Prophecy and Tongues

1Corinthians 14:1-8 Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that you may prophesy. For he that speaks in an unknown tongue speaks not unto men, but unto God: for no man understands him; howbeit in the spirit he speaks mysteries. But he that prophesies speaks unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. He that speaks in an unknown tongue edifies himself; but he that prophesies edifies the church. I would that you all spake with tongues, but rather that you prophesied: for greater is he that prophesies than he that speaks with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying. 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? 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? For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? 

There are sixteen contrasts between tongues and prophecy: Tongues are spoken to God; prophecy is spoken to edify people (14:2-3). Mysteries or things not understood are spoken in tongues; all things spoken in prophecy are clear (14:3-4). Tongues edify the speaker; prophecy edifies the speaker and others (14:3-4). Tongues enable one to commune with God; prophecy speaks to people to edification, exhortation, and comfort (14:2-4). The one who prophecies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues unless the tongues are interpreted and understood (14:5). Tongues are no profit to the public unless interpreted; all prophecy is profitable to the public (14:5-13, 27-28). The speaker in tongues must pray for the interpretation; the one who prophecies need not, for his message is in his own tongue (14:3-13). Tongues make one a barbarian to others; prophecy does not (14:3, 11). In all gifts, the main purpose is to excel in edifying fellow Christians (14:12). In this, prophecy is greater than tongues (14:1-6, 27-28). The human spirit of the speaker is the thing edified by tongues; prophecy benefits all people (14:1-5, 14-15, 24-25). Tongues are a great personal blessing, but 5 words of prophecy are more important in public gatherings than 10,000 words in tongues (14:17-19). Tongues are a sign to unbelievers; prophecy to believers (14:21-22). All speaking in tongues at once causes mockery by the unsaved whereas with prophesying the unsaved are convicted of sin (14:23-25). Every gift must be used to edify Christians (14:26). Prophecies do this better (14:1-5, 23-25). Only one message is allowed at a Christian gathering if not interpreted; three messages in prophecy are allowed (14:3, 27-31). Three messages in tongues are allowed at a Christian gathering if they are interpreted. This many messages in prophecy are always allowed (14:27-32).

‘He that speaks in an unknown tongue speaks not unto men, but unto God: for no man understands him; howbeit in the spirit he speaks mysteries.’ It is clear in Scripture that men have spoken in tongues by the Holy Spirit. It was predicted by Isaiah (Isa. 28:11-12; 1Cor. 14:21); Joel (Joel 2:28-32 with Acts 2:16); and Jesus (Mark 16:17; John 15:26; 16:13-15). It was fulfilled in Acts 2:4; 10:44-48; 19:1-7; 1Corinthians 12:8-10, 28-31; 13:1-3; 14:1-40.

Members in Particular Part 1

1Corinthians 12:27-31 Now you are the body of Christ, and members in particular. And God has set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret? But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet show I unto you a more excellent way. 

‘You are the body of Christ, and members in particular.’ You and all in Christ as you make up the true Congregation or the body of Christ (1Cor. 12:13; Eph. 2:19-22; 4:1-6; Col. 1:18, 24).

‘First apostles’ [Greek: apostolos] a delegate, one sent with full power of attorney to act in the place of another, the sender remaining behind to back up the one sent. In the case of Christians it means God sends them to do what He, Himself would do if He went. It is found 81 times and translated apostle 78 times; messenger twice (2Cor. 8:23; Php. 2:25); and once he that is sent (John 13:16). The apostles were sent as representatives of Jesus Christ and His ministry to complete the writing of the New Testament. The last apostle chosen by Christ was Paul and the apostle that wrote the last books were John who wrote the gospel John, 1, 2 and 3 John (90 A.D.) and Revelation (96 A.D.).

‘Prophets’ – The Old Testament was written by prophets (Heb. 1:1) and the last writing prophet was John the Baptist (Matt. 11:12-13; Luke 16:16).

‘Miracles’ [Greek: semeion] a sign or token by which something is known; a token of confirmation of a divine work or call. It is translated sign 50 times; miracle 23 times; wonder 3 times; and token once. Generally used of miracles and wonders done by people to confirm their call and mission from God (Matt. 12:38; 16:1-4; Mark 8:11; 16:17-20; Luke 11:16, 29; 23:8; John 2:11, 18, 23; 3:2; 4:54; 6:2, 14, 26, 30; 7:31; 9:16; 10:41; 11:47; 12:18, 37; 20:30; Acts 2:22, 43; 8:6; 1Cor. 1:22; Rom. 15:19). It is also used of the power by which false teachers seek to confirm their fallacies to be of God (Matt. 24:24; Mark 13:22; 2Thess. 2:8-12; Rev. 13:13-18; 16:14; 19:20). The last scriptures above refer to the satanic powers in these last days to cause men to accept false teaching and be lost. Christians were promised power over all satanic forces (Matt. 17:20; 18:18; 21:22; Mark 9:23; 11:22-24; 16:15-20; Luke 10:19; John 14:12; Acts 1:8).

‘Gifts of healings’ This is supernatural power to heal all manner of sickness without human aid or medicine (12:9; Mark 16:18; John 14:12).

‘Helps’ [Greek: antilempsis] a support; help; succourer; an aid. Only in 1Corinthians 12:28 and refers to every kind of help God sets for Christians. It does not refer to persons only, but to the various spiritual gifts which fill people with power to help. It is mentioned in the midst of references to certain gifts. Gifts will always be something through which God is glorified and never to put individuals in the spotlight or bring us any form of glory or followers. To be continued…