Saturday, 17 January 2015
But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. 1 Corinthians 14:3
Paul contrasts verse 2 with these words by beginning with “but.” As he noted, people who speak in other languages while in the congregation (tongues) don’t “speak to men but to God.” In contrast to this, is the one who prophesies to the congregation. Rather than simply having a sole conversation with God (which the speaker can do anytime and at any place), the one prophesying does more. Not only does God hear his words, but he also “speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.”
Edification is spoken to build up the members of the congregation, to instruct them, to give them sound guidance, and to make them knowledgeable in the things of God. Exhortation is spoken to take away their feelings of insecurity, sluggishness, or timidity, thus making them bold. And words of comfort take away sadness, hopelessness, and despair.
Understanding the contrast between the two, which one is preferable to be spoken in the congregation? The answer is plain and obvious. Paul will say this later in this chapter –
“I would rather speak five words with my understanding, that I may teach others also, than ten thousand words in a tongue.”
Again, following through the logic of Paul’s argument in this epistle, he demonstrates conclusively that tongues, though having been needed at the establishment of the church, are all but unneeded in the workings of the regularly operating and established church; thus the comparison “five” to “ten thousand.” The inordinate focus on tongues by supposed “tongue speaking” churches shows a lack of scholarship and a complete misunderstanding of the purpose and meaning of “tongues” in the now-established church.
Life application: When one is in the church for growth and learning, and in order to be edified, he should either be explaining the word of God or listening to the word of God being explained in a competent and relevant way.
Lord God, I pray that my time will be used wisely in the pursuit of that which is right, honoring of You, and for the building up of others. Help me not to continue to squander my few precious moments of life on this earth in the pursuit of wind. I have tried to grasp it and it never fills my hand. I have tried to capture it and it simply disappears. And so Lord, help me to stop pursuing worthless things and instead give me right thinking to pursue that which is fixed, permanent, and enduring. To Your glory I pray this. Amen.