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Intelligibility and Orderliness in Corporate Worship

February 20, 2022 Speaker: John Bell Series: 1 Corinthians

Passage: 1 Corinthians 14:1–40

Point 1. Intelligibility in Corporate Worship (14:1-25): The Corinthians are to pursue love by earnestly desiring to prophesy, which is more valuable than tongues for building up others when the church meets because it is intelligible

  1. Building up the church (1-19)
  2. The relation of tongues and prophecies to unbelievers (20-25)

Point 2. Orderliness in Corporate Worship (14:26-36): When the church gathers and uses spiritual gifts, we must build up one another by using those gifts in an orderly way 

  1. Tongues (27-28)
  2. Prophecy (14:29–33a)
  3. Restrictions on women (14:33b–36)


Point 3. Warnings . . . and a summary (14:37–40)


Speaking in tongues:  

  1. Tongues in 1 Corinthians 14:1–40 refers to an individual’s praising God in a language that neither the speaker nor the hearers understand unless God supernaturally enables someone to interpret.
  2. Tongues in 1 Corinthians 12–14 doesn’t mean the same thing as in Acts. Tongues in Acts 2 refers to xenoglossia (i.e., speaking in a human language the speaker does not know), while tongues in 1 Corinthians 14 refers to glossolalia (i.e., speaking in verbal patterns that humans cannot identify with any human language), because “anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them” (14:2). 
  3. Further, “tongues in Acts occur only in groups, are not said to recur, are public, and may serve various purposes of attestation; while tongues in 1 Corinthians fall to the individual, may be used in private, must be translated if in public, and serve no purpose of attestation.” (Carson)

Prophesy: In common church life, prophesy was recognized to be Spirit-prompted utterance, but with no guarantee of divine authority in every detail, and therefore not only in need of evaluation (29) but necessarily inferior in authority to the deposit of truth represented by the Apostle Paul (37-38)  

  • My sermons on chapters 12-14 owe a debt to “Showing the Spirit” by D.A. Carson; and “1 Corinthians” by Andrew David Naselli.