1 Corinthians 14:37
If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.
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(37) If any man think himself . . .—The best evidence of the possession of these gifts would be that their conduct was the very opposite of what they seemed to think the possession of these gifts should make it. The Apostle asserts positively that what he is now writing to them are the commandments of the Lord. There could be no clearer or more emphatic statement of St. Paul’s claim to inspiration.

14:34-40 When the apostle exhorts Christian women to seek information on religious subjects from their husbands at home, it shows that believing families ought to assemble for promoting spiritual knowledge. The Spirit of Christ can never contradict itself; and if their revelations are against those of the apostle, they do not come from the same Spirit. The way to keep peace, truth, and order in the church, is to seek that which is good for it, to bear with that which is not hurtful to its welfare, and to keep up good behaviour, order, and decency.If any man think himself to be a prophet - See the note at 1 Corinthians 14:1. If any man claim to be divinely endowed. Macknight renders it, "be really a prophet." But the more correct meaning here is, doubtless, "If any man "profess" to be a prophet; or is "reputed" to be a prophet." Bloomfield. The proper meaning of the word δοκέω dokeō is to seem to oneself; to be of opinion, to suppose, believe, etc.; and the reference here is to one who should "regard himself," or who should believe and profess to be thus endowed.

Or spiritual - Regarding himself as under the extraordinary influence of the Spirit.

Let him acknowledge ... - He will show that he is truly under the influence of the Holy Spirit, by acknowledging my authority, and by yielding obedience to the commands which I utter in the name and by the authority of the Lord. All would probably be disposed to acknowledge the right of Paul to speak to them; all would regard him as an apostle; and all would show that God had influenced their hearts, if they listened to his commands, and obeyed his injunctions. I do not speak by my own authority, or in my own name, says Paul. I speak in the name of the Lord; and to obey the commands of the Lord is a proof of being influenced by his Spirit. True religion everywhere, and the most ardent and enthusiastic zeal that is prompted by true religion, will show their genuineness and purity by a sacred and constant regard for the commands of the Lord. And that zeal which disregards those commands, and which tramples down the authority of the Scriptures and the peace and order of the church, gives demonstration that it is not genuine. It is false zeal, and, however ardent, will not ultimately do good to the cause.

37. prophet—the species.

spiritual—the genus: spiritually endowed. The followers of Apollos prided themselves as "spiritual" (1Co 3:1-3; compare Ga 6:1). Here one capable of discerning spirits is specially meant.

things that I write … commandments of the Lord—a direct assertion of inspiration. Paul's words as an apostle are Christ's words. Paul appeals not merely to one or two, but to a body of men, for the reality of three facts about which no body of men could possibly be mistaken: (1) that his having converted them was not due to mere eloquence, but to the "demonstration of the Spirit and of power"; (2) that part of this demonstration consisted in the communication of miraculous power, which they were then exercising so generally as to require to be corrected in the irregular employment of it; (3) that among these miraculous gifts was one which enabled the "prophet" or "spiritual person" to decide whether Paul's Epistle was Scripture or not. He could not have written so, unless the facts were notoriously true: for he takes them for granted, as consciously known by the whole body of men whom he addresses [Hinds, On Inspiration].

If there be any amongst you who hath a conceit that he is inspired by God, and from that inspiration understandeth the mind and will of God, he must acknowledge, that I also am an apostle, and know the mind and will of God as well as he; and being so, that what I tell you

are the commandments of the Lord.

If any man think himself to be a prophet,.... Or "seems to be a prophet", and is really one; for the apostle does not so much design to strike at the pride, vanity, and appearances of false prophets, as to observe, that those that are really prophets, have the gift of prophesy, either of foretelling future events, or a peculiar gift of preaching the Gospel, and explaining the Scriptures, will allow what he had said to be right:

or spiritual; not merely one that has the Spirit of God, is regenerated and sanctified by him, in opposition to a natural and carnal man; or one that has a larger knowledge of spiritual things, in distinction from a babe in Christ; but one that is endued with spiritual gifts, with the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit, with a discerning of spirits; as there were such among them no doubt, as well as prophets, and who were distinct from them, having the word of wisdom and knowledge:

let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord; if he is a true prophet, and really a spiritual man, he will clearly see, and therefore ought to own, that the rules here prescribed concerning speaking with tongues and prophesying, and concerning the intolerableness, unlawfulness, and indecency of women's speaking in public assemblies, are perfectly agreeable to the commands of Christ, and are to be esteemed as such, being delivered under the influence and direction of his Spirit; and which the prophet and spiritual man must discern and allow, if they have the Spirit of God; for whatever was commanded by the apostles under divine inspiration, was all one as if immediately commanded by Christ himself.

If any man think himself to be a prophet, or {u} spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.

(u) Skilful in knowing and judging spiritual things.

1 Corinthians 14:37. He now, after the digression regarding the women, adds the authority of Christ to the section upon the charismata, which has been already previously brought to a conclusion, but to which he looks back once mor.

δοκεῖ] If any one bethinks himself (1 Corinthians 3:18, 1 Corinthians 8:2, 1 Corinthians 10:12) to be a prophet, or spiritually gifted in any way, then let him also prove himself to be such by his recognising, etc. Not to acknowledge this would show him to be not a prophet or not inspire.

πνευματικός] quite general: “dotibus Sp. St. instructus;” not, as Billroth, David Schulz, Baur, and Wieseler would have it, equivalent to γλ. λαλῶν (comp. on 1 Corinthians 12:1, 1 Corinthians 14:1). is: or generally. Hofmann is wrong in saying that the is not suited for thus linking on a general statement. Why not? Comp. 1 Corinthians 4:3; Luke 12:11; Matthew 16:14. There is all the less reason for assuming, with Hofmann, that Paul uses the expression in the vaguer sense of one going even beyond the prophet, because he had found it so used in the letter from Corint.

ἃ γράφω ὑμ.] refers to the whole section regarding the πνευματικοῖς. To refer it, as Billroth and Olshausen do, to the command that the women should keep silence, does not harmonize with the introduction εἴ τιςπνευματικός, and involves the awkwardness of only this intervening matter being thus confirmed with such solemnity, and the principal and far more important section not at al.

κυρίου ἐστίν (see the critical remarks): proceed from the Lord. In his communion of spirit with Christ, Paul was conscious that what he had been writing, from chap. 10 onwards, regarding spiritual gifts and the right use of them, was the result not of his own meditation and desire, but of the working of Christ upon him—that he wrote as an interpres Christi. There is thus no reason for making κυρίου refer to God (Grotius, Billroth, Olshausen), seeing that Christ had in fact given no rules regarding the charismata. Paul is affixing here the seal of apostolic authority, and upon that seal we must read Christ.

1 Corinthians 14:37-38. ἃ γράφω ὑμῖν, in the apodosis, includes, beside the last particular (1 Corinthians 14:34 ff.), the other instructions of this Ep.; προφήτης and πνευματικὸς in the protasis recall esp. the directions of chh. 12–14: cf. 1 Corinthians 11:4, 1 Corinthians 12:1, 1 Corinthians 14:1.—δοκεῖ, as in 1 Corinthians 3:18 (see note), is putat, sibi videtur (not videtur alone, Vg[2205]), denoting self-estimation. The term πνευματικὸς includes every one endowed with a special gift of the Spirit; cf. the pl[2206] πνεύματα, 1 Corinthians 14:12. Hf[2207] and Hn[2208] think however that the disjunctive narrows the ref[2209] of “spiritual,” by contrast with “prophet,” to the sense of “speaker with tongues”; but this is a needless inference from the part[2210]; the Ap. means “a prophet, or a man of the Spirit (in any sense)”. The adj[2211] πνευματικός (in masc.: see parls.) refers not to spiritual powers (τὰ πνευματικά, 1 Corinthians 12:1, etc.), but to spiritual character (= ὁ κατὰ πνεῦμα, ἐν πνεύματι, Romans 8.), which gives insight in matters of revelation (cf. John 7:17; John 8:31 f.). While the true “prophet,” having a kindred inspiration (cf. 1 Corinthians 14:29), will “know well of the things” the Ap. “writes, that they are a commandment of the Lord” (Κυρίου ἐστὶν ἐντολή, “are what the Lord commands”; cf. 1 Corinthians 2:10-16, 1 Corinthians 7:40, and notes, 2 Corinthians 8:3), this ability belongs to “the spiritual” generally, who “judge all things” (1 Corinthians 2:15); being “of God,” they hear His voice in others (cf. John 8:42 f., etc.; 1 John 2:20; 1 John 4:6). The “Lord” is Christ, the Head of the Church, who “gives commandment to His Apostles” (cf. 1 Corinthians 7:10; 1 Corinthians 7:25, 1 Corinthians 11:23, 1 Corinthians 12:3, etc.; Matthew 28:20, etc.).—For ἐπι-γινωσκέτω, cf. 1 Corinthians 13:12—“judicet atque agnoscat” (Est.); the pr[2212] impv[2213] asks for a continued acknowledgment of Christ’s authority in His Apostle.—“But if any one is ignorant (of this), he is ignored” (ἀγνοεῖται)—a retribution in kind. The professor of Divine knowledge who does not discern Paul’s inspiration, proves his ignorance; his character as “prophet” or “spiritual” is not recognised, since he does not recognise the Apostle’s character; cf. Matthew 10:14 f., Matthew 10:41, John 13:20, for this criterion as laid down by Christ; the Ap. John assumes it in 1 Corinthians 4:6.—ἀγοεῖται, is pr[2214] in tense, ignoratur (not ignorabitur, Vg[2215]), affirming an actual rejection—sc. by the Lord, who says to such despisers of His servants, “I know you not” (cf. 1 Corinthians 8:3; 2 Timothy 2:19; John 5:42, etc.); but by His Apostle too, who cannot acknowledge for fellow-servants men who repudiate the Lord’s authority in him (cf. 3 John 1:9 f.). Christ foretold that He would have to disown “many who had prophesied” in His name (Matthew 7:22 f.). If ἀγνοείτω be read (still preferred by Mr[2216], Bt[2217], Ev[2218], Gd[2219], with R.V. txt.), the impv[2220] is permissive, as in 8:15: “sibi suæque ignorantiæ relinquendos esse censeo” (Est.)—a counsel of lespair; contrast 2 Timothy 2:24 ff.

[2205] Latin Vulgate Translation.

[2206] plural.

[2207] J. C. K. von Hofmann’s Die heilige Schrift N.T. untersucht, ii. 2 (2te Auflage, 1874).

[2208] C. F. G. Heinrici’s Erklärung der Korintherbriefe (1880), or 1 Korinther in Meyer’s krit.-exegetisches Kommentar (1896).

[2209] reference.

[2210]art. grammatical particle.

[2211] adjective.

[2212] present tense.

[2213] imperative mood.

[2214] present tense.

[2215] Latin Vulgate Translation.

[2216] Meyer’s Critical and Exegetical Commentary (Eng. Trans.).

[2217] J. A. Beet’s St. Paul’s Epp. to the Corinthians (1882).

[2218] T. S. Evans in Speaker’s Commentary.

[2219] F. Godet’s Commentaire sur la prem. Ép. aux Corinthiens (Eng. Trans.).

[2220] imperative mood.

37. If any man think himself to be a prophet] Since there were many appointed teachers (see ch. 1 Corinthians 12:28-29) who were not prophets, the test of the prophetic character was not ordination, but the possession of the prophetic gift. If any man fancied he possessed that gift, he was required to submit himself to the test of his willingness to obey God’s appointed founder and ruler of the Church.

or spiritual] i.e. possessed of any special spiritual gift.

the commandments of the Lord] i.e. Christ. See ch. 1 Corinthians 7:10; 1 Corinthians 7:12; 1 Corinthians 7:40, 1 Corinthians 11:2.

1 Corinthians 14:37. Προφήτης, a prophet) The species; spiritual, the genus. The former endowed more than the latter with eloquence.—ἐπιγινωσκέτω, let him perceive [acknowledge]) Paul does not allow the question now at last to be raised, whether he be writing correctly.—τοῦ Κυριοῦ) of the Lord) Jesus.

Verse 37. - If any man think himself to be a prophet. Test your pretensions by the capacity to recognize that I have been speaking to you what Christ approves and requires (comp. 1 John 4:6). Or spiritual. He has already said that to most of them he could only speak as carnal (1 Corinthians 3:1). 1 Corinthians 14:37
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