Friday, February 17, 2017
What About Speaking in Tongues?
Paul closes his teaching on spiritual gifts, by dealing with the more supernatural gifts, like speaking in tongues and prophesying. Some in the Corinthian church had the gift of speaking in tongues, speaking in unknown languages, but since there was no one there to interpret what they were saying, it wasn't benefitting anyone but the one speaking. Whereas, prophesying was done in a language that everyone could understand and benefit from. So Paul says, "Don't forbid speaking in tongues but eagerly desire the gift of prophecy."
There have been many arguments over the gift tongues and its use in the church over the ages. There were some Pentecostal churches that argued that speaking in tongues, technically "glossalia" or speaking in unknown languages, was a sign of a believer receiving the Holy Spirit. The original use of the speaking in tongues was when the believers were gathered at Pentecost and Jesus gave the Holy Spirit to the apostles in Acts 2. They started speaking in tongues in the languages of those who were gather for the Jewish feast. And each person heard the gospel in their own language and came to faith and then went back to their land.
So Paul argues that unless someone can interpret the language that someone speaking in tongues is speaking, it does not build up the body. In fact, if an unbeliever came into the worship service, they would not know what was going on. It would be quite weird for them and most likely cause them not to return. So while Paul does not forbid the speaking in tongues, he wants to make sure it isn't a divisive issue in the Corinthian church. Speaking in tongues could easily lead to pride as the recipient might think by speaking in unknown languages set them apart. Paul says, ,"I can speak in tongues more than any of you, but five words that are understandable is more useful than a 10,000 tongues.'
Prophesying is typically thought of speaking God's word and predicting the future. But prophets are those who speak God's word in today's situation. The Word of God is always useful for building us up, rebuking us if necessary, and never fails to lead us closer to God and his ways. This is why it is so important to be in the scripture and praying for others. As God puts a word on your heart share it with a brother or sister to encourage or exhort them! In this way we fulfill the way of love!