When the revelation of God is clearly proclaimed to God’s people in words they can understand, that builds up the church, which emphasizes the importance of recognizing the corporate nature of public worship. This is not to say that individual expression is always inappropriate—as Paul says in verse 5, if there is an interpreter, then tongues speaking can be edifying to all.
This entry is part 3 of 6 in the series
“Decent and Orderly Worship”
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For the last couple of weeks I have been laying the contextual foundation for what is perhaps the most significant chapter in the New Testament about corporate worship. Last week I demonstrated that Paul’s central argument in at least the first half of 1 Corinthians 14 is that for corporate worship, the gift of prophecy—direct revelation from God—is more desirable than the gift of tongues—a sign meant for unbelievers in the form of speaking praise to God in a known language but one not known by anyone in the congregation.
This argument was very specific to the time and place of the Christians in the Corinthian church; they were abusing spiritual gifts, and Paul was addressing their problem. However, in the way that he builds his argument that prophecy is more desirable than tongues, he implies some key principles about the nature and purpose of corporate worship gatherings that apply for all time.
First, corporate worship is corporate worship, not individual worship. This is the essential difference between tongues and prophecy: tongues is individual expression toward God, while prophecy has corporate benefit.