1 Corinthians 14:18
I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than you all:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(18, 19) I thank my God.—Here the Apostle resumes in the first person, coming back, after the parenthesis, to the continuation of his own desire and example. He does not undervalue that gift the misuse and exaggeration of which he is censuring; he possesses it himself in a remarkable degree; yet in the Church (i.e., in any assembly of Christians for prayer or instruction) he would prefer to speak five words with his mind rather than ten thousand with a tongue only; for the object of such assemblies is not private prayer or private ecstatic communion with God, but the edification of others. The word used for “teach” in this verse is literally our word catechise.

1 Corinthians 14:18-19. I thank my God, &c. — As if he had said, I do not speak thus of foreign languages because I myself am deficient in them, for I must say, to the glory of that Being from whom all my gifts and talents are derived, I speak with tongues more than you all — More than the whole society taken together. “The apostle had this great variety of languages given him by inspiration, that he might be able immediately to preach the gospel to all nations, without spending time in learning their languages. But it must be remembered that the knowledge of so many languages miraculously communicated, was a knowledge for common use, such as enabled the apostle to deliver the doctrines of the gospel clearly and properly; and not such a knowledge of these languages as prevented him in speaking and writing from mixing foreign idioms with them, especially the idioms of his mother tongue. An attention to such trifles was below the grandeur and importance of the work in which the apostle was engaged, and tended to no solid use; these foreign idioms being often more expressive and emphatical than the correspondent classical phrases.” — Macknight. Yet in the church, &c. — Yet so far am I from being vain of this gift, that in the church I had rather speak were it only five plain words with my understanding — In a rational manner, so as not only to understand myself, but to be understood by others; than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue — However sublime and elegant that discourse might be: yea, I had rather be entirely silent in an assembly, than take up their time, and prostitute the extraordinary gifts of God to such a vain and foolish purpose.14:15-25 There can be no assent to prayers that are not understood. A truly Christian minister will seek much more to do spiritual good to men's souls, than to get the greatest applause to himself. This is proving himself the servant of Christ. Children are apt to be struck with novelty; but do not act like them. Christians should be like children, void of guile and malice; yet they should not be unskilful as to the word of righteousness, but only as to the arts of mischief. It is a proof that a people are forsaken of God, when he gives them up to the rule of those who teach them to worship in another language. They can never be benefitted by such teaching. Yet thus the preachers did who delivered their instructions in an unknown tongue. Would it not make Christianity ridiculous to a heathen, to hear the ministers pray or preach in a language which neither he nor the assembly understood? But if those who minister, plainly interpret Scripture, or preach the great truths and rules of the gospel, a heathen or unlearned person might become a convert to Christianity. His conscience might be touched, the secrets of his heart might be revealed to him, and so he might be brought to confess his guilt, and to own that God was present in the assembly. Scripture truth, plainly and duly taught, has a wonderful power to awaken the conscience and touch the heart.I thank my God - Paul here shows that he did not undervalue or despise the power of speaking foreign languages. It was with him a subject of thanksgiving that he could speak so many; but he felt that there were more valuable endowments than this; see the next verse.

With tongues more than ye all - I am able to speak more foreign languages than all of you. "How many" languages Paul could speak, he has no where told us. It is reasonable, however, to presume that he was able to speak the language of any people to whom God in his providence, and by his Spirit, called him to preach. He had been commissioned to preach to the "Gentiles," and it is probable that he was able to speak the languages of all the nations among whom he ever traveled. There is no account of his being under a necessity of employing an interpreter wherever he preached.

18. tongues—The oldest manuscripts have the singular, "in a tongue [foreign]." Our Saviour, in the parable of the good shepherd, gives us this as his character, that the sheep hear his voice, and follow him, John 10:4; and we shall observe this great apostle every where propounding himself for imitation to them. They are bad shepherds over God’s flock, that must only be heard, but not followed. The apostle lets them know, that God had not left him without the gift of speaking with divers tongues, nay, he had it in a more eminent manner than them all; put them all together, they could not speak with so many tongues as he did. I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than you all. This the apostle says, to observe to them that he did not despise speaking with tongues: nor did he endeavour to beat them off, and dissuade them from desiring them, or envied their having them, because he was destitute of them himself; for he had this gift in a very eminent manner, and oftentimes made use of it, and was frequently under a necessity of so doing; he could speak with more tongues than any of those that had them, and spoke them oftener than they did; having occasion for them through his travelling into different countries, and preaching the Gospel to people of divers languages; and this he mentions also not in a boasting manner, but in great humility, giving thanks to God, and acknowledging him to be the author of this gift. {8} I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all:

(8) He sets himself as an example, both that they may be ashamed of their foolish ambition, and also that he may avoid all suspicion of envy.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
1 Corinthians 14:18-19. Confirmation by the apostle’s own example of what has been said against the public speaking with tongues.

I thank God, more than you all speak I with the tongue, in a higher degree than you all I have this charisma. Such direct modes of expression, instead of a connecting ὅτι, occur likewise in Greek writers; see Stallbaum, ad Gorg. p. 460 A; Hartung, Partikell. II. p. 134; Kühner, § 760 a. Even the Recepta λαλῶν would have to be taken as stating the ground of the εὐχαρ. τῷ Θεῷ (comp. 1 Corinthians 11:29; Acts 4:21, al.), not, with Reiche (whom Hofmann follows in his explanation of this reading, which, however, he rightly rejects), as referring to the manner of it (I make more frequently and more fervently than any of you thanksgiving-prayers in glossolalia to God). There would thus result a declaration, the tenor of which hardly suits the character of the apostle, as indeed such an unconditionally expressed assertion could not be upheld by him. Μᾶλλον can only denote the greater measure of the endowment; see already in Chrysosto.

ἐν ἐκκλ.] in the assembled church, opposite of private devotio.

θέλω ἤ] The preferential will (malle) is implied in the logical relation of the relative verbal notion to the particle, without there being any need of supplying μᾶλλον. See Hartung, II. p. 72; Klotz, ad Devar. p. 589 f.; Baeumlein, Partik. p. 136.1 Corinthians 14:18-19. Again (cf. 6, 1 Corinthians 4:6; 1 Corinthians 4:9) the Ap. uses himself for an instance in point. Even at Cor[2105], where this charism was abundant, no one “speaks with tongues” (mark the pl[2106] γλώσσαις) so largely as P. does on occasion; far from thinking lightly of the gift, he “thanks God” that he excels in it. 2 Corinthians 5:13; 2 Corinthians 12:1-4 show that P. was rich in ecstatic experiences; cf. Galatians 2:2, Acts 9:12; Acts 16:9; Acts 22:17; Acts 27:23 f., etc.—The omission of ὅτι after εὐχαριστῶ is exceptional, but scarcely irregular; it belongs to conversational liveliness, and occurs occasionally after a number of the verba declarandi in cl[2107] Gr[2108]: cf. note on δοκῶ κ.τ.λ., 1 Corinthians 4:9; and see Wr[2109], p. 683. The Vg[2110], omitting μᾶλλον, reads omnium vestrum lingua loquor, making P. thank God that he could speak in every tongue used at Cor[2111]; Jerome, in his Notes, refers the μᾶλλον to the other App., as though P. exulted in being a better linguist than any of the Twelve!—ἀλλὰ ἐν ἐκκλησίᾳ κ.τ.λ.: “but in church-assembly (cf. note on 1 Corinthians 14:4) I would (rather) utter five words with my understanding, that I might indeed instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue!”—ἀλλὰ contradicts the seeming implication of 1 Corinthians 14:18—“but for all that”: one might have supposed that P. would make much of a power in which he excels; on the contrary, he puts it aside and prefers to use every-day speech, as being the more serviceable; cf. for the sentiment, 1 Corinthians 9:19-23, 2 Corinthians 1:24; 2 Corinthians 4:5; 2 Corinthians 4:12; 2 Corinthians 4:15; 2 Corinthians 11:7; 2 Corinthians 13:9, 1 Thessalonians 2:6 ff. With his Tongue P. might speak in solitude, “to himself and to God” (1 Corinthians 14:2; 1 Corinthians 14:28, 2 Corinthians 5:13); amongst his brethren, his one thought is, how best to help and benefit them.—For νοῦς in contrast with πνεῦμα, see note on 1 Corinthians 14:14; for its declension, cf. 1 Corinthians 1:10.—κατηχέω (see parls.) differs from διδάσκω as it connotes, usually at least, oral impartation (“ut alios voce instituam,” Bz[2112]), including here prophecy or doctrine (1 Corinthians 14:6). On θέλω, dispensing with μᾶλλον, see parls.; malimquam, Bz[2113] For the rhetorical μυρίους, cf. 1 Corinthians 4:15.

[2105] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

[2106] plural.

[2107] classical.

[2108] Greek, or Grotius’ Annotationes in N.T.

[2109]
Winer-Moulton’s Grammar of N.T. Greek (8th ed., 1877).

[2110] Latin Vulgate Translation.

[2111] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

[2112] Beza’s Nov. Testamentum: Interpretatio et Annotationes (Cantab., 1642).

[2113] Beza’s Nov. Testamentum: Interpretatio et Annotationes (Cantab., 1642).18. I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than you all] St Paul, no doubt, had the gift of interpretation. Yet apparently he did not often exercise in public, whatever he may have done in private, the gift of speaking with tongues unknown to his hearers. See next verse.1 Corinthians 14:18. Εὐχαριστῶ, I give thanks) Paul uses thanksgiving and προθεραπείαν,[125] anticipatory precaution against the charge of egotism, when he is to speak his own praises.—ΠΆΝΤΩΝ, more than you all) more than you individually or even collectively.—ὑμῶν, than you) Frequently, those, who are less accomplished are more proud and act with greater insolence.

[125] See Append.Verse 18. - I speak with tongues; rather, with a tongue. More than ye all. This is exactly what we should expect of the emotional, impassioned nature of St. Paul, who was so wholly under the influence of the Spirit of God. But it is clear from all that he has been saying that, while the personal and evidential value of this gift of yielding his whole being to the spiritual impulse, which expressed and relieved itself by inarticulate utterance, was such as to make him "thank God" that he possessed it, he must either have exercised it only in private gatherings or must have always accompanied it by interpretation.
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