Paul highlights the Importance of Prophesy over Tongues Part 1
1 Corinthians 14:1 Follow after love, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy. KJV
Paul continues to push the Corinthian believers and us to pursue God’s Love with passion as he has just declared it to be the one eternal constant, but now he also wants to make known to them what he believes to be the best of the spiritual gifts given by God the Holy Spirit to believers and that is the gift of prophesy. Paul is aware of how these Corinthian believers were miss-using the gift of tongues and wants to make them see how much more desirable it is for each of them to be earnest in prayer to receive the gift of prophesy. Paul uses the English word rather here in 1 Corinthians 14:1 which is translated by the Greek word mallon which means more, or to a greater degree, or more willingly, or more readily. Paul emphasizes the importance of this gift of prophesy over tongues by instructing them to seek it with greater fervency highlighting the great need for it among the believers in the Body of our Lord Jesus Christ. The Greek word translated for prophesy Paul uses in this verse is propheteuo which means to speak under divine inspiration, and to exercise the prophetic office. Paul is so jealous (in the same way James 4:5 declares of the Holy Spirit with us) and earnestly desiring for these believers to be empowered by the Holy Spirit to open up the Word of God and keep on opening up God’s Holy Word and teaching it, explaining it, and declaring it in all of its truth and power which would be enough to destroy the sexual immorality, idolatry, envy, and strife that is currently rampant in their congregation. Paul knows that the more people God the Holy Spirit bestows this gift to, that the more truth will be exalted and error will be expelled.
1 Corinthians 14:2 For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries. KJV
This next line here in Paul’s first letter to these believers has sparked much controversy for many years in the Church of God. I will say that as my Lord Jesus has been taking me through His Holy Word and teaching me His Truth daily in His word now for nearly ten (10) years digging deep, making notes, praying constantly, and researching as many different commentaries as I can get, I must say that I have to believe that Paul is here declaring that this gift to speak in a language that someone has never learned before does not mean that it is “unknown” to anyone on the planet, but that when spoken by the believer he or she may not know what the language is, it is still most certainly a human language. The English word “unknown” was not in the original manuscript and was added later on to try and make the passage clearer and that is why in most Bibles it is in italics, but instead of making the passage clearer to understand, in my opinion it has done the opposite. Paul declares that when someone “speaks in tongues” (Paul did more than all of them 1 Corinthians 14:18) they are not speaking to men, but instead to God for He understands all languages even if the speaker does not know what he or she is saying. The English word Paul uses here understandeth is translated by the Greek word akouo and it is a primary verb which means to hear in the sense to consider what is or has been said and to understand, or to perceive the sense of what is said.
Paul used this same Greek word when recounting his salvation experience on the Damascus road as he defended himself before the Jews after they had seized him in the Temple in Jerusalem and beaten him severely he said, “And it came to pass, that, as I made my journey, and was come nigh unto Damascus about noon, suddenly there shone from heaven a great light round about me. And I fell unto the ground, and heard (akouo) a voice saying unto me, ‘Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?’ And I answered, ‘Who art thou, Lord?’ And He said unto me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom thou persecutest.’ And they that were with me saw indeed the light, and were afraid; but they heard (akouo) not the voice of Him that spake to me” (Acts 22:6-9). Paul declares also that the person “speaking in tongues” is speaking “in the spirit” and the fact that “spirit” here is in small case means the human spirit that has been made alive from spiritual death at regeneration and the new birth by God the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit actuates and activates the believer’s regenerated human spirit to speak forth out of his or her mouth a language the believer does not know how to speak and in so doing the believer is speaking words that are not understood by all others, but is in fact speaking mysteries known only by God at the time.
The English word mysteries is translated here by the Greek word musterion which means a secret or hidden thing or that not obvious to the understanding, a hidden purpose or counsel. Paul (who spoke in tongues more than all of them) declares that God the Holy Spirit empowers the believer’s human spirit to speak secret or hidden things directly to God the Father which He only understands. Why someone might ask? My response is because He wants to do so for that individual believer for some reason only known to God the Father. Note: Let us not try to ignore the truth of the Scripture here because of the absolutely weird, counterfeit, abominable, and outlandish garbage we see on some Christian television or YouTube today where people are barking like dogs, howling like wolves, laughing uncontrollably, falling out on the floor and shaking uncontrollably and attribute all of that non-sense to God the Holy Spirit because we know that satan can counterfeit spiritual gifts and he does (hence the barking and howling, etc.), but Paul is here speaking of the true work of God the Holy Spirit among these believers in the city of Corinth. None of these believers were Apostles, but Paul acknowledges that they spoke in tongues or other languages as God the Holy Spirit enabled, energized, and empowered them.
“The word prophesy is used here, as so largely in Scripture, not in the limited sense of foretelling the future, but of pouring forth heaven-given speech. There was a strong tendency at Corinth to magnify the use of tongues; that is, forms of utterance which the assembly could not understand. The Apostle rebukes this, and says that it is far better to be able to speak to the edification of the hearers. Indeed, he directs that speech in an unknown tongue should be withheld, unless someone were present who could explain and interpret it.” F. B. Meyer
“Prophesy is the greater gift of the Spirit for someone to pursue “in love” because this gift will benefit the entire Body of Christ, in some cases for many years, i.e. Charles Spurgeon, John Wesley, Martin Lloyd Jones, Adrian Rogers, and a host of others whose prophetic gift is still bringing conviction of sin to the unbeliever, enriching and equipping the saints, and bringing Glory to God many years after their deaths.” Clifford D. Tate, Sr.
If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ and His amazing healing power, pray this from your heart to the Lord Jesus Christ (you speaking directly to Him), Dear Lord Jesus, I confess to You that I am a sinner and I need Your forgiveness. I believe You shed Your Blood and died for my sins. I believe that You rose from the dead proving that You alone are God. I repent of my sins. I want to turn from my sins. I ask You Dear Lord Jesus to come into my heart and take control of my life. I want You to be my Lord, Savior, and my God. Amen...
Sincerely in Christ,
Clifford D. Tate, Sr.
Author of “Silent Assassins of the Soul - Are you Broken by Pornography and Masturbation? You can be Restored by the Lord Jesus Christ and brought into Deliverance, Freedom, and Victory! A Guide for Men and Women in the Enemy’s Crosshairs” e-book available now @ Amazon Kindle, @ Apple I Bookstore for IPod, Barnes and Noble for Nook, Reader Store for Sony Reade, Kobo, Copia, Gardners, Baker and Taylor, and eBookPie…