Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
3. A comparison of the gifts of prophecy arid of speaking with tongues, in respect to their worth for the edification of the Church. Rules for the right regulation of their use according to their end, and according to the benefit they render to the Church
1 FOLLOW after charity [love, τὴν ἀγάπην], and [but, δὲ] desire [the, τὰ] spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy. 2For he that speaketh in an unknown, tongue [a tongue] speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth [hear eth, ἀκούει] him; howbeit in the spirit [Spirit] he speaketh mysteries. 3But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to [om. to] edification, and exhortation, and comfort. 4He that speaketh in an unknown tongue [a tongue] edifieth himself; but he that pro 5phesiethedifieth the church (congregation, ἐκκλ̓ησίαν]. I would that ye all spake [Now I wish you all to speak, θέλω δὲ πἀντας ὑμᾶς λαλεῖν] with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied [might prophesy, προφητεύητε]: for [but, δὲ]1 greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church 6[congregation, ἐκκλησία] may receive edifying. [But, δὲ] 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 [teaching, 7διδαχῇ]? And [om. And] even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, [yet ὅμες ἐὰν] except they give2 a distinction in the sounds,3 how shall it be 8known what is piped or harped? For [also, καὶ] if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? 9So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words [a word] easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? 10for ye shall speak into the air. There are,4 it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them5 is [none are] without signification. 11Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian [foreigner, βάρβαρος], and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian [foreigner] unto me. 12Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts [spirits, πνευμάτων], seek that ye may excel [abound, περισσεύητε] to the edifying of the church [congregation]. 13Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue [a tongue] pray that [in order that, ἵνα] he may interpret. 14For if I pray in an unknown tongue [a tongue], my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. 15What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and6 [but, δὲ] I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, 16and7 I will sing with the understanding also. Else, when thou shalt bless8 with the spirit [shalt have blessed in spirit, εὐλογῆ πνεύματι], how shall he that occupieth the room [place] of the unlearned [one not so gifted, ἰδιωτου] say [the, τὸ] Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest? 17For thou verily givest thanks well [verily thou doest well to give thanks, σὺ μὲν γὰρ καλῶς εὐχαριστεῖς], but the other is not edified. 18I thank my [om. my]9 God, I speak10 with tongues 19[a tongue, γλὠσσῃ]11 more than ye all: Yet in the church [congregation] I had rather speak five words with my understanding,12 that by my voice [orally, κατηχήσω] I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue [in a tongue]. 20Brethren, be not children in understanding [minds, ταῖς φρεσίν]: howbeit in malice [wickedness, κακίᾳ] be ye children [babes], but in understanding [minds] be men [full grown, τέλειοι], 21In the law it is [has been, γέγραπται] written, With [in, ἐν] men of other tongues and other13 lips [in lips of others, ἐν χείλεσιν ξτέροις] will I speak unto this 22people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord. Wherefore [the, αἱ] tongues are for a sign, not to [for] them that believe, but to [for] them that believe not: but prophesying serveth [the prophesying is] not for them that believe not, but for them which believe. 23If therefore the whole church [congregation] be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues,14 and there come in those that are unlearned [not specially gifted, ἰδιῶται], or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad? 24But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned [not miraculously endowed], he is convinced of [by, ὑπὸ] all, he is judged of 25[by] all: And thus15 are [om. And thus are] the secrets of his heart [are] made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth [in truth is in you]. 26How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you [each one, ἕκαστος, om. of you]16 hath a psalm, hath a doctrine [a teaching, διδαχὴν], hath a tongue, hath a revelation [hath a revelation, hath a tongue],17 hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying. 27If any man speak in an unknown tongue [a tongue, γλώσσῃ], let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret. 28But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church [congregation]; and let him speak to himself, and 29to God. Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. 30[But, δὲ] If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. 31For ye may [can, δύνασθε] all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. 32And the spirits18 of the prophets are subject to the prophets. 33For God is not the author of confusion [tumult, ἀκαταστασίας], but of peace, as [peace. 34As], in all churches [the congregations, ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις] of the saints.19 Let your [saints, let, om. your]20 women keep silence in the churches [congregations]: for it is not permitted21 unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience 35[in subjection, ὑποτασσέσθωσαν]22 as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their [own, ἰδίους] husbands at home: for it is a shame for women 36[a woman, γυναικι]23 to speak in the church. [congregation]24 What! came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only? 37If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments [a commandment, ἐστὶν ἐντολή] of the Lord.25 38But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.26 39Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues. [But, δὲ] 40Let all things be done decently and in order.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
1 CO 14:1-5. [He now turns from his digression to the main topic on hand, viz., the proper management of spiritual gifts. Before entering on this, however, he presses a final exhortation in regard to that which he had been so warmly eulogizing].—Pursue love,—i.e., use all diligence in obtaining and cultivating it; chase it as a hunter pursues his game; press towards it as your chief good, as men make for the goal in a race; such is the force of διώκειν here (Rom. 9:30; 12:13 f., 19; Phil. 3:12, 14). The omission of all inferential particles like οὖν adds to the energy of the injunction.—but be zealous for the spiritual gifts,—the same language as is used in 12:31. But it is not simply to resume what was there said, as though all that intervened was but a parenthesis [so Stanley]. Rather, the δέ, but, is designed to set the second clause over against the first, by way of showing that though they were to pursue love, still this was not to prevent their seeking for spiritual gifts also. In urging the former he was not intending to disparage the latter, as they might be disposed to infer. Hence we may render δέ by meantime, however, or nevertheless. Neander takes the second injunction in the light of a permission, rather than of a positive command, and supposes that Paul chose the stronger word in the first instance in order to teach his readers that a Christian’s main endeavor should be to become quickened by love. [“He observes, therefore, an admirable medium by disapproving of nothing that was useful, without at the same time preferring, by an absurd zeal, things of less consequence to what was of primary importance.” CALVIN].—In regard to spiritual gifts see on 12:1. A more restricted application of the term here, to denote simply ‘the gift of tongues,’ might, indeed, be favored by the contrast implied in the “rather” directly following, and by 1 Co 14:2, and also by 1 Co 14:14 ff., inasmuch as the gift of tongues, because it was a speaking and praying in the spirit, might well be called by way of preeminence ‘spiritual.’ But the plural form, as well as the more extended connection had with the foregoing chapter, declare for the broader interpretation of: gifts in general.—but rather—μᾶλλον is to be construed comparatively and not as=μάλιστα, q. d., ‘more than all the other gifts.’—that ye may prophesy.—Instead of using the noun ‘prophecy,’ he employs the verb with the ἵνα as the object of ζηλοῦτε, be zealous for. In this there was undoubtedly a design; but not such as to warrant Meyer’s rendering, ‘in order that ye may prophesy.’ [Stanley says, that ἵνα is here passing into the Romaic sense, in which it is used as a substitute for the infinitive. Comp. for this use, 1 Co 14:12; Matth. 7:12: Mark 6:8, 25. See also Winer, P. 1, 11. § 63:2, 1], The reason of the preference he next assigns.—For he that speaks with a tongue,—i.e., in some strange language prompted by the spirit. [Bloomfield takes the “speaking” (λάλῶν) to signify preaching, exhorting, and says, ‘the context requires this;’ but it must be the context only as read in the light of a certain theory. There is nothing in the language to warrant it, and to construe it thus would be to make this the only passage where the gift of tongues must be supposed to have been used in addressing others directly].—speaketh not to men,—i.e., not with the design of imparting anything that the hearers can understand and profit by.—but to God:—It is with God that he is in communication, [“according to the proverb: ‘He sings to Himself and the muses’ ”.—CALVIN], Of this the proof—first, negatively.—for no one heareth.—By this he does not mean literally ‘heareth not,’ as though the words were inaudible, like those muttered by Hannah, 1 Sam. 1:13; since this would neither suit the expression ‘speaketh;’ nor yet the context, especially of 1 Co 14:7; nor yet the corresponding passage in Acts 2:10, 19. The word ἀκούειν rather denotes here the inward hearing, the mental appreciation of what was uttered. [So the word is used in Acts 22:9, where the attendants of Paul are said not to have ‘heard the voice’ which in Acts 9:7 they were said to have heard—an ambiguity which can be explained only by taking the word in the former instance to mean ‘understand.’ See also Mark 4:33. “He spake as they were able to hear;” also Gen. 11:7; 42:23; Is. 36:11 where for ‘understand’ the LXX. has ἀκούειν]. The negative “no one” is not hyperbolical as if signifying ‘very few,’ but absolute; the exception arising from the assistance of some interpreter will of course be understood.—but in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.—The ‘but’ is not designed to express a contrast, as though equivalent to sondern (Rückert); but it is explicative, introducing a further specification, viz., “in the spirit;” while the remaining words alone state the antithesis to what is asserted in the previous clause. The word “mysteries” is not to be understood as in 4:1; 13:2. [As STANLEY, “Here, as elsewhere, it means ‘God’s secrets;’ here, however, not as elsewhere in the sense of secrets revealed, but in the sense (nearly approaching to the modern word mystery) of secrets concealed. The only other instance is Rev. 17:5.” And ALFORD: “Things which are hidden from the hearers, and sometimes also from the speaker himself”]. So understood, the statement would, as related to the previous one, appear tautological; hence the words “in the spirit” must here be so taken as intended to bring out more fully the characteristic of the gift in question. Accordingly they must be interpreted not simply of the inward man, q. d., ‘he speaks to himself in his own thoughts’ (Le Clerc, Locke, Semler). Still less can πνεύματι be the objective dative either to λαλεῖ, or to μυστήρια. q. d, ‘he speaks things which are mysteries for the spirit of others.’ Rather the expression is used here as in 1 Co 14:14, of the activity of the higher religious consciousness, uninfluenced by reflection (Meyer), [“of the spirit as opposed to the understanding, his spirit as the organ of the Holy Ghost while the understanding is unfruitful” (Alford)], of the inner life as abstracted from the outer world (Beek), “of a state of inspiration only through the medium of the intuitional side of the human spirit directed God-ward—a state in which the self-consciousness is, as it were, suppressed or overpowered by the divine influence completely taking possession of the human soul; in short, of a state of mystic ecstasy which, when partaking of the character of a gift, creates for itself a form of speech in which the soul breaks forth, as it were in holy dithyrambics” (Delitzsch v. § 5).27 [So also De Wette; πνεύματι he explains by “through the spirit,” i.e., his higher unconscious spiritual faculty which is filled by the Holy Spirit, and is without the νοῦς. Bloom-field and Hodge, however, follow the Greek commentators, and most early modern ones, in taking the word “spirit” to mean, not the higher spiritual powers of our nature, but the Holy Ghost as in 1 Co 8:14. “In favor of this interpretation is: 1. The prevailing use of the word Spirit in reference to the Holy Ghost in all Paul’s epistles and especially in this whole connection. 2. That the expression to “speak in” or “by the Spirit,” is an established Scriptural phrase, meaning to speak under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. 3. When spirit is to be distinguished from the understanding, it designates the affections; a sense which would not at all suit this passage. 4. The meaning arrived at by this interpretation is natural and suitable to the connection. “Although he who speaks with tongues is not understood yet guided by the Spirit, he speaks mysteries.” HODGE. To this it may be replied in order 1. That πνεῦμα when used without any qualifying term in Paul’s writings, more commonly denotes the higher nature of man, especially as quickened by the Holy Ghost. 2. In every instance where the idea of speaking “in the Holy Ghost” is intended, it is indicated by the use of the prep. ἐν in, and usually with the addition of the article (as in Rom. 1:9; 8:9; 15:16; 1 Cor. 6:11). Wherever the simple anarthrous dative πνεύματι is found as here, to denote that in reference to which a thing is done, it stands for the spirit of man, as might be expected (Jno. 4:24; Rom. 8:13; 1 Cor. 4:21; 7:34; Gal. 5:5, 16). It is in this broader sense that the word is here to be understood. It means not simply the intellect, but the higher nature of man in all its emotions as stirred by the Holy Spirit. 4. While the meaning “in the Holy Spirit” gives good sense even here, still the other meaning is more in accordance both with the usus loquendi, and with the train of argument, and should therefore be adhered to as it is by all English versions, and by nearly all commentators].—The case is otherwise with the prophet.—He that prophesies speaks unto men—In the prophet who is called to be the mediator of divine mysteries in behalf of others, there is united with the state of ecstasy (which however is not the exclusive mode of revelation with him), the ability of reproducing that which he has seen in the spirit, by the aid of his understanding and psychical faculties in adequate and intelligible language (Delitzsch § 5). What the prophet imparts is threefold,—edification, and exhortation, and comfort.—The first of these terms (οἰκοδομή), properly implying a building up of the Christian life in its successive stages, may be taken as expressing the genus of which the other two express the species, though not all the species. By παράκλησις, exhortation, we understand that by which the will is aroused to greater earnestness in self-culture and to greater Christian activity and to more zealous endeavors. [STANLEY who unites with exhortation the meaning of consoling or strengthening as in the word παράκλητος, Comforter, says: “how closely connected this gift was with prophesying may be seen in the fact that the name of ‘Barnabas,’ ‘the son of prophesy,’ is rendered in Acts 4:36 υἱὸς παρακλήσεως, ‘the son of consolation.’ ” By παραμυθέα we understand that by which the spirit is quieted and cheered. Though sharing with the former, the sense of consolation, it implies something more tender and soothing. As to the conjunctions και-και, the first may be taken as annexing to the chief word something further explanatory, like and indeed; or they may be taken as distributive particles, both and. Osiander follows the earlier commentators in coordinating the three particulars, and gives to the first a relation to faith as implying the furtherance and strengthening of the Christian life therein; to the second, a relation to love as implying a stimulus to the cultivation of it, as in the more active duties of Christianity; and to the third, a relation to hope, as the source and effect of all comfort; furthermore, he subordinates the two last to the first as their root.—That a subordination here is intended is sustained by the fact that the word “edification” returns again alone in 1 Co 14:4.—But he that speaks with a tongue edifies himself;—He here refers to the effect of those inward excitements and elevating impressions which a person experiences in this intercourse with God—in this state of prayer and praise, or of mystic ecstasy wherein the operations of the Holy Spirit reach their culminating point (comp. Delitzsch, as above). “This does not imply a benefit derived through a distinct understanding of that which he speaks; but there is left upon the spirit of the speaker an impression made by the whole experience, of a quickening and elevating though mystical kind.” MEYER. And in like manner OSIANDER: “He could allow the total impression and feeling of his discourse to work on in him.” [“This view is necessary on account of what is said in 1 Co 14:5, that if he can interpret, he can edify not only himself, but the church.” ALFORD. HODGE, on the contrary, ignoring the fact that any benefit could be derived excepting through a distinct intelligence of what was uttered, says, “this verse proves that the understanding was not in abeyance, and that the speaker was not in an ecstatic state.” But this is a mere assumption, against which might be put the following counter testimony: “The gift might and did contribute to the building up of a man’s own life (1 Cor. 14:4). This might be the only way in which some natures could be roused out of the apathy of a sensual life, or the dulness of a formal ritual. The ecstasy of adoration which seemed to men madness, might be a refreshment unspeakable to one who was weary with the subtle questionings of the intellect, to whom all familiar and intelligible words were fraught with recollections of controversial bitterness or the wanderings of doubt. (Comp. a passage of wonderful power as to this use of the gift by Edw. Irwing. ‘Morning Watch,’ 5. p. 78.”) See SMITH’S Bib. Dict. p. 1558].—but he that prophesies edifies the church.—The article before ἐκκλησιόαν is unnecessary. The church as a collection of individuals is here brought forward in contrast with the speaker himself. [Not so however Alford. “The article,” as he says, “being often omitted, when a noun in government has an emphatic place before the verb; accordingly in 1 Co 14:5 the article reappears”].—Lest any should think that he was here seeking to set aside all speaking with tongues as calculated to provoke envy, he proceeds—I would that ye all spake with tongues,—This must be regarded as a hearty wish and not an unworthy concession to the Corinthians, on the score of their partiality for this gift. This is evident from the fact that he goes on at once to adduce prophecy as the higher and worthier gift which he still more earnestly desires that they should have and exercise.—but rather that ye prophesied.—He here passes over into the telic construction with ἴνα, “indicating a stronger intention towards the higher object” (Osiander). According to the common reading μείζων γάν, for greater, he adds a reason for what has just been said. But if with some good authority we read δέ, but, instead of γαρ, we must regard him as simply continuing his discourse.—but greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues,—The greatness here consists in usefulness, and hence also in dignity. This however is qualified by the exception,—except—ἐκτὸς εἰ μή. The μή here appears pleonastic (15:2; 1 Tim. 5:19). [This redundant expression arises from the blending of two constructions, ἐκτὸς εἰ and εἰ μή, instances of which are found also in the classics. Hence, not a Hebraism. Winer 3. § 65 3 c.].—he interpret.—The subject of the verb is not any other person, but the speaker himself who could unite the two gifts of speaking with tongues and interpretation in himself. By the exercise of the latter gift for the purpose of edifying the church, he put himself on a par with him that prophesied. In regard to the subjunctive form after εἰ comp. on 1 Co 9:11, (respectum comprehendit experientiae. Meyer). [HODGE says: “this passage proves that the contents of these discourses delivered in an unknown, tongue were edifying; and therefore did not consist in mysteries in the bad sense of that term, i.e., in enigmas and dark sayings. The absence of the gift of interpretation does not prove that the speaker himself in such cases was ignorant of what he uttered. It only proves that he was not inspired to communicate in another language what he had delivered.” The reasoning is not conclusive. It is grounded on the assumption that no benefit could be derived from any experiences that were not distinctly intelligible and capable of being communicated under the ordinary forms of thought and language. And it may be asked if that which was spoken in the unknown tongue was distinctly intelligible to the speaker, what need was there of a special gift of interpretation to enable him to communicate it to the church? The understanding (νοῦς) is the parent of language; and what a person understood he surely could utter. Would this not be in violation of a well known rule, ‘not to introduce a divinity upon the stage unless the occasion required it’]?
1 Co 14:6–11. But now,—νυνὶ δέ here also as in 13:13 in a logical sense, q. d., ‘since in speaking with tongues the edification of the church depends altogether upon the interpretation which followed, then without this,’—if I come unto you speaking with tongues,—he uses himself as an illustration without laying stress upon his personality, [as Chrys.], in which case αὐτὸς ἐγώ, I myself, would be required; or it is a mode of individualizing the case as is found in 1 Co 14:11, 14; 13:1, 12.—what shall I profit you,—This question here forms the main proposition which (as often happens in the classics) is inserted between the two hypothetical clauses, the second of which stands in contrast with the first, or is its negative parallel (not its subordinate so as to indicate how the speaking with tongues must take place; nor yet does it stand in any closer internal relation to the main proposition).—unless I shall speak unto you either by revelation,—The ἐν in, or, by, denotes as in Matt. 13:3 the form which his discourse might take, or the sphere in which it would move.—or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?—The four things specified may be referred back to two gifts: first, to prophecy, whose ground and contents is revelation; and secondly to doctrine which rests upon knowledge and furnishes its fruit; [as HODGE says, “there are not four, but only two modes of address contemplated in this verse. Revelation and prophecy belong to one, and knowledge and doctrine to the other. He who received revelations, was a prophet; he who had the word of knowledge, was a teacher.” So like wise Calvin. This construction is derived from the sense, and not from the grammar of the text. There the four items stand coördinate as though distinct and independent]. Revelation is to be understood as in 1 Co 14:26, subjectively (otherwise in 1:7). It signifies occasional disclosures respecting anything which concerns the kingdom of God, or an unveiling of mysteries. As what is thus disclosed is uttered in the ardent and rapt discourse of the prophet, so, that which an enlightened inquiry affords for furthering our insight into divine things, is expressed in the calmer diction of the teacher, and is termed doctrine. As BENGEL says: “prophecy relates to particular facts, not well understood before, to mysteries to be known only by revelation.” Doctrine and knowledge are brought from the common storehouse of believers, and refer to obvious things in the matter of our salvation.—He next proceeds to illustrate his point by various analogies; and first from musical instruments. Some difficulty arises as to the proper rendering of what follows, in consequence of the unnatural position of ὄμως. Some take this as equivalent to ὁμοίως, in like manner; but this would be unsuitable and unnecessary. The signification, nevertheless, yet even, would fit better. But still it is questionable whether the word mainly affects or gives prominence to τὰ ἄψυχα, lifeless things, as its position appears to indicate; so that this drawn out in full would be τὰ ἄψυχα καίπερ ἄψυχα, ὄμως ‘lifeless instruments, though lifeless, yet give sound’ (Winer); or whether by it the thing introduced in proof is set up as absolutely valid against all objection, q. d., ‘one cannot yet understand,’ i.e., ‘this must at any rate be conceded, that we cannot understand’ (de Wette); or, whether, by virtue of a transposition which appears also in Gal. 3:15, and elsewhere in the classics, the word is placed first, while it properly belongs before ἐάν, so that the concessive protasis is formed by the words φωνὴν διδόντα, which then would be equivalent to καίπερ φωνήν διδόντα The last construction is the correct one, being the only one which corresponds to the use of language, and to the course of thought.—Things without life, although yielding sound, whether flute or harp, yet if they do not—Respecting the various positions occupied by ὄμως, how the word or clause limited by it sometimes precedes and sometimes follows it as here, comp. Passow ii. 1 p. 77. By being put first it carries an emphasis. “There is an inference drawn from the less to the greater,” q. d., if, indeed, such is the case with lifeless objects, how much more must it be with men?—give a distinction to the tones,—i.e., by various distinct modulations of high and low, strong and weak.—how shall it be known what is piped or harped?—This refers to the significance of that which is played on each instrument (comp. 1 Co 14:8 ff.): i.e., ‘a person will, in that case, not be able to discern or perceive what tune is played.’ [The article is here repeated to show that two distinct instances are contemplated, not necessarily one tune either piped or harped. Meyer regards this passage as decisive against the opinion that the tongues used in the gift in question were distinctly articulated foreign languages, and that the utterance in this case was a confused jargon of sounds, such as that which would be made through the instruments without observing their proper modulations. But this is pressing the analogy too far. The point made is simply with reference to the unintelligibleness of the things played, unless the well-known laws of the instrument and of the music were observed]. The argument is confirmed by another example of the same kind, which sets the case in a still clearer light.—For also,—[The “for” serves for a climax, the higher confirming the lower].—if the trumpet gives an uncertain sound,—The trumpet, so strong in its tones, and unmistakable in its character, even this requires a certain definite modulation when giving its various signals, if it is to be known whether the signal is one for battle or not. The adjective “uncertain” expresses the antithesis to the previous expression, “give a distinction to the sounds.” [Different sounds of the same trumpet summoned soldiers to different duties, one succession of notes giving the signal for attack, and another for retreat. Hence the question],—who shall prepare himself for the battle?—The application to the point in question he next proceeds to make.—So likewise ye, through the tongue,—These words are put first by way of emphasis, as contrasting the Corinthians in the exercise of their divine gift with the lifeless things which he has just been speaking of.—unless ye give a word easy to be understood,—This clause unquestionably stands opposed to the assumption that inarticulate sounds are implied in the gift, if for no other reason than on account of the use of the term “word,” which denotes a rational, articulate utterance, even though we would wish to take the qualifying expression in with it. Nor is it favored by the other expression “through the tongue,” as though this meant the simple organ of speech; for in that case it would only be used as in contrast with the musical instruments specified.—how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall be (ἒσεσθε so long as ye speak) a speaking into the air.—εἰς ἀέρα λαλοῦντες; the phrase denotes the uselessness of an unintelligible discourse. It dies away into the atmosphere, reaching not the mind of the hearer.—He next pushes his range of analogy still farther, so as to include the various human languages which can furnish no means of intercourse between man and man, so long as their meaning is not understood.—There are, it may be,—εἰ τύχοι, a phrase commonly found with numerical nouns, and never means for example; it only states the number as problematical, or denotes uncertainty in the more definite statement.—so many—τοσαῦτα. [“The word here has the force of a definite number. If men could ever have counted the number, Paul would have set it down here; but he leaves it indefinite.” BENGEL].—kinds of voices in the world,—φωνή, voice , here signifies ‘speech,’ or ‘language,’ (as also in Gen. 11:1, 7; and in the classics often, and γένη φωνῶν denotes the ‘various languages,’ of which each one forms a γένος, genus. He does not use the word γλῶσσα, tongue, because in this whole paragraph this is employed to denote the special gift which is under consideration.—and none—οὐδὲν refers to γένη. It does not mean ‘no rational creature;’ but the right relation is expressed by the αὐτῶν of them, of the Rec. which, however, is not original.—is without signification.—ἄφωνον, literally speechless (like βίος ἀβίατος), i.e., ‘without that which is the essential thing in speech,’ ‘unsuited for the purpose of intelligible communication.’ “The Apostle intends to say that every language has its definite signification; inasmuch as it is designed to be the vehicle for communicating thought.” NEANDER. [HODGE says, “The illustration contained in this verse goes to prove that speaking with tongues was to speak in foreign languages.” If by “foreign languages” is meant languages of other countries on the globe, then spoken, the inference is too broad. It supposes that no other language was possible, save such as were then in vogue. If language is God’s gift, and not a mechanical contrivance of man, why could not the Spirit inspire men to utter their new experiences in a new and “clean speech,” which, though used by none others, was fully entitled to be called a language? And may it not have been one intent of the Spirit in the production of this new language to furnish a sign that the things it reveals were such “as eye had not seen, nor ear heard, nor had entered into the heart of man” to conceive, and such therefore as required to be expressed in forms corresponding? To understand these “tongues” to denote foreign pagan languages, most of which were but the defiled vessels of impurity and falsehood and idolatry, and utterly inadequate to convey spiritual truth, is to miss the import of this remarkable phenomenon].—From the fact that none of the various languages of earth lacked the character of language, viz., the power of communicating thought, he goes on to infer that where one person was incapable of understanding another, there was reason to believe that they stood in the relation of foreigners to each other. This would not be inferred were the “speech” “without speech” (ἄφωνος), i.e., in itself unintelligible, since the speaker in this case could be understood by no one. He might be looked upon as one deranged, but not as a foreigner. The very force (δύναηις) of the language, its sense, its significance, viz., is precisely that thing which would be excluded by its being “without speech” (ἄφωνος).—Therefore, if I know not the force of the language, I shall be to him that speaketh a barbarian,—Βάρβαρος, the common term to designate one not a Greek, one who stood outside the sphere of the Greek language and culture. Here it is used in no bad sense, but simply to denote a stranger.—and he that speaketh a barbarian in me.—As in the former clause, τᾷ λαλοῦντι is the dative of judgment, meaning, ‘in the estimation of him that speaketh;’ so ἐν ἐμοὶ , in me, must be construed ‘in my eyes,’ or ‘according to my judgment,’ (comp. Passow i. 2, p. 909.)
1 CO 14:10-19. The connection with the previous verse is more correctly determined by making the conditional clause here refer to what was perverse in their desires and efforts as corresponding with the relation set forth in the previous verse, where it was shown that by reason of not understanding the language spoken, one appeared to the other as a foreigner; and by regarding the injunction which follows as urging them to the adoption of a contrary course,—first, in an indefinite general way; from which he at once proceeds in 1 Co 14:13 to draw the inference in relation-to the matter in question, viz., speaking with tongues.—So also ye,—This expression is used as in 1 Co 14:9; the “so” indicates that which corresponds to the analogy previously introduced, and for this reason it stands at the beginning of the clause to which it belongs, as there. It is as if he had said: ‘in this way, as ye are foreigners to each other from not understanding each other’s language, and no intercourse can take place between you—a condition of things which is palpably wrong,’ etc. So Meyer. Proceeding from this interpretation of the word “so,” some insert a colon or period after “ye,” making the clause mean ‘such barbarians are ye who speak with tongues without interpreting; but this would be to separate unnecessarily matters belonging together. Others construe the clause “so also ye” as an apodosis, implying that the Apostle meant to have them entirely avoid, making each other as barbarians. But in such a construction not only would there be no suitable relation to form the ground of a parallel, but a contrast would be introduced. We should have to insert that in thought to which the “so” should refer, somehow after this fashion—‘in order to avoid coming into the relation of barbarians, it will be necessary to introduce an interpreter, so also should ye endeavor to make yourself plain.’ But where is the necessity of such a subaudition, if another explanation offers itself which is sustained by the analogy in 1 Co 14:9? [Alford and Bloomfield in accordance with the great majority of commentators from Chrys. interpret the connection more simply. They give οὔτως the sense of therefore, i.e., ‘after the lesson conveyed by this example,’ or, ‘to apply this to your case,’ which has the advantage of simplicity].—since ye are zealots of spirits—ζηλωταί πνενμάτων i.e., ‘are ardently devoted to them and admire them;’ so the objective genitive often occurs in classical writers. “Of spirits” is a bold expression, adopted in accordance with the diversity which appeared in the operations of the Spirit. The principle at work is itself spoken of as manifold. As OSIANDER says: “the individual gifts are designated as active powers, existing independently in those endowed with them.” Or as MEYER: “what were in reality diversities of gifts, and therefore only different manifestations of the Spirit, presented themselves to the popular apprehension as diversities of spirits.” That Paul himself actually believed in a plurality of spirits (Hilgenfeld) is at variance with 12:4, 7. Some, arbitrarily, limit the word to denote simply the gift of tongues. It is here, however, to be taken in its broadest sense as standing by metonymy for spiritual gifts in general.—He now comes for the first time to the practical application of his argument. The duty he urges upon them corresponds to the object for which spiritual gifts were given.—for the edification of the Church,—The end to be aimed at is put first by way of emphasis. But the words are not to be joined simply with the following imperative,—seek,—as though this was to be construed absolutely, and the words after it,—that ye may abound,—were to be construed as a final clause (Meyer), as though the meaning were: strive for the edification of the Church in order that ye may abound!—for the verb ζητεῖν, seek, can hardly be used without an object. This object is rather to be found in the verb following it, which is introduced in accordance with a later lax usage by ἵνα, that,28—‘Seek that ye may abound,’ or, ‘seek to abound.’ Then the words,—for the edification of the Church,—would belong to the combined phrase ‘seek that ye may abound,’ and not to the latter verb exclusively, although this conveys the chief idea; at least not so that πρὸς should be made equivalent to εἰς and the sense this, ‘that the blessings of their gifts may be poured out more and more abundantly upon the Church for its edification.’—Next comes the application of this fundamental principle to the matter of speaking with tongues.—Wherefore, let him that speaketh with a tongue, pray that he may interpret.—προσευχέσθω, ἵνα διερ μενεύῃ. [This passage, simple as it seems, has caused no little perplexity among commentators. The mode of interpreting it has a decided bearing upon the theory a person may form in regard to the nature of the “gift of tongues;” and it in turn has been determined largely by whatever theory has already been formed. There are three ways of explaining it. 1. To take ἵνα in its laxer sense, and construe the verb διερμενεύῃ with it as the object of προσευχέσθω, q. d., ‘let him pray that he may be able to interpret,’ i.e., for the gift of interpretation. This is the sense given it by all the Greek commentators, and is adopted by most of the modern ones. Among these Grot., Beza, Hamm., and Hodge. Adopting this view, we are at liberty to suppose that the person speaking with a tongue was not necessarily engaged in worship, but was addressing the assembly; and so to infer that this gift was used not only for the purposes of prayer and praise, but also for popular discourse. The objection to this view is, that in the subsequent argument in support of the injunction here given, the act of praying is spoken of absolutely; and standing, as the next verse does, in close logical connection with this by means of the “for,” we are constrained to interpret the praying spoken of in both verses in the same absolute or general sense, and that the use of the gift was in the act of prayer. Hence it will not do to limit the praying in this verse to the object specified in the final words, as though the Apostle meant that the person who was employing the gift, should pray that he might interpret. Besides, it assumes a purely ecbatic signification in ἵνα, which it is questionable whether it ever has in the New Testament. (See Winer, p. III. § 53. 10. 6). 2. To take ἵνα in the sense of ὢστε, so that, q. d., ‘let him so pray, that he may interpret,’ i.e., let him not pray unless he can interpret. So Luther, Rosen., and others. But the propriety of giving this sense to ἲνα is very doubtful. The only way left us then is 3.] to construe ἵνα διερμενεύῃ, that he may interpret, as a final clause. [So Meyer, Winer, Alford, and others]. This would give to the whole injunction a meaning of this sort, ‘In the outgushing of his emotions in prayer and praise let the person who speaks with a tongue, make it a point to edify the Church through interpretation.’ In other words, ‘let him pray, not in order to make a display of his gift, but with the intention of interpreting his prayer.’ This, of course, implies that the person alluded to has already the gift of interpretation, and very rightly, for otherwise he was not at liberty to allow himself to be heard in Church meeting at all (1 Co 14:28).—The reason for this injunction is next more clearly set forth in 1 Co 14:14, where the Apostle, agreeably to the hint already given in 1 Co 14:2, enters more fully upon the inward character of this gift, and from what he says there it is clear that the mere speaking or praying with tongues without interpretation excluded all relation to the external world, and in this case, to the congregation.—For if I pray with a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful.—Here the νοῦς denotes that faculty of the soul by which we have to deal with the outer world, [that which reasons, conceives and begets the thought that is coined into words] (BEEK, Bibl. Seelenlehre, p. 49). This is said to be unfruitful in that it confers no benefit on others (comp. Eph. 5:11; Tit. 3:14; Matth. 13:22). The passive interpretation, ‘experiences no benefit,’ does not suit the connection. As the words “my understanding,” so must also the words “my spirit” be interpreted of that which belongs to our nature, and not be understood as meaning ‘the spirit of God in me’ [as Hodge]. On the other hand the antithesis with “my spirit” does not allow of our interpreting the word νοῦς to mean sense, that is, of the words. BENGEL has already presented the essentially correct view: “The πνεῦμα spirit, is the power of the soul, when it sweetly suffers the Holy Spirit’s operations; but the νοῦς, understanding, is the power of the soul, when it goes abroad, and acts with our neighbor: as also when it attends to external objects, to other things and persons, although its reasonings maybe concealed.” [The distinction is more thoroughly given by DELITZSCH, Bibl. Psychologie, iv. § 5. In explaining this passage he says: “The exercise of self-consciousness is here suppressed by the divine influence which entirely takes captive the person speaking with tongues. The thinking power of the νοῦς, as it brings forth fruit in words and thoughts profiting both itself and others without any further intervention, ceases, and the divine influence goes on exercising itself in the human sphere of direct feeling and intuition, and expresses itself also in a language that corresponds to this directness, and is not pervaded by the understanding (νοῦς) of the speaker, and is therefore unintelligible to the understanding (νοῦς) of the hearers. This sphere of direct feeling and intuition the Apostle calls the spirit (πνεῦμα) in distinction from the understanding (νοῦς). It is the spirit in the narrower sense distinguished from the spirit in a wider sense (1 Cor. 5:3; 7:34; 2 Cor. 7:1), as feeling and especially as directly beholding—a copy as it were of the divine Holy Spirit”].—He next proceeds to draw an inference for the regulation of the conduct of the Corinthians in this matter.—What then is it?—Some supply πρακτέον to be done, which is unnecessary. [He means, ‘what is the practical conclusion at which we arrive?’ This he gives in what follows].—I will pray in the spirit,—[On the reading προσεύξωμαι (subjunctive instead of Ind. fut.) which is strongly attested by A. D. B. F. G. and the Cod. Sin., ALFORD remarks: that “the use of the subjunctive in this as well as in other places grew out of a tendency in those who transcribed some of our MSS. to give such assertions a hortatory, or where interrrogative a deliberative form.” Meyer calls it “schlechte Besserung.” It is note-worthy that the important Codex Sinaiticus has the subjunctive form here, while in the next clause it has the indicative future. In this case we should take the first as conditional, ‘let me pray,’ or, ‘if I am to pray with my spirit, I will pray also with my understanding.’ The propriety of this is seen in the fact that praying in the spirit was not always optional with the individual, nor a matter of resolve. It came by gift, was the inspiration of the spirit who distributed unto each as He would; whereas the use of the understanding (νοῦς), which combined in itself both intelligence and will, was voluntary. It seems to be with the perception of this fact that WINNER, who adopts the future form, says: “this sentence expresses not a resolution, but a Christian maxim which the believer intends to follow.”]—and I will pray with the understanding also;—By this is meant praying with the use of “interpretation” which would make the contents of the prayer intelligible to others, and so edifying. It will be seen from the antithesis that the “understanding” alluded to is that of the person praying and not that of others,—as though the dative were that of the remote object, q. d., ‘to the understanding of others.’—I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.—A proof that the prayer was accompanied with song and harp also (comp. Osiander). “We see here two forms of Glossolaly—prayer and praise; it mounted therefore into the poetic mood; and there was involved in it that which resembled what appeared later in Christian poesy. NEANDER.—[That these were the main, if not the only forms in which this gift was exercised, and very rarely, if ever, in discourses to the church-assembly, is here pretty clearly proven. Had it been otherwise, as Hodge and others maintain,—had the person ‘who spoke with a tongue’ undertaken, to address the audience in his unintelligible language, how much more pertinent to Paul’s argument would it have been to show the uselessness and absurdity of speaking to others in words unknown, than to instance only the cases of praying and singing in a foreign tongue. Here the words uttered affected the audience only indirectly, and the speaker might plead that he was engaged with God; but in the other case he would profess to be communicating what he could not hope to have reach the hearer’s mind and heart without interpretation. Here therefore was the point where speaking with tongues without interpretation would touch the extreme of inappropriateness, and which in the case supposed Paul would most likely have alluded to. As to the distinction between worshiping “in the spirit” and worshiping “in the understanding,” we must abide by the views already given. The former denotes the state into which the Holy Spirit lifts the person inspired—a state wherein ho sees and feels things which it is impossible for him to utter, inasmuch as they transcend the scope of his understanding; and which break forth in a language that the spirit forms, suited to give them utterance; and which none can understand and interpret save he to whom it is given,—whether it be the person himself or some other one].’—The resolve expressed in 1 Co 14:15, which partakes at the same time of the nature of an exhortation, is next corroborated by a reference to the indecorum that would be occasioned by pursuing the opposite course.—Else,—ἐπεὶ, for then, in that case; [such is the meaning the word takes before questions implying a negative (see ROB. Lex.)]. Here the conditional clause, which in the use of ἐπεὶ is usually omitted (comp. v. 10), is fully stated.—if thou shalt have blessed,—εὐλο γεῖν, to bless, (10:16) is essentially the same as εὐχαριστεῖν, to give thanks, (v. 17); only here the idea of praise is more prominent.—in spirit,—as in 1 Co 14:15, here with the exclusion of the understanding. [Hodge, to maintain his consistency, interprets this of the Holy Spirit where of all places such an interpretation would appear least appropriate, since the word is evidently used to express an abnormal condition].—how shall he who occupies the place of the private,—τοῦ ἰδιώτου; some commentators interpret this word as expressing simply an antithesis to him ‘who speaks with a tongue,’ as denoting one who did not come within the sphere of this gift;—just as in other connections, e. g., one not a physician is termed an ἰδιώτης, idiot, in comparison with one who is; or one unacquainted with art in comparison with an artist; or any unskilled ignoramus in comparison with a learned person. If now, with Meyer, we interpret the word “place” in a local sense, then the person in question would be one of the congregation who sits anywhere except in the seat of the speaker. But as the phrase, ‘to fill the place of a friend’ (φίλου τόπον ἔχειν) is a common one, it is questionable whether the idea of locality can be well insisted on. More correct perhaps would it be to say that the word was expressive of a distinction quite current at the time, between the active members of the church who engaged in speaking and praying, and the silent recipient members; and that it here stands for the whole multitude of those who did not understand the person who was speaking with a tongue. [So Alford, Stanley, and Hodge who adds, “The context shows that Paul does not refer to laymen in opposition to church officers; for the officers were just as likely to be ἰδιώται, unlearned, as to the language used as others.”]—how shall he say—The question implies the impossibility of the thing.—the Amen,—τὸ ἀμήν; [the article here is specific and points to a customary use of the word in the church at that time]. “Amen” is a Hebrew adjective, meaning true or faithful, and was employed in the synagogue by the whole assembly in concert to express its ratification of what was said by one in the name of all, or its confidence in being heard if that thing spoken was a prayer. The formula thus used was equivalent to ‘so let it be,’ or ‘so it is.’ [In illustration of the importance attached to it, STANLEY gives the following citations from the Rabbins: “He who says Amen is greater than he who blesses.” (Berashoth viii. 8). Whoever says “Amen,” to him the gates of paradise open, according to Is. 26:2, ‘open ye the gates that the righteous nation, that which keepeth the Amen, may enter in’ (Wetstein ad. loc.). An “Amen” if not well considered was an ‘Orphan Amen’ (Light-foot ad. loc.). Whoever says an ‘Orphan Amen’ his children shall be orphans; whoever answers ‘Amen’ hastily or shortly, his days shall be shortened; whoever answers “Amen” distinctly and at length, his ‘days shall be lengthened (Berashoth, 47, 1; Schöttgen ad. loc.). So in the early Christian liturgies it was regarded as a marked point in the service; and with this agrees the great solemnity with which Justin speaks of it, as though it were on a level with the thanksgiving: ‘the president having given thanks, and the whole people having shouted their approbation.’ And in later times, the Amen was only repeated once by the congregation, and always after the great thanksgiving, and with a shout like a peal of thunder”].—upon this your thanksgiving,—ἐπὶ τῇ σῇ εὐχαριστία; the ἐπί here denotes immediate sequence. [“Thy” would seem to be emphatic, to make prominent the peculiar manner in which the thanksgiving was pronounced by the one who spoke in an unknown tongue, or perhaps still better, to distinguish between the prayer offered by such a speaker and the regular thanksgiving which was pronounced at the institution of the Supper. If the latter, it would go to show that whatever prayer was offered by those who employed the gift of tongues and interpreted, was responded to by the congregation as offered also in their behalf; or that the Apostle intended to assert that this ought to be the case and that in consequence no one should utter a prayer in presence of the congregation which they could not be made to understand and could not intelligently respond to. It is a question whether with this precedent before us amounting almost to an authoritative precept, so large a portion of the Christian church have not done wrong in entirely omitting so important apart of the public service].—since he knows not what thou sayest?—[Men cannot assent to what they do not understand, because assent implies the affirmation of the truth of that to which we assent. “It is impossible, therefore, to join in prayers uttered in an unknown tongue. The Romish church persists in the use of the Latin language in her public services not only in opposition to the very idea and intent of worship, but also to express prohibition of the Scriptures. For the very thing here prohibited is praying in public in a language which the people do not understand. It is indeed said that words may touch the feelings which do not convey any distinct notions to the mind. But we cannot say “Amen” to such words, any more than we can to a flute. Such blind, emotional worship, if such it can be called, stands at a great remove from the intelligent service demanded by the Apostle.” HODGE].—The question thus asked is still further explained and that too with a concession in reference to the character of the thanksgiving.—For thou indeed givest thanks well,—The καλῶς, well, is not to be taken ironically, but is earnestly meant; since he regards the act as truly an operation of the divine Spirit. The only difficulty in regard to it is expressed in the next clause.—but—Instead of δέ as the antithesis to μέν, we have ἀλλά, which expresses a more emphatic contrast.—the other—i.e., the private person just spoken of,—is not edified.—The thanksgiving not being understood can never promote devotion, nor lift the soul to God; and therefore it cannot prompt to the right utterance of the Amen. The declaration just made he goes on to confirm by his own example; and in so doing he first recognizes the worth of the gift in itself, and magnifies his own distinguished endowment with it. In this way he obviates all misconception as to his own estimate of the gift, or as to any personal jealousy which might be supposed to move him to speak as he did.—I thank God,—He thus renounces all claim to merit in reference to what he is about to assert of himself. The verb here is followed by an objective clause which, according to the original reading, has no conjunction to unite it, as is often the case in the classics. ‘That’ is to be supplied. The readings ὅτι λαλῶ and λαλῶν are merely different attempts to conform the text to grammatical rules. The omission of λαλῶ in Cod. A. is to be explained on the ground that the copyist thought it necessary to continue the use of εὐχαριστῶ in the same absolute sense in which it stands in 1 Co 14:17, [i.e., ‘I utter thanksgiving’ just as the person before spoken of; and in this independent sense some commentators construe the word]. But if this sense had been intended, the Apostle would not have added the word “God.”—I speak with a tongue more than you all:—[It is worthy of note that, according to the correct reading—“a tongue” and not ‘tongues’—both, here and elsewhere, when an individual is spoken of as endowed with this gift, he is said to speak only with a single tongue. This shows that the gift in question did not signify a faculty for speaking in various languages as some suppose—not even in the case of a Paul; but that each one had his own language which constituted his specialty. Have we not here a significant hint in confirmation of the theory that the gift denoted an ability conferred by the Spirit to utter thoughts and feelings awakened by His inspiration in forms peculiar to the individual himself, which might be termed his tongue? Hodge, it must be observed, utterly ignores the more authenticated reading here, and tacitly adopts the received text in proof of the theory that the speaking with tongues meant speaking in foreign languages, in which respect Paul asserts that he surpassed all others. If this were really so, it is very strange that we find not a particle of evidence to prove that he really used any of these languages in his preaching tours, but every-where seems to have spoken and written either in Aramaic or in Greek. The gift appears to have stood him in no service in proclaiming the Gospel. If he spoke with these many tongues at all, it must have been not to man, but to God—where they were the least necessary. For the Apostle’s power of speaking with a tongue compare the description of his visions and revelations in 2 Cor. 12:1, 2].—But—whatever I may do in private—in church I prefer to speak five words—The ‘five’ stands tropically for “a few” (comp. Isa. 17:6; 30:17).—with my understanding,—The reading διὰ τοῦ νοός μον may with Meyer be considered as an interpretation of the more strongly attested τῶ νοΐ μον. On the contrary de Wette deduced it from 1 Co 14:16.—in order that I might teach others also,—κατέχειν, whence our word ‘catechism,’ means to instruct orally, and shows what is meant by ‘speaking with the understanding,’ and what most contributes to edification.—than ten thousand words in a tongue.—As BESSER says: “rather half of ten, if of the edifying sort, than a thousand times ten of the other.”
1 CO 14:20-25. In winning style he introduces an earnest admonition in reference to their own estimate of the gift of tongues,—Brethren,—and their high valuation of a gift so fitted to excite great astonishment, but yet so profitless for the church as a whole, he denounces as something childish, as a mark of immature judgment—become not little children in your minds.—ταῖς φρεσίν, [the only occurrence of the word in the New Testament]. φρένες means the outgoings of the mind, the inward movements of thoughts and feelings in their most diversified aspects. Regarded as a whole, the word is nearly synonymous with νοῦς; hence φρένας ἔχειν, to have insight. He here intimates to them that by their conduct they were virtually setting aside that superior intelligence in which they so much gloried, and were descending to the level of childhood; since they were estimating the worth of a thing not by its ends and uses, but by its outward show. The childlike state belonged to the Christian, only in another respect.—howbeit in wickedness,—κακίᾳ is the direct opposite of love, that fountain of all good; and in respect to it babes may be considered most innocent.—be babes,—νηπιάζετε is from νήπιος which denotes a more infantile state than παίδιον, and is used to denote an advance upon the previous expression “children.” BURGER explains the whole to mean: “know nothing of the moral corruption that is in the world, to say nothing of an experimental acquaintance with it.”—but in understanding become mature.—τέλειοι, i.e., full-grown men. “To plant and propagate childlike innocence and maturity of understanding both in one—this is the great problem of Christianity. (Comp. Rom. 16:19; Matt. 10:6).” NEANDER.—He next appeals to Scripture by way of teaching them how they ought to regard the gift of tongues.—In the law it is written,—γέγραπται, [lit. has been written, but inasmuch as what has been written is supposed to abide permanently the perfect, is here equivalent to the present]. The term “law” is here to be taken in a broader sense than in John 10:34; Rom. 3:19, as including also the prophecies. This use is grounded on the fact that prophecy was but the development of the fundamental revelation both of law and of promise given in Pentateuch.—With (men) of other tongues and with the lips of others will I speak to this people; and neither so will they hearken unto me saith the Lord.—The citation is from Isa. 28:11; but it accords precisely neither with the LXX. nor with the original text. The original passage is a threatening pronounced upon the children of Israel for their unbelieving and contemptuous treatment of God’s messengers. They had asked derisively, whether it was thought they ought to be treated like little children in that they were perpetually dinned with line upon line and precept upon precept after the fashion in which little children were instructed. In reply God threatens that because they had despised this simple teaching, He would hereafter instruct them through persons of a different language and foreign utterance. The persons here meant were Gentile nations especially the Assyrians, by whom they were to be treated just as contemptuously as they had treated God’s Word.—But how are we to understand the application made by the Apostle to the case in hand? Meyer, in his 2 Ed., assumes that the Apostle here disregarded the historical and empirical sense of the word ἐτερόγλωσσος, and applied it to those who spake with tongues, since they spake as if they used other tongues than their own, and the lips of others, so that their utterances were strange. But this is a very hazardous assumption. In his 3d Ed. he takes the historic sense of the original typically, as though the phenomenon of the Apostle’s time was foreshadowed in the prophet’s language:—1. as to the essential fact, that in both cases “other tongues” were employed; 2. as to the effect, since in neither instance “would the people hear.” The analogy between the type and the antitype is founded on the extraordinary phenomenon of God’s speaking to His people in a foreign tongue—formerly it was through the Assyrian language; now it was through the gift of speaking in a manner at variance with the ordinary intelligible language. [HODGE on the contrary, and apparently for the purpose of obviating an inference fatal to his theory, says: “Paul does not quote the passage as having any prophetic reference to the events in Corinth”—which certainly it has not—“much less does he give an allegorical interpretation of it in order to make it a condemnation of speaking with tongues.” But why not? The whole drift of the argument goes to show that he is here appealing to the law for the purpose of sustaining his own disapproval, not indeed of the gift of tongues, in itself, but certainly of their use of it without interpretation; and he is here showing that as they employed it they were virtually carrying out that divine threatening in relation to the church, which was pronounced upon the unbelieving Jews of old. There was, therefore, great pertinency in this citation]. From the analogy, thus understood, Paul proceeds to draw his conclusion applicable to the case in hand.—so that—[ὤςτε serves to connect more closely than ὡς a following clause with the preceding, expressing an event, result, consequence, whether real or supposed. It here shows that the following clause is to be construed in harmony with what precedes, and is an inference from it. This is important to be observed, for in the interpretations given of 1 Co 14:22, commentators seem to have felt at perfect liberty to deviate from the fair implication of the prophecy used in the argument].—tongues are for a sign, not to believers, but to unbelievers;—[For a sign, in what sense? Here interpretations greatly vary. De Wette, and Alford, and others insist that no emphasis is to be laid on the word, and that the meaning is much the same as if it were omitted, and still further that in not seeing this commentators have differed widely about the meaning]. Others construe it to mean a token by which not believers, but unbelievers were to be recognized. Here the correct view is aimed at, but the error lies in the subjective reference, as though the persons speaking with tongues were branded as unbelievers. In this case the genitive would have been used instead of the dative (ἀπίστοις). The same is true of that explanation which regards the “sign” as a penal token; here a meaning is foisted into the word which can hold good only as it stands connected with unbelievers as a whole. [It cannot be maintained in the following clause where “a sign” is to be supplied, and the word is used in connection with “believers.” HODGE says: “the most satisfactory explanation is to take ‘sign’ in the general sense of any indication of the divine presence. ‘Tongues are a manifestation of God, having reference not to believers but to unbelievers.’ ” And by interpreting the word “tongues” as denoting not ‘the gift of tongues, ‘but’ foreign languages,’ he draws from the whole the meaning, “that when a people are disobedient, God sends them teachers whom they cannot understand.” This approaches the correct view. But if by “unbelievers” we are to understand the world at large, it would seem as if the tongues, i.e., the foreign languages which he supposes the gift to imply, were especially designed for these, and that not in the way of judgment, but in the way of instruction. And, so understanding it, we destroy the force of the analogy. Hence it will be necessary to restrict the meaning of the word “unbelievers” as denoting those who, having known, refuse to believe—to the incorrigible, and to the hardened]. The meaning, then, is this, that when God speaks unintelligibly, He exhibits Himself not as one that is opening His thoughts to His faithful ones, but as one who is shutting Himself up from those who will not believe. The speaking is indeed a powerful one, but nothing is accomplished by it; the ear and mind are not directed to Him; “neither so will they hearken unto me.” So was it formerly in the speaking of God to His people by men of other tongues. They, indeed, called themselves His, but in this very circumstance they showed that they had incurred His judgment. In like manner it also appeared here, if a person spake unintelligibly to the church; he made it appear as if God had withdrawn from His people—as if they, by reason of unbelief, had incurred His judgment—as if they were persons for whom the most powerful divine manifestations—such as speaking with tongues—were useless, and who could not be brought by them to reflection. [Such would be the effect of employing the gift of tongues in the church with out interpretation. And here the force of the passage would be all the same whether we interpreted the gift of tongues as an ability to speak in foreign languages, or as the endowment of some heretofore unknown formal speech. The main thing here, which stands as a sign, is the use of language unintelligible to the hearers. And this may exist in either case].—but prophecy (is for a sign) not to unbelievers, but to believers.—[The E. V. overlooking the fact that the two clauses of this verse were alike in structure, and stood antithetically, has supplied the ellipsis by the word “serveth,” therein following the earlier versions of Tyndale, Cranmer, and Geneva. This somewhat embarrasses the interpretation. The two clauses should be rendered alike as above. Here “prophecy” stands in contrast with the gift of tongues as denoting intelligible communications. Hence, if what was spoken by a tongue were only interpreted, it too would stand on a par with prophecy. This served as a sign not for unbelievers, but for believers. But in what sense are we to understand this? Observing the analogy furnished in the previous clause, we must say that prophecy was a means of divine communication to those who either did believe, or were disposed to believe, and was to them a token of favor, and a source of blessing, while it was withheld from those hardened in unbelief. By such interpretation we both preserve the antithesis, and carry out the signification of the prophecy in Isa., which is here applied],—If, then, the whole church should come together in one place, and all should speak with tongues, and there should come in common people, or unbelievers, would they not say, ye were mad?—[The οὖν may be taken either as strictly inferential, or as simply transitional. The latter most accords with the course of thought]. It would be a mistake to suppose that what is stated in 1 Co 14:22, is still further enlarged upon, and explained in this and the following verse, by showing the different effects of speaking with tongues, and of prophecy upon unbelievers and the believing, as though these had been already intimated there in a concise way; as if he had said: ‘tongues are for a sign not to believers for the purpose of producing faith, but for unbelievers for the purpose of strengthening them in their unbelief.’ There is a severity of meaning here which ought not to be concluded upon, if in any way avoidable. So also is it a mistake to suppose that the Apostle meant to say that the gift of tongues was intended to be used for the conversion of unbelievers, i.e., those not Christians, and that this result was hindered by such a use of the gift as was contrary to its original intent, it being employed by Christians collectively (all speaking together, and not one by one) and for Christians merely, in a style fitted only to be for a sign to those who are not Christians, so that in this case an effect would be produced upon the minds of casual observers directly contrary to that intended, and the whole phenomenon would be made to appear to those common persons and unbelievers who might come in to witness this abuse, as something exceedingly absurd, and in fact a most crazy piece of business (Meyer).—The assumption that the gift of tongues was designed to lead to the conversion of those who were not Christians, [whether it be as Hodge says, through the use of foreign languages which the various nations of unbelievers could understand, or, as others think, through the remarkable character of the phenomenon itself as an ecstatic utterance], is wholly groundless. It is neither probable in itself (Acts 2, furnishing no proof of this opinion); nor can it be inferred from 1 Co 14:21, except by a most arbitrary interpretation. That passage from Isa. is the announcement of a judgment; the prophet there asserts that the most powerful speaking on the part of God would effect no change upon the people hardened in unbelief. So the Apostle argued that in his day the speaking with tongues was a sign from God to unbelievers, of a like sort—an instrumentality in the form of a judgment which, however cogent in itself, would produce no salutary results. The supposition, therefore, that the gift in question was intended as a means of conversion, is contrary to the line of the Apostle’s argument.—Still, in all this no condemnation is at all implied of the gift in question, viewed by itself; nor are the recipients of the gift in any way disparaged. Paul is only speaking of the relation which the gift sustained to the church, and of the absurdity of their using it there without an accompanying interpretation. Employed in this way, no gracious communication came through it from God, as was the case in prophecy; but, rather, God appeared as one who shut Himself from their apprehension, just as He was wont to exhibit Himself towards unbelievers. Accordingly, we are not to regard the passage before us (1 Co 14:23) as designed to show how a gift, which was intended to convert unbelievers, had failed of its intended effect by a wrong use; but what the Apostle aims at here, is to exhibit the picture of a church abundantly endowed with the gift of tongues, even to the fullest extent its admirers would deem desirable, and putting it in fullest exercise in its assembly; and then to show the impression which such a scene would make on casual observers. He imagines ‘the whole church convened in one place’—“a rare occurrence in so large a city,” as Bengel observes, yet one calculated to produce a strong impression of the solemnity of the occasion), and ‘all speaking with tongues’—not necessarily simultaneously [as Stanley supposes] any more than in the next verse they are to be regarded as prophesying together, but one after another—and then the coming in of private persons (ἰδιῶται) and unbelievers (ἄπιστι) to watch the proceedings. What the impression on them must be, he leaves for his readers to decide in answering the question, “would they not say ye were mad?”—an assembly of crazy people rather than a church possessed by the Spirit of God? On this point there could be no doubt. And here he finds a fresh argument for their not employing this gift of tongues without interpretation.—μαίνεσθαι is not to be interpreted as sometimes in the old classic Greek, to be possessed by a god, with the additional implication that no one was present to explain what those thus possessed were saying; but it means, as above, to be mad, as in Acts 26:24.—But who are intended by the ἰδιῶται and ἄπιστοι who come in to observe and take the impression? As to the second word ἄπιστοι, unbelievers, we are not to understand it in this and the following verse in the same sense which it bears in the one preceding, where its meaning is determined by the connection with 1 Co 14:21, and by the antithesis with “those who believe.” Here the import of the verse must govern. Such variations in the signification of the same word in passages closely connected are not without a parallel. A similar one occurs in 15:1, 3, in the use of παραλαβεῖν. In the previous case (1 Co 14:22) the word carried a strongly ethical force denoting those who would not believe; but here, as is evident from its being associated with ἰδιώτης, and especially from the import of the next verse where it is used in the same sense and connection, we must understand by it simply those not Christians, heathen, it may be, who out of curiosity, or from a desire to learn, or by reason of a mysterious longing after truth, might have been induced to enter the church. But ἰδιῶται cannot in like manner be taken to denote those not Christians (whether as Jews, or as persons approaching near to Christianity, or as those who are perfect strangers to it, nor yet that class who were in a transitional state (such as catechumens and neophytes); but simple laymen or common people in distinction from those who spoke with tongues or prophesied; or even perhaps Christians from abroad since it is presupposed that the whole church belonging to that locality were in the assembly. [The meaning here given to ἰδιώτης is its primary one, implied in the root ἴδιος; but the rendering unlearned is in accordance with its secondary signification, and is adopted by all who hold to the theory that “the tongues” employed were foreign languages. Hence HODGE says in reference to the distinction between the words in question:—“The two classes (the unlearned and the unbelieving) are not so distinguished that the same person might not belong to both classes. The same persons were either ἰδιῶται or ἄπιστοι, according to the aspect under which they were viewed. Viewed in relation to the languages, they were unlearned; viewed in relation to Christianity, they were unbelievers.” This is consistent with the general theory, but can hardly be admitted.—The superiority and so the greater desirableness of prophecy is next shown by way of contrast in the effect it would be likely to produce under the same circumstances.—But if all prophesy,—Here let it be remembered that “prophecy” not only implies the use of the vernacular and the exercise of the νοῦς, the understanding, but was also a disclosure of the hidden things of the spiritual world whether in God or man—not simply a prediction of future events].—and there should come in some unbeliever or private person,—As in the former case, a full meeting of the church is here presupposed to enhance the impression made. Observe also a change in the order of the words and of the number in which they are introduced. As MEYER says: 1. “In the former instance common persons are mentioned first, and unbelievers afterwards, since the common persons being Christians and supposed to be acquainted with the object of the gift, naturally step into the foreground, and the opinion expressed would fall from them first; on the contrary here “the unbeliever” appears first, because he is speaking of conversion, and therefore he is the one principally intended; the other party is added by the way, inasmuch as his case is not altogether dissimilar.” BENGEL: 2. “In the former case we have the plural, where the aim is to set forth a general impression which was to be made and expressed—one speaking to another; with equal suitableness the singular appears in. the second case, where the aim is to exhibit a converting effect in its progress, which can best be shown in the instance of a particular individual.”—he is convicted by all,—ἐλέγχεται, is made conscious of his sin and unbelief. The secret movements of his heart—concealed more or less from the subject himself—are exposed in so striking a manner by the speakers as one after another goes on prophesying and deepening the impression, that the individual feels himself to be one pointed at, is compelled to see himself in his true light, and at last, is forced to confess the correctness of the delineation.—is judged by all:—ἀνακρίνεται, is examined and searched into; this is closely connected with the preceding. The conviction brings with it a judgment on the man’s moral character. He hears it already pronounced in the speeches he listens to, and conscience compels him to accord therewith, and acknowledge its propriety;—the secret things of his heart become manifest;—There is no further chance for disguise. The revelation scatters all darkness and solves all doubt. The three verbs and their relation to each other are more fully explained by Osiander: ἐλέγςειν expresses the inner conviction, and reproof—this is the whole work; ἀνακρίνεται the more searching investigation, as it were the inward trial—this is the chief instrumentality; φανερὰ γίν., the disclosure of what is within that sets all at rest,—this is the result. Or we have here coördination and gradation: 1. the first strong, but yet general impression of the truth, the sentence passed through it; 2. its development,—the investigation and judgment of the individual, or besides, the refutation of his reply to the charge; 3. the advance to the interior, the centre of the moral life, where each particular is set in full light and the trial reaches its consummation. All is as one inward revelation, designed especially to overcome the person’s unbelief; mediated by the power of divine truth which spoke inspiringly through the mouth of the prophets, and by the force of his own moral consciousness as apprehended by the truth and strengthened through the depth of his own inward experience and through the abundant outpouring of the Holy Spirit. It is doubtful whether there may not also have been searching glances, as of a seer, into significant circumstances of the inward moral life of the unsatisfied one (Grot.)—and so—i.e., in consequence of this conviction,—falling upon his face, he will worship God,—[“Comp. the effect of Samuel’s prophesying on Saul, “He lay down all that day and night. 1 Sam. 19:24.” STANLEY].—reporting.—ἀπαγγὲλλων, a plain emphatic avowal, suitable to the mighty impression made; and what is reported is directly the reverse of their being mad.—that God is in you—[not, ‘among you,’ but in your minds working there “this inward illumination and spiritual power,—a most conclusive argument in favor of religion from the divine operations.” BENGEL, “It is through this in-dwelling of God in the individuals through His Spirit, that He dwells in the church as a whole, which thereby becomes His Temple.” MEYER]. See for a like effect the confession of the woman of Samaria, Jno. 4:19.—of a truth.—ὄντως appears also in Mark 11:32.
1 CO 14:26-33. From what has been said he proceeds to draw some practical lessons for regulating the use of spiritual gifts in the church.—What is it, then, brethren?—τί οὖν ἐστιν, as in 1 Co 14:15. [“It is a conclusive phrase, introduced at the end of discussion, the sense of which is always nearly the same, but which requires to be accommodated to the context.” BLOOMFIELD. Its meaning here, then, is not, “what is then the condition of things among you? How, in point of fact, do you conduct your public worship?” (Hodge), as though about to introduce a description of a state of things he was about to disapprove. But it means ‘what, then, is the inference to be drawn from what I have said? What, then, is to be done?—The clauses which follow have been variously interpreted. Some like Locke, Doddr., Stanley, Hodge, regard Paul as here exposing a state of things which needed to be corrected. They lay stress upon the use of the present tense, as though intended to exhibit the eager haste of the parties endowed with gifts to exercise these gifts in unseemly haste and forwardness. This, however, would be to foist into the words a meaning or a force which does not readily appear, and which seems unnecessary. All we can fairly find there is] a statement of the case in a protasis and apodosis, [in view of which he lays down the rule he wished to enforce].—when ye come together,—[i.e., ‘as often as ye come together’ (Meyer, Hodge)].—every one of you—The ἔκαστος must be understood of those endowed With spiritual gifts, and be interpreted distributively—not that every one has all the gifts about to be enumerated, but that each one has something—one this and another that.—has—as ready for communication. [LOCKE adds: “so that he is not able to endure any delay.” But this is an unnecessary intensification of the present].—a psalm,—[not one taken from the book of Psalms, as though none other were allowed to be used in public worship, as some of our Scotch brethren imagine], nor one previously composed and committed for the occasion; but the meaning is, that he comes to church in a state of mind inspired by the Spirit, to produce and pour forth some song of praise [after the manner of Miriam, Deborah, Simeon]. Inasmuch as having a tongue is particularly mentioned afterwards, we are not here to understand a song in the spirit, i.e., with a tongue, as in 1 Co 14:15.—has a doctrine,—i, e., is ready to give an exposition of some particular portion of Christian truth.—has a revelation,—i.e., some disclosure from the unseen world, which forms a basis of prophecy which some take as synonymous with this.—has a tongue,—i.e., has the inspiration on him to speak with a tongue.—has an interpretation.—i.e., the qualification to interpret what is spoken with a tongue. [Some would end the apodosis here; but, as DE WETTE well says: “The reader cannot well stop here, but is forced on by the opening question to the concluding thought which follows, and which forms, as it were, a second apodosis”]. Let all things happen to edification.—[i.e., ‘let all these gifts be so employed and timed that the whole church shall be built up and perfected thereby; and let no one seek to employ them either for his own private edification, or for his own glory.’ This is a general rule which he lays down for the regulation of all their public services], and which he now goes on to apply more particularly in relation to glossolaly, and to prophecy.—Whether any one speaks with a tongue,—The εἴτε, whether, which introduces the first instance, has no “or” corresponding to it in the second—an anacoluthon which arises from the manner in which he carries out his instructions in regard to the former.—by twos, or, at most, by threes,—The plural refers back to what is implied in the previous clause, i.e., ‘if there are any speakers with tongues.’ Hence we are to supply the verb, ‘let them speak.’ We can also take this as declarative (with de Wette and Meyer): ‘In case a person wishes to speak with a tongue, let him know that two or three ought to speak, i.e., not more than two to three in one and the same assembly.’ [“This limitation implies that there had been a danger lest the whole assembly should be engrossed by them,” STANLEY; and thus the time be spent in the use of this the least useful of all the gifts].—and in turn;—This is the second direction instructing them not to speak at once—a thing they might be disposed to do in the glow of their inspiration—but one after the other. A third direction is,—and let one interpret.—Not ‘one after the other,’ for this is contrary to the usage of the language; but one who has the gift of interpretation, whether it be one of those who speak with a tongue, or some other person. By the employment of only one person to interpret the discourses of the successive speakers, time would be gained for other discourses. According to Osiander, this direction may have been grounded in the fact that the fulness and manifoldness of the creative power of the Spirit manifested itself in this productive charism in a rich variety of forms, and in an inspiration that wrought in many individuals; while the reproductive charism of interpretation referred back the variety of form to the unity of the Spirit, and the fundamental contents of that spoken; and also in the fact that the gift of the Spirit made itself known much more powerfully if one person interpreted several tongues. Whether the composition of the verb διερμηεν́ειν is to be pressed, as Osiander thinks, so as to make it mean an exact interpretation extending to all points, is doubtful.—But if there be not an interpreter,—i.e., either in the person of him who speaks with tongues, or of any other,—let him keep silence in church;—Here there is a change of subject. It is not the interpreter that is to keep silence, but the person who has a tongue; as is evident from the context. If we assume that the latter person is meant in both clauses, as though the first read, ‘but if he be not an interpreter,’ then it would be supposed that interpretation was exclusively the gift of one who spake with tongues, which is contrary to 12: 10. [“The gift of tongues and the interpretation of them appear to have been usually imparted to separate persons, for thereby the power of the Spirit was more conspicuously manifested; but it seems too much to say that these gifts were invariably distinct.” Quoted from Slade by Bloomfield, who goes on to say: “Certainly the present passage does not compel us to suppose they were distinct. For the Apostle’s injunction might only be given on the supposition that the person had, as in ordinary cases, the gift of tongues without the power of interpretation. But the phrase in question no more precludes the possibility of a person being his own interpreter, than the phrases in 1 Co 14:5 and 13 preclude the possibility of interpretation by others”].—But though compelled to keep silence in church, his gift need not be wholly suppressed.—but let him speak to himself and to God.—That this cannot be explained of an inaudible, or altogether mental communication, is refuted by the verb λαλεῖν, which always denotes loud utterance. The thing here meant must therefore be private devotion at home. The datives here ἐαυτῷ—τῷ θεῷ are not dat. commodi, as though they meant ‘for his own improvement, and for the glory of God;’ but they are to be rendered either ‘to himself,’ and ‘to God,’ or ‘for himself, and ‘for God.’ The whole injunction presupposes that the person who spoke with a tongue was master of himself, and not entirely overruled by an irresistible impulse; also, that he knew for himself what he felt and uttered (comp. on 1 Co 14:2, 14).—[But if “the tongue” was some foreign language, why should he speak “to himself, and to God” in it, when in all probability it was not half so suitable a vehicle for uttering religious thought as the Hebrew or Greek? and not reserve it till he found some foreigner who could readily understand him without an interpreter? On the condition supposed, the latter would be the more natural course to be pursued].—An analogous direction he gives in regard to the prophets.—And let the prophets speak two or three,—i.e., in one meeting. Opportunity would thus be given for other edifying discourses, such as doctrine.—[He does not add “at most,” because he does not wish to appear as if limiting this most edifying of the gifts. ALFORD]—And as in the former case interpretation was to be used, so here judgment.—and let the others discern.—i.e., judge what in the discourse proceeds from the Spirit of God, or from a foreign spirit (Neander and Burger). By “the others” we most naturally understand the rest of those possessed of the gift of prophecy who are not discoursing, who possessed also the gift of discernment; not members of the church generally, since all could not be regarded as qualified for this; nor yet such as possessed the gift of judgment without that of prophecy, although there must have been persons of this class likewise. [The original subject “prophets” here runs through the whole sentence].—In what follows the duty of speaking in turn is still further insisted upon. And first we have the precept itself.—And if anything be revealed to another sitting by,—and thereupon his spirit was moved to prophesy, then—let the first be silent—and sit down; for the speaker stood (comp. Luke 4:17). “The fact that the Spirit impelled another to speak was a hint to the first speaker that it was time for him to be done.” BURGER. [“It was of more importance to catch the first burst of a prophecy than to listen to the completion of one already begun.” STANLEY. But this would imply that an inspired discourse reversed the order of ordinary discourse where the peroration is generally the most eloquent part]. By this injunction the Apostle does not intend that the second speaker should wait until the first had finished [Hodge29], but that in case he gives some token, perhaps by rising, that he has received a revelation and wishes to speak immediately, the first should not then prolong his speech, but should give way to the first gush of inspiration in the other, although perhaps not so as to break off too abruptly.30 Besides, the revelation is not to be regarded precisely in the light of a new disclosure occasioned by the speech just heard; although, as a general thing, a susceptibility for further revelations would be awakened and furthered by the prophetic discourse of another. The injunction just given is next sustained by offsetting to the disinclination to restrain the impulse to speak the thought that, while avoiding the confusion occasioned by several speaking at once, the opportunity might thus be afforded for all to exercise their gift; and he encourages them to the exercise of self-denial in this respect by pointing them to the result which would thereby be attained.—For one by one—He here takes up again the import of the injunction just given, laying a stress thereupon, as well as upon the word “all” which follows.—ye can all prophesy,—The possibility here implied is simply an outward one, that of an opportunity to express themselves if not in one meeting yet, at least, in several subsequent ones (and also, perhaps, to finish out what was left unsaid when they were compelled to be silent). A simpler explanation than this which properly sub-audits προφητεύονες after καθ̓ ἔνα, is that which emphasizes δύνασθe and κα, θἔνα, q. d., ‘you can indeed all individually prophesy; there is nothing to withhold you from it forcibly.’ [So ALFORD, who explains it, “you have power to bring about this result—you can be silent if you please, and so prophesy one by one.”]—The result of thus bringing the prophetic gift into full exercise would be that all the members of the church would find nourishment and satisfaction for all their intellectual and moral wants—a result that could not be obtained in case several spoke at once.—that all may learn, and all may be exhorted (or comforted).—According to the first of the interpretations given above, this result would be reached by the fact that all had had the opportunity of speaking. [“The discourse of one might suit the wants of some hearers; and that of another might be adapted to the case of others. Thus all hearers would receive instruction and consolation.” HODGE]. Besides, the second πάντες, all, may possibly include also those prophets not precisely active. [Was their comfort to consist in the chance for speaking, or in the opportunity of hearing others?] To think of these exclusively is inconsistent with the change of persons, ‘ye may prophesy,’ ‘all may learn’ (μανθάνωσιν).—In 1 Co 14:32 he proceeds to show that the nature of prophetic inspiration did not hinder the maintenance of such order, but rather promoted it. His meaning is 1. ‘ye are able to do this;’ 2. ‘it becometh you also as prophets to do this by virtue of the character of your gift.’ This character is thus set forth,—And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.—The “and” connects this verse to the preceding as containing an additional reason for the injunction given above. In regard to the expression “the spirits of the prophets,” it is a question whether he means the inspiring Spirit, in the variety of its manifestations [Hodge, de Wette and others], or, the inspired spirits of prophets themselves which, because he is here speaking of prophets in general, are naturally put in the plural [Meyer, Alford, Stanley]. The latter interpretation is the more probable as is seen by the drift of the argument since the statement that the spirits are subject to the prophets would hardly be suitable on such a construction. The meaning ‘inward motions,’ ‘excitements,’ ‘inspirations’ [Wordsworth] cannot be admitted. But who are the prophets to whom the spirits are subject? Some understand by these other prophets, and interpret the verb ὑποτάσσεται of that mutual subordination which is implied in the silencing of the one by the rising of another; or, according to Bengel, in the learning of the person silenced; or, according to others, in the subjection to the ‘discernment’ exercised over them by others—which however is too far fetched. Others understand by these prophets the individuals to whom the spirits belonged; so that the expression “to the prophets” would be equivalent ‘to themselves,’ only being more emphatic and pointing, as it were, to the circumstance that this subjection was grounded in the very essence of the gift itself. The ‘subjection’ he speaks of is that which is involved in a sound Christian disposition and accords with the true prophetic spirit.—In the first explanation, viz, that which supposes the subjection to be to other prophets, the reference to the injunction “let him be silent,” as that about which he is treating, is the only correct one, q. d., ‘let him be silent inasmuch as the spirit of one prophet is subject to that of another;’ neither can we say with Meyer, that that injunction would have been superfluous in this case; since indeed it is only confirmed by pointing to that, which is becoming to the Christian prophet as such. But the second interpretation deserves the preference as the finer one, q. d., “ye are able all of you, by restraining your impulse to speak, to prophesy one after another; and such control over the spirit, however powerfully excited, belongs to the prophets themselves who are no mere enthusiasts obeying their own impulses involuntarily, but voluntary agents.” [“In this way he distinguishes these impulses from those of the heathen pythonesses and sibyls.” STANLEY]. The absence of the article before πνεύματα προφητῶν προφταις is accounted for by the fact that these words are used qualitatively. [It generalizes the assertion mating it applicable to all Christian prophets].—The position thus taken is still further substantiated theologically by a reference to God whose Spirit is the active principle of prophecy.—For God is not of confusion, but of peace.—By not maintaining this control over their spirits, they would appear as not true prophets moved by the Spirit of God; since by allowing their impulse to speak in an unbridled way, there would arise a state of things that could not possibly come from God, viz., disorder; that peace which is essentially God’s work would be broken up. ἀκαταστασία (3 Cor. 12:20; Jas. 3:16; Luke 21:9) is disorder, confusion, which also involves disunion; hence the antithesis εἰρήνη in which order and subordination are implied. These are put in the genitive, as indicating both what belongs to God as an attribute, and what proceeds from Him as an effect. God is not a being who either has in Himself or produces confusion; but who both has and produces peace (comp. the genitives Heb. 10:39 and the expression “the God of Peace” Rom. 15:33).—Here some commentators directly annex the clause—as in all the churches of the saints.—[So likewise the E. V.]. In this case something must be supplied in order to put it in relation to the altogether general proposition just laid down. For example, ‘God is such a being among you as in all the churches of the saints.’ ‘This His character must show itself among you, just as in all the churches, through this subjection I am speaking of.’ But whether we effect the connection in this or in some other way, there will nevertheless always remain in it something peculiar and harsh. Whereas, on the contrary, what is said in opposition to uniting it with what follows, viz., that Paul elsewhere does not use a protasis with ὡς, without following it with a οὔτως, and that the word ‘churches’ would occur close together with diverse significations, ought to be of little weight; to this it may be added that afterward, in 1 Co 14:36, there occurs a reprimand founded thereupon. [“I am compelled,” says ALFORD, “to depart from the majority of modern critics of note, e. g., Lachmann, Tischendorf, Billroth, Meyer, de Wette, and to adhere to the common arrangement of this latter clause. My reason is, that taken as beginning the next paragraph, it is harsh beyond example, and superfluous, as anticipating the reason about to be given οὐ γὰρ κ. τ. λ. Besides which, it is more in accordance with St. Paul’s style, to place the main subject of a new sentence first, see 1 Tim. 3:8, 11, 12; and we have an example of reference to general usage coming in last, in aid of other considerations, 1 Co 11:16; but it seems unnatural that it should be placed first in the very forefront of a matter on which he has so much to say.” To this it may be added that the clause standing where it does in the E. V., as connected with what precedes, seems to furnish a demonstration of the general position assumed and especially of the concluding assertion. The peace and the order which belongs to God and comes from God, might be seen manifested in all the churches of the saints, and ought therefore to have been manifest at Corinth in like manner. Hodge and Wordsworth follow the old punctuation without comment. So likewise does Bloomfield who however takes the words, “for God is not, etc.,” as parenthetical; and in the words, “as in all, etc.,” he would understand the law, viz., “for the prophets to have in subjection the spiritual influence for good.” As to the new punctuation, he adds: “it occasions a very offensive tautology, and derogates much from the weight and gravity with which the direction is brought forward.” But see below.]
1 CO 14:34-36. This little paragraph, prohibiting women from speaking in public assemblies, forms an adjunct to the precepts in 1 Co 14:26–33, and its connection with these would be still closer, if we suppose Paul to have had in mind such women as had the gift of prophecy (comp. Acts 21:9), or of tongues. Both Greek and Roman as well as Jewish custom forbade the public appearance of women (comp. Grot. and Wests. i h. 1). Christian church order attached itself to this custom (1 Tim. 2:11), suitably to the old divine order (νόμος, Gen. 3:16) which strictly imposed upon woman subjection to man, since she, by her voluntary act, had involved him in apostasy. To this belongs the duty of keeping silence in public assemblies; while public speaking, whether in the way of holding discourse, or of asking questions, appeared, on the contrary, as an effort at independence calculated to foster woman’s vanity, and to take her out of the subordinate position appointed her by God. Even in the matter of putting questions, this was the more true in proportion as the question was keen and pert. Aside from this, also, it involved a sort of intercourse with men on the part of the women, and a renunciation of their dependence upon their husbands, from whom, or through whose aid they ought to obtain the knowledge they were in quest of—a matter important for preserving the integrity of the marriage relation; while, on the other hand, this holding direct communication with other men in public assemblies, even on spiritual subjects, might serve to disturb it.—Unmarried women are here not taken into the account. That these had more freedom than the married, cannot be inferred from Acts 21:2, since nothing is there said of public prophesying. In them a modest less-restraint is naturally presupposed. Their desire for knowledge might also be gratified in other quiet ways, e.g., through their fathers, relatives, friends, teachers, deaconesses, etc. The same held good of the converted wives of the heathen.—As in all churches of the saints.—[On the connection of this clause see above. As STANLEY: “Though in the older texts joined to the preceding, it has since the time of Cajetan, and rightly, been joined to the following, the connection being the same as in 11:16”]. These words stand first by way of emphasis, in order to cut off all objections in advance. Nothing here needs to be supplied, since from the context we readily understand it to be meant ‘as the women keep silence in the churches.’ [The early Greek fathers, the Vulgate, Wickliffe, Cranmer, and the Rheims’ version, who all connect this clause with the preceding, subaudit ‘I teach,’ apparently, to obviate the otherwise natural, but hardly allowable inference, that the Apostle was appealing to the condition of things in other churches to prove a conceded and undeniable truth, that God was a God of peace and of order. The necessity felt for supplying some such expression to render the sense pertinent in such a connection, is a strong argument in favor of the other punctuation here advocated]. The τῶν ἁγίων belongs to ἐν ταῖς ἐκκλησίαις (comp. ἄγιοι 1:2) and serves to add force to the reference. That which obtains in the churches of persons consecrated to God, i.e., of the saints, is more than an ordinary human custom; it is a higher divine ordinance which must be ascribed to the Spirit of God ruling in them.—let the women keep silence in the churches;—To connect τῶν ἀγίων, as Lachmann does with what follows, omitting ὑμῶν as though it were ‘let the wives of the saints,’ etc., is too forced, and is not demanded by the somewhat emphatic expression “their own husbands,” in 1 Co 14:35. If we maintain the reading ὑμῶν, your, an antithesis would be implied therein between the special designation of “women,” and the more general mention of “all the churches.” This, however, does not well suit, since the emphasis lies upon the word “women.” Paul does not intend to say that their women, in distinction from all others, were to keep silence in the churches; but the point made is in reference to women in general.—It is a question, however, whether “your” may not be put in relation to “churches,” and then, also, the word “churches” in the protasis be understood only of the assemblies.—The prohibition is confirmed by a reference to the established order in this respect.—for it is not permitted unto them to speak:—of course it is public speaking that is here intended as the context implies. [“In the O. T. it had been predicted that ‘your sons and your daughters shall prophesy;’ a prediction which the Apostle Peter quotes as verified on the day of Pentecost, Acts 2:17; and in Acts 21:9 mention is made of four daughters of Philip who prophesied. The Apostle himself seems to take for granted in 11. 5, that women might receive and exercise the gift of prophecy. It is therefore only the public exercise of the gift that is prohibited.” HODGE]. Inasmuch as in such public speaking there would be manifested a certain degree of social independence, we see the propriety of his putting in contrast with this,—but to be under obedience,—We here have an instance of brachylogy. Comp. 1 Tim. 4:3. Instead of “it is not permitted,” we must here supply some expression corresponding with the second clause, such as ‘it is commanded them,’ or ‘it is incumbent on them.’ The variation ὑποτασσέσθωσαν, let them keep silence, though apparently well sustained, was no doubt intended as a grammatical correction through ignorance of the above construction.—as also saith the law. [See Gen. 3:16, “and he shall rule over thee;” also Numb. 30:3–12. The speaking of women was also strictly forbidden in the Synagogues].—But if they wish to learn anything,—[a thing most certainly to be anticipated in quick, sensitive, eager natures; and which, to repress altogether, would be both injurious and painful, and was therefore to be provided for, yet, in consistency with that refinement and delicacy which is the beauty and the glory of the sex].—let them ask their own husbands at home;—“This is on the supposition that their husbands were Christians,” BURGER; [and were able to answer them. Their incapacity in this respect is either passed over as not to be supposed, or as an evil which was remediless]. The verb ἐπερωτᾷν generally means to enquire, and is not to be taken as expressing a “desire to hear yet more in addition to that which they had heard in the church.” OSIANDER. [“Their own” (ἰδίους) is emphatic, confining them to their own husbands to the exclusion of other men]. The teachings of the law he shows to be sustained by the public sense of propriety.—for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.—[“The word used is αἰσχρός, which properly means ugly, deformed. It is the predicate of anything which excites disgust. As the peculiar power and usefulness of women depend on their being the objects of admiration and affection, anything which tends to excite the opposite sentiments should, for that reason, be avoided.” HODGE]. Any objection that might possibly be raised against what was thus founded upon the general custom and order of the churches, he encounters with a question.—Or went the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only?—i.e., ‘are you the original church, so that your wisdom is to set the standard of propriety; or are you the only church, so that you are at liberty to stand alone by yourselves and your own conceits?’ This question which so plainly exhibits the impertinence of any opposition on the part of the Corinthians, cannot be put in relation to the foregoing precepts (1 Co 14:26 ff.), but only to the shamefulness of the conduct in question just spoken of. This is required by the close grammatical connection, q. d., ‘this public speaking is in violation of the public sense of decency; or, are you the original or the only church of Christ?’ i.e., you can oppose this only on the ground that you are such, so that either all the other churches must conform their regulations to yours as the mother-church, or you, as the sole depositaries of the revelation of God, are at liberty to set yourselves up as the only rule of what is becoming. Now, since this was not the case, it was incumbent on them, as a part of a community of churches of Christ, to put themselves in agreement with the rest in regard to their rules of divine worship.—In respect to the language of the text comp. Isa. 2:3; Micah 4:2.—“The word of God” here means Christian doctrine as being preëminently the revelation of God (2 Cor. 2:17; 1 Thes. 1:8).
1 CO 14:37-40. These verses form the conclusion to the whole discussion concerning spiritual gifts and their use. He here sets himself against all such spiritual presumption as would exalt the impulse of the free spirit above apostolic precepts, and affirms that the person who recognizes what has just been written to be a precept resting upon the authority of Christ, indicates thereby the reality of his own inspiration, so that in the opposite case all claim to such inspiration would prove itself to be but a vain fancy. This is what the word δοκεῖ points to in what follows, which here, as in 11. 12, does not mean ‘appear,’ but think, involving a possibility of self-deception.—If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual,—In consequence of the disjunctive “or,” many take the word “spiritual” in a restricted sense as denoting one speaking with tongues. [So Stanley]; but ἥ, or, is equivalent both to and, as well as to vel., i. e., it serves to separate ideas which might be taken for one another as well as those which exclude one another (Passow. I 1320). Accordingly the term “spiritual” might designate the genus, under which “the prophet” might be included, denoting any one endowed with the spirit, and implying therefore the possession of any other gift which together with prophecy belongs to this class, and certainly not the gift of tongues exclusively.—let him acknowledge what things I write to you, that—ἐπιγινωσκέτω ἂ γράφω—ὅτι, a case of well known attraction for ὅτι ἅ γράφω, i.e., ‘let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you.’ [But what are the prescripts referred to? those in the verses just preceding? or to the whole contents of this chapter? Plainly the latter, as may be seen from the characters specified—‘prophet’ and ‘spiritual person’ which show that he had in mind all the regulations given in relation to the exercise of spiritual gifts].—they are the (commandments) of the Lord.—There are various readings here; the most probable is κυρίου ἐστίν, ‘are of the Lord.’ To this there was then added as a gloss ἐντολή, ‘commandment,’ which then crept into the text, and was there changed into the plural with a verb to correspond, εἰσίν ἐντολαί to accord with the antecedent ä, ‘what things.’ The meaning however is all the same. The Apostle here gives them to understand that the regulations prescribed by him came from the Lord and were His; yet not as though Christ (for He is the one meant, not God) had in person ordained the rules in this matter, but that he in enjoining them had spoken as one who “had the mind of Christ” (2:16; comp. 7:40), and so acted upon the authority of Christ (comp. Osiander and Meyer). [“The continued influence of Christ by the spirit over the minds of the apostles, which is a divine prerogative, is here assumed or asserted,” HODGE]. It was precisely of such as claimed to be spiritual that Paul could fairly demand that they should acknowledge the ordinances laid down by him to be the dictates of the Spirit of Christ—the expressions of His mind and will. [“Here, as in 1 Jno. 4:6, (“He that knoweth God heareth us; he that is not of God, heareth not us”) submission to the infallible authority of the apostles is made the test of a divine mission and even of conversion. This must be so. If the apostles were the infallible organs of the Holy Ghost, to disobey them in any matter of faith or practice is to disobey God.” HODGE. “No more direct assertion of inspiration can be uttered than this.” ALFORD.]—The requirement just made he next enforces with severity.—But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.—The ignorance here may be taken absolutely, as denoting the possession of erroneous views; or it may be a simple lack of knowledge or intelligence; in which case then it must be understood as a guilty ignorance, since the words “let him be ignorant” clearly express a penalty.—Some (Beza) interpret this verse as simply a contrast to the preceding, and so put the clauses in counterbalance. “The ‘ignorant persons’ here would thus be the opposite of the ‘spiritual’ spoken of in 1 Co 14:37, who is, in this case regarded as one possessed only of an ordinary illumination; and then the phrase ‘let him be ignorant’ stands antithetic to ‘let him acknowledge.’ The whole would then mean: ‘But if a person is unintelligent, being neither a prophet nor a spiritual person,—then will he not be able to perceive that these injunctions are from the Lord and authorized by Him, and for this (?) let him have his ignorance as his punishment’ ” (Osiander). The artificiality of this interpretation is not to be mistaken. It is better to take ἀγνοεῖ transitively, and put it in relation to the second clause of 1 Co 14:37, q. d., ‘if any one is ignorant and so does not acknowledge that the things which I write are of the Lord, then the state of ignorance to which he is given over must be regarded as his punishment;’ ‘let him remain ignorant at his peril.’ As BENGEL says: “let him keep it to himself; we cannot cast away all things for such a man. Those who are thus left to themselves, repent more readily than if you were to teach them against their will.” The Apostle here expresses his despair of further instructing a person whose ignorance he is constrained to regard as a refusal to learn. A similar use of the imperative we have in Rev. 22:11: “He that is unjust, let him be unjust still, he which is filthy, let him be filthy still,—and he that is holy, let him be holy still.”—Instead of the imperative a number of authorities, some of them important, have the indicative form ἀγνοεῖται, he is ignored. This reading may be explained on the ground of offence taken at the imperative; or that in the succession of ως (ἀγνοείτω ὥστε) one was dropped out and then ἀγνοεῖται was adopted, so as to obtain a sort of relation between the active and the passive, such as is found in 8:2; Gal. iv. 9. If this reading be adopted, it may be interpreted either: ‘so he becomes ignored, disregarded, abandoned to his own self-will,’ or: ‘he will be ignored by the Lord in the day of judgment’ (Matt. 7:23; 10:33).—Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.—And here again the old preference for prophecy is expressed. This gift is to be decidedly preferred and sought for, the other is only not to be hindered. “We recognize here an advance in the development of thought. At the start Paul said: ‘covet earnestly spiritual gifts,’ and planting himself on the stand-point of the Corinthians, he had included among these the gift of tongues. But after having explained how prophecy subserved the welfare of the church far more, he here gives this preference and only expresses the wish that no obstacle be put in the way of the other.” NEANDER. For the proper order of the text see critical notes. 1 Co 14:40 sums up the whole of what is stated in 1 Co 14:26 and onward.—But let all things be done decently and in order.—In the term ‘decently’ he does not refer exclusively to the duty of women’s keeping silence in the churches, 1 Co 14:34. To decency in church there belongs also the preservation of order enjoined in 1 Co 14:26 ff. which is more pointedly expressed in the words following: “in order” (κατὰ τάξιν), which refer to what is suitable as to time and measure, i.e., [‘not tumultuously as in a mob, but as in a well ordered army where every one keeps his place and acts at the proper time and in the proper way.’ HODGE].—“It might seem as if the instruction given with such minuteness by Paul in these chapters was of little importance, and had but little practical bearing for us, now that the gifts alluded to are no more dispensed. A high value is nevertheless to be attached to it: 1. because it affords us a glimpse into the condition of the first Christian congregations, their rich endowments, as well as the dangers connected with them; 2. because it is easy for us to draw practical inferences from it suitable to our existing states and relations; and much that is said is still pertinent to the present time; 3. because it furnishes us, as in a mirror, a picture of that we have lost, and thus serves as a spur to urge us on to recover it again by earnest prayer. Moreover, it contains a warning that we should not in our prayers put what is nonessential on a par with that which is essential, to say nothing of preferring the former to the latter.” BURGER.
EXCURSIS on the GIFT OF TONGUES.—In chap. 14 we have exhibited to us the essential character of this remarkable gift. We see that it is preëminently a form of worship, a mode of speaking, praying, and offering thanks, which goes on in spirit (ἐν πνεύματι), and not in the understanding (τῷ νοΐ); and that it is unintelligible without interpretation, consequently contributes nothing towards the edification of the church, but is simply a means of self-edification in communion with God (1 Co 14:2–4; 5–19). We must now consider the question which of the theories broached in relation to this gift is best sustained, or whether we must pass beyond these in order to hit the truth in the matter.—In the observations already made (comp. on 12:10; 13:1), the hypotheses of Eichhorn and Wieseler may be regarded as having been already disproved and set aside. The view of Bleek, even as modified by Baur, [that the word “tongue” (γλῶσσα) stands for a foreign word imported and half naturalized in the Greek], is opposed not only by its being a use of language both rare and altogether foreign to the New Testament, but also by such expressions as divers kinds of tongues, “tongues of angels,” and the like; and Baur contradicts himself when in one place he takes “tongues” to mean “organs of speech,” and in another “the utterances of those organs,” i.e., forms of language. Meyer’s theory (also that of Schultz and others), which starts from the signification “organ of speech,” is sustained by no inconsiderable arguments. His view is, that the tongue, set in motion involuntarily and independently of the understanding by the power of the Holy Spirit, spoke apparently of its own accord. It was not the person, but the tongue itself which spoke,—such was the aspect of the affair, and hence its designation. And because this mode of praying manifested itself with various characteristic modifications (which certainly cannot be explained, owing to our lack of experience), and because the same speaker was obliged to vary his manner of speaking according to the ever-changing degrees, impulses, and tendencies of his ecstasy, so that he seemed to be speaking with different tongues, there arose such expressions as: “to speak with tongues,” “divers kinds of tongues.” The unintelligibleness of a speech thus disconnected and mysterious is readily conceivable. But aside from the particular modes of expression which refuse to accord with this view, such as “he hath a tongue,” 14:26, it is opposed by the fact that it compels us to regard the narrative of what took place on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2) as a traditional perversion of what actually occurred: since its advocates cannot—with propriety, at any rate—undertake to deny the essential identity or similiarity of the Pentecostal miracle with the gift of speaking with tongues at Corinth.—[The theory that the gift of tongues was an ability to speak in foreign languages, and was conferred to assist in propagating the Gospel in foreign parts (Chrys., Calvin, Hodge, and others) is encountered by difficulties sufficient to render it untenable. 1. There is not the slightest evidence that it was ever used for this purpose. 2. So far as it bore on unbelievers, it was a sign of reprobation. 3. Its only use seems to have been in worship—in prayer, and praise, and thanksgiving. If there was no interpreter, its possessor was to speak in it to himself or to God. 4. There was needed a special gift for its interpretation, which would not have been the case were any foreigner present who understood the language. 5. It seems strange that the Spirit should have bestowed a gift designed for use in foreign parts so abundantly upon a church where it does not seem to have been specially needed. 6. Wherever an individual is spoken of as endowed with this gift, he is said to have “a tongue”—even in the case of Paul (according to the right reading) which clearly implies that this manifestation of the Spirit was in accordance more with individual peculiarities than with external demands. 7. On this theory the gift wouldbe quite on a par with the natural ability of multitudes in the city of Corinth, who, from their commercial intercourse with foreign nations, must be supposed to have learned many foreign languages. Hence in that city would this gift have been least needed, and have in it nothing striking. 8. Paul desired that all had this gift. Why so, if it was not for personal edification, but for the sake of preaching the Gospel? Did he want all to become missionaries?]—If, now, we proceed from the earlier phenomenon, then we get as the full expression of it, “to speak with other tongues,” to which there corresponds that in Mark 16:17, “to speak with new tongues.” A more abbreviated expression occurs in Acts (which we maintain to be the work of the Pauline Luke) 10:46, “to speak with tongues” with unmistakable reference to the first outpouring of the Spirit, with the effect it produced (comp. 11:15). The same expression occurs 19:6. But here it will be impossible to avoid taking the word “tongue” to denote a form of speech, and the “speaking with tongues” to mean speaking in languages, viz., in other than the ordinary ones (ἑτέραις γλώσσαις), or in so far as they were something before unheard in that place—“new tongues,” (καιναῖς γλώσσαις). Neither can we maintain the supposition that one person and another, while struggling for expression under the overwhelming stress of feeling, wove in words and forms of speech taken from some foreign language to him otherwise unknown. Rather we feel constrained to recognize in this church of heathen converts the reverberations of the great miracle of Pentecost; in which the power of Christianity, overcoming the distinctions of nationality in language, made itself known as the absolute religion which was to lead mankind out of their apostasy from God, and out of their mutual alienations, into their primitive unity. It was, however, no such speaking in any particular foreign language as would furnish to a person acquainted with it at once an intelligible meaning (comp. 14:2, “no one understands him”); but it was something entirely aloof from the reach of the understanding (while in the phenomenon of Pentecost we may assume an operation of the Spirit which ensured at once the interpretation, whether in the speakers or in the hearers); and it was unintelligible for this reason, because those powers of reflection which condition the intelligibility of speech, and unfold the subject matter to others, were suspended in their action, and the ordinary consciousness of self and of the world was kept in abeyance. In so far as this consciousness was always exercised within a particular national peculiarity and form of speech, the suppression of it involved the possibility of being lifted out of this particular sphere into a higher and broader one. The Spirit of Christ, which embraced humanity in all its various nationalities and languages, and possessed the power of uniting them all in one, effected a momentary dissolution of all these limitations in the inmost depths of the individual spirit and so let it forth in various degrees and measures into this unity which made itself known in the ability to produce signs of thought or forms of speech out of other spheres of language, and to express in these the spiritual feelings and views which had been awakened. This, nevertheless, was done in a constrained manner, corresponding to the nature of the estacy, or in forms and connections so new and foreign to the ordinary modes of thought and speaking that no one could obtain from it any clear connected sense, unless specially qualified for the work by the Holy Spirit.—Something akin to this we see in clairvoyance; which, indeed, even in its highest form is essentially distinguishable from these spiritual states in the fact that the gift of the Spirit was conditioned upon no physical peculiarity, that no cataleptic states were connected with it, and that its possessor was perpetually master of himself (14:18 ff., 28); to which may be added, that he was in no communion with the outward world, but was wholly absorbed in communion with God (Delitzsch, p. 317 ff.). If we assume that the various languages of earth are but the disjecta membra of the original speech of humanity, then was this gift of tongues a symbolic anticipation of the unity which is to be restored when humanity is perfected—a unity which will include in itself a boundless diversity in the most perfect harmony.—At any rate we are not to regard the utterances made through this gift as a promiscuous medley, a mere mish-mash of sounds. The individual inspired either took his parts of speech out of one language, as is shown in the sphere of clairvoyance; or, if he took them out of several languages, he took them in such a way as not to make them appear a crude amalgam of words, but a harmonious combination of terms most expressive of deep spiritual emotions all wrought together with a plastic skill and creative power that removed their separating peculiarities.—[And so far as its practical use was concerned, may we not take these tongues in their unintelligibility to have been a sign that in the kingdom of God, and under the mightier influences of the Spirit, there was a sphere of thought and feeling transcending the ordinary one, into which the saints would one day be brought, and which now could only be imperfectly interpreted to our common apprehension by means of earthly analogies, and the common forms of speech? as a convincing token that a new and marvellous power had come down on men to lift them into direct communion with God, and impart to them the experiences and mysteries of a higher life for the expression of which no existing human language was adequate? And was it not to give assurance of this that persons immediately, on their conversion, began to speak with new tongues?]—With such an understanding of the phenomenon, it cannot surprise us if, in relation to the unintelligibility of what was uttered, a reference should be made to human language as not understood by foreigners (14:10ff.); and, as contrasted with musical instruments, the tongue as the organ for exercising this gift, should be mentioned in its most direct signification (14:9). Besides, the various expressions used in respect to this gift suit very well with this view—even the one “he has a tongue”—which would thus mean, ‘he has a speech in readiness,’ i.e., is prepared to hold discourse in a language which, as is evident from what has hitherto been said, was unintelligible to the hearers.
[The whole subject is one of peculiar interest. One can hardly avoid the supposition that it stands in some way related to the remarkable phenomena witnessed in clairvoyance and animal magnetism, or to those ecstatic states observable in times of deep religious excitement. There is nothing disparaging to “the gift of tougues” in such a supposition. The Spirit of God, we know, employs the various susceptibilities and faculties of our nature for accomplishing its own ends, and moulds its operations on human conditions. He communicated His will through dreams and visions, and, as in the case of Peter (Acts 10:10, compared with 13), even shaped the form of instruction to the bodily state of the person acted upon; yet what is more illusory than a dream? And why should not these, as yet so little understood powers of our nature, be made the vehicle of these supernatural gifts? Why should the fact that they are so wild and strange, so often partake of the animal passions, are so often perverted to bad ends, serve for an objection to the supposition that they were so employed? Indeed, does not the power of “discerning,” associated with these spiritual gifts, clearly imply that there was danger of confounding the natural with the supernatural by reason of this very thing, and that there was need of a sharpened critical faculty to discriminate between what was from the Spirit, and what was not? We need, therefore, have no hesitation in looking in this direction for some explanation of this remarkable phenomenon of the early church, as though by so doing we should invalidate its divine character. Certain it is that there is something about it more mysterious and awe-inspiring than the simple ability to speak in one or more unacquired languages. We can in no way bring the Apostle’s method of dealing with it, and speaking of it, into harmony with the idea that this was all that was meant by “the gift of tongues.” Whether a recurrence of this gift can be looked for, is another question, not to be here discussed].
Aside from the commentaries, comp. also Heubner p. 310 ff.; E. F. Fritzsche: Nov. Opusc. p. 102 ff.; Kling: Theol. Stud. und Krit. 1839, p. 487 ff.; Bleck: ibid. 1829, p. 17; Baur and Steudel: Tüb. Zeitschrift 1830, 2; Baur: Theol. Stud, und Krit. 1838, p. 628 ff.; Wieseler: ibid. 1838, p. 378; Schultz 1839, p. 765 ff.; ibid. Spiritual Gifts, p. 57 ff.; Zeller: Theol. Jahrb. 1849; Neander; Hist. of planting and training of the Christian church, 1:14 ff., 240 ff. (4 Ed.); Hilgenfeld: Glossolaly in the primitive church, 1850; Rossteuscher: The Gift of Tongues in the apostolic times, 1850; Steinbeck: The Poet a Seer, p. 547 ff.; Pabst: A word about Ecstasy 1834, p. 29; Delitzsch: Psychol. p. 314 ff., 143 ff.; Fabri.: The Rise of Heathenism, etc. 1859, p. 18 ff., 60 ff.; Kahnis: The Doctrine of the Holy Ghost, 1:61–68; who like Delitzsch assumes a double form of charism in Acts 2, a speaking in actually existing languages; in 1 Cor. 12–14, in newly formed languages. [Owen’s Works, Vol. 4. p. 472 ff.; Smith’s Dict. of Bib. Ant. “Tongues”; E. Irving’s Works Vol. 5. p. 509 ff.; “Gifts of the Holy Ghost called supernatural.” Herzog’s Ency. Vol. 18: “Zungenreden”].
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. Language is the articulate expression of man’s thought and feeling; in it there is concentrated that whole spiritual life which lifts him above the brutes. Hence, it is a gift conferred on him directly, in his primitive condition, in and with his spirit itself; it is, as
it were, an innate organ or faculty—“no mechanical product of his own ingenuity, but a spontaneous emanation of the spirit” (W. v. Humboldt). In the beginning man possessed the word, and this word was from God; and from the vital power which was bestowed on him in and with this word, there streamed forth the light of his existence” (Fr. von Schlegel).31 In the original unity of men’s convictions respecting God and the world, was grounded also the unity of language. With the rupture of that unity by reason of man’s hostility to God, in which mankind, before united, went their several ways and strove by their own power to bring Heaven down to themselves (Gen. 11), the unity of language was also lost. A criminal pride—the root of heathenism,—was also the cause of divergence both in nations and languages. It was a divine judgment by which the historical development of the race was revolutionized in its fundamental principles.—Only by a new and wonderful condescension on the part of God could the salvation promised to man be still brought to pass in the earth. In Christ alone does man wake again to a universal divine human consciousness. A reunion of man with God can only be perfected in and with the reunion of men among themselves—a union which is to take place first morally and spiritually, and then really, in vivid outward manifestation, so that the end shall refer back to the beginning.—On the day of Pentecost, after Christ’s mediatorial work was finished, the heavens descended in a plentitude of spiritual influences upon mankind already prepared for it, knitting together the ruptured bond.—Pentecost was Babel reversed. The mighty baptism of the Spirit wrought at once a powerful convulsion. The consciousness of those on whom it fell was for a while overwhelmed and swallowed up by the power of the divine Spirit, so that all particularism vanished, and the most perfect unity of spirit combined them all in one. As the result of this real unity of the God-consciousness—in other words of experience and conviction in regard to God—the one primitive language again disclosed itself, and in this they all with one mouth proclaimed the wonderful works of God; Parthians, Medes, Elamites and the rest hear the proclamation each in his own language. They hear it; for even in their ruptured state the several languages are but the torn, and as such mutually unintelligible members, of the one primitive language; yet however, in such a way, that where this primitive language as the common mother of them all sounds forth again, even the stiffened members are, as it were, breathed into and made resonant by the original Spirit.—Hence, even the hearers, though speaking the most diverse languages, understand, each one in his own language, what the apostles proclaim. But at the same time the unity is not yet perfected into something real and permanent. We have here not the beginning of the consummation, but only the dawn of a new day for the kingdom of God upon earth. Speaking with other tongues is, as it were, only a powerful gust of the Spirit, heralding what is to come,—a prophecy or a pledge that, according to the divine purpose, mankind, though now rent asunder, must be and would be restored to a perfect union by means of that redemption which was made manifest through Christ. (According to Fabri and others).
2. The kind of address suited to a Christian assembly. The value of any disclosure in a Christian assembly is to be estimated according to its general intelligibility and the impression which it makes upon the hearts of those present. Mere rhapsody of a mystic theosophic kind, all attempts to enwrap men to the heights or to take them down to the depths of knowledge and learning and subtle exposition, all flights of poetry and rhetoric, all dazzling display of fine talking and the like, which make the listeners stare, or may attract people of merely secular culture and imaginative tastes, or which go to foster intellectual curiosity, or which pay court to that folly which delights in what is dark—all things of this kind have no place in a Christian church. To the enquiry of a young and gifted preacher who was just entering upon his ministry at the Capital of the nation as to how he could best insure success, an old experienced clergyman replied: “So preach that even the servant girls can understand,—that will be good for all.” This is a thing which a preacher must lay to heart; and it will impress itself upon him, the more he enters into the spirit of the Holy Scriptures and their style as set forth in Luther’s version [and we may add the English version too,] and the more he studies the works of this great master of popular speech and preaching.—Another thing to be considered and striven after is what may be called the prophetic element of discourse—that which touches the heart so as to lay open its mysterious ongoings, its innermost impulses and feelings, its hidden movements and propensities so that the hearers shall be constrained to ask, ‘Has he then seen through us? through our secret thoughts and purposes and acts? Has he, while withdrawn from observation, been spying out our sayings and doings? or had any one been informing him respecting us? To the attainment of this skill there is required above all things a spiritual endowment and illumination. But this can be acquired only by a more and more searching self-scrutiny and by a more thorough acquaintance with men in their various conditions and relations; these things are obtained in the light of that Divine Word which reveals to us both the ways of God and man, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. And in order to make his speech still more impressive, the preacher must go to school to the prophets, and make himself acquainted with their style and language, and so become qualified to use it according to his measure and existing necessities.
3. The public speaking of women is not to be easily reconciled with a truly feminine character, and with woman’s position in a divinely constituted social state. Particular exigencies and extraordinary endowments may here and there go to form an exception; but, as a general rule, such an independent forth-putting of the female sex in public is unseemly, as all ecclesiastical discipline has maintained ever since the times of the apostles. Even in domestic worship it indicates a bad state of things, if the woman takes the lead, whether it be from the fact that she assumes it to herself from the love of ruling, or is constrained to do it by reason of the unchristian character of her husband, or of some other incapacity on his part. And still more must it be regarded as indecorous for women to pray and exhort in those social meetings which occupy a middle ground between domestic and public worship,—presupposing, however, that these meetings are of a promiscuous character, and not wholly confined to women and children. At all events it is important for women, in case there should be any occasion for their thus taking part in public services, to watch over themselves with care, lest they lose their modesty and expose themselves to perilous temptations.—On the other hand, it greatly enhances the beauty of a Christian home, when there exists between the husband and the wife a confidential intercourse in respect to the important questions and problems of Christian experience, such as are discussed in the public assembly; when the woman asks her husband for further explanations respecting any point which has struck her mind and awakened her thought, and exchanges views with him in regard to the topic. In such a case, that which was spoken in public will be the more deeply impressed on the heart; Christian knowledge will be promoted in the family; and the wife also will gain in that independence which belongs to her as a mother within the domestic circle, and become the more capable of contributing her part towards the edification of the whole.
4. A Test. The distinction between men truly enlightened and spiritual, and those who, with all their gifts and attainments, are still carnally minded or mere fanatics and sectarian, is seen in this—whether they modestly recognize and respect the divine order, as laid down by Christ and His Apostles, or as established throughout the Church in the mind and Spirit of Christ; or whether they, under the pretext of being impelled by the Spirit, proudly disdain it. With the latter, when once they have become stiff in their opinions, it is in vain to dispute; since they pay no regard to reason and set up their own will in opposition to the general order, as though their will were the mind of the Spirit. Such persons must be given over to the blinding of their own spiritual pride.
[4. Primitive Christian Worship. Of this, as observed at Corinth, we have a vivid picture afforded us in this chapter. Indeed, it is the only one extant of the kind, giving us a clear and instructive glimpse into the nature and workings of Church life in those early times. The first thing that strikes us is the absence of all fixed order. No hint is given of the super intendence of any individual or class of persons regulating the services in the Church assemblies—even where the mention of such would most naturally be made—as in the case of the disorders spoken of in 1 Co 14:26–34. The exercises seem to have gone on spontaneously
Very much as is now the case in many social gatherings where “the meeting,” as the saying is, “is thrown open.” Individuals employed their gifts under the promptings of the Spirit, as seemed to them best, governed only by considerations of mutual regard and general utility. All enjoyed the right, yea, felt it a duty, to contribute something toward the public edification according to the ability conferred on them severally. The idea that a special priesthood was necessary to mediate between the worshipping assembly and God, is not for a moment entertained. Indeed, it is altogether ignored and excluded on the supposition that all were now made priests unto God by the unction of the Spirit, and had an equal right to speak the truth that was in them, and to offer prayer. The disorders arising from the fullest concession of this right, were not regarded an evil so great as would have arisen from the repression of the Spirit that wrought in all the members “severally as He would.” The Spirit was not to be quenched; prophesyings were not to be despised; and whatever there was of the carnal and selfish element mingling with what was spiritual and divine, was to be separated and rejected by the critical faculty of the more discerning. The hearers were expected “to prove all things, and hold fast that which is good.” This fact should be commended to the attention of those who in their excessive regard for having “all things done decently and in order,” proceed to the extreme of repressing the spontaneous life and activity of the Church as a whole, by putting the meeting entirely under the control of a special order of individuals.
The exercises consisted of prayer, praise, thanksgiving, prophesying, and speaking with tongues, accompanied by interpretation,—together with the celebration of the Lord’s Supper at stated seasons. The several parts of the service seem to have followed one another without settled plan. The only rules to be observed here were non-interference, so as to prevent confusion, and a regard for the edification of the Church as a whole, rather than for that of the individual. The latter necessarily excluded all that was unintelligible to the majority of the assembly. No language was to be employed which could not be understood by all alike. It is a rule which by implication condemned in advance the practice of the Romish church in using a liturgy composed in a language wholly unknown to the great mass of the people, and thus precluding them from participating intelligently in the service. Hence, in this anti-Christian church worship the necessity of a little bell to notify the congregation when to give their responses, instead of that free intelligence which having understood what was spoken, expresses its hearty assent in the loud “Amen,” with which the early Christians were wont to ratify the prayer and the thanksgiving, thus making it the act of the whole assembly].
[5. In all true Christian worship, that is honorable to God, or beneficial to man, the Holy Spirit is the efficient agent. It is only so far as He helps our infirmities, and teaches us how to pray, only so far as He enlightens our understandings, and gives us an insight into divine truth, only so far as He inspires our songs and praises, that our worship is truly spiritual and edifying. Hence, the prime and indispensable necessity of preparing for these services by seeking His presence and aid. No amount of learning, no natural gifts, no acquired skill, no refinements of art can compensate for that unction of the Holy One which is promised the believer to teach him all things].
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
STARKE:—Our lack of love measures our lack of true Christianity (1 John 4:7).—The Holy Spirit indeed imparts to us spiritual gifts, yet it is on the condition of our striving after them in the use of suitable means, such as prayer, reading, meditation.
1 Co 14:3. The preacher must aim chiefly at improvement in life and doctrine, and, to this end, he must sometimes exhort and sometimes warn, and sometimes comfort.
1 Co 14:6 f. God reveals Himself in various ways; rejoice in Him and learn to recognize Him who thus seeks to make Himself known to thee; thy salvation consists in this.—A preacher should so preach as to be understood. What does all your art avail for rustics?—the chaff of human wisdom for souls hungering after the Bread of life? Step down from your artificial heights and do not be ashamed of simplicity in the presence of a thousand illiterate persons, because of a few whose hearts seek after wisdom, and whose ears itch for novelty.
1 Co 14:8. The reason why many do not strive against their spiritual foes, is that they are not urged to it by their teachers.
1 Co 14:13. So to sing and pray that all who are present may understand, and be able to sing and pray with you—this is the best kind of singing and praying (Col. 3:16).
1 Co 14:16. O, the wretched, sapless worship, when the poor laity comprehend nothing, and see nothing besides ridiculous gestures and all sorts of attitudinizing! Let us recognize it as a high and noble gift of God, that we have His Word presented to us intelligibly in our mother tongue.
1 Co 14:20. To lust for things which are void of meaning, is childish.—Well is it for those who in reference to sins remain simple-minded, yet daily grow in the living knowledge of God (2 Tim. 3:7; Col. 1:9).
1 Co 14:21. Unknown tongues may become also a token of God’s wrath, when God lets a person come among a people whose speech they understand not.
1 Co 14:22. The Church of God, being already planted and established, no longer stands in need of tokens and wonders, but rather requires the exposition of Scripture for its edification.
1 Co 14:23. A Christian must nowhere allow himself to be the subject of mockery,—least of all, in a public assembly; he must strive to conduct himself wisely in all things. To direct all discourses to an unbeliever, would rather embitter than benefit him; but the Holy Spirit does not allow himself to be without a witness, and brings believers to so testify of Him that the unbeliever shall be rebuked and judged.
1 Co 14:25. Praised be God, who gives power to His Word, and reveals His true teachers before many consciences (2 Cor. 4:2).
1 Co 14:26. Observe what should be the aim of all Christians—teachers, counsellors, fathers—in their labors, viz., edification.
1 Co 14:27. All things are not given to all; one must tolerate another at his side, and one must be ready to follow another, and all things be directed to the edification of the Church.
1 Co 14:28. If we see that we can be of no use to our neighbor, then it is best for us to be silent, to be by ourselves, and to pray and to be content with our own edification, and deal with God in behalf of our neighbor.
1 Co 14:29. Divine worship allows of no disorder. To speak without gifts and calling, is improper.
1 Co 14:30. Let a person have what gift he may, yet he should be willing to let others speak, and be content to hear (Job 18:2).
1 Co 14:31. He who has failed in the exposition of Scripture, should allow himself to be corrected, and if he hears something better, accept the true in place of the false.
1 Co 14:32. Some think that, because they have understandings and gifts of the Spirit, they should yield to no one, nor be silent. But, since the gifts of the Spirit are in their own power, they certainly should not use them to disturb harmony, and then urge as a pretext that the Spirit constrained them.
1 Co 14:33. An irresistible impulse should be regarded as impure, since a carnal passion is mixed with it which ought to be restrained by grace. God designs that we show ourselves peaceful in all our conduct, and especially in divine service; otherwise we give offence, and allow place for the evil spirit.
1 Co 14:34. To teach in public, is an exercise of a certain kind of lordship in the place of Christ; and it is so much the less suitable for women, since there is in men much to be rebuked. At home, they may instruct their own, as far as they know and can.
1 Co 14:35. The man is the bishop of his family. Men ought to surpass their wives in divine knowledge, and be prepared to assist them therein; and the wives ought themselves to be willing to receive instruction, and to this end make inquiry on points which they do not understand (1 Tim. 2:11).
1 Co 14:36. Art thou adorned with gifts, think not thou hadst them of thyself, and possessest them alone; they are God’s, and are still more abundant with others. Be humble, and use them rightly. He who stiffly opposes the truth, has not the Spirit of Christ, however much he may make pretension to it.
1 Co 14:38. Go hence, thou who refusest to learn! Do not grieve, my friend, on this account. It is with many obstinacy, stupidity also, and is for the most part a judgment of God upon them.
1 Co 14:40. Both in and out of the assemblies everything should be done decorously, out of respect to the presence of God, and the holy angels, and the sanctity of the things themselves; and orderly, with a becoming regard to time and place and other circumstances, so that no offence may arise.
1 Co 14:1. “Pursue after love!” We must urge ourselves to it, that we may pray ourselves into a fight of love. For it will always appear to us as if the others were not striving for the same thing. Therefore our love will naturally shrink back; hence, the necessity of pursuing after it. And by this, there is indicated the true vessel wherein spiritual gifts should lie, viz., love. Among these the best is the possession of the prophetic word, and an ability to investigate further in reference to its meaning. He who means to be diligent, will find spiritual work enough; but begin with yourself.
1 Co 14:3. The Scripture calls all proclamation of the truth, prophesying; since God has revealed to us in his word both how it will be with us, if we obey, and how, if we disobey, all those who speak to others in the name of God, are virtually prophets.
1 Co 14:4. Thou sayest well: ‘I edify myself for myself;’ but where is thy neighbor? Love seeks not its own.—Gifts should always flow into the Church.
1 Co 14:6. We can impart something to others for their edification: 1. when we remove the covering which hangs over the inmost recesses of their hearts, and show the substratum, and disclose the things hidden there (revelation); 2. if we produce what we have experienced of divine truth, and the mysteries of faith in our hearts (knowledge—a result of the former); 3. if we open up the prophetic word and the promises of the future world, and seize the continuous thread of all prophecies, even the pathway of God; from which it can be inferred whether a person is in the right way, both in teaching and hearing; 4. by instruction in the catechism, or by doctrine also which is gathered out of all the foregoing points.
1 Co 14:12. Zealots have need to take care that in seeking light they do not, like the devil, fall into the fire.
1 Co 14:17. “Not edified”—a defect which Christianity has suffered from, far and wide, in empty teaching.
1 Co 14:18 f. The teaching should be such that others can apply it to themselves, and it should be as simple and hearty as if it proceeded from a father to his children, for which no miraculous gifts are needed.
1 Co 14:20. Spiritual childhood consists in that simplicity, innocence, and uprightness which makes a man perfectly guileless; and with all this there may exist the perfection of wisdom, which is able to answer everything, and to assign reasons for all things.—Ere we can become children possessed of this divine simplicity, qualified to receive the kingdom of God, all ambitious desires to display our piety must be exterminated, and all heights be laid low.
1 Co 14:21. The most fundamental truths are, to most Christians, a foreign language.—Since for a long time there has existed but little love for the truth (2 Thes. 2:10), God has in judgment suffered teachers, without number, to arise, whose speech has departed heaven-wide from the simplicity of the apostles (2 Tim. 4:1–3).
1 Co 14:22. Believers must not boast of that which is appointed of God, because of unbelief.
1 Co 14:24. The Word of God carries a convincing power among those who give heed to it. It must go to the heart. It pierces very deep. The Word of God shows its power when it discloses the hidden things of the heart.—If ye will be a church of God, then prove by the spirit and power of your word that God’s Spirit quickens you, so that others also may be convicted by it.
1 Co 14:26–33. To judging there belongs the spirit of proving in suitable measure. But this faculty all the sheep of Christ ought to have who, by this means, can detect the voice of strangers. Sheep can also distinguish one herb from another.—All have need of edification and instruction; and this one person can obtain better through this one, and another, through that one, and the process is assisted by inquiry.—Let each one guard his own impulses; where peace reigns not, there God is not present with His gracious rule.
1 Co 14:34. As a general rule, women should be silent in church, provided God Himself has not pointed out a different course, as He sometimes has done in the instance of some heroic women whom He has awakened to act for the public good. Apart from these instances, the rule holds good.
1 Co 14:35. But where do you find such husbands? If their wives are to inquire of them, they must first have learned something.—According to the real mind of the Spirit, many men must also learn to keep silent. They, indeed, are called men, but they are not able to testify of the truth as it is in Jesus, and know nothing of the new birth, because they have experienced nothing of it, neither have they the will or the courage to go to the death in a manly spirit.—In Christ there is neither man nor woman, but all are one in Him, in whom the Word of life itself testifies, as the right man.
1 Co 14:40. Prudence is an important part of piety.
RIEGER:—1 Co 14:1–11. Spiritual gifts stand, for the most part, in the freedom of the Spirit who imparts to each one as He will. Yet much depends upon the spirit in which they are exercised.—Prophesying in its broader sense is the gift of explaining the wonders and mysteries lying in God’s word, for general use, so that others can derive from it, partly, growth in grace and knowledge, partly, incentive to the cultivation of Christian virtues, and, partly, strength to endure under manifold temptations; and this can be awakened by diligence, prayer, practice in God’s Word, and watchfulness over one’s own heart. The gift of speaking in foreign tongues serves as a beautiful reminder of the fact that the distinctions introduced among the nations by diversity of speech, has been removed by the blessing of the Gospel, and all have been brought to praise God with one heart and mouth.—1 Co 14:12–22. Special regard must be paid to the larger, and commonly the weaker portion of the Church. In church matters it is God’s ordinance that everything shall be so constituted as to make the stronger and more gifted lowly, and to raise the weak. Nevertheless, there must not be such a concession to weakness as to hinder growth; nor yet must the lead be so rapid that the weaker shall not be able to respond Amen! Many a one may have too little knowledge of anything to express himself suitably in regard to it, who yet may be able to assent to the testimony of another, observe that it is true, and that the seed of faith already so far exists in his heart that he can join in prayers and wishes for the success of the truth. A man of sound understanding accords to everything its value, according to the use which may be had of it.—1 Co 14:23–40. Public testimonials and confession respecting the power of the Divine Word upon the heart, have become, at this day, very rare. In the early churches the contributions made in this direction, were richer than would be the case now, were any to undertake to edify others in this way. Yet, still much may be done in aid of the truth.—He who casts off all regard for others, and insists on pushing everything according to his own views, falls into a temptation to become; more and more ensnared by this habit (30 ff.).—Much may be done without speaking, through the exercise of love, by quietness, obedience, modesty. This is often loud preaching enough. Women also can be employed in the kingdom of heaven, in carrying glad messages, in awakening and confirming faith (see the Hist. of the resurrection); and we should use their aid in the education of children, in caring for the sick, etc.—He who will not yield, had better be left a while; to go on in his own self-conceit, than be perpetually contended with.
W. F. BESSER:
1 Co 14:1. Love is so precious that to hunt after it is the chief thing in the Christian life; and even he who has attained to love, must still follow after it, since there is no one who does not daily have to put off the old man with his lovelessness, and to put on the new man with his love. We must continue the pursuit (Heb. 12:4), until we rest in simple love. If we follow after love, we are on the way to spiritual gifts (12:31)
1 Co 14:3. Edification has for its particular end, faith; exhortation, love; consolation, hope.—1 Co 14:10, 11. Speech serves not to conceal, but to express thoughts.—The tongues at Pentecost were given as a sign that God had sanctified the languages of all nations for the accordant confession of the one right faith; and the speaking with tongues (which, in order to be intelligible languages, needed exposition), serve for a sign that in the future world there awaits us a language which stands in the relation to all present speech, as the utterance of a man to the prattling of a child.—1 Co 14:25, 26. Nothing is more powerful and quick than the Word of God; and that sermon is a true miracle of grace which has the effect to make the hearer feel that he was addressed by one cognizant of the hidden things of his own heart, even as Nathaniel felt (John 1:48).
1 Co 14:37. What serves for peace and good order, will be maintained for the sake of the Lord, even though resting on human authority. The love of the Spirit teaches us both to find out the regulations which are profitable for every season, and to maintain them in obedience to the God of peace.
1 Co 14:40. Because faith works in love, so does it work also in order.
1 CO 14:1. Admonition is most needed where the spirit of ambition has place.—1 Co 14:15, 19. Both prayer and sermon must be intelligible, and serve for edification. It is better to be understood than to be wondered at.
1 Co 14:20. To be incapable for wickedness is a blessed incapacity.
1 Co 14:34. The grounds for this: 1. It lies in the nature of the woman; her softer nature renders her more fit for receiving than for giving; 2. her weakness forbids her teaching; a. sin came into the world by woman; 4. there is danger of being captivated.
1 Co 14:37. A true prophet is shown by his attention to God’s Word.
1 Co 14:38. A stiff-necked person deserves to be left to his own ignorance. Chief practical thoughts of this chapter: 1. Shun all parade in the use of spiritual gifts, especially in public worship. 2. Seek after and promote simple edification in divine service. 3. For this, there is heeded above all things that simplicity of heart which seeks not its own. [See on these points Hare’s Miss. Com. p. 950.] 4. Such divine worship makes an impression also upon unbelievers, touches and awakens their hearts, and makes them feel the sanctity of a Christian assembly, and the presence of God. 5. In divine service, outward order and decorum must be maintained in order that disturbance may be avoided.
1 Co 14:5.—Rec. has γὰρ, and it has many MSS. in its favor, but the oldest (A. B.) read δὲ. [To these must now be added Sinait., a cursive of the 11th century, and the Copt. version. On the other hand, D. E. (F. G., the Ital. and Vulg., and some others, have γὰρ έστιν, or Esther enim) K. L. Sinait., (3d hand), many cursives and versions, with Chrys., Theodt., Jerome and Ambrst., favor γὰρ.—C. P. W.].
1 Co 14:7.—Rec. has δῷ, Tischendorf has διδῷ: and this has strong but not decisive support. The δῷ might very naturally be an attempt to conform to the δῷ in 1 Co 14:8. [Lachmann and Alford receive δῷ on the authority of A. B. D. (1st hand), Sinait., many cursives, Orig., Cyrys., Œcum.—C. P. W.].
1 Co 14:7.—Lachm. has τοῦ φθόγγου, but it is not sufficiently sustained. [His principal evidence is B. (which, however, shows its uncertainty by omitting the τοῦ), and some Italic and Vulgate copies (which, with Pelag. and Bede, give sonituum, or ex phthongis). Alter the preceding φωνὴν διδόντα the change of this dative into the genitive, and of the plural into the singular, was very natural (Meyer).—C. P. W.].
1 Co 14:10.—Tischendorf edits εἰσίν after the best MSS. The ἐστίν of the Rec. was probably a grammatical correction. Meyer, on the other hand, reasons that the singular verb is an amendment to suit the neuter plural noun. [See also Alford. In behalf of the plural we have certainly the predominance of documentary proof: A. B. D. E. F. G., Sinait., seven cursives, with Clem., Damasc. and Theophyl.—C. P. W.].
1 Co 14:10.—The αὐτῶν of the Rec. has against it the best MSS. [A. B. D. F. G. Sinait., eleven cursives, Vulg., the Lat. version of E., with Clem., Damasc., Ambst., Bede.—C. P. W.].
1 Co 14:13.—Rec. has Διόπερ instead of Διὸ, which is edited by Alford. The evidence in favor of Διὸ (A. B. D. E. F, G., Sinait., 17, Damasc.), is, on the whole, decisive, though the ancient Greek expositors are nearly all for δίοπερ.—C. P. W.].
1 Co 14:15.—The δὲ is left out in both instances before καὶ by many and excellent MSS. But there appear to be no satisfactory reasons for the omission. [The former is inserted by A. B. D. E. L., Sinait., many cursives, the Peschito, Copt., and several Greek Fathers; and the latter by A. D. E. K. L., Sinait., the later Syr., Copt., and the same Greek Fathers. Alford inserts both, and Lach, cancels only the second.—A. D. E. F. G., Sin., and three cursives have προσεύζωμαι before τῷ πνεύμ but B. K. L., many cursives, the Vulg., and many Fathers have προσεύζωμαι—C. P. W.].
1 Co 14:16.—Lachm. has εὐλογῇς. The evidence for εὐλογήσης is by no means convincing. [It has F. G. K. L., many cursives, Chrys., Theodt., Œcum.,Theophyl., but εὐλογῇς has A. B. D., Sinait. and Damasc.—C. P. W.].
1 Co 14:18.—Rec. inserts μου after θεε͂ͅ, but in opposition to the most decisive authorities. It was probably taken from 1 Co 1:4 and Rom. 1:8. [It is omitted in A. B. D. E. F. G., Sinait., nine cursives, several Latin and Vulgate versions, the later Syr., Copt., Aeth., Chrys., Theodt. (codex), Jerome, Sedulius and Bede, but it is given in K. L., many cursives, Peschito, Ital., Vulg., Copt., and many Latin Fathers.—C. P. W.].
1 Co 14:18.—Rec. has λαλῶν, but it is feebly sustained. Others have ὅτι λαλῶ. [The principal witnesses for the Rec. are K. L., a number of cursives, Chrys., Theodt., Damasc. Reiche defends it. But B. D. E. F. G., Sinait., 17, 67 (2d hand), the Ital., Vulg., Copt., Syr. (both), Œcum., Orig. and the Latin Fathers are decisive against it. A. omits both words. The insertion of ὅτι and the change into the participle are intelligible, if the original had been the difficult present, whereas the contrary change would have been without motive.—C. P. W.].
1 Co 14:18.—Many and excellent MSS. have γλώσσααις with the Rec., but Meyer thinks it “probably a change to favor a previous prejudice.” [It has for it B. K. L., many cursives, Syr. (both), Copt., Chrys., Theodt., and Orig.; but against it A. D. E. F. G., Sinait., Damasc., Ambst., Pelag., Bede. The Vulg. has quod omnium vestrum lingua loquor.—C. P. W.].
1 Co 14:19.—Rec. with Tischendorf has διὰ τοῦ νοός μου, but the evidence is stronger in favor of τῷ νοῖ̓ μου, [It must be conceded that the documentary evidence preponderates in favor of the dative (A. B. D. E. F. G., Sinait., 12 cursives, with, the Vulg., Syr. (later), Copt. versions, and Œcum., Orig., and the Latin Fathers), and that the harshness of saying that the understanding was the instrument of speaking supplied a strong motive for a change. And yet Tisch., Meyer and Bloomfield think it more likely that the dative was an attempt to conform to 1 Co 14:15, and that Marcion’s reading (διὰ τὸν μόνον without μου) shows that the copyist must have had before him διὰ τοῦ νοός.
1 Co 14:21.—Rec. has ἑτέροίς, but it was probably occasioned by the preceding datives.
1 Co 14:23.—There are various positions of the words πάντες γλώσσαις λαλῶσιν, but the sense of the passage is not affected by them. [A. B. F. G., Sinait., Boern., Basil, Theophy., have πάντες λαλ. γλώσ.—C. P. W.].
1 Co 14:25.—Rec. has καὶ οὕτω τὰ καυπτὰ (taken from the following καὶ οὕτω), but with inferior evidence of the MSS. (comp. Meyer). [Meyer thinks that “the result or consequence of which the Apostle was about to speak was thought by many most properly to commence here; and hence the subsequent καὶ οὕτω was anticipated here and left out in its proper place (as it is by Chrys.). Afterwards this second οὕτω would be in some cases reinserted without the removal of the first καὶ οὕτω. The MSS. which are against the words (καὶ οὕτω) in the beginning of the sentence are A. B.D. E. F. G. Sinait., twelve cursives, the Lat., Syr. (Peach.), Copt., Aeth., Arm. versions, Basil, Chrys., Cyr., and the Latin Fathers.—C. P.W.].
1 Co 14:26.—Rec. has ὑμῶν after ἕκαστος, but it remains quite uncertain. [It is omitted in A. B. Sinait. (1st hand), 74, and Copt., but is inserted by D. E. F. G. K. L., Sinait. (3d hand), almost all the versions and cursives, with Chrys., Theodt., Damasc. and the Latin Fathers.—C. P. W.].
1 Co 14:26.—Rec. has γλῶσσαν ἔχει ἀποκ. ἔχει, but this order of the words is feebly supported. [A. B. D. E. F. G., Sinait., cursives, Vulg., Copt., Syr. (both), Aeth. (both), Arab., Bas., Œcum., Theophyl. and Lat. Fathers have ἀποκ. ἔχει, γλῶσσαν ἔχει.—C. P. W.].
1 Co 14:32.—Rec. gives as a Var. Reading, πνεῦμα instead of πνεύματα. This was a correction, because the plural seemed strange. [Alford says: “As one Spirit inspired all the prophets, πνεύματα was not understood. A. B. K. L., Sinait., many cursives, Vulg., Copt. Syr. (later)., Orig., Epiph., Chrys., Theodt., Damasc., Œcum., Theophyl, Tert., Didym., have the plural.—C. P. W.].
1 Co 14:33.—The words ὡς ἐν πάσαις τ. ἐκκλ. τ.ἁγίων are joined with 1 Co 14:34, and a period is put at εἰρήνης by Lachmann, Tischendorf, Meyer, Stanley, Conybeare, Hodge, Kling, and most of the later commentators. (Lachm. puts a comma after ἐκκλησ so that ἁγίων becomes emphatic, and αἰ γυναῖκες, without ὑμῶν belongs to it). Osiander, Neander, Bloomfield, Alford and Wordsworth adhere to the punctuation of the Fathers and of all modern Comm. until Cajetan, according to which these words are joined to the preceding. Some MSS. (F. G. Vulg., Syr. (later), Arm. and Chrys.) add διδάσκω after εἰρήνησ. It was probably taken from 1 Co 4:17.—C. P. W.].
1 Co 14:34.—Here, as in 1 Co 14:26, ὑμῶν is very doubtful. Neither here nor there are the MSS. decisive against the word. [Tischendorf and Reiche defend it, with D. E. F. G. K. L., cursives, Syr. (both), Arab., Slav., Chrys., Theodt., Theophyl., Œcum., Amb., Ambst.; but it is left out by Lachm. and Alford, with A. B., Sinait., Vulg., Copt., Aeth., Arm. and some Fathers. It seemed superfluous, but its antiquity, especially in the East, makes it probable.—C. P. W.].
1 Co 14:31.—Rec. and Tischendorf have ἐπιτέτραπται, but it is not so well sustained as the present ἐπιτρέπεται, [It had become common to regard the law as of only former validity, and yet in this matter it was natural for the Apostle in his time to speak of its present signification. The authority of the oldest and best uncials (A. B. D. E. F. G. Sinait.), the Vulg., Ital., Basm. versions, all the Latin and some of the Greek writers, is in favor of the verb in the present.—C. P. W.].
1 Co 14:34.—Lachmann, on the authority of some good MSS., edits ὑποτασσέσθωσαν. Meyer, however, considers it a gloss. [It has for it A. (adds τοῖς ἀνδράσιν), B., Sinait., seven cursives, Copt., Basm., Marc., Epiph., Damasc. The infinitive has for it the weight of the cursives, the versions, and the Fathers.—C. P. W.].
1 Co 14:35.—Rec. with many MSS. has γυναιξίν for γυναικὶ, but it was probably a correction to make the word conform to the preceding plurals.
1 Co 14:34, 35.—These two verses are placed after 1 Co 14:40 by D. E. F. G., Ital., Ambst. and Sedul.—C. P. W.].
1 Co 14:37.—Rec. has τοῦ κυρίου εἰσὶν ἐντολαί Lachmann has more authority for ἐστίν ἐντολή. But both are probably glosses. Some MSS. have θεοῦ instead of κυρίου, but their authority is very feeble.
1 Co 14:38.—Lachmann, after many Greek and Latin MSS., has ἀγνοεῖται, instead of ἀγνοείτω. It was probably an oversight of transcribers. See Meyer and exeg. notes. [In favor of the indicative is: A. (1st hand—the present—αι seems to be a rescript for a former—ω of the 1st hand), D. (1st hand), F. G., Sinait., Orig. and the Latin writers. Some versions (including the Vulg.) and fathers have ignorabitur, and Hilar. has non cognoscetur. The ω might easily have fallen out, as ἀγνοείτε and the following ὥστε were anciently written continuously and without punctuation, and then the αι could be supplied. On the other hand, it is difficult to imagine a sufficient motive for changing the indicative into the imperative. The sense of the indic. would also have been quite ambiguous, while that of the imper. was very much in Paul’s spirit and manner.—C. P. W.].
[This work of Delitzsch presents a masterly analysis of Biblical doctrine on this and all kindred subjects, and deserves a better translation than that it has suffered from the hands of Dr. Wallis. It cannot be understood in that English dress].
[This would hardly comport with the theory that ἵνα always has to a greater or less degree a telic force, and so Bloomfeld subaudits ταῦτα, referring to πνέυμάτων the object of ζμτεῖτε q. d., ‘seek these things that ye may abound.’ This corresponds better with its use in the following clause].
[“Two reasons may be urged for this view. The interruption of a speaker was itself disorderly, and therefore contrary to the whole drift of the Apostle’s directions; and secondly, what follows is most naturally understood as assigning the reason why the receiver of the first revelation should wait.” HODGE. The strongest objection to these reasons is the force of the imperative σιγάτω, let him be, not become, silent.]
[Did not the Apostle also intend here to suggest a convenient way by which tedious and long-winded speakers could have a period put to their too protacted harangues ?]
[“The four or five hundred roots which remain as the constituent elements in different families of language, are not interjections, nor are they imitations. They are phonetic types produced by a power inherent in human nature. They exist as Plato would say, by nature; though with Plato we should add that when we say by nature, we mean by the hand of God. There is a law which runs through nearly the whole of nature, that everything which is struck rings. Each substance has its peculiar ring. We can tell the more or less perfect structure of metals by their vibrations, by the answer which they give. Gold rings differently from tin, wood rings differently from stone, and different sounds are produced according to the nature of each percussion. It was the same with man, the most highly organized of Nature’s works. Man in his primitive and perfect state was not only endowed like the brute with the power of expressing his sensations by interjections, ‘and his perceptions by onomatopoieia. He possessed likewise the faculty of giving more articulate expression to the rational conceptions of his mind. That faculty was not of his own making. It was an instinct, an instinct of the mind as irresistible as any other instinct. So far as language is the production of that instinct, it belongs the to realm of nature.” MAX MÜLLER. “The origin of language is shrouded in the same impenetrable mystery that conceals the secrets of our primary mental and physical being. We cannot say with some, that it is of itself an organism, but we regard it as a necessary and therefore natural product of intelligent self-conscious organization.—But though the facility of articulate speech may be considered natural to man, it, differs from most other human powers, whether organic or incorporeal, in this: that it is a faculty belonging to the race, not to the individual, and that the social condition is essential, not to its cultivation, but to its existence.” G. P. MARSH. If such be the nature and origin of language, how absurd to suppose that this which was the product of the Spirit’s inspiration which was to be the sign of a new power bestowed on men, could be any other than a clear distinct, articulated utterance worthy the name of language and corresponding to the dignity of the Being from whom it emanated].
Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.