The three verbal gifts of the Holy Spirit
In Part 3a we considered the description of the nine gifts of the Holy Spirit as described in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10.
We are now going to focus on the description of the 3 verbal gifts (tongues, interpretation, and prophecy) in the following passage.
1 Corinthians 14:1 Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.
2 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.
3 But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.
4 He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.
5 I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interprets, that the church may receive edifying.
6 Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?
7 And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped?
8 For if the trumpet gives an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?
9 So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air.
10 There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification.
11 Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me.
12 Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.
13 Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret.
14 For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.
15 What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.
16 Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?
17 For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified.
18 I thank my God; I speak with tongues more than ye all:
19 Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.
20 Brethren be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.
21 In the law it is written, with men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord.
22 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.
23 If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?
24 But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all:
25 And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so, falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.
26 How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.
27 If any man speaks in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret.
39 Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.
40 Let all things be done decently and in order.
Comments by verse
v.1 We ought to desire spiritual gifts especially that we should prophesy!
v.2 When we speak in an unknown tongue, we are not speaking to men but to God.
It is a direct communication between man and God or vice versa. Although our minds do not understand we are speaking mysteries about God. What do you think the angels make of this?
v.3 Prophecy is in English and is understood by the church thus building them up.
v4. Tongues builds up the speaker, but prophecy builds up the church. see also Jude v20.
v5 Paul wants everyone to talk in tongues but even better if they prophesy so that others can be fed. However, if there is an interpretation of the tongue it has the same effect as a prophecy i.e. it is understood!
v6-12 What good is done in public if no one can understand what you are saying. Love considers others not just our own profit. If you want to give a tongue for the church pray and ask God for the interpretation as well so that everyone will be blessed.
v15. Spirit filled Christians should pray and sing, sometimes in English, sometimes in tongues. Both are OK and one should not preclude the other.
v16-17 Do not give thanks at the meal table in tongues since no one can understand and say Amen.
v18 Paul appreciated the gift of tongues and used it more than anyone else!
v19 but we must know the correct context for the use of tongues i.e. do not confuse the private use with its public use. At the meetings concentrate on what benefits the whole church.
v21.-24 There appears to be an apparent contradiction between verse 21-22 and 23-24 in that in the former tongues is designated as a sign for the unbeliever but in the latter as a sign for the believers. The explanation lies in that on the day of Pentecost the Jews who first heard the other tongues were fulfilling the prophecies of the old testament (Isa 28 and Deut 24 v29) to show the Jews that they were in unbelief. However, the reference to tongues in v23-24 is for the Church and therefore is for a different purpose i.e. for the believers not the unsaved.
v27 Let tongues and prophecies be given in batches of two or three and then give the congregation time to digest them and to discern what the Lord is saying to the church.
v39 Do not forbid the speaking in tongues.
v40 Be sensitive to the Spirit and others. Never behave in an unseemly or outrageous way for the church is the household of God.