I Corinthians 14:2 For anyone who speaks in a tongue[a] does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit. 3 But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort. 4 Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves, but the one who prophesies edifies the church. 5 I would like every one of you to speak in tongues,[b] but I would rather have you prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues,[c] unless someone interprets, so that the church may be edified.
Church is lived out in a relational context. True we are gathered to worship God, but there is a one-another work that God wants to do in any corporate setting.
Looking at verses 2 – 5 Paul is saying that the general tongue of the Spirit is for personal edification but corporate Church is for more than personal edification. In this text he is saying to be much more careful about the use of tongues in the corporate setting compared to the personal setting. In the corporate setting speaking in tongues could be considered as being too self-absorbed. The tongue for the corporate setting comes with some form of interpretation. Now I’m not picking on us over the issue of tongues. I’m only pointing out these passages on the calling we have to edify one another. Mature believers set their hearts on edifying each other. Edifying one-another is much more essential for the corporate gathering – and for the perspective of the believer than we might realize. Let’s go on…
I Corinthians 14:6 Now, brothers and sisters, if I come to you and speak in tongues, what good will I be to you, unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or word of instruction? 7 Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the pipe or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes? 8 Again, if the trumpet does not sound a clear call, who will get ready for battle? 9 So it is with you. Unless you speak intelligible words with your tongue, how will anyone know what you are saying? You will just be speaking into the air. 10 Undoubtedly there are all sorts of languages in the world, yet none of them is without meaning. 11 If then I do not grasp the meaning of what someone is saying, I am a foreigner to the speaker, and the speaker is a foreigner to me. 12 So it is with you. Since you are eager for gifts of the Spirit, try to excel in those that build up the church.
This passage, verses 6-12 is loaded with insight. I like how it ends. Verse 12 is a great verse for us today in modern Pentecost… “try to excel in the gifts that build up the church.” This should be superimposed upon all of our thoughts and behaviors. In the corporate setting we who are mature should make it our goal to build up the whole body and not just seek to please ourselves. This attitude truly won’t harm the true revival and restoration work of the Holy Spirit.