Friday, March 23, 2018

Year 8, Day 82: 1 Corinthians 14

Theological Commentary: Click Here

As we draw near to the conclusion of 1 Corinthians, Paul continues his theme of unity.  In this chapter, he applies it to the teaching in the community.  Paul tells people that while speaking in tongues is good, speaking words of prophesy are better.  Before we go too much further, we need to remember what prophesy is to the Christian.  Prophesy in the Bible is not predicting the future.  Prophesy is uttering a word of teaching from the Lord intended to speak to another person.

Think about why this is necessary.  Isn’t it easy to be impressed and amazed by someone who does something as foreign as speaking in tongues?  Human beings are easily impressed by the exotic.  At the same time, isn’t it easy to overlook someone who is simply teaching and giving advice?  How often do students in school tune out their teachers, daydream, or simply not allow themselves to get caught up in learning?  Paul needs to give this lesson because we allow ourselves to place more importance of the outwardly amazing and undervalue the more mundane.

At the same time, think about this in terms of unity.  What is more likely to bring unity, words that nobody can understand or words that everybody can understand?  What is more likely to be misunderstood, an action that is difficult to explain or an act that explains itself?  Paul knows that communal unity is built on concrete and timely teaching from the Lord.

As for the second half of this chapter, Paul extends this idea into our worship.  Paul realizes that the best way to build a community is to build an environment that is orderly and sets reasonable expectations.  People want to know what to expect.  People want to know that they can rely on concrete and meaningful teaching.  It isn’t necessarily about giving people what they want; it is about giving people a reliable and meaningful experience.  That will build unity in the community.