Lange Commentary - 1 Corinthians 14:1 - 14:40

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Lange Commentary - 1 Corinthians 14:1 - 14:40

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3. A comparison of the gifts of prophecy arid of speaking with tongues, in respect to their worth for the edification of the Church. Rules for the right regulation of their use according to their end, and according to the benefit they render to the Church

1 Corinthians 14

1     Follow after charity [love, ôὴí ἀãÜðçí ], and [but, äὲ ] desire [the, ôὰ ] spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy. 2For he that speaketh in an unknown, tongue [a tongue] speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth [hear eth, ἀêïýåé ] him; howbeit in the spirit [Spirit] he speaketh mysteries. 3But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to [om. to] edification, and exhortation, and comfort. 4He that speaketh in an unknown tongue [a tongue] edifieth himself; but he that Proverbs 5 phesiethedifieth the church (congregation, ἐêêë ̓ çóßáí ]. I would that ye all spake [Now I wish you all to speak, èÝëù äὲ ðἀíôáò ὑìᾶò ëáëåῖí ] with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied [might prophesy, ðñïöçôåýçôå ]: for [but, äὲ ] greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church 6[congregation, ἐêêëçóßá ] may receive edifying. [But, äὲ ] Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine [teaching, 7 äéäá÷ῇ ]? And [om. And] even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, [yet ὅìåò ἐὰí ] except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be 8known what is piped or harped? For [also, êáὶ ] if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? 9So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words [a word] easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? 10for ye shall speak into the air. There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is [none are] without signification. 11Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian [foreigner, âÜñâáñïò ], and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian [foreigner] unto me. 12Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts [spirits, ðíåõìÜôùí ], seek that ye may excel [abound, ðåñéóóåýçôå ] to the edifying of the church [congregation]. 13Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue [a tongue] pray that [in order that, ἵíá ] he may interpret. 14For if I pray in an unknown tongue [a tongue], my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. 15What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and [but, äὲ ] I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, 16and I will sing with the understanding also. Else, when thou shalt bless with the spirit [shalt have blessed in spirit, åὐëïãῆ ðíåýìáôé ], how shall he that occupieth the room [place] of the unlearned [one not so gifted, ἰäéùôïõ ] say [the, ôὸ ] Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest? 17For thou verily givest thanks well [verily thou doest well to give thanks, óὺ ìὲí ãὰñ êáëῶò åὐ÷áñéóôåῖò ], but the other is not edified. 18I thank my [om. my] God, I speak with tongues 19[a tongue, ãëὠóóῃ ] more than ye all: Yet in the church [congregation] I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice [orally, êáôç÷Þóù ] I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue [in a tongue]. 20Brethren, be not children in understanding [minds, ôáῖò öñåóßí ]: howbeit in malice [wickedness, êáêßᾳ ] be ye children [babes], but in understanding [minds] be men [full grown, ôÝëåéïé ], 21In the law it is [has been, ãÝãñáðôáé ] written, With [in, ἐí ] men of other tongues and other lips [in lips of others, ἐí ÷åßëåóéí îôÝñïéò ] will I speak unto this 22people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord. Wherefore [the, áἱ ] tongues are for a sign, not to [for] them that believe, but to [for] them that believe not: but prophesying serveth [the prophesying is] not for them that believe not, but for them which believe. 23If therefore the whole church [congregation] be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned [not specially gifted, ἰäéῶôáé ], or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad? 24But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned [not miraculously endowed], he is convinced of [by, ὑðὸ ] all, he is judged of 25[by] all: And thus are [om. And thus are] the secrets of his heart [are] made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth [in truth is in you]. 26How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you [each one, ἕêáóôïò , om. of you] hath a psalm, hath a doctrine [a teaching, äéäá÷ὴí ], hath a tongue, hath a revelation [hath a revelation, hath a tongue], hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying. 27If any man speak in an unknown tongue [a tongue, ãëþóóῃ ], let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret. 28But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church [congregation]; and let him speak to himself, and 29to God. Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. 30[But, äὲ ] If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. 31For ye may [can, äýíáóèå ] all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. 32And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. 33For God is not the author of confusion [tumult, ἀêáôáóôáóßáò ], but of peace, as [peace. 34As], in all churches [the congregations, ôáῖò ἐêêëçóßáéò ] of the saints. Let your [saints, let, om. your] women keep silence in the churches [congregations]: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience 35[in subjection, ὑðïôáóóÝóèùóáí ] as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their [own, ἰäßïõò ] husbands at home: for it is a shame for women 36[a woman, ãõíáéêé ] to speak in the church. [congregation] What! came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only? 37If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments [a commandment, ἐóôὶí ἐíôïëÞ ] of the Lord. 38But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant. 39Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues. [But, äὲ ] 40Let all things be done decently and in order.


1Co_14:1-5. [He now turns from his digression to the main topic on hand, viz., the proper management of spiritual gifts. Before entering on this, however, he presses a final exhortation in regard to that which he had been so warmly eulogizing].—Pursue love,i.e., use all diligence in obtaining and cultivating it; chase it as a hunter pursues his game; press towards it as your chief good, as men make for the goal in a race; such is the force of äéþêåéí here (Rom_9:30; Rom_12:13 f., 19; Php_3:12; Php_3:14). The omission of all inferential particles like ïὖí adds to the energy of the injunction.—but be zealous for the spiritual gifts,—the same language as is used in 1Co_12:31. But it is not simply to resume what was there said, as though all that intervened was but a parenthesis [so Stanley]. Rather, the äÝ , but, is designed to set the second clause over against the first, by way of showing that though they were to pursue love, still this was not to prevent their seeking for spiritual gifts also. In urging the former he was not intending to disparage the latter, as they might be disposed to infer. Hence we may render äÝ by meantime, however, or nevertheless. Neander takes the second injunction in the light of a permission, rather than of a positive command, and supposes that Paul chose the stronger word in the first instance in order to teach his readers that a Christian’s main endeavor should be to become quickened by love. [“He observes, therefore, an admirable medium by disapproving of nothing that was useful, without at the same time preferring, by an absurd zeal, things of less consequence to what was of primary importance.” Calvin].—In regard to spiritual gifts see on 1Co_12:1. A more restricted application of the term here, to denote simply ‘the gift of tongues,’ might, indeed, be favored by the contrast implied in the “rather” directly following, and by 1Co_14:2, and also by 1Co_14:14 ff., inasmuch as the gift of tongues, because it was a speaking and praying in the spirit, might well be called by way of preeminence ‘spiritual.’ But the plural form, as well as the more extended connection had with the foregoing chapter, declare for the broader interpretation of: gifts in general.—but rather ìᾶëëïí is to be construed comparatively and not as= ìÜëéóôá , q. d.,more than all the other gifts.’—that ye may prophesy.—Instead of using the noun ‘prophecy,’ he employs the verb with the ἵíá as the object of æçëïῦôå , be zealous for. In this there was undoubtedly a design; but not such as to warrant Meyer’s rendering, ‘in order that ye may prophesy.’ [Stanley says, that ἵíá is here passing into the Romaic sense, in which it is used as a substitute for the infinitive. Comp. for this use, 1Co_14:12; Mat_7:12 : Mar_6:8; Mar_6:25. See also Winer, P. 1, 11. § 63:2, 1], The reason of the preference he next assigns.—For he that speaks with a tongue,i.e., in some strange language prompted by the spirit. [Bloomfield takes the “speaking” ( ëÜëῶí ) to signify preaching, exhorting, and says, ‘the context requires this;’ but it must be the context only as read in the light of a certain theory. There is nothing in the language to warrant it, and to construe it thus would be to make this the only passage where the gift of tongues must be supposed to have been used in addressing others directly].—speaketh not to men,i.e., not with the design of imparting anything that the hearers can understand and profit by.—but to God:—It is with God that he is in communication, [“according to the proverb: ‘He sings to Himself and the muses’ ”.—Calvin], Of this the proof—first, negatively.—for no one heareth.—By this he does not mean literally ‘heareth not,’ as though the words were inaudible, like those muttered by Hannah, 1Sa_1:13; since this would neither suit the expression ‘speaketh;’ nor yet the context, especially of 1Co_14:7; nor yet the corresponding passage in Act_2:10; Act_2:19. The word ἀêïýåéí rather denotes here the inward hearing, the mental appreciation of what was uttered. [So the word is used in Act_22:9, where the attendants of Paul are said not to have ‘heard the voice’ which in Act_9:7 they were said to have heard—an ambiguity which can be explained only by taking the word in the former instance to mean ‘understand.’ See also Mar_4:33. “He spake as they were able to hear;” also Gen_11:7; Gen_42:23; Isa_36:11 where for ‘understand’ the LXX. has ἀêïýåéí ]. The negative “no one” is not hyperbolical as if signifying ‘very few,’ but absolute; the exception arising from the assistance of some interpreter will of course be understood.—but in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.—The ‘but’ is not designed to express a contrast, as though equivalent to sondern (Rückert); but it is explicative, introducing a further specification, viz., “in the spirit;” while the remaining words alone state the antithesis to what is asserted in the previous clause. The word “mysteries” is not to be understood as in 1Co_4:1; 1Co_13:2. [As Stanley, “Here, as elsewhere, it means ‘God’s secrets;’ here, however, not as elsewhere in the sense of secrets revealed, but in the sense (nearly approaching to the modern word mystery) of secrets concealed. The only other instance is Rev_17:5.” And Alford: “Things which are hidden from the hearers, and sometimes also from the speaker himself”]. So understood, the statement would, as related to the previous one, appear tautological; hence the words “in the spirit” must here be so taken as intended to bring out more fully the characteristic of the gift in question. Accordingly they must be interpreted not simply of the inward man, q. d., ‘he speaks to himself in his own thoughts’ (Le Clerc, Locke, Semler). Still less can ðíåýìáôé be the objective dative either to ëáëåῖ , or to ìõóôÞñéá . q. d, ‘he speaks things which are mysteries for the spirit of others.’ Rather the expression is used here as in 1Co_14:14, of the activity of the higher religious consciousness, uninfluenced by reflection (Meyer), [“of the spirit as opposed to the understanding, his spirit as the organ of the Holy Ghost while the understanding is unfruitful” (Alford)], of the inner life as abstracted from the outer world (Beek), “of a state of inspiration only through the medium of the intuitional side of the human spirit directed God-ward—a state in which the self-consciousness is, as it were, suppressed or overpowered by the divine influence completely taking possession of the human soul; in short, of a state of mystic ecstasy which, when partaking of the character of a gift, creates for itself a form of speech in which the soul breaks forth, as it were in holy dithyrambics” (Delitzsch v. § 5). [So also De Wette; ðíåýìáôé he explains by “through the spirit,” i.e., his higher unconscious spiritual faculty which is filled by the Holy Spirit, and is without the íïῦò . Bloom-field and Hodge, however, follow the Greek commentators, and most early modern ones, in taking the word “spirit” to mean, not the higher spiritual powers of our nature, but the Holy Ghost as in 1 Co 8:14. “In favor of this interpretation is: 1. The prevailing use of the word Spirit in reference to the Holy Ghost in all Paul’s epistles and especially in this whole connection. 2. That the expression to “speak in” or “by the Spirit,” is an established Scriptural phrase, meaning to speak under the guidance of the Holy Spirit. 3. When spirit is to be distinguished from the understanding, it designates the affections; a sense which would not at all suit this passage. 4. The meaning arrived at by this interpretation is natural and suitable to the connection. “Although he who speaks with tongues is not understood yet guided by the Spirit, he speaks mysteries.” Hodge. To this it may be replied in order 1. That ðíåῦìá when used without any qualifying term in Paul’s writings, more commonly denotes the higher nature of man, especially as quickened by the Holy Ghost. 2. In every instance where the idea of speaking “in the Holy Ghost” is intended, it is indicated by the use of the prep. ἐí in, and usually with the addition of the article (as in Rom_1:9; Rom_8:9; Rom_15:16; 1Co_6:11). Wherever the simple anarthrous dative ðíåýìáôé is found as here, to denote that in reference to which a thing is done, it stands for the spirit of man, as might be expected (Joh_4:24; Rom_8:13; 1Co_4:21; 1Co_7:34; Gal_5:5; Gal_5:16). It is in this broader sense that the word is here to be understood. It means not simply the intellect, but the higher nature of man in all its emotions as stirred by the Holy Spirit. 4. While the meaning “in the Holy Spirit” gives good sense even here, still the other meaning is more in accordance both with the usus loquendi, and with the train of argument, and should therefore be adhered to as it is by all English versions, and by nearly all commentators].—The case is otherwise with the prophet.—He that prophesies speaks unto men—In the prophet who is called to be the mediator of divine mysteries in behalf of others, there is united with the state of ecstasy (which however is not the exclusive mode of revelation with him), the ability of reproducing that which he has seen in the spirit, by the aid of his understanding and psychical faculties in adequate and intelligible language (Delitzsch § 5). What the prophet imparts is threefold,—edification, and exhortation, and comfort.—The first of these terms ( ïἰêïäïìÞ ), properly implying a building up of the Christian life in its successive stages, may be taken as expressing the genus of which the other two express the species, though not all the species. By ðáñÜêëçóéò , exhortation, we understand that by which the will is aroused to greater earnestness in self-culture and to greater Christian activity and to more zealous endeavors. [Stanley who unites with exhortation the meaning of consoling or strengthening as in the word ðáñÜêëçôïò , Comforter, says: “how closely connected this gift was with prophesying may be seen in the fact that the name of ‘Barnabas,’ ‘the son of prophesy,’ is rendered in Act_4:36 õἱὸò ðáñáêëÞóåùò , ‘the son of consolation.’ ” By ðáñáìõèÝá we understand that by which the spirit is quieted and cheered. Though sharing with the former, the sense of consolation, it implies something more tender and soothing. As to the conjunctions êáé - êáé , the first may be taken as annexing to the chief word something further explanatory, like and indeed; or they may be taken as distributive particles, both and. Osiander follows the earlier commentators in coordinating the three particulars, and gives to the first a relation to faith as implying the furtherance and strengthening of the Christian life therein; to the second, a relation to love as implying a stimulus to the cultivation of it, as in the more active duties of Christianity; and to the third, a relation to hope, as the source and effect of all comfort; furthermore, he subordinates the two last to the first as their root.—That a subordination here is intended is sustained by the fact that the word “edification” returns again alone in 1Co_14:4.—But he that speaks with a tongue edifies himself;—He here refers to the effect of those inward excitements and elevating impressions which a person experiences in this intercourse with God—in this state of prayer and praise, or of mystic ecstasy wherein the operations of the Holy Spirit reach their culminating point (comp. Delitzsch, as above). “This does not imply a benefit derived through a distinct understanding of that which he speaks; but there is left upon the spirit of the speaker an impression made by the whole experience, of a quickening and elevating though mystical kind.” Meyer. And in like manner Osiander: “He could allow the total impression and feeling of his discourse to work on in him.” [“This view is necessary on account of what is said in 1Co_14:5, that if he can interpret, he can edify not only himself, but the church.” Alford. Hodge, on the contrary, ignoring the fact that any benefit could be derived excepting through a distinct intelligence of what was uttered, says, “this verse proves that the understanding was not in abeyance, and that the speaker was not in an ecstatic state.” But this is a mere assumption, against which might be put the following counter testimony: “The gift might and did contribute to the building up of a man’s own life (1Co_14:4). This might be the only way in which some natures could be roused out of the apathy of a sensual life, or the dulness of a formal ritual. The ecstasy of adoration which seemed to men madness, might be a refreshment unspeakable to one who was weary with the subtle questionings of the intellect, to whom all familiar and intelligible words were fraught with recollections of controversial bitterness or the wanderings of doubt. (Comp. a passage of wonderful power as to this use of the gift by Edw. Irwing. ‘Morning Watch,’ 5. p. 78.”) See Smith’s Bib. Dict. p. 1558].—but he that prophesies edifies the church.—The article before ἐêêëçóéüáí is unnecessary. The church as a collection of individuals is here brought forward in contrast with the speaker himself. [Not so however Alford. “The article,” as he says, “being often omitted, when a noun in government has an emphatic place before the verb; accordingly in 1Co_14:5 the article reappears”].—Lest any should think that he was here seeking to set aside all speaking with tongues as calculated to provoke envy, he proceeds—I would that ye all spake with tongues,—This must be regarded as a hearty wish and not an unworthy concession to the Corinthians, on the score of their partiality for this gift. This is evident from the fact that he goes on at once to adduce prophecy as the higher and worthier gift which he still more earnestly desires that they should have and exercise.—but rather that ye prophesied.—He here passes over into the telic construction with ἴíá , “indicating a stronger intention towards the higher object” (Osiander). According to the common reading ìåßæùí ãÜí , for greater, he adds a reason for what has just been said. But if with some good authority we read äÝ , but, instead of ãáñ , we must regard him as simply continuing his discourse.—but greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues,—The greatness here consists in usefulness, and hence also in dignity. This however is qualified by the exception,—except ἐêôὸò åἰ ìÞ . The ìÞ here appears pleonastic (1Co_15:2; 1Ti_5:19). [This redundant expression arises from the blending of two constructions, ἐêôὸò åἰ and åἰ ìÞ , instances of which are found also in the classics. Hence, not a Hebraism. Winer 3. § 65 3 c.].—he interpret.—The subject of the verb is not any other person, but the speaker himself who could unite the two gifts of speaking with tongues and interpretation in himself. By the exercise of the latter gift for the purpose of edifying the church, he put himself on a par with him that prophesied. In regard to the subjunctive form after åἰ comp. on 1Co_9:11, (respectum comprehendit experientiae. Meyer). [Hodge says: “this passage proves that the contents of these discourses delivered in an unknown, tongue were edifying; and therefore did not consist in mysteries in the bad sense of that term, i.e., in enigmas and dark sayings. The absence of the gift of interpretation does not prove that the speaker himself in such cases was ignorant of what he uttered. It only proves that he was not inspired to communicate in another language what he had delivered.” The reasoning is not conclusive. It is grounded on the assumption that no benefit could be derived from any experiences that were not distinctly intelligible and capable of being communicated under the ordinary forms of thought and language. And it may be asked if that which was spoken in the unknown tongue was distinctly intelligible to the speaker, what need was there of a special gift of interpretation to enable him to communicate it to the church? The understanding ( íïῦò ) is the parent of language; and what a person understood he surely could utter. Would this not be in violation of a well known rule, ‘not to introduce a divinity upon the stage unless the occasion required it’]?

1Co_14:6-11. But now, íõíὶ äÝ here also as in 1Co_13:13 in a logical sense, q. d., ‘since in speaking with tongues the edification of the church depends altogether upon the interpretation which followed, then without this,’—if I come unto you speaking with tongues,—he uses himself as an illustration without laying stress upon his personality, [as Chrys.], in which case áὐôὸò ἐãþ , I myself, would be required; or it is a mode of individualizing the case as is found in 1Co_14:11; 1Co_14:14; 1Co_13:1; 1Co_13:12.—what shall I profit you,—This question here forms the main proposition which (as often happens in the classics) is inserted between the two hypothetical clauses, the second of which stands in contrast with the first, or is its negative parallel (not its subordinate so as to indicate how the speaking with tongues must take place; nor yet does it stand in any closer internal relation to the main proposition).—unless I shall speak unto you either by revelation,—The ἐí in, or, by, denotes as in Mat_13:3 the form which his discourse might take, or the sphere in which it would move.—or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?—The four things specified may be referred back to two gifts: first, to prophecy, whose ground and contents is revelation; and secondly to doctrine which rests upon knowledge and furnishes its fruit; [as Hodge says, “there are not four, but only two modes of address contemplated in this verse. Revelation and prophecy belong to one, and knowledge and doctrine to the other. He who received revelations, was a prophet; he who had the word of knowledge, was a teacher.” So like wise Calvin. This construction is derived from the sense, and not from the grammar of the text. There the four items stand coördinate as though distinct and independent]. Revelation is to be understood as in 1Co_14:26, subjectively (otherwise in 1Co_1:7). It signifies occasional disclosures respecting anything which concerns the kingdom of God, or an unveiling of mysteries. As what is thus disclosed is uttered in the ardent and rapt discourse of the prophet, so, that which an enlightened inquiry affords for furthering our insight into divine things, is expressed in the calmer diction of the teacher, and is termed doctrine. As Bengel says: “prophecy relates to particular facts, not well understood before, to mysteries to be known only by revelation.” Doctrine and knowledge are brought from the common storehouse of believers, and refer to obvious things in the matter of our salvation.—He next proceeds to illustrate his point by various analogies; and first from musical instruments. Some difficulty arises as to the proper rendering of what follows, in consequence of the unnatural position of ὄìùò . Some take this as equivalent to ὁìïßùò , in like manner; but this would be unsuitable and unnecessary. The signification, nevertheless, yet even, would fit better. But still it is questionable whether the word mainly affects or gives prominence to ôὰ ἄøõ÷á , lifeless things, as its position appears to indicate; so that this drawn out in full would be ôὰ ἄøõ÷á êáßðåñ ἄøõ÷á , ὄìùò ‘lifeless instruments, though lifeless, yet give sound’ (Winer); or whether by it the thing introduced in proof is set up as absolutely valid against all objection, q. d., ‘one cannot yet understand,’ i.e., ‘this must at any rate be conceded, that we cannot understand’ (de Wette); or, whether, by virtue of a transposition which appears also in Gal_3:15, and elsewhere in the classics, the word is placed first, while it properly belongs before ἐÜí , so that the concessive protasis is formed by the words öùíὴí äéäüíôá , which then would be equivalent to êáßðåñ öùíÞí äéäüíôá The last construction is the correct one, being the only one which corresponds to the use of language, and to the course of thought.—Things without life, although yielding sound, whether flute or harp, yet if they do not—Respecting the various positions occupied by ὄìùò , how the word or clause limited by it sometimes precedes and sometimes follows it as here, comp. Passow ii. 1 p. 77. By being put first it carries an emphasis. “There is an inference drawn from the less to the greater,” q. d., if, indeed, such is the case with lifeless objects, how much more must it be with men?—give a distinction to the tones,i.e., by various distinct modulations of high and low, strong and weak.—how shall it be known what is piped or harped?—This refers to the significance of that which is played on each instrument (comp. 1Co_14:8 ff.): i.e., ‘a person will, in that case, not be able to discern or perceive what tune is played.’ [The article is here repeated to show that two distinct instances are contemplated, not necessarily one tune either piped or harped. Meyer regards this passage as decisive against the opinion that the tongues used in the gift in question were distinctly articulated foreign languages, and that the utterance in this case was a confused jargon of sounds, such as that which would be made through the instruments without observing their proper modulations. But this is pressing the analogy too far. The point made is simply with reference to the unintelligibleness of the things played, unless the well-known laws of the instrument and of the music were observed]. The argument is confirmed by another example of the same kind, which sets the case in a still clearer light.—For also,—[The “for” serves for a climax, the higher confirming the lower].—if the trumpet gives an uncertain sound,—The trumpet, so strong in its tones, and unmistakable in its character, even this requires a certain definite modulation when giving its various signals, if it is to be known whether the signal is one for battle or not. The adjective “uncertain” expresses the antithesis to the previous expression, “give a distinction to the sounds.” [Different sounds of the same trumpet summoned soldiers to different duties, one succession of notes giving the signal for attack, and another for retreat. Hence the question],—who shall prepare himself for the battle?—The application to the point in question he next proceeds to make.—So likewise ye, through the tongue,—These words are put first by way of emphasis, as contrasting the Corinthians in the exercise of their divine gift with the lifeless things which he has just been speaking of.—unless ye give a word easy to be understood,—This clause unquestionably stands opposed to the assumption that inarticulate sounds are implied in the gift, if for no other reason than on account of the use of the term “word,” which denotes a rational, articulate utterance, even though we would wish to take the qualifying expression in with it. Nor is it favored by the other expression “through the tongue,” as though this meant the simple organ of speech; for in that case it would only be used as in contrast with the musical instruments specified.—how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall be ( ἒóåóèå so long as ye speak) a speaking into the air. åἰò ἀÝñá ëáëïῦíôåò ; the phrase denotes the uselessness of an unintelligible discourse. It dies away into the atmosphere, reaching not the mind of the hearer.—He next pushes his range of analogy still farther, so as to include the various human languages which can furnish no means of intercourse between man and man, so long as their meaning is not understood.—There are, it may be, åἰ ôý÷ïé , a phrase commonly found with numerical nouns, and never means for example; it only states the number as problematical, or denotes uncertainty in the more definite statement.—so many ôïóáῦôá . [“The word here has the force of a definite number. If men could ever have counted the number, Paul would have set it down here; but he leaves it indefinite.” Bengel].—kinds of voices in the world, öùíÞ , voice , here signifies ‘speech,’ or ‘language,’ (as also in Gen_11:1; Gen_11:7; and in the classics often, and ãÝíç öùíῶí denotes the ‘various languages,’ of which each one forms a ãÝíïò , genus. He does not use the word ãëῶóóá , tongue, because in this whole paragraph this is employed to denote the special gift which is under consideration.—and none ïὐäὲí refers to ãÝíç . It does not mean ‘no rational creature;’ but the right relation is expressed by the áὐôῶí of them, of the Rec. which, however, is not original.—is without signification. ἄöùíïí , literally speechless (like âßïò ἀâßáôïò ), i.e., ‘without that which is the essential thing in speech,’ ‘unsuited for the purpose of intelligible communication.’ “The Apostle intends to say that every language has its definite signification; inasmuch as it is designed to be the vehicle for communicating thought.” Neander. [Hodge says, “The illustration contained in this verse goes to prove that speaking with tongues was to speak in foreign languages.” If by “foreign languages” is meant languages of other countries on the globe, then spoken, the inference is too broad. It supposes that no other language was possible, save such as were then in vogue. If language is God’s gift, and not a mechanical contrivance of man, why could not the Spirit inspire men to utter their new experiences in a new and “clean speech,” which, though used by none others, was fully entitled to be called a language? And may it not have been one intent of the Spirit in the production of this new language to furnish a sign that the things it reveals were such “as eye had not seen, nor ear heard, nor had entered into the heart of man” to conceive, and such therefore as required to be expressed in forms corresponding? To understand these “tongues” to denote foreign pagan languages, most of which were but the defiled vessels of impurity and falsehood and idolatry, and utterly inadequate to convey spiritual truth, is to miss the import of this remarkable phenomenon].—From the fact that none of the various languages of earth lacked the character of language, viz., the power of communicating thought, he goes on to infer that where one person was incapable of understanding another, there was reason to believe that they stood in the relation of foreigners to each other. This would not be inferred were the “speech” “without speech” ( ἄöùíïò ), i.e., in itself unintelligible, since the speaker in this case could be understood by no one. He might be looked upon as one deranged, but not as a foreigner. The very force ( äýíáçéò ) of the language, its sense, its significance, viz., is precisely that thing which would be excluded by its being “without speech” ( ἄöùíïò ).—Therefore, if I know not the force of the language, I shall be to him that speaketh a barbarian, ÂÜñâáñïò , the common term to designate one not a Greek, one who stood outside the sphere of the Greek language and culture. Here it is used in no bad sense, but simply to denote a stranger.—and he that speaketh a barbarian in me.—As in the former clause, ôᾷ ëáëïῦíôé is the dative of judgment, meaning, ‘in the estimation of him that speaketh;’ so ἐí ἐìïὶ , in me, must be construed ‘in my eyes,’ or ‘according to my judgment,’ (comp. Passow i. 2, p. 909.)

1Co_14:10-19. The connection with the previous verse is more correctly determined by making the conditional clause here refer to what was perverse in their desires and efforts as corresponding with the relation set forth in the previous verse, where it was shown that by reason of not understanding the language spoken, one appeared to the other as a foreigner; and by regarding the injunction which follows as urging them to the adoption of a contrary course,—first, in an indefinite general way; from which he at once proceeds in 1Co_14:13 to draw the inference in relation-to the matter in question, viz., speaking with tongues.—So also ye,—This expression is used as in 1Co_14:9; the “so” indicates that which corresponds to the analogy previously introduced, and for this reason it stands at the beginning of the clause to which it belongs, as there. It is as if he had said: ‘in this way, as ye are foreigners to each other from not understanding each other’s language, and no intercourse can take place between you—a condition of things which is palpably wrong,’ etc. So Meyer. Proceeding from this interpretation of the word “so,” some insert a colon or period after “ye,” making the clause mean ‘such barbarians are ye who speak with tongues without interpreting; but this would be to separate unnecessarily matters belonging together. Others construe the clause “so also ye” as an apodosis, implying that the Apostle meant to have them entirely avoid, making each other as barbarians. But in such a construction not only would there be no suitable relation to form the ground of a parallel, but a contrast would be introduced. We should have to insert that in thought to which the “so” should refer, somehow after this fashion—‘in order to avoid coming into the relation of barbarians, it will be necessary to introduce an interpreter, so also should ye endeavor to make yourself plain.’ But where is the necessity of such a subaudition, if another explanation offers itself which is sustained by the analogy in 1Co_14:9? [Alford and Bloomfield in accordance with the great majority of commentators from Chrys. interpret the connection more simply. They give ïὔôùò the sense of therefore, i.e., ‘after the lesson conveyed by this example,’ or, ‘to apply this to your case,’ which has the advantage of simplicity].—since ye are zealots of spirits æçëùôáß ðíåíìÜôùí i.e., ‘are ardently devoted to them and admire them;’ so the objective genitive often occurs in classical writers. “Of spirits” is a bold expression, adopted in accordance with the diversity which appeared in the operations of the Spirit. The principle at work is itself spoken of as manifold. As Osiander says: “the individual gifts are designated as active powers, existing independently in those endowed with them.” Or as Meyer: “what were in reality diversities of gifts, and therefore only different manifestations of the Spirit, presented themselves to the popular apprehension as diversities of spirits.” That Paul himself actually believed in a plurality of spirits (Hilgenfeld) is at variance with 1Co_12:4; 1Co_12:7. Some, arbitrarily, limit the word to denote simply the gift of tongues. It is here, however, to be taken in its broadest sense as standing by metonymy for spiritual gifts in general.—He now comes for the first time to the practical application of his argument. The duty he urges upon them corresponds to the object for which spiritual gifts were given.—for the edification of the Church,—The end to be aimed at is put first by way of emphasis. But the words are not to be joined simply with the following imperative,—seek,—as though this was to be construed absolutely, and the words after it,—that ye may abound,—were to be construed as a final clause (Meyer), as though the meaning were: strive for the edification of the Church in order that ye may abound!—for the verb æçôåῖí , seek, can hardly be used without an object. This object is rather to be found in the verb following it, which is introduced in accordance with a later lax usage by ἵíá , that,—‘Seek that ye may abound,’ or, ‘seek to abound.’ Then the words,—for the edification of the Church,—would belong to the combined phrase ‘seek that ye may abound,’ and not to the latter verb exclusively, although this conveys the chief idea; at least not so that ðñὸò should be made equivalent to åἰò and the sense this, ‘that the blessings of their gifts may be poured out more and more abundantly upon the Church for its edification.’—Next comes the application of this fundamental principle to the matter of speaking with tongues.—Wherefore, let him that speaketh with a tongue, pray that he may interpret. ðñïóåõ÷Ýóèù , ἵíá äéåñ ìåíåýῃ . [This passage, simple as it seems, has caused no little perplexity among commentators. The mode of interpreting it has a decided bearing upon the theory a person may form in regard to the nature of the “gift of tongues;” and it in turn has been determined largely by whatever theory has already been formed. There are three ways of explaining it. 1. To take ἵíá in its laxer sense, and construe the verb äéåñìåíåýῃ with it as the object of ðñïóåõ÷Ýóèù , q. d., ‘let him pray that he may be able to interpret,’ i.e., for the gift of interpretation. This is the sense given it by all the Greek commentators, and is adopted by most of the modern ones. Among these Grot., Beza, Hamm., and Hodge. Adopting this view, we are at liberty to suppose that the person speaking with a tongue was not necessarily engaged in worship, but was addressing the assembly; and so to infer that this gift was used not only for the purposes of prayer and praise, but also for popular discourse. The objection to this view is, that in the subsequent argument in support of the injunction here given, the act of praying is spoken of absolutely; and standing, as the next verse does, in close logical connection with this by means of the “for,” we are constrained to interpret the praying spoken of in both verses in the same absolute or general sense, and that the use of the gift was in the act of prayer. Hence it will not do to limit the praying in this verse to the object specified in the final words, as though the Apostle meant that the person who was employing the gift, should pray that he might interpret. Besides, it assumes a purely ecbatic signification in ἵíá , which it is questionable whether it ever has in the New Testament. (See Winer, p. III. § 53. 10. 6). 2. To take ἵíá in the sense of ὢóôå , so that, q. d., ‘let him so pray, that he may interpret,’ i.e., let him not pray unless he can interpret. So Luther, Rosen., and others. But the propriety of giving this sense to ἲíá is very doubtful. The only way left us then Isaiah 3.] to construe ἵíá äéåñìåíåýῃ , that he may interpret, as a final clause. [So Meyer, Winer, Alford, and others]. This would give to the whole injunction a meaning of this sort, ‘In the outgushing of his emotions in prayer and praise let the person who speaks with a tongue, make it a point to edify the Church through interpretation.’ In other words, ‘let him pray, not in order to make a display of his gift, but with the intention of interpreting his prayer.’ This, of course, implies that the person alluded to has already the gift of interpretation, and very rightly, for otherwise he was not at liberty to allow himself to be heard in Church meeting at all (1Co_14:28).—The reason for this injunction is next more clearly set forth in 1Co_14:14, where the Apostle, agreeably to the hint already given in 1Co_14:2, enters more fully upon the inward character of this gift, and from what he says there it is clear that the mere speaking or praying with tongues without interpretation excluded all relation to the external world, and in this case, to the congregation.—For if I pray with a tongue, my spirit prays, but my understanding is unfruitful.—Here the íïῦò denotes that faculty of the soul by which we have to deal with the outer world, [that which reasons, conceives and begets the thought that is coined into words] (Beek, Bibl. Seelenlehre, p. 49). This is said to be unfruitful in that it confers no benefit on others (comp. Eph_5:11; Tit_3:14; Mat_13:22). The passive interpretation, ‘experiences no benefit,’ does not suit the connection. As the words “my understanding,” so must also the words “my spirit” be interpreted of that which belongs to our nature, and not be understood as meaning ‘the spirit of God in me’ [as Hodge]. On the other hand the antithesis with “my spirit” does not allow of our interpreting the word íïῦò to mean sense, that is, of the words. Bengel has already presented the essentially correct view: “The ðíåῦìá spirit, is the power of the soul, when it sweetly suffers the Holy Spirit’s operations; but the íïῦò , understanding, is the power of the soul, when it goes abroad, and acts with our neighbor: as also when it attends to external objects, to other things and persons, although its reasonings maybe concealed.” [The distinction is more thoroughly given by Delitzsch, Bibl. Psychologie, iv. § 5. In explaining this passage he says: “The exercise of self-consciousness is here suppressed by the divine influence which entirely takes captive the person speaking with tongues. The thinking power of the íïῦò , as it brings forth fruit in words and thoughts profiting both itself and others without any further intervention, ceases, and the divine influence goes on exercising itself in the human sphere of direct feeling and intuition, and expresses itself also in a language that corresponds to this directness, and is not pervaded by the understanding ( íïῦò ) of the speaker, and is therefore unintelligible to the understanding ( íïῦò ) of the hearers. This sphere of direct feeling and intuition the Apostle calls the spirit ( ðíåῦìá ) in distinction from the understanding ( íïῦò ). It is the spirit in the narrower sense distinguished from the spirit in a wider sense (1Co_5:3; 1Co_7:34; 2Co_7:1), as feeling and especially as directly beholding—a copy as it were of the divine Holy Spirit”].—He next proceeds to draw an inference for the regulation of the conduct of the Corinthians in this matter.—What then is it?—Some supply ðñáêôÝïí to be done, which is unnecessary. [He means, ‘what is the practical conclusion at which we arrive?’ This he gives in what follows].—I will pray in the spirit,—[On the reading ðñïóåýîùìáé (subjunctive instead of Ind. fut.) which is strongly attested by A. D. B. F. G. and the Cod. Sin., Alford remarks: that “the use of the subjunctive in this as well as in other places grew out of a tendency in those who transcribed some of our MSS. to give such assertions a hortatory, or where interrrogative a deliberative form.” Meyer calls it “schlechte Besserung.” It is note-worthy that the important Codex Sinaiticus has the subjunctive form here, while in the next clause it has the indicative future. In this case we should take the first as conditional, ‘let me pray,’ or, ‘if I am to pray with my spirit, I will pray also with my understanding.’ The propriety of this is seen in the fact that praying in the spirit was not always optional with the individual, nor a matter of resolve. It came by gift, was the inspiration of the spirit who distributed unto each as He would; whereas the use of the understanding ( íïῦò ), which combined in itself both intelligence and will, was voluntary. It seems to be with the perception of this fact that Winner, who adopts the future form, says: “this sentence expresses not a resolution, but a Christian maxim which the believer intends to follow.”]—and I will pray with the understanding also;—By this is meant praying w