1 Corinthians 14 – Are You Willing to Remember the Unbelievers Among You?

Paul encourages the Corinthians to eagerly desire spiritual gifts but to exercise them in a way that promotes unity, understanding, and building up the church.

He focuses on the proper use of spiritual gifts, specifically speaking in tongues and prophecy. He also does not want the women who do not yet understand what it means to follow Jesus to be disruptive.

Paul urges the Corinthians to prioritize clarity and understanding in their worship services and not to forget there may be unbelievers exploring God among them.

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Was Paul contradicting himself when at one point he says: “tongues are a sign for unbelievers” and then later he says “tongues will make unbelievers think you are crazy”?

From an article from blueletterbible.org:

“The simplest answer is that if everyone in the congregation is speaking in tongues at the same time then the unbeliever, to whom the sign of tongues is directed, will think that everyone in the place is crazy. However, if tongue-speaking follows the rules with one person speaking at a time, then the unbeliever will be convicted by what he or she hears. Paul is simply illustrating why it is essential to follow the rules which he has laid down.

Others think it is a sign of judgment upon the unbelieving nation of Israel. In the past, they were judged by nations that spoke in foreign tongues or foreign languages. The same thing is true here. Their judgment for rejecting Jesus as the Messiah is the sound of believers speaking in languages in which they do not understand. It would remind them of what Moses warned would happened if they disobeyed God’s command.

There is also the view that the sound of foreign languages is actually a sign of God’s favor. The gift of tongues at Pentecost showed that the gospel was going out to the entire world. It is a sign to the unbeliever that the good news of salvation is being proclaimed to everyone, Jew and Gentile alike.

The fact that there are a number of possible interpretations of what Paul meant, without assuming some sort of contradiction, shows us that we should not attempt to alter the text in this verse. Paul did not contradict himself! Any of these three options is possible.”

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