Read 1 Corinthians 14.
Paul continued writing about miraculous gifts in this chapter and he recommended the gift of prophecy over the gift of tongues (vv. 1-25). Paul made several points in this chapter to try to correct the errors of the Corinthians:
- Tongues in a church’s gathering are useless (v 6: “what good will I be?” and v. 28). They do not edify other believers (vv. 1-12) and they make unbelievers think that you are insane (v. 24).
- Interpreted tongues are useful (vv. 13-17) so pray for that gift if you find yourself speaking in tongues.
- Tongues are given to benefit unbelievers not believers (vv. 10-11, 21-22a). The benefit Paul has in mind here is the benefit of hearing the gospel in one’s own language with out a translator (v. 21). Since the Corinthians all shared a common language, there was no need for anyone to speak in tongues, particularly if there were no interpreter. So the Corinthians shouldn’t seek the gift of tongues or elevate it to the ultimate expression of spirituality.
- The gift of prophecy edifies believers (vv. 3-5, 19) and it convicts unbelievers (vv. 22-25), so it is a superior spiritual gift to tongues.
There are two larger principles in this passage beyond speaking in tongues and prophecy:
- The goal of church gatherings is to edify believers primarily (vv. 5, 12, 19, 26c) and secondarily to convict unbelievers (vv. 24-25).
- Church gatherings should be done in an orderly way (vv. 26-40). Chaos does not please the Lord (v. 33).
These two principles should guide anyone leading a church and planning a worship service. They should inform you if you find yourself looking for a church someday. The second of these two principles is drawn from a basic principle about God’s nature: “God is not a God of disorder but of peace” (v. 33a). As followers of Christ, we should seek order in our everyday lives as well. Is there chaos somewhere in your life? What is one action today that could move you a step closer to peace and order in that area?