I Corinthians 14:26-40
A hot dog vendor brings a homeless man to
court for standing near the stand and enjoying
the smell of the meat as he ate his bread.
The judge is quite exasperated.
Judge to the homeless man: “Do you deny this?”
Homeless man: “No, your honor.”
Judge: “Do you have any coins?”
Homeless man: “Just a few quarters, your Honor.”
Judge: “Give them here.”
Homeless man: “Your Honor, they’re all I have!”
Judge: “That may be so, but please just give me
Homeless man: “Very well.” Hands over the coins.
Judge to the stand owner: “Pay close attention.”
Drops coins on the table. “Did you hear that?”
Stand owner: “Yes, your Honor.”
Judge: “Excellent. Now you take the sound of
those coins as payment for the smell of the
Today we are going to finish out I Corinthians 14.
Paul has written for the better part of 2 chapters on the
subject of tongues and spiritual gifts in worship.
He was aware that some in the Corinthian church had
been using their gifts for their own benefit rather than
using them to glorify God and build up the believers.
These final verses speak to the order that God desires in
I Corinthians 14:26-28
Spiritual gifts should be used to build up the
church, not to cause confusion.
Paul wants the Corinthian believers to come prepared to
use their gifts in worship. He lists a few of them in verse
26, not exhaustively, but to make his point.
Worship should be a place of order, not chaos.
Spiritual gifts are wonderful and from the Lord, but they
should be used to exalt God and to edify the church.
Paul wrote this to the church at Thessalonica
“Therefore encourage one another and build one
another up, just as you are doing.”
I Thessalonians 5:11 The Thessalonian church seemed
to understand the importance of building others up, the
believers at Corinth, not so much.
In fact, some of the believers at Corinth who had the gift
of tongues were using the gift for their own edification,
not the edification of the church.
Guidelines for Order regarding Tongues
Limited number of tongue speakers
Paul then limits the number of people who should speak
in tongues to 2 or 3.
One at a time
And he specifies that they must only speak in tongues
one at a time. There should not be several people talking
at once, that is confusing and chaotic.
Finally, Paul writes that if there is no one there to
interpret the tongue, then each one should keep silent
during the service. Remember earlier he said if there is
no interpreter of the tongue it doesn’t edify the church.
I Corinthians 14:29-33
Guidelines for Order regarding Prophecy
Limited number of Prophecies
Paul also limits the number of speakers who would use
the gift of prophecy during worship to 2 or 3 as well.
Weigh the Words
Paul encouraged the church to weigh what was being said
by the prophet and make sure what was being said
matched with the Bible. It’s critical for churches to do this
Sadly, there are some who use the pulpit for motivational
speeches or to support social justice or their own political
motives. The minister should preach the word of God in
season and out of season, he should never tire or deviate
from preaching the truth of God’s word to the flock.
And the flock should be Bereans and study the Scriptures
and weigh what is said against God’s word.
One at a Time
What Paul is referring to here in verse 30 is when
someone is speaking and another person gets a
revelation from God, the person speaking must finish
their message and allow the person with the new
revelation to offer their gift.
This speaks not only to order in worship, but to the
common practice of the Corinthians of speaking in sort of
a trance. Paul’s point is that when God gives a message,
He doesn’t put the prophet into a trance. Rather, he says
that the spirit of the prophets are subject to the
prophets. We must be aware of our surroundings in
worship. We are here to exalt God and edify the church.
Learning and Encouragement
Following these guidelines facilitates learning for
everyone at worship. And for their encouragement.
When everyone is speaking at once it is difficult to hear
or make sense of what is being said.
Remember, God is not a God of confusion, but of peace.
He desires order in worship.
I Corinthians 14:34-35
Guidelines for Order: Women Speaking in Worship
If we just look at these two verses we could wrongly
assume that Paul believes that women should not speak
in the church service at all. This is an incorrect
interpretation of Paul’s words.
We know that in chapter 11 Paul wrote about women
praying and prophesying with their heads uncovered. He
definitely allows for women to speak during the worship
service. So, what does Paul mean here?
We have to keep context at the center of our
Avoid Outbursts or Interruptions
Paul has just written about when church members are
using their gifts during worship, tongues and prophecies.
He says that those who are hearing must weigh the
words. Some of the women must have been asking
questions out loud, disrupting the service. God desires
order in worship and this would cause chaos.
Submission to the head
Paul also mentions the wife must be submissive to the
husband and ask him to help her understand the
prophecy at home, rather than speaking out during the
service. The law he mentions is likely from Genesis 3
when God told the woman her husband would rule over
Paul could have also been prohibiting women to speak in
tongues during the service. This falls in line with his
words to Timothy about the roles of women in worship,
not having authority over a man. Paul tells Timothy that
the pastor must be a man, husband of one wife, etc.
I Corinthians 14:36-40
Guidelines for Order regarding Apostolic Authority
Paul asks two rhetorical questions of the Corinthian
Did the word come from you?
Did the word come only to you?
These questions can emphatically be answered no!
Everyone knows the word came from the Lord and was
delivered to them by Paul.
They didn’t originate it, God did.
And they weren’t the only ones to receive it.
The world has many believers.
Acknowledge Paul’s Message as from the LORD
The problem is some of the folks at Corinth were thinking
too highly of themselves because of their gifts.
Paul’s final reminder is for them to obey the things he
has taught them.
His words were given to him by God.
Paul isn’t bragging, he is simply helping the church
understand gifts are for God’s glory not our own.
Paul makes one final summation of his purpose for this
chapter. Earnestly desire the gift of prophecy.
He started and ended the chapter with this same phrase.
He still believes prophecy is greater than tongues, but he
doesn’t forbid the use of tongues as long as there is an
interpreter and as long as it edifies the church.
Earnestly Desire to Use Our Spiritual Gifts in Worship
Know your gift
Seek ways to use it in worship
Seek to Exalt God.
Seek to Edify other Believers