1 Corinthians 14:34-40

34 Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak; but they are to be submissive, as the law also says.

35 And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church.

36 Or did the word of God come originally from you? Or was it you only that it reached?

37 If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord.

38 But if anyone is ignorant, let him be ignorant.

39 Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues.

40 Let all things be done decently and in order.

silent (v.34) — In context, this must refer to speaking in tongues, prophesying or otherwise addressing the assembly on spiritual matters, such as those listed in verse 26.

law (v.34) — Genesis 3:16 (see also Ephesians 5:22-24; 1 Timothy 2:12)

In verse 36, Paul is calling the Corinthians to task for behaving as if they were the first and only ones to receive the gospel.

acknowledge (v.37) — tense indicates continuous action

commandments (v.37) — had divine authority

ignorant (v.38) — in reference to “acknowledge” in verse 37 — ignorant of the fact that Paul’s words were authoritative

Verses 39-40 sum up the entire chapter.

Let me sum up the teaching of Paul.

  1. The sign of tongues was a gift of the Holy Spirit to the Corinthians church particularly.

  2. It was more prevalent in the Corinthians church than in any other church, if not exclusively present in Corinth.

  3. It was a special dispensation to weak and untaught believers. The Lord stooped to give them extra evidence because of their ignorance of His Word.

  4. This gift was not for every one, but only a special number, according to God’s own will.

  5. It was never to be used unless it could be interpreted.

  6. It was the least important of all the gifts.

  7. No more than two or three were allowed to speak at any one of the services.

  8. It must be done without disorder or confusion.

  9. It was for men only. The women were to keep silence in the churches.

  10. It was only for a limited time and ceased after the church had the completed Bible. It was an apostolic gift which ceased after the Apostolic Age.

  11. God is far more pleased when we rest our assurance of salvation on the witness of the Holy Spirit in His Word than when we depend upon signs and wonders.

We repeat again the words of our Lord Jesus to Thomas, … because thou has seen Me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed (John 20:29). — DeHaan, pages 158-159.

To DeHaan’s list I would add that tongues were only given by the Holy Spirit when Jews were present, as they were in the Corinthians assembly.

And instead of referring to the time as the Apostolic Age as he does, I would call it the transition period when the Kingdom signs were still being used.

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