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1 Corinthians 14:26-40

You can read the text here.

Paul wraps up his discussion of spiritual gifts and the building of the body in worship in this section. God gives different members gifts which they may use to build the body during corporate worship.[1] Tongues are not a mandatory part of a service, but if they occur it should be at most two or three and always accompanied by interpretation.[2] Prophecy seems to be more core to the service and should also be limited to two or three speakers at most, and those assembled should evaluate its content for fidelity. All speech must be orderly and people must take turns that way there is no chaos and the body can actually be built up.

Paul wants women to be guarded in their interactions, especially married women. In Greco-Roman culture it was considered scandalous for a married woman to converse with a man who was not her husband. Paul wants to adhere to cultural norms and requires women to refrain from asking questions of others and ask their own husbands. If we piece the data together from chapters 11-14, it seems that women were encouraged to be involved in what we would call liturgical speech where they could lead the congregation in some aspect of worship but not ask questions or interact interpersonally. Again, Paul's concern is to avoid bringing shame on the congregation.[3]

Paul concludes with a direct challenge. His authority and the content of his message comes from the Lord, so anyone who has heard from the Lord will not oppose him. Opposition is a sign that one has not heard from God and risks his judgment. He wants the Corinthians to about in all of the gifts (especially prophecy) but they need to be executed in a way that builds the church rather than the individual.

[1] Thiselton's comment that most of these are not spontaneous gifts but resulted from prior preparation makes sense to me.

[2] I think a middle ground between Thiselton and Ciampa and Rosner is likely correct. Thiselton overplays the extent to which the interpretation should come from the tongue utterer, however, I do find it likely that the one who speaks in tongues would be the best candidate to interpret.

[3] Ciampa and Rosner are very helpful on the background for these verses. I think it goes without saying that this brief statement has no applicability today.


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