1 Corinthians 14:28


Wednesday, 11 February 2015

But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God. 1 Corinthians 14:28

This verse continues on with the prescriptions of the previous verse. They are commands, given by the Lord as the Holy Spirit guided Paul’s pen. Taken together they say –

“If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret. 28 But if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in church, and let him speak to himself and to God.”

How is it that such plain and simple sentences can be so utterly neglected by churches? The answer is that the Bible is held in little esteem by them. The word of God is useful to them only when it tickles the ear. And this is what the supposed “tongues” of most churches do: ear-tickle. However, Paul has spent an inordinate amount of time on this subject in order to get those in Corinth (and thus us!) to be reasonable in our conduct in the church. Like his words in the previous verse, what he says now also commands just that.

“But” is given in contrast to verse 27. “If there is no interpreter” is obvious. If someone wants to speak in a foreign language, maybe Latin or Hebrew, they may do so if they meet the requirements of verse 27. However, if they don’t understand the language, they must have an interpreter present who can. Suppose there is a prayer to be read in Hebrew. Unless there is a competent translation of that prayer, or someone who can translate the words which are being read, then “let him keep silent in church.”

This means that they are not to openly speak or read the thing they had intended to impart. Why? Because no one understands it. Thus it is both a waste of valuable time, and the words have no value for edification. If there is no edification, then it is merely an ostentatious display meant to attract attention to the individual and not bring any sort of glory to God. Because of this, Paul instructs that he should remain quiet and “speak to himself and to God.”

If the individual with the tongue to be spoken cannot translate the words, and if there is no one else who can translate them, then if they want to go ahead and speak them, they are to do so to God alone, who alone understands the words.

Paul’s words are precise and the same logic of the previous verse applies to this one:

1) The words of the Bible, as given by Paul’s hand, are inspired by the Spirit of God.
2) The Spirit of God will never violate a precept which is found in the Bible, which He has inspired. Therefore,
3) Any practice or occurrence which is seen in a church, and which violates the prescriptions of the Bible, cannot be inspired by the Spirit.

Therefore, any tongue which is spoken in a church which is not translated cannot have been inspired by the Spirit of God; its prompting is not of divine origin. If supposed “tongue speaking” Charismatic churches actually followed the prescriptions found in these two verses from the hand of Paul, there wouldn’t be the embarrassing displays of ostentation found in them.

Life application: The word of God is not confused, nor does it promote confusion. However, neglecting the word of God will inevitably do so. Stick to the word of God and let your doctrine be pure and undefiled.

Lord, it’s so exciting to live in this time. Despite the immense wickedness which seems to be engulfing the world around us, we are seeing biblical prophecy come to pass before our very eyes. Israel is once again in the land, the church is falling away from adherence to Your word and to right doctrine, and the nations are lining themselves up for financial ruin and military strife. Lord God, open many eyes to the truth of Your Son now before You call Your church home, and before the terrible times to come descend on a world ripe for judgment. Amen.


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