“Let all things be done decently and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:40). Paul’s closing words to his teaching regarding spiritual spirits are fitting. He uses two key words to summarize the manner in which spiritual gifts should be exercised: “decently” and “in order“.
The Greek word translated “Decently” actually means honestly, with integrity, as is fitting. Decent has a loose definition that might be open to opinion as to what is decent or not in each context. But, Paul says this must be a goal in each church to do things rightly.
The Greek word translated “in order” is the word ταξις, and it refers to arrangement, succession, and sequence. There should be a flow to how spiritual gifts function. He referred earlier in verse 31 that all may prophesy “one by one“. He said in verse 30: “If any thing be revealed to another that sits by, let the first hold his peace“. The Holy Spirit will always follows his own rules. And, “the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets“.
There should always be a flow of how the Spirit works and moves and speaks when the saints are together. Expect God to work through you as He reveals Himself.
In his final comments on his teaching on spiritual gifts, Paul adds a brief summary: “Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues” (1 Corinthians 14:39).
‘Covet’ is an old English word usually used in the negative: “covet not another man’s wife“. ‘Covet’ means to earnestly desire and can also have a positive passion behind it. We are to covet (earnestly desire) to prophesy. Of all the spiritual gifts that may function through us, nothing is more valuable than prophecy, because it is speaking God’s revelation in words others can benefit from.
If others are to covet prophecy, we all should covet to hear words of prophecy. I challenge you to find a small prayer group where God’s prophetic words are often spoken. They will give you life.
I love this last challenge: “Forbid not to speak with tongues.” How much more clear can the Bible be? When I was a new believer, speaking in tongues was absolutely taboo in nearly any church. Today that has changed. Mainline denominations are now embracing speaking with tongues as a legitimate spiritual gift, but not everyone has it. But the Bible clearly forbids the banning of the gift.
If you have not received the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking with other tongues, I encourage you to not be ignorant. Seek and you shall find.
Paul introduced his teaching on spiritual gifts back in 1 Corinthians 12:1 by saying, “Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant“. Now he concluded this teaching by adding: “But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.” (1 Corinthians 14:38).
Some people are just stubborn. I was ignorant of spiritual gifts for 24 years. I ignored the topic, didn’t understand the topic, and even ridiculed others for their gifts. I was ignorant. We can’t teach an ignorant man/woman anything they don’t want to learn. I was lost in my own darkness and my destiny was bleak.
In January of 1972 I was at a co-workers home after work one evening, my life in shambles and my hope gone. My nerves were shot and I was looking for anything to fill this hunger inside. Two men laid hands on me to receive the Holy Spirit. Emotional release swept over me as I surrendered fully to Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit entered me fully that night and I’ve been passionate about my service to God ever since. I chose not to be ignorant, but it was God who opened my mind to that.
Paul here advises us to not cast our pearls before swine. Invest yourself in those who don’t want to be ignorant, who desire to learn, who want to experience God in a deeper way.
If they choose to be ignorant, let them be ignorant. Its OK to be ignorant.
As the Apostle Paul is wrapping up his commentary on spiritual gifts, he qualifies his audience: “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 14:37).
When Paul advised the Corinthians earlier regarding marriage and divorce (1 Corinthians 7), he noted that some of the things he was saying were from the Lord, and some of them were his own experienced opinion. We must, like Paul, recognize that some of our opinions and thoughts are of our own preferences and cultural background, while others are straight from the Bible. We should never say “thus saith the Lord” just because that’s the way we think it should be. Prophecy is not a game of coercion.
Paul is speaking here to spiritual people who minister with spiritual gifts. He tells them to consider the advice he has just been giving in 1 Corinthians 12-14 to be prophetic and from God for His church. Carnal (worldly) people just do what feels right with spiritual gifts. But spiritual people exercise spiritual gifts with great fear and reverence for the gift-giver. This is Paul’s final answer on the topic of spiritual gifts.
“What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only?” (1 Corinthians 14:36). Paul appears a little surprised that he has go to here with the Corinthians. He asks the question: Did the spiritual gifts originate with you? Of course not; they originated with God. And God can use any method He chooses. In Genesis God spoke to Moses through a burning bush. In Numbers He spoke to Balaam through a donkey. God will use unusual ways to get our attention, but He always gets our attention.
Second rhetorical question he asked was: Are you Corinthians the only people the gifts work through or for? The radical out-pouring of the Holy Spirit upon the church in the early church era had followed the spread of Christianity wherever they took it. So it does today. No one has a corner on God. We need to stop looking for prophetic references to the United States in the Bible. The Bible fits any culture and any political system. God’s grace is always present.
Spiritual gifts should be affluent among believers wherever they practice their faith, including DeKalb County and northeast Indiana in the 21st century. The Holy Spirit should be a major influencer of our culture, not just softly referred to on Sunday morning.
Spiritual gifts emanate from God through believers to a lost world until Jesus comes back.
Continuing his very controversial statements about women keeping silent in the church, Paul explains, “And if they will learn anything, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church” (1 Corinthians 14:35).
In yesterday’s blog post I shared about Paul’s value of keeping peace in the church in light of the culture. A couple of observations can be made from verse 35. First, the role of spiritual leader is clearly upon the husband in a marriage relationship. In today’s society, many men have abdicated this to the wives and eroded the spiritual impact God intended. Men have not given their wives spiritual security or covering. And many wives will not trust their husbands to lead. Guys, be the leader!
But, what does this say to single women or widows who have no husband at home? At first reading this doesn’t seem to make sense to me or fit into the context.
Then he makes this statement about it being “a shame for women to speak in the church.” Sorry, but understanding grace as Paul described in Romans, and the teaching that Paul has given us about all being a part of the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12), I cannot see the scriptural support behind this shame concept.
This leads me to conclude that Paul is clearing referring to a cultural norm of it being shameful for women to take any place in the church. And I do not see a scriptural mandate for church leadership to be “only male”. Wives do, however, still fit under the spiritual principle of being in subjection to their own husbands. If a woman won’t be in submission at home, she’ll never be in submission to spiritual authorities in the church, either.
Agree or disagree?
As Paul goes through some rules for ministering spiritual gifts in the assembly of the saints, he steps on troublesome territory in the next verse: “Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted for them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also says the law” (1 Corinthians 14:34).
Now, in the 21st century this is indeed controversial. Some teach that this is to be taken literally and only men should be speaking in the church. Others say that it had to do with Jewish and cultural traditions that no longer apply. But, this is the word of God, and it is the great Apostle Paul speaking. Therefore, we have to take this seriously. Many younger folks have walked away from the faith because they believe this is one of the verses that prove the Bible is really out of touch with the world today and not relevant to their lives. What do we say to all this?
Dr. Paul E. Paino, one of my faith heroes, used to say that whenever we have two opposite opinions in the church world, the truth is usually somewhere in the middle. When Paul said, “it is not permitted“, he doesn’t tell us whether it was God, church leaders, or the culture that made this rule. Because he also says, “as also says the law“, we know that there is a cultural perspective in his teaching, because Jesus fulfilled the law (Matthew 5:17). He also says women are “to be under obedience“. A better translation for the Greek word translated ‘obedience’ is ‘submission’.
What I speak now is my opinion of what Paul was saying. The cultural norm within the Jewish and Gentile culture was for women to be in subjection to their husbands. It would be a stumbling block for many if that cultural norm was violated. Therefore, the Christian women should follow the rules of their local assembly so there will be no confusion and there will be peace (v. 33). This does not disqualify them from speaking a prophetic word individually or in small groups. This interpretation fits with the context of surrounding verses.
I do not believe Paul is teaching here that Christian women are somehow inferior in the church setting. As a matter of fact, thank God for the many women who are spiritual leaders at New Hope. What would we do without them?
OK. This is your opportunity to comment and give me your honest opinion of what Paul means in this verse.