Jeremy Brown's Bible Commentary - 1 Corinthians

Written by Saul (Paul) of Tarsus.

As you read the love chapter, remember that tolerance and love are not necessarily synonymous. See my article on

If I can speak in Earthly and angelic languages by the Spirit without having true love in my heart then I am just making useless noise. You see, to have gifts like tongues are not why we serve God. They are only one of the several tools useful for completing Christ's mission through us.
If I am able to hear, know, and voice the will of God to people; if God helps me understand things that confuse most people (like things in the Bible, how God created all things, history, interpretation of dreams and visions, etc.); if I trust God so much and if I have such a close relationship with Him so that I can literally throw mountains around if I took a notion; despite these facts if I don't have God's true love in my heart then those things and I are useless.
If I give things to poor people that they need or if I am martyred, it's all useless without God's true love in me and shows that I haven't grown in God. 
God's true love never gives up, is patient, is kind, doesn't get jealous of others, doesn't boast, and doesn't consider itself to be superior to others.
Love isn't prideful, isn't arrogant, isn't rude, doesn't get angry easily, isn't easily offended, doesn't always try to have its own way, and doesn't hold grudges.
Love doesn't treat others badly. Love doesn't enjoy evil. Love doesn't enjoy seeing others do evil. Love doesn't enjoy seeing others make bad choices. Love enjoys truth. This truth spoken of is not "relative." See
truth. 13:6
Love can endure anything that comes its way. Love looks for the good in people and tries to pull those good qualities to the surface in them. Loves doesn't give up on others. Love isn't weakened by circusmtances.
No matter what, love doesn't stop or end.
Knowing and speaking God's will to others will come and go. It will happen and then soon be forgotten. Speaking in tongues happens then stops. It's not something to be remembered. Our knowledge of God and the things of God is good but it will soon not seem very valuable.
You see, we still don't know everything. We still only hear, know, and speak bits and pieces of God's will for our lives and other people's lives. All of what I've said shows that we are only getting a small taste of good things right now. What we have experienced and known is still only a small taste. When we all get to be with the Lord face to face, it will no longer be a small taste. We will be complete. We will love in a complete way. We will experience God in a complete way.
When I was a child, I talked, thought, and acted like a child. When I grew up, I stopped talking, thinking, and acting like a child. This verse is telling the reader to allow the Lord to mature them. It's also letting us know that we will remain children in a sense as long as we are alive until we are with God face to face forever. When we are with God face to face forever, we will no longer be children but will be full grown then.
We'll never see everything clearly or understand everything as long as we are living for God in this life. But when we go to live with God face to face forever, we will literally see, understand, and know things without any level of confusion. Even after God speaks to us here one on one, we still only comprehend bits and pieces of what He says. But one day when I live with God face to face forever, I will understand, know, and experience things without any sort of confusion.
There are three things that outlast all other things in our walk with God. We have to trust God no matter what we see or experience. We need to remember that God is on our side and we will live with Him (God) forever. We have to retain and display  the true God kind of love all the time to all people. The greatest of these three things is the true God kind of love.

Make the true God kind of love mentioned in chapter 13 your foundation for everything you do. Also, you should desire the other gifts of the Holy Spirit, like being able to hear, know, and speak God's will by the Holy Spirit through prophesying.
When you speak in tongues, you are talking directly to God privately. What I mean is, only He (God) can understand your words. However, this doesn't discredit speaking in tongues. You are simply talking to God only in those times.
Speaking in tongues and prophesying are different. Prophesying is hearing, knowing, and speaking God's will for people's lives. You see, we do this when people need added direction for their lives. When we do this, we are doing more than building ourselves up when we talk to God in a secret language. Prophesying helps others. This doesn't make speaking in tongues a bad thing. It is needed as well.
Speaking in tongues doesn't help other people around you specifically because they can't understand what you are saying. When you speak in tongues, you are talking to God privately in a sense. You see, people usually can't understand you when you speak in tongues. Let's keep in mind though that verse 22 says that believers are supposed to speak in tongues around nonChristians.
Paul wants every Christian to speak in different languages to God. But more than that, Paul wants Christians to be able to hear, know, and speak God's will to people. Those that hear, know, and speak God's will is more useful in ministry than someone that only speaks in tongues. There is one loophole though. If the speaking in tongues is interpreted for the people, it is beneficial to people other than for the one speaking in tongues.
Christians, if Paul came to speak to you and only came and spoke in tongues the whole entire time of his visit, how would that help you? Paul doesn't want to just arrive to speak in tongues. His arrival will only be beneficial to the people if he were to come and teach, preach, hear, know, and speak God's will to the people in the language of people. A note to the ministers here is to come prepared to instruct, not to show off. This verse is not restricting Christians from speaking in tongues.
When people play music, how do people know what to play without knowing what chords and notes they are to play? Musicians are able to flow together best when they are playing the same notes and when they know what each other is playing.
There are specific military trumpet blasts. People have to know the difference between the trumpet blasts to be able to respond to the individual trumpet blasts in the appropriate manners.
Just remember that speaking in tongues is not what instructs other people. The ministry is for equipping the saints. Tongues only equips the individual.
All languages and voices are useful. This does not mean opinions.
If I don't know the language or voice, it will seem foreign and not useful to me. The one speaking and the one hearing won't understand each other. They can't communicate properly.
It is up to you. You are hungry for God's gifts. But, hunger for the gifts so that you can use the gifts to help others and be able to spread the Gospel.
So, Christians that have been given the gift of tongues should also pray for the gift of interpretation of tongues.
Remember that humans are threefold beings: soul, spirit, and body. If I pray in tongues, my spirit prays to God because of the Holy Spirit inside me. However, I don't know what I've said. So, it helps me but nobody else is gaining anything. Paul is again trying to let people know that they need more than tongues only.
So what am I supposed to do? I should pray in tongues and also pray in my own language. I will sing in tongues and I will sing in my own language.
If you only praise God and worship, how can a nonChristian understand why you are praising and worshipping God? How can he know why you do this and speak in tongues if they don't understand? Instruction is needed to win the nonChristian. See 1 Chronicles 16:36 and Psalm 106:48.
Yes, praise God by speaking in tongues and know that it is good. But know that it doesn't help the people who can't understand it.
I am thankful to God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. Paul here wants people to know that tongues aren't bad and that he speaks in tongues himself. He simply wants people to know that they shouldn't just be content with speaking in tongues. He wants people to desire the other gifts that are useful in teaching others too.
But when Christian meet together to worship God and learn about God, it is best to use that time speaking things that the people can incorporate into their lives. Five words in the language of the people are more beneficial as instruction than ten thousand words in tongues.
Christians, don't be immature in anything that you do. Continue to be people that don't do evil things. Be innocent. Be mature.
It's written in the Old Testament in Isaiah 28:11-12 that God will use stammering lips and foreign languages to teach people. So tongues were spoken about in prophecy. In Isaiah, it goes on to say that many people will still even reject the Lord after hearing the stammering lips and tongues.
So, know that tongues are useful for more than being good for the individual only. It is meant to be a superatural sign from God. There are two other useful ways: 1) to speak in the languages of the nonChristians to win them to Christ; 2) to speak in tongues by the Holy Spirit so that the nonChristian hearer can hear, marvel at the Holy Spirit speaking through you, and cause them to be won to Christ. Then also know that prophesying is meant for Christians and not for nonChristians.
So if an entire gathering of Christians praise God in tongues the whole time and nonChristians come in, won't they think you're all crazy?
But if the people are more focused on hearing, knowing, and speaking God's will to the people and a nonChristian comes in, the nonChristian hears, knows, and understands what sin is, understands that he is a sinner, and believes what he hears. Then the nonChristian knows that he is not perfect and that they are in danger of God's judgement.
All of the secrets of the nonChristians heart are exposed, they understand, and they bow down and worship God. They'll then realize that what you say is true and that the God you worship exists and is with you.
Christians, what is the reason we come together? When we come together, everyone has a song to sing, everyone has truths from God to speak, everyone has a voice and speaks in tongues, and everyone has the ability to interpret the tongues. But let all these gifts be used for helping and teaching others, and for spreading the Gospel of Christ. That's the reason for the gifts. This is why we should want the gifts. 14:26
At a gathering of Christians, the best way to help everyone is to have only two or three people speak in tongues one at a time, then let one person interpret aloud what has been said. This allows everyone to be helped. 14:27
But if there is no one to interpret the tongues at the gathering of Christians, the ones speaking in tongues should be quiet as they pray in tongues and just pray quietly. 14:28
Two or three people should hear, know, and speak God's words to the people listening. The people listening should discern if the their words spoken are true and from God. 14:29
If more than one person hears and knows the will of God in something and feels that they should speak, they should wait their turn. 14:30
This way, each person taking their turn can speak what God has given to them and all of the hearers will be helped. 14:31
The spirit of each speaker is under each speaker's control. They have the power to be silent and wait. 14:32
It has to happen this way to prevent chaos and confusion. God isn't the source of chaos and confusion. God is the source of true peace. This is to be the practice in all Christian gatherings. 14:33
In that day and time at this particular gathering of Christians at Corinth, the women would interrupt constantly to ask their husbands what the speaker's words mean when they spoke in tongues, interpreted, preached, taught, and prophesied. This had become a major distraction at the Corinthian Christian gatherings. Paul told the women to keep quiet at the gatherings and that they weren't any longer permitted to keep doing this. The Old Testament supports this idea. 14:34
Corinthian Christian women if there is anything you don't understand, wait until you get home to ask your husbands about it. It's inappropriate to be a disturbance at church like this. 14:35
Do you think you Corinthian Christians are the only people who are of God? Do you think you are the only ones serving God? Think again! 14:36
If anyone believes themself to be a person who hears, knows, and speaks God's will, has a spiritual gifting, or ministry, make sure they know that what I've written is from God. 14:37
If somebody doesn't support or believe what I've said is God's will for us, they are not of God. 14:38
In conclusion fellow Christians, be hungry for the desire to hear, know, and speak the will of God to people. Also, don't be against speaking in tongues. 14:39
Just remember that speaking in tongues and the other gifts are of God. Just remember to allow the Holy Spirit to have his way. That way, things won't be weird or fleshly. 14:40

Jeremy Brown 2007

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