Food Sacrificed to Idols
8:1 With regard to food sacrificed to idols, we know that “we all have knowledge.” Knowledge puffs up, but love builds up.
8:2 If someone thinks he knows something, he does not yet know to the degree that he needs to know.
8:3 But if someone loves God, he is known by God.
8:4 With regard then to eating food sacrificed to idols, we know that “an idol in this world is nothing,” and that “there is no God but one.”
8:5 If after all there are so-called gods, whether in heaven or on earth (as there are many gods and many lords),
8:6 yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we live, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we live.
8:7 But this knowledge is not shared by all. And some, by being accustomed to idols in former times, eat this food as an idol sacrifice, and their conscience, because it is weak, is defiled.
8:8 Now food will not bring us close to God. We are no worse if we do not eat and no better if we do.
8:9 But be careful that this liberty of yours does not become a hindrance to the weak.
8:10 For if someone weak sees you who possess knowledge dining in an idol’s temple, will not his conscience be “strengthened” to eat food offered to idols?
8:11 So by your knowledge the weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed.
8:12 If you sin against your brothers or sisters in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.
8:13 For this reason, if food causes my brother or sister to sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I may not cause one of them to sin.
Lord, You are the only True God, all other claims to “god” are false and are of the Enemy, the devil. May I be careful to never give-away power to any sort of an idol nor to confuse a brother or sister through carelessness in the use of things that they still associate with idols.
Idols are nothing in reality but to the unsaved and the immature believer some are confused by the things associated with them.
Paul challenged the more mature believers to be alert to the potential that their conduct may have, thought not necessarily bad in and of itself, to the easily confused unsaved person or immature believer.
It is better to avoid being observed or known to engage in some activities if they may be used by the Enemy to harm the vulnerable—it is a voluntary sacrifice as an act of caring about others.
The Lord God is the only True God and all others are deceivers.
How could actions, places, and words be used by the Enemy to confuse potential believers about Christ or His power to bring freedom from sin?
How might an immature believer or a potential believer be confused watching you yelling at a clerk in a store or at a referee at a ball game, behaving disrespectfully toward your spouse, mistreating your children, asking someone to help you to cheat on your taxes, downloading entertainment or other computer-base software illegally, observing you drunk in a bar room or wasting God’s money in a casino or on lottery tickets, boasting, gossiping, lying. or threatening a brother or a non-believer with legal or physical or social violence?
When have you observed a believer being careless in their choices? Did it confuse you or someone else about the Lord God or about the nature of that person’s faith?
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a place where your “witness for Christ” needs some help.
Today I promise to partner with Him to repent (turn away) and mature. I will ask a fellow believer to pray in agreement and to walk with me to greater maturity.
The Rights of an Apostle
9:1 Am I not free? Am I not an apostle? Have I not seen Jesus our Lord? Are you not my work in the Lord?
9:2 If I am not an apostle to others, at least I am to you, for you are the confirming sign of my apostleship in the Lord.
9:3 This is my defense to those who examine me. 9:4 Do we not have the right to financial support?
9:5 Do we not have the right to the company of a believing wife, like the other apostles and the Lord’s brothers and Cephas?
9:6 Or do only Barnabas and I lack the right not to work? 9:7 Who ever serves in the army at his own expense? Who plants a vineyard and does not eat its fruit? Who tends a flock and does not consume its milk?
9:8 Am I saying these things only on the basis of common sense, or does the law not say this as well? 9:9 For it is written in the law of Moses, “Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.” God is not concerned here about oxen, is he? 9:10 Or is he not surely speaking for our benefit? It was written for us, because the one plowing and threshing ought to work in hope of enjoying the harvest. 9:11 If we sowed spiritual blessings among you, is it too much to reap material things from you?
9:12 If others receive this right from you, are we not more deserving? But we have not made use of this right. Instead we endure everything so that we may not be a hindrance to the gospel of Christ.
9:13 Don’t you know that those who serve in the temple eat food from the temple, and those who serve at the altar receive a part of the offerings? 9:14 In the same way the Lord commanded those who proclaim the gospel to receive their living by the gospel.
9:15 But I have not used any of these rights. And I am not writing these things so that something will be done for me. In fact, it would be better for me to die than—no one will deprive me of my reason for boasting! 9:16 For if I preach the gospel, I have no reason for boasting, because I am compelled to do this. Woe to me if I do not preach the gospel! 9:17 For if I do this voluntarily, I have a reward. But if I do it unwillingly, I am entrusted with a responsibility. 9:18 What then is my reward? That when I preach the gospel I may offer the gospel free of charge, and so not make full use of my rights in the gospel.
9:19 For since I am free from all I can make myself a slave to all, in order to gain even more people.
9:20 To the Jews I became like a Jew to gain the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law) to gain those under the law.
9:21 To those free from the law I became like one free from the law (though I am not free from God’s law but under the law of Christ) to gain those free from the law.
9:22 To the weak I became weak in order to gain the weak. I have become all things to all people, so that by all means I may save some.
9:23 I do all these things because of the gospel, so that I can be a participant in it.
9:24 Do you not know that all the runners in a stadium compete, but only one receives the prize? So run to win.
9:25 Each competitor must exercise self-control in everything. They do it to receive a perishable crown, but we an imperishable one.
9:26 So I do not run uncertainly or box like one who hits only air. 9:27 Instead I subdue my body and make it my slave, so that after preaching to others I myself will not be disqualified.
Lord, You call a few to a higher-level of sacrificial ministry, though You call every believer to a lifetime of daily ministry. May I be watchful for faithful servants who may have needs, in addition encouragement and prayer, which You wish me to help meet.
Paul reminded them that the true Christian is “compelled” to preach Christ.
He observed that among the apostles, the Lord’s [biological/legal] brothers, and Cephas only he and Barnabas were without “the company of a believing wife.”
Paul addressed the reasonable and Biblical expectation that the members of a fellowship provide for the needs of those sent by God to lead them.
Paul concluded that he chose not to accept regular support [he did accept occasional gifts, especially when imprisoned] so that he was unencumbered by human expectations.
If ministry were simplified to parallel the apostle Paul’s, "preaching nothing but Christ and Him crucified" (to the unsaved) and challenging the saved to a Biblical standard of maturity, perhaps the opportunities for manipulation might be reduced.
How might a pastor, or others in ministry leadership be supported so that they are not distracted by unmet physical needs, yet are protected from institutional manipulation?
The sacrifices made by all of the early leaders called by Jesus are a stark contrast to the way that many of us complain of the least inconvenience.
When have you observed a highly-structured religious organization, with salaried pastors and staff, begins to misuse the pastor and staff’s financial and organizational dependence to manipulate how they functioned as leaders?
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you a leader or leader to whom I should give special support for their ministry for the Lord God.
Today I will consider how I support the spiritual leaders of my fellowship. If I believe that they were called to leadership and are being Biblically-faithful in their teaching then I will invest in their effectiveness for Christ. If I am a leader I will reflect upon the stewardship of the support God has led His children to provide and be certain that my choices do not impose unnecessary burdens upon those whom I serve.
Learning from Israel’s Failures
10:1 For I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea, 10:2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, 10:3 and all ate the same spiritual food, 10:4 and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they were all drinking from the spiritual rock that followed them, and the rock was Christ.
10:5 But God was not pleased with most of them, for they were cut down in the wilderness.
10:6 These things happened as examples for us, so that we will not crave evil things as they did.
10:7 So do not be idolaters, as some of them were. As it is written, “The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play.”
10:8 And let us not be immoral, as some of them were, and twenty-three thousand died in a single day.
10:9 And let us not put Christ to the test, as some of them did, and were destroyed by snakes.
10:10 And do not complain, as some of them did, and were killed by the destroying angel.
10:11 These things happened to them as examples and were written for our instruction, on whom the ends of the ages have come.
10:12 So let the one who thinks he is standing be careful that he does not fall.
10:13 No trial has overtaken you that is not faced by others. And God is faithful: He will not let you be tried beyond what you are able to bear, but with the trial will also provide a way out so that you may be able to endure it.
Avoid Idol Feasts
10:14 So then, my dear friends, flee from idolatry. 10:15 I am speaking to thoughtful people. Consider what I say. 10:16 Is not the cup of blessing that we bless a sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread that we break a sharing in the body of Christ? 10:17 Because there is one bread, we who are many are one body, for we all share the one bread. 10:18 Look at the people of Israel. Are not those who eat the sacrifices partners in the altar?
10:19 Am I saying that idols or food sacrificed to them amount to anything? 10:20 No, I mean that what the pagans sacrifice is to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be partners with demons. 10:21 You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot take part in the table of the Lord and the table of demons. 10:22 Or are we trying to provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we really stronger than he is?
Live to Glorify God
10:23 “Everything is lawful,” but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is lawful,” but not everything builds others up.
10:24 Do not seek your own good, but the good of the other person.
10:25 Eat anything that is sold in the marketplace without questions of conscience, 10:26 for the earth and its abundance are the Lord’s.
10:27 If an unbeliever invites you to dinner and you want to go, eat whatever is served without asking questions of conscience.
10:28 But if someone says to you, “This is from a sacrifice,” do not eat, because of the one who told you and because of conscience—10:29 I do not mean yours but the other person’s. For why is my freedom being judged by another’s conscience?
10:30 If I partake with thankfulness, why am I blamed for the food that I give thanks for? 10:31 So whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.
10:32 Do not give offense to Jews or Greeks or to the church of God, 10:33 just as I also try to please everyone in all things. I do not seek my own benefit, but the benefit of many, so that they may be saved.
Lord, You gave Adam and Eve freedom to make choices in the Garden and they chose wrongly, and continuously over history You did so with humankind. May I learn from history and make an intentional effort to not repeat the errors of the past.
Paul reminded the believers that Christ was the “rock” from which the people who followed the leadership of Moses “drank the water of life”, but many were rebellious and the consequence was death.
In 1Cor10:9 he identified Numbers 21:5-9 as a direct reference to Christ, a testimony to the pre-existence of Christ that also occurs in Jude 5.
Paul explained the purpose of the Lord God allowing choices and consequences in the Old Testament times “These things happened to them as examples and were written for our instruction …”
He gave them a word of wisdom to prevent them both from arrogant or careless failure “No trial has overtaken you that is not faced by others. And God is faithful: He will not let you be tried beyond what you are able to bear, but with the trial will also provide a way out so that you may be able to endure it.” 1 Cor. 13
Paul warned them to not participate in activities honoring evil, while the mere physical elements (food and drink) may be harmless, the sociological and spiritual elements are not.
He reinforced the teaching of freedom-with-responsibility for Christians; one may freely “Eat anything that is sold in the marketplace without questions of conscience …” and may also eat freely when the guest of an unbeliever, but should an immature believer raise a concern that the food had been sacrificed to idols one should refrain from eating in their presence. [Note: Paul is not intending to say that everything in the marketplace is equally healthy, as relates to “taking care of the Temple”, but is clearly restricting his meaning to spiritual matters or “conscience”.]
There is nothing new about the ways that we "set ourselves up to fail" through choices that are clearly not God-honoring and/or are carelessly made without pausing to consult God though His indwelling Holy Spirit.
How does a believer separate the "tests" or faithfulness to which Paul referred from the day-to-day challenges of life in a fallen world? Isn’t there a difficult balance between freedom and responsibility?
There is great value in the assurance and strength-for-endurance-in-righteousness which flows from the promise of God in 1 Cor. 10:13.
When have you found the Lord God’s assurance in 1 Cor. 10:13 just what you needed to endure a difficult life-challenge?
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you one area of your life where you all-too-often repeat a poor decision and set yourself up to fail as a good witness to Christ and as a more-mature believer pursuing an intentionally-righteous life.
Today I will ask a fellow believer to pray in agreement that I recognize the gift of discernment which is promised by the Holy Spirit for those who need it, and for the courage to repent and to mature.
11:1 Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ.
Women’s Head Coverings
11:2 I praise you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions just as I passed them on to you.
11:3 But I want you to know that Christ is the head of every man, and the man is the head of a woman, and God is the head of Christ.
11:4 Any man who prays or prophesies with his head covered disgraces his head.
11:5 But any woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered disgraces her head, for it is one and the same thing as having a shaved head.
11:6 For if a woman will not cover her head, she should cut off her hair. But if it is disgraceful for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, she should cover her head.
11:7 For a man should not have his head covered, since he is the image and glory of God. But the woman is the glory of the man. 11:8 For man did not come from woman, but woman from man.
11:9 Neither was man created for the sake of woman, but woman for man.
11:10 For this reason a woman should have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels.
11:11 In any case, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 11:12 For just as woman came from man, so man comes through woman. But all things come from God.
11:13 Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered?
11:14 Does not nature itself teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace for him, 11:15 but if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For her hair is given to her for a covering.
11:16 If anyone intends to quarrel about this, we have no other practice, nor do the churches of God.
The Lord’s Supper
11:17 Now in giving the following instruction I do not praise you, because you come together not for the better but for the worse. 11:18 For in the first place, when you come together as a church I hear there are divisions among you, and in part I believe it. 11:19 For there must in fact be divisions among you, so that those of you who are approved may be evident. 11:20 Now when you come together at the same place, you are not really eating the Lord’s Supper. 11:21 For when it is time to eat, everyone proceeds with his own supper. One is hungry and another becomes drunk. 11:22 Do you not have houses so that you can eat and drink? Or are you trying to show contempt for the church of God by shaming those who have nothing? What should I say to you? Should I praise you? I will not praise you for this!
11:23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night in which he was betrayed took bread, 11:24 and after he had given thanks he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” 11:25 In the same way, he also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, every time you drink it, in remembrance of me.”
11:26 For every time you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.
11:27 For this reason, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
11:28 A person should examine himself first, and in this way let him eat the bread and drink of the cup. 11:29 For the one who eats and drinks without careful regard for the body eats and drinks judgment against himself.
11:30 That is why many of you are weak and sick, and quite a few are dead.
11:31 But if we examined ourselves, we would not be judged. 1
1:32 But when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned with the world.
11:33 So then, my brothers and sisters, when you come together to eat, wait for one another. 11:34 If anyone is hungry, let him eat at home, so that when you assemble it does not lead to judgment. I will give directions about other matters when I come.
Lord, You value men and women equally, but assign to them differing roles within Your fellowship. You also desire that we honor one-another and that we do not dishonor times set-apart for special worship of You. May I be careful to respect and to teach respect.
Paul addressed a local conflict, but one with meaning to all of the churches [fellowships of believers]; how to manage the relationship of (believing) husbands and wives within the church [fellowship of believers].
He noted that those who chose to be joined in [Biblical Christian] marriage agreed that the male would be the spiritual leader of the home and within the church [fellowship of believers] the wife would not act without consultation with him.
[Note 1: Paul carefully qualifies this instruction in three ways; it appears to be confined to married couples - extrapolating to all males and females in the church is awkward and not required by the text, verse 11:3 demands that the husband be submitted to Christ as a condition of his authority, and verses 11:11-12 that the husband and wife recognize their interdependence from both the order of Creation and the process of physical birth.]
[Note 2: Paul’s instructions re. the “covering” of the head appears to be illustrative rather than regulatory else he would have included instructions to define the type of covering. Given Paul’s repeated emphasis upon “freedom” from legalism such a regulation would clearly have been contradictory.]
Paul addressed another local conflict; when believers gathered in fellowship some arrived hungry without food or drink, others brought and hoarded their food and/or drink, in this way there were “haves” and “have-nots”, hungry and gorged, sober and drunk believers in the midst of a gathering Jesus had commanded for the worship of God.
Paul instructed that people eat prior to arriving for fellowship so that “the Lord’s Supper” [perhaps a euphemism here for worship] be the focus and not mere human dining.
[Note: Even if Paul were not using “the Lord’s Supper” here as a euphemism for worship he was still instructing them as to how they might remove a terrible distraction which was compromising the quality of their fellowship with one another and with God.]
Paul gives a good example of the distractions people brought to a time of worship for the gathered believers - similar distractions still happen today.
What are some ways that the verses about men and women can be misunderstood and misapplied out of their full Biblical context?
There is a Biblical context of marriage and understanding that is critical for potential married couples. The “elders” must be involved in a process of prayer and teaching prior to any decision to seek marriage to avoid allowing emotions to overwhelm good judgment.
When have you experienced or observed couples so overwhelmed by romantic thoughts that they failed to consult the Lord God—and the pastor, “elders”, and their peers all failed to counsel them to slow down and seek His wisdom?
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you His desire for you in respectful worship, honoring one-another, and/or responsible choices in romantic relationship.
Today I will, if I am a single person involved in any sort of romantic or potentially romantic relationship, ask a fellow believer to pray in agreement that I will consult one or more persons who meet the Biblical qualification of “elder” prior to making any decisions to consider engagement and marriage.
Today, if I am married I will prayerfully reflect upon God’s teaching to discover the following:
If I am the husband my life is increasingly submitted to Christ such as to earn the right to be trusted as the spiritual leader of my home;
If I am the wife that I honor Christ in the way that I honor my husband.
Today I will also look closely to discover if there is anything about my attitude, clothing, or participation in our fellowship which may create a distraction—and repent of it.
12:1 With regard to spiritual gifts, brothers and sisters, I do not want you to be uninformed. 12:2 You know that when you were pagans you were often led astray by speechless idols, however you were led. 12:3 So I want you to understand that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, “Jesus is cursed,” and no one can say, “Jesus is Lord,” except by the Holy Spirit.
12:4 Now there are different gifts, but the same Spirit.
12:5 And there are different ministries, but the same Lord.
12:6 And there are different results, but the same God who produces all of them in everyone.
12:7 To each person the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the benefit of all.
12:8 For one person is given through the Spirit the message of wisdom, and another the message of knowledge according to the same Spirit, 12:9 to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 12:10 to another performance of miracles, to another prophecy, and to another discernment of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues.
12:11 It is one and the same Spirit, distributing as he decides to each person, who produces all these things.
Different Members in One Body
12:12 For just as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body—though many—are one body, so too is Christ.
12:13 For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body. Whether Jews or Greeks or slaves or free, we were all made to drink of the one Spirit. 12:14 For in fact the body is not a single member, but many.
12:15 If the foot says, “Since I am not a hand, I am not part of the body,” it does not lose its membership in the body because of that.
12:16 And if the ear says, “Since I am not an eye, I am not part of the body,” it does not lose its membership in the body because of that.
12:17 If the whole body were an eye, what part would do the hearing? If the whole were an ear, what part would exercise the sense of smell?
12:18 But as a matter of fact, God has placed each of the members in the body just as he decided.
12:19 If they were all the same member, where would the body be? 12:20 So now there are many members, but one body. 12:21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I do not need you,” nor in turn can the head say to the foot, “I do not need you.” 12:22 On the contrary, those members that seem to be weaker are essential, 12:23 and those members we consider less honorable we clothe with greater honor, and our unpresentable members are clothed with dignity, 12:24 but our presentable members do not need this. Instead, God has blended together the body, giving greater honor to the lesser member, 12:25 so that there may be no division in the body, but the members may have mutual concern for one another.
12:26 If one member suffers, everyone suffers with it. If a member is honored, all rejoice with it.
12:27 Now you are Christ’s body, and each of you is a member of it.
12:28 And God has placed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, gifts of healing, helps, gifts of leadership, different kinds of tongues. 12:29 Not all are apostles, are they? Not all are prophets, are they? Not all are teachers, are they? Not all perform miracles, do they? 12:30 Not all have gifts of healing, do they? Not all speak in tongues, do they? Not all interpret, do they?
12:31 But you should be eager for the greater gifts.
And now I will show you a way that is beyond comparison.
Lord, You give us gifts because You have chosen to do Your work through us as a blessing to others (and to us in passing). May I always remember that Your gifts are for others, they do not make me special, and are not intended to bring any fame or glory to me.
Paul addressed the matter of spiritual gifts, beginning with the reminder that many had been “led astray” by “speechless idols” when they “were pagans” and that he did not want them to again be led astray a believers.
Paul noted that all gifts are given by God “for the benefit of all”, the different gifts come from the same Spirit, and the different ministries with different results belong to one Lord.
Paul lists several gifts:
Paul noted that the Holy Spirit was the distributing source “… as He decides to each person, Who produces all these things.” and that every part of the “body” of believers was equally valuable and to be equally honored and valued.
Paul also provided a chronology of God’s provision to the fellowship; apostles, prophets, teachers, miracles, gifts of healing, helps, gifts of leadership, different kinds of tongues. Note: This is not intended to be a hierarchy of value.]
Paul then noted that no one received all of the gifts and no gift was common to all, that that they should seek after “the greater gifts” [defined in chapter 14 as those which “instruct others” such as prophesy rather than the more self-focused gift of tongues].
[Note: This is the first place in the NT where a form of the general gift of tongues is referenced that is in need of “interpretation”, in this case because it is a private communication with God not usually intended for public utterance.]
The Lord God’s often-repeated priority is that all that we do, including the use of the gifts He provides, is that they be used by Him to serve others through us.
How have the various gifts the Lord God has given you, and how He has used them to mature you, been an encouragement to you to then teach others?
Paul upon accountability, through independent interpretation and balance, to keep “experiential emotionalism” and “show-boat boasting” away from the fellowship.
When have you observed the misuse of gifts, displayed as a way to draw attention to the person, rather than to bless others and to bring glory to the Lord God?
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you any way that your use of His gifts has somehow drifted into a self-serving and/or attention-getting tool.
Today I will prayerfully reflect on the gifts God has given me and with the help of the Holy Spirit discern if my use of those gifts mostly serves others and brings glory to God or tends to be more self-serving and/or draw attention to me. I will ask a fellow believer to pray in agreement that I persevere in realigning my priorities as necessary.
The Way of Love
13:1 If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but I do not have love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
13:2 And if I have prophecy, and know all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith so that I can remove mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing.
13:3 If I give away everything I own, and if I give over my body in order to boast, but do not have love, I receive no benefit.
13:4 Love is patient, love is kind, it is not envious. Love does not brag, it is not puffed up.
13:5 It is not rude, it is not self-serving, it is not easily angered or resentful.
13:6 It is not glad about injustice, but rejoices in the truth.
13:7 It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
13:8 Love never ends. But if there are prophecies, they will be set aside; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be set aside.
13:9 For we know in part, and we prophesy in part, 13:10 but when what is perfect comes, the partial will be set aside.
13:11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. But when I became an adult, I set aside childish ways.
13:12 For now we see in a mirror indirectly, but then we will see face to face. Now I know in part, but then I will know fully, just as I have been fully known.
13:13 And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love.
Lord, You have chosen to use us in Your great plan and give to us gifts and talents and opportunity. May I be alert to opportunity, generous with talents, and careful to give You all-glory for gifts.
At the conclusion of Chapter 12 Paul wrote “12:31 But you should be eager for the greater gifts. And now I will show you a way that is beyond comparison.”
Having just explained the purpose and value of the “gifts of the Holy Spirit” he then placed them in proper Biblical perspective.
He concluded that by comparison none of the gifts have any implicit value, the only things of lasting and implicit-value are “… faith, hope, and love” … “But the greatest of these is love.”
Paul further explained that where love was absent in the exercise of spiritual gifts a wrong heart-attitude poisoned and nullified the value of the gifts—because the expression and impact of love was their purpose.
He listed examples of what love looked like in practice; “patient … kind … not envious … does not brag … not puffed-up … not rude … not self-serving … not easily angered or resentful … not glad about injustice … rejoices in the truth … bears all things [without complaining based on 1 Cor. 10:13], believes all things [of the Lord], hopes all things [promised by God], endures all things [that come from life in this fallen world and additional specific attacks because one is a Christian].
Paul noted that all things but love will come to an end as they only have temporary value outside of Heaven, that as maturity grows so does our ability to love well, and though we are limited in our vision and comprehension now - in Heaven we will “know fully”.
Gifts are only given as a tool of the Lord God’s expression of love through saving-grace.
Study some examples of individuals and circumstances with fellowships where believers have demonstrated right and loving and wrong and unloving attitudes.
The attribute of love in our lives is blessed by the Lord God.
When have you observed the misuse of gifts?
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal a wrong attitude in you with a love-attitude.
Today I will prayerfully seek an opportunity to replace a wrong attitude in me with a love-attitude. I will share the experience and the result with a fellow believer.
Prophecy and Tongues
14:1 Pursue love and be eager for the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.
14:2 For the one speaking in a tongue does not speak to people but to God, for no one understands; he is speaking mysteries by the Spirit.
14:3 But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouragement, and consolation.
14:4 The one who speaks in a tongue builds himself up, but the one who prophesies builds up the church.
14:5 I wish you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets so that the church may be strengthened.
14:6 Now, brothers and sisters, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I help you unless I speak to you with a revelation or with knowledge or prophecy or teaching?
14:7 It is similar for lifeless things that make a sound, like a flute or harp. Unless they make a distinction in the notes, how can what is played on the flute or harp be understood? 14:8 If, for example, the trumpet makes an unclear sound, who will get ready for battle? 14:9 It is the same for you. If you do not speak clearly with your tongue, how will anyone know what is being said? For you will be speaking into the air.
14:10 There are probably many kinds of languages in the world, and none is without meaning.
14:11 If then I do not know the meaning of a language, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me.
14:12 It is the same with you. Since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, seek to abound in order to strengthen the church.
14:13 So then, one who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret.
14:14 If I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unproductive.
14:15 What should I do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my mind. I will sing praises with my spirit, but I will also sing praises with my mind.
14:16 Otherwise, if you are praising God with your spirit, how can someone without the gift say “Amen” to your thanksgiving, since he does not know what you are saying? 14:17 For you are certainly giving thanks well, but the other person is not strengthened.
14:18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you, 14:19 but in the church I want to speak five words with my mind to instruct others, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue.
14:20 Brothers and sisters, do not be children in your thinking. Instead, be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature.
14:21 It is written in the law: “By people with strange tongues and by the lips of strangers I will speak to this people, yet not even in this way will they listen to me,” says the Lord.
14:22 So then, tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers. Prophecy, however, is not for unbelievers but for believers.
14:23 So if the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and unbelievers or uninformed people enter, will they not say that you have lost your minds?
14:24 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or uninformed person enters, he will be convicted by all, he will be called to account by all.
14:25 The secrets of his heart are disclosed, and in this way he will fall down with his face to the ground and worship God, declaring, “God is really among you.”
14:26 What should you do then, brothers and sisters? When you come together, each one has a song, has a lesson, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all these things be done for the strengthening of the church.
14:27 If someone speaks in a tongue, it should be two, or at the most three, one after the other, and someone must interpret.
14:28 But if there is no interpreter, he should be silent in the church. Let him speak to himself and to God.
14:29 Two or three prophets should speak and the others should evaluate what is said.
14:30 And if someone sitting down receives a revelation, the person who is speaking should conclude.
14:31 For you can all prophesy one after another, so all can learn and be encouraged.
14:32 Indeed, the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets, 14:33 for God is not characterized by disorder but by peace.
As in all the churches of the saints, 14:34 the women should be silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak. Rather, let them be in submission, as in fact the law says.
14:35 If they want to find out about something, they should ask their husbands at home, because it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in church.
14:36 Did the word of God begin with you, or did it come to you alone?
14:37 If anyone considers himself a prophet or spiritual person, he should acknowledge that what I write to you is the Lord’s command. 14:38 If someone does not recognize this, he is not recognized.
14:39 So then, brothers and sisters, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid anyone from speaking in tongues.
14:40 And do everything in a decent and orderly manner.
Lord, You give most gifts so that You may bless others through us, and You give a few rare gifts that are primarily for our communication with You. May I always seek what is best for others and what matures my relationship with You.
Paul explained that the form of tongues where people spoke “by the Spirit” to God was good for them (in their private communications with Him) but was not a blessing to others; however, the gift of prophesy was given to bless others, so while the gift of private-tongues was good - prophesy was preferred. [Note: The form of tongues described in Acts was different in nature as it was a known language and given for the benefit of others.]
He allowed that with an interpreter one may communicate “… with a revelation, with knowledge, with prophesy, or with teaching” [using the spiritual form of tongues] but that “…in the church [among gathered believers—he specified] I [Paul] want to speak five words with my mind to instruct others, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue.”
Paul noted that a gathering of believers all speaking in spirit-tongues, visited by non-believers or the “uninformed” [immature/incompletely discipled believers], would not be edifying for believers; however, such an activity may be a sign of power, albeit confusing, to unbelievers.
He said that the same gathering filled with prophesy would “convict” the uninformed and the unbeliever, calling them “to account”. Paul explained “The secrets of his heart [the listener] are disclosed, and in this way he will fall down with his face to the ground and worship God, declaring, “God is really among you.”“
Paul called for order, peace, and priorities in the gatherings of believers; a song and a lesson, very few [if any] speaking in spirit-tongues (and only when an interpreter is present), at most two or three prophets [if any] (with what they say evaluated by fellow believers), and if a revelation comes to someone they are to be heard. The goal is learning and encouragement.
He addressed the conduct of wives in fellowship gatherings, re-emphasizing his prior teaching as to wives not challenging or displacing their husbands in a public gathering but inquiring of them in privacy at home.
Paul noted that once submitted to the headship of their Christ-honoring husband [this is not about husbands in rebellion or unsaved husbands] a wife must not then presume to have headship-knowledge or unique knowledge from the Lord God.
He concluded with the reminder that his teaching would only be affirmed and understood by “a prophet or spiritual person”.
Paul communicated the Lord God’s emphasis upon what is most valuable to others and on the need for accountability for the right-use of gifts among believers.
What are the keys to Paul’s guidelines for the expression of the spiritual gifts in a fellowship gathering?
Paul’s emphasized that during fellowship gatherings the wife of a leader respect her husband and reserve comments and questions for home. He also noted that a husband who is deserving of submission must himself first be submitted to Christ.
When have you observed the misuse of spiritual gifts?
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to me any place in my public worship where my practice of spiritual gifts may disrupt order and/or serve me more than others, This may include teaching where someone else has been appointed to teach, forcing myself into a role in worship music where others are meeting the need and are doing so in a more culturally-relevant way, etc.
Today I will be more-certain that my gifts are never exercised in public without accountability and evaluation. I will celebrate where God has used those gifts to bless others and mature where I may have misused the gifts in any way.
All Bible text is from the NET unless otherwise indicated - http://bible.org
Note 1: These Studies often rely upon the guidance of the NET Translators from their associated notes. Careful attention has been given to cite that source where it has been quoted directly or closely paraphrased. Feedback is encouraged where credit has not been sufficiently assigned.
Note 2: When NET text is quoted in commentary and discussion all pronouns referring to God are capitalized, though they are lower-case in the original NET text.
Commentary text is from David M. Colburn, D.Min. unless otherwise noted.
Copyright © 2011 by David M. Colburn. This is a BibleSeven Study— “1 Corinthians” — prepared by David M. Colburn and edited for bible.org in December of 2011. This text may be used for non-profit educational purposes only, with credit; all other usage requires prior written consent of the author.