Sunday, May 27, 2007

Summary of 1 Corinthians 14

Paul now moves to the specifics of the discussion began in Ch.12 regarding tongues in worship. Ch.14 builds on two contrasts; practically between prophecy and tongues and spiritually between their individual and corporate devotions. vv.1-25 focus on the issue of intelligibility and vv.26-40 the regulation of orderly worship.

vv.1-5 Paul highlights the central themes of the section; tongues which builds the individual and ‘the greater gift,’(v.5) prophecy the community.(*1)

vv.6-12 Intelligible speech communally is preferable to unintelligible. Paul builds on his music metaphor from Ch.13.(v.7) However the instruments here are able to make a precise pitch.(*2) The trumpet metaphor (v.8) shows that intelligible messages should encourage hearers to act.

vv.13-19 Paul applies these metaphors directly to the Church (see also v.9) to encourage mature worship. Further he renews emphasis on the Spirit (vv.15-16) focuses again on God and takes focus off the individual. (*3)

vv.20-25 Encouraging them onto maturity Paul continues with his contrasts emphasising the church-building nature of Prophecy over uninterpreted-tongues. The unbelievers material (v.22ff.) is most likely another plea at intelligibility. (*4)

vv.26-40(*5) Both tongues and prophecy must be discerned and regulated in the assembly (vv.27-32). Orderly worship is key to mature worship (v.33). Gender distinctions is again part of this ordering and must be regulated in worship (vv.34-35).
(*1) It is not (contrary to popular opinion) greater and tongues lesser in and of themselves, but in what best builds the community.
(*2) Unlike ‘gongs’ or ‘cymbals’ – the issue here is how they are played.
(*3) This section is about tongues, prophecy is not mentioned .
(*4) However v.22 is considerably difficult to exegete; a chiastic structure of vv.20-25 (with v.22 central) may make things clearer with focus on intelligibility.
(*5) Key manuscript issue with vv.34-35, that they are excluded from many manuscripts.

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