“Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue” ~1 CORINTHIANS 14:19 (KJV).
There are diversities of spiritual gifts, but same spirit, and in these gifts there are differences in administration and operation, but same God worketh in them all.
The spirit of God giveth these gifts, as He wishes, to the benefit of all, or to complement each other, as the body of Christ is one, but hath many members of thesame body. The Spirit of God giveth to one, the word of wisdom, and to others, word of knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophecy, discernment, diverse tongues, interpretations of tongues.
It is worthy to note that the Spirit of God giveth these gifts as He pleases for edification and not for competition, hence it will be unwise to place one gift above the other, because each has the role they play in the body of Christ. The human leg cannot compete with the hand, because both of them have their applications in driving the whole body.
However, in this post, we are looking at the application of the gift of prophecy and speaking in tongues with respect to the edification of the church as a whole and why Apostle Paul desired the church in Corinth to prophesy more than they spoke in tongues.
Moreover, below are several reasons why Apostle Paul seemed to lay more preference on the gift of prophecy than speaking in tongues;
He that speaketh in an unknown tongue, speaketh unto God and not unto men (1 Cor 14:2). Speaking in tongues is communicating with God in an unknown tongue, meaning a language that is unknown to men (except there be a person who has the capacity to interpret), but to God. Its design is more of a personal communication with God, and not for a general means of communication, except God chooses to use such a medium to communicate, but in that case, He will make provision for an interpreter.
The gift of prophecy on the other hand, is God passing a message through a vessel (Humans), to a group of people or the church in a human language that is easily understandable. It may be in English, Spanish or any other language localized with respect to the geographical location.
The gift of prophecy has a wider reach than speaking tongues, in terms of spreading the gospel of Christ, to the unlearned, and those who have never heard about Jesus Christ. What will it profit, if a believer who wants to evangelise an unbeliever, begins to speaks in tongues all the way, that will be a waste of communication ( 1 Cor 14:6-12)
However, it is critical for us to understand the gifts of the spirit, their operations and administrations in order for us not to abuse them.
The gift of tongues is a mystery not only to the church but to whom who speaketh it (1 Cor 14:2), unless he/she has the capacity to interpret what he/she speaketh. It is also worthy to note that the gift of interpreting tongues is different from the gift of speaking in tongues ( 1 Cor 12:10). It is one thing to speak in tongues and another to interpret it.
When a person speaks in tongues, he/she is not communicating to the church or people around him/her, because they cant understand what he/she is saying (except they have the gift of interpretation). He/she who speaketh in tongues also lack understanding of what he/she says (except he/she possesses the spirit of interpretation), but in the spirit speaketh mysteries. Hence Apostle adviced, that he/she who speaketh in tongues should also pray for the gift of interpretation.
The gift of prophecy on the other hand, is mystery demistified, that those who are spoken to may understand what is being spoken. Unlike speaking in tongues, prophecy is delivered in a language that is easily understandable, whether it be in English or any language that is localized with respect to the geographical location of the church. However in doing so, edification, exhortation and comfort is brought unto men ( 1 Cor. 14:3).
Understanding of the word of God produces edification, and where there is no understanding, the word of God is of no effect. There are four major reasons why believers gather, which is in no way limited to these four, but they are; for Understanding, edification, exhortation and comfort through the word of God. The bible tells us that, he who speaketh in unknown tongues edifieth himself, and not the church, but he that prophesieth edifies the church (1 Cor 14:4).
If there is no understanding, there is no edification, and where there is no edification, such a gathering is a waste of time and resources. The gathering of believers must produce understanding, that all may be edified. Apostle Paul ,says
” I pray with the spirit, and I will pray with understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with understanding also” ~1 Cor 14:15 (KJV)
“Else when thou bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy thanksgiving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?” ~ 1 Cor 14:16 (KJV).
Apostle paul knew the importance of edification, hence he knew how to apply the gifts of the spirit when addressing the Church, for this reason he preferred to speak five words with understanding, that his voice may teach others, than speaking a thousand words in an unknown tongue, which will not edify.
However it is highly unscriptural to stop people from speaking in tongues in church, but he who addresses the church, must speak with understanding that all may be edified.
God bless you.
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