Order in the House.
1 Corinthians 14:26-40
But be sure that everything is done properly and in order. – 1 Corinthians 14:40 NLT
Our God is not a god of confusion or chaos. He prefers order and unity. Even in the public assemblies of His people. A study of His design for the Tabernacle in the wilderness gives a clear indication of just how orderly our God is. And yet, when Paul received news regarding the state of affairs with the people of God in Corinth, he was not pleased. Their worship meetings had become disorderly and confusing affairs, marked by competition and pride. Even the use of their spiritual gifts were accomplishing the exact opposite of what they were intended to do. Rather than edify and build up the body, they were causing dissension and disorder. Those who had the gift of prophesy were refusing to take turns, trying to outdo each other. If someone had a revelation from God, they would just begin to speak, rather than wait for the other person to finish. Those with the gift of tongues were all talking at once, without the aid of an interpreter. So the end result was that no one was able to understand a word that was being said. Even the women had gotten into the act. It is obvious from earlier in Paul’s letter, that he did not forbid women from participating in praying or prophesying in public worship. His only requirement, which appears to be a contextual and cultural one, was that they do so with their heads covered (1 Corinthians 11:5). But in this section, it seems that the issue is one regarding their questioning of or spoken response to words of prophesy uttered by others in the congregation. Paul had said, “Let two or three people prophesy, and let the others evaluate what is said” (1 Corinthians 14:29 NLT). It appears that there was a protocol that allows others to examine or even oppose what was said. They could pose questions or raise concerns regarding the individual’s statements. And it seems that some of the women were taking part in this activity, which is what Paul was forbidding when he said, “Women should be silent during the church meetings. It is not proper for them to speak. They should be submissive, just as the law says” (1 Corinthians 14:34 NLT). Again, this appears to be a cultural issue. If a man uttered a word of prophesy, and a woman questioned him in public, it would have been unacceptable and inappropriate. It was common practice in both the Gentile and Jewish cultures for men to question public lectures, but not women. This was in keeping with the cultural mores concerning subordination and headship. So Paul was not forbidding women from using their spiritual gifts, but to refrain from ignoring matters of headship by publicly questioning the words of another man during corporate worship. If they had questions, they were to raise them at home with their husband or father. Again, this all has to do with order, decorum and the overall integrity of the worship service. Which is why Paul ends this section with the words, “But be sure that everything is done properly and in order” (1 Corinthians 14:40 NLT).
You can imagine what it would have been like to have two to three people all speaking in foreign tongues at the same time, only to be interrupted by someone else trying to utter a word of prophesy, while another person tried to speak over them with a word of revelation. It would have been total chaos and confusion. And this was not something Paul was willing to tolerate. It went against the whole purpose for them having come together as the body. It contradicted the very purpose of the gifts. God had equipped His people so that they might build one another up. Their times together were to be well-ordered and for the mutual benefit of the body, not the individual. It was not to be a competition to see who was the most gifted or who had the latest word from the Lord. All was to be done in love and submission. Paul would write later in his letter to the Ephesian believers: “So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise.Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts. And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:15-20 NLT). Worship should never be a show. Musicians should never perform in order to get noticed. Pastors should never preach to get recognized. Prayers should not be prayed to impress others. All should be done to glorify God and to build up the body of Christ. Otherwise, we miss the point altogether.
Father, may all that we do be done in order and with a heart to build up the body of Christ. Never let us make it all about us. Forgive us for our affinity for showmanship and personal recognition. Give us a selfless attitude that desires the well-being of the body over our own personal good. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men