Monday in the Twenty-Fifth Week of Ordinary Time

1 Corinthians 14:1-25

An Intelligible Faith

Having spoken of the priority of love, Paul now returns to gifts of the Spirit, specifically tongues and prophecy.  As to the precise problem he is dealing with in the church at Corinth, it does seem that the proper use of the gift of tongues is the deciding factor; he uses prophecy, it seems, to offset tongues in his ensuing argument.  Allow me to say at the beginning that I agree with those scholars who identify tongues in this passage not as an intelligible language such as was the case on the day of Pentecost when those Jews gathered from all over the world heard the apostles and others upon whom the Holy Spirit fell “telling in [their] own tongues the mighty works of God” (Acts 2:11).  It seems instead that the gift of tongues these Corinthians experienced was not a known language but rather something inarticulate to human understanding.  Before we criticize such behavior as nonsense, we must admit that Paul allows tongues as a genuine gift of the Spirit and even says, “I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you.”  As to whether the gift of tongues is one of those extraordinary gifts that ceased with the passing of the apostles is another matter.  But in the meantime let us confine ourselves to the Scriptures.

Paul begins this passage saying, “Pursue love,” and that should determine the meaning of everything else that he says.  It seems that his chief concern is corporate worship and that what is said and how it is said therein must be intelligible to everyone around.  This should go without saying but there were apparently some at Corinth (and in our own day) who think tongues is a matter for public worship.  Paul citing Isaiah 28 shows that tongues is a matter for public worship, that is, if you want unbelievers to come in and think that you are crazy.  Such a display will harden them to the gospel, and that is not what we want.  Prophecy on the other hand, though primarily for believers, might bring unbelievers to repentance as they hear a word they can understand which cuts to the heart.  In short, unless someone is present who has the gift of interpretation, tongues must remain a personal and private affair and not be employed in public worship.

Many splits have happened in churches in the past century over this gift often due to the same sin which plagued Corinth: people behaving in a childish manner insisting on their own way, either to use their gift of tongues in public worship regardless, while others disallow the practice altogether without a hearing.  We must pursue Christlike love while we obey the teaching of the Scriptures—and these two never contradict one another.

Author: The Reformed Baptist

My name is Stephen Taylor, ordained Baptist minister of eighteen years pastoral experience with a Ph.D. in Historical Theology from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. Better than that, I am married to a godly woman, Karla, who has been very patient with me since 1989. I have two daughters, both of whom I homeschooled for extended periods of time, who became godly young women, and who ran off and married godly young men, all of which is very proper. The oldest daughter has even seen fit to bless me with a grandson and a granddaughter, and my youngest daughter with a grandson, all three of whom are bundles of exceeding joy. As you can see, I am quite blessed. This website is dedicated to helping people grow in the wisdom and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ through the gift of writing that the Lord has given to me. It is specifically about helping His people grow in godliness, the theme you see repeated above. I write devotions with this aim and hope that they might be of some help to God’s people. Full disclosure: I am of a Reformed bent, meaning that my understanding of Scripture is primarily informed by the Reformers and their successors of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. However, as a student of church history and theology, I strive to remain true to that teaching handed down once for all unto the saints through every age of the Church. I like to think of myself as a “catholic” Christian, as the Reformers thought of themselves. At any rate, feel free to read, pray, and contact me if you wish, or correct me if need be. As you can see, I tend to follow the church year. Of course, I make no special claims about these devotions. I know very well that others have written better and plumbed the depths of God’s word with greater insight. But if my musings help someone draw closer to the Lord, well then, I have my reward. Blessings to you and may the God and Father of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ speak to you that word which He knows you especially need to hear. Grace & peace, Stephen Taylor

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