Corinthians 14.20-25

1 Corinthians 14:20-25

  1. Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature.
  2. In the law it is written: “With men of other tongues and other lips I will speak to the people; and yet for all that they will not hear Me” says the Lord.
  3. Therefore tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe but to unbelievers; but prophesying is not for unbelievers but for those who believe.
  4. Therefore if the whole church comes together in one place, and all speak with tongues, and there in those who are uninformed or unbelievers, will they not say that you are out of your mind?
  5. But if all prophesy, and unbelievers or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all.
  6. And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you.

    As we continue our study into Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians, Paul is still trying to help them to understand the decorum of worship, using the examples of tongues and prophesy.

Paul tells them how they should be. He wants them to be babes in malice. The Greek word for babes is nepiazo. It means to have the innocence of a newborn. But he tells them he wants them to be mature in understanding. The Greek word for understanding is phren, which is literally the gut or the diaphragm where the Greeks believed was the seat of all mental and emotional activity.  And in this understanding, he wanted them to be mature. The Greek word for mature is teleios. It can be used in different ways but here in our text today it means complete in mental and moral character.  Paul then seems to pursue another direction; but keep verse 20 in mind, because Paul will return to it later.

I do not know about you, but in reading these next verses, I became confused. Verse 22 and verse 23 seem to contradict one another. Paul says that tongues are a sign, and we remember that when Paul says a sign, that it is, some act of power which God does to show His power and describes who He is. Jesus calming the sea, Jesus feeding the 5,000, Jesus turning the water into wine. Remember, Paul separates signs (or miracles) from the gift of healing in chapter 12, so Tongues is a sign.  In verse 22, Paul says that tongues is a sign to unbelievers, and that prophesy is a sign for believers. Yet then in verse 23, he says that if an unbeliever or uninformed person came into the church and everyone was speaking in tongues, they would say you were crazy, out of your mind.  For the longest time this week, I couldn’t wrap my head around the contradiction. I kept praying, “Lord please give ME understanding.”

Then I remembered something a man whom I consider a mentor, Dr. Fred Craddock, said in one of my preaching classes: “Sometimes in your preparation you find yourself with a decision to make. Are you to preach the Scripture or the Scripture’s Scripture?” Paul does have a Scripture for our Scripture! It is Isaiah 28:11-12.  Here, the Father is really not very happy with His people. They have refused to listen to his word. They have refused to listen to his prophets. They have gone and committed adultery with the gods of the land while giving lip service to the Holy One of Israel. So he says that he is going to speak to them with other tongues. These tongues are not the spiritual Tongues of the Corinthians. These are the foreign tongues of the invaders God was going to send to punish them. For the Hebrew people to be threatened with a foreign tongue meant invasion or punishment!  It was something that was intended to frighten the people to repentance. But verse 12 says that they still would not listen….

If we understand Isaiah, then we can understand I Corinthians 14:22 & 23 better. In the real world as we know it, Tongues should be a sign to the unbeliever to show the power and presence of the One True God among His people. It should make them say, “Wow!”, while on the other hand the believers say, “Yes, it is wonderful, but it doesn’t edify.”  What happens in reality is the uninformed and the unbeliever come in and hear it and say, “They are out of their minds. They are crazy. I can go to one of the prostitution cults and hear the same thing.”  Like the Hebrew children in Isaiah’s time heard God say he was going to speak with them in a foreign tongue, which means invasion and oppression (and that which should bring fear, brings no response at all), the uninformed and the unbelievers hear the Tongues which one would think would be an incredible sign, and they walk away saying, “Those Corinthian Christians are a couple fries short of a Happy Meal!”

Remember, Paul is not trying to degrade the gift of Tongues.  He has said it is a sign, but he wants us to continue with his two underlining themes since chapter 12 – 1) love and 2) the edification of the church. Here is where verse 20 comes back into play. He wants the Corinthians to be complete in their mental and moral character. He wants them out of love to do what is best for the believer and the unbeliever  –  to edify both. And how is that done? It is done through prophecy, proclaiming God’s word to God’s people in God’s time.

In verse 24 Paul says if all prophesy and an uninformed or unbelieving person comes in and hears it, there is a chance he could be convinced by all and convicted by all. Do you see the power of the words BY ALL??   It harkens back to the first few chapters in Acts where Luke says that they were in one accord. They prayed, worshiped, and sang in one accord. They held all things in common. Paul is challenging the Corinthians to follow the example of the Christians right after the first Pentecost. To be one as the first believers were one and as Jesus and the Father are one.

What did he want them to be at one about? First, that prophecy is also a gift given by the Holy Spirit.  Second, that proclaiming God’s word to God’s people in God’s time is the major way to edify (build up) the church – not the only way, but a major way.  It does this in two ways – first, by building up the believer. As Paul tells us in Romans 1:16 &17, “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is reveals from faith to faith; as it is written, the just shall live by faith.” The church is built up, the church is strengthened. The church learns better how to walk in faith. The church learns and grows in the Father’s love for them. This enables the church to love God and the other better. The church is able to develop a relationship with a living and loving Savior instead of a religion of rules and regulations. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, the church can cease being a group of individuals seeking their own way, doing their own thing, believing what they want to believe, and instead be joined together as the body of Christ ministering to the world. Through the proclaiming of God’s word to God’s people in God’s time we can see where we are and be grateful for the finished work of Christ!   But we can also see where we can be, where the Father wants us to be, the joy He has for us as His children.  And through our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, we have greater victory, as Paul says, when we move from faith to deeper faith.

What is the second way prophecy works? Repentance unto conversion. In verses 24 & 25, Paul says that by the proclaiming of God’s word to God’s people in God’s time, the unbeliever and the uninformed will hear the word of God empowered by the Holy Spirit, and they will convinced by the unity of the believers,  and they will be convicted…..WOW – the unity of believers!  Not just unity of believing together, but unity in what they believed.  In my readings about Father Wesley, the growth of the Methodist movement has amazed me.  One reason for that growth was not just the unity of believers, but a unity in what they believed. This was held together by the small groups, the class meetings where people weekly were held accountable not only for their actions but also for their beliefs.  I have read that in America at charge conferences and district conferences and even annual conference, non-church individuals would be invited because there was going to be a worship service where an invitation would be given – a chance to receive Christ. And from what I have read, this service was considered more important than the business which was being handled…

Then I look at our church today. We have ‘United’ in our name, but we are not united. As a global church, we can’t even agree on the authority of Scripture. As a global church, we say we want to grow. We say at Jersey that we want to grow.  What non-Christian would look at our national in-fighting and out-fighting and say, “That’s for me!”???   Locally, our unity of belief will be tested as we advance further.  What will those who visit us see – both the believer and the unbeliever??  If they see us united by love in our belief, I know the Lord has great things for us.  Paul says in order to grow we have to be united in our belief. The unity of the church, the BY ALL! To grow numerically, we need new blood. The uninformed and the unbeliever come in, and they hear God’s word to God’s people in God’s time, they see the unity of their belief, they feel the power of the Holy Spirit, and although they are not God’s people yet, they feel His calling in their life!  They experience the love and the joy of the congregation, the welcoming spirit of proclamation and praise.  They realize this is something you can’t find in a prostitute’s temple. They are convinced there is something better, something real, and something powerful that they are experiencing. They are convicted. They know the emptiness of their heart. They want more. They want a life of joy, peace and love – and they will worship God, which means they will say to Jesus like Thomas said to Jesus, “My Lord and my God!”    And then, Paul tells us, they will become evangelists, as he says, “and report that God is truly among you.”

We know that for Paul the second repentance unto conversion is really number one for him. He was an evangelist.  He went from place to place establishing churches.  He wrote letters to his churches to uplift, encourage, instruct and edify.  But his first love was to bring people into the saving grace and loving arms of our Lord Jesus. In the future, that will need to be our first love also. Those two little words – BY ALL!

When we unite ourselves in proclaiming God’s word to God’s people in God’s time, we will have the victory of a life growing from faith to faith and the unbelievers converted into our family.


This Week: 

Claim II Timothy 1:7 “For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of POWER and of LOVE and of a SOUND MIND”

Also, read the 91st Psalm every day, first person, and make it yours.

23 replies on “Corinthians 14.20-25”

Needed to send you one very small observation just to thank you so much over again on the marvelous tactics you’ve contributed here. It’s quite incredibly generous with you to allow without restraint all that some people could possibly have marketed for an e-book in order to make some bucks on their own, most importantly seeing that you could possibly have tried it in the event you considered necessary. These basics in addition acted to become a easy way to recognize that other people have the same keenness much like mine to figure out much more on the subject of this condition. I believe there are thousands of more enjoyable opportunities ahead for folks who go through your blog.

Thanks for each of your hard work on this site. My mum enjoys engaging in investigations and it is easy to see why. A number of us know all of the powerful means you offer rewarding information by means of this web site and invigorate participation from other individuals on the situation and our own child is really discovering so much. Take pleasure in the remaining portion of the year. You’re doing a dazzling job.

Thanks for every one of your efforts on this web site. My mother loves carrying out investigations and it’s really easy to understand why. Most of us notice all of the powerful tactic you provide very useful strategies on your blog and therefore increase contribution from others on that area of interest then our child is certainly studying a lot of things. Have fun with the remaining portion of the new year. You have been doing a really good job.

I would like to express my thanks to you for bailing me out of this particular instance. After checking throughout the the web and obtaining concepts which were not powerful, I believed my entire life was gone. Living without the solutions to the difficulties you have fixed all through your entire blog post is a critical case, and the ones which could have negatively affected my entire career if I had not encountered your web page. Your own training and kindness in maneuvering all the details was invaluable. I don’t know what I would’ve done if I had not discovered such a solution like this. It’s possible to now relish my future. Thank you very much for this skilled and results-oriented help. I won’t think twice to propose your web blog to any person who would need counselling on this problem.

I am just writing to let you understand of the fine encounter my princess found reading your web page. She came to understand lots of things, which include what it is like to have a very effective teaching mood to have many people smoothly thoroughly grasp certain tortuous topics. You truly exceeded readers’ expected results. I appreciate you for supplying such interesting, safe, edifying and in addition unique tips on this topic to Janet.

I wish to show my appreciation for your kindness supporting all those that have the need for guidance on your area of interest. Your very own commitment to getting the message throughout has been astonishingly valuable and has surely permitted guys and women much like me to get to their desired goals. The invaluable guide entails a lot a person like me and even further to my peers. Thank you; from all of us.

I enjoy you because of each of your work on this website. Gloria enjoys carrying out investigation and it is easy to see why. A lot of people notice all about the lively way you make great solutions by means of the web site and as well inspire response from some other people on the concern then our favorite princess is actually starting to learn so much. Have fun with the rest of the year. You are always carrying out a powerful job.

I wish to show some thanks to this writer just for bailing me out of such a predicament. As a result of looking out throughout the internet and finding notions which are not helpful, I thought my entire life was done. Existing without the strategies to the problems you’ve sorted out as a result of your short post is a crucial case, and ones which might have in a negative way affected my entire career if I hadn’t noticed the blog. That mastery and kindness in dealing with all the stuff was priceless. I am not sure what I would’ve done if I hadn’t come across such a thing like this. I am able to at this time look forward to my future. Thank you so much for the specialized and sensible help. I won’t be reluctant to suggest your blog post to any person who will need direction about this issue.

Nice post. I learn something new and challenging on websites I stumbleupon every day. It’s always interesting to read through content from other writers and practice a little something from their sites. |

Excellent goods from you, man. I’ve understand your stuff previous to and you’re just too magnificent. I actually like what you’ve acquired here, certainly like what you’re stating and the way in which you say it. You make it entertaining and you still take care of to keep it sensible. I cant wait to read much more from you. This is really a great site.|

Thank you for all of the efforts on this web page. Betty take interest in carrying out research and it is easy to see why. My partner and i notice all regarding the powerful medium you give great thoughts through this web site and strongly encourage contribution from visitors on the area then my child is really learning a lot of things. Take advantage of the remaining portion of the year. You are always carrying out a glorious job.

I and my friends ended up reviewing the excellent points located on your website then all of the sudden I had an awful feeling I never thanked the web blog owner for those strategies. My people were so warmed to learn them and already have unquestionably been tapping into those things. We appreciate you being very thoughtful and for utilizing these kinds of fantastic issues millions of individuals are really desirous to be informed on. My personal sincere apologies for not expressing gratitude to you sooner.

I want to convey my respect for your generosity supporting men and women that really want help on in this concern. Your very own dedication to passing the message all-around was surprisingly useful and has continually encouraged employees just like me to realize their aims. Your own important help entails a whole lot a person like me and additionally to my peers. Many thanks; from each one of us.

I am also commenting to make you know of the beneficial discovery my friend’s princess encountered checking your web page. She noticed plenty of pieces, not to mention what it is like to possess a wonderful giving spirit to make the mediocre ones effortlessly have an understanding of a number of complex matters. You actually exceeded readers’ expectations. I appreciate you for delivering these useful, trusted, educational not to mention easy thoughts on the topic to Janet.

I simply wanted to compose a quick note in order to say thanks to you for the superb items you are giving out at this site. My time intensive internet investigation has at the end been honored with extremely good details to write about with my guests. I would suppose that most of us visitors are undoubtedly fortunate to be in a wonderful community with very many lovely individuals with beneficial strategies. I feel really grateful to have come across the website page and look forward to plenty of more fun minutes reading here. Thanks once again for all the details.

I really wanted to send a remark to be able to say thanks to you for the wonderful instructions you are sharing on this site. My extensive internet look up has now been recognized with wonderful suggestions to write about with my friends. I ‘d repeat that we site visitors are really lucky to exist in a fantastic site with many perfect people with interesting plans. I feel rather lucky to have come across the webpages and look forward to some more awesome moments reading here. Thank you once more for everything.

I want to express my thanks to you for rescuing me from this particular situation. Right after searching throughout the online world and finding notions that were not pleasant, I figured my life was gone. Living without the presence of solutions to the difficulties you’ve solved through your entire article is a crucial case, as well as the kind that might have in a wrong way affected my entire career if I had not come across your web blog. Your main competence and kindness in taking care of almost everything was excellent. I don’t know what I would have done if I hadn’t come across such a thing like this. I’m able to at this time look ahead to my future. Thank you so much for this skilled and results-oriented guide. I will not be reluctant to refer the blog to anyone who needs and wants guidelines on this subject matter.

I have to voice my admiration for your kind-heartedness supporting persons who really want help on in this area of interest. Your very own dedication to passing the solution up and down had become exceptionally important and have consistently empowered individuals like me to achieve their dreams. Your new helpful key points implies a whole lot to me and substantially more to my fellow workers. Regards; from each one of us.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *