Devotional Readings

1 Corinthians 14 – A Chapter addressed to Confusion and subject to much Misinterpretation

 I’m probably reading this chapter for the 12th time since I began my 10 Lists Readings.

I must admit that it is still one of the hardest ones to interpret. Perhaps in the future I will do a chapter study using S. Lewis Johnson’s sermons, or those of Martin Lloyd Jones or other older pastors to gather their insight. It seems that the chapter can be abused to support ideas that are not necessarily mainline to our biblical faith, by pulling verses out of both the local chapter context and the context of the Bible as a whole.
One thing that seems clear that when Paul wrote this the church did not have the luxury of having the New Testament text in written form as the useful text of God’s Word. they would have had the OT scriptures both in Greek and Hebrew, but the gospels and the letters were still being written and had not come close to being collected.
This comes immediately after the great verses..

1Co 13:1  Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become assounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal.

1Co 13:2  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, and have not charity, I am nothing.

1Co 13:3  And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not charity, it profiteth me nothing.

1Co 13:13  And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.


The teaching is very clear that in this church at least there was a big focus on tongues, which Paul linked to understanding, and prophesy which likewise is linked to understanding and the need for sound doctrine. Those who often grab at these verses for the support of the church charismatic today, most likely ignore the verses about women in the church and at home looking towards there husband for understanding of Biblical truth and doctrine and interpretation of God’s word. But this is far from politically correct in today’s church. Much study is needed here. Even Gill’s comment need some serious interpretation….see below.

Prophecy and Tongues

1Co 14:1  Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.

1Co 14:2  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.

1Co 14:3  But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.

1Co 14:4  He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.

1Co 14:5  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 interpret, that the church may receive edifying.

1Co 14:6  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?

1Co 14:7  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?

1Co 14:8  For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?

1Co 14:9  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.

1Co 14:10  There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification.

1Co 14:11  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.

1Co 14:12  Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.

1Co 14:13  Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret.

1Co 14:14  For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.

1Co 14:15  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.

1Co 14:16  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?

1Co 14:17  For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified.

1Co 14:18  I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all:

1Co 14:19  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.

1Co 14:20  Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.

1Co 14:21  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.

1Co 14:22  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.

1Co 14:23  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?

1Co 14:24  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:

1Co 14:25  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.

Orderly Worship

1Co 14:26  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.

1Co 14:27  If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret.

1Co 14:28  But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.

1Co 14:29  Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.

1Co 14:30  If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace.

1Co 14:31  For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.

1Co 14:32  And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.

1Co 14:33  For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.


1Co 14:34  Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.

1Co 14:35  And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.


1Co 14:36  What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only?

1Co 14:37  If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.

1Co 14:38  But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.

1Co 14:39  Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.

1Co 14:40  Let all things be done decently and in order.


1 Corinthians 14:35 Gill

And if they will learn anything,…. If they are desirous of learning anything in relation to doctrine, duty, or discipline, and of improving their knowledge of divine things, which is very commendable in them; if any difficulty arises in their minds whilst hearing the word, which they want to have removed, or any question to ask for information sake,

let them ask their husbands at home; privately, when retired from the public assembly; for though men might ask one another concerning this, and the other point, in the church, as was usual in the synagogue worship, to which this church at Corinth in many things conformed; yet women were not allowed this freedom, and even in things which belonged to women to do; as for instance, making the cake of the first of their dough, which was to be an heave offering to the Lord, the men were to teach the women at home how, and when to separate it from the rest (d). 

So the apostle directs women, when they wanted to be informed about any point, to apply to their husbands at their own houses, if they were such as were capable of instructing them; if not, they might apply to other men that were Christian men, and men of knowledge, especially to the prophets, pastors, and teachers of the church, at their habitations:

for it is a shame for women to speak in the church; it is a shame to themselves, as being contrary to the natural modesty and bashfulness of the sex, and a shame to the church, to the non-members of it, and especially to the elders, and more experienced part of it, to be taught and directed by a woman; it is a disgrace to herself and sex, as betraying uncommon pride and vanity, and an unnatural boldness and confidence; and a disgrace to the church to be under such a ministry and conduct.

(d) Bartenora in Misn. Challa, c. 3. sect. 1.

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