1 Corinthians 14Follow after charity; earnestly seek the attainment of it.—Prophesy. Prophesying in the New Testament, means public preaching under the immediate influence of divine impulse and illumination.
No man understandeth him. It would appear, from the statements in this chapter, that those upon whom were conferred the miraculous power of speaking in languages not their own, were accustomed to pervert the trust by making a parade of it, where no useful end could result, as a means of self-glorification. Why such a miraculous power should be bestowed in cases where its exercise would not seem to be needed, and why so special a mark and token of divine inspiration should be granted and continued to men who were habitually guilty of a perversion of it, which one would suppose would bring all the evidences of divine authentication into discredit are mysteries which we cannot solve.
Edifieth himself; edifieth no one but himself.
By revelation, or by knowledge, &c. The specific meaning of these expressions is not understood. The general idea is, that it would be of no avail for him to speak unless what he should say was made intelligible.
Things without life; such as the instruments mentioned below.
An uncertain sound; one confused and unmeaning. The various sounds of the trumpet have an established meaning understood in armies, so that the instrument serves the purpose of communicating orders,—its notes being of such a character that they rise above the uproar of voices and the din of battle.
A barbarian; a foreigner.
That ye may excel to the edifying, &c.; that ye may excel in such gifts as shall promote the edifying, &c.
Is unfruitful; in respect to any beneficial effect upon others.
He that occupieth the room of, &c.; is in the condition of, &c.
In the law; in the Old Testament Scriptures. (Isa. 28:11, 12.) The meaning of the passage, in its place, is, that God would punish his disobedient and unbelieving people by bringing upon them the hostile incursions of barbarian tribes, whose language was unknown.
For a sign, not to them that believe, &c. The meaning is, that foreign tongues are spoken of in the passage quoted above, as a token and symbol of God's displeasure against the disobedient and unbelieving, which the apostle adduces as a consideration calculated to diminish the undue interest which the Corinthian Christians had manifested in the exercise of this gift, and to lead them to regard prophesying as more appropriate religious exercise for a church of believers.
Convinced of all—judged of all; that is, he is reached and influenced by what they say.
Every one of you hath, &c.; that is, you severally have various gifts and attainments. Use them in such a manner as will conduce to the edifying of the church.
By two, &c.; that is, only by two or three at any one meeting.
The other; the rest. —Judge; attend.
The meaning of the verse is, that they who speak are not under an irresistible influence, but may speak or refrain from speaking, as they please.
In ch. 11, Paul seems to tolerate the practice of females' taking a part in the religious services of public assemblies, under certain restrictions, which he there prescribes. In this passage, however, the prohibition of such a practice seems to be absolute and unequivocal.
The meaning is, that the church of Corinth was not the original parent church, and therefore not authorized to introduce new and unapproved usages.
Be ignorant; still refuses to acknowledge my authority.
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