1 Corinthians 12:1-3

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Eoghan

Puritan Board Senior
Paul reminds the Corinthians of their origins in pagan society, particularly the ecstatic aspects of pagan worship. They are again reminded of this in 1 Corinthians 13:1 where the cymbal and gong were widely known well known in cultic worship. (F.F. Bruce p125)

[BIBLE]1 Corinthians 12:1-3[/BIBLE]

I was trying to make sense of the warnings and the obsession with foreign languages. It seems that concern about the validity of foreign languages prompted some sort of question to Paul.

We (by which I mean Reformed cessationists) know that the current charismatic phenomenon is not the genuine article. It can be a learned skill. If so now why not then? This being so I can see people in Corinth speaking in ecstatic speech, self-induced. This would be the logical outcome of human nature and the assimilation of biblical foreign languages into a pagan understanding and experience of pagan ecstatic speech. Paul is extremely restrained in his dealings with idol sacrificed meat. I suspect he is the same with the Corinthian emphasis on tongues.

Every example of tongues elsewhere Acts 2 (Jewish Pentecost) Acts 8 (Samaritan Pentecost) Acts 10 (Gentile Pentecost) and Acts 19 (Johannine Pentecost) signifies the initiation into the Church of other groups. At no time were these gifts actively sought - they were divinely given. This is why Paul describes it as a "sign gift" to the Jews ! Corinthians 14:21-22.

Given the restraint that Paul wishes to impose, it would seem evident that ecstatic speech was the norm at Corinth. Paul effectively puts a stop to this, by demanding silence unless someone can interpret. This obviously requires a prior knowledge that someone will be present to interpret for example Arab or Asian languages.

Knowing that (some?) tongues are most likely false (MacArthur came to the same conclusion) Paul has so corralled the Corinthians as to preclude what would today pass for tongues and seems to have passed for tongues then too.

This solves the problem of what Paul is getting at, with reference to pagan religious practice in verses 1-3 and how Paul can put them in their proper context as sign gifts particularly to the Jews.

Tongues are languages and Paul is a linguist. He can preach in different languages and uses this to good effect in Acts 22:2. Paul therefore speaks of his linguistic ability and that he would rather speak to them a few words they understand than 10,000 in a language they do not. There is no sacred/mystical language here such as the Catholic church used in the Latin Mass.

If prophecy is to truly edify, then it must be the exposition of scripture that is intended (forth-telling) rather than the prophetic foretelling of Agabus.


It seems clear that prophecy can mean different things dependent on context. Likewise glossilalia may refer to foreign languages learned or divinely given for a season. If prophecy is to truly edify then it must be the exposition of scripture that is intended (forth-telling) rather than the prophetic foretelling of Agabus. Therefore in advocating they earnestly desire to prophesy (1 Cor14:1) was Paul advocating they train "for the ministry"? In 1 Timothy 5:17 preaching and teaching is depicted as hard labour - despite it being a spiritual gift!

Thus far I have got in my machinations and no further.

I would be interested to know of anyone else who has perhaps gone a little further in understanding this section of 1 Corinthians or has other light to shine on this.
 
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