there are three persons and three responsibilities to be considered. The three persons are: (1) The Holy Spirit; (2) The Lord Jesus Christ; (3) God the Father. Each of these persons has a responsibility in the operation of the supernatural gifts:

(1) The gifts have their origin in the Holy Spirit. He it is who prompts and provides for their operation.

(2) The gifts have their distribution in and from the Lord Jesus (Cf. Romans 12:6,7; Ephesians 4:11,12; I Peter 4:10,11). Under the controlling hand of Jesus certain persons are granted appropriate supernatural powers even as decided by our Lord.

(3) The gifts have their power in God. God our Father is the source of power for the operation of these gifts.

Please read very carefully verses six through eight with the above comments in mind.

Post by: nChrist on April 01, 2008, 08:02:53 AM

The manifestations or expressions of the Holy Spirit through certain persons are next to be discussed. These manifestations, (supernatural abilities granted to the Holy Spirit within men) are nine in number:

1. Wisdom (“word” or “discourse” of wisdom): Some prefer to define this as the ability to reveal divine truth; others believe it relates to the ability to understand and apply truth after it has been revealed.

2. Knowledge (“word” or “discourse” of knowledge): Is knowledge the body of truth and wisdom the ability to interpret it? We believe it is. The “discourse of knowledge,” then, would be the supernaturally imparted information. It makes little difference which emphasis is here used — the facts stand that through the Holy Spirit wisdom and knowledge were given to certain men.

3. Faith: This has reference to the exercise of faith. (Cf. Matt. 17:19,20; 13:2). Such persons could believe God for certain supernatural action that would not even occur to the ordinary believer.

4. Healing: This had special reference to the restoration of the sick. (Cf. Acts 5:15,16; Jas. 5:14,15.) Those who had this gift evidently were limited to this one miracle.

5. Miracles: The general gift “. . . it included acts of judgment as well as mercy.” The cases of Paul and Elymas (Acts 5:1-11) and Peter with Ananias and Sapphira are cited as examples of the exercise of this gift.

6. Prophecy: This would seem to overlap the gift of wisdom and knowledge — the distinction must be in the power of foretelling future events. An example would be the prophet Agabus. (Cf. Acts 11:28; 21 :9-11.)

7. Discerning of Spirits: The supernatural ability to tell when a man was speaking or writing by divine inspiration.

8. Divers kinds of tongues: There is disagreement over this expression as to whether it refers to different languages or not. By reading an earlier portion of this lesson, the student will know our reasons for believing the divers tongues here do indeed refer to various languages.

9. Interpretation of tongues: What Mr. Hanna said earlier we say here — ”This gift consisted in the ability to make known to others, especially to those in a congregational meeting the meaning of that which is spoken by one possessing the gift of talking in tongues.”

The Holy Spirit is the origin of each of these gifts — He empowered each gifted person even as it seemed best to Him. No glory could be claimed by one gifted person above another inasmuch as the power is of the Spirit and not of man.

Text 1 Corinthians 12:12-31

For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of the body, being many, are one body; so also is Christ. For in one Spirit were we all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether bond or free, and were all made to drink of one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body, it is not therefore not of the body.

(I Corinthians 12:17-31): If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members each one of them in the body, even as it pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now they are many members, but one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of thee: or again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be more feeble are necessary: and those parts of the body, which we think to be less honorable, upon these we bestow more abundant honor; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness; whereas our comely parts have no need: but God tempered the body together, giving more abundant honor to that part which lacked; that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffereth, all the members suffer with it; or one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and severally members thereof. And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondly prophets, thirdly teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, divers kinds of tongues. Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? have all gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? But desire earnestly the greater gifts. And moreover a most excellent way show I unto you.

Post by: nChrist on April 01, 2008, 08:05:25 AM

Thought Questions 1 Corinthians 12:12-31

20. Please explain the use of the name “Christ” in 12:12.

21. Why the need for the emphasis upon unity as indicated in 12:12?

22. Does 12:13 teach Holy Spirit baptism for every believer or Christian? If not, what does it teach? Please remember our discussion of this point in an earlier lesson — please do some work on this point.

23. What two bodies are under consideration in this whole section?

24. What members of the Lord’s body in Corinth were giving special trouble?

25. Notice v. 15 — why would the foot become dissatisfied with being a foot? What is the point of the verse?

26. Is Paul attempting to show the importance of each member, or of each supernatural gift?

27. Paul shows the interdependence of each member — point out where and how.

28. Specify some of the members of the human body which seem to be more feeble.”

29. In the completion of the analogy who would be “the more feeble” members of the Corinthian church? Please do not forget that the use and abuse of Spiritual gifts is the subject of the chapter.

30. What are “the comely parts” of the body which have no need of honor?

31. What body is under consideration in 12:25b? Which “body” in 12:24b?

32. What “honor” is in view in v. 12:26?

33. If the church is the body of Christ, how can it be divided into warring denominational groups?

34. In what sense are we to understand the word “set” in 12:28?

35. Why would apostles be “first” in the body?

36. Who are the “teachers”? Cf. Ephesians 4:11,12.

37. Are we to understand that 12:28-30 is an abbreviation of what was discussed in detail in 12:1-11?

38. In the order of importance where does Paul place the gift of tongues? Where is it placed today in the churches that claim present-day exercise of these gifts? Why?

39. What are “helps” and “governments”?

40. If all do not possess these gifts, who does? Why?

41. What are the greater “gifts” (please notice this word is plural).

Post by: nChrist on April 01, 2008, 08:07:03 AM

Paraphrase 1 Corinthians 12:12-31

12. For as the human body is one body, although it consist of many members, and all the members of that one body, though many, are still one body, by the offices which each member performs for the preservation of the whole, so also is the body of Christ, the church: it is one body consisting of many members.

13. For indeed with the gifts of one Spirit, we all have been baptized into one body or church, whether Jews or Gentiles, whether slaves or freemen, and are all equally entitled to the privileges of that one body, and derive equal honor from them; and all have been made to drink in the Lord’s supper of one spirit of faith and love, by which the one body is animated.

14. Since therefore the human body consists not of one member, but of many members, whose powers are different and offices various,

15. If the foot, which treads the ground, and is often covered with dirt, envying the hand, shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not a member of the body; is it for this not a member of the body, and freed from performing its proper function?

16. And if the ear, because it is inferior to the eye, the noblest member of the body, shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not a member of the body; is it for this not a member of the body, and freed from its proper function?

17. The absurdity of all the members desiring to be the chief members is evident, since thus the body being deprived of the inferior members would quickly perish. If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?

18. But now, in opposition to this folly, God bath placed the members, every one of them in the body so as to form one whole, and bath assigned to each member its own office, as he hath pleased.

19. Besides, if all were one member, where were the body? That exquisite piece of mechanism, which is capable of supporting itself by the functions of its several parts.

20. But now, indeed, there are many members, which being aptly joined together make but one body, whose happiness results from the existence of all its members.

21. Therefore the eye cannot say to the hand, the chief instrument of action, I have no need of thee; nor in like manner can the head, in which the eyes and ears are placed, say to the feet which support the whole body, I have no need of you.

22. Nay, those members of the body which seem to be more feeble, because unable to endure external injury, such as the brain, the lungs, and the intestines, are much more necessary to its subsistence than the stronger members.

23. And those which we think are less graceful members of the body, on account of their place and use, around them we throw more abundant honour, by clothing them with splendid apparel. And thus our uncomely members have more abundant comeliness, by our care in adorning and defending them.

24. But our more strong and comely members have no need of defense and ornament. However, God hath united all the members of the body together, by giving to the members which are naturally weak and without beauty, more abundant honour, through their greater efficacy in the nourishment and preservation of the body.

25. This he hath done, that there may be no mutiny in the body, but that the members may have the same anxious care one for another; and particularly that the belly and other inactive members, by performing their functions, may strengthen the hands and feet, the active members.

26. And so, the whole being united, if one member is diseased or disabled, all the members jointly suffer, by losing the assistance of the disabled member; or if one member be properly clothed and gratified, all the rest derive advantage from its welfare, and jointly partake of its joy.

27. Now, ye being his church, are the body of Christ, and each of you members in part; and should apply to yourselves what I have written concerning the natural body and its members.

Post by: nChrist on April 01, 2008, 08:09:05 AM

28. Therefore, these indeed God hath placed in the church as chief members: First, apostles, who being endowed with the word of wisdom, from them all must receive the knowledge of the gospel; Secondly, the superior prophets, who, possessing the word of knowledge, are qualified to interpret the ancient revelations; Thirdly, teachers, who boldly preach the gospel through the world, and confirm it by miracles: Next, those who communicate to others the spiritual powers: Then those who possess the gifts of healing diseases: Helpers, who, speaking by inspiration to the edification of the church, are fitted to assist the superior teachers, and to help the faith and joy of others: Directors, who, by the gift of discerning spirits, are fitted to direct the church: Lastly, persons who, having the gift of speaking different kinds of foreign languages, can preach to every nation in it’s own language.

29. Are all apostles? Are all superior prophets? Are all teachers? Have all the gift of communicating miraculous powers?

30. Have all the gifts of healing diseases? Do all speak foreign languages? Do all interpret what is spoken in these languages? No. The church is made up of many members, each of which has its own power and office.

31. Now, ye earnestly desire the chief gifts, that ye may become the most honorable persons in the church. But I will shew you a more excellent way of obtaining honour.

Comment 1 Corinthians 12:12-31

We reproduce V. F. Hoven’s outline here to keep before us the analysis of this passage: Unity in using these gifts, 12:12-27.

a. Organic unity, 12,13. As the human body “is one,” so is the church; for by “one Spirit,” directing through His word, we were all immersed into one body.

b. Co-operative unity, 14-27. This, too, illustrated by the human body. Thus the sinful misuse of the gifts was exposed; they were given for the common good. Gradation of gifts according to importance, 28-31.

By ranking the spiritually gifted men in this order, precedence of each is settled.

A more excellent way than pride and strife about spiritual gifts is the manifestation of love.

We shall now take up a very plain verse by verse explanation of the text based on the above analysis:

Vs. 12. This verse contains the proposition or point to be developed in verses 13 through 31. This is a beautiful and powerful analogy between the human body and the church, the body of Christ. Please do not forget that these chapters are not a discussion of Spiritual gifts per se  —  but rather a discussion of the proper use of them. There are many members in the human body  — and they all have a separate function, but there is no disagreement or lack of unity. There is another body — it is the body of Christ — His church. In it there are many members. Does this mean there must be disagreement and contention? Not if we all recognize we are one body. We owe our existence not to ourselves but to our relationship to each other in the one body. Christ is in this world only to the extent that He is seen and heard through His body the church.

Vs. 13. How did we become one body? We did so by our baptism — in which we died and our life was hid with Christ in God. We lost our identity and became a new man in Christ Jesus. How can there be jealousy and envy when we are all members one of another in the body of Christ, His church? Does this verse teach Holy Spirit baptism for all Christians? We like the words of Kappa in Lard’s Quarterly, Vol. I, p. 432 ff:

Post by: nChrist on April 01, 2008, 08:10:53 AM

First. Is it not true, that we are brought into the one body by immersion in the Spirit? If so, it is certainly not proved by the passage we have been considering; for, as we have just seen, this passage, even with the rendering in question, contains an entirely different proposition. Again, by the rule which requires the term immersion, when not otherwise limited, to be understood as immersion in water, it is certain that in the latter sense, we are immersed into Jesus Christ, and into His death. This is the one immersion which brings us in the unity of the Spirit into the one body. Moreover, it is certain that neither of the two immersions in the Holy Spirit which are expressly so styled in the Scriptures (Pentecost and the house of Cornelius) brought its subjects into the one body. The apostles constituted a part of the body of Christ before they were immersed in the Spirit; and Cornelius and his friends were immersed into the one body, born out of water into the kingdom, after they had been immersed in the Spirit. Now, how is it possible for us to maintain that all are brought into the one body by immersion in the Spirit, in face of the fact that this is not true of the only persons who were unquestionably so immersed? Even if we had an express declaration that immersion in the Spirit brings us into one body, we would find extreme difficulty, if not an impossibility, in attempting to reconcile it with these facts.

Second. Is not the Baptist hypothesis the true one — that we are all first in the one Spirit, and afterwards, by immersion in water, brought into the one body? If so, we must find the historical facts upon the subject in harmony with this idea. But we find the apostles all in the one body before they were immersed in the Spirit; and we find the twelve disciples in Ephesus immersed by Paul “into the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 19:5-6), after which Paul laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit. And lest these should be considered anomalous cases, it was some days, if not weeks, after the Samaritans had been immersed by Philip, that the Holy Spirit came upon them in the answer to the prayer of Peter and John: “for as yet he was fallen upon none of them, only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus” (Acts 8:14-17). In all these cases the Baptist idea is reversed; so it appeared to Paul and Peter in reference to all other cases; for Paul says: “Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father” (Gal. 4:6); and Peter commands, “Repent and be immersed for the remission of sins, and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38 ).

We now proceed to the inquiry, what is the real meaning of the Greek expression En Heni Pneumati rendered by the writer, in one Spirit, and in the common version, by one Spirit. That en means in, and must be so rendered when there is nothing to rule otherwise, cannot be denied. And that the Greek expression En Heni Pneumati standing alone, should be rendered in one Spirit, is equally undeniable. But En is sometimes rendered by, and must be so, when either the context, or the harmony of Scriptures statement requires it. If we were to consult the context alone, there would be found nothing in either the grammatical or logical structure of the sentence to forbid the use of it. But we have already seen that other facts and statements in the New Testament forbid the idea expressed by the rendering, “in one Spirit we were all immersed into one body.” This alone is sufficient ground for inquiring whether there is any other admissible rendering which will better harmonize with other unambiguous passages. If the laws of the language admit another rendering, we are compelled to seek it; and if New Testament usage furnish any other in similar connections, we are invited to adopt it.

Now it so happens that there are just three forms in which the agency of the Holy Spirit is expressed by the Greek word Pneuma in conjunction with a preposition. These three are Dia with the genitive, Hupo with the genitive, and En with the dative. Of these three, all of which are rendered by or through the Spirit, the last occurs most frequently; so that the very expression under discussion, which the writer so unhesitatingly renders “in one Spirit,” is the Greek form most frequently rendered by the Spirit, and used in declaring that something is done by the Spirit as an agent or actor. That it is correctly thus rendered, will be apparent upon examination of a few of these passages. We find no less than four occurrences of this usage in the very chapter which contains the text in dispute, and in the immediate context. We read in the third verse, “No man speaking En Pneumati Theou, by the Spirit of God, calls Jesus accursed; and no man is able to say that Jesus is the Lord, but En Pneumati Hagio by the Holy Spirit.” In neither of these cases can we render it in the Spirit, because it is evidently the purpose of the writer to express an agency of the Spirit; and because men can say that Jesus is Lord by the Spirit, though they be not themselves in the Spirit. It was by the Spirit as the source of all evidence, and not in the Spirit, that men were able to believe in and acknowledge the Lordship of Jesus; and when a man called Jesus accursed, it was proof not merely that he was not in the Spirit, but that he did not speak by the light which the Spirit afforded through his divine testimony.

Post by: nChrist on April 01, 2008, 08:14:15 AM

Again, in the ninth verse we read, “To another is given faith En To Auto Pneumati by the same Spirit; to another the gift of healing En To Auto Pneumati by the same Spirit.” Now, the parties of whom these gifts were conferred were all in the Spirit; but these gifts were conferred by the Spirit, and this is what the apostle here affirms. In the ten verses of this chapter, from the third to the thirteenth, there are twelve things said to be done by the Spirit, and En Pneumati is the prevailing expression, only varied for the sake of euphony by Dia Pneurnatos Kata Pneuma once, and leaving En Pneumati, to be understood throughout the tenth verse.

As this criticism constitutes a capital point in this inquiry, I will be excused for accumulating evidence upon evidence in its favor. The two forms, Hupo Pneumatos and en pnemati, are used in the same sense by Matthew and Luke in describing the same event. Each says that Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness” (Matthew 4:1, Luke 4:1), Matthew using the former expression, and Luke the latter. Peter and Paul do the same thing. In declaring that the prophets of old spake “as they were moved by the Holy Spirit,” Peter uses pneumatos with the genitive; while Paul, in speaking of the mystery which was not made known to other generations, “as it was revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit,” uses pneumati with the dative. (Compare II Peter 1:21 with Ephesians 3:5.) In view of all this evidence, we hold it is undeniable that the expression en pneumati is frequently used by the apostles in expressing what is done by the Spirit, and that it may be rendered by the Spirit wherever it is more suitable either to the context, or to the nature of the subject under discussion in a particular passage.

I think it may now be affirmed that we have established three propositions: First, that to render the passage in question, “we were all immersed in one Spirit into one body,” would be a mis-location of the apostle’s words, and untrue in fact. Second, that it would be equally untrue to render it, “in one Spirit we were all immersed into one body”; meaning thereby, that we were first in the Spirit, and afterwards immersed into the body. Third, that the passage may be rendered, so far as grammatical propriety is concerned, “by one Spirit we were all immersed into one body.” This last rendering being entirely consistent with New Testament usage, and the only alternative if the first two are rejected, we shall be compelled to adopt it provided it yields a sense in harmony with the context and with other known facts upon the same subject.

Vs. 14. Please notice the reversal in the order of the figure. In Verse 12 the unity of the body even though many members —  in Verse 14 the many members even though one body. In the first instance (Vs. 12) unity is emphasized; in the second instance (Vs. 14), the indispensable value of each member is the point.

Vs. 15. What a strange observation is created when we personify the members of the human body, and yet this is the force of the figure. Imagine the ridiculous circumstance of the foot complaining against the hand. This is unthinkable because we know of the separate value and importance of each member — so we should of each member of the body of Christ.

Vs. 16. The apostle is saying — each member is important —  gifted or not gifted — each has a function important to the work of the body. How strange for the ear to claim it was of no value to the body because it was not the eye! And yet some ungifted —  or less spectacularly gifted persons in Corinth, were acting in just such a manner.

Vs. 17. To show the place and import of each member, try to imagine a body made of only an eye — or an ear — how much would be lost to the human body if we lost one or more of our members — and so with the body of Christ. This is to balance the thinking of both the gifted and the non-gifted in the church. No one is indispensable — but neither is anyone unimportant.

Vs. 18. God’s decisions are not to be repented of. God’s purposes are always for man’s best interest and good. The human body was created by God and therefore owes its existence and expression to Him. Man was created for God’s glory and pleasure. How much stronger is the principle of the rights of ownership when applied to the body of Christ, His church? The church does not belong to itself (Ephesians 5:25; I Corinthians 6:19,20.). Therefore, each member should be eager and content to carry out the place and work God has given him to do.

Vs. 19. There simply could not be a body without a multiplicity of members. If there was dissatisfaction on the part of one, and God, to accommodate the desires of this one member, gave him the right or power to become another member, would not soon all members want to become the most prominent? Soon the power and effectiveness of the body would be lost — we might add, that if there was a dissolusion of the body, there would likewise be a loss of every member.

Post by: nChrist on April 01, 2008, 08:16:34 AM

Vs. 20. Once again the conclusion: “Paul’s theme is: The Body — not one member but many. We who constitute the church and are individually gifted by the Spirit, must ever keep this great fact in mind. A living illustration of it is ever before us in our own human body. This helps us to avoid all dissatisfaction with ourselves” (Lenski p. 525).

Vs. 21. To enlarge upon the figure with illustration and application is the purpose of the next few verses (21-27).

Some members of the Corinthian church could be involved in the imagined conversation of the members of the human body. The over-emphasis upon the particular function of one member of the body is here pointed up: To glory in the power of expression as if you were not dependent upon another is not true as well as being selfish. Imagine the eye saying to the hands — ”I have no need of you.” Of what value is the power of sight without some way of expressing or reacting to what is seen? The same point is made in reference to the head and feet.

Vs. 22. To stress the interdependence of the members Paul now reminds the Corinthians of a well-known point in the care and function of the body. Not all the members of the body are as strong or as attractive as others. But this does not reflect upon their importance-some of the very feeble or inconspicuous members of the body are as necessary as the stronger more attractive ones. And so it is with the inconspicuous “feeble” members of the Church.

Vs. 23. Some parts of the body we do not naturally wish to display — we feel ashamed at their exposure upon such members we spend a good deal of time and thought to hide them and thus make them comely. Such members have a decency within themselves. The more abundant comeliness of our uncomely members is obtained by the demands of their nature.

Vs. 24. The more comely parts of the human body have no need of special care to grant them acceptance or honor. The point of the whole analogy is that God recognizes the need and purpose of each member of the human body — no one member is minimized by Him. God honors all the members of the human body in just the manner here described. The body of man is wonderfully fashioned to the advantage and honor of each member — and so has He created the body of His Son. We need to find our place and fill it — for there is no one else who can fill it for us. In this there is honor.

Vs. 25. Such a thoughtful, careful formation of both the human body and His spiritual body is for the grand purpose of maintaining the unity of the body. Each member in the church should be reminded —  yea, urged to recognize that the hurt of one is the hurt of all. The whole body is injured when one does not receive care. This care is given by God to each member of the human body — now the point is plain, let each member give the same type of care to each other — if we do not, the whole body will suffer.

Vs. 26. This verse has been anticipated in the mention of “schism” in the body in Vs. 25. How are some of the non-gifted members of the Corinthian Church feeling while some of the Spiritually gifted members look down upon them; or ignore them as though they were not needed, or indeed, as if they did not even exist? When one suffers, the whole body suffers. Men speak against the church when they speak against any member. The physical body cannot be injured in any portion of it without the whole body suffering. If the brain has accomplished, does not the whole body rejoice with its recognition? Let this same selfless concern and unity prevail in the body of Christ.

Vs. 27. We should indeed be ready for the conclusion — it has been made at least twice before-enlarged and illustrated — now in its full-orbed beauty and power we can appreciate it. “We are the body of Christ and severally members thereof,” which means unity, co-operation, concern, honor, responsibility, holy privilege.

Gradation of gifts according to importance, 28-30. By ranking the spiritually gifted men in this order (please notice it), precedence of each is settled — i.e., the order of importance is given by listing the most important first and the least important last. What is last in this list? The answer is “tongues.”

Vs. 28. We are now to consider some of the members. The order in which they are mentioned indicates their importance. God made the decision as to who would be honored. Please notice no one is left out. It might be significant that there are nine special gifts mentioned, and here we have nine expressions of service in the church.

Post by: nChrist on April 01, 2008, 08:18:36 AM

The word “apostle” means “one sent” — in a special way the twelve and Paul were sent by Christ —  they were His ambassadors or personal representatives. Prophets were those persons with the gift of prophecy. Such persons were given such a gift by God through the hands of the apostles — at least the only examples of the means of making prophets so indicates (Cf. Acts 19:1-6). The teachers are mentioned as the shepherds or elders of the church in Ephesians 4:11. There are the supernaturally endowed persons of whom we have already studied. These persons are those with the spiritual gifts of healing and miracles. However, God has provided areas of service for all in the church. There is much to be done and many helpers are needed to do the work. All can help in the very many ways open for service. The writer once prepared a talent sheet on which he listed 21 separate areas of service in which any and all Christians could “help.” Without such “help” we would have no need for teachers, apostles, prophets, or anyone else. There are those who display a real ability in the area of leadership and organization. There is surely a place for them in the church of the Lord. Last of all, and perhaps least of all, are those with the gift of tongues. There is a place for such persons — such a place and work is to be considered at length in Chapter Fourteen.

Vs. 29 & 30. The obvious answer to all the questions of Vs. 29 & 30 is “No, they are not.” The point of this verse should now be clear — each person has a place and service-no need for more apostles than those chosen by God — no need for more prophets. And so, we might add, there is no need for more in any area than God chose.

Vs. 31. This verse has a twofold possibility of interpretation:

(1) Desire the greater or more spiritually profitable gift — i.e., if you are only a helper you could desire or want the gift of knowledge-prophecy — wisdom — or even tongues. When one of the apostles visited the church, or you visited one of the apostles, perhaps the Holy Spirit would see fit to impart to you such power or such a gift through the laying on of the hands of the apostles.

(2) It could refer to greater gifts attendant with the obtaining of real love. Paul could be saying, “I will show you how to find the gifts or qualities of character you could never obtain except through love.” Love provides powers and abilities far superior to any of those we have mentioned, We prefer this second interpretation.


a. The essential of love, 1-3

Text 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

1) If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am become sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal.

2) And If I have the gift of prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge; and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.

3) And if I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profiteth me nothing.

Post by: nChrist on April 01, 2008, 08:21:25 AM

Thought Questions 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

42. Can we substitute the word “language” in Vs. 1 for the word “tongues”?

43. Are the “men” of Vs. 1 men of various nations? Do angels speak? In what language? What would be superior about the language of angels?

44. How do we know we have love in our speech? Please attempt an answer.

45. Why would man without love be like a sounding brass or a clanging cymbal? What is wrong with the brass and the cymbal?

46. What is emphasized in Vs. 2 that is not found in Vs. 1?

47. What is the use made of the word “prophecy” in Vs. 2?

48. Is there some distinction in the use of knowledge and mysteries?

49. What special kind of “faith” does Paul have in mind in Vs. 2?

50. How would love be expressed in the use of faith?

51. Would verse three refer to the “helps” of 12:28?

52. How could a person give to the poor and yet have not love?

53. What possible motive would a man have (apart from love) for giving his body to be burned?

Paraphrase 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

1. Namely, by acquiring an eminent degree of love. For, with respect to those which ye esteem the best gifts, I declare, that though I could speak all the languages of men, and even of angels, but have not love to direct me in the use of them, I am no better than sounding brass, or a noisy cymbal.

2. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and know all the deep doctrines of the gospel, and possess a complete knowledge of the ancient revelations; and though I have all faith (chap. 12: 9. note 1.), so as to be able to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing in the sight either of God or of man.

3. And though I spend all my goods in feeding the poor, and though I deliver my body that I may be burned for my religion, but have not love as the principle from which I act, I am nothing profited by these things, as they are the actions of a vain hypocrite.

Comment 1 Corinthians 13:1-3

We have been so greatly helped in reading Henry Drummond’s comments on these verses we reproduce them here for the help of all who read.


Every one has asked himself the great question of antiquity as of the modern world: What is the summum bonum — the supreme good? You have life before you. Once only you can live it. What is the noblest object of desire, the supreme gift to covet?

Post by: nChrist on April 01, 2008, 08:25:17 AM

We have been accustomed to be told that the greatest thing in the religious world is Faith. That great word has been the keynote for centuries of the popular religion; and we have easily learned to look upon it as the greatest thing in the world. Well, we are wrong. If we have been told that, we may miss the mark. I have taken you, in the chapter which I have just read, to Christianity at his source; and there we have seen, “The greatest of these is love.” It is not an oversight. Paul was speaking of faith just a moment before. He says, “If I have all faith, so that I can remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing.” So far from forgetting he deliberately contrasts them, “Now abideth, Faith, Hope, Love,” and without a moment’s hesitation the decision falls, “The greatest of these is Love.”

And it is not prejudice. A man is apt to recommend to others his own strong point. Love was not Paul’s strong point. The observing student can detect a beautiful tenderness growing and ripening all through his character as Paul gets old; but the hand that wrote, “The greatest of these is love,” when we meet it first, is stained with blood.

Nor is this letter to the Corinthians peculiar in singling out love as the summum bonum. The masterpieces of Christianity are agreed about it. Peter says, “Above all things have fervent love among yourselves.” Above all things. And John goes farther, “God is love.” And you remember the profound remark which Paul makes elsewhere, “Love is the fulfilling of the law.” Did you ever think what he meant by that? In those days men were working the passage to Heaven by keeping the Ten Commandments, and the hundred and ten other commandments which they had manufactured out of them. Christ said, I will show you a more simple way. If you do one thing, you will do these hundred and ten things, without ever thinking about them. If you love, you will unconsciously fulfill the whole law. And you can readily see for yourselves how that must be so. Take any of the commandments. “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me.” If a man love God, you will not require to tell him that. Love is the fulfilling of that law. “Take not His name in vain.” Would he ever dream of taking His name in vain if he loved Him? “Remember the Sabbath day to keep it holy.” Would he not be too glad to have one day in seven to dedicate more exclusively to the object of his affection? Love would fulfill all these laws regarding God. And so, if he loved Man, you would never think of telling him to honor his father and mother. He could not do anything else. It would be preposterous to tell him not to kill. You could only insult him if you suggested that he should not steal — how could he steal from those he loved? It would be superfluous to beg him not to bear false witness against his neighbor. If he loved him it would be the last thing he would do. And you would never dream of urging him not to covet what his neighbors had. He would rather they possessed it than himself. In this way “Love is the fulfilling of the law.” It is the rule for fulfilling all rules, the new commandment for keeping all the old commandments Christ’s one secret of the Christian life.

Now Paul has learned that; and in this noble eulogy he has given us the most wonderful and original account extant of the summum bonum. We may divide it into three parts. In the beginning of the short chapter, we have Love contrasted, in the heart of it, we have Love analyzed, toward the end, we have Love defended as the supreme gift.


Paul begins by contrasting Love with other things that men in those days thought much of. I shall not attempt to go over these things in detail. Their inferiority is already obvious.

He contrasts it with eloquence. And what a noble gift it is, the power of playing upon the souls and wills of men, and rousing them to lofty purposes and holy deeds. Paul says, “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.” And we all know why. We have all felt the brazenness of words without emotion, the hollowness, the unaccountable unpersuasiveness, of eloquence behind which lies no Love.

He contrasts it with prophecy. He contrasts it with mysteries. He contrasts it with faith. He contrasts it with charity. Why is Love greater than faith? Because the end is greater than the means. And why is it greater than charity? Because the whole is greater than the part. Love is greater than faith, because the end is greater than the means. What is the use of having faith? It is to connect the soul with God. And what is the object of connecting man with God? That he may become like God. But God is Love. Hence Faith, the means, is in order to Love, the end. Love, therefore, obviously is greater than faith. It is greater than charity, again, because the whole is greater than a part. Charity is only a little bit of Love, one of the innumerable avenues of Love, and there may even be, and there is, a great deal of charity without Love. It is a very easy thing to toss a copper to a beggar on the street; it is generally an easier thing than not to do it. Yet Love is just as often in the withholding. We purchase relief from the sympathetic feelings roused by the spectacle of misery, at the copper’s cost. It is too cheap — too cheap for us, and often too dear for the beggar. If we really loved him we would either do more for him, or less.

Post by: nChrist on April 01, 2008, 08:28:08 AM

Then Paul contrasts it with sacrifice and martyrdom. And I beg the little band of would-be missionaries  —  and I have the honor to call some of you by this name for the first time-to remember that though you give your bodies to be burned, and have not Love, it profits nothing  —  nothing! You can take nothing greater to the heathen world than the impress and reflection of the Love of God upon your own character. That is the universal language. It will take you years to speak in Chinese, or in the dialects of India. From the day you land, that language of Love, understood by all, will be pouring forth its unconscious eloquence. It is the man who is the missionary, it is not his words. His character is his message. In the heart of Africa, among the great Lakes, I have come across black men and women who remembered the only white man they ever saw before-David Livingstone; and as you cross his footsteps in that dark continent, men’s faces light up as they speak of the kind doctor who passed there years ago. They could not understand him; but they felt the love that beat in his heart. Take into your new sphere of labor, where you also mean to lay down your life, that simple charm, and your lifework must succeed. You can take nothing greater, you need take nothing less. It is not worth while going if you take anything less. You may take every accomplishment; you may be braced for every sacrifice; but if you give your body to be burned, and have not Love, it will profit you and the cause of Christ nothing.

b. The conduct of love 13:4-7.

Text 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

4) Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up,

5) doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not its own, is not provoked, taketh not account of evil;

6) rejoiceth not in unrighteousness, but rejoiceth with the truth;

7) beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things.

Thought Questions 1 Corinthians 13:4-7

54. There are many who suffer for a long time-what added element does love give?

55. What are the evidences of envy? i.e., how can we tell when one is envious?

56. Why would love prevent pride?

57. Why do certain persons become “puffed up”?

58. Please specify some type of unseemly behavior.

59. Love causes us not to seek our own — and yet Paul said “if any man provide not for his own he is worse than an unbeliever.” Please explain.

60. Is it true that if we have love we will not be provoked? Explain.

61. Explain the expression “taketh not account of evil.” Does this relate to holding grudges or ill will?

62. Why would anyone want to rejoice in unrighteousness? Is this written to Christian people?

63. What will cause us to rejoice in the truth? Why?

64. Love “covereth all things.” (See Footnote.) Explain this.

65. Does love make us gullible that we would “believe all things”? Explain.

66. What were some of the hopeless situations in the lives of certain men in which love helped them to “hope all things”? Love for whom or what?

67. Is it really true that love will enable us to endure all things?

Post by: nChrist on April 01, 2008, 08:32:47 AM

4. The excellence of love appears in its operations: Love disposeth one to bear injuries long, and to be kind to those who injure him. Love preserves one from envying those who are greater, or richer, or better than himself. Love keeps one from vaunting of his attainments. Love keeps one from being puffed up with pride and anger.

5. Love doth not suffer one to behave haughtily, nor to seek his own interest only: one animated by love is not exasperated on every little provocation; and doth not put a bad construction on the character and actions of others:

6. Doth not take pleasure in iniquity committed by others, though he should reap advantage from it; but jointly rejoiceth with good men in every virtuous action.

7. He covereth all the failings of others; and being free from evil himself, believeth all things, and hopeth all things that are good of others, and patiently beareth all afflictions.

Comment 13:4-7
Once again from Henry Drummond:

After contrasting Love with these things, Paul, in three verses, very short, gives us an amazing analysis of what this supreme thing is. I ask you to look at it. It is a compound thing, he tells us. It is like light. As you have seen a man of science take a beam of light and pass it through a crystal prism, as you have seen it come out on the other side of the prism broken up into its component colors — red, and blue, and yellow, and violet, and orange, and all the colors of the rainbow — so Paul passes this thing, Love, through the magnificent prism of his inspired intellect, and it comes out on the other side broken up into its elements. And in these few words we have what one might call the Spectrum of Love, the analysis of Love. Will you observe what its elements are? Will you notice that they have common names; that they are virtues which we hear about every day; that they are things which can be practiced by every man in every place in life; and how, by a multitude of small things and ordinary virtues, the supreme thing, the summum bonum, is made up?

The Spectrum of Love has nine ingredients:

Patience “Love suffereth long.”

Kindness “And is kind.”

Generosity “Love envieth not.”

Humility “Love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up.

Courtesy “Doth not behave itself unseemly.”

Unselfishness “Seeketh not her own.

Good Temper “Is not easily provoked.”

Guilelessness “Thinketh no evil.’

Sincerity “Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth.”

Patience, kindness, generosity, humility, courtesy, unselfishness, good temper, guilelessness, sincerity — these make up the supreme gift, the stature of the perfect man. You will observe that all are in relation to men, in relation to life, in relation to the known today and the near tomorrow, and not to the unknown eternity. We hear much of love to God; Christ spoke much of love to man. We make a great deal of peace with heaven; Christ made much of peace on earth. Religion is not a strange or added thing, but the inspiration of the secular life, the breathing of an eternal spirit through this temporal world. The supreme thing, in short, is not a thing at all, but the giving of a further finish to the multitudinous words and acts which make up the sum of every common day.

There is no time to do more than make a passing note upon each of these ingredients. Love is Patience. This is the normal attitude of Love; Love passive, Love waiting to begin; not in a hurry; calm; ready to do its work when the summons comes, but meantime wearing the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit. Love suffers long; beareth all things; believeth all things; hopeth all things. For Love understands, and therefore waits.

Post by: nChrist on April 01, 2008, 08:35:25 AM

Kindness. Love active. Have you ever noticed how much of Christ’s life was spent in doing kind things — in merely doing kind things? Run over it with that in view, and you will find that He spent a great proportion of His time simply in making people happy, in doing good turns to people. There is only one thing greater than happiness in the world, and that is holiness; and it is not in our keeping; but what God has put in our power is the happiness of those about us, and that is largely to be secured by our being kind to them.

“The greatest thing,” says someone, “a man can do for his Heavenly Father is to be kind to some of His other children.” I wonder why it is that we are not all kinder than we are? How much the world needs it. How easily it is done. How instantaneously it acts. How infallibly it is remembered. How superabundantly it pays itself back — for there is no debtor in the world so honorable, so superbly honorably, as Love. “Love never faileth.” Love is success, Love is happiness, Love is life. “Love I say,” with Browning, “is energy of Life.”

“For life, with all it yields of joy or woe
And hope and fear,
Is just our chance o’ the prize of learning love, —
How love might be, hath been indeed, and is.”

Where Love is, God is. He that dwelleth in Love dwelleth in God. God is Love. Therefore love. Without distinction, without calculation, without procrastination, love. Lavish it upon the poor, where it is very easy; especially upon the rich, who often need it most; most of all upon our equals, where it is very difficult, and for whom perhaps we each do least of all. There is a difference between trying to please and giving pleasure. Give pleasure. Lose no chance of giving pleasure. For that is the ceaseless and anonymous triumph of a truly loving spirit. “I shall pass through this world but once. Any good thing therefore that I can do, or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer it or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.”

Generosity. “Love envieth not.” This is love in competition with others. Whenever you attempt a good work you will find other men doing the same kind of work, and probably doing it better. Envy them not. Envy is a feeling of ill-will to those who are in the same line as ourselves, a spirit of covetousness and detraction. How little Christian work even is a protection against un-Christian feeling. That most despicable of all the unworthy moods which cloud a Christian’s soul assuredly waits for us on the threshold of every work, unless we are fortified with this grace of magnanimity. Only one thing truly need the Christian envy — the large, rich, generous soul which “envieth not.”

And then, after having learned all that, you have to learn this further thing, Humility — to put a seal upon your lips and forget what you have done. After you have been kind, after Love has stolen forth into the world and done its beautiful work, go back into the shade again and say nothing about it. Love hides even from itself. Love waives even self-satisfaction. “Love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up.”

The fifth ingredient is a somewhat strange one to find in this summum bonum: Courtesy. This is Love in society, Love in relation to etiquette. “Love does not behave itself unseemly.” Politeness has been defined as love in trifles. Courtesy is said to be love in little things. And the one secret of politeness is to love. Love cannot behave itself unseemly. You can put the most untutored persons into the highest society, and if they have a reservoir of Love in their heart they will not behave themselves unseemly. They simply cannot do it. Carlisle said of Robert Burns that there was no truer gentleman in Europe than the ploughman-poet. It was because he loved everything — the mouse, and the daisy, and all the things, great and small, that God had made. So with this simple passport he could mingle with any society, and enter courts and palaces from his little cottage on the banks of the Ayr. You know the meaning of the word “gentleman.” It means a gentle man — a man who does things gently with love. And that is the whole art and mystery of it. The gentle man cannot in the nature of things do an ungentle, an ungentlemanly thing. The ungentle soul, the inconsiderate, unsympathetic nature, cannot do anything else. “Love doth not behave itself unseemly.”

Unselfishness. “Love seeketh not her own.” Observe: Seeketh not even that which is her own. In Britain the Englishman is devoted, and rightly, to his rights. But there come times when a man may exercise even the higher right of giving up his rights. Yet Paul does not summon us to give up our rights. Love strikes much deeper. It would have us not seek them at all, ignore them, eliminate the personal element altogether from our calculations. It is not hard to give up our rights. They are often eternal. The difficult thing is to give up ourselves. The more difficult thing still is not to seek things for ourselves at all. After we have sought them, bought them, won them, deserved them, we have taken the cream off them for ourselves already. Little cross then to give them up. But not to seek them, to look every man not on his own things, but on the things of others — id opus est. “Seekest thou great things for thyself,” said the prophet; “seek them not.” Why? Because there is no greatness in things. Things cannot be great. The only greatness is unselfish love. Even self-denial in itself is nothing, is almost a mistake. Only a great purpose or a mightier love can justify the waste. It is more difficult, I have said, not to seek our own at all, than, having sought it, to give it up. I must take that back. It is only true of a partly selfish heart. Nothing is a hardship to Love, and nothing is hard. I believe that Christ’s “yoke” is easy. Christ’s yoke is just His way of taking life. And I believe it is an easier way than any other. I believe it is a happier way than any other. The most obvious lesson in Christ’s teaching is that there is no happiness in having and getting anything, but only in giving. I repeat, there is no happiness in having or in getting, but only in giving. And half the world is on the wrong scent in pursuit of happiness. They think it consists in having and getting, and in being served by others. It consists in giving, and in serving others. He that would be great among you, said Christ, let him serve. He that would be happy, let him remember that there is but one way — it is more blessed, it is more happy, to give than to receive.

Post by: nChrist on April 01, 2008, 08:38:45 AM

The next ingredient is a very remarkable one: Good Temper. “Love is not easily provoked.”

Nothing could be more striking than to find this here. We are inclined to look upon bad temper as a very harmless weakness. We speak of it as a mere infirmity of nature, a family failing, a matter of temperament, not a thing to take into very serious account in estimating a man’s character. And yet here, right in the heart of this analysis of love, it finds a place; and the Bible again and again returns to condemn it as one of the most destructive elements in human nature.

The peculiarity of ill temper is that it is the vice of the virtuous. It is often the one blot on an otherwise noble character. You know men who are all but perfect, and women who would be entirely perfect, but for an easily ruffled, quick-tempered, or “touchy” disposition. This compatibility of ill temper with high moral character is one of the strangest and saddest problems of ethics. The truth is there are two great classes of sins — sins of the Body, and sins of the Disposition. The Prodigal Son may be taken as a type of the first, the Elder Brother of the second. Now, society has no doubt whatever as to which of these is the worse. Its brand falls, without a challenge, upon the Prodigal. But are we right? We have no balance to weigh one another’s sins, and coarser and finer are but human words; but faults in the higher nature may be less venial than those in the lower, and to the eye of Him who is Love, a sin against Love may seem a hundred times more base. No form of vice, not worldliness, not greed of gold, not drunkenness itself, does more to un-Christianize society than evil temper. For embittering life, for breaking up communities, for destroying the most sacred relationships, for devastating homes, for withering up men and women, for taking the bloom of childhood, in short, for sheer gratuitous misery producing power, this influence stands alone. Look at the Elder Brother, moral, hard-working, patient, dutiful — let him get all credit for his virtues — look at this man, this baby, sulking outside his own father’s door. “He was angry,’ we read, “and would not go in.” Look at the effect upon the father, upon the servants, upon the happiness of the guests. Judge of the effect upon the Prodigal — and how many prodigals are kept out of the Kingdom of God by the unlovely character of those who profess to be inside? Analyze, as a study in Temper, the thunder-cloud itself as it gathers upon the Elder Brother’s brow. What is it made of? Jealousy, anger, pride, uncharity, cruelty, self-righteousness, touchiness, doggedness, sullenness — these are the ingredients of this dark and loveless soul. In varying proportions, also, these are the ingredients of all ill temper. Judge if such sins of the disposition are not worse to live in, and for others to live with, than sins of the body. Did Christ indeed not answer the question Himself when He said, “I say unto you, that the publicans and the harlots go into the Kingdom of Heaven before you.” There is really no place in Heaven for a disposition like this. A man with such a mood could only make Heaven miserable for all the people in it. Except, therefore, such a man be born again, he cannot, he simply cannot, enter the Kingdom of Heaven. For it is perfectly certain — and you will not misunderstand me-that to enter Heaven a man must take it with him.

You will see then why Temper is significant. It is not in what it is alone, but in what it reveals. This is why I take the liberty now of speaking of it with such unusual plainness. It is a test for love, a symptom, a revelation of an unloving nature at bottom. It is the intermittent fever which bespeaks unintermittent disease within; the occasional bubble escaping to the surface which betrays some rottenness underneath; a sample of the most hidden products of the soul dropped involuntarily when off one’s guard; in a word, the lightning form of a hundred hideous and un-Christian sins. For a want of patience, a want of kindness, a want of generosity, a want of courtesy, a want of unselfishness, are all instantaneously symbolized in one flash of Temper.

Hence it is not enough to deal with the Temper. We must go to the source, and change the inmost nature, and the angry humors will die away of themselves. Souls are made sweet not by taking the acid fluids out, but by putting something in — a great Love, a new Spirit, the Spirit of Christ. Christ, the Spirit of Christ, interpenetrating ours, sweetens, purifies, transforms all. This only can eradicate what is wrong, work a chemical change, renovate and regenerate, and rehabilitate the inner man. Willpower does not change men. Time does not change men. Christ does. Therefore, “Let that mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.” Some of us have not much time to lose. Remember, once more, that this is a matter of life or death. I cannot help speaking urgently, for myself, for yourselves. “Whoso shall offend one of these little ones, which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea.” That is to say, it is the deliberate verdict of the Lord Jesus that it is better not to live than not to love. It is better not to live than not to love.

Post by: nChrist on April 01, 2008, 08:41:26 AM

Guilelessness and Sincerity may be dismissed almost without a word. Guilessness is the grace for suspicious people. And the possession of it is the great secret of personal influence. You will find, if you think for a moment, that the people who influence you are people who believe in you. In an atmosphere of suspicion men shrivel up; but in that atmosphere they expand, and find encouragement and educative fellowship. It is a wonderful thing that here and there in this hard, uncharitable world there should still be left a few rare souls who think no evil. This is the great unworldliness. Love “thinketh no evil,” imputes no motive, sees the bright side, puts the best construction on every action. What a delightful state of mind to live in! What a stimulus and benediction even to meet with it for a day! To be trusted is to be saved. And if we try to influence or elevate others, we shall soon see that success is in proportion to their belief of our belief in them. For the respect of another is the first restoration of the self-respect a man has lost; our ideal of what he is becomes to him the hope and pattern of what he may become.

“Love rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth.” I have called this Sincerity from the words rendered in the Authorized Version by “rejoiceth in the truth.” And, certainly, were this the real translation, nothing could be more just. For he who loves will love Truth not less than men. He will rejoice in the Truth —  rejoice not in what he has been taught to believe; not in this Church’s doctrine or in that; not in this ism or in that ism; but “in the Truth.” He will accept only what is real; he will strive to get at facts; he will search for Truth with a humble and unbiased mind, and cherish whatever he finds at any sacrifice. But the more literal translation of the Revised Version calls for just such a sacrifice for truth’s sake here. For what Paul really meant is, as we there read, “Rejoiceth not in unrighteousness, but rejoiceth with the truth,” a quality which probably no one English word —  and certainly not Sincerity —  adequately defines. It includes, perhaps more strictly, the self-restraint which refuses to make capital out of others’ faults; the charity which delights not in exposing the weakness of others, but “covereth all things”; the sincerity of purpose which endeavors to see things as they are, and rejoices to find them better than suspicion feared or calumny denounced.

So much for the analysis of Love. Now the business of our lives is to have these things fitted into our characters. That is the supreme work to which we need to address ourselves in this world, to learn Love. Is life not full of opportunities for learning Love? Every man and woman every day has a thousand of them. The world is not a playground; it is a schoolroom. Life is not a holiday, but an education. And the one eternal lesson for us all is how better we can love. What makes a man a good cricketer? Practice. What makes a man a good artist, a good sculptor, a good musician? Practice. What makes a man a good linguist, a good stenographer? Practice. What makes a man a good man? Practice. Nothing else. There is nothing capricious about religion. We do not get the soul in different ways, under different laws, from those in which we get the body and the mind. If a man does not exercise his arm he develops no biceps muscle; and if a man does not exercise his soul, he requires no muscle in his soul, no strength of character, no vigor of moral fibre, nor beauty of spiritual growth. Love is not a thing of enthusiastic emotion. It is a rich, strong, manly, vigorous expression of the whole round Christian character —  the Christ-like nature in its fullest development. And the constituents of this great character are only to be built up by ceaseless practice.

What was Christ doing in the carpenter’s shop? Practicing. Though perfect, we read that He learned obedience, and grew in wisdom and in favor with God. Do not quarrel, therefore, with your lot in life. Do not complain of its never-ceasing cares, its petty environment, the vexations you have to stand, the small and sordid souls you have to live and work with. Above all, do not resent temptation; do not be perplexed because it seems to thicken round you more and more, and ceases neither for effort nor for agony nor prayer. That is your practice. That is the practice which God appoints you; and it is having its work in making you patient, and humble, and generous, and unselfish, and kind, and courteous. Do not grudge the hand that is moulding the still too shapeless image within you. It is growing more beautiful, though you see it not, and every touch of temptation may add to its perfection. Therefore keep in the midst of life. Do not isolate yourself. Be among men, and among things, and among troubles, and difficulties, and obstacles. You remember Goethe’s words: Es bildet em Talent sich in der Stille. Doch em Charakter in denz Strom der Welt. ‘Talent develops itself in solitude; character in the stream of life.” Talent develops itself in solitude-the talent of prayer, of faith, of meditation, of seeing the unseen; character grows in the stream of the world’s life. That, chiefly, is where men are to learn love.

How? Now, how? To make it easier, I have named a few of the elements of love. But these are only elements. Love itself can never be defined. Light is a something more than the sum of its ingredients — a glowing, dazzling, tremulous ether. And love is something more than all its elements — a palpitating, quivering, sensitive, living thing. By synthesis of all the colors, men can make whiteness, they cannot make light. By synthesis of all the virtues, men can make virtue, they cannot make love. How, then, are we to have this transcendent living whole conveyed into our souls? We brace our wills to secure it. We try to copy those who have it. We lay down rules about it. We watch. We pray. But these things alone will not bring love into our nature. Love is an effect. And only as we fulfill the right condition can we have the effect produced. Shall I tell you what the cause is?

If you turn to the Revised Version of the First Epistle of John you will find these words: “We love because He first loved us.” “We love,” not “We love Him.’ That is the way the old version has it, and it is quite wrong. “We love — because He first loved us.” Look at that word “because.” It is the cause of which I have spoken. “Because He first loved us,” the effect follows that we love, we love Him, we love all men. We cannot help it. Because He loved us, we love, we love everybody. Our heart is slowly changed. Contemplate the love of Christ, and you will love. Stand before that mirror, reflect Christ’s character, and you will be changed into the same image from tenderness to tenderness.

Post by: nChrist on April 01, 2008, 08:43:50 AM

There is no other way. You cannot love to order. You can only look at the lovely object, and fall in love with it, and grow into likeness to it. And so look at this Perfect Character, this Perfect Life. Look at the great Sacrifice as He laid down Himself, all through life, and upon the Cross of Calvary; and you must love Him. And loving Him, you must become like Him. Love begets love. It is a process of induction. Put a piece of iron in the presence of an electrified body, and that piece of iron for a time becomes electrified. It is changed into a temporary magnet in the mere presence of a permanent magnet, and as long as you leave the two side by side, they are both magnets alike. Remain side by side with Him who loved us, and gave Himself for us, and you too will become a permanent magnet, a permanently attractive force; and like Him you will draw all men unto you, like Him you will be drawn unto all men. That is the inevitable effect of Love. Any man who fulfills that cause must have that effect produced in him. Try to give up the idea that religion comes to us by chance, or by mystery, or by caprice. It comes to us by natural law, or by supernatural law, for all law is Divine. Edward Irving went to see a dying boy once, and when he entered the room he just put his hand on the sufferer’s head, and said, “My boy, God loves you,” and went away. And the boy started from his bed, and called out to the people in the house, “God loves me! God loves me!” It changed that boy. The sense that God loved him overpowered him, melted him down, and began the creating of a new heart in him. And that is how the love of God melts down the unlovely heart in man, and begets in him the new creature, who is patient and humble and gentle and unselfish. And there is no other way to get it. There is no mystery about it. We love others, we love everybody, we love our enemies, because He first loved us.

c. The final values of love 13:8-13

Text 1 Corinthians 13:8-13

8 ) Love never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall be done away; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall be done away.

9) For we know in part, and we prophesy in part;

10) but when that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away.

11) When I was a child, I spake as a child, I felt as a child, I thought as a child: now that I am become a man, I have put away childish things.

12) For now we see in a mirror, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know fully even as also I was fully known.

13) But now abideth faith, hope, love, these three: and the greatest of these is love.

Thought Questions 13:8-13

68. Verse 8a is a conclusion to all that has been said on the subject of love-indicate in what particulars that love never faileth.

69. Prophecies are to be done away. Why? When?

70. We know that languages have not passed away (there are yet hundreds of different languages today). Language will be used in heaven — just when will tongues cease?

71. When would there ever be a time when we would cease to learn and hence cause knowledge to be done away?

72. What is “that which is perfect”?

73. In what sense is prophecy and knowledge “in part”?

74. Where was Paul “a child” as in Vs. 11?

75. How is the analogy of a child used in this section? Is this a comparison of a child and the church? Explain.

76. When shall we know fully even as we are fully known? Please answer this in context.

77. In what sense is love the greatest?

Post by: nChrist on April 01, 2008, 01:36:56 PM

Paraphrase 1 Corinthians 13:8-13

8. Love always remaineth; nay, flourisheth most in the future life. But whether there be teachings by inspiration, they shall be abolished in the church; or foreign languages, they shall cease after the gospel has been preached to all nations; or the inspired knowledge of the ancient revelations, it shall be abolished when the church has attained its mature state.

9. Besides, we inspired teachers know the mysteries of the gospel only in part. For in the present life, we are not capable to know them fully, far less to make you understand them fully.

10. But when the perfect gift of complete illumination is bestowed on all in heaven, then that which is partial, namely, the present gifts of knowledge and prophecy, shall be abolished, as useless.

11. The difference between our present and future conceptions of spiritual things, may be illustrated by the knowledge of a child, compared to that of a man. When I was a child, my speech, my conceptions, and my reasonings, were erroneous. But when I became a man, I laid aside the conceptions, reasonings, and language of a child.

12. For now the revelations of God being made in human language, which cannot convey a just idea of spiritual things, we see them as through glass obscurely; but in the life to come we shall see them face to face, clearly. Now my knowledge of spiritual things is partial; but in the life to come I shall fully know them, even as I am fully known of superior beings.

13. Love is more excellent also than all the graces. For now abideth Faith, Hope, Love, these three being necessary to our present state; but the greatest of these is love: Because, after Faith and Hope are at an end, Love will subsist for ever in heaven.

Comment 1 Corinthians 13:8-13

Some of our readers will no doubt wonder at the extended quotations found in these pages — the author is a teacher and has been one for two decades — he feels whenever he can cause the student to learn he has fulfilled his purpose. If this can be done by his own expression he will be more than ready to lay out whatever effort is necessary to be able to express the thought adequately — if, however, he feels others have done a better job than he could do and on the same subject he can see no reason to rehash what has already been said. This is the situation on the verses under present consideration. We quote from J. W. McGarvey, pp. 131-133.

[The superlative excellence of love is here shown in that it survives all things with which it may be compared, and reveals its close relation to God whose name is love (I John 3:8 ), by its eternal, imperishable nature. Prophecies, tongues and knowledge — three supernatural gifts though they were —  were mortals compared with the divine spirit of love. They were needful in developing the infant church, but as that institution passed onward toward maturity and perfection (Hebrews 5: 12-14; 6-1; Ephesians 3:14-21; 4:11-16), they were outgrown and discontinued, because from them had been developed the clear, steady light of the recorded Word, and the mature thoughtfulness and assurance of a well-instructed church.

Post by: nChrist on April 01, 2008, 01:39:08 PM

They were thrown aside, therefore, as the wheat stalk which has matured its grain; or, to use Paul’s own figure, put away as the speech, feeling and judgment of childhood when they have produced their corresponding faculties in manhood. Though the triplet of child-faculties —  speech, feeling, thought, do not form a close parallel with the triplet of gifts —  tongues, prophecies, knowledge, yet they were alike in that to both, the child and the church, they seemed severally all-important. All Christians who mistakenly yearn for a renewal of these spiritual gifts, should note the clear import of these words of the apostle, which show that their presence in the church would be an evidence of immaturity and weakness, rather than of fully developed power and seasoned strength. But if the gifts have passed from the church as transient and ephemeral, shall not that which they have produced abide? Assuredly they shall, until that which is perfect is come; i.e., until the coming of Christ. Then prophecy shall be merged into fulfillment, and the dim light of revelation shall be broadened into the perfect day. We today see the reflection of truth, rather than the truth itself. It has come to us through the medium of minds which, though divinely illuminated, were yet finite, and it has modified itself, though essentially spiritual, so as to be clothed in earthly words; and it is grasped and comprehended by us through the use of our material brains. Thus, though perfect after its kind, and true as far as it goes, our present knowledge of heavenly things is perhaps as far from the full reality as is the child’s conception of earthly things (John 3:12). And so our present knowledge may well merge, as will prophecy, into a higher order of perfection, wherein both the means of manifestation (II Corinthians 5:7) and of comprehension (I John 3:2) will be wholly perfect. So, though at present we may indeed know God, yet our knowledge is more that received by description, than that which is received by direct, clear sight, and personal acquaintance; but hereafter we shall know God in some sense as he knows us, and know the beings of the heavenly land as thoroughly as they now know us. Mirrors were then made of polished silver or brass, and were far more indistinct than our present glasses; so that to see a reflection in one of them was far less satisfactory than to see the reality.] 13 But now [in this present state] abideth faith, hope, love, these three, and the greatest of these is love. [If we give the phrase “but now” its other sense, as though the apostle said “But to sum things up, to give the net results,” then we have him saying that faith, hope and love are eternal. While it is true that faith in the sense of trust and confidence, and hope in the sense of unclouded expectation, shall abide in heaven, yet, in their large, general meaning, faith shall be lost in sight, and hope in fruition (Romans 8:24,25). It therefore seems more consistent to understand the apostle as asserting that the three graces shall abide while the earth stands; in contrast with miraculous gifts, which, according to his own prophetic statement, have ceased. He does not explain the superior excellence of love when compared with faith and hope, but the points of superiority are not hard to find.

1. If all three are eternal, the other two shall be greatly diminished as graces by the Lord’s coming, while love shall be infinitely enlarged.

2. Love is the basis of faith and hope, for we only fully believe in and hope for that which we love.

3. Faith and hope are human, but God himself is love.

4. Faith and hope can only properly work by love, and are worthless without it. But here the superiority is not so clear, for the three graces go hand in hand.

(We are indebted to D. Edmond Hiebert for the fine outline, from his book An Introduction to the Pauline Epistles, Moody Press, 1954.)


1. The comparative value of tongues and prophecy, 1-25.

a. The comparison of their value in the Church, 1-19.

(1) The advice concerning spiritual gifts Vs. 1.

Text 1 Corinthians 14:1

Follow after love; yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.

Post by: nChrist on April 01, 2008, 01:41:20 PM

Thought Questions 1 Corinthians 14:1

78. How strong an expression is “follow after love”?

79. Who was to desire spiritual gifts?

80. What does desire have to do with obtaining spiritual gifts? How were they given?

81. The best gift was “prophesy”-- explain why.

Paraphrase 1 Corinthians 14:1

Since it is a grace so excellent, pursue love by every method in your power; and only earnestly desire spiritual gifts, but especially that ye may prophesy.

Comment 14:1

Vs. 1. This is a transition from the subject of the importance of love to the proper use of Spiritual gifts. Love will not be obtained without effort —  we must pursue it to have it. Paul wants to assure the Corinthians that he is not minimizing the value of Spiritual gifts —  they are important and desirable. A strong desire to have and to use properly each gift is a prerequisite to obtaining them. No suggestion is made in this verse as to how such gifts are given. Surely we cannot read into this verse prayer as a means of obtaining such gifts. This is simply an admonition to not treat lightly the obtaining and use of such gifts —  if the Corinthians had been more earnest and sincere in obtaining them, they would have used them in a much more acceptable manner. The best gift is prophecy —  if the reader will refer to the explanation and use of such a gift given earlier in this study he will know why such an admonition was true. The gift of prophecy included far more than just the ability to foretell future events —  it included divine instruction —  the prophet was a teacher. Teaching helps everyone —  most especially when it proceeded from such a divine source.

2. The argument concerning tongues and prophecy, 2-6.

a. The contrasted nature of the two, 2-4.

Text 1 Corinthians 14:2-4

For he that speaketh in a tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God; for no man understandeth; but in the spirit he speaketh mysteries. But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men edification, and exhortation, and consolation. He that speaketh in a tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.

Thought Questions 1 Corinthians 14:2-4

82. Why would anyone want to exercise the gift of tongues if it did not benefit man?

83. In what sense was the speaking in tongues “unto God” —  i.e., is this suggesting the gift of tongues was used in personal worship?

84. Is it true that no man could understand the language spoken?

85. In what sense could not man understand?

86. Such utterances are only mysteries to some people —  who?

87. Why call this gift the gift of prophecy if its use is almost solely for teaching?

88. Please define in your own words the three expressions: (1) edification, (2) exhortation, (3) consolation.

89. In what sense would the gift of tongues edify its possessor?

90. Are we to understand that a public meeting is in view in the use of the two gifts —  tongues and prophecy?

Post by: nChrist on April 01, 2008, 01:43:02 PM

Paraphrase 1 Corinthians 14:2-4

2. For he who speaketh in a foreign language in the public assemblies, speaketh not to men, but to God; for no one present understandeth him. Nevertheless, by the Spirit he speaketh mysteries, or things which, after he hath spoken them, are wholly hidden from the church.

3. But he who prophesieth, speaketh by inspiration to men in a known language, for increasing their faith, and stirring them up to their duty, and comforting them under their afflictions.

4. He therefore who speaketh in a foreign language, edifieth himself only; but he who prophesieth, speaketh in a known language, so as to edify the church.

Comment 1 Corinthians 14:2-4

Vs. 2. Here is the reason for the superiority of the gift of prophecy. We pre-suppose in the situation here described that no interpreter is present when the gift of tongues is exercised —  this being the case, the use of such a gift is very limited in its benefit. The only one who understands the meaning of the words spoken is God. (Shall we exclude the speaker himself? The impression upon the assembled group would be that he was revealing a divine mystery —  all of which was completely unintelligible to those listening.)

Vs. 3.In contrast —  the prophet speaking in the language (or tongue) of the people present can greatly help them by information, admonition and promises from God. What the teacher or preacher of today does as he expounds and applies the word of God from the New Testament, the prophet of Paul’s day did by direct revelation.

Vs. 4. There seems to be some indication from the expression of this verse that the man with the gift of tongues did understand what he said, for Paul says he was built up in his faith by what he said by the tongue. Everyone is built up by the words of the prophet.

b. The argument from the contrast, 14:5,6.

Text 1 Corinthians 14:5,6

Now I would have you all speak with tongues, but rather that ye should prophesy: and greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying. But now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, unless I speak to you either by way of revelation, or of knowledge, or of prophesying, or of teaching?

Thought Questions 1 Corinthians 14:5,6

91. In what sense are we to understand the desire of Paul that he would have all the Corinthians speak with tongues? All of them could not do so —  what is meant?

92. Why mention the measure of greatness between the use of tongues and the use of prophecy? Did some of the Corinthians feel they were “great” because they had the gift of tongues?

93. Could all who spoke with tongues interpret what they said? Why not? Explain.

94. What is meant by speaking “by revelation”?

95. What is the “knowledge” of Vs. 6?

96. What distinction is here made between prophesying and teaching?

Post by: nChrist on April 01, 2008, 01:45:02 PM

Paraphrase 1 Corinthians 14:5,6

I wish, indeed, that ye all spake foreign languages; but rather that ye were endowed with the gift of prophecy. For, a more useful inspired person is he who prophesieth (see vs. 3), than he who speaketh mysteries (vs. 2), in foreign languages, unless someone interpret what he speaketh, that the church may receive edification. For now, brethren, if I should come to you speaking the dictates of inspiration in foreign languages, what good shall I do you, unless I shall speak to you intelligibly, either by the revelation, peculiar to an apostle; or by the word of knowledge, the gift of a superior prophet; or by prophecy, the inspiration proper to an inferior prophet; or by doctrine, the inspiration proper to the ordinary pastor?

Comment 1 Corinthians 14:5,6

Vs. 5. Paul affirms that he would not object if the whole church had the gift of tongues (of course, this was not the condition, but it indicates the fact that if the Lord directed, the apostles might grant this power to any one of the members.) Therefore, those who had such gifts from the apostles should not think of themselves as especially deserving of such a gift. However, if all were to be endowed, Paul wanted it to be with the gift of prophecy. The apostle plainly affirms the superiority of the prophetic gift —  such being the case, God has actually honored the prophet above those with tongues. It would seem that some in the church with the gift of tongues were thinking of themselves more highly than they ought to think. The ability to speak in a language one had never learned would indeed give some folk a sense of accomplishment which, coupled with pride, would cause them to feel highly honored of the Lord —  such persons could have become very overbearing in their attitude of supposed superiority. To offset such an attitude, Paul stated the position of honor —  it was not with those speaking in tongues.

Some had a double gift —  to not only speak in a foreign language, but to also be able to interpret what had been said. Obviously, the gift of interpretation was not generally held or there would have been no problem.

Vs. 6. Paul was about to visit the Corinthians —  he is now saying: “Suppose when I visit you I use only tongues in my conversation with you —  of what profit would my visit be?” If, on the other hand, Paul exercised any one of the other four gifts here specified, he would greatly benefit the Corinthians —   Revelation refers to the direct communication from God to man. “Knowledge” is supernatural knowledge, perhaps it refers to the understanding of the revelation. We have discussed the meaning of the gift of prophecy —  the “teaching” given by Paul would be of the greatest help because it was infallible.

3. The teaching concerning tongues through illustrations, 14:7-13.

a. The illustrations from musical instruments, 7-9.

(1) The illustrations used, 7,8.

Text 1 Corinthians 14:7,8

Even things without life, giving a voice, whether pipe or harp, if they give not a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped? For if the trumpet give an uncertain voice, who shall prepare himself for war?

Thought Questions 1 Corinthians 14:7,8

97. Why begin a discussion of the proper use of a pipe or harp?

98. Why say “things without life”?

99. Meaning of “distinction in sounds.”

100. Is a discussion of identifying a tune on the pipe or the harp?

101. What is the point of the illustration of the proper use of the trumpet?

Post by: nChrist on April 01, 2008, 01:46:54 PM

Paraphrase 1 Corinthians 14:7,8

For now, brethren, if I should come to you speaking the dictates of inspiration in foreign languages, what good shall I do you, unless I shall speak to you intelligibly, either by the revelation, peculiar to an apostle; or by the word of knowledge, the gift of a superior prophet; or by prophecy, the inspiration proper to an inferior prophet; or by doctrine, the inspiration proper to the ordinary pastor? In like manner, things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, unless they give a difference to the notes, both in tone and in time, how shall it be known what is piped or harped? Such unmeaning sounds are a fit image of unintelligible language, both in their nature and in their effect.

Comment 1 Corinthians 14:7,8

Vs. 7. Paul wants his readers to “see” the truth of his principle concerning the proper use of tongues. Here is an illustration to illumine the point. Think of the playing of a pipe or a harp, when do you enjoy listening to such an instrument? Isn’t it when you understand the tune being played? When the tune is not distinct, the instrument is just making noise.

Vs. 8. Yet another illustration has to do with the use of a war trumpet. This was much in use in Paul’s day. If the trumpeter did not know the “certain sound” for charge or retreat, it would in deed be tragic. Or, if knowing the call for charge or retreat, he did not blow it so as to be heard, it would have been just as bad.

b. The application made, vs. 9.

Text 1 Corinthians14:9

So also ye, unless ye utter by the tongue speech easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye will be speaking into the air.

Thought Questions 14:9

102. In what sense “easy to be understood”?

103. Meaning of “speaking into the air.”

Paraphrase 1 Corinthians 14:9

So also ye, when ye speak by inspiration in your public assemblies, unless with the tongue ye utter intelligible speech, how shall it be known what is spoken? Therefore, however important the things ye speak may be, ye will be speaking into the air like madmen.

Post by: nChrist on April 01, 2008, 01:48:39 PM

Comment 1 Corinthians 14:9

The application of the foregoing illustrations should be so obvious that there should be no question about it. Paul plainly says  —  jf you use your tongue, use it like you would a pipe, a harp, or a trumpet —   make your utterance intelligible. If you fail to do this you will not help anyone —  you will be but speaking into the air.

c. The illustration from different voices, 14:10-13.

(1) The illustration used, 10,11.

Text 1 Corinthians 14:10.11

There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and no kind is without signification. If, then, I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be to him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh will be a barbarian unto me.

Thought Questions 1 Corinthians 14:10,11

104. How is the word “voices” used in this verse? Does this mean languages?

105. How are we to understand the word “signification”?

106. How is the word “barbarian” used in this connection?

Paraphrase 1 Corinthians 14:10,11

There are, no doubt, as many kinds of languages used in the world as ye speak, and none of them is without signification to those who are acquainted with them. Nevertheless, if I do not know the meaning of the language that is uttered, I shall be to the person who speaketh a foreigner, who has no knowledge of what he speaks, and he who speaketh shall be a foreigner to me: we shall be incapable of holding any conversation with each other.

Comment 1 Corinthians 14:10,11

Vs. 10. MacKnight indicates in his paraphrase the use of the word “voices” as it relates to the languages —  it can be thus translated; however, we prefer to think of it as referring to voices as “sounds —   i.e., the sound of the voice of an animal, or a bird, or even an insect. Surely there are a multiplicity of these “voices.” Each animal, each bird, has a purpose or significance in the use of the “voice” God has given him.

Vs. 11. The pointed application is “does your voice’ ‘ —  in this case, “gift of tongues” —  have a purpose or significance? If I cannot understand a foreigner who is attempting to tell me something, I appear to him as a boorish person —  an unlearned man. However, I might also look upon the speaker of this foreign language as the boor or barbarian because he cannot understand me any better than I him. There is no purpose or significance in such a situation.

d. The exhortation made, 14:12,13.

Text 1 Corinthians 14:12,13

So also ye, since ye are zealous of spiritual gifts (or Spirits), seek that ye may abound unto the edifying of the church. Wherefore let him that speaketh in a tongue pray that he may interpret.

Post by: nChrist on April 01, 2008, 01:50:52 PM

Thought Questions 1 Corinthians 14:12,13

107. In what sense were the Corinthians zealous of Spiritual gifts?

108. What were the Corinthians to seek according to Paul’s instructions?

109. How could the church be edified?

Paraphrase 1 Corinthians 14:12,13

12. Wherefore ye also, that ye may not be barbarians to each other, since ye are earnestly desirous of spiritual gifts (see vs. 32), seek them, that by exercising them properly, ye may abound for the edification of the church.

13. For which cause, let him who by inspiration prayeth in the church in a foreign language, pray in such a manner, and at such a time, as someone who is inspired may interpret his prayer to the edification of the church.

Comment 1 Corinthians 14:12,13

Vs. 12. Paul says —  if you want to be eager and zealous about something (and you surely do, as indicated in your use and abuse of tongues), let me select the subject and object of your zeal —   the gift of prophesy and the consequent building up of all who hear. The whole church is helped in the proper use of these gifts —  in the use made of them by the Corinthians a very few were helped —  even this help was questionable, for they seemed to be puffed up about it.

Vs. 13. Here is a conclusion to the foregoing: Let the man who is supernaturally able to speak in a foreign language also have the ability to interpret such a language for the benefit of those who hear him. The word “pray” in this verse, i.e., “pray that he may interpret,” is used in the same way as “desire” in earlier verses. It does not mean he shall obtain the gift of interpretation through answer to prayer, but that he is to have a strong desire for this gift. How shall he obtain it? The only means of impartation indicated in the Scripture is the laying on of the hands of the Apostles. Such a person with this strong desire could request that an apostle be provided to impart this gift to him.

MacKnight places an entirely different interpretation on Vs. 13, as can be observed by reading his paraphrase. He believes the prayer is made in a tongue (taking his thought from Vs. 14) and the interpretation is made by someone else present who has the gift of interpretation. In other words —  if you are going to pray in a foreign language  —  do it in such a manner and at such a time that the man present with the gift of interpretation may hear you distinctly and may give the meaning of your prayer to the rest of the church.

In either understanding of the verse, the gift of interpretation is not obtained through a person's praying to God.

Granting, for sake of argument, that a person in Paul’s day were to pray for the gift of the interpretation of the tongue he had just spoken —  how would he conclude his prayer would be answered? The only way in which these gifts were given (according to the Divine record) was through the hands of the Apostles. Would he not then be praying for the coming of an apostle to him for the purpose of imparting such a gift?

4. The Apostle’s use of tongues and prophecy, 1 Corinthians 14:14-19.

a. His determination to use both in worship, 14,15.

Post by: nChrist on April 01, 2008, 01:52:58 PM

Text 1 Corinthians 14:14,15

For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is it then? I will pray with the Spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the Spirit and I will sing with the understanding also.

Thought Questions 1 Corinthians 14:14,15

110. Does verse 14 teach that a man with the gift of tongues does not understand what he says? Explain.

111. How would it be possible to pray with both the Spirit and the understanding? Explain two ways.

112. Under what conditions was the praying and singing done?

Paraphrase 1 Corinthians 14:14,15

14. For if I pray publicly in a foreign language not interpreted, my spirit which understandeth that language prayeth, but my meaning in such a prayer is without fruit to the person for whom I pray.

15. What is then to be done, when the Spirit moves me to pray in the church in an unknown language? Why this, I will pray with the inspiration of the Spirit, but I will pray also with my meaning interpreted, vs. 13; I will sing with the inspiration of the Spirit, but I will sing also with my meaning interpreted.

Comment 1 Corinthians 14:14,15

Vs. 14. Even in private worship the advantage of understandable expression is evident. The Corinthians were evidently using tongues in prayer (both public and private). But if the one praying did not understand the words he used in prayer, of what value was the prayer to him? It is difficult to explain how this would take place. But, then, we cannot explain the presence of the power to speak in another language except on supernatural grounds.

Vs. 15. When praying (especially in public), the power of speaking in some foreign language could be exercised, but only when the gift of interpretation is present —  either in the one who prays or in someone else present who hears the prayer. The same principle is to follow in singing —  this is obviously some type of individual singing. Paul uses the first person to lend reality and authority to his words.

b. His reminder that edification is the aim, 14:16,17.

Text 1 Corinthians 14:16,17

Else if thou bless with the Spirit, how shall he that filleth the place of the unlearned say the Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he knoweth not what thou sayest? For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified.

Thought Questions 1 Corinthians 14:16,17

113. What is meant here by blessing with the Spirit?

114. Who is the one in the place of the unlearned?

115. What is meant by saying the Amen?

116. What is the giving of thanks?

117. How could some not give thanks well? Does this relate to the possession of the gift of tongues?

Post by: nChrist on April 01, 2008, 01:56:13 PM

Paraphrase 1 Corinthians 14:16,17

16. Else, when thou shalt bless God with an inspiration of the Spirit in an unknown language, he who in the congregation is a private or uninspired person, and heareth thee speak, how shall he assent to what thou speakest, and say the Amen to thy thanksgiving, since he knoweth not what thou sayest?

17. For thou indeed givest thanks in that unknown language in fit expressions, but the other who hears thee is not edified thereby.

Comment 1 Corinthians 14:16,17

Vs. 16. We have so far considered two areas where the gift of tongues was used: (1) in prayer, (2) in singing. We are now introduced to a third area: “giving of thanks.” This is referred to as “blessing with the Spirit” in Vs. 15a. This has to do with expressing in public the gratitude of the heart for the goodness of God —  if such gratitude is expressed in a foreign tongue how shall the one who cannot understand the tongue be able to voice his approval or agreement? It would seem that one person gave expression to the praise and thanksgiving that filled all present —   each listened and indicated to God and those present his approval by saying “Amen.’ We understand the expression “he that filleth the place of the unlearned” to refer to anyone without the gift of the interpretation of tongues.

Vs. 17. The expression of gratitude might be very beautiful and meaningful, as indeed it would be since it was directed by the Holy Spirit, but of what value was it? Unless someone is strengthened in the faith, the purpose of such an expression has failed.

c. His preference for prophecy in the Church, 14:18,19.

Text 1 Corinthians 14:18,19

I thank God, I speak with tongues more than you all: how be it in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding that I might instruct others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue.

Thought Questions 1 Corinthians 14:18,19

118. Why thank God that he could speak with tongues?

119. Why did Paul make such great use of tongues? For what purpose did he use them?

120. When are we in church?

121. How could we speak without our understanding?

122. Didn’t Paul know what he spoke when he spoke with tongues?

123. Wouldn’t the instruction given to Paul by God be just as inspired as the tongues? Why the great desire for tongues?

Post by: nChrist on April 01, 2008, 01:57:57 PM

Paraphrase 1 Corinthians 14:18,19

18. I do not thus speak of foreign languages because I myself am deficient in them: for I worship my God, speaking in more foreign languages than all of you taken together.

19. Yet so far am I from being vain of this gift, that in the church I had rather speak five sentences with my meaning understood, that I may instruct others as well as myself, than ten thousand sentences in a foreign language, however sublime and elegant that discourse might be.

Comment 1 Corinthians 14:18,19

Vs. 18. Correction of an abuse does not minimize the importance of proper use. Paul wants the Corinthians to know that he approves of the proper use of tongues —  he himself is an example. The apostle was equipped with the ability to speak in foreign languages in a manner far superior to that of any or all of the Corinthians. This obviously refers to his use of such languages in his foreign evangelism. No Corinthian had spoken so often or so well in a foreign language as had Paul. We might add here that if someone today was thus endowed and used the power for the same purpose, we would have some of the same results as Paul.

Vs. 19. The church referred to here must be the assembled group in Corinth —  or indeed in any place-why speak to such a group in a language they do not understand? Five words in a short sentence means more to them than ten thousand words —   however eloquent in a foreign language.

d.The comparison of their value to non-believers, 14:20-25.

(1) The appeal for mental maturity, 14:20.

Text 1 Corinthians 14:20

Brethren, be not children in mind: yet in malice be ye babes, but in mind be men.

Thought Questions 1 Corinthians 14:20

124. Why introduce the thought of being children?

125. Explain how the Corinthians were using their minds like children.

126. How does the thought of malice fit the context?

127. Is Paul suggesting that in spite of the Spiritual gifts such persons were very immature? Why did God grant such gifts to such people?

Paraphrase 1 Corinthians 14:20

Brethren, do not, by exercising the gift of tongues with strife, shew yourselves children in understand; but in freedom from evil disposition be ye children, and in understanding be ye full grown men.

Post by: nChrist on April 01, 2008, 01:59:42 PM

Comment 1 Corinthians 14:20

Vs. 20. There is a way in which one can be commended for being child-like —  but not as it relates to the mind —  a child likes the sensational, the exciting —  so the Corinthians were like children in their preference for the use of tongues. It appealed to the love for the exciting —  ”If you wish to be like a child be like one in his total lack of ill will.” In heart, be like a child; in mind, be mature like a man.

(2) The sign-value of tongues and prophecy, 14:21,22.

Text 1 Corinthians 14:21,22

21 In the law it is written, by men of strange tongues and by the lips of strangers will I speak unto this people; and not even thus will they hear me, saith the Lord.

22 Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to the unbelieving: but prophesying is for a sign, not to the unbelieving, but to them that believe.

Thought Questions 1 Corinthians 14:21,22

128. Please read Isaiah 28:11,12 and tell why Paul refers to this prophecy as “law”.

129. Who were the men of strange tongues in the days of Isaiah? Who in Corinth?

130. Why didn’t they hear —  i.e., in both cases? Why did God send men to His people?

131. Give the meaning of the word “sign” as here used.

132. Explain how tongues would be a sign to the unbelieving.

133. Explain how prophesying would be a sign for the believer.

Paraphrase 1 Corinthians 14:21,22

21. In the law it is foretold, Surely with other tongues, and with other lips, that is, by persons whose language is different from theirs, I will speak to this people: Yet not even so will they become obedient to me, saith the Lord.

22. Wherefore, foreign languages are for a sign of the effusion of the Holy Ghost on you, not to convince believers who do not understand these languages, but to convince unbelievers to whom ye speak in their own language, Acts II 8. But prophecy is for a sign of the effusion of the Spirit, not to convince unbelievers who cannot know, but to edify believers who know, that ye are inspired in prophesying.

Post by: nChrist on April 01, 2008, 02:01:24 PM

Comment 1 Corinthians 14:21,22

Vs. 21. The “law” referred to here is found in the book of Isaiah. We should remember that all God says is important and to be considered as His will for man’s obedience. The men of strange tongues in the Isaiah reference were the Assyrians. God sent the Assyrians to “speak” to Judah —  not so much by their language, for this was unintelligible to them, but by the sword. This, also, they failed to heed. The Jews of Corinth would recall the circumstances of the reference and see its application —  foreign languages in the days of Isaiah were of little value —  even when misused in Corinth, God’s displeasure is present.

Vs. 22. The use of tongues is a sign —  they indicate or point to something. When an unbeliever is confronted with the miracle of someone speaking in his own native dialect who has never learned it, he is strongly inclined to heed what is said; thus the divine power of speaking in a foreign language becomes a great aid in evangelism. The use of tongues in a church service only serves to confuse when it is not understood by the listener.

The man who teaches and preaches through the gift of prophecy is the one who helps the believers. The communication of truth is the important action —  either to foreign unbelievers in their language —  or to believers in their native language.

(3) The effect of tongues and prophecy on non-believers, 14: 2 3-25.

(a) The effect of tongues, 14:23.

Text 1 Corinthians 14:23

If therefore the whole church be assembled together and all speak with tongues, and there come in men unlearned or unbelieving, will they not say that ye are mad?

Thought Questions 1 Corinthians 14:23

134. How could the whole church speak with tongues —  were not some without this gift?

135. Just how would you classify the “unlearned and unbelieving” men?

136. Why would such men say the tongues speakers were mad?

Paraphrase 1 Corinthians 14:23

Well, then, if the whole church be assembled in one place, and the inspired persons all speak in foreign languages, and there come in persons ignorant of these languages, or heathens, will they not say that ye are mad, when they see the confusion ye make by speaking languages which no one present understands?

Post by: nChrist on April 01, 2008, 02:03:33 PM

Comment 1 Corinthians 14:23

Vs. 23. Please remember the general heading of this section —   i.e., the effect of tongues and prophecy on unbelievers. Here is one very unsavory effect —  just suppose the whole church is assembled and all present are exercising the power of speaking in a foreign language (an admittedly exaggerated situation for such could not be the case) —  one speaking in this language and another in that. Into such a meeting step several unbelievers —   what will they think? Just what most unbelievers think at one of our present day tongues meetings —  ”they are mad.” Indeed they were and are. This presupposes a lack of the interpretation of such tongues —  such must have been the case or Paul’s argument would not carry.

(b) The effect of prophecy, 14:24,25.

Text 1 Corinthians 14:24,25

But if all prophesy, and there come in one unbelieving or unlearned, he is reproved by all, he is judged by all; the secrets of his heart are made manifest; and so he will fall down on his face and worship God, declaring that God is among you indeed.

Thought Questions 1 Corinthians 14:24,25

137. How could any good effect come of all prophesying at the same time?

138. What is the meaning of the word “reproved” as here used?

139. In what sense is such a person “judged by all.”

140. Does this indicate anything about the content of preaching or teaching? If so, what?

141. What would cause the unbeliever to fall on his face?

142. What is the meaning of the word “worship”? Where is worship?

143. In what sense would God be among the prophesying church?

Paraphrase 1 Corinthians 14:24,25

24. But if all who are inspired prophesy, and there come in a heathen, or one ignorant of foreign languages, with an intention to act as a spy, such a person, understanding what is spoken, will be reproved for his idolatry, and other sins, by all who prophesy; and he will be questioned concerning his intention, by all who can discern spirits.

25. And thus the hidden purposes of his heart being made known, he will be astonished, and so, falling prostrate, he will worship God, and report that God is actually among you. Like Nebuchadnezzar he will say, “Of a truth it is, that your God is a God of gods —  and a revealer of secrets” (Daniel II 47).

Post by: nChrist on April 01, 2008, 02:05:16 PM

Comment 1 Corinthians 14:24,25

Vs. 24. We must assume that all prophesying would be done in order. All of the words of instruction, and correction would be perfectly clear to the unbeliever since it is in his own tongue. As the unbeliever listens, one after another speaks to his heart and conscience. His guilt before God is established time after time. He is weighed in God’s balances and found wanting —  not once, but many times by those who prophesy.

Vs. 25. The motives and intents of the unbelievers’ heart are all open and evident through the words of the many prophets. Again and again he sees himself as God sees him —  what is his response? He falls down (if not literally, at least in his heart) and does obeisance to God. To humble oneself by doing obeisance is the root meaning of the word “worship.” Finally, instead of the words of ridicule —  ’ ‘ye are mad’ ‘ —  he will express words of holy reverence, “God is among or in you.”

2. The orderly employment of tongues and prophecy, 14:26-36.

a. The principle of orderliness in worship, 14:26.

Text 1 Corinthians 14:26

What is it then, brethren? When ye come together, each one hath a psalm, hath a teaching, hath a revelation, hath a tongue, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.

Thought Questions 1 Corinthians 14:26

144. Why introduce this section with the words “What is it then”?

145. Is the coming together the public meeting of the saints at Corinth?

146. What is meant by the expression “hath a psalm”?

147. What is “a revelation”?

148. Why not mention the gift of prophecy?

149. What is the point of this verse?

Paraphrase 1 Corinthians 14:26

What then is to be done, brethren? When ye are assembled, one of you by inspiration bath a psalm; another bath a discourse; another bath something made known to him in a foreign language; another a revelation of some future event; another bath an interpretation of what was uttered in a foreign language. In such cases, let all these gifts be exercised to edification.

Post by: nChrist on April 01, 2008, 02:07:01 PM

Comment 1 Corinthians 14:26

Vs. 26. Paul is saying —  here is the proper way to use these gifts in a public service (probably in contrast with the way they were using them). Let each one who possesses such a gift see that he uses it to build up the listeners. Perhaps the psalm, the teaching and the revelation are but expressions of the gift of prophecy. A psalm was a song —  probably from the Book of Psalms, a teaching refers to some special instruction to be given from the word of God; revelation could refer to some direct word from God —   the tongues are always to have an interpreter that those who hear might be edified.

b.The specific instructions concerning their services, 14: 27-36.

(I) The instructions concerning tongues and interpretations, 14:27,28.

Text 1 Corinthians 14:27,28

If any man speaketh in a tongue, let it be by two, or at the most three, and that in turn; and let one interpret: but if there is no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.

Thought Questions 1 Corinthians 14:27,28

150. Why the limitation on the number who spoke with tongues?

151. Meaning of the expression “in turn.’

152. In what sense could a tongue speaker speak to himself and to God?

Paraphrase 1 Corinthians 14:27,28

27. And if any one be moved to speak in a foreign language, let him speak by two, or at most by three sentences at a time, and separately; and let one in the same manner interpret what he says, that the church may be edified.

28. But if there be no interpreter present, let the inspired person be silent in the church at that time: Yet, for his own edification, he may speak inwardly to himself and to God, what is given him by the Spirit.

Comment 1 Corinthians 14:27,28

Vs. 27. Very plain and specific instructions are given for those who would exercise the gift of tongues —   let only two or three speak. This was for the purpose of allowing time for other parts of the service. No one was to speak in a foreign language unless there was an interpreter present. Now, just how would the tongue-speaker know there was an interpreter present if he was not speaking in a known foreign language? If it was some heavenly unknown language there would be a need for a direct revelation from heaven as to what was meant —  would this always be given to the same man? Could this be the gift of interpretation? Interpretation pre-supposes a knowledge of a language —  who could say he knows the language of heaven?

Vs. 28. If no interpreter were present (a fact to be ascertained by the one with the gift of tongues), let him be silent and use his gift at home for his own edification —  i.e., in private devotions.

(2) The instructions as to prophecy and revelation, 14:29-33a.

(a) The orderly procedure in prophesying, 14:29.

Post by: nChrist on April 01, 2008, 02:09:01 PM

Text 1 Corinthians 14:29

And let the prophets speak by two or three, and let the others discern.

Thought Questions 1 Corinthians 14:29

153. The same orderly procedure is to be followed in the use of the gift of prophecy. Why such a limitation?

154. How long would such a service last?

155. What is the meaning of the word “discern”? Is this the discerning of spirits?

156. To whom does the little phrase “the others” refer?

Paraphrase 1 Corinthians 14:29

Now, let only two or three prophets speak in succession, at one meeting, and let the others who have the gift of discerning spirits, discern whether they have spoken by inspiration or by private suggestion.

Comment 1 Corinthians 14:29

Vs. 29. Why limit the use of prophecy to two or three? Is it to show fairness to those who were so fond of the use of tongues? MacKnight solves the problem by referring the “two or three” to two or three sentences —  which hardly seems likely. Perhaps it was because there was a certain element of prophecy in the use of tongues —  i.e., when they were interpreted —  what was to be said when tongues were used? Some edifying revelation of God was given to all through the interpreter —  hence the purpose of speaking with understanding was fulfilled.

We believe the use of the word “discern” does indeed refer to those who had the gift of the discerning of Spirits —  it evidently was possible to pretend to have a revelation from God and yet be self-deceived. Those with the supernatural power to discern would soon indicate the deficiency.

Text 1 Corinthians 14:30-33a

But if a revelation be made to another sitting by, let the first keep silence. For ye all can prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be exhorted; and the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets; for God is not a god of confusion, but of peace.

Thought Questions 1 Corinthians 14:30-33a

157. What is “a revelation”? Why would it be superior to what was being said?

158. How would the prophesying “one by one” cause all to learn?

159. What is meant by the word “exhorted”?

160. Does Paul here mean that the prophets could control the use of the gift of prophecy? In what manner?

161. Why appeal to the nature of God in 33a?

Post by: nChrist on April 01, 2008, 02:10:37 PM

Paraphrase 1 Corinthians 14:30-33a

30. But if to another, who sitteth by hearing a prophet speak, any thing be revealed, let the first finish his discourse and be silent, before the other attempteth to speak.

31. For, by speaking one after another, ye can all deliver one by one, either at that or some subsequent meeting, what is revealed to you, so as all may learn, and all be comforted.

32. For the spiritual gifts of the Christian prophets are under the command of the prophets; so that they can exercise, or forbear to exercise them, as they choose.

33a. Besides, God is not by his inspiration the author of disturbance, but of peace.

Comment 1 Corinthians 14:30-33a

Vs. 30. Here is an exception to the principle just stated. If, while some gifted person is prophesying God reveals a message to someone else, the one prophesying is to give preference to the action and message of God. The man with the prophetic gift could evidently exercise it at will —  such was not so with the one given a revelation. Let the prophet be silent while this special message is given.

Vs. 31. The procedure of the exercise of the gift of prophesy is further elaborated. Paul says —  ’ ‘it is possible for the prophets to speak one at a time. In this way all may hear, understand and be edified.” The messages given by the prophets were such that those hearing were greatly encouraged and strengthened in the faith.

Vs. 32. The claim by some that they were but passive instruments of the power of God is not true. Paul reminds the Corinthians that the power of expression however divine is none-the-less under the control of the one speaking. The words of Lenski are much to the point: “Hence a prophet may desire to speak and may have something important to convey which has been given him by the divine Spirit and the Word and yet for good reasons may refrain from speaking. Proper self-control is a virtue that any prophet may well cultivate even today” (p. 613).

Vs. 33a. The nature of God is appealed to as a reason for an orderly use of the gifts —  if such gifts and their use proceed from God then they will reflect the divine nature. God is not the author of confusion —  the reason He is not is found in His essential being. He is a God of tranquillity and quiet satisfaction. Such could not be true if confusion reigned through the misuse of the gifts. How could God approve of a practice in violation of His nature?

(3) The restrictions on women in the worship service, 14: 33b-36.

(a) The restriction placed on women, 14:33b, 34.

Text 1 Corinthians 14:33b, 34

As in all the churches of the saints, let the women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but let them be in subjection, as also saith the law.

Post by: nChrist on April 01, 2008, 02:12:22 PM

Thought Questions 1 Corinthians 14:33b, 34

162. Why introduce the subject of the position of women in this context?

163. Just how inclusive is the silence of the women?

164. Does this refer to women speaking in tongues?

165. What constitutes subjection?

166. From what has been said we would hardly conclude the church of Corinth was made up of “saints’ ‘ —  explain.

167. What reference in the law is here mentioned?

Paraphrase 1 Corinthians 14:33b, 34

33b. Having enjoined the orderly exercise of the spiritual gifts; as in all the churches of the saints is well known.

34. Your women, on pretense of being inspired, have assumed the office of public teachers: But my command is, Let your women be silent in the churches; for it hath not been permitted to them by Christ to teach in public; but they must be in subjection to the men, as also the law of Moses commandeth.

Comment 1 Corinthians 14:33b, 34

Vs. 33b. There has been some discussion as to whether this verse should be thus divided —  some commentators would refer it to the statement: “For God is not a God of confusion but of peace.” With this we cannot agree —  we much prefer the thought that a new point is here to be developed. The place of the women does indeed relate to proper conduct of those in the church, but it is a separate subject. This direction relates not only to the local condition at Corinth but to all the churches, whether in Corinth or not. We should note that God looks upon man as “in Christ” constituted a saint —  not by man’s worthiness but by Christ’s worthiness God calls us into and unto the fullness of the man in Christ.

Vs. 34. We refer you to I Timothy 2:11-15 for an enlargement of the same thought of this text. In what sense shall we say the women are to be silent? We must understand this in the context  —  let them be silent in areas where they are not permitted to speak. We could relate this to speaking in tongues, i.e., that such gifts were not to be exercised by women in the public assemblies. The men are to speak one at a time with the aid of an interpreter  —  the women are to speak not at all. Women can and are urged to teach other women —  but they are not to teach men, for in such a position they are usurping authority over a man —  we like the words of Calvin on this thought:

“For someone will say: ‘What is there to prevent them teaching even though they are in subjection?’ I reply that the task of teaching is one that belongs to someone with oversight, and is for that reason inconsistent with being in subjection. For how unsuitable it would be for a woman who is in subjection to one of the members, to be in an authoritative position over the whole body! It is therefore an argument based on incompatibilities; because if the woman is under subjection, she is therefore debarred from having authority to teach in public.” (p. 306 —  translated by John W. Fraser.)

We urge a reading of the section on the subjection of women in the Bible Study Textbook —  Paul’s Letters to Timothy and Titus (pp. 55ff.)

(b) The provision for their information, 14:35.

Text 1 Corinthians 14:35

And if they would learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home: for it is shameful for a woman to speak in the church.

Post by: nChrist on April 01, 2008, 02:14:08 PM

Thought Questions 1 Corinthians 14:35

168. It is not true that women learn nothing from the public meeting —  what is meant here?

169. Supposing a woman does not have a husband —  how would this apply to her?

170. What is shameful about a woman speaking in church?

171. Just what constitutes “the church”?

Paraphrase 1 Corinthians 14:35

35. I do not permit women so much as to ask a question in the church, even on pretence of receiving information. But if they wish to learn any thing, let them ask their own husbands at home: for it is an indecent thing for women, on any pretence, to speak in the church.

Comment 1 Corinthians 14:35

Vs. 35. The learning process for women is not in asking questions in the public meeting —  for this could lead to a situation where their proper position is violated. Let them ask their “men-folk” at home. Paul is thinking of a family situation either of a husband and wife or of a father and children. We believe the word translated “husbands” is much more accurately translated “men-folk.” Please remember the circumstances of the meeting of “the whole church’ not in a private class —  when the whole church is affected by the questions and answers, such instructions must prevail. The exception of the single woman with no male connections is not considered in this text —  this does not mean they are to violate the divine principle.

(c) The rebuke to the Corinthian arrogance, 14:36.

Text 1 Corinthians 14:36

What? Was it from you that the word of God went forth? or came it unto you alone?

Thought Questions 1 Corinthians 14:36

172. Such a stinging rebuke was evidently prompted by a serious condition —  what was it?

173. Why and how would the Corinthians claim the word of God originated with them?

174. The Corinthians were indeed arrogant —  show how this was manifested.

Paraphrase 1 Corinthians 14:36

36. What? Went the word of God forth into the world from you women? Did Christ employ any of your sex as apostles? Or did the word only come to you by the ministry of the men? How then can ye pretend to teach men?

Post by: nChrist on April 01, 2008, 02:15:43 PM

Comment 1 Corinthians 14:36

Vs. 36. Paul rebukes in a very sharp manner the boastful attitude of the Corinthians. He seems to intimate that the Corinthians knew God’s will concerning the matters in which he had corrected them, but they were not willing to change. Perhaps the answer is in the authority of the word —  the word of God was sent to correct —  not to be corrected. The Corinthians were to allow the word to change them, they wished to change it. It is indeed a serious rebuke —  the saints in this city acted as if they were the source of authority and the peculiar object of God’s concern  —  neither was true. God is the authority —  expressed in His Word  —  for all time and all people.

1. The concluding statements, 14:37-40.

a. The authentication of the instructions, 14:37,38.

Text 1 Corinthians 14:37,38

If any man thinketh himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him take knowledge of the things which I write unto you, that they are the commandment of the Lord. But if any man is ignorant, let him be ignorant.

Thought Questions 1 Corinthians 14:37,38

175. This is the conclusion of three chapters of close discussion. Please give it careful consideration. Here is a criteria for judging the true prophet or gifted man —  what is it?

176: To what “things” did Paul refer?

177. Were there some pretended prophets in the Corinthian church? What was to be done about them?

178. Of what were certain men ignorant? How decide when one was ignorant?

179. Is Paul ignoring the need for instruction among some? Explain.

Paraphrase 1 Corinthians 14:37,38

37. If any one be really a prophet, or a discerner of spirits, I appeal to him, and require him to acknowledge the things I now write, and all the other things in this Epistle, that they are the commandments of the Lord Christ, given me by inspiration.

38. And if any one, after that, is ignorant that my precepts are the commandments of the Lord, let him be ignorant. His ignorance being willful, I will trouble myself no farther with him.

Comment 1 Corinthians 14:37,38

Vs. 37. Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter of the use and abuse of Spiritual gifts —  i.e., as found in chapters 12-14 of this letter: the claim to be inspired of God or to speak the word of God can be tested by its agreement or disagreement with what Paul has written. Paul has no question or hesitancy about his divine authority —  he is not asking them to test his word, but to receive and follow it as indeed it is the Word of God.

Vs. 38. If there is anyone who will not acknowledge the words of the apostle as the word of God it is proof positive that he does not have the Spiritual gifts he claims. Lenski’s translation of this verse is good: “But if anyone does not acknowledge, he himself is not acknowledged.” i.e., if anyone will not acknowledge the divine authority of Paul’s message, he is not acknowledged by God.

b. The concluding admonitions on the subject, 14:39,40.

Post by: nChrist on April 01, 2008, 02:23:34 PM

Text 1 Corinthians 14:39,40

Wherefore, my brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues. But let all things be done decently and in order.

Thought Questions 1 Corinthians 14:39,40

180. What does desire have to do with prophecy?

181. Paul had forbidden speaking in tongues —  what does he mean by his statement here?

182. Specify just what decency and order means as to tongues and prophecy.

Paraphrase 1 Corinthians 14:39,40

39. Wherefore, brethren, prophecy being so excellent a gift, earnestly desire to prophesy. And hinder not any to speak in foreign languages, if there is one present to interpret.

40. Let all things be done decently and in order in your religious assemblies: the spiritual men avoiding envy and strife; and the women being silent.

Comment 1 Corinthians 14:39,40

Vs. 39. Paul began by explaining the advantage of prophesy —   he is to conclude with the same thought. His prohibitions on the use of this gift are not given to discourage its use —  indeed, without it the church would be greatly hindered. Tongues also have their place in the service —  because their abuse has been corrected does not mean they should be forbidden.

Vs. 40. Here is a principle to prevail in all our work and worship —  let God’s approval rest upon whatever we do —  it will then be decent —  let it be done in such a manner that no one will feel slighted and no one will be given a prominence he does not deserve —  this will be in order —  let no confusion reign any of the services, God does not approve of it and man is not edified.

THE END.....

Note:  Additional personal studies will follow. This issue is being covered because of confusion for many and deception into dangerously false teachings that are diverting many away from CHRIST. These posts are not intended for strife or division - just the opposite. I hope you will understand from further posts that this is an important issue worthy of study. It's not nit-picking, rather it many times does become a Salvation issue with the rampant deception that's occurring today. For this and other reasons, we hope and pray that you study this issue seriously and with an open heart.

Post by: Soldier4Christ on April 03, 2008, 02:12:36 AM
This is a long study, as is the case with many subjects in the Bible. It is indeed a very worthy study well worth the time it takes to go through it. This is the most accurate and complete a study that I have seen. I encourage all to take the time, to read and to study this in detail. Thank you, brother for posting it here.

Post by: nChrist on April 03, 2008, 07:20:11 AM
Good Morning Pastor Roger and All!

I simply hope that most of our readers understand why I posted this study. It certainly wasn't for the purpose of division or strife.

I do have some personal thoughts on this issue that I'd like to post later. For now, I'd simply like to make some very basic observations about this issue.

1 - There was a time and specific reason for the proper use of tongues:  a sign to the lost that GOD'S Messenger could speak their language and distribute the GOOD NEWS of the Gospel of the Grace of GOD.

2 - There were few Messengers of GOD'S WORD in the Acts Period, but there were people of many languages who needed to hear the message.

3 - The proper use of tongues in the Acts period involved known languages of the time and were used for the GLORY OF GOD - not attention and glory for mankind.

4 - The improper use of tongues in this day and age draw attention away from GOD and to man. The lost do not benefit because there is no understanding. In fact, the lost are simply confused because what they hear sounds like senseless babbling, and it really is just that. It draws attention to the speaker, a man, and it has no benefit for the lost. It actually becomes a false matter of status and pride for the speaker and does not serve GOD at all.

5 - There is a proper use of tongues in this day and age that does GLORIFY GOD. This involves the translation of the Bible and Godly materials into every known language of the world. The specific purpose is distributing GOD'S WORD - the message of Salvation to the entire world. However, this is usually not a supernatural use of tongues, rather the translator speaking more than one language and using his or her language ability for the LORD. For reference, one should note that the Apostle Paul did speak multiple languages. The Apostle Paul used these various languages on his journeys in preaching the GOOD NEWS.

Brothers and Sisters, we should seriously question anything that draws attention and glory to mankind, and this would involve much more than just the improper use of tongues. Signs and wonders in this day and age are heavily used by FALSE PROPHETS AND FALSE TEACHERS.

There was a time, reason, and season when GOD gave many of HIS Servants the power for signs and wonders. That time is over and ended with the Acts Period. GOD HIMSELF still does as HE Pleases in Heaven and on earth. GOD still performs miracles and answers prayers when it is within HIS Will and Purpose. ALL GLORY GOES TO GOD! - NOT MAN!

Love In Christ,

Ephesians 1:18-23 NASB I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

Post by: Soldier4Christ on April 03, 2008, 02:42:04 PM
Good morning to you also.

Yes, I agree it is not the intent of this post to cause division but rather to understand proper biblical precepts and to bring all into the unity of the Body of Christ. This can also serve as a warning to those that are in the body that it is possible to be deceived. Speaking in tongues, glossolalia, is not how we determine who is of the body and who is not although there are many today that use the words "proof of the Holy Spirit" in relations to this. The idea is "I speak in tongues so it is proof that what I say comes from the Holy Spirit". Many times it is done by people out of the mistaken idea that they must show this sign in order to be accepted into the group, do they even go to the extent of faking it. We must keep in mind that even the devil has the power to do miracles and thereby deceive many.

As I have pointed out before in other threads on here glossolalia is a common thing used by many pagan religions that do not accept Christ as Saviour, some are even into idols for their gods.

There is no doubt that God can still bless a person with such a gift if it is His will to do so, if it glorifies Him. What we see mostly today is not a language of any sort. No not even the language of the angels as some portend it to be but rather it is nothing more than guttural, unintelligible sounds that are usually repeated over and over again and again.

The love of Jesus Christ and reflecting His love towards others is so much more of a meaningful way of showing that we are indeed of the Body of Christ.

Post by: Ariellamb on July 09, 2010, 09:16:22 AM
I have been impressed by this study and responses given.

Post by: nChrist on July 09, 2010, 03:43:24 PM
I have been impressed by this study and responses given.

Hello Brother Peter,

I'm glad that you enjoyed this study. I consider this to be a very scholarly work by Don DeWelt - one worthy of the time it takes to study the material.

Before I forget, I hope that you had a nice holiday, and it's nice to have you back.

Love In Christ,

Post by: Ariellamb on July 09, 2010, 06:09:36 PM
Hi Tom
Thank you for your kind words. We stayed in the French Pyrenees high in the mountains not far from Andorra in a renovated farmhouse.
The Lords voice is very laud and strong in such an area of great natural beauty.
Three times while there The Lord gave me different illustrations from His Word as i waited on Him during mountainside prayer walks.
Some of the time i spake quietly in tongues of worship and waited upon Him. I have found while in prayer to never set in stone the agenda before hand, but to be open to His leading.

The rushing water down from the peaks spake to me in understanding for the first time how His voice is like 'Many waters' while close to them (Him) all other voices are drowned out) my grandson was speaking and i had to get away from the falling waters to hear him properly. Another time we were lost as to the way back,so we stopped and were quiet and there in the background was the distant sound of the rushing steam. Which gave us our bearing to wards the right path.

Post by: nChrist on July 09, 2010, 07:32:38 PM
Brother Peter,

It sounds like you had a great vacation. Welcome back.

Post by: Soldier4Christ on July 10, 2010, 09:13:30 AM
Hello Peter,

It is good to see you back and hearing that you all had a great time. It is good to be able to get away once in a while. I can understand the feeling of the closeness of God in such a setting. I lived in the Appalachian mountains for a little over a year. I loved going to the very tops, looking out over His handiwork and just spending a few precious moments with Him.

Since this thread is about speaking in tongues, I noticed that you used the term 'tongues of worship' which is often used to mean speaking in unknown tongues. I was wondering if you would explain what you mean by that term. I only ask because I would like to get to know you better, to know where you stand on this.

Post by: Ariellamb on July 12, 2010, 09:18:27 AM
Hi Roger

'Tongues of Worship'  'Oh for a thousand tongues to sing my great Redeemers praise'

When in protracted times of prayer alone, whether laying on my bed,walking out under the stars late at night or standing in the midst of trees alone in His creation, i speak out laud most times as this helps with focus & concentration. Some times i speak out His words(Scripture verses) back to Him as a man amongst the enemies kingdom crying out to heaven throne. At times my tongues of worship are as in Rev 4 & 5 repeating with them their praise by joining with them in tandem from the earth. For short times i speak in unknown languages of men, in touching the One who understands the depths of my being,receiving back the longing which He has given.
Joining with the Angels in worshipping The One who 'was' in eternity past before all that we now see was made.
In other words just being in His presence, recognizing Him as the sole centre of ALL creation & Glorious being who is the very only Spirit of Life.

Post by: sonofHilkiah on November 21, 2012, 07:25:00 PM
As to the question in your title "Should I Speak in Tongues" the answer is:

Only if you have been gifted with a tongue and are under the anointing of the Holy Spirit to do so. And the Scripture gives instruction on its use.