Speaking in tongues is like flutes or harps (1 Cor. 14:7)

“It is the same way

With lifeless instruments,

Such as the flute

Or the harp.

They produce sounds.

But if they do not give

Distinctive notes,

How will anyone know

What is being played

On the flute

Or the harp?”

ὅμως τὰ ἄψυχα φωνὴν διδόντα, εἴτε αὐλὸς εἴτε κιθάρα, ἐὰν διαστολὴν τοῖς φθόγγοις μὴ δῷ, πῶς γνωσθήσεται τὸ αὐλούμενον ἢ τὸ κιθαριζόμενον;

Paul said that speaking in tongues was like a lifeless musical instrument (ὅμως τὰ ἄψυχα), such as a flute (εἴτε αὐλὸς) or a harp (εἴτε κιθάρα), producing sounds (φωνὴν διδόντα).  If they did not play distinct notes (ἐὰν διαστολὴν τοῖς φθόγγοις μὴ δῷ), how would anyone know (πῶς γνωσθήσεται) what was being played on the flute (τὸ αὐλούμενον) or the harp (ἢ τὸ κιθαριζόμενον)? Only the Pauline letters used this word ἄψυχα, that means lifeless or inanimate, the word αὐλὸς, that means a pipe or a flute, the word διαστολὴν, that means a separation, a difference, or a distinction, and finally the word φθόγγοις, that means a sound.  Paul then compared speaking in tongues to the musical instruments of a flute and a harp.  They both produce sounds or music, but if there were not any distinct sequence of notes or sounds, no one else would be able to understand what was being played on these flutes or harps.  Thus, speaking in tongues was like listening to someone play nonsense on a musical instrument like a flute or harp.  It was unintelligible or made no sense, without a patterned sequential sound or note playing.  Speaking in tongues was useless without a sequential language interpreter.  These flute sounds and harp strings are just meaningless noises like tongue speaking.  Loud indistinct music and loud speaking in tongues may be fun or a grace for the one doing it, but for the others, it is annoying.  They have no idea of what is going on.  Do you think that tongue speaking is annoying?

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