1 Corinthians 14:20-40
I Corinthians 14:20-40
I Corinthians 14:20-40
20 Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature. 21 In the law it is written: “With men of other tongues and other lips I will speak to this people; And yet, for all that, they will not hear Me,” says the Lord. 22 Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophesying is not for unbelievers but for those who believe. 23 Therefore if the whole church comes together in one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those who are uninformed or unbelievers, will they not say that you are out of your mind?
24 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all. 25 And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you.
What we have before us this morning, is the second half of 1 Corinthians chapter 14. I don’t know how many of you took the time this week to read ahead or to study this passage in preparation for our gathering, but I will tell you it is one of the most difficult passages in all of the New Testament to translate and understand. Applying our proper Bible Hermeneutics we want to know what it actually says. In the context that it is written, what does it actually say, once we understand what it says, we want to know what it means, and finally, how does the passage apply to us today.
The challenge that we have today, is some of what we read in this passage isn’t just confusing for the guy that’s just trying to get a simple read on it, what conclusions would he come to, but it’s difficult for me, and it’s tough for the guys that are way, way, smarter than me. So, we’ll give it our best and hopefully we all leave less confused than when we came about these things. Most of the Chapter is crystal clear, and that is actually a good practice generally in Bible study. In that we take what is easily understood, and try to understand that which is not in light of that. Practice of law, look at what the goal is and try to make the middle make sense…Lets break it down. Again, verse 20
20 Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature. 21 In the law it is written: “With men of other tongues and other lips I will speak to this people; And yet, for all that, they will not hear Me,” says the Lord. 22 Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophesying is not for unbelievers but for those who believe.
Vs. 21 a quote from Isaiah 28 verses 11 & 12 and the context is Isaiah the prophet warning God’s people Israel to turn and repent of their sin. Turn back to God he was saying to them, he was speaking to them in a language that they could understand. They did not turn and repent from their sin, they mock Him and the message by rejecting it, they didn’t believe him. They were unbelievers.....it was not that they didn’t understand him, they understood him perfectly, he was speaking to them in a language they understood, they just didn’t believe him, so in that context they were unbelievers of the message that had been prophesied to them.
Because of their unbelief, God sent them a sign. Not a good sign. God allowed the Assyrians to come in and invade them. The Assyrians did not speak Hebrew, they had a language of their own, that Israel did not understand. These were foreigners speaking in an unknown tongue that certainly was not edifying, or building up those that were hearing it. The Assyrians came in speaking other tongues and took them into captivity and so then, those that did not believe the message of Isaiah the unbelievers, heard the unknown tongue and it was a message of judgement. There were those that did hear the known tongue, the prophecy of Isaiah in their own language, who responded to it, were believers and were blessed by it.
It is the next verse where people get confused as it relates to what comes after. Let’s read verse 22…now in the context that I just read and explained the verse, relative to the Old Testament example Paul gives us, I think makes perfect sense. Unbelieving Israel didn’t by the message given in their own tongue, God sent men with an unknown tongue to the unbelievers and it was a sign of judgement, but those that believed heard and received the prophecy. Here’s the problem, next verse, verse 23
23 Therefore if the whole church comes together in one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those who are uninformed or unbelievers, will they not say that you are out of your mind? 24 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all. 25 And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you.
Wait, what? Didn’t Paul just say that tongues was not a sign for those that believe, but to unbelievers, and now he’s saying if an unbeliever walks into church and hears you speaking in tongues, they’re going to think you’re nuts, that you’ve lost your marbles! What gives? Let me show you the verse again....
22 Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophesying is not for unbelievers but for those who believe.
J.B. Phillips translation, Pastor Chuck Smith’s take…So, I’m not going to be dogmatic about this, or in anyway pretend that I know more than these guys, or I can say with 100% assurance and confidence that my take it right on this, but it’s the closest I can get to making sense of it in the way it is written.
We tied this back, well Paul did, to the Old Testament example from the book of Isaiah. I think we actually have a New Testament example as well, in Acts chapter 2 on the day of Pentecost, the birth of the Church. You guys remember the scene. Jesus’ disciples were all gathered together as He had instructed them to. They are in the upper room, waiting for the baptism of the Holy Spirit. They were told to stay put until that time. While they are there waiting the Holy Spirit is poured out upon them, lets look at that....Acts 2, verses 3&4
3 Then there appeared to them divided tongues, as of fire, and one sat upon each of them. 4 And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
Other tongues, in this particular case we know them to be other languages, and the unbelievers that were present heard them. All of those that had gathered, the now apostate Jews that had rejected their Messiah, rejected the message of all of the Old Testament prophecies that they heard in their own tongue and Killed Jesus the Messiah, they heard these tongues too....but they didn’t hear foreign tongues they heard these Galileans speaking in their own languages…Acts 2 verse 5
5 And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. 6 And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language. 7 Then they were all amazed and marveled, saying to one another, “Look, are not all these who speak Galileans? 8 And how is it that we hear, each in our own language in which we were born?
What did they hear? Look at verse 11 with me...
11 Cretans and Arabs—we hear them speaking in our own tongues the wonderful works of God.” 12 So they were all amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “Whatever could this mean?”
This was a sign to the unbelievers, it got there attention, they knew this was real and it was of God, and that they weren’t with the right program, because they didn’t get it. Peter explains exactly what it meant, they get saved and the church is born. God puts the plan for Israel on hold. The church doesn’t replace Israel, God is not done with Israel, but it is put on hold during the church age, and there is much to come for Israel as God fulfills His covenants toward His chosen people. So we have an Old Testament and a NT example of tongues being a sign for unbelievers, and then we have the church in Corinth, that was abusing the gifts, using them out of order and allowing things to get chaotic.
23 Therefore if the whole church comes together in one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those who are uninformed or unbelievers, will they not say that you are out of your mind? 24 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all. 25 And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you. 26 How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.
Paul now says look this is the way it’s supposed to be, remember, this is a corrective letter, so how in the world are you allowing what you are doing. Everything is to be done to edify others, to build up the church and you guys are all coming in and then individually doing your own bless me, club and letting it rip. Can you imagine if when we gathered, we all took a turn to demonstrate our own gifts every time? We recently gathered together the leadership families of the church, and I think there was 18 of us, in this sweaty little room, Ron Miller was just in heaven. We wanted to lay hands on each one and pray for them personally. Did you know that if you have 18 people and pray for each one individually for just 5 minutes, that takes an hour and a half!?!? And how often are you going to get a bunch of church leaders only pray for five minutes? And when they prayed for me, I wanted way more than 5 minutes, but Ron distracted everyone with a claustrophobic panic attack, not true! Verse 27...
27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret. 28 But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God. 29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. 30 But if anything is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent.
Let’s keep going...
31 For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. 32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. 33 For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.
Look at that contrast, I love that Paul doesn’t just leave it at God is not the author of confusion, but God is the author of peace, the originator of it, peace sought from any other place is counterfeit! God is the author of it. You know what else blesses me here, not just the order of it when we gather, that it is an atmosphere of people in control. The Holy Spirit sometimes gets a bad rap when people act all nutty and then blame Him. Oh, the Holy Spirit, just took me over, like their possessed, that doesn’t happen fokes, that’s not Biblical run from that church....God is not the author of confusion but of peace, self control is of the Spirit, its the fruit of the Spirit...
22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
The Holy Spirit should always look like Jesus gang. Alright, verse 34..wait just a minute....I stopped halfway through the chapter last week, and I’ve been praying to the rapture of the church most of this week, so I want to just give Him another second or two, no? Ok, verse 34
34 Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says. 35 And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church.
Did someone light the candles, are we out of time? No, this really isn’t the part that is hard to understand…let me just say a couple of things here and move on as quickly as possible. Historically, women, especially prior, to Jesus did not have anywhere near the same rights and privileges that they do today. And at this time, they were just affirmed to have what would have been monumental freedom granted to them by the Apostle Paul back in chapter 11 in this letter, I think its verse 5, Paul said that women were able to both pray and prophecy in the church under the proper covering, so it wasn’t that they were not able to vocalize.
Man, you ever have that experience where you feel like your on the hot seat? Those of you that have ever thought, man I wish I could be the Pastor and stand of there, remember days like this. Ok, I’m going to say some stuff and hopefully not too much. First, this is a corrective letter. This church in Corinth was prideful about their use of the gifts, they were getting puffed up, things were out of control, emotionally whipped up, and sometimes one of the two sexes can…no scrap that...
Paul does say in verse 34, Let your women, you Corinthians, your women keep silent.
Talking is disruptive...
But I also think there were a couple of other things going on here…in the context of our whole passage he is talking about order in the church, the use of the gifts when we gather. IF there is a prophecy, like back in verse 29 it is to be judged. Judged by the Word of God first and by the discerning Elders in the church to see if it is received. And they should submit to that authority.
One more shovel full…the idea of asking their own husbands. If you read through the passage in Ephesians chapter five, the husband and the wife and to submit mutually to one another in the fear of God, the husband is to be the Spiritual head of the home, we know that is often not the case…too often husbands just drop the ball and the wife will want to continuously come to the Pastor or to one of the Elders in the church to ask all kinds of Spiritual questions, that’s so dangerous for many reasons. One, in the heart of the wife, the wrong man is serving in that role, right the passage in Ephesians says
"25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word," - Ephesians 5:25-26 NKJV
So sometimes the wife asking her husband, even a wife like mine who was raised in the Word, is faithful to study the Word, has a Masters Degree in Biblical Studies goes to her husband and asks a question, what does that do? Agh…I don’t know, let me look it up, let me dig into that....husbands love your wives, let the wives see that she respects her husband....If he doesn’t respond like that, tell on him. Verse 36
36 Or did the word of God come originally from you? Or was it you only that it reached? 37 If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord. 38 But if anyone is ignorant, let him be ignorant.
Paul doesn’t give much of a choice there does he? But he bottom lines it for us well in these last two verses...
39 Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues. 40 Let all things be done decently and in order.