Not the Author of Confusion

1Corinthians 14:27-33 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. But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God. Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. If any thing be revealed to another that sits by, let the first hold his peace. For you may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. 

‘Unknown tongue’ – there is no word in the Greek for unknown here. No language spoken in any place in the universe is actually unknown to the people who speak it. The only sense in which tongues or languages are spoken by the ability of the gift of tongues is unknown is that the speaker himself does not know the language or languages which he speaks (14:2).

‘Let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret.’ In congregational meetings, the command is that no more than three messages in tongues should be allowed in any one service, and that, provided they are truly interpreted. The order should be by course with the first message being interpreted before a second, if any, is given. One who thus speaks shall not interpret himself, his words must be interpreted by another gifted to do so (14:13). Even if more than one person speaks the rule is no more than a total of three messages in a single gathering. After that, they must remain silent regardless of how much they seem to be inspired. If there is no interpretation to the first message, they likewise must remain silent (14:27-28, 32). These laws concerning the gifts of tongues are to be obeyed as the commandments of God (14:32-33, 37-38).

‘Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.’ Prophets are also to speak two or three messages in turn letting others judge whether or not they have spoken the truth. Both kinds of messages (tongues and prophecy) are to be judged as to their truth. The basis of judgment is the written revelation of God (Deut. 18:10-12, 20; Isa. 8:19-20; Rev. 22:18-19). If any message in tongues or prophecy does not harmonize with the Bible or does not come to pass, then it is to be judged false and the person said to be speaking by his own spirit (13:1-3; Deut. 13:1-9; 18:20-23; Jer. 23:25-29, 32; Ezek. 13:2-3).

‘If any thing be revealed to another that sits by, let the first hold his peace.’ Everything revealed to a person is not a divine revelation. This is why everything must be judged.

‘All prophesy’ – men and women were permitted to prophesy (11:1-16; Acts 2:16-21). ‘The spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.’ Among people who have inspirational experiences of prophecy, tongues, and interpretation of tongues, it is very easy for one to claim that the Holy Spirit is moving upon him and that he should not quench the Spirit (1Thess. 5:19). This attitude of being determined to obey the Spirit leads to abuse of such gifts over and over, causing much confusion in gatherings. Let no man claim to be moved by the Holy Spirit who acts disorderly and causes confusion, for God is not the author of such (14:32-33).

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