1 Corinthians 14:23 MEANING

1 Corinthians 14:23
(23) If therefore.--Intended, as tongues were, for a "sign," they cease to be thus useful if not properly employed. The report of the strange utterances which take place in the assembled Church may lead some unbeliever to come there: but if there be tongues alone, and they uninterpreted, the stranger will simply think those present are mad. (See Acts 2:13.) It is not meant here that all commence shouting out at the same time, neither is it in the next verse that all prophesy simultaneously; but the thought presented is the undue and exclusive cultivation of this gift by all in the Corinthian Church.

Verse 23. - All speak with tongues. He does not necessarily mean that all are speaking at once; though, amid these strange scenes of self-asserting enthusiasm, even that was not wholly impossible; but he means, "if there be nothing, going on except glossolaly." Will they not say that ye are mad? This has often been the actual impression produced by these phenomena upon those who stand aloof from the spiritual influences which cause them. On the day of Pentecost the exaltation of the disciples caused mockers to charge them with drunken exhilaration (Acts 2:13).

14:15-25 There can be no assent to prayers that are not understood. A truly Christian minister will seek much more to do spiritual good to men's souls, than to get the greatest applause to himself. This is proving himself the servant of Christ. Children are apt to be struck with novelty; but do not act like them. Christians should be like children, void of guile and malice; yet they should not be unskilful as to the word of righteousness, but only as to the arts of mischief. It is a proof that a people are forsaken of God, when he gives them up to the rule of those who teach them to worship in another language. They can never be benefitted by such teaching. Yet thus the preachers did who delivered their instructions in an unknown tongue. Would it not make Christianity ridiculous to a heathen, to hear the ministers pray or preach in a language which neither he nor the assembly understood? But if those who minister, plainly interpret Scripture, or preach the great truths and rules of the gospel, a heathen or unlearned person might become a convert to Christianity. His conscience might be touched, the secrets of his heart might be revealed to him, and so he might be brought to confess his guilt, and to own that God was present in the assembly. Scripture truth, plainly and duly taught, has a wonderful power to awaken the conscience and touch the heart.If therefore the whole church,.... The whole congregation of believers incorporated together in a Gospel church state, consisting of its officers and private members; the church at Corinth is particularly designed:

be come together in one place; to worship God, to pray unto him, sing his praise, preach and hear the word, as were usually done. Hence may be observed the custom of the primitive churches to meet together, in some certain place, for divine worship; nor did the members of them in common forsake the assembling of themselves together on that account, though it was the evil practice of some of them; the whole church, all the members of it, met together: and it may be seen from hence, that the church, and the place where it met, are two different things:

and all speak with tongues; divers tongues, languages not understood; meaning, not that all that came together spoke with tongues; but that as many as did speak, should they speak with such, and without an interpreter.

And there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers; either private Christians, who, though they have learned Christ, and understand the doctrines of the Gospel, yet are ignorant of languages; or rather the same persons with unbelievers, Heathens that have no knowledge of Christ, nor faith in him, and who also understood no other language but the Greek: if any such persons should come into the place where the church was met together, and should hear him or them that spoke, speak in a language they understood not, and which they were very well assured was equally unknown to the whole congregation, and so could be of no service to them:

will they not say ye are mad? act like men in a frenzy, that have not the use of their reason; since speaking in a strange language to a congregation that know not one word of what is said, is speaking to the air, and to no profit at all to them that hear; and who but a madman would do this? The apostle here argues from the scandal and contempt that would be poured upon them by such a practice; and the rather he mentions this, because it seems as if their governing view was the glory and applause of men, in which, he suggests, they would be sadly disappointed.

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