Misunderstanding Spiritual Gifts

Lesson 19, Section Eighteen
(Part 1)
Problem Sixteen:
“Misunderstanding Spiritual Gifts”
First Corinthians 14:1-19
Page 93
Gifts were given for the purpose of revealing the
truth of God’s plan for man and to confirm it
 They were temporary and passed away
 The complete word of God is available today
The apostles and the household of Cornelius
were baptized with the Holy Spirit
 Others were given the gifts by the apostles
Without love, they were not effective and caused
church problems
 The gift of prophesy was the greater gift
Paul told the Corinthians that love was the most
important aspect of spiritual gifts
 Without love, they were not effective
 He pointed out the value of love and the characteristics
of love
 But, love never fails
 Spiritual gifts were “in part” until that which was
“perfect” came [God’s complete revelation]
He ended his discussion on love by saying:
“And now abide faith, hope, love, these three;
but the greatest of these is love.”
Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that
you may prophesy.
2. For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men
but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the
spirit he speaks mysteries.
3. But he who prophesies speaks edification and
exhortation and comfort to men.
4. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who
prophesies edifies the church.
5. I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that
you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than
he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he
interprets, that the church may receive edification.
Spiritual gifts were given to benefit others (12:7)
“But the manifestation of the Spirit is given
to each one for the profit of all”
So, follow after love and desire spiritual gifts (1)
Many of the Corinthians had:
(1) neglected to “pursue” real brotherly love;
(2) chosen instead to pursue spiritual gifts;
(3) mistaken the relative values to the church of
prophesying and tongue-speaking, opting for tongues;
(4) abused the use of their gifts of tongues in the church
The gift of prophesy is greater than the gift of
 The gift of tongues was “the God-given ability to speak
in a language that was unknown to the speaker – a
supernatural ability” (See Acts 2:4-11)
 Tongues were to be a sign to unbelievers (14:22)
The gift of prophesy was the more useful gift
 The gift of prophesy was “the God-given ability to
speak God’s word in one’s own language”
 It was direct communications from heaven [Holy Spirit]
 Prophesies were to be a sign for believers (14:22)
Speaking in tongues had no benefit to the church
unless there was someone who could interpret (2)
 Either silently or in private, he could speak in the spirit
his “mysteries” to God
 The gift of interpretation (12:30) was “a God-given ability
to understand one speaking in a language which was
not his native tongue - foreign to that individual”
The gift of prophesy was used to provide
instantaneous edification, exhortation, and
comfort to the church (v3)
Prophesy [inspired teaching] had the greatest
value (4)
 This is how men learned God’s will
The one speaking in tongues [unknown language]
edifies himself (4)
 It is of no value to the church if no one can understand
what he is saying
The Corinthians should have desired the greater
gift (5)
 The most important element is – that the church may
receive edification
But now, brethren, if I come to you speaking with
tongues, what shall I profit you unless I speak to you
either by revelation, by knowledge, by prophesying,
or by teaching?
Even things without life, whether flute or harp, when
they make a sound, unless they make a distinction in
the sounds, how will it be known what is piped or
For if the trumpet makes an uncertain sound, who will
prepare for battle?
So likewise you, unless you utter by the tongue words
easy to understand, how will it be known what is
spoken? For you will be speaking into the air.
(continued on next page)
There are, it may be, so many kinds of languages in
the world, and none of them is without significance.
Therefore, if I do not know the meaning of the
language, I shall be a foreigner to him who speaks,
and he who speaks will be a foreigner to me.
If Paul came to them speaking in tongues, what
good would it do unless he spoke by revelation,
knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine (6)
 The foolishness of tongues-for-tongues-sake is
illustrated by:
 A flute or a harp – (7)
 A trumpet signal – (8)
Without words that are “easy to understand,” you
are speaking into the air (9)
 This has application to preachers and teachers today!
There are so many different languages in the
world and they are all important (10)
 A language has but one purpose: to allow sensible
communication from one person to another
Communication cannot take place unless the
speaker and hearer understands the meaning of
words (11)
 God’s purpose in giving some the ability to speak in
different languages was to communicate the Word so
others could receive it in their own language
 This operation occurred on the day of Pentecost with
great effectiveness (See Acts 2)
Even so you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let
it be for the edification of the church that you seek to
13. Therefore let him who speaks in a tongue pray that he
may interpret.
14. For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my
understanding is unfruitful.
15. What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit,
and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing
with the spirit, and I will also sing with the
(continued on next page)
Otherwise, if you bless with the spirit, how will he who
occupies the place of the uninformed say “Amen” at
your giving of thanks, since he does not understand
what you say?
For you indeed give thanks well, but the other is not
I thank my God I speak with tongues more than you
yet in the church I would rather speak five words with
my understanding, that I may teach others also, than
ten thousand words in a tongue.
The Corinthians were zealous for spiritual gifts
 Paul’s advice was to desire those gifts that would edify
the church
One that had the gift of tongues should pray for
the additional gift to interpret (13)
 If one prays in a tongue, his spirit prays but his
understanding was lacking (14)
“I will pray with the spirit and I will pray with the
understanding” (15)
 “I will sing with the spirit and I will sing with the
understanding” (15)
 Two elements were necessary for these
 The “spirit” – the message from the Holy Spirit to the
speakers spirit
 The “understanding” – what the message meant
Without these, how can one say “amen” at the
giving of thanks? (16,17)
Paul was not limited in his ability to speak in
 But, in the church, he would rather speak five
words that could be understood than ten thousand
words in an unknown tongue
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