1 Peter 4:11
If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God gives…
The language of the apostle here need not be taken as referring to the heathen oracles. The New Testament makes use of the expression "oracles" to designate divinely authorized utterances intended to instruct and benefit men. Thus Moses is said by Stephen to have received "living oracles" to give unto the Jews; and the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews describes the elements of Christian doctrine as "first principles of the oracles of God."
I. THE SEVERAL KINDS OF CHRISTIAN SPEECH.
1. In the primitive Church there were those who were inspired to utter forth with authority doctrines and precepts of religion. This was a special and supernatural "gift" bestowed upon the apostles, but by no means confined to them, and a gift the exercise of which must have been especially serviceable when Christianity was young, when some of the books of the New Testament were not yet written, and the canon was not yet complete. With bow deep a sense of responsibility such gifted persons must have addressed Christian congregations one can easily understand.
2. There were also those who were entrusted with the gift of tongues. Whatever differences of opinion may prevail with regard to the character of this gift, one thing is clear, and that is that it was supernaturally adapted for making a deep and signal impression in favor of the Christian faith. The singular nature of this power must have led its possessors to deem themselves "oracles" of God.
3. But there seems no reason for confining the reference of this admonition within limits so narrow. In the Church of Christ were those who, as pastors, teachers, and evangelists, were wont to employ the gift of speech from Christian motives and to Christian ends. This is a function which men of God have through all the Christian centuries been called to discharge, for the edification of the body of Christ, and for the spread of the gospel among men. Often have such experienced the restraining and inspiring influence of the apostolic direction given in this passage. When tempted to use their gift of speech for the purpose of advancing their own interests or displaying their own powers, such men have been checked by the recollection of this just and holy requirement, that they should speak as God's oracles.
4. Further, the reference of this language may be enlarged so as to include all speech of Christian men. There is a sense in which he who is filled with the Spirit of Christ must needs speak, whenever he opens his lips, as the oracles of God; for his speech is sincere and true, wise, just, and kind.
II. THE HOLY AND BENEFICENT INTENTION OF CHRISTIAN SPEECH.
1. It should be a revelation from God - not, indeed, in the narrower and more proper meaning of that word, but in a sense justifiable and defensible. The oracle declares the mind and will of the Divinity. The Christian's speech brings the holy and gracious God near to those who listen and understand.
2. It should serve for the guidance of those to whom it is addressed. It may not be didactic in form, but substantially it possesses a directing virtue. Christian speech may, and constantly does, preserve men from error and from sin, and guide them into truth and righteousness. It is used to this end by the Spirit of wisdom and of grace, who not only influences the mind and heart of him who speaks, but also the conscience, affections, and will of those who hear. - J.R.T.
Parallel VersesKJV: If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
WEB: If anyone speaks, let it be as it were the very words of God. If anyone serves, let it be as of the strength which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.