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You are here: Home > Bible Commentary > 1 Corinthians > Chapter 14 > Verse 2

1 Corinthians 14

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1 Corinthians 14:2
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1 Corinthians 14:2
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For he that speaketh in an [unknown] tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth [him]; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.

Note 3 at 1Co 14:2: The word "for" is a conjunction connecting 1Co 14:1 and 2. Paul was giving the reason he instructed them to desire prophecy above other spiritual gifts. Speaking in tongues is us communing with God, but prophecy is God speaking through us to man. In the church, we should seek to edify others, not ourselves (see note 16 at 1Co 14:12). Prophecy edifies others, while speaking in tongues only edifies the person who is speaking (1Co 14:4).

Note 4 at 1Co 14:2: Many people question what is accomplished by speaking in tongues. There are four verses in this chapter where Paul gave us insight on this. In this verse, Paul said we are speaking mysteries (see note 5 at this verse). In 1Co 14:4, Paul said we edify ourselves through speaking in tongues (see note 7 at that verse). 1Co 14:14 says the spirit is the part of us that prays in tongues (see note 18 at that verse), and 1Co 14:17 says we are giving thanks unto God when we speak in tongues (see note 21 at that verse).

Note 5 at 1Co 14:2: There are many times in Scripture where Paul said he was explaining the mysteries of God. Where did he get his understanding of these mysteries? Of course, it was from God, but is it possible that through speaking in tongues and gaining the interpretation, he unlocked these mysteries?

When people speak in tongues, they are speaking the wonderful mysteries of God. That's what Paul said here. He also said in 1Co 14:13 that those who pray in tongues should pray for the interpretation. Is it unreasonable to believe that Paul himself did what he preached to others? Of course he did!

Paul made it clear that his revelation of the mysteries of God came through the Spirit (1Co 2:10). When we pray in tongues, our spirits are praying (1Co 14:14) through the power of the Holy Spirit (Ac 2:4 and Jude 20). Normally our understanding is unfruitful (1Co 14:14) when we pray in tongues, but we can change that by praying for the interpretation.

If we are in a church assembly and we pray in tongues, the interpretation that we are to pray for would have to be an audible interpretation in the language of the listeners, but in our private prayer with the Lord, all we have to pray for is our understanding to become fruitful. That is to say, all we need is just revelation of the mysteries we are speaking. There doesn't have to be an audible interpretation (see note 29 at 1Co 12:10).

The way this works in practice is that as we speak in tongues and believe for the interpretation, revelation knowledge comes (see note 1 at Lu 2:26 and note 9 at Joh 6:45). This might be insight into some truth of God that we are pondering, or godly insight into some situation that we are praying over.

It is very important to note that we should not act solely on an interpretation of our speaking in tongues. It is very possible for us to have thoughts as we speak in tongues that are not revelation from God, but rather are our own thoughts or even thoughts from the devil. The way to discern whether or not our interpretation is from God is to check it with Scripture. God will never say anything contrary to His Word. This requires more than a casual knowledge of God's Word (see note 2 at Mt 4:3). An immature Christian who is not knowledgeable of God's Word should submit any so-called "revelation" to a mature Christian for evaluation.

When done correctly, speaking in tongues and receiving the interpretation can be of great value. This is one of the keys that opens up the door to revelation knowledge.

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