1 Corinthians 14
Bengel's Gnomon of the New Testament
Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.
1 Corinthians 14:1. Διώκετε, follow after) This word implies more than ζηλοῦτε, emulously desire, here, and in 1 Corinthians 14:12; 1 Corinthians 14:39; 1 Corinthians 12:31.—μᾶλλον, rather) in preference to tongues. Paul here does not now any longer speak expressly of knowledge, for it, in respect of the other gifts, coincides with prophecy, 1 Corinthians 14:6.

For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.
1 Corinthians 14:2. Τῷ Θεῷ, to God) alone, who understands all tongues.—ἀκούει, hears) i.e. understands.—πνεύματι, in spirit) 1 Corinthians 14:14.—μυστήρια, mysteries) which others may rather admire, than learn. The article is not added.

But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.
1 Corinthians 14:3. Οἰκοδομὴν, edification) Two principal species are added to this genus; παράκλησις, exhortation, takes away sluggishness; παραμυθία, consolation takes away sadness.

He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.
1 Corinthians 14:4. Ἐαυτὸν, himself) understanding the meaning of what the tongue speaks.—ἐκκλησίαν, the church) the whole congregation.

I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.
1 Corinthians 14:5. Γλώσσαις, with tongues) The Corinthians chiefly cultivated this gift; and Paul does not consider them as doing wrong, but he reduces it to order: see 1 Corinthians 14:12.—μείζων, greater) more useful, 1 Corinthians 14:6.—διερμηνεύει) διὰ elegantly expresses the position of the interpreter between him, who speaks in an unknown tongue, and the hearer. If the very same person, who speaks in an unknown tongue, also acts as interpreter, then the very same person in a manner comes in between himself and the hearer; according to the different point of view in which he is regarded.—ἠ ἐκκλησία, the Church) seeking [1 Corinthians 14:12] edification; may receive it in consonance with this [viz. with seeking].

Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?
1 Corinthians 14:6. Ἢ ἐν ἀποκαλύψει, ἢ ἐν γνώσει, ἢ ἐν προφητείᾳ, ἢ ἐν διδαχῇ, either in revelation, or in knowledge, or in prophecy, or in doctrine) Here are four kinds of prophecy broadly so called; the two former refer to the person himself, who rejoices in the gift; the two latter at the same time show more of a leaning towards the hearers.[122] On the difference of prophecy (which corresponds to revelation) and of knowledge (with which doctrine agrees) see 1 Corinthians 12:8; 1 Corinthians 12:10 : and on the whole subject, below at 1 Corinthians 14:26, etc. Prophecy has relation to particular points, formerly not well understood, to mysteries to be known finally [and only] by revelation. Doctrine and knowledge are brought from the common storehouse of believers, and refer to things obvious in the matter of salvation.

[122] What Ernesti approves in Moldenhauer evidently agrees with these views.—Bibl. Theol., T. viii., p. 673.—E. B.

And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped?
1 Corinthians 14:7. Αὐλὸςκιθάρα, a pipe—a harp) Two of the chief musical instruments; not only the pipe, which is, as it were, animated by the breath of the piper, but also the harp.—τοῖς φθόγγοις, in the sounds) The ablative case comp. by, 1 Corinthians 14:9.—πῶς γνωσθήσειται, how shall it be known) how shall pipe be distinguished from pipe, and harp from harp? There is one and then another sound of one and the same instrument, when it is directed to different things.

For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?
1 Corinthians 14:8. Γὰρ, for) This serves the purpose of a gradation; for the higher confirms the lower step.—ἄδηλον, uncertain) One sound of a single trumpet summons soldiers to one class of duties, another sound to another class of duties.

So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air.
1 Corinthians 14:9. Ὑμεῖς, you) who have life [opp. to things without life]; comp. 1 Corinthians 14:7.—διὰ, by) i.e. then, when you speak in an unknown tongue.

There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification.
1 Corinthians 14:10. Τοσαῦτα, εἰ τύχοι) εἰ τύχοι (the Latin, verbi gratia, for example; comp. 1 Corinthians 15:37) makes τοσαῦτα have the force of a certain number. If men could ever have counted the number of voices, Paul would have set down the number here.—οὐδὲν ἄφωνον, none without signification) each one of them has its own power [meaning, 1 Corinthians 14:11], δύναμιν.

Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me.
1 Corinthians 14:11. Βάρβαρος, a barbarian) See Acts 28:2, Note.

Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.
1 Corinthians 14:12. Πνευμάτων, of spirits) [of spiritual gifts]. Plural as 1 Corinthians 14:32; 1 Corinthians 12:10. As there is one sea, and many seas, so there is one spirit, and many spirits; one trumpet gives many sounds.—προς τὴν οἰκοδομην, to edification) that the Church may be as much as possible edified.

Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret.
1 Corinthians 14:13. Προσευχέσθω) let him pray; and he will do this with such fruit and effect, that the interpretation shall be added to the unknown tongue; see the following verse. It is implied that this will be obtained by prayers.

For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.
1 Corinthians 14:14. Τὸ πνεῦμα μου, ὁ δὲ νοῦς μου, my spirit—but my understanding) The spirit is a faculty of the soul, when it becomes the passive object of the Holy Spirit’s delightful operations; but νοῦς, the understanding, is a faculty of soul, when it goes abroad, and acts with our neighbour:[123] as also when it attends to objects placed beyond itself, to other things and persons, although its reasonings may however be concealed, ἀπόκρυφος λογισμός (Ammonius); comp. 1 Corinthians 14:20, note. So understanding, 1 Corinthians 14:19; πνεῦμα, the inmost shrine of the understanding, τοῦ νοός, Ephesians 4:23; comp. Hebrews 4:12 : νοῦς from νέω, on account of its agitation or movement:[124] comp. Alexand. Aphrodit., 50:2, περὶ ψυχῆς, f. 144, ed. Ald.—ἌΚΑΡΠΟς, without fruit) It has fruit, but does not bring it forth. Respecting this word, see Matthew 13:22.

[123] i.e. πνεῦμα is passive, when said of man: νοῦς, active.—ED.

[124] Rather from the same root as γνῶναι, and noscere.—ED.

What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.
1 Corinthians 14:15. Προσεύξομαι, I will pray) with the voice; the first person singular for the second person plural.—ψαλῶ, I will sing) with the voice, or play on an instrument.

Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?
1 Corinthians 14:16. Ἐπεὶ) if that be done with the spirit only.—εὐλογήσῃς, thou shalt bless) The most noble kind of prayer.—ὁ ἀναπληρῶν τὸν τόπον τοῦ ἰδιώτου, he that filleth the place of the unlearned) This expression is not a mere paraphrase of the word unlearned, but comprehends all, who, how much soever they may excel in gifts, did not at least understand the tongue, in which the person was speaking, any more than an unlearned man; and therefore Paul puts him more to shame, whom he here shows to be wrong. It is a common phrase among the Hebrews, he fills the place of his fathers, i.e., he shows himself worthy of his ancestors.—πῶς ἐρεῖ τὸ ἀμὴν, how shall he say amen) This was their usual practice even at that time; not only the unlearned, but all the hearers spoke, giving their assent to him who blessed. And so also, those who could not speak much adopted the words of others, and declared, that they with their understanding assented to it.—Τί λέγεις, what thou sayest) Not only ought he to know, that thou hast said nothing evil, but also what good thou hast spoken.

For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified.
I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all:
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.

Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.
1 Corinthians 14:19. Πέντε λόγους, five words) A definite for an indefinite number; the two thousandth part of ten thousand: comp. Leviticus 26:8.

Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.
1 Corinthians 14:20. Ἀδελφοὶ, brethren) The vocative put at the beginning has an agreeable force.—τῇ κακίᾳ· ταῖς φρεσὶ) Ammonius makes this seasonable observation: “νοῦς is covert reasoning, ἀπόκρυφος λογισμὸς; but φρένες implies GOOD thoughts,” αἱ ΑΓΑΘΑΙ διάνοιαι. Nor does κακία denote malice [badness], but vice, or whatever is opposed to virtue.—νηπιάζετε, be ye children) νηπιάζω, similar to the forms ἀκμάζω, πυῤῥάζω.—τέλειοι, perfect) and therefore determining the true value of every thing according to its use.

In the 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.
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.

Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.
1 Corinthians 14:22. Εἰς σημεῖον) for a sign, by which unbelievers may be allured and hear [give ear to] the word; but οὐδʼ οὕτως, not even thus do they hear [alluding to Isaiah 28:12, see last note].—εἰσὶν, have their existence) The accent has the effect of making the word emphatic.—ἡ δὲ προφητεία, but prophecy) namely, is for a sign, or simply is; comp. 1 Corinthians 6:3.—τοῖς πιστεύουσιν, to them that believe) This must be taken as an instance of the figure Amplificatio;[126] inasmuch as prophecy makes believers of unbelievers; the speaking tongue leaves the unbeliever to himself [still an unbeliever]. The expression of Paul is indefinite. Unbelievers, generally, when tongues fall upon them, continue to be unbelievers, but prophecy makes believers of unbelievers, and gives spiritual nourishment to them, that believe.

[126] See Append. The taking of the denomination of a thing, not so much from what it now is, as from what it is about to be. As here, “Prophecy is a sign to those who thereby are made believers.” This seems Bengel’s meaning.—ED.

If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?
1 Corinthians 14:23. Ὅλη ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτὸ, the whole into one place) That was a rare, occurrence in so large a city.—εἰσέλθωσι δὲ, and there come in) as strangers or even from curiosity.—ἰδιῶται, unlearned) men who have some degree of faith, but do not abound in gifts. There follows by gradation, or unbelievers, who did not so readily come in, and yet were not debarred. In this verse Paul speaks in the plural, in the following in the singular. Many bad men, when together, prevent one another from believing by their bad conversation; individuals are more easily gained.—ὅτι μαίνεσθε, that ye are mad) For they will not be able to distinguish that earnestness from madness; hence they will speak to your prejudice; comp. Acts 2:13.

But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all:
1 Corinthians 14:24. Πάντες, all) one by one, 1 Corinthians 14:31.—εἰσέλθῃ, there come in) We have an example of this at 1 Samuel 19:20-21.—ἄπιστος, one that believeth not) To this word we refer is convinced, comp. John 16:9.—ἰδιώτης, an unlearned person) to this word we refer is judged: comp. 1 Corinthians 2:15. That conviction of unbelief, and that judgment of unlearned rudeness is accomplished by the power of this very prophecy, although this be done without application to individuals. And these are two successive steps; the third follows, the secrets, etc.

1 Corinthians 14:24-25. Ἐλέγχεται ὑπὸ πάντων, (καὶ οὕτω[127]) τὰ κρυπτἀ τῆς καρδίας αὐτοῦ φανερὰ γὶνεται· καὶ οὕτω πεσὼν ἐπὶ πρόσωπον πρόσκυνἡσει τῷ Θεῳ, ἀπαγγέλλων ὅτι ὁ Θεὸς ὄντως ἐν ὑμῖν ἐστι) The first καὶ οὕτω is spurious; for the present of the verb γίνεται indicates that this clause, τὰ κρυπτὰγίνεται, is more closely connected with the preceding words, where the discourse runs in the present tense, than with the following, which have the future προσκυνἡσει.—ὑπὸ πάντων, by all) partly speaking, partly assenting.

[127] ABD corrected later, Gfg Vulg. omit καὶ οὕτω. The later Syr. and some later uncial MSS., support the words with Rec. Text.—ED.

And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.
1 Corinthians 14:25. Τὰ κρυπτὰ τῆς καρδίας αὐτοῦ, the secrets of his heart) all the inmost thoughts of the heathen’s heart, which has never experienced such feelings, and has now for the first time become acquainted with itself and makes confession concerning itself: for the unbeliever is here principally intended. The unlearned man is added by the way, on account of his case being not altogether dissimilar. Any one with the lowest degree of faith before entering an assembly of that kind knew, that God is truly in believers.—αὐτοῦ, of him) the unbelieving stranger.—φανερὰ γίνεται, are made manifest) Daniel 2:30 at the end.—οὕτω) so, at last.—πεσὼν, falling down) a public declaration on the part of those, who feel and experience in themselves the power of the word, is generally made too sparingly in our times.—ἀπαγγέλλων, declaring) spontaneously, clearly, expressly announcing this fact either in the Church, or even out of it elsewhere: comp. on this word, Greg. Paneg. § 123 cum Annot.—ὅτι, that) comp. Daniel 2:46-47. A most conclusive argument for the truth of religion, from the operations of God on godly men.—ὄντως, indeed) He will confess, that you are not mad, but that God is truly in you, and that He is the true God, who is in you.

How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.
1 Corinthians 14:26. Ἕκαστος, every one) The public assembly was at that time more fruitful, than in the present day, wherein one individual, whatever may be the state of his mind, must fill up the time with a sermon.—ψαλμὸν ἔχει) has a psalm, in habit of mind or in actual fact, either a little before, or only now: comp. 1 Corinthians 14:30. Extemporary hymns were given to them by the Spirit. Individuals had a psalm, wherewith to praise God, or a doctrine to be imparted to his neighbour; or a tongue, by which they might speak every one to himself. The word ἔχει, has, repeated, elegantly expresses the abundance of the gifts, which had been divided.—ἀποκάλυψιν, revelation) by which God communicates something to man; Galatians 2:2, prophetical revelation, 1 Corinthians 14:30; 1 Corinthians 14:29.—ἑρμηνείαν, interpretation) by which one man may interpret an unknown tongue to another.—οἰκοδομὴν, edification) the best rule.

If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret.
1 Corinthians 14:27. Εἴτε, If) He now more particularly explains how all things may be done for edification.—τὶς, any man) Merely one person ought never to have spoken in an unknown tongue; but if one did speak, one or two should have followed to vindicate the abundance of the Spirit.—τρεῖς, three) may speak.—ἀνὰ μέρος) by a division of the times or even of the places of speaking.

But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.
1 Corinthians 14:28. Εἂν δὲ μὴ ᾗ, but if there be not) Either he himself, who spoke in an unknown tongue, might have interpreted, 1 Corinthians 14:13; or another.—σιγάτω, let him be silent) who speaks in an unknown tongue.—ἑαυτῷ καὶ τῷ Θεῷ, to himself and to God) 1 Corinthians 14:4; 1 Corinthians 14:2.—λαλείτω, let him speak) privately.

Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.
1 Corinthians 14:29. Προφῆται δὲ, but let the prophets) An Antithesis to those who speak in an unknown tongue. Prophecy, strictly so called, is opposed to revelation, 1 Corinthians 14:6; prophecy, used in a wider sense, (as well as revelation) is opposed to knowledge: ibid. Again, comprehending knowledge, it is opposed to tongues, 1 Corinthians 14:4.—λαλείτωσαν, let them speak) supply ἀνὰ μέρος, one by one, 1 Corinthians 14:27.—οἱ ἄλλοι, the rest) viz., of the prophets.—διακρινέτωσαν, decide [judge]) even by word of mouth.

If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace.
1 Corinthians 14:30. Καθημένῳ) while he sits, listening.—ὁ πρῶτος, the first) who formerly spoke.

For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.
1 Corinthians 14:31. Καθʼ ἕνα, one by one) so that one person may always give way to another.—πάντες μανθάνωσι, all may learn) by conversing, inquiring, speaking, listening: all, being prophets. A man learns by teaching: he learns by speaking, and asking questions, 1 Corinthians 14:34-35. [Many continue to be foolish and languid in spiritual things, because they almost never speak about such things.—V. g.]—παρακαλῶνται, may be comforted) Sometimes the speaking of another produces in us more awakening effect, sometimes our own.

And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.
1 Corinthians 14:32. Καὶ) and indeed; so καὶ, 2 Corinthians 5:15; 1 John 3:4.—πνεύματα προφητῶν, the spirits of the prophets) The abstract for the concrete, the prophets, even while they are acted upon (under the Divine impulse).—προφήταις, to the prophets) He does not say, to the spirits of the prophets.—ὑποτάσσεται, are subject) not that a prophet would for the sake of another deny or cast away the truth of his prophecy; 1 Kings 13:17, etc.: for the word of prophecy is above the prophets, 1 Corinthians 14:37; but that he should not demand that he alone should be heard, but should do his endeavour to hear others also, while they are speaking, and should learn from them, what communications they have received [from God] in preference to himself: subjection is shown by keeping silence and learning,[128] 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, [1 Timothy 2:12]. Every act of teaching involves a degree of absolute authority [authentiam]: they are subject, he says; not merely they ought to be subject. The Spirit of God teaches the prophets this.

[128] This is the translation according to the printing of the London Ed., 1855; but according to the Tubingen Ed., 1773, and the Berlin Ed., 1855, which were afterwards consulted, the translation is as follows:—“But not to demand that he alone should be heard, but to endeavour to hear others also, while they are speaking, and to learn from them what they have received more than he himself, is the subjection of a man who is silent and is learning.”—T.

For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.
1 Corinthians 14:33. Ὡς, as) This concluding clause is very like that of the next portion, 1 Corinthians 14:36.[129]

[129] In both alike there is an appeal to the usage of other churches.—ED.

Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.
1 Corinthians 14:34. Αἱ γυναῖκες, the woman) Paul uses the same expression, 1 Timothy 2:11-12, and yet it was expedient, that this should be written especially for the Corinthians; comp. note at 1 Corinthians 11:16.—ὑμῶν ἐν ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις) in your church assemblies; when there are men present, that can speak.—ἐπιτέτραπται) it is committed [permitted, Engl. Vers.]—ὑποτάσσεσθαι, to be subject) so as to submit their own will to that of another, Genesis 3:16. The application (desire) of the woman is to her husband משוקת, and that too as to her lord.—καὶ) also; comp. 1 Corinthians 3:8, note.

And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.
1 Corinthians 14:35. Μαθεῖν, to learn) by speaking.—θἑλουσιν, they wish) This is the figure[130] occupatio.—ἸΔΊΟΥς) their own, rather than others.—ἐπερωτάτωσαν) let them ask. It was the exclusive privilege of the men to put questions in the assembly.—ἐν ἐκκλησίᾳ) in the assembly either civil or sacred.—λαλεῖν, to speak) either in teaching or asking.

[130] See Append. Anticipating a reply or objection which might be made by a supposed opponent.—T.

What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only?
1 Corinthians 14:36. , ) Latin an—an? [which is used in the second part of a disjunctive interrogation] You, Corinthians, (likewise you, Romans) are neither first nor alone. But women are also elsewhere silent.

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.
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.

But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.
1 Corinthians 14:38. Εἰ δέ τις ἀγνοεῖ, But if any man be ignorant) So that he has not the capacity to perceive [acknowledge]. If any one knows not, he says, or pretends not to know. This is an argument which would have weight with the Corinthians, who were very desirous of knowledge.—ἀγνοείτω, let him be ignorant) which means, we cannot cast away all things for the sake of such a man; let him keep it to himself. Those, who are thus left to themselves, repent more readily, than if you were to teach them against their will.

Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.
1 Corinthians 14:39. Ὥστε, Therefore) the summing up.—ζηλοῦτε, emulously desire) This is more than, forbid not.

Let all things be done decently and in order.
1 Corinthians 14:40. Εὐσχημόνως, decently) which applies to individuals.—κατὰ τάξιν, in order) in turns, [after one another.]

Gnomon of the New Testament by Johann Bengel

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