1 Corinthians 14:26-33
26. How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.
26. Quid igitur est, fratres? Quoties convenitis, unusquisque vestrum canticum habet, doctrinam habet, linguam habet, revelationem habet, interpretationem habet: omnia ad aedificationem fiant.
27. If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret.
27. Sive lingua quis loquitur, fiat per duos, aut ad summum tres, idque vicissim, et unus interpretetur.
28. But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.
28. Quodsi non sit interpres, taceat in Ecclesia: caeterum sibi ipsi loquatur et Deo.
29. Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.
29. Prophetae autem duo aut tres loquantur, et caeteri diiudicent.
30. If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace.
30. Quodsi alii fuerit revelatum assidenti, prior taceat:
31. For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.
31. Potestis enim singulatim omnes prophetare, ut omnes discant, et omnes consolationem accipiant. 1
32. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.
32. Et spiritus prophetarum prophetis sunt subiecti:
33. For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.
33. Non enim seditionis est Deus, sed pacis, quemadmodum in omnibus Ecclesiis sanctorum. 2
At the same time, it might seem as if even this were not agreeable to reason, inasmuch as he said before, (1 Corinthians 14:22,) that tongues, in so far as they are for a sign, are suited to unbelievers. I answer, that, while a miracle may be performed more particularly with a view to unbelievers, it, nevertheless, does not follow, that it may not be of some advantage to believers also. If you understand, that an unknown tongue is a sign to unbelievers in the sense that Isaiah's words3 bear, the method of procedure, which Paul here prescribes, is different. For he allows of other tongues in such a way that, interpretation being joined with them, nothing is left obscure. He observes, therefore, a most admirable medium in correcting the fault of the Corinthians. On the one hand, he does not at all set aside any gift of God whatever,4 in order that all his benefits may be seen among believers. On the other hand he makes a limitation -- that ambition do not usurp the place that is due to the glory of God, and that no gift of inferior importance stand in the way of those that are of chief moment; and he adds the sauce5 -- that there be no mere ostentation, devoid of advantage.
There still remains, however, a question -- why it is that he assigns the like number to prophesyings and to tongues, except that, as to the latter, he adds particularly -- at the most, for if
It may seem, however, to be absurd that men should have liberty given them to judge of the doctrine of God, which ought to be placed beyond all controversy. I answer, that the doctrine of God is not subjected to the scrutiny of men, but there is simply permission given them to judge by the Spirit of God, whether it is his word that is set before them, or whether human inventions are, without any authority, set off under this pretext, as we shall have occasion to notice again ere long.
He says, in the second place,
As, however, the word
This passage has been misunderstood by some, as if Paul had said, that the Lord's Prophets were not like persons taken with a sudden frenzy, who, when a divine impulse (
judge all things, while he is judged by no one.
(1 Corinthians 2:15.)
The sacred word of God, too, retains the respect due to it, so that it is received without any disputation, as soon as it is presented.
"What is if, then," you will say, "that is subjected to examination?"' I answer -- If any one were furnished with a full revelation, that man would undoubtedly, along with his gift, be above all scrutiny. There is, I say, no subjection, where there is a plenitude of revelation; but as God has distributed his spirit to every one in a certain measure, in such a way that, even amidst the greatest abundance, there is always something wanting, it is not to be wondered, if no one is elevated to such a height, as to look down from aloft upon all others, and have no one to pass judgment upon him. We may now see how it is, that, without any dishonor to the Holy Spirit, his gifts admit of being examined. Nay more, where, after full examination, nothing is found that is worthy of reproof, there will still be something, that stands in need of polishing. The sum of all, therefore, is this -- that the gift is subjected to examination in such a way, that whatever is set forth, the Prophets consider as to it -- whether it has proceeded from the Spirit of God; for if it shall appear that the Spirit is the author of it, there is no room left for hesitation.
It is, however still farther asked -- "What rule is to be made use of in examining?" This question is answered in part by the mouth of Paul, who, in Romans 12:6, requires that prophecy be regulated according to the proportion of faith. As to the passing of judgment, however, there is no doubt, that it ought to be regulated by the word and Spirit of God -- that nothing may be approved of, but what is discovered to be from God -- that nothing may be found fault with but in accordance with his word -- in fine, that God alone may preside in this judgment, and that men may be merely his heralds.
From this passage of Paul's writings, we may conjecture how very illustrious that Church was, in respect of an extraordinary abundance and variety of spiritual gifts. There were colleges of Prophets, so that pains had to be taken, that they might have their respective turns. There was so great a diversity of gifts, that there was a superabundance. We now see our leanness, nay, our poverty; but in this we have a just punishment, sent to requite our ingratitude. For neither are the riches of God exhausted, nor is his benignity lessened; but we are neither deserving of his bounty, nor capable of receiving his liberality. Still we have an ample sufficiency of light and doctrine, provided there were no deficiency in respect of the cultivation of piety, and the fruits that spring from it.
Let us, therefore, bear in mind, that, in judging as to the servants of Christ, this mark must be kept in view -- whether or not they aim at
1 "Que tous soyent consolez, ou, exhortez;" -- "That all may be comforted, or, exhorted."
2 "Comme en toutes les Eglises des satnets, ou, comme on voit en toutes;" -- "As in all the Churches of the saints, or, as one sees in all."
4 "Tant petit soit-il;" -- "Be it ever so small."
5 "Ascauoir l'interpretation;" -- "Namely, the interpretation."
6 "Le benefice et don de Dieu;" -- "The kindness and gift of God."
7 "En ce cas;" -- "In this case."
8 "Pour traiter de quelques matieres de la religion;" -- "For treating of some matters of religion."
9 "Par l'approbation commune de l'Eglise;" -- "By the common approbation of the Church."
10 The Latins have a similar proverb -- "Stater in lagena bis bis clamat;" -- "A penny in an earthen pot is constantly tinkling." The Germans say -- "The higher the head, the humbler the heart." -- Ed.
11 "Le don de Dieu qu'ils ont receu;" -- "The gift of God which they have received."
12 "Que toutes fois et quantes qu'il sera besoin, eux aussi auront lieu de parler;" -- "That as often, and in as far as there will be occasion, they will also have opportunity of speaking."
13 "But if anything be revealed to another that sitteth by. That is very frequently said of the Jewish doctors,
14 "Ainsi qu'il sera auise pour le mieux;" -- "As it shall be judged for the better."
15 "Ha double signification;" -- "Has a double signification."
17 "Depuis que leur folie les prenoit, laquelle ils appeloyent vn mouuement Diuin;" -- "Whenever their folly seized them, which they called a Divine impulse."
18 The reference here is manifestly to those who practiced divination, (
"Non comtaee mansere comae; sed pectus anhelum,
Et rabie fera corda tument: majorque videri,
Nee mortale sonans, attlata est numine quando
Jam propiore dei."
"But when the headstrong god, not yet appeased,
With holy frenzy had the Sibyl seized,
Terror froze up her grisly hair; her breast
Throbbing with holy fury, still expressed
A greater horror, and she bigger seems,
Swoln with the afflatus, whilst in holy screams
She unfolds the hidden mysteries of fate."
Virg. Aen.VI. 48-51. -- Ed.
19 "Car Dieu n'est point Dieu de confusion;" -- "For God is not a God of confusion."
20 Granville Penn reads the verse as follows: For they are not spirits of disorder, but of peace. He thinks it probable, that "the singular,
21 "Ce mot, Comme;" -- "This word, As."
22 "Comme s'il vouloit dire qu'il n'y auroit point de propos d'auoir quelque souspecon sur les Eglises bien reformees;" -- "As if he meant to say, that there was no occasion for having any suspicion as to Churches thoroughly reformed."
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