Useful Bible Studies > 1 Corinthians Commentary > chapter 14

Words that people cannot understand

1 Corinthians 14:10-12

A message means nothing to the person who cannot understand the words. That is even true about messages that come from the Holy Spirit. The people in the church will not benefit from words that they cannot understand. As the purpose of church meetings is to make people stronger in their relationship with God, this is an important matter.

The Christians in Corinth were very eager to see the work of the Holy Spirit in their meetings. Many of them had the gift of tongues. In other words, they spoke in languages that they had not learned, by the power of the Holy Spirit. Because this gift is from the Holy Spirit, they were very excited about it. So there were many long messages in tongues during their meetings. The problem was that nobody understood these messages. Even the people who spoke in tongues did not understand (14:14).

Paul urged them to pray for other gifts of the Spirit that really would help other people (14:13). It was not wrong that they wanted the Holy Spirit to work in their meetings. But they were using his gifts in a wrong way.

Although this passage is really about tongues, it is true about other things, too. Many church leaders use difficult words that they do not explain. Some churches use translations of the Bible that the members find hard to understand. We like to hear beautiful words, and each one has its own particular meaning. However, even the most wonderful words are without meaning to the person who cannot understand them.

Next part: About the gift to interpret tongues (1 Corinthians 14:13)


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© 2014, Keith Simons.