It’s always important to follow how God wants things done through His Word. So if you’re going to prophesy or speak in tongues, then do it His way. Now personally, I’m skeptical of anyone who claims to have miraculous gifts of the Spirit for scriptural reasons that I’ll choose to withhold for now. However, being that some do believe people have these kinds of miraculous gifts of the Spirit; people should at least educate themselves on how things were conducted in scripture. Let’s review 1 Corinthians 14 and we’ll understand how these two most popular spiritual gifts were instructed to be used within the body of Christ.
1 Corinthians 14:26-33
1 Corinthians 14:26-33 states, “26 What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at the most three, and each in turn, and one must interpret; 28 but if there is no interpreter, he must keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God. 29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment. 30 But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, the first one must keep silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted; 32 and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets; 33 for God is not a God of confusion but of [m]peace, as in all the churches of the saints.”
So Paul states to these Corinthian Christians that all things should be done for edification. The Greek word for edification is oikodomē, which essentially means to build up growth in one’s faith. So in order for that to be accomplished, Paul sets an order in which gifts are to be conducted by anyone during an assembling of the body of Christ. For tongues, he says that only two or three at most should be speaking them, each in turn which I assume means one at a time. While one is speaking the tongue, the other must be interpreting. Remember, reviewing Acts 2 you learn that a person speaking in tongues is speaking in another language, not random babbling as you might see on television or some YouTube video. Paul even makes it clear if you look back at verse 10 through 12 of the chapter we’re reviewing. Paul concludes that if there is no person with a gift to interpret, then the person who speaks in tongues must be silent, and just speak to himself and God. I’ve seen preachers impulsively act is if they’re speaking tongues in the middle of a sermon which is wrong, because Paul commands any speaking of tongues to be interpreted, which usually those preachers aren’t having anyone interpret them.
For the gift of prophesy, the instruction is just about identical to the usage of tongues during an assembly. Only two or three prophets are to speak. It’s worth pondering that after that Paul states let others pass judgment. It seems as if Paul was saying one should come to their own conclusions whether any prophet’s words are valid. Instructions then go on to state a revelation made to person who is seated, the first prophet has to keep silent. But similar to tongues, prophecy is to be conducted one by one, so all can learn and be exhorted. Interestingly earlier in the chapter in verse 4, Paul deems it more valuable for a Christian to prophesy to edify people than it is for a person to speak in tongues, who just edifies themselves. He concludes these instructions by noting the spirit of prophets are subject to prophets, and God is not a God of confusion, but of peace, perhaps further emphasizing the type of order in which it’s expected for things to be done. The final 2 verses of chapter 14 gives us more of that indication when Paul states, “9 Therefore, my brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak in tongues. 40 But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner.”
So, as I stated earlier, I’m skeptical of their actually being any modern usage of such gifts as was conducted during the times in scripture. I would suggest that there seem to be specific reasons as to why these gifts were needed for these times, which I’ll leave you to speculate for now given that’s not the intention of this post. The intention of this post is to get anyone who claims to have such miraculous gifts to at the very least use these gifts in the way that God wanted them to be used. As always, questions or thoughts, feel free to leave a response below. If this post enlightened you I’d appreciate if you shared it, because it can help someone else just as much as it helped you. Peace to all those who are in Christ.