Superiority of Prophecy
Verse 1 – Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.
Prophecy may involve predicting future events, but its main purpose is to communicate God’s message to people, providing insight, warning, correction, and encouragement. False prophecy leads to deception and makes the believer the object of manipulation by a false prophet that has ungodly motives and a hidden agenda.
The main purpose is to edify, exhort, and comfort the church. Anytime someone speaks a message to you that leaves you feeling condemned or in fear, that is not from God. Prophecy will always agree with the word of God. True prophecy produces liberty, not bondage. True prophecy that comes fro the Holy Spirit will bear witness with a believer’s spirit.
Verse 2 – For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands them; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries.
I’ve said it before and will say it again because this verse is clear: Speaking in tongues is man talking to God. It is not some strange message from God to the church. I don’t know how so many churches get this backwards. God will speak through prophecy or a prophet, to an individual or to a body of believers that will encourage the whole congregation, and it will be in the language you understand!
Verse 3 – But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.
Verse 4 – He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.
Verse 5 – I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification.
This is in a worship setting. First of all keep in mind, tongues is still talking to God, not the other way around, so if someone does speak in tongues out loud during a service of believers, they are to interpret what they just said, or keep quiet. In almost every church I’ve been in one speaks in tongues and then everyone waits for another to interpret. Paul says nothing about waiting for someone else to interpret. He said that if he speaks in tongues then he should be able to interpret. This gift has been so abused that it’s no wonder that people are afraid of this gift. Pastors need to read the Scripture and quit making their own rules.
Verse 6 – But now, brethren, if I come to you speaking with tongues, what shall it prophet you unless I speak to you either by revelation, by knowledge, by prophesying, or by teaching?
Gift of Tongues
Verse 7 – Even things without life, whether flute or harp, when they make a sound, unless they make a distinction in the sounds, how will it be known what is piped or played?
Verse 8 – For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will prepare himself for battle?
Verse 9 – So likewise you, unless you utter by the tongue words easy to understand, how will it be known what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air.
Verse 10 – There are, it may be, so many kinds of languages in the world, and none of them is without significance.
Verse 11 – Therefore, if I do not know the meaning of the language, I shall be a foreigner to him who speaks, and he who speaks will be a foreigner to me.
Just as a foreigner is estranged by those speaking a language he does not know, so too members of the body of Christ become estranged from one another if unintelligible, untranslated languages spoken in the church.
Verse 12 – Even so you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for edification of the church that yo seek to excel.
Verse 13 – Therefore, let him who speaks in a tongue pray that he may interpret.
Verse 14 – For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful.
Verse 15 – What is the result then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with understanding.
Verse 16 – Otherwise, if you bless with the spirit, how will he who occupies the place of the uninformed say “Amen” at your giving of thanks, since he does not understand what you say?
Verse 17 – For you indeed give thanks well, but the other is not edified.
The legitimacy of a person’s speech in the midst of the congregation is measured by the edification it brings the body of Christ. They cannot edify if it is not understood.
People, please read your Bible concerning these gifts. This absolutely must be understood. Tongues is a precious gift from the Lord that helps the believer pray and glorify God in the Spirit. We don’t know everything that is going on in a person’s life or behind the scenes with God. The Spirit helps us talk to God and the Spirit will also tell us what we just said.
Verse 18 – I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you all;
Verse 19 – yet in the church I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue.
Verse 20 – Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature.
Verse 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. (Isaiah 28:11, 12)
Verse 22 – Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophesying is not for the unbelievers but for those who believe.
The way the Corinthians were using the gift of speaking in tongues was helping no one because believers did not understand what was being said, and the unbelievers thought the people speaking were crazy. That’s what happens in a church service that is out-of-order. That is not how God does things. That’s a “spirit of confusion.”
Verse 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?
Verse 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.
The main objective in any church serve is to win the lost. It is not to run around spouting off in tongues to show how spiritual one is. Praying in tongues does have its benefits though. This gift should not be forbidden though. Pastors need to teach what is proper and what is not. God does not give gifts to harm us, they are to be a blessing, so don’t abuse them.
Exercising Gifts in Public Worship
Verse 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.
Evidently there was no order to their gatherings. If someone wanted to sing, they did; if someone had a word, they just shouted it out. All the while saying they were being led by the Holy Spirit.
Verse 27 – If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret.
Paul had already told them that the gift of tongues was for the unbeliever to be convinced. He wanted them speaking one at a time, no more than three in any meeting, and there had to be a person who could interpret.
Verse 28 – But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God.
A person would have to know before hand who could interpret what they were going to say in tongues, according to this verse. Otherwise they were to keep it to themselves, unless they could interpret also.
Verse 29 – Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge.
Verse 30 – But if anything is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent.
If anything is revealed to another while one is speaking,which he feels is important to communicate to the church, let the first one stop talking. This does not mean to rudely interrupt.
Verse 31 – For you can all prophesy, one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged.
Do you see why these gifts are used in the church? They are always to encourage people with their faith. This should never be done in disorder or to cause confusion.
Verse 32 – And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.
Meaning, the prophet can control when he speaks. It is not blurted out at the person’s will.
Verse 33 – For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.
Verse 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.
In some denominations today, some still hold to this verse and 1 Timothy 2:11, 12. However, it is mainly ignored by most churches. Our opinion does not matter when it comes to the things of God. I have heard this explained very plainly from a well-known pastor. It’s about the covering, the authority over a woman. So with the husband, or if single, the pastor’s permission, a woman can speak, pray, or teach. The head of the church is Christ, then the pastor and the man is over the woman. Agree or disagree.
Verse 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.
You have to keep in mind the time of the culture and that it was mostly Jews in these gathering. The Jews were very strict. The Rabbis taught that a woman should know nothing but the use of the distaff (the instrument used for twisting threads by a whirl), and they were specially prohibited from asking questions in the synagogue, or even reading.
Verse 36 – Or did the word of God come originally from you? Or was it you only that it reached?
The argument here is that, the church at Corinth was not the first church that was established; but that it was one of the last that had been founded; and that it could therefore claim no right to differ from others, or to prescribe to them what principles to follow.
Verse 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.
If anyone claims to be divinely endowed, one who regards himself under the extraordinary influence of the Spirit, know that these principles of conduct are commandments from the Lord.
Verse 38 – But if anyone is ignorant, let him be ignorant.
Basically Paul is saying, “Anyone that thinks Paul didn’t have the authority to instruct them on these topics, go ahead and ignore him and deal with the consequences.
Verse 39 – Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues.
Do not suppose that speaking in tongues is not for today or useless, or is to be despised, or that it is to be prohibited. In and on proper occasions, it is a valuable endowment.
Verse 40 – Let all things be done decently and in order.
Public worship should be orderly and without chaos and confusion. Preaching should be to the point and intelligible. We should learn to value the gifts of the Spirit.