How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.
It appears from this section of Scripture that the Corinthian church services were scenes of chaos. From the statement concerning every one of you having something to contribute, to the limitations on the number of speakers, and Paul’s exhortation to let everything be done decently and in order, scenes of chaos are apparent. In such an atmosphere, edification of the church body was practically impossible.*
If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret. But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.
The rules for speaking in tongues are laid down by the apostle Paul. Only two should speak, at the most three, and those should speak by course or one at a time. It should be known ahead of time whether or not there is an interpreter. If there is no interpreter, then those two or three who would speak in tongues should remain silent in the church.
Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.
The office of the prophet appears to have faded from the early church with the completion of the canon of Scripture. The office of the prophet was given to forth tell the truth of God and to declare God’s plans for the future. Once the canon of Scripture came to completion, the office of prophet faded away and the gift of teaching the completed revelation came to the forefront.**
The rules for the prophet as set out by the apostle Paul were similar to the rules for speaking in tongues. At the most two or three were to speak and one at a time. The others were to judge. If one of the others received a revelation, the first was to remain quiet. In this orderly manner all would be edified.
And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace.
The participants should be in complete control of their faculties at all times. There should be no involuntary speaking or acting out. Letting go or giving up control of one’s faculties is a dangerous practice and can lead to behavior not condoned by Scripture nor authored by the Holy Spirit.*
Living by faith is not a leap in the dark. Faith is a firm persuasion or conviction based upon hearing the Word of God.*** Giving control of oneself over to emotional experiences or opening oneself up to what could possibly be demonic influence is not living by faith or walking in the Spirit.* God is not the author of confusion.
As in all churches of the saints, let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.
The phrase as in all churches of the saints is printed in the KJV as part of the previous verse. It actually fits better as the opening to the following verse.** The chapter and verse breaks were added to the translations later to facilitate the reading and studying of the Scriptures and are not to be considered unchangeable.
The context of I Corinthians 14 is dealing with speaking in tongues and their proper place in the church. The command for women to keep silence in the churches is in this context. The apostle Paul’s instruction is that women are not to speak in tongues.
God puts the responsibility for spiritual leadership squarely upon the shoulders of Christian men. It is a shame for women to speak in tongues because it is a reflection upon the absence of male spiritual leadership within the church.
When it comes to spiritual leadership, men are lazy. If women take up the responsibility that God has placed on the men, they are enabling their men to shirk their responsibility to God. King Saul took upon himself a responsibility that God had assigned to the priesthood and God judged him for it.
Asking the husband at home, as Paul states it, enables the husband to exercise his God given responsibilities. It is not a poor reflection on women for them to ask their husbands about spiritual things. It is honoring to God and enables the husband to grow into the spiritual leader God intended him to be.
What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only? If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.
The apostle Paul, who founded and nourished the Corinthian church from its beginning, now challenges the Corinthians sarcastically.** Did the Word of God originate with you? Are you the only recipient of His revelation? Following this rebuke he follows up with a strong assertion of his apostolic authority by challenging those who think themselves to be spiritual to acknowledge that his instructions are the commandments of the Lord.
The leaders of tongues speaking churches today must also acknowledge Paul’s apostolic authority and the text of his letter to the Corinthians as instructions from God. To believe that the sign gifts are for today is one thing, but to refuse to order worship that involves these “gifts” according to the rules set forth in Paul’s letter is to identify themselves with the Corinthian church and against the commandments of the Lord.
But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.
Don’t argue, just state the facts. If that man or woman refuses to acknowledge the truth, let them alone.
Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.
To desire the greatest gift is to desire the gift of prophecy.
God’s judgment would not fall upon Israel until 70 AD when Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans. The apostle Paul is writing in 55 AD, so the sign gifts still had purpose and meaning to Israel and the unbelieving Jew. This is why Paul stated in 55 AD, the time of this writing, and forbid not to speak with tongues. In 70 AD the nation was judged and dispersed, and the sign gifts ceased.
Perhaps after reading this series on speaking in tongues, you are still convinced in your own mind that a gift of speaking in tongues is still for today. Please be reminded that as Christians we are obligated to obey Scripture. God never leads anyone to practice anything contrary to His Word.
If your church and church leaders still practice a gift of speaking in tongues, the rules that the apostle Paul laid out in I Corinthians 14 must be followed. If the rules from Scripture are ignored or pushed aside, you have no assurance that what you are practicing is from the Lord.
Let all things be done decently and in order.
I Corinthians 14:26-40
……let the word of Christ dwell in you richly…..
For a more complete study of this topic, please read: *The Corinthian Catastrophe by George E. Gardner; copyright 1974 by Kregel Publications.
**The MacArthur Study Bible, Copyright 1997 by Word Publishing, a division of Thomas Nelson. Study notes on I Corinthians 12, 13, &14
***Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words by Unger & White. Copyright 1984, 1996 Thomas Nelson, Inc