Putting God's Word into Practice…

1 Corinthians 14 Order in the Church ~ Prophecy and Tongues

on October 3, 2012

Remember that the church in Corinth was out of control.  They were behaving arrogantly and selfishly, causing disunity among themselves.  They had let the world and their culture seep into the church and were even confusing paganism with true Christianity.  Paul is calling their attention to the fact that true love must be pursued above all things–selfish ambition, spiritual gifts, and knowledge.

This chapter mainly focuses on the spiritual gifts of speaking in tongues and prophecies.  Most of the people were fixated on speaking in tongues because of the personal edification and attention that it brought them.  Paul does not condemn this gift, as the Holy Spirit had given it to him.  However, he does set boundaries and limitations on it.  Speaking in tongues in church without interpretation is unloving to the body and to unbelieving visitors.  Speaking in tongues in prayer and praise to the Lord is personally edifying, but doesn’t build up the body.  Also, it is confusing to visitors who think the speakers are crazy–turning them away from salvation.  Prophecy, on the other hand, is a beneficial gift in the church.  It encourages, consoles, convicts and leads people to repentance, salvation and worship.  It raises the awareness of the presence of God in the church service.

Paul wrote to the Corinthians that corporate worship services are not a free for all.  They need to reflect the character and heart of God!  God is not a God of confusion but of peace.  Therefore church services should be decent and orderly, peaceful and done with maturity to excel in building the church.  That is how a loving church service looks–it puts God first, then others, then self.

In the last paragraph, Paul gives instruction to women in the church that upon first read seems harsh and unacceptable in our culture.  However, it seems as though the women in the church in Corinth were out of control and taking God-given authority from men in the church.  Paul allows for them to pray and prophesy (11:5), but he is saying that they shouldn’t weigh in on other’s prophecies because the men are fully capable of taking leadership in this area (I wonder if that could be said about men in churches today.)  Also, in a time when it was not acceptable for women to receive an education, Paul is saying that women who desire to learn should ask their husbands to teach them.  He wants women in the church to be wise and know theology.

In the beginning of Paul’s letter to the church in Corinth, he prayed, “that in every way you were in enriched in Him in all speech and all knowledge.”  Paul was stern, but he had the best interest of the church in mind and heart because he knew the power of the church in the world and that displaying God’s glory needs to be pre-eminent in the body of believers.


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