2 Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto
these dumb idols, even as ye were led.
3 Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man
speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed:
and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by
the Holy Ghost.
4 Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.
5 And there are differences of administrations, but the
6 And there are diversities of operations, but it is the
same God which worketh all in all.
7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given
to every man to profit withal.
8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of
wisdom; to another the word of knowledge
by the same Spirit;
9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to
another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
10 To another the working of miracles; to
another prophecy; to another discerning of
spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to
another the interpretation of tongues:
(1 Corinthians 12:1-10)
Notice especially Verse 7 above. EVERY Christian will receive the gifts of the Holy Spirit -- the manifestation of the Holy Spirit, in other words the Holy Spirit will be visible in outward Gifts and Fruits. It is not the duty of the Christian to judge another Christian by his particular gifts. The Gifts of the Holy Spirit are given to PROFIT the whole church (not the individual church member). Verse 4 holds a key, as well:
Now there are diversities of gifts, but the
Keep that in mind, that there are "diversities" of gifts.
11 But all these worketh that one and the
selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man
severally as He will.
Special note needs to be given here, to Verse 11. Even though ALL Christians receive Gifts from the Holy Spirit, it is the Holy Spirit choosing which gifts are appropriate. And yet so many people teach that you can LEARN to discern spirits, that you can LEARN to speak in tongues, that you can LEARN to perform miracles or miraculous healing. We should PRAY for ALL gifts, but we do not choose which ones we use, or receive. The Holy Spirit chooses. God in His infinite wisdom chooses for us. Verse 11 tells us that some people may receive several Gifts from the Holy Spirit, but those gifts come as the Holy Spirit wills, not as man wills.
People teach that all individual Christians should have the same gift, or even more ludicrously ALL gifts, thus denying what the Bible teaches, that not all receive the same gift, and that it is the Holy Spirit Who chooses which gifts are appropriate for the individual, and how MANY Gifts the Christian receives -- but all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will.
From this list we have these nine essential spiritual gifts:
Wisdom, Knowledge, Faith, Healing, Miracles, Prophecy, Discernment, Tongues, and Interpretation; however, the Bible does describe OTHER gifts the Holy Spirit provides, other avenues for manifestation of the Holy Spirit as well: hope, charity, helps, governments, musical ability, teachers, as well as "diversities of tongues."
Notice the Bible teaches that one will be given Wisdom, another will receive Knowledge, another Faith, and so on. It does NOT teach that ALL will receive ONE specific gift, while individually believers will receive this or that gift in addition to the ONE BASE GIFT. Why do some believe ALL Christians will receive the least of the gifts? Maybe we can discover the answer to that question in this study.
Chapter 12 Concludes with:
28 And God hath set some in the church,
first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly
teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of
healings, helps, governments, diversities of
Verse 28 makes it very clear that God appoints people in His church differently, with different gifts, with different appointments. And Verse 28 establishes the order in the church, with apostles listed as FIRST and tongues listed as LAST; this prioritized list also corresponds with the first list (Verses 7 through 11). Yet today many movements attempt to prove just the opposite, that TONGUES ARE FIRST. Of course, this is an attempt to provide "revelation" above and beyond the Bible. No one who has the first gift, Wisdom, EVER interprets the Bible this way, nor would someone with Knowledge, nor someone with Faith. Why invert the order that the Bible provides? Why would you wish to turn it upside down?
Apostles, or messengers pretty much do it all, we now look to our pastors to fill this station, but of course all their Gifts come from Wisdom, Knowledge and Faith. Prophets are listed as second, and they bring messages from God to uplift the church, to build the church, to strengthen the church, to give true messages from God, not from their own mind:
2 Peter 1:21
For the prophecy came not in old time by
the will of man: but holy men of God spake
as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
This would also apply to Tongues, that holy men of God spaek as they were moved by the Holy Spirit, as it is not man who speaks, but the Holy Spirit Who speaks through him. Prophets also must receive Wisdom, Knowledge and Faith to do their appointed task, as well as Prophecy. Teachers are listed third in importance because they have to establish a solid foundation on scripture -- all three of these offices must be in complete agreement with scripture, or they are completely false, and they in turn MUST have Gifts Number One through Number Three.
Fourth are miracles, which must not disagree with scripture, and must all be in order, and notice these are listed fourth, instead of first -- we are NOT to believe BECAUSE what we perceive is miraculous; again, we are to be firmly grounded on scripture. Healing comes next and is listed apart from "miracles," which suggests God wants his "healers" to be grounded in all levels: physical, mental, spiritual, emotional and technical, not just the "miraculous" type of healing, although James Chapter 5 certainly provides for miraculous healing from God. Helps is listed above church officers and those who have the miraculous gift of tongues!
So caregivers, those who tend the sick, or help out in families or with children or lend a hand financially are very important -- this is a very broad category and many talents can and do fall under this heading. Next to last is governments, those who are called to serve as church leaders such as elders and deacons, choir and organizers, to serve in the church service or planning, administrative duties as well as menial.
Last on the list is "tongues," and the Bible tells us that tongues is primarily for OUTREACH, to reach out to unbelievers in a miraculous way, it is in no fashion designed to impress believers, or to PROVE the sincerity or authenticity or credibility of the Christian (those that teach that tongues ARE THE TEST, rely on extra Biblical revelations that are worthless, see 1 Corinthians 14:22). Tongues are certainly never listed as a "proof" of "being filled with the Holy Spirit," nor proof of "Holy Spirit baptism."
The sad element here is that many Christians today speak in gibberish, a random twisting and twining of consonants and vowels, which in no way is real Gift of the Holy Spirit -- later in the following verses Paul makes it amply clear that unknown tongues are a way to reach unbelievers, those that have not accepted Jesus as their savior, and these unbelievers MUST UNDERSTAND what is being spoken in the unknown tongue! No unbeliever understands gibberish, although if someone does not understand Japanese and he hears it spoken, it very well might sound like gibberish.
29 Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all
teachers? are all workers of miracles?
Verse 29 confirms 28, so that there is no mistake, no slanted interpretation. The Bible proposes four rhetorical questions (e.g., questions which need no answer, because they are obviously apparent to the reader of the Word). Are all apostles? The obvious answer is "of course not." Are all prophets? The obvious answer is "of course not." Are all teachers? The obvious answer is "of course not." Are all workers of miracles? The obvious answer is "of course not." The Biblical answer is back in Verse 11 as well as in 2 Peter 1:21.
30 Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak
with tongues? do all interpret?
Verse 30 continues. Have all the gifts of healing? The obvious answer is "of course not." Do all speak with tongues? As before, the OBVIOUS answer is "of course not." Do all interpret tongues? The obvious answer is "of course not." As we see in so many churches today, hardly anyone even ATTEMPTS to interpret the unknown tongues that are spoken. The Biblical answer is back in Verse 11 and in 2 Peter 1:21.
31 But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew
I unto you a more excellent way.
Verse 31, the conclusion, is that we should desire, want and pray for the best gifts. This is a support conclusion, because IF YOU ALREADY HAVE THE BEST GIFTS, YOU CANNOT COVET THE BEST GIFTS. We must understand this. You do not request something you already have. It is obvious, not everyone has all the best gifts. Desire the best gifts. And from Verse 8 we know what the best gifts are: Wisdom, Knowledge, Faith, and Healing. If someone has the Spiritual Gift of Wisdom, much of the problems with poor Bible study skills are resolved. If someone has the Spiritual Gift of Knowledge, he will never trash the Bible with "revelations" that are abominations to God.
Even FAITH comes by hearing the Word of God.
But we cannot stop here, because the subject does not close here, but continues in the next chapter, 1 Corinthians 13. Paul highlights the MOST important Spiritual Gift, which is love. The King James Version translates love as "charity," but it is actually the Greek word "Agape" which is truest love (only possible with God, from God), affection, good will, love, and benevolence. It is the kind of love that is given from God; with Philos, brotherly love, the love between friends and family.
It is also the way we love Christ -- Agape.
From the NEW King James Version, 1 Corinthians 13:1-13:
1 Though I speak with the tongues of men and of
angels, but have not love, I have become sounding
brass or a clanging cymbal.
Even if I have the ability to speak the tongues of men and angels, but have no love, I am nothing more than an irritating noise. "Even if I had the ability" somehow gets interpreted as Paul boasting that he knows the "language of angels!" Amazing. In other words, LOVE is important, and if you don't have it, anything else you might THINK you have, is unimportant. The POINT of this verse is that LOVE is all-important, far more important than ANY miraculous ability, whether given you by God or not.
2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and
understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and
though I have all faith, so that I could remove
mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
Even if I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and knowledge (Wisdom and Knowledge) and have ALL faith so that I could even perform great miracles -- even moving mountains, and don't have love, I am NOTHING. Do you see the importance of me, as a Christian, allowing Jesus to work in my life? Once I have truly given my heart to Him, He will begin working in me, and the Holy Spirit will begin to suffuse my life with LOVE.
It is the most important fruit, both a fruit AND a gift of the Holy Spirit. It is the SIGN, the proof of the infilling of the Holy Spirit, not tongues. Understand? You MUST understand. Because the Bible says here that if you don't have love coming out of you, nothing else matters. Love is the FIRST. Love is the MOST. Love IS from God. There is NO excuse. If the Holy Spirit lives within a person, that person will fruit LOVE. If that person does not fruit love, it is because the Holy Spirit does not live in that person.
People very well might do other things -- give money, do works, even speak in a form of tongues that anyone at all can learn to do, and they can stand in agreement that all these things are wonderful manifestations of the Holy Ghost, but if they are not fruiting the Holy Spirit's most important and all-pervasive Gift/Fruit -- LOVE -- then all these other manifestations are naught, they are nothing, they are worthless. LOVE must be the sign (He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love. 1 John 4:8).
3 And though I bestow all my goods to feed the
poor, and though I give my body to be burned,
but have not love, it profits me nothing.
Obviously, someone giving everything he owns to feed the poor, is doing a good thing. Right? But the Bible stipulates that if it is not done for the correct reason -- FROM LOVE -- IT IS USELESS. Note: these passages are not speaking about material profit, or monetary gain. The Bible is discussing ETERNAL SALVATION. Granted, many popular prosperity collectors could probably turn these passages into proof why you should send them money, but obviously that is not what Paul had in mind.
4 Love suffers long and is kind; love does not
envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up;
The discussion has not changed. The Bible began by discussing Spiritual Gifts, and believe it or not, it is STILL discussing Spiritual Gifts. Spiritual Gifts ARE NOT given to make a person special. The Gifts of the Holy Spirit do not elevate some of God's children above others of God's children. LOVE DOES NOT PARADE ITSELF. Read that again. Love does not parade itself. Meaning, Spiritual Gifts will never make someone stick out, receive glory. ALL Spiritual Gifts are given to bring glory to God, not to man. Yet so many teach that all of this is about making the believer special, that the believer is special, that he gets better and has better and deserves better and that he is a first-class Christian whereas others are second-class or not even Christians at all.
NOTE: Please, when you have time, read through these verses:
James 3:13-18, 1 Corinthians 5:5-7, Galatians 6:14, Philippians
3:19, 1 Thessalonians 2:6, James 2:1-9, 2 Corinthians 10:12-14
God has given gifts to each of you from his great
variety of spiritual gifts. Manage them well so that
God's generosity can flow through you.
1 Peter 4:10
1 Peter 4:10 spells it out again, that God has given gifts to EACH of you, in other words, to all of us, from His great variety of spiritual gifts. Manage them well so that God's generosity can flow throw you -- this is what it is all about. It is not US. It is God. It is not our gift -- It is God's Gift. God works THROUGH us. It is His authority, His righteousness, His power, His glory.
It is NOT our glory. It is not our righteousness, that is only filthy rags, even at our very best. We are not show dogs on parade, that unbelievers should look at us and be envious. Unbelievers are to feel our love, our Agape love, love from God, that miraculous love that can only come from God.
Love does not parade itself, or imagine itself to be a mighty hero. People who think highly of themselves, are in great trouble. To say it another way, if I think I am better than other Christians, I may get a rude shock when Jesus comes in the skies with all power and all glory. Strike that.
It is not a question of "I MAY GET A RUDE SHOCK" -- I WILL get a rude shock. We are to be humble. Meaning, we are not to think HIGHLY of ourselves. Christianity should not make us feel GREAT, as in "I am higher than other of God's children." Spiritual Gifts are not to feed the ego, or to fatten the pocketbook, or to instill PRIDE. Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one another, envying one another (Galatians 5:26). If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit (Galatians 5:25).
But the wisdom that is from above is first pure,
then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated,
full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality,
and without hypocrisy. And the fruit of
righteousness is sown in peace of them that
Humble? If I feel that God has appointed me to be one of the Two Witnesses mentioned in Revelation, or Gabriel, or Prince Michael the Archangel, I am not humble. In fact, I am troubled, with delusions of grandeur. This is not from God. In fact, if I had this belief, or a similar belief, I would be conspiring with the evil one, regardless of intentions. If I believe that I am Jesus, I have a serious problem. Would it be possible to believe that I am Jesus, and be a Christian? These are SERIOUS CONSIDERATIONS, and should not be shrugged off. The Gifts and Fruits of the Holy Spirit do not puff us up and inspire us to believe we are great, that we are lofty, that we have special powers -- the Holy Spirit humbles us, opens our eyes to our sins, and impresses us just how greatly we NEED a savior, how much we need Jesus.
Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, He
will guide you into all truth: for He shall not speak
of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall
He speak: and He will shew you things to come. He
shall glorify Me: for He shall receive of Mine, and
shall shew it unto you. All things that the Father
hath are Mine: therefore said I, that He shall take
of Mine, and shall shew it unto you.
A WARNING from Matthew Henry's
Commentary on 1 Corinthians 12:11 is:
If we have any knowledge of the truth, or any power to make it
known, we must give all the glory of God. The greater the gifts
are, the more the possessor is exposed to temptations, and the
larger is the measure of grace needed to keep him humble and
spiritual; and he will meet with more painful experiences and
humbling dispensations. We have little cause to glory in any
gifts bestowed on us, or to despise those who have them not.
Sobering thoughts. And yet, teachers are teaching that we need to be successful in terms of the world, even more, that we are to be rich in material things, that we are to be great so that unbelievers will get jealous, that they will wish to "keep up with the Joneses," and so will also become Christians, so that they can be rich, as well. Not really in keeping with the Bible, is it?
Are ye not then partial in yourselves, and are
become judges of evil thoughts? Hearken, my
beloved brethren, Hath not God chosen the
poor of this world rich in faith, and heirs of the
kingdom which he hath promised to them that
love him? But ye have despised the poor. Do
not rich men oppress you, and draw you before
the judgment seats?
Or they teach that every Christian should speak in tongues to prove that they are filled with the Holy Ghost, that as well is really not in keeping with the Bible, is it?
5 does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is
not provoked, thinks no evil;
Someone with love does NOT behave rudely. Someone with love does NOT treat other people rudely, even if they feel they have been appointed a judge by God and can claim that someone is "not saved." God takes this seriously. RUDEness is not from God, it is from another being. This is not my opinion. If you disagree with this verse you are not arguing with me, but with the Bible, and thus, with God Himself. I love the way the New Living Translation presents this passage:
Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or
boastful or proud or rude. Love does not demand
its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no
record of when it has been wronged. It is never
glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth
wins out. Love never gives up, never loses faith,
is always hopeful, and endures through every
1 Corinthians 13:4-7
But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then
peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy
and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering,
The Bible is very clear from beginning until end what is appropriate and what is inappropriate, what is from God and what is not from God. Let's cling to what the Bible teaches, and not what we have been taught, the traditions of the elders.
We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us;
he that is not of God heareth not us. Hereby know
we the spirit of truth, and the spirit of error.
Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of
God; and every one that loveth is born of God,
and knoweth God. He that loveth not knoweth
not God; for God is love. In this was manifested
the love of God toward us, because that God sent
His only begotten Son into the world, that we
might live through him. Herein is love, not that
we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent His
Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved,
if God so loved us, we ought also to love one
another. No man hath seen God at any time. If
we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and
His love is perfected in us. Hereby know we that
we dwell in Him, and He in us, because He hath
given us of his Spirit.
1 John 4:6-13
Do you see how the things of God can be twisted into messages that just are not true? That's the way the enemy of Yahweh works. God says THIS, and the enemy grins and says, "Well, He actually means THAT." Gods says LOVE, and man changes that into RICHES. God says UNDERSTANDING, and man changes that into MYSTERY. Stick with the simple, clear meaning of the Word of God, that is always the safest place to be.
6 does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth;
7 bears all things, believes all things, hopes all
things, endures all things.
Verse 6 sounds to me like a crystal clear picture of what a Christian SHOULD BE. Now of course, none of us are perfect. All of us have sinned and come short of the glory of God. But God is working within EVERY Christian. God is busy changing EVERY Christian. And it might be a long, long road for God to smooth and straighten. I personally pray that God "complete in me His good work which He has begun." But guess what, to this day I still have problems; there are things in Douglas Christian Larsen that aren't very Christlike. But He IS changing me. And if I live another 50 or 60 years, He will still be changing me, until the day I die, or the day He returns, when He will finally change me to be like Him.
That is PROOF that the Holy Spirit lives within me. If I was spouting in tongues every day, healing people right and left, giving prophecy by the truckload, and teaching the Bible all across the world, and yet I didn't display this CHANGING that the Holy Spirit works in ALL Christians, all my "good works" would be NOTHING. I would be a legalist. Trusting in my works (the work of my tongue?). I thank God daily that He has never given up on me, that He has ground me down like a pencil, until I finally admitted that I AM NOT GREAT, THAT I DO IN FACT NEED JESUS, and want His changes within me. Otherwise, I would be nothing.
8 Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies,
they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will
cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.
NOTE: Verse 8 is not taken out of context. The Bible is still talking about Spiritual Gifts. We started in Chapter 12 and are now in Chapter 13 and the Apostle Paul is STILL talking about Spiritual Gifts and he is going through elaborate lengths to show how important LOVE is, how ALL SPIRITUAL GIFTS hinge on LOVE, are ROOTED in love, spring from love. WHY is Paul spending so much time counseling about Spiritual Gifts? Why is he presenting warning after warning? WHY is he practically shouting that EVERYTHING must be done in LOVE? Because we as egotistical, pride-based humans, with a natural spirit that knows NOTHING of God, tend to WANT glory, to covet self-glory, self-righteousness.
In short, we are blockheads. We must be constantly vigilant, because the flesh and spirit are constantly at war, even after we become Christians.
If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.
Let us not be desirous of vain glory, provoking one
another, envying one another.
The Bible declares that prophecy will go away, that tongues will stop, that knowledge will fade. But LOVE NEVER FAILS. Love will never fail. We need to have faith in God, not have faith in spiritual gifts. But a huge movement that declares itself Christian says: "Have faith in Spiritual Gifts!" and "He's not saved because he doesn't speak in tongues!"
WHEN will prophecy be no longer necessary? WHEN will tongues stop? WHEN will there be no need for knowledge? WHEN JESUS COMES IN THE SKIES, when every eye looks up and sees Him! That's when our piecemeal knowledge will be unnecessary, that's when our piecemeal prophecy will quit, that's when our piecemeal tongues will be ludicrous, because then we will know in full, then we will speak in full, then we will have all knowledge and wisdom and will not need for "partial glimpses into the future!"
Those false "super apostles" need to read the Bible. It is very clear, when read in context, isn't it?
9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part.
Mankind is very egotistical. He's got a lot of faith in his own great wisdom. But Verse 9 pretty much says that compared to God we are complete idiots. Even when prophesying from God Himself, we still only know in part, because God has only revealed a small portion of what there is to know.
10 But when that which is perfect has come, then that
which is in part will be done away.
We will not have full knowledge or full wisdom until Jesus comes again. Then we will "know in full." And at that time we will be changed, our old bodies and characters will be changed, in the twinkling of an eye. (1 Corinthians 15:52) So of course, when we are finally complete, why in the world would we need what is only in part? There is the answer. These things make such ready sense when read completely, in context, without attempting to introduce mystery interpretations.
11 When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood
as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a
man, I put away childish things.
It is time to give up vain hopes and false glories. Why wish for ridiculous things when God has promised eternal life with Him? Why look for earthly greatness when God has promised heavenly greatness? We need to THINK, with UNDERSTANDING. That is what the Holy Spirit does, leads us into UNDERSTANDING. As Christians, we need to GROW UP. We are given the MIND OF CHRIST, and now we should USE IT! (1 Corinthians 2:16) In fact, we need TO GROW IN GRACE. (2 Peter 3:18)
12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to
face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as
I also am known.
With as much revelation as we have, we still are looking through distorted glass. Only when Jesus comes will we "SEE CLEARLY." Even the Apostle Paul only "knew in part," but when Jesus comes in the Second Advent, the Apostle Paul and Douglas Christian Larsen will know in full. We will see Jesus face to face. And we will KNOW Him and everything else needed, as Jesus now knows us. He knows the number of hairs on our heads -- think about that, and that's how we are going to know! Don't you think that means there is going to be a very radically different way our brain operates? It's obviously going to be working quite a deal better, don't you think?
13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but
the greatest of these is love.
Is faith the most important? Many people will tell you that "Faith is everything." But the Bible says: "The greatest of faith, hope and love IS LOVE!" Love is the greatest. Don't believe them when they tell you to have "faith in faith." Have faith in God. Faith IS from God. Faith is FROM God. Having faith in faith is having faith in what God has given you, it is nothing that you have done or accomplished -- do not have faith in faith, but rather faith in the One Who gives faith.
If you have all the Spiritual Gifts, but don't have love, your Spiritual gifts are NOTHING. Good advice, a spiritual map, but also a warning, a dire warning to those who do not have love in their heart. There is hope for those people. Jesus can enter their heart, and give them a new, clean, right heart, and renew their mind, refresh them, and give them the Holy Spirit.
From Matthew Henry's Commentary (on 1 Corinthians 12:1-11):
Spiritual gifts were extraordinary powers bestowed in the first ages, to convince unbelievers, and to spread the gospel. Gifts and graces greatly differ. Both were freely given of God. But where grace is given, it is for the salvation of those who have it. Gifts are for the advantage and salvation of others; and there may be great gifts where there is no grace. The extraordinary gifts of the Holy Spirit were chiefly exercised in the public assemblies, where the Corinthians seem to have made displays of them, wanting in the spirit of piety, and of Christian love. While heathens, they had not been influenced by the Spirit of Christ. No man can call Christ Lord, with believing dependence upon him, unless that faith is wrought by the Holy Ghost. No man could believe with his heart, or prove by a miracle, that Jesus was Christ, unless by the Holy Ghost. There are various gifts, and various offices to perform, but all proceed from one God, one Lord, one Spirit; that is, from the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, the origin of all spiritual blessings. No man has them merely for himself. The more he profits others, the more will they turn to his own account. The gifts mentioned appear to mean exact understanding, and uttering the doctrines of the Christian religion; the knowledge of mysteries, and skill to give advice and counsel. Also the gift of healing the sick, the working of miracles, and to explain Scripture by a peculiar gift of the Spirit, and ability to speak and interpret languages. If we have any knowledge of the truth, or any power to make it known, we must give all the glory of God. The greater the gifts are, the more the possessor is exposed to temptations, and the larger is the measure of grace needed to keep him humble and spiritual; and he will meet with more painful experiences and humbling dispensations. We have little cause to glory in any gifts bestowed on us, or to despise those who have them not.
There is hardly a break between 1 Corinthians Chapters 13 and 14, in fact, Paul moves directly from lifting up love, to CAUTIONING the Church of Corinth about those Christians who would abuse their gifts. As we have already learned from the clear teaching in the Bible, the Gifts of the Holy Spirit are to reach out to non-Christians, and to build up the existing church. The Gifts are not for selfish use. The Gifts are not for becoming a better car salesman or taking candy away from babies, or riches away from wicked people. The Gifts are for bringing people to meet Jesus. The Gifts are harvesting tools for aiding the Lord of the Harvest in bringing souls to salvation.
1 Corinthians 14 (from the New American Standard Bible):
Love is first, and seek to develop love first, but also DESIRE spiritual gifts, ESPECIALLY that you may prophesy. Notice this verse does not say you should start speaking and hope that prophecy somehow kicks in. No, the prophesy will be full and complete WHEN GOD CHOOSES TO PROPHESY THROUGH THE PERSON THAT PRAYS FOR THIS GIFT. God chooses. Man requests. The Holy Spirit decides. (Hebrews 2:4) You don't go to school for this Gift, or for any other Gift, you don't study to get them, or BUY them, or set up deals with God to receive these Gifts. The Holy Spirit gives these gifts to evangelize, to reach out, to build up the Church.
2 For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to
men, but to God; for no one understands
There is no break in context here, Paul is discussing no new subject. He is still teaching on SPIRITUAL GIFTS, and notice that he CAUTIONS as he compares the gift of Tongues to the Gift of Prophecy. Remember, Spiritual Gifts are given to reach out, and tongues are especially to reach NON-believers. If you speak in tongues with no purpose then no one knows what you're talking about, except God. No one understands, except God. So the Gift has not been used as Gift is intended to be used. Outside of reaching others, no one understands it when you speak in tongues, only God understands, as He is the One speaking through you, so in short, if no is there to be the intended recipient of the tongue, then God is talking to Himself!
3 But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification
and exhortation and consolation.
Notice Verse 3 begins with "BUT," again we have a stern caution and reprimand. But one who prophesies builds up the church with edification, exhortation and consolation. This is the fulfillment of Verse 2 which ends with "nobody understands you," but he who prophesies -- people DO understand. So the "edification," "exhortation," and "consolation" is successful! Note: this in no way forbids speaking in tongues, but it does REPROOF those who are misusing tongues for their own self-edification.
4 One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one
who prophesies edifies the church.
Following the same train of thought, no new ideas or out-of-context delights, Paul states that speaking in a tongue does the opposite of its intent, which is to reach unbelievers. Believers begin, out of pride, or greed, to edify themselves. Notice this verse DOES NOT COMMAND SPEAKING IN TONGUES. Nor does Verse 2. These are cautions, not commands. This is advice, not "rules for self-edification." If you believe that you should "edify yourself" you probably have not read Chapters 12 and 13. If this is true, please go back now and DO read them. One who is understood EDIFIES THE CHURCH. If you use tongues CORRECTLY, you edify the church, because you evangelize unbelievers. The point of tongues is to reach unbelievers (see Verses 13-14, and especially 22).
NOTE: This entire chapter is speaking about
Spiritual Gifts, specifically comparing Tongues
to Prophecy. Paul never onces delivers a secret
"aside" that begins to talk about something
else, such as a "prayer language," he is talking
about the Gifts of the Holy Spirit that are given
as the Holy Spirit wills, at the discretion of the
Holy Spirit -- not everyone gets the exact same
gifts. We need to keep these specific points in
mind because so many "teachers" twist these
verses into saying what they want to say, and
what they want you to believe. Note that we are
told to request Spiritual Gifts, we are never
told that we can try hard and make them come
to life in us. Not by our will, but by His.
5 I wish you all had the gift of speaking in tongues,
but even more I wish you were all able to prophesy.
For prophecy is a greater and more useful gift than
speaking in tongues, unless someone interprets what
you are saying so that the whole church can get
some good out of it.
Again, the Bible is IN context. No new subject is broached here. Paul is talking to Christians, and he wishes that they all had the gift of speaking tongues -- the major ergo here is that if everyone HAD the gift of speaking in tongues, Paul would not wish that they did. Isn't that obvious? Yet "teachers" want you to believe that everyone should have this gift, regardless of the Biblical fact that it is the Holy Spirit that chooses which gifts we receive. Consistently, we should pray for ALL the gifts, desiring the best gifts (of which tongues is the very least). But we are NEVER promised that we will receive ALL the Gifts -- just like those rhetorical questions asked earlier: "Are all prophets? Are all apostles? Are all tongue speakers?" Obviously NOT, in each and every case.
Again Paul reiterates, PROPHECY is to be desired foremost. It is more useful, UNLESS SOMEONE INTERPRETS. If someone interprets, as Paul has been saying all along, then tongues is a wonderful gift. THE WHOLE CHURCH should get something good out of this Spiritual Gift. This should just be plain obvious. If these passages are read in context, employing sound hermeneutics, proper exegesis, the Bible is not a thing of chaos and disorder. God is the Lord of ORDER.
6 Dear brothers and sisters, if I should come to you
talking in an unknown language, how would that help
you? But if I bring you some revelation or some special
knowledge or some prophecy or some teaching that
is what will help you.
Remember, there has been no break of subject matter here. Paul is still discussing Spiritual Gifts, specifically comparing tongues to prophecy. In Chapters 12-14 the Gifts remain the Gifts, e.g., healing is healing, prophecy is prophecy, miracles are miracles, teaching is teaching, tongues are tongues. It is blasphemous to attempt to "slip in a mysterious interpretation" that Paul suddenly breaks off talking about tongues to discuss something NEW, like a "prayer language" (which is never mentioned once in the Bible). In Verse 6 Paul is talking about the same thing as in Verse 2-5. The key issue is: DOES IT HELP YOU? If you are an unbeliever, does the tongues help? If I come to you speaking tongues, how does that help? But if I bring a prophecy or teaching -- IT WILL HELP YOU.
If someone comes to you, attempting to help you, and you can't understand him, IT DOESN'T HELP YOU. But if wisdom and knowledge from God is brought, something that is true teaching: THAT IS WHAT WILL HELP YOU. The Bible is clear here, and cannot be misinterpreted. A caution again. Spiritual gifts are for helping people, that is the context of Chapters 12-14, not helping yourself. Turn the question around: if you're trying to help someone and you babble something they don't understand, how does that help them? Give them wisdom from God, a true teaching, a real prophecy from God that is not manufactured by men, and voila! That is what will help them.
7 Even musical instruments like the flute or the harp,
though they are lifeless, are examples of the need for
speaking in plain language. For no one will recognize
the melody unless the notes are played clearly.
AGAIN, at risk of repetition, Paul stays in context, and he uses another figure of speech to attempt to get through thick skulls. Even trumpets and harps have to be played right, there is an order to their playing. They are examples for the NEED FOR SPEAKING IN PLAIN LANGUAGE. Ask yourself the question, why does Paul stress the "need for speaking in plain language?" There must be a reason! Have we come across even the HINT of "prayer language?" No, and if there were something as important and necessary to Christians as a "prayer language," the Apostle Paul and Jesus would have told us about it, and very clearly, many times before this!
Notice, Paul is still cautioning about misusing the Gifts of the Spirit. If a harp is just jangled randomly, no one knows what the melody is unless the notes are played clearly. How much more clarified can the Apostle Paul possible make it? But those who choose to not understand will not understand, even with all the law and all the prophets, even if someone were to wake from the dead to tell them!
8 And if the bugler doesn't sound a clear call, how will
the soldiers know they are being called to battle?
If the cavalry bugler can't play the notes, none of the army knows its time to CHAAAAAAAARGE! (maybe their credit cards are maxed, so no more charging for them bad boys!) Again, Paul employs a similitude to prophesy God's word (Hosea 12:10). Could Paul make it ANY MORE CLEAR? Will the man never give up? Will he try to clarify his point even further? NOTE: He has not switched subjects. Not one of these verses of Chapter 14 should be lifted out of context and used alone, because it is a running dialogue about Spiritual Gifts and the need for caution and order.
9 And it's the same for you. If you talk to people in a
language they don't understand, how will they know
what you mean? You might as well be talking to an
It's the same for you. Just like a bugle, just like a harp, just like any musical instrument. You as a person MUST BE UNDERSTOOD, especially if you are employing Spiritual Gifts. These verses make it readily apparent that tongues are not given as a "vertical prayer line between God and man" -- no, tongues are given "to be understood," man to man, or woman to man, or vice versa and versa vice, or any fruitbasket mixture you can come up with. The Holy Spirit's job is to poinit the way to JESUS. (John 16:13, 15:26, 1 John 5:6) And if you babble at someone and they don't understand you, they will not find Jesus. BUT, if you employ the Gift correctly, then the person WILL find Jesus, because the person will understand you! If they don't understand, "you might as well be talking to an empty room" -- that doesn't sound like you're doing the kingdom of God much good, does it?
Think about that term: talking to an empty room. It doesn't sound as if the Apostle Paul is talking very highly of the concept, does it? You might as well be talking to an empty room. He's saying that what you are doing is worthless, which sheds MUCH light upon Verse 2, way back at the beginning of this chapter. "For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries." Put these two verses together, Verses 2 and 9, and suddenly the "mystery" becomes "understood!"
If no one understands you, only God who is doing the speaking, you are in a sense speaking to the air, talking into an empty room!
The Bible makes it clear -- spiritual gifts are not given for "puffing yourself up" -- this includes tongues -- spirituals gifts are given to "edify the church," NOT to "edify yourself!" Isn't that clear when read in context?
Say I'm walking down the street, and a confused looking man approaches me and blurts out something in Spanish. I don't know what he's saying. Suddenly my mouth opens up and the Holy Spirit speaks through me and the man understands me in perfect Spanish, even with his native dialect thrown in (from Peru!). What a miracle. The man has lost all hope and was about to commit suicide and now he is told that Jesus loves him, and accepts him, right now, just the way he is.
TONGUES in action, just like in the book of Acts! I believe fully, that God will work this way, today! Why should God work differently than He did in Bible times? People still need to hear the Gospel, and God still promises to empower us to take it to them. And I pray that He will use me as He sees fit! Amen? If you employ tongues in a different manner, you might as well be talking to an empty room (or so the Bible claims in Verse 9).
10 There are so many different languages in the world,
and all are excellent for those who understand them,
Keep the flow, keep the context. Chinese is great for someone from China, and English can fit an Australian (well, almost), and Spanish can fit those of Spanish descent all around the world. But they are only excellent for those who understand them. Meaning, if you want to employ the Gift of Tongues correctly, you should speak Chinese to the Chinese, and Italian to the Italians. It doesn't make much sense to speak German to a Russian, or Pidgin to a Prussian. You might as well be talking to an empty room!
11 but to me they mean nothing. I will not understand
people who speak those languages, and they will not
No outreach is possible. You speak Italian to me, I'm sorry, I don't quite catch your meaning. I will not understand people who speak those languages, and the same for them trying to understand me. Can this information Paul is passing to us possibly be corrupted into meaning something completely ELSE?
NOTE: this is still discussing the absolutely same thing as in Verse 2. Isn't it? Unless someone attempts to squeeze another "gap" into 1 Corinthians Chapter 14. Read Verse 11 again. I can't make it any clearer than stated therein. Can you? Verses 10 and 11 answer each other -- when we speak in tongues, people will understand us, miraculously! UNDERSTANDING! Notice, there is absolutely nothing about "tricking the devil" by allowing God to talk to Himself through us in a language the fallen angel can't understand (hey wait, wasn't the devil originally in heaven, standing before God Himself? how come he can't understand a "tongue of angels?"), there is absolutely no hint of these false teachings. Read Acts Chapter 2! It's very clear, unless the issue is purposefully clouded.
12 Since you are so eager to have spiritual gifts, ask
God for those that will be of real help to the whole
Obviously there were those Christians in the Church of Corinth who were given the Gift of Tongues, and then when no one was about who could benefit from this particular gift, the person would be using the Gift anyway. Might as well preach to an empty room. It does no good. The Gift is not realized. Paul reproofs those people: "Hey, obviously you're an eager beaver to use your Gifts. Well, use the gifts that you have, and use them correctly. Pray for Gifts which you can use at the appropriate time in the applicable way."
Gifts are to be of real help to the whole church. Otherwise it is like speaking to an empty room. How helpful is speaking to an empty room?
13 So anyone who has the gift of speaking in tongues
should pray also for the gift of interpretation in order
to tell people plainly what has been said.
See, it is not a haphazard Gift. Tongues DO have a purpose. With tongues, you need interpretation. If you don't have the interpretation, to plainly tell people what has been said, keep silent. If you believe you have the gift of speaking in tongues, have you divined what language it is you are speaking, so that you can most benefit unbelievers? And if you believe you have the gift of speaking in tongues, have you prayed for the gift of interpretation in order to tell people plainly what you are saying? If you haven't prayed, why haven't you? Paul says you SHOULD. And WHY does he say you should pray for the interpretation?
In order to tell people PLAINLY what has been said.
Yet that's not what "teachers" want you to believe today. They say "edify yourself" and "allow God to talk to Himself through you" and "pray so that the devil can't understand you!" The fact is, the Bible says that only God can read our heart -- the devil cannot. If you pray in your mind, the devil cannot read your thoughts, and whoops there goes another rubber tree plant, removed by the ant of reason.
If, however, someone can interpret for you. Say you are speaking French, and a Frenchman is present, he can stand up and translate the message for you to everyone. Or, say you speak in French and NO Frenchman is present: the Bible is CLEAR, pray for the interpretation. If suddenly you can understand French, then: "Voila! Oh la la! Je ne sais pas! Mais Oui! Merci Beaucoup!" Verse 13 makes it completely clear that ""tongues" and "interpretation" go together, they are not to be used separately, just as the Spirit and Understanding go together (the Holy Spirit brings us understanding, He is the Spirit of Truth that will lead us into ALL truth!).
But this is not what "teachers" translate these passages to mean. You've probably heard them. By quoting only select passages they will "prove" to you that tongues are for building yourself up (just take a wee snip here, that's all you really need!). By misquoting and clipping a little here, a little there, they build up a "vertical language" or a "prayer language." Sorry, but it just ain't so, Joe, que paso? The least of them are confused, their heads pounded by years of faulty tradition. The greatest of them are deceivers, pure and simple (although there is nothing "pure" about them). Some merely teach what they have been taught, and after you have invested your precious time in something, invested your precious hard-earned dollar, it is very difficult to see through the haze, to clear the cloud of tradition that covers truth.
If God's message can be interpreted, then the Gift of the Holy Spirit is realized as it was intended. Amen. The Holy Spirit chooses who gets what Gift, and when and how it should be employed.
14 For if I pray in tongues, my spirit is praying, but I
don't understand what I am saying.
Again, don't fly off into gagaland. This is still in context. The blessing comes with the understanding. I certainly may be using (abusing) my Gift of the Holy Spirit, but if I don't understand what I am saying, there is no blessing. Check out Verse 15 for the full revelation of Verse 14. Allow the Bible interpret the Bible:
15 Well then, what shall I do? I will do both. I will pray
in the spirit, and I will pray in words I understand. I will
sing in the spirit, and I will sing in words I understand.
There it is. They go together, the Holy Spirit AND Understanding. As very well they should, as the Holy Spirit IS the Spirit of Truth (1 John 4:6, John 4:23). This is how we know the difference between truth and error, by the Holy Spirit. There will be absolutely NO problem in the Church if the Christian obeys God.
Allow the Holy Spirit to speak through you, and you will have understanding. Allow the Holy Spirit to sing through you, and you will have understanding (and we'll probably all be better singers, too!). Allow the Holy Spirit to pray through you and you will pray like you've never prayed before! You will use words you would never normally use! Your prayers and thoughts and words will be supercharged! The Holy Spirit aids us in expressing deep things inside us that we do not know how to express. We might be able only to groan, but the Holy Spirit can take our inarticulate cries and turn them into intelligible words that will bring blessing, to us, but primarily to the Church (Romans 8:26, 1 Corinthians 2:10-15).
Think about it, man knows nothing of God, and the Holy Spirit does not know the things of man -- read 1 Corinthians 2:11: "For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God." The only way a man can know ANYthing of God, is what God chooses to give to him, through the knowledge and wisdom of the Holy Spirit! Yet "teachers" instead twist this truth into: "When God speak through you it is an utter gibberish that no one can understand!" But the Bible tells us: "Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given to us of God" (1 Corinthians 2:12). That we might KNOW, that we might UNDERSTAND!
The Holy Spirit and Understanding, they DO go together! Receive this truth! And we are to TEACH this truth to others, empowered by the Holy Spirit: "Which things also we speak, not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual." (1 Corinthians 2:13). The Holy Spirit teaches us, and if we don't understand what He teaches us, what good does it do? The Holy Spirit might as well speak "to an empty room." But He DOES give us understanding! He is God, and as stupid as we are, with God all things are possible!
16 For if you praise God only in the spirit, how can
those who don't understand you praise God along
with you? How can they join you in giving thanks
when they don't understand what you are saying?
Verse 16 is a continuation of Verse 15, neither should be taken without the other. Again, understanding, understand, understanding, understand? We MUST have understanding, elsewise the Gift of the Holy Spirit is not used correctly. We do not USE the Holy Spirit. We allow the Holy Spirit to USE us. Then we can't go wrong. We won't be forcing gibberish on people, or even upon ourselves, but the understanding that only comes FROM the Holy Spirit. Worship God in Spirit and in Truth, in Spirit and Understanding:
Isaiah 29:24, John 4:23-24, 14:17, 15:26, 16:13
Ephesians 1:13, 5:9, 2 Thessalonians 2:13
1 Peter 1:22, 1 John 4:6, 5:6-10, Daniel 5:14
Isaiah 11:2-3, Proverbs 17:27, Job 32:8
Exodus 31:3, 35:31, James 1:5-6
Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean
not unto thine own understanding. In all thy
ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy
paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the
LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health
to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones.
Spirit and Understanding. These are not different things, but one and the same. The Spirit BRINGS understanding. Thank God. God gives wisdom, He gives faith, He gives righteousness, He gives them to us, but they are in no way ours -- they are still His, including His authority, His power, His grace.
Here in Verse 16 we have distinct proof AGAIN that tongues is for "praising God" and "thanking God" WITH OTHER PEOPLE! It is not for "prayer closet" use. Think about it, the whole context of this chapter is about building up the kingdom of God, expanding the family of Christ, praising God and thanking God with other people -- yet this is the chapter that people try to use to prove their man-made and "doctrine" of a "prayer language!" Not only absurd, but dangerous (and absolutely nowhere to be found in the Bible!).
17 You will be giving thanks very nicely, no doubt,
but it doesn't help the other people present.
Verse 17 is a continuation of the thought begun in Verse 15. You very well may be truly speaking in a true language that you do not know, that has been given to you miraculously by the Holy Spirit, but if people don't know what you're saying, it doesn't help them.
And it is meant to help THEM. Not YOU.
You will be giving thanks very nicely, no doubt, but it doesn't help the other people present. The Bible cannot be more clear than this. We need to study the Bible, verse by verse, like this, and it is in no way confusing, but clear.
18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than
all of you.
The Apostle Paul has in no way been attacking the Gift of speaking in Tongues, or teaching that it is gone, or will be gone shortly, nor has he been "forbidding to speak in tongues." In fact, as widely traveled as he was, the Gift came in very handy to him. He was able to take the Gospel and be understood by people all over the world. What a miraculous ministry. I would love to be used by God in this fashion. If God will it, I say YES! Speak through me, Lord, so that You can be understood! So that I can reach others by "being understood!" The Apostle Paul is fully supporting tongues, the continued and continuing miraculous Gift of the Holy Spirit, of reaching people through their own language so that they might be saved!
Because without understanding, I might as well be speaking to an empty room. It profits no one, not even me, and especially not God, for no one is reached. If I use the Gift of Tongues to build myself up I am being selfish which is not the intended use of this gift. I do not benefit, the Church does not benefit and God does not benefit. Diverse languages are wonderful, to those that understand what is being said.
19 But in a church meeting I would much rather speak
five understandable words that will help others than ten
thousand words in an unknown language.
This verse speaks volumes. Don't take it out of context. You can't lift this verse out by itself to condemn tongues any more than you can isolate Verse 2 to prove a "prayer language," or Verse 14 to prove "praying in the spirit is babbling gibberish." Keep it all in context and you can't get in trouble. Verse 19 says that if you are in a church of believers who speak the same language, FIVE plain words are better than TEN THOUSAND words that can't be understood by all the common joes present. But many "teachers" today push a different drug. If five words in church, five words that are understood, are better than 10K words that aren't understood, just how edifying can 10K words of babble actually be? (that's actually a pretty good tongue-twister all on its own!) People who don't agree with the Apostle Paul, what do they do? They must rip this verse out of the Bible and pretend that it must be a mistake on his part.
These "teachers" say: "Babble for hours, and you make yourself STRONG!" On the other hand, if the Apostle Paul met a Chinese man on his journeys (which he very well may have done), his Gift of Tongues would have come in handy, and five Greek words, or five Aramaic words, or five Hebrews words, or five Latin words (all languages the Apostle Paul probably spoke!) would have been useless. So use these verses in context, and they make perfect sense. There is nothing mysterious in them, nor anything mystical or magical.
Acts 2:4 says that "they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance." Note, it was the Holy Spirit speaking through them, it was not the case that is happening in the world today, where people can "speak in tongues" anytime they want (it is human generated, not Holy Spirit inspired, it is a difference worth noting).
These "teachers" say that if you do not babble 10K unknown words a day, YOU ARE NOT SAVED. Don't believe them. Such a doctrine is not even hinted at in the Bible. It is the Holy Spirit Who decides whom get what Gifts, and where and when those Gifts are to be used, and it is the Holy Spirit enacting the gift through the believer, but these "teachers" claim that one gift is the litmus test on who and who is not saved, on who and who is not filled with the Holy Spirit. If your teacher teaches ANYthing even remotely close to this, you must question why you are allowing someone like this to teach you. There has been absolutely NO HINT of this foul doctrine in these three chapters that deal with Spiritual Gifts, and yet they wish to elevate one gift high above the others, even when the Bible places that one gift lower than the others.
The whole shooting match of this chapter has been about sharing the gifts of the Holy Spirit with OTHERS. There has not been mention made of using your gifts when you are ALONE. Nor is there mention made anywhere else in the Bible. The whole doctrine comes from isolating a few verses from this chapter alone and using the words completely out of context.
20 Dear brothers and sisters, don't be childish in your
understanding of these things. Be innocent as babies
when it comes to evil, but be mature and wise in
understanding matters of this kind.
In other words, USE YOUR BRAIN. Those that tell you "You don't have to understand," are lying. Those that tell you "Don't use your brain. Feel it. Use your feelings," are lying. Throughout this chapter, from Verse 2 to Verse 20, it has been UNDERSTANDING, UNDERSTANDING, UNDERSTANDING. Romans 12:2 is TRUTH:
"And be not conformed to this world: but be ye
transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye
may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and
perfect, will of God."
PROVE what is good, by the renewing of your MIND. These doctrines must be reasonable, sensible, spiritually sensible. If someone throws in a mystery interpretation it is because . . . WHY? Ask yourself that, and ask yourself that often. Is it because God wants these "teachers" to cloud the issue? Or is it because these "teachers" wish to lead you in a different way than what the Apostle Paul intended in these chapters?
Paul keeps hammering away. But will people, even modern people of today, LISTEN? Maybe Verse 21 will shed some light on this question.
21 It is written in the Scriptures, "I will speak to my
own people through unknown languages and
through the lips of foreigners. But even then, they
will not listen to me," says the Lord.
Read it again. They will not listen to me. This is God speaking. It is a grave pronouncement. Meaning, they will not UNDERSTAND. Why are people destroyed? "My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children." (Hosea 4:6) Don't reject the clear knowledge, the clear understanding of 1 Corinthians Chapter 14. And also make note of this point: "through the lips of foreigners," meaning, languages that you do not know. These are actual languages, and God even clearly made a list of the different foreigners, folk who would not have spoken Greek or Hebrew or Aramaic or Latin, in Acts, Chapter 2 -- Parthians, Medes, Elamites, Mesopotamians, Judaeans, Cappadocia, Pontus, Asia, Phrygia, Pamphylia, Egypt, Libya, Cyrene, Rome, Jews and converts to Judaism, Cretes and Arabians! All these foreigners heard the Spirit-filled Jews speaking in their own languages, languages they could not have possibly learned, and they understood that they were speaking the wonderful works of God!
Let the Holy Spirit speak.
And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in
them that perish; because they received not the love
of the truth, that they might be saved. And for this
cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they
should believe a lie: That they all might be damned
who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in
2 Thessalonians 2:10-12
It is an important verse. Read it again before you get the surprise of your life in Verse 22 of Chapter 14. What is the true reason for tongues? Is it to "build up" yourself?
22 So you see that speaking in tongues is a sign, not
for believers, but for unbelievers; prophecy, however,
is for the benefit of believers, not unbelievers.
WHAT?! Can that be true? Tongues is a sign for unbelievers, and yet many, many, many Christians claim that tongues is a sign for BELIEVERS! How can they teach THAT when the Bible says it so clearly here? Maybe this is just a bad translation of the Bible. Let us then do a bit of comparison shopping between Bible versions to see how each one translates this passage:
Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them
that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not,
but for them which believe. (KJV)
Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy,
however, is for believers, not for unbelievers. (NIV)
Thus, tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers, while
prophecy is not for unbelievers but for believers. (RSV)
So you see that speaking in tongues is a sign, not for believers, but for
unbelievers; prophecy, however, is for the benefit of believers, not
...so that the tongues are for a sign, not to the believing, but to the
unbelieving; and the prophesy [is] not for the unbelieving, but for the
Therefore other languages are for a sign, not to those who believe, but
to the unbelieving; but prophesying is for a sign, not to the unbelieving,
but to those who believe. (WEB)
So then, the gift of speaking in strange tongues is proof for unbelievers,
not for believers, while the gift of proclaiming God's message is proof for
believers, not for unbelievers. (TEV)
Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to
unbelievers; but prophesying is not for unbelievers but for those who
For this reason tongues are for a sign, not to those who have faith, but to
those who have not: but the prophet's word is for those who have faith,
and not for the rest who have not. (BBE)
Wherefore languages are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them
that believe not: but prophesying [serveth] not for them that believe not,
but for them who believe. (WB)
Verse 22 is a cap for the first 21 verses. Paul continues to explain about Spiritual Gifts, comparing the HIGHEST Gift, Prophecy, with the LOWEST Gift, Tongues. Note, from Chapter 12 to NOW, there has been no mention nor example of two kinds of Tongues (the most dishonest of "scripture twisters attempt to prove that there are tongues for speaking to God and separate tongues for speaking to men," but the only ammunition for such "revelation" can be found herein -- is it here? We certainly haven't found it yet, have we?). The Amplified Bible translates this passage as: "Thus [unknown] tongues are meant for a [supernatural] sign, not for believers but for unbelievers [on the point of believing], while prophecy (inspired preaching and teaching, interpreting the divine will and purpose) is not for unbelievers [on the point of believing] but for believers."
This ought to rock your world if you believe in the doctrine of devils that all saved people speak in tongues and people that cannot speak in tongues are not saved, or that tongues is a prayer language that the devil can't understand, a means for God to speak to Himself! Verse 22 PROVES that tongues is a Gift of the Holy Spirit meant to reach others, to evagelize, NOT to edify the self.
If I speak Chinese to someone who lives in China, and they know that I do not know that language, it is a powerfully amazing sign from God Himself! God is speaking through me! Miraculously!
There is only one true form of tongues, and that is from the Holy Spirit. It is a sign to attract unbelievers by transcending language barriers, not to prove your worth to fellow Christians, or that you are in fact "a Christian," or so that you can prove that you are "filled with the Holy Spirit." Tongues are to supernaturally connect with someone who cannot speak your known language, not to babble in a way that no one, not even yourself, can understand. This was a gift particularly valuable in the early years of the Church so that the Gospel could take deep root in a Gentile world that was unfamiliar with a concept of "One God," or GRACE, or atonement. Prophecy, however, is for the benefit of believers, and the Bible is very clear about True Prophecy and False Prophecy.
Of course, there IS another form of tongues, one that is clearly NOT a Gift of the Holy Spirit, one which is not mentioned in the Bible. It is a form of tongues that ANYone can speak, with just a little practice. ANYone can learn it, ANYone can employ it -- and it is not from God. Do you want something that is not from God? True, it might feel good, but if it is not from God do you want it? The Bible is not discussing the false gibberish that so many cherish today, believing it to be the Gift of the Holy Spirit, and yet even the Gift of the Holy Spirit, when not employed as God intended it to be employed, can give the exact impression of the false man-inspired pandemonium:
23 Even so, if unbelievers or people who don't
understand these things come into your meeting and
hear everyone talking in an unknown language, they
will think you are crazy.
A STRONG CAUTION. Do not turn people OFF to Christ. Order, our God is a God of Order, not chaos, not confusion. If someone -- an unbeliever, mind you, hears a bunch of people shouting in different languages that they don't know, he will think you are crazy, for he might understand one of the languages, and maybe not, and he may even understand two or even three of the languages, but maybe not, but what he will definitely HEAR is confusion and chaos, just the opposite of God and His Good News. I have witnessed this craze, many speaking gibberish, and it is offensive. "Teachers" on TV often pause in their "sermons" to gibber, grinning, and then they continue with their "message." Obviously, they feel they are showing off their deep spirituality, but in reality they are turning off people, turning them away from Christ. And the Bible makes it amply clear: Do not offend anyone, for Christ, regarding Christ. Why do so many churches rip this passage out of the Bible and flush it down the toilet? "They will think you are crazy" -- do you think this is God's will, for the unbeliever to think you are crazy? Please note, this is not my opinion, that if someone walks into your church and many people are gibbering, that that person will think you are all crazy -- this is straight out of the Bible, Verse 23 of 1 Corinthians Chapter 14. Paul says they will think you are crazy. Do you believe him, or not? Was he lying? Was he inspired by God, or not? Was the Apostle Paul a deceiver for saying this, or should you pay attention to his grave warning?
24 But if all of you are prophesying, and unbelievers
or people who don't understand these things come
into your meeting, they will be convicted of sin, and
they will be condemned by what you say.
Order again, and understanding. Reproof, correction. All things done in order, and the Church is served. The Holy Spirit is able to fulfill His mission of outreach, because the subjects of Christ put His will before their own petty desires and egos and tempers and fancies. Beautiful, isn't it? It works, I believe it.
25 As they listen, their secret thoughts will be laid
bare, and they will fall down on their knees and
worship God, declaring, "God is really here among
Order again, and conviction of sins. Bringing unbelievers to worship God. Conversely, if they come into your meeting and perceive chaos and confusion, do you think they will believe that "God is really here among you?" Or perhaps you should ask yourself that question: "IS God really here among us?"
The mission of the Holy Spirit is outreach, to work through us to bring unbelievers to Jesus. Or wait, maybe His mission is to tickle people, and make them laugh uproariously, and force them to crawl around and bark like dogs, and get "drunk in the spirit" and fall over indecently. Hmmm, I like the Bible's depiction right here in Verse 25 better, don't you? To "fall on the knees" or to "fall on the back" -- that is the question. The Bible has the answer. Allow the Holy Spirit to bring you to your knees before the Savior, regardless of how much time, energy and money you have devoted to "anointed ones." You will praise God in the long run.
26 Well, my brothers and sisters, let's summarize what
I am saying. When you meet, one will sing, another
will teach, another will tell some special revelation
God has given, one will speak in an unknown language,
while another will interpret what is said. But everything
that is done must be useful to all and build them up in
Paul summarizes here. See, he HAS been speaking about the same thing, all along: order and understanding. Every one has their special Gift from the Holy Spirit: one will Sing (ah-ha! So singing is a Spiritual Gift!), one will Teach, one will Reveal, one will use Tongues if another one Interprets. But HERE is the kicker: EVERYTHING that is done must be useful to ALL and build THEM up in the Lord. Paul's message has not changed. He has not been schizophrenic in his hermeneutics or teaching or exegesis or preaching. All of what he has been saying is summed up here. EDIFY the Church. Amazing, how clear it is, no?
27 No more than two or three should speak in an
unknown language. They must speak one at a time,
and someone must be ready to interpret what they
Paul continues his thoughts from Verse 26. He CAUTIONS again about the smallest Gift. In order. In order. Rules. One must speak, one at a time. A TOTAL OF NO MORE THAN TWO OR THREE SHOULD SPEAK IN AN UNKNOWN LANGUAGE (but THIS isn't anything like what many small groups are doing, is it? and even some large, well-known churches throw this rule out the window, don't they? why, do you think?). Someone must interpret EVERYTHING, not part, of what one person spoke. It is from the Holy Spirit, if He can deliver the message, He can deliver the interpretation, correct? But Why oh why can't modern "anointed ones" follow these words of the Apostle Paul?
28 But if no one is present who can interpret, they
must be silent in your church meeting and speak in
tongues to God privately.
If no interpreter is present, no Tongues will be spoken. The person must be silent, and can receive from the Lord privately. In other words, wait until the message can be delivered so that someone can benefit from it, as related throughout this chapter, because without understanding, there is no blessing. This is another verse people like to take out of context, or lift away from the chapter itself to make it appear to be saying something else than clear context. As noted earlier, the speaker needs to be in control of himself.
29 Let two or three prophesy, and let the others
evaluate what is said.
Let two or three prophesy, and EVALUATE what is said. We are cautioned here not to accept prophecies blindly. We are to evaluate them, and compare them to the light of the Bible. The prophecies must agree with the Bible, or there is no light in them. (Isaiah 8:20) We are to test the spirits (1 John 4:1). WHY are we to test the spirits?
Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits
whether they are of God: because many false prophets
are gone out into the world.
1 John 4
Sadly, this is not what most modern teachers stress. In fact, they will warn you that you had better pay attention to their "prophecy" or you are going to get into trouble with God. Before you can believe a prophet you must first compare his or her message to the Bible, for God does not disagree with Himself (Titus 1:2, Hebrews 6:18, Numbers 23:19, James 1:17).
There are clear rules to prophecy in the Bible, and yet most people who consider themselves prophets have never heard of these rules -- but if the prophecy turns out to be false, that which was prophesied turns out differently than said, or does not come to pass, or it DOES come to pass but it is in disagreement with the Bible, then have nothing to do with that Profit, er, I mean "Prophet." (Yeah, sure I do.)
For the "Biblical Prophecy Rules" see 1 Thessalonians 5:19-21, Deuteronomy 18:22, Matthew 7:15-20, 22-23, and Deuteronomy 13:1-3.
30 But if someone is prophesying and another
person receives a revelation from the Lord, the
one who is speaking must stop.
Again we see that consideration must be given. Remember, it is One Spirit that gives these gifts, and one Christian should not be above another, and it is the Holy Spirit deciding what gift to give to each individual Christian, and not all individual Christians receive the same gift, nor ALL the gifts, nor do all Christians receive any one gift, as evidenced by the clear Word of God. But if the Holy Spirit prompts someone to speak up and clarify, or correct, or question, then the one speaking must stop to let the one with the revelation speak -- but it should be done politely, courteously, tactfully and peacefully.
31 In this way, all who prophesy will have a
turn to speak, one after the other, so that
everyone will learn and be encouraged.
What is the point, the conclusion, the underlying concern here? THAT EVERYONE WILL LEARN AND BE ENCOURAGED. The Gifts of the Holy Spirit are to build up the Church. In Christ it is OTHERs that are to be considered first, before the self. This is the redundantly repeated connection throughout this chapter, that the gifts are not to be "used" selfishly, but to build up the "body of Christ," the Church.
32 Remember that people who prophesy are in
control of their spirit and can wait their turn.
The person who prophesies for God is NOT possessed, like somebody with an evil spirit. It is the Holy Spirit, and He is gentle, and quiet, and does all things in order. God is a God of Order, not chaos, or confusion. The person has free will, and can remember what God has given him to say, and can wait his turn to speak. God does not come vomiting out of a person in "holy laughter." So many false teachers prance about on the stage, vomiting tongues, giggling, delighted with themselves, and yet they are telling you that they are not in control of their spirit (some even claim that the Holy Ghost makes them climb on the pews in churches, or fall down, or jump up and down) -- what spirit do you suppose it is that "controls" them in this unBiblical way?
33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace,
as in all the other churches.
WHOA! Does the Bible REALLY say that? Hmmm, let me see. Reading, reading . . . reading. Yup, guess it does. God is not a God of disorder. God is of peace. Yet these "disorderly" churches preach a far different message, I wonder why? Nuff said about that.
34 Women should be silent during the church
meetings. It is not proper for them to speak. They
should be submissive, just as the law says.
Hmmm, not many churches pay heed to THIS verse do they? Most say it is because of the culture, because in the traditional Jewish synagogue the men and women were separated, but the more relaxed Christian Church generally didn't draw a line of separation. I'm not sure this is the case. I think it is more because many women tend to be more emotional, and are raised and geared at competition, and so are more prone to excess in a worship service, whereas men are traditionally more apt to be calm, go by the Book -- mind you, this is my opinion, based on experience. But certainly people who long for a "prayer language" don't focus on THIS verse, do they?
The key here is that things must be done rationally, for the glory of God, in order. If anyone follows these protocols, they may speak in modern churches -- God does not draw a line of distinction between Jew and Gentile, man and woman, auto mechanic and doctor. God is not a respecter of persons.
35 If they have any questions to ask, let them ask
their husbands at home, for it is improper for
women to speak in church meetings.
I feel if a woman OR man can follow proper protocol, they should be allowed to speak in church. But if they can't pay heed to the clear Word of God, then they should shut up. Emotionalism should NEVER be allowed to run rampant in ANY church (regardless of gender, regardless whether you are part of the congregation or the guy standing up front). Run rampant? Actually, no one should EVER think with their emotions -- that's why God gave you a working brain (I assume). Don't buy into anyone's"feel-don't-think" scam, because that's what it is, a deception.
36 Do you think that the knowledge of God's word
begins and ends with you Corinthians? Well, you
Here again Paul calls to mind the image of egotistical Christians all bloated up with self-import, kind of like balloons bobbing around in the room, letting air out in shrieking, irritatingly rude noises. We must always remember the "glass darkly." We DON'T know everything, no matter how "anointed" our "anointed one" claims to be.
37 If you claim to be a prophet or think you are
very spiritual, you should recognize that what I
am saying is a command from the Lord himself.
Such a sharp reproof, and yet even today most people ignore this entire chapter, save for about two or three verses that support what they have been taught to believe. I've heard them -- people with "revelation" -- neatly prune out two or three verses and ignore the entire chapter. Many nondenominational and dispensational groups today brazenly ignore this entire chapter, save for two or three verses in order to prove their gift of "much speaking" . . . "I would much rather speak five understandable words that will help others than ten thousand words in an unknown language."
38 But if you do not recognize this, you will
not be recognized.
Very ominous, this caution. Calls to mind Hosea 4:6! My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge: because thou hast rejected knowledge, I will also reject thee, that thou shalt be no priest to me: seeing thou hast forgotten the law of thy God, I will also forget thy children.
39 So, dear brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy,
and don't forbid speaking in tongues.
Amen. I love this verse. It gives me such hope. And I have seen it actively blossom in my own spiritual life, as God has used me to prophesy, and to exhort, and to comfort, and to counsel. And someday I hope the Holy Spirit chooses to speak through me in new, unknown Tongues! What an incredible day that will be! I trust God, and I trust His word. Because He does not lie. And I accept the Apostle's counsel: everything in order!
40 But be sure that everything is done properly and
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Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
2 Peter 1:20-21
But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them--bringing swift destruction on themselves. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit you with stories they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them, and their destruction has not been sleeping.
2 Peter 2:1-3 (NIV)
Vertical or Horizontal?
All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Utterly amazed, they asked: "Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs-- we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!" Amazed and perplexed, they asked one another, "What does this mean?"
Acts 2:4-12 (NIV)
Notice: Christians were speaking in tongues, delaring the wonders of God -- they were speaking to men, not to God! Notice, all the varied nations hear the Christians speaking in their own language, not in unknown "tongues of angels!" Yet many, many teachers push that what was going on here was that they were praying to God! That tongues is a means to communicate with God, even though you don't know what in the world you are saying to God! The half-hearted "rationalization" is that Satan cannot understand you when you "pray in your prayer language." And yet, you, the one doing the praying cannot understand what you are saying either.
For they heard them speak
with tongues, and magnify God.
Note: those that spoke with tongues were heard and understood! The hearer heard the Christians magnifying God! If the hearers did not understand, they would not know that the believers were magnifying God.
and all are
You speak in someone's
language so that they will
Understanding is the root of
the matter, if the language is
not understood, then the speaking is in vain. But if the speaking is
understood, then the understanding is fruitful!
Is the issue clear?
It is blasphemous to attempt to "slip in a mysterious interpretation" that Paul suddenly breaks off talking about tongues (which means expressions issuing from the mouth, language) to discuss
an alien idea like a
(Note: "prayer language" is never mentioned once in the Bible).
Don't be deceived.
If you talk to
people in a
how will they
know what you
might as well be
talking to an
If you talk to
people in a
how will they
know what you
might as well be
talking to an
If you don't,
If you don't,
Take careful note.
The same people
who squeeze a
"gap" into the
70 weeks of Daniel
also put the same
kind of "gap" into
the Creation story
in Genesis 1, and
another "gap" into
1 Corinthians 14,
something is here
that is not actually
What if they
actually worked at
store The Gap?
a lot of their
I will sing
in the spirit,
and I will
We might not
know what to
say, but the
can take our
turn them into
words -- and
turn these truths
forward and even
teach that the
Holy Spirit will
the lips of
A Believing, Spirit-filled Commentary on 1 Corinthians Chapters 12 through 14
Gifts & Fruits of the Spirit 101
or people who
these things come
into your meeting
and hear everyone
talking in an
they will think you
that is done
must be useful
to all and
build them up
in the Lord.
that is done
must be useful
to all and
build them up
in the Lord.
that is done
must be useful
to all and
build them up
in the Lord.
one will Sing
singing is a
one will use
But if there be
let him keep
silence in the
church; and let
him speak to
1 Corinthians 14:28
As earlier in the chapter, if no one is around to understand, then only God knows what the "tonguer" is babbling, and there is no blessing. Do not force your confusion on others. There is
absolutely no more blessing than
speaking in an empty room to the
air. There is no "prayer language."
but try the
into the world.
1 John 4
which is good.
1 Thessalonians 5:19-21
words that will
He that hath
a man of
is of an
a fool, when
a man of
But the hour
now is, when
the Father in
spirit and in
truth: for the
God is a
Him in spirit
and in truth.
But the hour
now is, when
the Father in
spirit and in
truth: for the
God is a
Him in spirit
and in truth.
And they were
all filled with
the Holy Ghost,
and began to
as the Spirit
Just as each of us has
one body with many
members, and these
members do not all
have the same function,
so in Christ we who are
many form one body,
and each member
belongs to all the others.
We have different gifts,
according to the grace
given us. If a man's gift
is prophesying, let him
use it in proportion to
his faith. If it is serving,
let him serve; if it is
teaching, let him teach;
if it is encouraging, let
him encourage; if it is
contributing to the
needs of others, let
him give generously;
if it is leadership, let
him govern diligently;
if it is showing mercy,
let him do it cheerfully.
Romans 12:4-8 (NIV)
love joypeace longsuffering gentleness
EVERYTHING that is done must be useful to all and build them up in the Lord. Spiritual Gifts are given to EVERY new creation in Jesus, and the gifts are given to build up the Body of Christ, not for personal gain, or self adulation.
Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Romans 3:27
This I say then,
Walk in the
Spirit, and ye
shall not fulfil
the lust of the
flesh. For the
Spirit, and the
the flesh: and
one to the
other: so that
ye cannot do
the things that
For God is not
the author of
of peace, as in
of the saints.
1 Corinthians 14:33
Make no specific
words, don't shape
the noises coming
from your mouth.
Very soon, a very
that you do not
not even a language
of this Earth, will
begin to issue from
your mouth. We
will pray over you.
Modern "Tongues" Formula
for a sign,
not to them
but to them
for them that
but for them
1 Corinthians 14:22
God has given
gifts to each of
you from His
great variety of
well so that
1 Peter 4:10
Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: But all these worketh that one and the selfsame Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.
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