1 Corinthians 14:4


Sunday, 18 January 2015

He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. 1 Corinthians 14:4

In Acts 2, this is recorded –

“And there were dwelling in Jerusalem Jews, devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound occurred, the multitude came together, and were confused, because everyone heard them speak in his own language.” Acts 2:5, 6

The followers of Jesus were heard speaking in various tongues according the people groups who were assembled. Those who heard their words in their own language were edified. They heard a message they could understand. However, anyone who spoke a different language was only edified in the language they understood, not in the ones directed to others. This is exactly the type of thing Paul is talking about.

The only people who are edified by the speaking of a language are those who understand that language. And so if someone comes into a church in Walla Walla, Washington where one language is spoken, that being English, and the individual begins speaking in Thai, only the speaker will be edified. Why will he be edified? Because he understands the language he is speaking. We process our thoughts through the construction of speech. This is done in our heads as we speak. When we put words together which we understand, we receive the edification of our thoughts in the compilation of those words.

**It should be noted that Paul says that, “He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself.” By virtue of the fact that the speaker is edified, it implies and proves that he is speaking of a known language, not an ecstatic, incoherent tongue (as is so often displayed in supposed “tongue speaking” churches). If the speaker were to be edified by “oola wahla bango wapo shoosh and shim” then everyone else who heard would be equally edified by it as well, because the incoherence of the words would equally apply to all. Instead, this is a known language which the speaker is edifying himself with. Were it not so, there would be no edification for anyone, including the speaker. Again, as every verse of Scripture concerning tongues has and will show, known languages are being referred to.

In contrast to this thought of “tongues” which edify only the speaker of the tongues, Paul continues with, “but he who prophesies edifies the church.” A word of instruction which is conveyed in a known language by the hearers of that instruction will be edified in that instruction.

And so, which makes more sense for the building up of the church – listening to someone speak Thai which nobody else understands, or hearing a preacher speak in the native language of the congregation for everyone to understand? The answer is obvious.

Life application: Speak the word of God, speak it coherently, speak it so others will understand, and therefore edify those who hear the word. For the saying is true – “Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.”

Lord, may the words of my lips be ever praising You. May my heart be directed to You always, and may others be built up by my words and actions, directing them to You so that You will be glorified in them. Make me a tool of Your using and not a person who is simply here to please myself for the few years You have ordained for me in this temporary walk of life. Be pleased with how I live in Your presence, O God! Amen.


Leave a Reply