Thursday, June 24, 2010

1 Corinthians 14:20-40

20 Brothers and sisters, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults. 21 In the Law it is written: 
 "With other tongues 
 and through the lips of foreigners 
 I will speak to this people, 
 but even then they will not listen to me, 
 says the Lord."
22 Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is not for unbelievers but for believers. 23 So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and inquirers or unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind? 24 But if an unbeliever or an inquirer comes in while everyone is prophesying, they are convicted of sin and are brought under judgment by all, 25 as the secrets of their hearts are laid bare. So they will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, "God is really among you!"
26 What then shall we say, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each of you has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. Everything must be done so that the church may be built up. 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, two—or at the most three—should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. 28 If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church; let them speak to themselves and to God.
29 Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. 30 And if a revelation comes to someone who is sitting down, the first speaker should stop. 31 For you can all prophesy in turn so that everyone may be instructed and encouraged. 32 The spirits of prophets are subject to the control of prophets. 33 For God is not a God of disorder but of peace—as in all the congregations of the Lord's people.
34 Women should remain silent in the churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the law says. 35 If they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in the church.
36 Or did the word of God originate with you? Or are you the only people it has reached? 37 If any think they are prophets or otherwise gifted by the Spirit, let them acknowledge that what I am writing to you is the Lord's command. 38 Those who ignore this will themselves be ignored.
39 Therefore, my brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40 But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.

Questions to consider:

  • How does Paul’s illustration of children relate to the desire for tongues?
  • What is the anticipated attitude and response of unbelievers toward (a) tongues and (b) prophecy?
  • What effect does your group’s behavior have on outsiders?
  • What are the parts of a Corinthian meeting?
  • In what ways are tongues and prophecy controllable? How does this control relate to the nature of God?

Possibilities for prayer:

Paul gives some pretty particular instructions here and finishes up with the admonition that everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way. While it’s a little hard to know what to do with the silencing of women portion of this passage (other than attribute it to the culture of the time, something we did with an earlier passage in 1 Corinthians), the idea of creating order and still blessing community with gifts is definitely something that we can strive for and embody in our own church community. It can be tempting with some of these more “power” oriented gifts to try to flaunt them in community, which tends to be an issue of pride. Today let’s pray for our community, and ask God to be growing and developing a spirit of humility within all of us, and a true desire to see God’s will done within it, as opposed to our own.