Thursday, June 14, 2012

1 Cor 14:1-19

Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.
After downplaying the gifts in ch 13 Paul doesn’t want them to overreact- gifts are good.
Especially the gift of prophesy

2 For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit.
·         Prophecy is superior to all the other gifts mentioned,  even over the favorite of the Corinthians: tongues.
·         They were excited to speak in foreign tongues, and held this gift aloft but if nobody else could understand a prayer or a sermon in that language it was useless, and unedifying to them.  This is because it is a foreign language, see v21, not that it is a language devoid of meaning.
·         If I teach this class in Russian, what good would that do you?
·         Chrysostom takes mysteries to be a good thing, ie: the revelation of God and Calvin takes it to be a bad one ie: useless, unhelpful things that are a mystery to others.
·         I’m inclined to think Calvin is right.

3 On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation.
·         On the other hand if I teach the class in English, you understand me, and can get something out of it.  The value is immediately evident.
·         I take prophecy to mean the forthtelling of God’s word and will, rather than the foretelling of future things. This is because the upbuilding and encouragement is positive and tangible.

4 The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church.
·         Do we come to church to pat ourselves on the back or show off our gifts or do we come to glorify God?
·         Paul has already shown that the gifts are intended to build people up in the body.

5 Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up.
·         Again, not that tongues are bad, but foreign languages don’t build up like prophecy does.  One is good the other is better.

6 Now, brothers,  if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I benefit you unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching?
·         What builds up is the teaching, the revelation, the knowledge that is imparted by communication. The message is what is really important.  Having a message with no way to share it or make it known is useless.
·         Many of you say the same thing “Phil must have really good things to say because he’s smart, I just don’t understand what he’s saying, especially when he starts using technical theological language”
·         Revelation: divine inspiration of things. Prophecy is the act of bringing it forth to people.
·         Knowledge: facts and information. Teaching is the act of imparting it to others.

7 If even lifeless instruments, such as the flute or the harp, do not give distinct notes, how will anyone know what is played? 8 And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle?
·         If lifeless things need to be clear, how much more so people? If we make mere noise with instruments meaningful by having them be understood, then it stands to reason we should speak meaningfully.
·         Imagine a piano with all the keys being mashed continually. Beauty comes from order, not from chaos.
9 So with yourselves, if with your tongue you utter speech that is not intelligible, how will anyone know what is said? For you will be speaking into the air.
·         You will be doing a useless thing, in other words.
10 There are doubtless many different languages in the world, and none is without meaning, 11 but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me.
·         The word is Barbarian, which was originally derived from the phrase bar-bar, which is what the speech of the middle eastern people sounded like to the Greeks.  Bar-bar-bar-bar.  Later it came to mean talk that is not understood.  It’s merely their way of saying a totally meaningless phrase, or one who speaks in unintelligible words.
·         If you can get up in front of a crowd and teach them in a language you know they won’t understand you are a fool.
·         Notice that two foreigners supposes both know things that are meaningful, but cannot bridge the language gap.

12 So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church.
·         Paul reiterates the goal of the gifts: building up.
·         Now it may be asked: is there no point to having the gift? Does it matter practically speaking if I can speak in bushman if nobody can understand me? And the answer is in verse 13

13 Therefore, one who speaks in a tongue should pray for the power to interpret.
·         You should be praying they can understand you, and do everything you can do be understood.
·         This is opposite the modern pentacostal movement which gives vent to any such wild gibberish and passes it off as “angelic language”

14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful.
·         To pray in tongues is to say a prayer in another language. Nothing too complex or magical there.
·         What good is a gift that renders the mind useless?
·         Mind here seems to mean other people’s understanding. If we speak in an unknown language we have communicated passion but not edification.

15 What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also.
·         To sing and pray with your mind also means that your listeners have understanding, reasoning, are drawing conclusions and engaging their brain.
·         Modern pentacostals don’t even understand what they are saying, much less does their audience get it. This is to their shame.
·         There is no reason we should look like fools out there devoid of intelligence

16 Otherwise, if you give thanks with your spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider say “Amen” to your thanksgiving when he does not know what you are saying?
·         Rhetorical question.  If you don’t involve people’s brains then you won’t have an edified assembly.
·         The early Christians would give a loud amen at the end of the Lord’s supper, as they shared it. That is impossible with tongues, for nobody can agree with what you are saying when it’s lost on them. 

17 For you may be giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not being built up.
18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you.
·         Not that he is putting them down, but he is showing that he himself uses the gift only as needed. If the champion of language chooses to abstain, they ought to consider it as well.

19 Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue.
·         During the reformation when all the services were in latin and the people spoke their native languages this bit of scripture was being heartily ignored.

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