I Cor. 14:1-40
After declaring the superiority of love, Paul turned again to the importance of the church’s spiritual gifts. The gift of prophecy gave Christians the ability to preach and teach God’s word to others. Speaking in tongues gave them the ability to be understood by people of different languages.
Paul explained that it was more important to be able to teach than to speak in tongues because teaching could edify more people. He further pointed out that a person speaking in tongues only edified himself if no one but God could understand what he said. However, he wished that all could speak in foreign tongues if the need should arise, but at that time prophesying or teaching was more important.
In order to prevent Christians from misusing their gift of tongues, Paul pointed out that it was useless to speak in an unknown tongue if no one could understand what was said. Even musical instruments cannot be understood if they are not played according to the plan or notes of the music.
Paul reasoned that one’s worship in prayer and song must be with the spirit and with the understanding. This cannot be done if the others present cannot understand the words being said. They will not be edified or built up. This also applies to highly educated speakers using words that their hearers do not understand.
Another example of the confusion caused by speaking an unknown language is found when a visitor hears unintelligible words. He may regard the worship service as bedlam. If he had heard teaching in his own tongue, he might have been convicted of his sins and been converted.
Paul gave instructions for women to refrain from leadership roles in the public worship. However, if only women were present, it was necessary for women to direct that worship. There are occasions in which a woman may be involved in teaching men in private settings.
If anyone still doubted Paul’s authority, he reminded them that all things that he had written were commandments from the Lord.
Paul concluded his remarks on prophecy and tongues by stating that even though prophecy was a greater gift, if necessary, tongues still had a place in the worship. Worship must be conducted in a decent and orderly manner, for God is not the author of confusion but of peace.