Speaking Gifts: The Gift of Tongues – I Corinthians 14

The word for “tongue” in the New Testament means literally the one in your mouth or figuratively a language that is spoken. This passage makes complete sense if we understand it in a context of a multilingual church service setting. Paul contrasts prophesying in a language that is understood by all that leads to understanding and edification with speaking a language that is not understandable and therefore not edifying.

 1.  Paul’s conviction concerning speaking gifts in a church service: vs. 1-5

  • Prophetic (preaching) gifts that edify, exhort, and comfort are more useful than a language that others don’t understand– vs.1-3
  •  Language gifts are to be used only when there is an interpreter vs.4-5

 2.  Paul’s illustration from “things without life” shows that others will only profit if you use a speaking gift in a language that they can understand: vs. 6-11

3.  Paul’s exhortation to those who desire to exercise language gifts: vs. 12-13

  • Seek that you might edify – vs.12
  •  Pray that you might interpret – vs. 13

4.  Paul’s practice of his own language gift: vs. 14-19

  • He desires to avoid unfruitful personal understanding – vs.14
  • He prays in a language that others can understand – vs.15
  • He sings in a language that others can understand – vs. 15
  • The goal is understanding and edification – vs.16-17
  • He is thankful for the gift of languages but chooses to speak in a language that others can understand so he can teach – vs.18-19

5.  Paul’s explanation of the gift of languages: vs. 20-22

  •  It was a fulfillment of prophecy – vs.20-21
  • It was a sign to unbelieving Jews – vs. 22

6.  Paul’s confrontation with the misuse of languages contrasted with the proper use of a language: vs. 23-25

7.  Paul’s restrictions on the use of various languages in church services: vs. 26-28

  •  Their purpose must be to edify – vs.26
  • They are limited to 2 or at the most 3 persons – vs.27
  • They are not to be spoken at the same time – “by course”
  • They must be interpreted – vs.27
  • They must be silent if there is no interpretation –vs.28

8.  Paul’s restriction on prophesying (preaching) in church services: vs. 29-33

  • Prophets should take their turn –vs.31a
  • Prophets are not to interrupt each other – vs.30
  • Prophets are to judge (evaluate) each other – vs.29 & 32-33
  •  2 or 3 prophets (preachers) are allowed to give messages – vs.29
  • Prophets should have 2 goals –vs. 31b

1.  That all may be comforted

2.  That all should learn

  • Prophets are to be subject to each other – no confusion – vs.32-33

9.  Paul’s restriction on women (wives) in a church service: vs.34-35

10.  Paul’s Authority: vs. 36-38

11.  Paul’s final statement on speaking gifts: vs. 39-40

  •  Desire the gift of prophesy (preaching) – vs.39
  • Don’t forbid to speak in other languages – vs. 39
  • Let all be done decently –vs.40
  • Let all be done in order – vs.40
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