Two or three prophets (1 Cor. 14:29)

“Let two or three prophets


Let the others

Weigh what is said!”

προφῆται δὲ δύο ἢ τρεῖς λαλείτωσαν, καὶ οἱ ἄλλοι διακρινέτωσαν·

Paul said let two or three prophets speak (προφῆται δὲ δύο ἢ τρεῖς λαλείτωσαν).  Then let the others weigh what is said (καὶ οἱ ἄλλοι διακρινέτωσαν).  As for the prophets, Paul did not want a whole lot of them speaking either.  Once again, he felt that two or three prophets were enough.  Then the whole community would be able to discern and weigh what the prophets said.  They should consider these prophecies within the whole Christian understanding of God and Jesus.  In other words, these prophecies might not be divinely inspired.  Weigh them carefully and judge for yourselves!  Have you ever listened to a prophet?

Silence if no interpreter (1 Cor. 14:28)

“But if there is no one

To interpret,

Let them be silent

In the church assembly!

Speak to themselves!

Speak to God!”

ἐὰν δὲ μὴ ᾖ διερμηνευτής, σιγάτω ἐν ἐκκλησίᾳ, ἑαυτῷ δὲ λαλείτω καὶ τῷ Θεῷ.

Paul said that if there is no one there to interpret (ἐὰν δὲ μὴ ᾖ διερμηνευτής), then let them be silent in the church community (σιγάτω ἐν ἐκκλησίᾳ)!  Speak to themselves (ἑαυτῷ δὲ λαλείτω)!  Speak to God (καὶ τῷ Θεῷ)!  However, Paul added a caveat.  If there was no one there to interpret the tongue speaking, the tongue speakers had to be silent.  They had to speak to themselves and God alone, not in front of the church assembly.  Without interpreters of tongues, there should be no public display of tongue speaking.  Have you ever had interpreters for your tongue speaking?

Tongues and interpreters (1 Cor. 14:27)

“If anyone speaks

In a tongue,

Let there be only two

Or at most three,

And each in turn.

Then let someone interpret it.”

εἴτε γλώσσῃ τις λαλεῖ, κατὰ δύο ἢ τὸ πλεῖστον τρεῖς, καὶ ἀνὰ μέρος, καὶ εἷς διερμηνευέτω·

Paul said that if anyone speaks in a tongue (εἴτε γλώσσῃ τις λαλεῖ), let there be only two or at most three (κατὰ δύο ἢ τὸ πλεῖστον τρεῖς), and each in turn (καὶ ἀνὰ μέρος).  Then let someone interpret what was said (καὶ εἷς διερμηνευέτω).  Paul indicated some guidelines for tongue speaking.  Not everyone should speak in tongues, only a couple of people, two or three at most.  They also should take turns, one after the other, not all at once.  Finally, someone should interpret what was said.  Paul had a certain discipline for these tongue speakers.  Have you ever been to a worship service where people were speaking in tongues?

What to do when you come together (1 Cor. 14:26)

“What should be done?

My brothers!

When you come together,

Each one has a hymn,

A lesson,

A revelation,

A tongue,

Or an interpretation.

Let all things be done

For edification!”

Τί οὖν ἐστιν, ἀδελφοί; ὅταν συνέρχησθε, ἕκαστος ψαλμὸν ἔχει, διδαχὴν ἔχει, ἀποκάλυψιν ἔχει, γλῶσσαν ἔχει, ἑρμηνείαν ἔχει· πάντα πρὸς οἰκοδομὴν γινέσθω.

Paul asked another one of his questions and then gave his own response.  He asked “What should be done (Τί οὖν ἐστιν)?  My believing brothers (ἀδελφοί)!”  Paul responded that when you come together (ὅταν συνέρχησθε), each one should have a hymn (ἕκαστος ψαλμὸν ἔχει), a lesson to read (διδαχὴν ἔχει), a revelation to share (ἀποκάλυψιν ἔχει), a tongue to speak (γλῶσσαν ἔχει) or an interpretation of a tongue (ἑρμηνείαν ἔχει).  All this should be done for the edification and building up of all the members (πάντα πρὸς οἰκοδομὴν γινέσθω) of the community church.  Only this Corinthian letter used this word ἑρμηνείαν, that means interpretation, translation, or explanation.  Paul indicated how they should act or what they should do when they come together as a Christian community.  Some of the believing brothers might have a hymn, a lesson, or an instruction to share.  Others might have a revelation or speak in tongues.  While others still might interpret what was said.  Paul did not mind any of this.  However, he stipulated that all this should be done for the edification or building up of the others.  There should not be any destructive behavior within the community assembly.  How do you behave when you gather for a Christian community worship service?

God is really among you (1 Cor. 14:25)

“The secrets

Of his heart

Would be disclosed.

Falling on his face,

He would worship God.

He would declare

That God is really

Among you.”

τὰ κρυπτὰ τῆς καρδίας αὐτοῦ φανερὰ γίνεται, καὶ οὕτως πεσὼν ἐπὶ πρόσωπον προσκυνήσει τῷ Θεῷ, ἀπαγγέλλων ὅτι Ὄντως ὁ Θεὸς ἐν ὑμῖν ἐστιν.

Paul said that the secrets of the heart (τὰ κρυπτὰ τῆς καρδίας αὐτοῦ) of this unbeliever or the uninitiated one would be disclosed or opened (φανερὰ γίνεται) by this prophecy.  Falling on his face (καὶ οὕτως πεσὼν ἐπὶ πρόσωπον), he would worship God (προσκυνήσει τῷ Θεῷ).  He would declare that (ἀπαγγέλλων ὅτι) God was really among you (ὁ Θεὸς ἐν ὑμῖν ἐστιν).  Paul indicated that if someone came into their assembly while they were prophesizing, he would not call them crazy.  Instead, his heart would be opened to this prophecy.  These visitors would fall on their faces worshipping God.  They would say that God was among them rather than call them mad or crazy people.  Thus, Paul painted a rosy picture about the effect of prophecy as compared to tongue speaking.  The element of conversion was more likely to take place during a prophecy than tongue speaking.  In fact, the Jewish synagogues had encouraged the God-fearing gentiles to watch or attend their Sabbath services.  Which would you prefer, prophecy or tongue speaking?

Prophecy and unbelievers (1 Cor. 14:24)

“But if all prophesy,

And an unbeliever

Or uninitiated outsider


He is exposed

By all.

He is examined

By all.”

ἐὰν δὲ πάντες προφητεύωσιν, εἰσέλθῃ δέ τις ἄπιστος ἢ ἰδιώτης, ἐλέγχεται ὑπὸ πάντων, ἀνακρίνεται ὑπὸ πάντων,

Paul said that if all prophesy (ἐὰν δὲ πάντες προφητεύωσιν), and an unbeliever or uninitiated outsider enters (εἰσέλθῃ δέ τις ἄπιστος ἢ ἰδιώτης), he is exposed by all (ἐλέγχεται ὑπὸ πάντων) and examined by all (ἀνακρίνεται ὑπὸ πάντων).  Paul points out that there will be different experience for the unbeliever or the uninitiated people when prophecy takes place as opposed to speaking in tongues.  Now a dialog could happen.  This visitor to the Christian community would be exposed to the various thoughts about Jesus Christ.  He and they could examine each other about the meaning of what they were talking about.  They would not walk away thinking that the Christians were a group of crazy people.  Do you prefer a dialog?

You are mad (1 Cor. 14:23)


If the whole church assembled

All in one place,

And all spoke

In tongues,

And outsiders

Or unbelievers


Will they not say

That you are mad?”

Ἐὰν οὖν συνέλθῃ ἡ ἐκκλησία ὅλη ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτὸ καὶ πάντες λαλῶσιν γλώσσαις, εἰσέλθωσιν δὲ ἰδιῶται ἢ ἄπιστοι, οὐκ ἐροῦσιν ὅτι μαίνεσθε;

Paul said that if the whole church assembled (Ἐὰν οὖν συνέλθῃ ἡ ἐκκλησία), all in one place (ὅλη ἐπὶ τὸ αὐτὸ), and all or everyone began to speak in tongues (καὶ πάντες λαλῶσιν γλώσσαις), and outsiders or unbelievers entered (εἰσέλθωσιν δὲ ἰδιῶται ἢ ἄπιστοι), would they not say that you are mad (οὐκ ἐροῦσιν ὅτι μαίνεσθε)?  Paul warned the Corinthians.  If the whole church gathered in one place and they all began to speak in tongues, and outsiders, uninformed, or unbelievers showed up, what would they think?  Paul answered his question with another question.  Would these outsiders not say that they were all crazy or out of their minds?  If everyone was speaking in tongues, someone not in the group would say that they were all crazy.  Would you call a group of people speaking in tongues crazy?

Prophecy is for believers (1 Cor. 14:22)


Tongues are a sign

Not for believers

But for unbelievers,

While prophecy

Is not for unbelievers

But for believers.”

ὥστε αἱ γλῶσσαι εἰς σημεῖόν εἰσιν οὐ τοῖς πιστεύουσιν ἀλλὰ τοῖς ἀπίστοις, ἡ δὲ προφητεία οὐ τοῖς ἀπίστοις ἀλλὰ τοῖς πιστεύουσιν.

Paul then concluded that tongues are a sign (ὥστε αἱ γλῶσσαι εἰς σημεῖόν εἰσιν) not for believers (οὐ τοῖς πιστεύουσιν) but for unbelievers (ἀλλὰ τοῖς ἀπίστοις), while prophecy (ἡ δὲ προφητεία) is not for unbelievers (οὐ τοῖς ἀπίστοις) but for believers (ἀλλὰ τοῖς πιστεύουσιν).  Thus, Paul indicated that these tongues were a sign to the unfaithful believers, but not for the believers.  Prophecy was just the opposite since it was not for the unbelievers, but for the believers.  Prophecy was for the believers to build up or edify their church members.  Tongues were just a big distraction for unbelievers, while the prophecy would be too complicated for the unbelievers.  The believers could personally edify themselves with tongues but not their community, while prophecy edified the believing community.  Do you favor prophecy over tongue speaking?

They do not listen (1 Cor. 14:21)

“In the law

It is written.

‘By men of strange tongues,

By the lips of foreigners

Will I speak

To this people.

Even then

They will not listen

To me.

Says the Lord.’”

ἐν τῷ νόμῳ γέγραπται ὅτι Ἐν ἑτερογλώσσοις καὶ ἐν χείλεσιν ἑτέρων λαλήσω τῷ λαῷ τούτῳ, καὶ οὐδ’ οὕτως εἰσακούσονταί μου, λέγει Κύριος.

Paul said that in the law (ἐν τῷ νόμῳ), it is written (γέγραπται).  “By men of strange tongues (ὅτι Ἐν ἑτερογλώσσοις), by the lips of foreigners (καὶ ἐν χείλεσιν ἑτέρων) will I speak to this people (λαλήσω τῷ λαῷ τούτῳ).  Even then, they will not listen to me (καὶ οὐδ’ οὕτως εἰσακούσονταί μου), says the Lord (λέγει Κύριος).”  Only this Corinthian letter used this word ἑτερογλώσσοις, that means another tongue or another language.  Paul paraphrased an authoritative passage from Isaiah, chapter 28:11-12.  Yahweh would send other people, the Assyrians, who would speak to the Israelites with stammering tongues in a foreign language.  However, it would still be the word of Yahweh.  They would not hear or understand what was going on.  Paul referred to Yahweh speaking to the prophet Isaiah about foreigners telling them what Yahweh wanted, via a foreign language.  The Israelites had been mocking Isaiah, but he turned they mockery back on them.  Yahweh was going to use foreigners to tell them what to do.  Thus, Paul was ready to tell the Corinthians that this speaking in tongues might be used against them.  Do you know the difference between speaking in tongues and speaking in a foreign language?

Mature thinking (1 Cor. 14:20)


Do not be childish

In your thinking!

Be infantile

In evil!

But be mature

In thinking!”

Ἀδελφοί, μὴ παιδία γίνεσθε ταῖς φρεσίν, ἀλλὰ τῇ κακίᾳ νηπιάζετε, ταῖς δὲ φρεσὶν τέλειοι γίνεσθε.

Paul told his Corinthian Christian brothers (Ἀδελφοί) that they should not be childish (μὴ παιδία γίνεσθε) in their thinking (ταῖς φρεσίν).  But they should be babies or infantile (νηπιάζετε,) when it comes to evil (ἀλλὰ τῇ κακίᾳ).  As far as thinking was concerned (ταῖς δὲ φρεσὶν), they should be mature in that regard (τέλειοι γίνεσθε).  Only this Corinthian letter used this word φρεσὶν, that means heart, mind, thought, intellect, or understanding, and the word νηπιάζετε, that means to be an infant, childlike, childish, or infantile.  Paul pointed out that the Corinthian preoccupation with tongue speaking was a sign of their immaturity.  They should not be childish but mature in their thinking with an adult judgment.  However, they should be childish like a young child in their moral innocence or lack of knowledge about evil.  Paul would rather have the Corinthians mature in their good judgment and infantile in their moral ignorance of evil.  Do you have a good mature thinking judgment?