Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 3 * PART 2 * BOOK 28
I CORINTHIANS 14:4 – 15:19 – PART 2
Now let’s just jump right into where we left off in the last lesson and that would be verse 14, and here Paul is admonishing the Corinthians to take stock of what they were doing, and realize that all that glitters isn’t gold. And that’s all I’m saying, because I’m not condemning the folk who claim to have spoken in tongues, or I won’t look down my nose at them, but all that I do ask everyone in the spirit of Chapter 13, the love chapter, is to analyze this whole thing in the light of what God wants, not what men want. You know we’re living in that era of instant gratification regardless of what area of our life we may be looking at. But listen, we have to line everything up with the Word of God or we’re on thin ice. And that’s all I try to do. I don’t try to browbeat people into everything the way I see it. You can disagree with me on things and that’s fine, but on the other hand I think it’s my responsibility, since the Lord has given me this avenue of teaching, that we show what the Word says. Now verse 14, and to me this is so plain, where Paul, now speaking in the first person says:
I Corinthians 14:14
“For if I pray in an unknown tongue, (there’s that singular again, that sound that can’t be reduced to a phonetic sound or to writing) my spirit ( small “s”- his own personality) prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.”
How much plainer can you get? Even for the individual, what good does it do, Paul says, to speak in a language that you don’t know what you’re talking about, and I know their answer, “Well, God does.” But the Book doesn’t say that He does. We know that God being Omnipotent, He certainly can if He wants to, but there is nothing in here that indicates that this is what God expects people to do.
I Corinthians 14:15
“What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, (Paul is saying, `I will pray from my innermost being. His own spirit – small `s’) and I will pray with the understanding (Now how many of you would talk to God in prayer, whether it be in thanksgiving or supplication, or whatever thing you might have on your mind – what good would it do to talk to God in some language that you don’t know what you’re saying? Even if God is able to discern it, what if you can’t? You don’t know what you’re asking for, and this is what Paul is pointing out. Whatever you do while communicating with God, do it in understanding.) also: I will sing with the spirit, (I know that sometimes we’re too laid back. I know from Scripture that there were times when people sang and danced before the Lord, and there’s nothing wrong with singing, or an exuberance in our Christian Spirit, absolutely nothing, but again, it has to be tempered with common sense.) and I will sing with the understanding also.”
I Corinthians 14:16
“Else when thou shalt bless (That is the food) with the spirit, (small “s” – your being) how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say `A-men’ at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?
In other words, you’re asking the blessing over a table around where many people are sitting, and if you supposedly pray in an unknown tongue how will the people around the table know when you’re finished? Verse 17:
I Corinthians 14:17,18
“For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified. (and then in verse 18 Paul makes a graphic statement) I thank my God, I speak with tongues (Plural – Languages) more than ye all:”
Now for years I’ve said this is what Paul is driving at, and now some of the great scholars are beginning to write it in their books. What’s Paul saying? That when he went into some of these various areas and different tribes and dialects, and different languages, could he communicate? Yes. He had that special gift, Christianity was just getting off the ground, and he had this gift to speak whatever language was necessary. So here in verse 18 Paul is speaking of languages with which he could communicate the Gospel. Now verse 19:
I Corinthians 14:19,20
“Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue. brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice (And that’s not a very nice word) be ye children, but in understanding (grow up and) be men.” Do you see how plain all of this is? Now verse 21:
I Corinthians 14:21
“In the law it is written, `With men of other tongues (Languages) and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord.'”
Here Paul is quoting from the Book of Deuteronomy, and we’re going to go back and look at it in Chapter 28: And naturally this is directed to the Children of Israel.
“The LORD shall bring a nation (of foreign people) against thee from far, from the end of the earth, as swift as the eagle flieth; a nation whose tongue thou shalt not understand:”
Now here the tongue refers to their language. Whether it was the Babylonians that He was referring to or some other nation, there would come a time in Israel’s history that a foreign nation would over-run them, invade them, and the Jews would have to listen to them talking in their language as they were being occupied. Do you see that? Now it wasn’t an unknown tongue, but it was a language that the Jews wouldn’t be able to understand. It was a warning, “Listen, you’re going to have people in your midst that you’re not going to like to have around, you’re not going to be able to understand what they say, they’re going to be foreigners.” And so this is exactly what Paul is referring to now in I Corinthians when he says in verse 21 again:
I Corinthians 14:21,22
“In the law it is written, `With men of other tongues (or other languages) and other lips will I speak unto this people; (by occupying them) and yet for all that will they not hear me,’ saith the Lord. Wherefore tongues (This ability to speak in languages) are for a sign,…”
To the Jew, and we find that in I Corinthians Chapter 1, and verse 22, and again, all we’re going by is what the Book says.
I Corinthians 1:22
“For the Jews require a sign,…”
Now stop and think, how long has Israel been demanding signs? Well, it goes all the way back to when Moses was first called out of the desert, and even Moses the Jew did not believe that he was supposed to do what God wanted him to do. And so how did God prove it to him? He said, “Throw your shepherd rod on the ground.” And you all know the account, and what happened? It became a serpent. Then the Lord said, “Pick it up,” and it became a shepherd’s rod again. What was God trying to show Moses? That He is in it. He is going to take him back to Pharaoh. And then Moses said, “Yeah, but when I get to Pharaoh he’s not going to believe that I’m supposed to lead the children of Israel out.” And what does God tell Moses and Aaron? The same thing: “You throw your rod down and it will become a serpent,” and all these signs were not so much for Pharaoh’s benefit, but rather for Moses’ and Aaron’s. To prove to those two men that God was going to do the supernatural. He’s going to bring Israel out of Egypt. So all the way up through Israel’s history you have the supernatural, and you come into Christ’s earthly ministry, and I’ve taught it and I’ve taught it until I’m blue in the face. Why did Jesus perform miracle, after miracle? To prove to the Jew that He was Who He said He was. It was signs. And remember when we taught the Book of John there were seven miraculous signs, and every one of them had a whole train-load of truths for the Nation of Israel. They didn’t mean that much to the Gentiles, but they meant everything to the Jew. And now Paul comes in even as he writes to a Gentile congregation and says:
I Corinthians 1:22,23a
“For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom; (Now look at the flip side in verse 23) But we preach Christ crucified,…”
Do you see the difference? Now let’s come back to Chapter 14, and again he comes back with that same concept that tongues, the ability to speak all the languages such as he had, were for a sign.
I Corinthians 14:22a
“Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but (the flip side) prophesying (being able to speak forth the Word before they had the New Testament)…”
So signs and all this is not going to accomplish all that much, but what will? Preaching the Word! This is what people need to hear today, people have to hear the Gospel (Ref. I Corinthians 15:1-4). They have to hear the plan of salvation, they don’t have to see some kind of miracle, and I’m not condemning these people that can prove some miraculous manifestation. But they’ve got to prove it before I believe it. If they can prove it, then I’ll say, “Yes, I know we have a God Who can perform miracles.” I know God can heal miraculously, and I do not deny that. Now finishing verse 22:
I Corinthians 14:22b
“…prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.”
Now what’s Paul talking about? To bring them growth in their Christian experience. To bring them so they wouldn’t be blown about with every wind of doctrine. Well let’s just sort of skim through these next few verses, and then I’ve got to deal with another hot potato in this day and time: “What about the women’s activity in the local Church?” Well, we’ll come to that in a few minutes, but before we get there let’s skim verses 23 through 33.
I Corinthians 14:23
“If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, (languages) and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?”
Do you know what the Greek root word for mad in the King James is? Maniac. That’s where the word maniac came from. He says, “They’ll come in off the street, look at you, and will say you’re a bunch of maniacs, you’re mad.” Now verse 24.
I Corinthians 14:24-26
“But if all prophesy, (or speak forth the Word) and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all: (Because he’s hearing the Word of God, see the difference?) And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth. (if he can hear the Word) How is then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. (now if you had all that at once you’d have confusion) Let all things be done unto edifying.” If you’re wondering what he’s driving at, verse 40 puts the cap on it.
I Corinthians 14:40
“Let all things be done decently and in order.” That’s what the Book says, it’s not what I’m saying. The Book says, “Let all things be done decently and in order.” Now let’s come all the way up to verse 34.
I Corinthians 14:34a
“Let your women keep silence in the churches:…”
Now here is where the women have come down on the Apostle Paul. They say he was anti-feminist, he didn’t want to give women credit for anything. Here again, I’m going to have to explain in detail why the Holy Spirit inspired the Apostle Paul to write the things concerning women in these coming verses that he did, and there is a reason for it. I’ve already alluded to it in previous lessons. Corinth was a wicked, wicked city, gross immorality like what I hear even the internet is coming close to now. From that temple up there on that bluff, every night a thousand of those priestesses from the temple came down into the streets of Corinth practicing prostitution. So this was something that had to be dealt with every day of this little Church’s existence. And so what is Paul going to lay upon the congregation of believers? Don’t do anything that even resembles being like one of those prostitutes. Now do you see that? And so when he comes in he says, “Now ladies, watch your languages and your speaking, and your behavior, because if you do anything that resembles those brazen, talkative prostitutes then the world is going to get the wrong impression. Are you following me? So anything that would make someone say, “Well, they’re no different than those prostitutes.” Paul says, “Then you have to be careful.”
Now like I’ve said, the prostitutes were completely in a class of their own, and do you know even today in the Middle East if a lady is veiled, she can go anywhere, any street in the Middle East without fear. No one dare touch a veiled women. Now we can’t understand that, but that’s their culture. But let her take her veil off, and she becomes the object of almost anything they want to do to her. And so Paul is using all this as an example that these prostitutes were so brazen in their dress, in their behavior, in their talkativeness, and in light of that he says, “Don’t you women be anything like one of those women of the streets. Consequently be subdued, be subservient to your husband, and don’t be like they are.” Now reading on in verse 34.
I Corinthians 14:34
“Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.”
I had to point out to someone here the other day, you have to remember that under the law, even under God’s law to Israel, the woman had almost no rights. It was unfortunate, but God had His reason for doing it, and I’ve said it over and over on this program that the greatest liberty for the feminine portion of the human race was Christianity. Christianity brought women out of that place of being downtrodden, not permitted to be educated, not permitted to read. But Christianity brought the women up on almost an equal level with men. But what have present day women done with that? They’ve abused it, and anytime you abuse something then it begins to backfire. So Paul is still writing here in light of the culture and the day and time in which he writes, so he says, “Women be subdued, don’t be talkative, don’t be the one to take authority in the local Church.”
I Corinthians 14:35
“And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home:…”
Why? In order again to keep that mood of subservience. Not slavery, but recognizing that the husband was the head of the house, and that goes all the way back of course to the Garden of Eden. That’s where it all began, and it was prompted with Eve eating of the fruit first. Let’s go back and look at it in Genesis Chapter 3, and we’ll begin in verse 16. Now this is after Adam and Eve have eaten, this is after sin has entered, and God has already dealt with old Satan.
“Unto the woman he said, `I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children;…'”
When I teach on the millennium, I scare women half to death, as I say you want to remember that in the thousand-year-reign with Christ the curse will be lifted, and childbearing will no longer be part of the curse as it was here. You see the travail, and the pain and suffering that women go through today is a direct result of the curse. And that’s not the way God intended it to be. And so when the curse is lifted, child-bearing is going to be an exhilarating experience beyond even what it is today. But because of the curse look what God did.
“…in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.”
That’s the way God commanded it to be, that’s the way He ordained it, and so all the way up through the Old Testament, yes, the woman was, to our way of thinking, almost overly subdued. But this is still part of Paul’s thinking as he deals with the Corinthian Church. The women were to recognize the fact that the man was still the head of the family, he was still the head of the woman, and that she was to be subdued under those services in the Church. Back to I Corinthians.
I Corinthians 14:36,37
“What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only? If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are (What?) the commandments of the Lord.”
Now I’m sure Paul at this point in time had not recognized, or understood that his letters would become part of Scripture, and that you and I would be studying it 2000 years later. But he did know that what he wrote to this little congregation in Corinth was inspired by the Holy Spirit as he wrote it. So this wasn’t just man’s idea, this is the Word of God, and this is what he’s saying. Now reading on in verse 38.
I Corinthians 14:38-40
“But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant. (That’s a matter of choice. If you want to know what the Word say, you read it, you study it, you’ll learn.) Wherefore, brethren, covet(or desire) to prophesy, (to speak forth the Word) and forbid not to speak with tongues. (nor will I because of this verse) Let all things be done decently and in order.”
Because then you see then it brings honor and glory to the God Whom we claim to worship. But how many people are taking these things out of context and they’re forgetting that the primary purpose of all that we do is to bring honor and glory to God.