1 Corinthians 14:39
Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.
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(39) Wherefore, brethren.—The practical summing up of the whole matter. Seek earnestly to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues. The phraseology intimates the relative importance of the two gifts in the estimation of the Apostle, which was inverted by those to whom he wrote at Corinth. This ought you to do, but not leave the other undone.

1 Corinthians 14:39-40. Wherefore, brethren — To conclude this long discourse, and sum up the whole in a few words; covet to prophesy — To discourse about divine things in a way that will edify others; and yet forbid not — Those who are willing to do it under such regulations as have now been advanced; to speak with tongues — For it is a noble endowment, which I would encourage none to slight or neglect: only take care that all things — In your religious assemblies; be done decently and in order — Let all be conducted in a regular manner, to prevent such disturbances, disputes, and scandals for the future, as in time past have had place among you, and would proceed to greater evils if not immediately reformed. The precept given by the apostle in this verse, “is sometimes applied to support the use of rites and ceremonies in the worship of God, not commanded in Scripture. But any one who considers the place which it holds in this discourse, will be sensible that it hath no relation to rites and ceremonies, but to the decent and orderly exercise of the spiritual gifts. Yet by parity of reason, it may be extended even to the rites of worship, provided they are left free to be used by every one, as he sees them expedient.” — Macknight.

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.Covet to prophesy - See the note at 1 Corinthians 14:1. This is the "summing up" of all that he had said. It was "desirable" that a man should wish to be able to speak, under the teaching of the Holy Spirit, in such a manner as to edify the church.

And forbid not ... - Do not suppose that the power of speaking foreign languages is useless, or is to be despised, or that it is to be prohibited. "In its own place" it is a valuable endowment; and on proper occasions the talent should be exercised; see in 1 Corinthians 14:22.

39. covet—earnestly desire. Stronger than "forbid not"; marking how much higher he esteemed "prophecy" than "tongues." The apostle concludeth his discourse, summarily repeating all that he before had said. He had, 1 Corinthians 14:2, encouraged their desire of spiritual gifts; all along the chapter he hath been magnifying the gift of prophecy above the gift of tongues, as being of much more general use, and more for the profit of others; but he minds them here, that he did not forbid those to whom God had given the gift of tongues, to make use of it at due times, and in a due manner and order.

Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy,.... The apostle now draws to a conclusion, and reassumes the exhortation he gave in the beginning of the chapter, pressing the members of this church to desire the gift of prophecy, that being the most eligible and preferable to others, particularly to speaking with tongues, since it was the most useful and edifying, as he abundantly proves:

and forbid not to speak with tongues; such as have that gift, and are desirous of exercising it, provided they observe the rules prescribed, and have an interpreter; this he adds to promote love, and prevent dissension and discord.

{18} Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.

(18) Prophecy ought certainly to be retained and kept in congregations, and the gift of tongues is not to be forbidden, but all things must be done orderly.

1 Corinthians 14:39-40. Gathering up (ὥστε, “itaque, summa,” Bengel) the main points of the whole discussion, and that (1) of its theoretical (1 Corinthians 14:39), and (2) of its regulative part (1 Corinthians 14:40).

Paul has aptly indicated the value of the glossolalia relatively to the prophetical gift by ζηλοῦτε (comp. 1 Corinthians 14:12; 1 Corinthians 12:31) and μὴ κωλύετε, without there being any ground, however, for inferring from this an attitude of hostility on the side of the Pauline party towards those who spoke with tongues (Baur, Räbiger, comp. at an earlier date Storr).

εὐσχημόνως] in a seemly way (Romans 13:13; 1 Thessalonians 4:12), denoting ecclesiastical decorum.

κατὰ τάξιν] in accordance with order (see Wetstein), so that it is done at the right time, and in the right measure and limits. Comp. Clem. ad Cor. I. 40, also what Josephus, Bell. Jud. ii. 8. 5, says of the Essenes: οὔτε κραυγή ποτε τὸν οἶκον, οὔτε θόρυβος μολύνει, τὰς δὲ λαλίας ἐν τάξει παραχωροῦσιν ἀλλήλοις.

1 Corinthians 14:39-40 restate the advice of 1 Corinthians 14:1 in the light of the subsequent discussion, moderating the Church’s zeal for demonstrative charisms by insisting on the seemliness and good order which had been violated by their unrestrained exercise (1 Corinthians 14:26-33). “And so, my brothers, covet to prophesy”: ζηλοῦτε, cf. 1 Corinthians 12:31; τὸ προφητεύειν replaces by the regular inf[2221] the telic ἵνα προφητεύητε of 1 Corinthians 14:1 (see note).—καὶ τὸ λαλεῖν μὴ κωλύετε γλώσσαις, “and the speaking with tongues do not hinder“; this is to be allowed in the Church, but not encouraged like Prophecy, of course with the proviso that the Tongue has its interpreter (1 Corinthians 14:13; 1 Corinthians 14:28). For ὥστε with impv[2222], see 1 Corinthians 4:5, etc.—πάντα δὲ γινέσθω: “But let all things be carried on, etc.“: the δὲ attaches this caution specially to 1 Corinthians 14:39; zeal for Prophecy and permission of Glossolalia must be guarded by the observance at all points of decorum and discipline.—εὐσχημόνως (see parls., and note on 1 Corinthians 7:35), honeste (Vg[2223]) or decenter; North. Eng. mensefully (cf. Ephesians 4:1; Ephesians 5:4; Ephesians 5:33 above)—a sort of “ethical enhancement of the more mechanical κατὰ τάξιν” (El[2224]). On the latter expression, opp[2225] of ἀτάκτως, cf. 2 Thessalonians 3:6 f., also 1 Corinthians 11:34 b above: the Cor[2226] would interpret it by P.’s previous instructions—his παραδόσεις, ἐντολαί, ὁδοὶ ἐν Χριστῷ—and those given in this Ep.—εὐσχημόνως demands a right Christian taste and deportment, κατὰ τάξιν a strict Christian method and rule of procedure.

[2221] infinitive mood.

[2222] imperative mood.

[2223] Latin Vulgate Translation.

[2224] C. J. Ellicott’s St. Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians.

[2225] opposite, opposition.

[2226] Corinth, Corinthian or Corinthians.

39. Wherefore, brethren] The Apostle, as is his wont, sums up the whole section in a few concluding words. Prophecy is a gift to be earnestly sought (see for covet, the note on ch. 1 Corinthians 12:31). Speaking with tongues is a gift not to be discouraged.

1 Corinthians 14:39. Ὥστε, Therefore) the summing up.—ζηλοῦτε, emulously desire) This is more than, forbid not.

Verse 39. - Wherefore. The final conclusion. Covet... forbid not. The power to preach is to be desired; all that can be said of glossolaly is that it is not to be absolutely forbidden so long as the conditions which St. Paul has laid down for its regulation are observed. But glossolaly is hardly possible under conditions of order, decorum, and self suppression, and we are not surprised that we hear no more of it in the Church, but only in the wild excitement of fanatical sects. The suppression, however, of the startling manifestation by no means necessarily involves any enfeeblement of the inspiring conviction from which it sprang. The brawling torrent which "foams its madness off" is lost in the calm and majestic flow of the deep river. 1 Corinthians 14:39
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