28 July 2015
by Philip Layton


Paul talks about various gifts and the need for orderly worship

Click here to read 1 Corinthians 14

Discussion Questions

  • The gifts of preaching and speaking in tongues – which is greater (vv 1-25)?

  • Have you ever met someone (or a group) who has elevated the gift of speaking in tongues?

  • Is speaking in tongues wrong? If you speak in tongues is it helpful to you? What about others?

  • What would your reaction be if someone started speaking in tongues during Sunday morning worship?

  • What would your expectations of the church leader be in such a situation (v 39)?

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Going deeper in 'Words of Life'

Paul says it’s fine to be as inarticulate as infants regarding evil, but regarding spiritual understanding the Corinthians should stop being childish (v 20). He corrects the Corinthians for overrating what they find fascinating but others find confusing: speaking in tongues.

He emphasises the primacy of the message of the gospel which benefits both believers and unbelievers (v 22). When the truth of the Word is clearly taught, several things are sure to happen. It convicts of sin, discloses judgement, probes a soul’s secrets and brings people to bow their hearts before God (vv 24-25).

The type of first-century church service Paul describes seems more spontaneous and egalitarian than those in later centuries after a professional clergy developed. The Bible commentator William Barclay reminds us: ‘It is a mistake to think that only the professional ministry can ever bring God’s truth to men.’

Possibly due to where the gatherings were held or the number who attended, the first-century order of service seems flexible. There are some Friends (Quaker) services in which even the seating is arranged to accommodate everyone’s orderly participation. Those may have been rather like what Paul supports for the fledgling house churches. People gather to contribute, not simply to receive. It has its dangers – especially when someone talks too much. Paul addresses that as well when he advises them ton thoughtfully take turns (vv 30-33).

Considering differences in cultural and music preferences, ages in the congregation, the placement of furnishings and a multitude of other factors, it could be helpful to consider how the worship we regularly participate in elevates the proclamation of the Word and provides opportunity for everyone’s participation.

‘When we worship the right way, God doesn’t stir us up into confusion; he brings us into harmony. This goes for all the churches – no exceptions’ (v 33 MSG).

Tags: 1 Corinthians