Yesterday’s reading was long so this one will be a lot shorter: 1 Cor 14:1-5
v1: Pursue: Follow after.
- Love: Biblically, there is a connection between love and obedience. We must not make the error of thinking that love always compromises, love always gives to the other, love always takes a position of surrender. This is not the case. Love should always be motivated by fidelity to the truth of G-d.
- Desire: This is a word of want.
- Spiritual (things): In the plural. When we follow love (ie walk in obedience to G-d) we begin to desire spiritual things and not carnal (fleshly) or worldly things.
- Especially: Even more so. Paul is getting more specific.
- Prophesy: When we pursue the things of G-d there is an outcome – we are going to be given prophetic utterance or revelation. This means that G-d will give us insight, discernment, understanding. No new revelation (Scripture) is being given to people today. G-d, however, can give us knowledge, words of wisdom, discernment etc that we are called to speak out for a given situation, a given time, a given purpose – so that His will and purposes can be manifested to us today.
v2: Tongue: This word is now not referring to a known language, but to an unknown one (“not for men”) – a spiritual language. This tongue is not being shared with humanity but is directed at G-d.
- No one understands: Although others can hear it being spoken they are unable to respond to it (obey it) as they cannot understand what is being said.
- Mysteries: From man’s perspective ‘mysteries’ has to do with G-d-given revelation in the Scripture. A mystery is something that man does not understand but G-d does. It is only through special revelation that Scriptural revelation can be understood.
v3-4: BUT: This is an important conjunction which shows contrast (in this case a contrast between tongues and prophesy – tongues are used for communing with G-d and edifying ourselves, prophecy -on the other hand – is useful for ministering to and edifying men)
- Edification: Building up. It’s a word of construction. Reading or teaching prophetic truth from the Scripture has a great edifying effect upon the church, upon believers.
v5: I wish you all spoke with tongues: This is desirable, although not always the case. Tongues are a spiritual gift that not everybody has.
- But even more that you prophesied: Prophecy is a more desirable gift than speaking in tongues. The conclusion we can reach is this: Prophecy is a superior gift to tongues. Many churches today emphasise speaking in tongues above many of the other spiritual gifts (tongues being the major sign to them of baptism in the Holy Spirit). We need to be careful not to emphasize something beyond what the Scripture does.
- Greater: The one who prophesies is greater (superior? On a higher spiritual plane?) than the one who speaks in tongues. Although G-d is no longer giving any more Scripture He still communicates with people through words of knowledge, words of revelation, etc that we need to share. These words have a prophetic characteristic to them. These words, however, ALWAYS need to agree with Scripture.
- UNLESS: If a tongue is interpreted, and therefore understood by us, it then receives the same status as prophecy as it fulfils the same role that prophecy fulfils – that of edifying the church (if there’s no interpretation there should be no tongues within a public setting – 1 Cor 14:28)