Prophecy for its greater tendency to edification is preferred before speaking with tongues. Tongues not understood, like indistinct musical sounds, are of no service to the hearers. All gifts should be referred to edification. Tongues are of use for the conviction of unbelievers; but in the assemblies of the church prophecy is more useful. Rules for the orderly exercise of spiritual gifts in the church. Women are forbidden to speak there. An exhortation to use each gift freely, but with decency and order.
1FOLLOW1 after charity, and 2desire 3spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may 4prophesy.
1 Gr. pursue love. This is the conclusion of the previous chapter.
2 That is, labor nevertheless for this, that therein the one may excel the other.
3 To obtain extraordinary gifts, which the Holy Spirit wrought then in many. See 1 Cor. 12:1, 8, 9, 10. Although men must also be zealous for the ordinary gifts.
4 What this is, see verse 3; Rom. 12:7; 1 Cor. 12:10.
2For he that speaketh 5in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto 6men, but 7unto God: for no man 8understandeth him; howbeit 9in the spirit he speaketh 10mysteries.
5 Gr. with a tongue, as also in the following.
6 That is, that he might thereby make known to them the thoughts of his heart, which end is the speech for which it is used.
7 That is, that God understands it well, but not men, which is not enough.
8 Gr. heareth it, namely, with understanding. See Gen. 11:7.
9 That is, with the gift which the Holy Spirit has wrought in him. Or, his mind.
10 This may be understood either of the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, Mat. 13:11; 1 Cor. 4:1 and 13:2, which are more excellent than that they would be held forth without fruit and attention in an unknown tongue. Or, that he, who speaks in an unknown tongue, does nothing else that he has propounded some hidden things, which no man can understand.
3But he 11that prophesieth 12speaketh unto men to 13edification, and exhortation, and comfort.
11 That is, he, who interprets the writings of the prophets in a known tongue. See verse 1.
12 That is, speaks so that the people are able to understand it, and receive benefit by it.
13 That is, that which may serve for edification or instruction of the ignorant, exhortation of the disorderly, and consolation of the sorrowing ones. Unto these three applications of profitability must all interpretations of God’s Word be suited, Rom. 15:4; 2 Tim. 3:16. And for this cause is the gift of prophesying better than that of strange tongues, because by them these benefits are not obtained.
4He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.
514I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for 15greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, 16except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.
14 That is, I would or wished indeed; it is so far from me, that I would have despised hereby the gift of strange tongues.
15 That is, has a more excellent gift, and more beneficial to the edification of the congregation.
16 Or, translate it. Namely, into another known language, so that the congregation can understand it.
6Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I 17profit you, except I shall speak to you 18either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?
17 Namely, for your edification.
18 Or, except I shall speak to you either in revelation, etc., that is, unless I preached to you in a known language, so that you would be able to understand that which I held forth unto you, either some revelation of mysteries, or some knowledge how a man must carry himself in doubtful matters, or some exposition of the writings of the prophets, or some confirmation of some article of faith.
7And even things 19without life giving 20sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a 21distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known 22what is piped or harped?
19 Gr. soul-less, that is, the instruments of music.
20 Gr. voice.
21 That is, diversity of tones, but always one kind of tone; which is very unacceptable and irksome to hear.
22 That is, what hymn or song.
8For if the 23trumpet give an 24uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?
23 Or, cornet, whereby soldiers are warned and stirred up to battle.
24 Or, unknown; namely, by which men cannot understand that they are thereby warned and stirred up to prepare themselves to battle. For, there was a certain manner of trumpeting wont to be used for this purpose, which was called classicum.
9So likewise ye, except ye utter 25by the tongue words 26easy to be understood, how shall it 27be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak 28into the air.
25 Or, by the language.
26 Or, speak words which men can understand what you mean thereby.
27 Namely, by the hearers who understand not the languages.
28 That is, make some noise and cast it out into the air, which vanishes there without any profit. See 1 Cor. 9:26.
10There are, 29it may be, so 30many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is 31without signification.
29 That is, as it happens according to the condition of times and places.
30 Namely, not only amongst the people, who have their individual speeches, but also among all sorts of beasts and birds.
31 That is, without such a sound, that the people of one kind of language may thereby understand one another, and that by the noise of the beasts and birds each sort of them may be discerned, so that they have yet some signification, which is not in foreign unknown languages.
11Therefore if I know not 32the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a 33barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian 34unto me.
32 That is, understand not the signification of that which is spoken.
33 That is, as a man of an unknown language. The Greeks and Romans called all other nations, which did not speak or understand their languages, barbarians. See Acts 28:2, 4; Rom. 1:14; Col. 3:11.
34 Gr. in me.
12Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are 35zealous of 36spiritual gifts, seek that ye may 37excel to 38the edifying of the church.
35 Gr. are zealots of gifts, that is, strive for, endeavor after this, that ye may have the best spiritual gifts; which is a commendable zeal and strife.
36 Gr. of spirits.
37 Or, may be abundant.
38 That is, that ye may have and use such gifts, whereby the congregation can be most edified.
13Wherefore let him that 39speaketh in an unknown tongue 40pray that he may interpret.
39 That is, can and will speak in the congregation.
40 That is, that, besides the gift of unknown tongues, God will also bestow upon him the gift of translating and interpreting plainly the same in a known tongue. For, this was also a special gift of the Spirit. See verses 26, 27; 1 Cor. 12:10, 30. And though they themselves understood well what they said, yet nevertheless they had not always therewith the gift of being able to translate plainly the same. Or, that he prays as such, namely in the congregation, that he also interprets in a known tongue the prayer made in an unknown tongue.
14For if I 41pray in an unknown tongue, 42my spirit prayeth, but 43my understanding is 44unfruitful.
41 That is, make a prayer publicly in the congregation.
42 That is, I make a prayer indeed in my mind, through the gift of the Holy Spirit, which is good.
43 Namely, which I have of that language. See verse 4. Or, the meaning of my prayer.
44 Namely, to the hearers, who understand not such a prayer.
1545What is it then? 46I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray 47with the understanding also: Ia will 48sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.
45 That is, what must one then do to use this gift aright?
46 That is, I will indeed use this gift of the Holy Spirit to make a prayer in the congregation in a foreign language.
47 That is, I will adjoin a plain interpretation that the hearers shall be able to understand it.
a Eph. 5:19; Col. 3:16.
48 Namely, psalms and spiritual songs in the assembly of the congregation.
16Else when thou shalt 49bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth 50the room of the 51unlearned say 52Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?
49 Or, give thanks, that is, being endued with this gift of the Holy Spirit, making public thanksgiving in the congregation.
50 That is, who sits amongst the common persons or hearers. For, it seems that the teachers sat in a special and more raised place in the assemblies.
51 Gr. idiotes; that is, one who understands not foreign languages and who has no public ministry or extraordinary gifts to teach in the congregation, or to make prayer or thanksgiving.
52 This word Amen comes from an Hebrew word, signifying truth, certainty, firmness, and is used for the conclusion of prayer, Rom. 15:33; 2 Tim. 4:22, thereby to declare that one consents to that for which is prayed, and wishes that it may come to pass. See Deut. 27:15, etc.; Neh. 5:13; Jer. 11:5; Luke 24:53; Rom. 1:25; 9:5; Rev. 22:20, 21.
17For thou verily givest 53thanks well, but 54the other is not edified.
53 That is, you make indeed a good thanksgiving which can edify you, because you understand the language.
54 Namely, who hears your thanksgiving and understands not the language in which you give thanks.
18I thank my God, 55I speak with tongues more than ye all:
55 Or, that I speak strange tongues more than you all. The apostle propounds his own example to the Corinthians, which they ought to imitate approvingly. He gives God thanks for the gift of foreign languages, which he had received more abundantly than anyone of them who made ostentation thereof in the assemblies, to show that he did not despise this gift, but only reproves the misuse of the same.
19Yet 56in the church I had rather speak 57five words 58with 59my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than 60ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.
56 That is, in the assembly of the faithful where many uneducated persons are present also.
57 That is, some few.
58 Or, by.
59 That is, so that I express my understanding or the thoughts of my mind with clear, known and significant words, which everyone is able to understand.
60 That is, a great and long speech; see 1 Cor. 4:15, from which appears clearly that they go directly contrary to the doctrine of the apostle, who perform God’s worship and their prayers unto God in an unknown tongue which they themselves or their hearers do not understand, and who do, as it were, number those prayers to God by fifties and hundreds.
20Brethren,b61be not children in understanding: howbeit 62in malice be ye children, but 63in understanding be 64men.
b Mat. 18:3; 19:14; Eph. 4:14; 1 Peter 2:1, 2.
61 That is, do show that you have better understanding than children, seeing it is altogether childish to make a vainglorious display in the assembly with unknown tongues without any edification. Or, abide not always in the childish and inferior knowledge of spiritual things. See Heb. 5:12; 6:1.
62 That is, imitate children, not in their ignorance but in their innocence, seeing children, although they are born with a corrupt nature, notwithstanding do not yet actually so show it, as they who are adults.
63 Namely, of spiritual things necessary to salvation.
64 Gr. perfect, that is, increase daily in this understanding in such a manner, that between the understanding which you now have of spiritual things, and that which you shall yet obtain, there be such a difference, as there is between the understanding of a child and of a grown-up man. For, that in this life we shall not come to an altogether perfect knowledge of spiritual things, the apostle taught in the previous chapter, verses, 9, 10, 11, 12.
2165Inc the law it is written, With men of 66other tongues and 67other lips will I speak 68unto this people; and yet for all that will they 69not hear me, saith the Lord.
65 That is, in the Scriptures of the Old Testament. See John 10:34.
c Deut. 28:49; Isa. 28:11.
66 That is, of unknown languages which they shall not understand.
67 That is, unknown speech.
68 Namely, thereby to punish them. Seeing then that God uses unknown tongues and speeches as a punishment, therefore men ought not to use them in the congregation without interpretation, forasmuch as this would tend more to punishment than to the edification thereof. See further exposition, Isa. 28:11.
69 That is, not understand.
22Wherefore tongues are 70for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them 71that believe not: but 72prophesying serveth not for them 73that believe not, but for them which believe.
70 Namely, of God’s wrath.
71 That is, they who obstinately reject the Word of God, to them God sends (this) for a punishment, which is spoken to them an unknown tongue.
72 See verses 3, 4.
73 For, although the prophecy may serve also to convert an unbeliever, notwithstanding seeing unbelievers do not come much into the assembly, it is principally appointed to exhort, to comfort and to confirm believers.
23If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or 74unbelievers, will they not say 75that ye are mad?
74 Namely, who are not yet converted to the christian religion.
75 Namely, when you speak in front of the people what they do not understand, which no wise persons (will) do but they who are out of their wits. Whereby an unbeliever is then more and more estranged from the christian religion, as it would appear to him to make men foolish.
24But if 76all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is 77convinced 78of all, he is 79judged of all:
76 Namely, who have the gifts of prophecy, the one after another. See verses 28, 29, 30.
77 Or, reproved, that is, overcome in his conscience that the christian religion is the right and true religion.
78 Namely, who use the gift of prophecy aright in the congregation.
79 That is, condemned, namely, for his previous sins, and if he will not receive by a true faith what is propounded by prophesying out of God’s Word, he is rendered without any excuse. See Acts 24:25.
25And thus are 80the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so 81falling down on his face he will worship God, and report 82that God is 83in you of a truth.
80 That is, when by prophesying God’s Word is interpreted, it appears how a man is disposed in his heart, namely, whether he will obstinately abide in his unbelief, or believe the Gospel. See 2 Cor. 2:15, 16.
81 Namely, he who by prophesying is convinced in his heart of the truth of the christian religion, he will immediately with all reverence betake himself to serve the true God and to confess the christian religion as the true (one).
82 That is, that in your congregation is rightly taught and exercised the true religion.
83 Or, among you.
2684How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath 85a psalm, hath 86a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath 87a revelation, hath 88an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.
84 That is, seeing, that which is said before, is so indeed, what shall than be done further? Here the apostle begins to prescribe certain rules, which men must observe in the congregation in the use of gifts.
85 Or, song of praise, namely made by him by inspiration of the Holy Spirit to the glory of God and to the edification of the congregation.
86 That is, a particular instruction, exhortation or consolation, specially inspired to him by the Holy Spirit.
87 Namely, of the Holy Spirit, of any unknown or future things. See Rev. 1:1.
88 That is, the gift of translating unknown tongues into speeches that are known; or, also to expound well and plainly any dark places of the Holy Scripture.
27If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be 89by two, or at the most by three, and that 90by course; and let 91one interpret.
89 That is, let not many spend the time thereby; but if men will indeed speak unknown tongues, let this be done by as few as it is practicable.
90 That is, not all together at once, but one after another.
91 Namely, that the congregation may understand thereby what it is that was spoken in an unknown tongue.
28But if there be 92no interpreter, let him keep 93silence in the church; and let him speak 94to himself, and 95to God.
92 Namely, either he himself who speaks in a foreign tongue, or another, who has the gift to translate these foreign tongues, and to turn them into known languages.
93 Namely, he who speaks in a foreign language.
94 Or, within himself, privately, not openly in the congregation.
95 Namely, inwardly calling upon and giving thanks to God, Who knows the thoughts of the heart, and understands all languages.
29Let the 96prophets 97speak 98two or three, and let 99the other 100judge.
96 See verses 3, 4.
97 Namely, in the congregation and that by turns, verse 27.
98 Namely, not to pass away the time with prophesying only.
99 Namely, who have the same gift of prophesying, or the gift of discerning of spirits.
100 Namely, that this prophesy agrees with God’s Word, to which all doctrines and revelations must be tried. See Isa. 8:20; John 5:39.
30If 101any thing be revealed to 102another 103that sitteth by, 104let the first hold his peace.
101 Namely, to whom either is not or not so clearly revealed to the first who speaks as to the other.
102 Namely, who has the gift of prophesy also.
103 That is, who has yet had no turn to stand up and speak.
104 Namely, to give place to that second (person) to speak.
31For ye may all prophesy one by one, that 105all may learn, and all may be 106comforted.
105 That is, the prophets as well as the ordinary hearers may be instructed.
106 Or, exhorted.
32And 107the spirits of the prophets 108are subject to the prophets.
107 That is, the doctrine which the prophets propound by the gift and inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
108 That is, are subject to the judgment of the other prophets who hear them; unto whose judgment they also willingly submit. For, though this prophesying was inspired by the Holy Spirit, Who cannot err, yet nevertheless all was not always revealed unto one, and that which was revealed unto one, that same was also oftentimes revealed unto more others likewise. There might also by some prophets be somewhat of their own mingled therewith. It must therefore be proved and judged by the others, whether their prophesying also be by inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and according to the measure of faith. See Isa. 8:20; Rom. 12:7.
33For God is 109not the author of 110confusion, but of peace, 111as in all churches of the saints.
109 Or, not the God, or not the Lover.
110 Or, disturbance.
111 Namely, is taught by me; or, is needful.
34Letd your women keep 112silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them 113to speak; but they are commanded 114to be under obedience, as also saith 115the law.e
d 1 Tim. 2:12.
112 That is, not to speak publicly to the congregation, even though they be endued with good knowledge. See 1 Cor. 11:5.
113 Namely, to teach or propound anything publicly in the congregation. See 1 Tim. 2:12.
114 Namely, to the men, to receive instruction from them; for he who instructs another in public assemblies, has thereby some authority over or above him who is instructed.
115 Namely, Gen. 3:16.
e Gen. 3:16; Eph. 5:22; Col. 3:18; Titus 2:5; 1 Peter 3:1.
35And if they will 116learn any thing, let them ask 117their husbands at home: for it is 118a shame for women to speak in the church.
116 That is, be instructed at large concerning any points of doctrine.
117 Namely, if they are capable to instruct them; otherwise they may also inquire in private of the teachers of the congregation, or any other honest and gifted men.
118 That is, unbecoming, inappropriate; because thereby the order is inverted which God has set between man and woman, and that is repugnant also to that honorable shamefacedness which ought to be in women.
36What? came the word of God out 119from you? or came it unto 120you only?
119 That is, from you, Corinthian teachers, who are so proud of your gifts, and not much rather from us apostles, who have first preached the Word of God unto you.
120 That is, you carry yourselves so proudly as if only you had all wisdom. A serious reproof to these proud spirits, whereby is also shown withal that they have no reason so to exalt themselves.
37If any man 121think himself to be a prophet, 122or spiritual, let him 123acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are 124the commandments of the Lord.
121 That is, really endowed with the gift of prophecy, or presumes that he is, and pretends himself to be such.
122 That is, endowed with some extraordinary gift of the Holy Spirit. Or, abundantly exercised in christian doctrine, 1 Cor. 2:15; 3:1; Gal. 6:1.
123 That is, he must or ought to acknowledge; namely, if he be such as he pretends to be.
124 Namely, from Jesus Christ, Who, as our Lord, has power to command us, and Whom we, as His servants, are bound to obey.
38But if any man be 125ignorant, 126let him be ignorant.
125 That is, mischievously will not know or acknowledge the same.
126 That is, seeing he will mischievously abide in his ignorance and not permit himself to be informed by my writing, he may do this at his own peril; I will not trouble myself with such, seeing I have done my duty to bring them out of this ignorance. See the like phrase, Rev. 22:11.
39Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and 127forbid not to speak with tongues.
127 That is, although I judge that prophesying produces more edification in the congregation than to speak with foreign languages, yet I will not thereby have the use of unknown tongues be altogether rejected or hindered, so it be but duly performed, and with interpretation.
40Let 128all things be done 129decently and 130in order.
128 Which are to be done in the assemblies of the congregation, as there are prophesying, or preaching the Word of God, making the public prayers and thanksgivings, the administration of the sacraments, and the like.
129 Or, honestly, so that it may have a fair appearance, which is becoming to the christian decency and simplicity.
130 That is, without confusion, each in its due time, course, place, etc.