SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)
- Paul writes about the many spiritual gifts that God gives each of us. But, he focuses specifically on the gift of tongues and prophecy. By combining verses 3 and 32 from this chapter, we can define "prophecy" as speech that strengthens, encourages, comforts or convicts its hearers.
- Prophecy is the gift of speech that strengthens, encourages, comforts, or convicts its listeners. He encourages this gift above others because it builds up the church and is meant for believers.
- Paul then writes about the gift of tongues. We first saw this gift in Acts 2 at Pentecost. Paul states that speaking in tongues is a good thing, however, interpretation of the language is a must. There are differing views on the definition of tongues. Some believe it is referring to a personal prayer language to God, while other scholars believe it is the ability to speak in a foreign language they have never learned as way to communicate with unbelievers. Both are valid points seen in the church worldwide today.
- Paul's main point of discussion was the importance of order in worship gatherings. This is something we take for granted today. However, back when the church was starting, there was no structure or set way of doing things. As a result things got crazy sometimes and everyone was involved. Anyone could share. There was no one telling them, "ok, first you should sing, then someone should speak, then you should pray, etc..." until Paul wrote these directions.
- Paul also makes the point, in verses 22-25, that when believers gather to worship they must be careful not to confuse unbelievers. This is one of the things we always keep in mind at Verve, as we have unbelievers in our services every week.
- Paul then makes a controversial statement that women need to keep silent in church. This teaching is debated, mostly because we don't fully understand the context in which he is saying it. However, we do know that women were generally not educated. As a result, historians believe that a problem existed in the Corinthian church where some women were disrupting the service by asking lots of loud questions. This is confirmed by Paul's statement "If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their husbands at home." It is very unlikely that Paul is referring to educated women in leadership. We know this because Paul, in Acts 18, takes Priscilla and her husband on a missionary journey. And, in Roman 16, he gives a very long list of women who are working hard for God's kingdom.
SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)
- Paul makes it clear that God has given each of us spiritual gifts. But, he cautions they are to be used appropriately and should not cause confusion to anyone. Regardless of whether you prophecy, speak in tongues, or have never heard of these gifts before, the principle is the same. Our gifts from God were given to help bring non-believers to Jesus. They are for that purpose alone and should not be sensationalized or used for any other reason.
NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)
- In your life, how might you be confusing people who are not believers? Is there anything about the way you act or talk that might give them the wrong idea about God, or what it means to follow Jesus?
- In your life, how are you doing at instructing and encouraging other believers, and being instructed and encouraged by other believers? Where does that happen in your life? And, if it doesn't, where could you start to experience that?