Preaching (prophecy) is more important than tongues but does tongues have a value or can it be misused?

So let us look at some of the Greek in the first two verses of 1 Corinthians chapter 14;

1 Διώκετε τὴν ἀγάπην, ζηλοῦτε δὲ τὰ πνευματικά, μᾶλλον δὲ ἵνα προφητεύητε. 1 Corinthians 14:1

  1. Διώκετε τὴν ἀγάπην Seek after love (the goal is love)
  2. δὲ τὰ πνευματικά and desire the spiritual (gifts)
  3. μᾶλλον δὲ ἵνα προφητεύητε  but especially (mallon) that you might prophecy

The first part of verse one the verb diokete seek   is imperative 2nd person plural.  It is a command that Paul gives.

The second verb ζηλοῦτε desire (zealous) is also in the imperative and is therefore a command.

Mallon; especially or more is a comparative… but linked to prophecy. 

Prophecy  is in the subjunctive  and active (in the now ).  It means may prophecy

So, what is Paul saying?

My paraphrase after all the reading;

Make love your goal and at the same time be zealous for spiritual gifts and more so for the gift of prophecy.

In the first verse tongues doesn’t even get a look in!  

Why?

Paul will spell it out and he isn’t against tongues but tongues (ecstatic speaking) doesn’t build the church.  This was the problem. Let us continue looking at verse 2

2 ὁ γὰρ λαλῶν γλώσσῃ οὐκ ἀνθρώποις λαλεῖ ἀλλὰ θεῷ, οὐδεὶς γὰρ ἀκούει, πνεύματι δὲ λαλεῖ μυστήρια· 1 Corinthians 14:2

2 For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries. 1 Corinthians 14:2

Obviously verse two is interesting that speaking in a tongue is seen as speaking to God and it is a mystery.  At the time of Paul, a lot of the cults in Greece and Turkey would have been classified as mystery religions.  One had to be initiated into the rite of a particular god.  Paul was using language that they understood because everyone inside the church and outside the church used this language. 

Christianity is not a mystery religion; it is a public religion that all can understand.  It is the antithesis of mystery.   I don’t have a problem with tongues being used in this way and used in one’s own devotional times, the problem is though, if no one understands the message of the Gospel in church. There is a danger that when tongues are used that people want to know the ‘secret’.  Could this also be a danger in all tongues speaking churches that there is a hankering for a mystery that God wants to share.  Could the ordinary church goer be misled and give over hard cash for some secret?

So, we have had Pauls premise that prophecy is superior in the first five verses.  This hasn’t changed but now he is going to go into an example.   I think the key word here would be ‘clarity’.  Tongues speaking at Corinth wasn’t clear for the outsider.  It seems very strange to me that Paul starts talking about bugle sounds and so forth, but I think the tongues here is in a particular genre type.  The genre has come from the Hellenic world.

Encyclopaedia Britannica says;

“Glossolalia, also called speaking in tongues, (from Greek glōssa, “tongue,” and lalia, “talking”), utterances approximating words and speech, usually produced during states of intense religious experience. The vocal organs of the speaker are affected; the tongue moves, in many cases without the conscious control of the speaker; and generally unintelligible speech pours forth. Speakers and witnesses may interpret the phenomenon as possession by a supernatural entity, conversation with divine beings, or the channelling of a divine proclamation or inspiration.” Taken from https://www.britannica.com/topic/glossolalia

In Corinth speaking in tongues was a norm inside and outside of the Church especially I think in the Temples.  The question I suppose is what spirit is controlling the speaker.  Obviously tongues of a different genre could be seen at Peters proclamation of the Gospel where everyone understood him!  Paul could not deny tongues as the Holy Spirit has also used this as a vehicle to proclaim the Gospel.  This Apostolic Tongues was very special, and it was a sign and the people literally understood everything the Apostles said; as the Holy Spirit was the interpreter of the tongues.    

In Corinth tongues speaking compared to the Apostolic version was a mere shadow of the real thing.  Nether the less St Paul did not condemn it.  This was seen as a gift from the Holy Spirit.  For the user of tongues in their own devotion, there wasn’t a problem. The other difference was that; in Acts the Apostles, Peter spoke with all of his faculties, there was no loss of the conscious mind.  The tongues in Corinth was the opposite; they would have gone into uncontrollable bliss (experience).  It would have been closer to how tongues were spoken in the Pagan Temples but sanctified tongues. The type of tongues speaking from my point of view is that it is only a copy of the real thing but still within the framework of the Holy Spirit.               

You can also visit my other blog at; https://hasan-godtalk.blogspot.com/                                              

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