Instructions for Tongues Speakers

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It is evident that the Corinthian church was having problems with disorders in their public meetings.  Furthermore, it seems that the tongues speakers were the ones causing the most trouble. Paul gave these specific instructions.


1. There should be Variety (v. 26a, 27) – The interpretation of Tongues was not to take up the who service. Instead, they should have a multiplicity of activities: the singing of hymns, a lesson (a sermon), a revelation (a prophecy), and yes, a tongue with the proper interpretation. 


2. The Goal is to “Build Up” (v. 26b) – The most prized gifts are those used to build up the body of Christ, not the individual members (I Cor. 12:7; 14:12). 


3. Rules for Speaking in Tongues (vv. 27-28) - In each meeting, there must never be more than three speaking in tongues (v. 27a). When one was speaking in tongues, the others should be silent (v. 27b). It was important for there to be an interpreter for the tongue speaker. Otherwise, the tongue fails to build up the body. It would be better for the body if the tongue speaker were silent if no one was there to interpret (vv. 27c-28).


4. Rules for Prophets (vv. 29-33) – Like those who speak in tongues, prophets had similar constraints placed on them. They were limited to three prophecies per service (v. 29a). The rest of the congregation was to listen carefully to what they said to determine whether it was in line with scripture. Prophets were to speak one at a time, giving preference to the newer revelation (v. 30-31). Finally, Prophets were to exercise self-control (unlike the pagan false prophets). A Prophet was to display a spirit of Peace, not confusion (vv. 32-33a).


Lord, help me to be on the lookout as to how I can edify other Christians and to always be organized to the point that others will feel comfortable in the things I do.

I Corinthians 14:26-33a (English Standard Version)

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