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Week 21

Following Christ in 21st Century Corinth

We come to the conclusion of Paul’s discussion on spiritual gifts from chapters 12-14, focusing tonight on how they should integrate in public worship. The key emphasis is on order when we worship:

  • that reflects God’s nature – order, not chaos
  • many Bible references describe God pushing back against chaos to bring order

Following Christ in 21st Century Corinth – Week 21

presented 6 March 2019

1 Corinthians 14: 26-40


Lecture Handout

Handout Handout Week 21

Lesson Notes

Orderly Worship (1 Corinthians 14:25-40)

  • Verse 26 – Many gifts come together for corporate worship
    • There is a place for many of us to contribute to corporate worship
    • Teaching and knowledge, musical gifts, prophecy, tongues, and interpretation
    • As noted last week, in a time when there was little written New Testament Scripture, church was built around telling Jesus stories; it was a time of revelation
    • Key phrase – let all things be done for building up
      • Grammatically that’s a command, not a wish
    • Every element of worship should build up the body, the church
  • Verses 27-28
    • If you’re a tongue speaker, you must have an interpreter (or be an interpreter)
    • Otherwise be quiet in church – keep it a private gift between  you and God
    • Not excessive numbers – 2 or 3
    • Take turns so people can actually hear and understand
    • Implies you know the gift is coming and can control it – not an ecstatic outburst as some claim or practice
  • Verse 29 – Same guidelines for prophecies
    • Let 2 or 3 prophets speak and let others weigh in
    • The others would include the gathered believers, not other prophets because we’re all to check “prophets” -> 1 Thessalonians 5: 20-21, 1 John 4: 1-3
    • If Paul had meant the remaining prophets, he probably would have used a different Greek word
    • This is an interesting model – not just a single preacher as we often see portrayed in Acts
    • Rather 2 or 3 sharing a message from God while others discuss and reflect the message against Scripture
  • Verses 30-32
    • If someone else gets a revelation (a word of prophecy), the first should stop and yield the floor
    • Again, to avoid chaos!
    • So everyone can hear, learn, and be encouraged by the message
    • So each prophetic message can be evaluated by the others in the congregation for truth and falsehood
  • Verse 33 – Key concept in all this -> God is a god of order, not confusion; peace
    • Part b introduces patterns for EVERY church – Corinth wasn’t special
  • Verse 34 – Doesn’t mean women can’t play a role in worship
    • 1 Corinthians 11: 5 refers to women praying and prophesying in public
    • This instruction is in the immediate context of peace during worship, not confusion and the public critique of prophecies
    • There are a couple of plausible explanations and many implausible explanations
      • Implausible: women can’t ever talk in church
      • Implausible: this is only contextual and thus irrelevant
      • Plausible: In the context of worship, it could be an issue about side chatter in church, out of order questions that are disruptive, perhaps due to women having less theological training than men typically did then
        • Verse 35 – That would make sense of the part about asking husbands at  home
        • That they’re asking questions they want answered during worship when they can just discuss it at home in private rather than bursting out with questions
      • But contextually that seems a little odd since Paul was specifically discussing the critique of purported prophecies and this seems like a digression
      • So it may be referencing vocal criticism during worship, particularly in a manner that would undermine the headship of the church
  • Verse 36 – Church isn’t just all about you!
    • Corinth doesn’t have a corner on the market in right doctrine or practice
    • Corinth clearly had problems with self-centered worship, because it’s been referenced throughout the letter
    • Don’t turn worship into a circus or something just for you
    • God must be foremost – He is the one from Whom the word flows
    • And all need to be able to hear and benefit
  • Verses 37-38 – Anyone claiming spiritual insight should agree!
    • This is a command of God, not just a suggestion by a guy named Paul
    • Paul recognizes he’s speaking the word of God – essentially that he’s writing new Scripture
    • If you don’t get it and insist on other ways, you aren’t as spiritual as you think!
    • A good word for those claiming to be led by God in a way contradictory to Scripture
    • Our impressions and sense of leading can’t contradict God’s revealed will in Scripture or else we’re really being led by someone other than God!
  • Verses 39-40 – The conclusion of the whole matter! Very clear, simple, and directive
    • Earnestly desire to prophecy
    • Permit speaking in tongues – if genuine, as we discussed last week
    • Again, no hint that these gifts have ended or should be forbidden
    • But do all things in decent order -> 1 Corinthians 10: 31 – do all things to the glory of God!
    • Build the church in unity and love!
    • Have an openness to creativity and different types and tools for worship -> but they all must build up, be understandable, and orderly…

Concluding Implications

  • Why do we have spiritual gifts?
  • Do you believe you have a spiritual gift?
  • Do you know what yours is? Are you using yours?

Next week: 1 Corinthians 15: 1-28