1 Corinthians 14:21
In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak to this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, said the LORD.
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(21, 22) In the law it is written.—The preceding teaching is illustrated and enforced by an appeal to Jewish history. The Old Testament as a whole was not infrequently thus designated “the Law.” (See John 10:34; John 12:34; John 15:25.) The words are scarcely a quotation, but rather an illustration taken from Isaiah 28:9-12. The passage there refers to the refusal of Israel to hearken to Jehovah when He spoke to them with clearness and simplicity, and His judgment on them taking the form of declaring that He would make a foreign people—the Assyrians—be His mouthpiece to them in the future, in a language which they knew not. It is as if the Apostle said: Remember there was a time in Jewish history when an unintelligible language was a sign sent by God, and proved unavailing as regards the conversion of Israel. The gift which you so exalt now is equally useless by itself for that same purpose.

1 Corinthians 14:21. In the law it is written — The law here signifies the whole Jewish Scriptures. The passage quoted is taken from Isaiah 28:11, (where see the note.) With stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. And so he did: he spake terribly to them by the Babylonians, (whose language, strange and unintelligible to the Jews, is here referred to,) when they had set at naught what he had spoken by the prophets, who used their own language. Some critics have observed, that the Hebrew words in this passage of Isaiah, ought to be translated, in labiis irrisionis, with mocking lips; in which sense the LXX. understood the phrase, rendering it, δια φαυλισμον χειλεων. But that translation makes no alteration in the meaning; for they who speak to others in an unknown language, seem to the persons to whom they speak, to stammer and to mock them. The same thing is predicted, Deuteronomy 28:49, and Jeremiah 5:15; where see the notes. According to Diodati the meaning is, “Because they would not attend to plain messages, God would speak to them by such as they could not understand;” and which they would hate to hear: and then the apostle’s argument will be, “Since God threatens this as a curse, do not voluntarily bring it upon the church, merely to make ostentation of your own gifts.” Isaiah’s words, however, may be considered as an intimation of the purpose God had of sending one last message to them by his servants, endued with the gift of tongues. This, according to Macknight, is the primary meaning of the prophet’s words. “Isaiah evidently foretels,” says he, “the methods which God, in future times, would use for converting the unbelieving Jews; and among others, that he would speak to them in foreign languages, that is, in the languages of the nations among whom they were dispersed. The passage, therefore, is a prediction of the gift of speaking foreign languages, to be bestowed on the first preachers of the gospel.” The prophecy thus understood had its accomplishment at the day of pentecost. Yet for all that — Though I shall do this extraordinary thing to awaken, convince, and alarm them; they will not hear me — They will not hearken and obey me. This the Lord foresaw, and foretold repeatedly by Moses and the prophets.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.In the law it is written - This passage is found in Isaiah 38:11-12. The word "law" here seems to mean the same as revelation; or is used to denote the Old Testament in general. A similar use occurs in John 10:34, and John 15:25.

With men of other tongues ... - This passage, where it occurs in Isaiah, means, that God would teach the rebellious and refractory Jews submission to himself, by punishing them amidst a people of another language, by removing them to a land - the land of Chaldea - where they would hear only a language that to them would be unintelligible and barbarous. Yet, notwithstanding this discipline, they would be still, to some extent, a rebellious people. The passage in Isaiah has no reference to the miraculous gift of tongues. and cannot have been used by the apostle as containing any intimation that such miraculous gifts would be imparted. It seems to have been used by Paul, because the "words" which occurred in Isaiah would "appropriately express" the idea which he wished to convey (see the note at Matthew 1:23), that God would make use of foreign languages for some "valuable purpose." But he by no means intimates that Isaiah had any such reference; nor does he quote this as a fulfillment of the prophecy; nor does he mean to say, that God would accomplish "the same purpose" by the use of foreign languages, which was contemplated in the passage in Isaiah. The sense is, as God accomplished an important purpose by the use of a foreign language in regard to his ancient people, as recorded in Isaiah, so he will make use of foreign languages to accomplish important purposes still. They shall be used in the Christian church to effect important objects, though not in the same manner, nor for the same end, as in the time of the captivity. What the design of making use of foreign languages was, in the Christian church, the apostle immediately states; 1 Corinthians 14:22-23.

Yet for all that ... - Notwithstanding all this chastisement that shall be inflicted on the Jews in a distant land, and among a people of a different language, they will still be a rebellious people. This is the sense of the passage, as it is used by Isaiah; see Isaiah 28:12. It is not quoted literally by the apostle, but the main idea is retained. He does not appear to design to apply this to the Corinthians, unless it may be to intimate that the power of speaking foreign languages did not of necessity secure obedience. It might he that this power might be possessed, and yet they be a sinful people; just as the Jews were admonished by the judgments of God, inflicted by means of a people speaking a foreign language, and yet were not reformed or made holy.

21. In the law—as the whole Old Testament is called, being all of it the law of God. Compare the citation of the Psalms as the "law," Joh 10:34. Here the quotation is from Isa 28:11, 12, where God virtually says of Israel, This people hear Me not, though I speak to. them in the language with which they are familiar; I will therefore speak to them in other tongues, namely, those of the foes whom I will send against them; but even then they will not hearken to Me; which Paul thus applies, Ye see that it is a penalty to be associated with men of a strange tongue, yet ye impose this on the Church [Grotius]; they who speak in foreign tongues are like "children" just "weaned from the milk" (Isa 28:9), "with stammering lips" speaking unintelligibly to the hearers, appearing ridiculous (Isa 28:14), or as babbling drunkards (Ac 2:13), or madmen (1Co 14:23). In the law it is written: by the law here is meant the Old Testament, (as in many other texts, John 10:34 15:25), so called (as some think) in opposition to the words of the scribes. The words following are quoted out of Isaiah 28:11,12: For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people. To whom he said: This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear. But there is nothing more ordinary, than for the penmen of the Scriptures of the New Testament to quote passages out of the Old, keeping not so much to the words as to the sense; nor quoting them all, but so many of them as serve for their purposes. The words in the prophet are a threatening, that because God had brought the Jews into Canaan, and promised them rest there, upon their obedience to his commandments, and they would not hear, he would now take another course with them, speaking to them with men of stammering lips, and of another language; meaning the Chaldeans and Babylonians, with whom in captivity they conversed afterwards for seventy years. The sense is much the same (as some think); for they that speak to others in and with strange tongues, are like those that stammer at others, which looks more like a mocking them than an instructing them. Others make the gift of tongues, under the New Testament, to be within the prophecy of Isaiah; as if the prophet’s words contained both a threatening, to speak to the Israelites with the strange tongues of the Chaldeans; and a promise under the gospel, to speak to them with the tongues of the apostles and others, tuned to various tunes, as men of several nations could understand. Others make this the sense, as if the prophet complained, that the people were so mad, that they regarded no more God speaking to them, than they would have regarded one chattering with a strange tongue. And they think, the apostle checks them for being so ambitious of speaking with strange tongues, whenas their being so spoken to was by the prophet threatened as a judgment upon them.

And yet they will not hear me, nor hearken to and obey me. In the law it is written,.... In Isaiah 28:11 for the word law is not be confined to the five books of Moses, but includes all the writings of the Old Testament; and this entirely agrees with the sense of the Jews. Says R. Azarias (q).

"is it not to be found with our wise men, of blessed memory, in many places, that the word "law", comprehends the prophets, and the holy writings?''

And he gives an instance out of the Talmud, and which indeed is very pertinent to the purpose, and is rightly produced, and will support the apostle in calling the prophecy of Isaiah the law, since it is so called in the following passage (r). R. Chijah bar Aba says, that

"R. Jochanan said, from whence is the resurrection of the dead to be proved, , "out of the law?" from what is said in Isaiah 52:8 "thy watchmen shall lift up the voice, with the voice together shall they sing". It is not said "they sing", but "they shall sing": from hence the resurrection of the dead is to be proved out of the law.''

And out of the same book the apostle cites the following words;

with men of other tongues, and other lips, will I speak unto this people, and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord: the words, "men of", are a supplement of our translators, and which does not seem very necessary: nor is any made in other versions. The words, as they are in our translation of the prophet, are read thus, "with stammering lips, and another tongue, will he speak to this people". Some difference there is between the two passages, which are of no great moment; the words "lips" and "tongue" are inverted by the apostle; nor was it at all material to observe the strict order of them in the citation: and he has also rendered "stammering lips" by "other tongues", and that very rightly; for the word used by Isaiah, does not signify stammering, but derision or mocking; so persons that are spoken to in a language they understand not, look upon themselves to be mocked and derided: and the apostle is to be justified by the Chaldee paraphrase, which renders the words, , "with change of speech": that is, with another and different language. Moreover, it is to be observed, that the prophet delivers the passage in the third person, and the apostle cites it in the first: the reason of this is, because he adds these words to it, "saith the Lord": partly for the sake of the authority of the words, and partly to engage the attention of the Corinthians to them; and certain it is, that Isaiah's meaning is, that the Lord would speak in such a manner to the Jews: the other phrase, "for all that will they not hear me", are taken out of Isaiah 28:12. Some think that this prophecy refers to God's speaking, by the apostles on the day of Pentecost, with divers tongues, to the Jews; when, though there were three thousand converted at that time, yet these were but comparatively few; the body of the people remained incredulous, and hearkened not to the apostles, though their ministry was attended with such signs and wonders: but rather the sense seems to be this, that whereas the Lord had spoken in the plainest manner to the people of the Jews, by the prophets, as he would afterwards by the apostles, and had repeated his words so often, that even a child might be thought to be capable of receiving them; yet such was their stupidity and obstinacy, that they slighted and disregarded them; wherefore he threatens them he would take another method with them, and speak to them in his providences, by people of different and strange languages, as by the Chaldeans, Medes, and Persians, in the seventy years' captivity, and by the Romans, and other nations since, among whom they now are; and yet all this has had no effect upon them to listen to the doctrine of the prophets and apostles. Hence the Corinthians had no reason to be so desirous of speaking with divers tongues, since these have been threatened and used by God in a way of punishment to a people, and not a blessing.

(q) Meor. Enayim, c. 7. fol. 47. I.((r) T. Bab. Sanhedrin, fol. 91. 2.

In the {r} law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord.

(r) By the law he understands the entire scripture.

1 Corinthians 14:21. You go against Scripture with your foolish doings! This is the theological side of the judgment, which Paul now further brings forward, before he imparts in 1 Corinthians 14:26 ff. the final precepts for the right procedur.

νόμος] of the O. T. generally. See on Romans 3:19; John 10:34.

The passage is Isaiah 28:11-12 in a very free[11] variation from the LX.

ὅτι] for, כּי, belongs, with the rest, to the Scriptural quotation (LXX.: ὍΤΙ ΛΑΛΉΣΟΥΣΙ Τῷ ΛΑῷ ΤΟΎΤῼ), and has here therefore no reference in the context.

The historical sense of the original text (in which Jehovah threatens to send foreign-speaking men, i.e. barbarians, upon the kingdom of Judah, etc.) is taken up typically by Paul in such a way that he, looking back from the phenomenon of the present upon that prophetic utterance, recognises in it the Christian glossolalia divinely foreshadowed, as regards its substance, namely, in the characteristic ἘΝ ἙΤΕΡΟΓΛΏΣΣΟΙςἙΤΈΡΟΙς, and, as regards its destination, in καὶ οὐδʼ οὕτως εἰσακ.

ἐν ἑτερογλώσσοις κ.τ.λ.] in peoples of another tongue (conceived of as organs of the visiting God, who speaks in their persons; hence ἐν, comp. 2 Corinthians 13:3; Hebrews 1:2) and in lips of others (ἙΤΈΡΩΝ, see the critical remarks) will I speak to this nation. According to the original text, the reference is to people who speak a foreign language (the Assyrian, comp. 33:19), and to lips of foreigners (other than Israelites); but the similarity of the relation, which presents itself in the type and antitype, consists in the extraordinary phenomenon of the strange divine speaking, which becomes perceptible in the case of the type in the foreign language, in that of the antitype in the character of the glossolalia, so wholly different from ordinary intelligible speech. In virtue of this unintelligibility, the speaking in tongues also was for the hearers a speaking in strange tongues, and he who spoke was not one like-tongued, i.e. using the like language (ὁμόγλωσσος, Xen. Cyrop. i. 1. 5; Herod. i. 17, viii. 144; Lucian, Scyth. 3, de Salt. 64), but a strange-speaking man (ἑτερόγλωσσος, Polyb. xxiv. 9, 5; Strabo, viii. p. 333; Aq. Psalm 113:1), and his lips a stranger’s lips. What is in the original text: בְּלָשׁוֹן אַחֶרֶת, Paul renders more freely than the LXX. (ΔΙᾺ ΓΛΏΣΣΗς ἙΤΈΡΑς), and making it personal, by ἘΝ ἙΤΕΡΟΓΛΏΣΣΟΙς;[12] the Hebrew בְּלַעֲגֵּי שָׁפָה, again (through stammerers of the lip, i.e. through men speaking unintelligibly, because in a strange tongue), he renders more correctly as regards the general sense than the LXX. (who have erroneously διὰ φαυλισμὸν χειλέων, on account of mockery of the lips, comp. Hosea 7:16) by ἘΝ ΧΕΊΛ. ἙΤΈΡ., putting it, however, impersonally, and reversing the order of the two clauses. It may be added that it is clear from the parallel ΧΕΊΛΕΣΙΝ that Paul conceived of ΓΛῶΣΣΑ in ἙΤΕΡΟΓΛΏΣΣΟΙς as “tongue,” as לָשׁוֹן also is conceived of in the original text,—both as instrument of the λαλεῖν. The tongue is ἄγγελος λόγων, Eur. Suppl. 205.

] applying in its historical meaning to the disobedient people of Israel, which, however, is a type of those who reject the Christian faith, represents therefore the latter in the view of the apostl.

Καὶ οὐδʼ οὕτως] and not even so, dealt with by such a measure, will they hearken to me (obey me, Sir 3:6; Sir 39:3; and in classical writers). This second half of the passage is, for the demonstration, the main point. See 1 Corinthians 14:22.

[11] Hence (and on account of the quite general ἐν τ. νόμῳ) Ewald derives the words from a source now nnknown to us. Still, for a typical reference to the speaking with tongues, Isaiah 28:11 f. is characteristic enough. But if Paul had this passage in his eye, he must have understood it of men speaking foreignly, not, as Ewald explains the prophetic words, of the language of the thunder and of terrible punishment.

[12] Wieseler in the Stud. u. Krit. 1838, p. 734 ff., infers from our passage that Paul recognises a double formula for the gift of tongues, a shorter one, γλ. λ., and a longer, ἑτέρ. γλ. λ. Certainly too wide an inference, since in no other place does the apostle bring forward the characteristic element of ἑτέραις. He was using the quotation in order to prove the destination of the glossolalia for unbelievers, but could not use διὰ φαυλισμὸν ξειλέων, which besides the LXX. has incorrectly, and therefore altered it in accordance with the parallel in the passage, διὰ γλ. ἑτέρας. We may infer consequently from our passage only thus much, that the glossolalia as regards its nature could be described in the way of application by ἐν ἑτερογλώσσοις and ἐν χείλεσιν ἑτέρων λαλεῖν, but not that γλ. λαλ. and ἑτέρ. γλ. λαλ. were two current formulae for denoting the speaking with tongues. Hence also we are not, with Hirzel in the Stud. u. Krit. 1840, p. 121 ff., to infer from this passage the originality of the designation ἑτέραις γλώσσαις λαλεῖν.1 Corinthians 14:21-25. § 47. THE STRANGE TONGUES AN OCCASION OF UNBELIEF. The Ap. has striven to wean the Cor[2122] from their childish admiration of the Tongues by showing how unedifying they are in comparison with Prophecy. The Scripture quoted to confirm his argument (1 Corinthians 14:21) ascribes to this kind of manifestation a punitive character. Through an alien voice the Lord speaks to those refusing to hear, by way of “sign to the unbelieving” (1 Corinthians 14:22). These abnormal utterances neither instruct the Church nor convert the world. The unconverted see in them the symptoms of madness (1 Corinthians 14:23). Prophecy has an effect far different; it searches every heart, and compels the most prejudiced to acknowledge the presence of God in the Christian assembly (1 Corinthians 14:24 f.).

[2122] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.21. In the law it is written] The law here stands for the whole Old Testament, as we might naturally expect from St Paul’s habit of regarding the whole of the Mosaic dispensation as a progressive order of things having its completion in Christ. See Romans 3:19; Galatians 3:23-24; Galatians 4:5; Hebrews 9:8; Hebrews 9:10. St John uses the word in the same manner; John 10:34, John 12:34, 1 Corinthians 15:25. The passage is from Isaiah 28:11-12.1 Corinthians 14:21. Νόμῳ, in the law) comprehending also the prophets.—ἐν ἑτερογλώσσοις καὶ ἐν χείλεσιν ἑτέροις) Isaiah 28:11, LXX. διὰ φαυλισμὸν χειλέων διὰ γλώσσης ἑτέρας, ἑτερογλώσσοις; masculine or neuter. The paraphrase accommodating the text of Isaiah to this passage of Paul may be as follows: This people do not hear Me, though I speak to them in the language, to which they have been accustomed; I will therefore speak to them in other tongues, namely, of the enemies that are sent against them; but even then they will not listen to me, comp. Jeremiah 5:15. Since God is said to speak in the tongues of enemies, the parity of reasoning holds good from them to the gift of tongues.—οὐδʼ οὕτως εἰσακούσονται μου) Isaiah 28:12, καὶ οὐκ ἠθέλησαν ἀκούειν, And they would not hear.Verse 21. - In the Law. The quotation is from Isaiah 28:11, 12, but the term "the Law" was applied generally to the Old Testament, as in John 10:34; John 12:34; John 15:25; Romans 3:19). With men of other tongues, etc. The application of this Old Testament quotation furnishes one of the many singular instances of quotation which prove that the Jews often referred to the words without any direct reference to their context or original meaning. He here wishes to show that glossolaly had little or no value except as an evidence to unbelievers, and illustrates this by Isaiah 28:11, 12. Now, in that passage Isaiah tells the drunken priests, who scornfully imitated his style, that, since they derided God's message so delivered to them, God would address them in a very different way by the Assyrians, whose language they did not understand; and that even to this stern lesson, taught them by people of alien tongue, they would remain deaf. In the original, therefore, there is not the least allusion to any phenomenon resembling the "gift of tongues." But the mere words of a scriptural passage always came to Jews with all the force of an argument, independently of their primary meaning; and it was enough for St. Paul's purpose that in Isaiah the allusion is to unintelligible utterance, and to the fact that the teaching which it was meant to convey would be in vain. And other lips. St. Paul does not quote the LXX. The Hebrew has "with stammerings of lips and another tongue will he speak" (comp. Deuteronomy 28:49). It is written, etc.

From Isaiah 28:11, Isaiah 28:12. The quotation does not correspond exactly either to the Hebrew or to the Septuagint. Heb., with stammerings of lip. Sept., By reason of contemptuous words of lips. Paul omits the Heb.: This is the rest, give ye rest to the weary, and this is the repose. Sept.: This is the rest to him who is hungry, and this is the ruin. The point of the quotation is that speech in strange tongues was a chastisement for the unbelief of God's ancient people, by which they were made to hear His voice "speaking in the harsh commands of the foreign invader." So in the Corinthian Church, the intelligible revelation of God has not been properly received.

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