Paul's Passing Thoughts

Exercising Spiritual Gifts in Love – Lesson 3: The Priority of Gifts – Part 1

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on July 31, 2017

The following is part three of a four-part series.
Taken from Andy Young’s third session at the 2016 Conference on Gospel Discernment and Spiritual Tyranny

Click here for lesson oneClick here for lesson twoClick here for part four
(Links to the archived files are found below)


In the first two lessons we’ve worked our way through 1 Corinthians chapters 12 and 13. It is very common to hear lessons on chapter 13 – the great love chapter. It’s a very popular chapter to use in marriage counseling, or something you most likely will get a sermon on at a couples’ retreat. And that can be a very effective use of the passage. It certainly has application to all aspects of life.

But I think if we are going to be responsible students of scripture, if we are going to be good Bereans, if we are going to make any progress in undoing over 500 years of protestant orthodoxy and doublespeak, we need to be very careful to understand the context of every passage. We can no longer just take any text and wrest some application out of it that might make us feel good or might support our pre-suppositions, our assumptions, our theological bias. We must understand that the author of EVERY passage of scripture had a specific message he wanted to communicate. He has a specific context, and if we are going to understand truth we must understand that it can only be found if the application is made in that context, and only in that context. Otherwise we run the risk of doctrinal error. This is what happens when you begin with an assumption and read that assumption into the text (eisegesis), rather than reading the text and drawing the conclusion out of it (exegesis).

So lets continue on where we left off. This entire subject of exercising spiritual gifts in love covers 3 chapters, 12-14.  The entire passage is really a rebuke to the Corinthians. Paul is attempting to correct faulty behavior that has arisen because of bad thinking – bad assumptions. And the bad thinking was the result of bad teaching.

Paul’s rebuke to the Corinthians was that they were being taught to covet tongues. In our first two lessons we explored the reality of being part of the Body of Christ and how we are all members. Our spiritual gift is analogous to the function of a body part. His first argument was that you can’t all be the same body part. The body needs to have all the parts with different functions if it’s going to work properly.

His next argument was that by coveting after tongues you were not showing love because you sought to edify yourself and not the body, and this prompts him to launch into his dissertation on love in chapter 13. At the end of that dissertation, he makes the point that our gifts are merely an installment payment on our inheritance. The Holy Spirit is the down payment, the gifts are an installment, and something better is yet to come – our full reward and inheritance. Tongues is just one of many gifts that have a purpose in the here and now but have no real eternal value.

Now as Paul moves into chapter 14, he starts to get into the practical application of spiritual gifts, specifically comparing and contrasting tongues and prophesy. The whole chapter is devoted to practical examples of the how and why gifts are exercised in love.   Keep in mind the context. He is rebuking the Corinthians for allowing themselves to be swayed by this teaching that tongues are to be coveted after. He picks up once again with that point, and his next argument is that when it comes right down to it, tongues is an inferior gift.

Now that is not to say that tongues has no value. But from a comparative standpoint, tongues is inferior. Remember in lesson one I showed you the list where Paul prioritized the gifts, and in that list tongues was listed last. It’s not to say that tongues does not have value, but there are other gifts that have more value, just like we said the heart is more valuable than the pinky toe. The pinky toe has value. AND, we would not just arbitrarily decide to cut off our pinky toe. But if we had to prioritize parts of the body, we would all agree that some parts are more valuable than others.

What is ironic about all of this is that the Corinthians thought they were being zealous for a very important gift. They all wanted it. And the irony is that in the grand scheme of things, they all wanted to be pinky toes. And Paul begins chapter 14 by driving home this point.

14:1Follow after love, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.”

Look what he’s saying here. You can almost hear the sarcasm in this. He’s just finished making his case that coveting after any gift is not showing love, and that to make that point even more profound, he says, you’re not even coveting the best gift. I mean, if you’re going to covet a gift, you should at least covet prophesy. Prophesy is a superior gift. It’s at the top of that list. So he starts out almost mocking them here.

So this next paragraph he makes his case WHY prophesy is superior and tongues is inferior, why it’s of lesser value. Why tongues is only a pinky toe.

2For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries. 3But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. 4He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the assembly. 5I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the assembly may receive edifying.”

Here’s his point. If you covet prophesy- now again he doesn’t condone this; his whole case is to be thankful for whatever gift the Spirit gives us- but if you covet prophesy it may be for your own benefit, but at least you would also be edifying the whole Body as well. Why? Because everyone would understand what you’re saying. With tongues, no one but you would be edified. Unless there is someone there who can interpret what you’re saying, which implies that someone is present who speaks that language. There is also the implication that the one speaking in tongues doesn’t even know what he’s saying. I’ll talk about that more in a little while.

But go back for a moment. Remember in Acts 2, those who were speaking in tongues were actually speaking real native languages, the vernacular of those Hellenistic Jews who had made the pilgrimage to Jerusalem from different lands. They sounded like native speakers, and the ethnic Jews there thought they were all speaking gibberish because they couldn’t understand them. They said they were drunk. The ethnic Jews in Jerusalem weren’t edified, UNTIL, the Hellenistic Jews told them what they heard and Peter explained the purpose; the fulfillment of Joel 2. Then you can be sure that MANY were edified. Who? The Hellenistic Jews who heard the wonderful works of God in their own language, and the ethnic Jews who saw the sign performed in fulfillment of Joel 2 and believed in the name of Jesus as a result.

As far as the Corinthians go, if we are to make the correct application here by comparing the use of tongues among these Gentiles with how we see tongues used in Acts, if tongues was to serve any edifying purpose, there would have to be Jews present, or there would have to be foreigners present; those who would hear whatever the tongues-speaker was teaching in their own native language. It would seem to me that that would be a valid and consistent use of tongues within the assembly for the purpose of edifying the body.

Now Paul goes on to use himself as an example. Paul says, what if, hypothetically, I came to you speaking in tongues. Here he might even be referencing the first time he ever came to Corinth and brought the gospel to them or any time that he returned to teach them. Paul says what if I came and taught you in a language you didn’t understand?

Or we can make this even more personal. I took 3 years of French in high school. Now I can hardly call myself fluent in French. I can congugate a few verbs and I know a few conversational phrases. But let’s suppose hypothetically that I have the ability to speak French like a native speaker. What if I stood up here right now and started speaking to you in French. Would you be edified? No? Why not? Wouldn’t you be impressed by my ability? Wouldn’t that make you want to speak French, too, so you could impress everyone with how well you can speak French? What’s the motivation? Me trying to impress you with my ability. Is that love? No, and you’re not edified. So Paul uses himself as an example in verse 6. He says:

6Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?”

There is no benefit to you if I speak in tongues. You’re only going to benefit if I teach you in your own language. It has to be something you understand. It has to be clear and distinct. I go back to Acts 2 again. It said the disciples spoke as the spirit gave them utterance. And that word “utterance” was the word αποφθεγγομαι – “ap-off-THENG-oh-my” – to speak forth plainly and distinctly. Now look how Paul emphasizes this idea of being plain and distinct.

7And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped? 8For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? 9So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air.”

See how he’s making this case that tongues is not as important as you think it is? He’s making the case that tongues is an inferior gift. It has a very limited purpose. It is of no benefit to anyone unless it can be understood. He uses the example of a musical instrument. And he uses the phrase that refers to distinct musical notes. Perhaps we can think of it this way. It would be like going to a concert that is supposed to be a Mozart flute concerto, and the flutist, instead of playing Mozart, starts playing Beethoven while the rest of the orchestra is playing Mozart. What are you going to have? It’s going to be an unintelligible mess.

Now the flutist might be giving superior performance. He may be playing Beethoven the best he ever has. He would probably be very impressed with himself. But everyone else in the orchestra will be looking at him like, “Dude, what are you doing?” People in the audience might start booing. They came to hear Mozart. They came to hear a famous flutist. He might be good, but we can’t tell how good he is because he’s doing his own thing. We can’t discern what he’s playing.

Or suppose you have an army back in the days of the American Revolution, and the commanding general wants the reserve battalion to go in and support the front line. And he sends a message to the bugler to play the call to support, and the bugler starts playing “Yankee Doodle.” Now, he might be playing “Yankee Doodle” the best he ever has. But the battalion is going to hear that during battle and they will be like, “What’s that supposed to mean? Are we supposed to charge, are we supposed to retreat, are we supposed to flank right?”  And someone else would reply, ” I don’t know, but man, can that guy play the bugle or what!”

No. It’s useless. It is unintelligible, useless noise. It does not edify anyone except the one doing it, and that is not using your gift in love.

But Paul doesn’t stop there. If nothing else, he is thorough when he develops his arguments. Now he uses tongues as a language itself. And this I think gives even more support to the idea that the gift of tongues is a real spoken, human language. He talks about the importance of language. Look at verse 10:

10There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification.”

None of them is without signification. The word here is αφωνον (a-PHOH-non), and it means “without sound.” He’s referring to all the various languages in the world. Think about all of the languages there are, and none of them are useless. None of them are without meaning. Each language has its own ability to communicate. Each language is able to be understood. Each language is distinct. Now if I can’t understand the language, what does that make me to be? Look at verse 11:

11Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me.”

A barbarian is the term that was used to describe an uneducated or an uncultured person. The people who lived in the remote islands in those regions were separated from Greek and Roman culture, and so they had their own culture and their own language, and they generally didn’t fit in to the Roman society. So this term “barbarian” was a pejorative term that was used for those groups of people. We might say savages. You might think of the way the American Indians were viewed by colonial settlers. So if I start talking to someone in a language he doesn’t understand, I would seem like a savage or a barbarian to him. I would seem as if I were uneducated, like I had no skill in relating to his culture. Just like that flutist who played Beethoven when the rest of the orchestra was playing Mozart.   Everyone would be like, what is the matter with him. He doesn’t know what he’s doing. He’s not a very skilled musician. He’s a barbarian.

And likewise, I might think someone else was a barbarian or uneducated or uncivilized if they tried to communicate to me and I didn’t know what they were saying. And we tend to do that don’t we, if you’ve ever tried to have a conversation with someone who doesn’t have a good grasp of English, and you have a hard time understanding them, don’t you somewhere in the back of your mind, maybe just a little, you kind of think they aren’t very smart.   I think that’s part of human nature, and I think Paul understands that. The ability to communicate is perceived to be indicative of your intelligence. Right or wrong I think that is just a reality of life.

And then in verse 12 here he uses a word I love. Take a look:

12Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the assembly.”

That ye may excel to the edifying of the assembly. The word “excel” is the word περισσευω (peri-syoo-oh), it is literally translated “super-abound.” Not just abound, but SUPERabound! The prefix “peri” means to go over and above. Seek after being “super-abounding” towards the edifying of the body. So, if you’re going to zealous for spiritual gifts, make sure your zealousness is in the right place. Be zealous for gifts insofar as it accomplishes the edifying of the body. Be zealous for that. Not just zealous, but super-abounding!

So going along with this exhortaion that Paul just gave, he now gives some practical instruction for how to carry that out. If someone in the assembly has the gift of tongues, how should he exercise it? How would he use his gift in a way that is done in love so that it edifies the body? Verse 13:

13Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret. 14For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.”

If someone begins speaking in tongues, he should pray for an interpreter. Ok, well that brings up several questions.   I think we need to ask these things. Does the tongue-speaker understand what he’s saying? Because if he does, why doesn’t he just interpret what he just said? I think the implication is that for the most part, the tongue-speaker does NOT understand what he’s saying. But somebody would. Whatever that native language is, someone else who does speak that language would understand it.

Now Paul, says, “let him pray that someone should interpret.” Does that mean he prays in that tongue? If he doesn’t understand what he’s saying how can he pray for an interpreter? Does someone else need to pray for an interpreter?

So there are all these questions, and I don’t know if we can answer them. You know I’m with Paul Dohse on this matter, and this is what we mean when we say we’re coming out of a Protestant dark age. There is so much that we are re-learning here. We’re undoing over 500 years of orthodoxy. But these are the kinds of questions the laity needs to be asking, and we need to be earnestly trying to find out the answers to the kinds of questions.   This is going to take a lot of work, and we are bit by bit trying to put the pieces together.

But I think what the apostle Paul is doing here is setting up a test for authenticity. He’s allowing for a way for those in the assembly to discern if someone who is exercising tongues is exercising a real gift or a counterfeit one.

Let me show you something here real quick. This might be off topic, but it’s a good example to illustrate what I mean. Turn over real quick to 2 Timothy 3:8. In Paul’s second letter to Timothy, in chapter 3 he’s warning about false teachers coming into the assemblies, and he’s describing what they look like, what they do. And then in verse 8 he compares them this way:

“Now as Jannes and Jambres withstood Moses, so do these also resist the truth: men of corrupt minds, reprobate concerning the faith.” ~ 2 Timothy 3:8

Jannes and Jambres, in case you don’t know, are the names traditionally given to Pharaoh’s magicians. You remember what they did. God told Moses to perform certain signs before Pharaoh. He told Moses to throw down Aaron’s rod and it turned into a snake and he picked it up and it turned back into a rod. You remember this. And what happened, they said, oh that’s no big deal, we can do that too, watch. And they threw down their rods and they turned into snakes. Only problem was that Moses snake ate up their snakes.

But the point is, Jannes and Jambres were able to reproduce the same sign that Moses did. The only difference is that what Jannes and Jambres did was counterfeit. 2 Timothy 3:8 uses the word reprobate, but that’s what reprobate means, “counterfeit.” Now you know what counterfeit means right? Think of counterfeit money. It looks real, it’s the same size, has the same markings. It might feel real. And unless you know what to look for, you can’t tell it apart from the real thing. And that’s how Paul describes false teachers to Timothy. They come in looking real, sounding real, they might work some of the same signs or exercise some of the same gifts, but their deception is subtle, and you have to know what to look for.

What if spotting a false teacher was this easy?

You know that’s how the Fed trains people to identify counterfeit money. They don’t study the fake bills. They spend all their time studying the real thing. They get them to the point of being so intimately familiar with what a real bill looks like and feels like that they can tell a fake one immediately. Identifying false teachers takes the same kind of skill, and Paul wants Timothy to be so familiar with sound doctrine that when false teachers come in, they give themselves away immediately!

I think he’s doing the same here with tongues. Because remember we said in lesson one that there must have been some teaching that worked its way in teaching these Corinthian believers to be earnestly seeking after the gift of tongues. They all wanted tongues. And we know that some people should have had the gift already. That’s reasonable to assume. But what about those who didn’t have the gift of tongues but coveted after it? Is it possible that in their desire to speak in tongues that some of them may have developed a counterfeit form of it? In other words, an utterance that was not a real language that could be understood, but was really nothing but gibberish?

So basically here is the test he gives. If someone starts speaking in tongues, if there is no one there who can understand him, then he needs to stop. Plain and simple. If no one understands him, no one is being edified. And here we are right back at the original point. Exercising gifts in love for the purpose of edifying. These statements he makes in these next verses allude to that. Paul shows us a better way. Look at verse 15.

15What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. 16Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say ‘Amen’ at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?”

Got that? This is the better thing to do. If no one can understand you, then be quiet. It’s better that you be understood because that edifies the body. That is love. If you’re praying in an unknown tongue, how can anybody rationally say “Amen” to what you just prayed? He has no idea what you said. It’s vain and meaningless and certainly doesn’t edify anyone.

Now, I like these next verses because here is Paul’s sarcasm coming through again. Verse 17:

17For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified. 18I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all:”

You know what Paul is saying here? This is one of those really confusing verses in the Bible that theologians twist themselves into a pretzel trying to explain it. Really they are trying to make it fit their theology. But the problem is the verse suffers from a really bad translation. And if you look at this verse in the Greek it is understandable. But when it comes right down to it, the answer is very simple. I think Young’s Literal Translation has the best rendering of this verse.

“I give thanks to God – more than you all with tongue-speaking” (YLT)

See what he’s getting at? See he’s giving them the benefit of the doubt. Ok, you might be giving thanks to God praying in that tongue that no one can understand. I’ll give you that, but so what? No one is edified. When I give thanks to God, when I pray, since I’m praying in a language that you speak and understand, everyone is edified. It’s more effective. My thanksgiving to God is more effective than all of you put together with your tongue-speaking.

See that? See how simple that is? That’s all he’s saying. And then he piles on even more. He makes his point even harder. Verse 19:

19Yet in the assembly I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.”

For all the importance you guys put on tongues, I’d rather speak a few words and be understood and have everyone be edified, than make a show of all the words I can speak in an unknown language and not have anyone understand me. Now you tell me which is better? You tell me, which one is showing love? Which is the better way?

…To be continued

Andy Young 2016 Session 3 Archive Video (YouTube) Audio Only (mp3)

Exercising Spiritual Gifts in Love – Lesson 2: What is Love?

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on July 27, 2017

The following is part two of a four-part series.
Taken from Andy Young’s second session at the 2016 Conference on Gospel Discernment and Spiritual Tyranny

Click here for lesson oneClick here for lesson threeClick here for part four
(Links to the archived files are found below)


In part one we began by looking at this idea of a physical body being a metaphor for a spiritual body, specifically the body of Christ. We spent a good deal of time developing this argument and why it is so important to understand, because if we understand that the Body of Christ is just like a physical body it will help us to understand how we must relate to each other in love.

If you want to further study the doctrine of the Body of Christ, the entire book of Ephesians is an excellent study. We looked at one small passage in the last session, but in the entire book of Ephesians, the apostle Paul makes an lengthy argument for the Body of Christ and how believers are to behave with regard to each other. We won’t get into that any more here because our focus is love, but I do want to show you one particular point in Ephesians 5, because this ties in to what we talked about in part one and will help us make the transition into this lesson on chapter 13. One theme that is repeated in the book of Ephesians is this head/body relationship. There is no more Jew and Gentile, but all are now part of one Body that Paul calls the New Man. There is one body and Christ is the Head.

So you have this head-body relationship. And Paul spends 2 or three chapters developing this idea, and then in chapter 5 he gets into the practical application of this. He uses three examples of other head/body relationships. The first is the husband-wife relationship, where the husband is the head of the wife; the parent-child relationship, or the home relationship, where the family unit is the body and the father is the head of the family; and the servant-master relationship, where the master is the head of the servant.

In using the example of the husband-wife relationship, Paul goes to great length to describe how and why husbands are to care for their wives. And it can be summed up in this one passage in Ephesians 5:28-29:

“So (thus, in this manner) ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:”
~ Ephesians 5:28-29

So this is the point. No one hates his own body. We talked about that a little last time. You don’t take a hammer and purposefully hit your thumb. You take care of your body because you love it.  You value life in general, and you value your own life and you take action to protect and preserve your life and your body.  So if the husband and wife are one body, and the husband is the head, he should be just as protective of his wife as he would his own body, because she IS his body. They are one.

So therefore by extension this idea of caring for the body extends to the Body of Christ. The way we love the Body of Christ should be the same as the way we love ourselves. This is nothing new. Jesus said this very thing. You are very familiar with this passage:

“Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” ~ Matthew 22:36-40

Paul reiterated this same sentiment on his great treatise on the law in the book of Galatians.

“For all the law is fulfilled in one word (saying, statement), even in this; ‘Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.’”
~ Galatians 5:14

“Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.”
~ Galatians 6:2

Here the command is directed right at how believers are to care for each other as members of the same Body. But the point is well taken. We are to use the Law to show love to God and to others, especially to other believers. And that is especially important when it comes to the way we conduct ourselves in this life, because the world is watching us. The unsaved are looking at us, and they are very aware of not just the way we treat them, not just our disposition towards them, but especially the way we treat other believers. This is another point repeated in the New Testament over and over.

“Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God…Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.”
~ 1 John 4:7, 11

“Only let your conversation (how you conduct your life) be as it becometh (that which makes something attractive, pleasant, or desirable) the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel;”
~ Philippians 1:27

“Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;”
~ Philippians 2:14-15

“Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.”
~ Ephesians 5:1-2

“From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”
~ Ephesians 4:16

“Love worketh no ill to his neighbour: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”
~ Romans 13:10

“A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.”
~ John 13:34-35

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
~ Matthew 5:16

That last one doesn’t use the word love specifically. But the implication is there isn’t it? What are the good works? Is Jesus not talking about using the Law to show love to others? Is that not the light that Jesus is talking about? The light of our lives that shines into a world full of darkness.

We have all these statements about how believers are to show love to each other and why. And when we get to the end of 1 Corinthians 12, we learn that the Corinthian believers are doing just the opposite when it comes to exercising their spiritual gifts. Paul makes this fantastic argument for how the Body of Christ is just like a physical body. Now you couple that with this truth about we all love our own bodies and we care for them, so the conclusion is that every member of the Body of Christ ought to be taking care of itself.  Every member of the Body should be using his gift to benefit the body; helping the body to grow, caring for the body. But instead of showing love, they are not content with the gift the Jesus gave them through the Holy Spirit. They are all coveting one gift in particular, and that happens to be this gift of tongues.

This is not something that has just arisen spontaneously. We looked at the grammatical construction of verse 31 last time, and it appears that this seems to have been a teaching trend going around in these assemblies. Covet the better gift. Be zealous for the better gift. Don’t be content with just being a pinky toe. This is ironic, because as we saw last time, Paul prioritizes the gifts, and we saw that in the grand scheme of things, tongues is the equivalent of a pinky toe. It’s only a minor gift, but yet they are being taught that they should all want to be pinky toes; that somehow, tongues is really important. This teaching is elevating tongues to a higher level than it really is.

Paul says, no, I’m going to show you the best way. And that brings us to chapter 13 of 1 Corinthians – the great love chapter. We’re going to apply this chapter to the exercising of spiritual gifts, because that was the purpose for Paul writing this. It wasn’t meant to be a standalone treatise on love. It was not meant to be an exhortation to married couples on how to treat each other, although that is a valid application. But there is so much more to this chapter that you miss if you take it out of context. So today I’m going to attempt to put it into it’s proper context, and you will see that the application, Paul’s intent, for this chapter runs far deeper than just marriage counseling.

Remember our context. We are a body, we are to love each other, love the body (because we love our own bodies), care for the body, use our gifts to help edify the body so that we can be equipped to go out and tell people about the gospel of the Kingdom. Paul gives them a rebuke and says here is the best way. He starts out at the beginning of chapter 13 with a series of hypothetical arguments. Now the King James uses the word “charity” but the Greek word is “agape”, so I am going to use the word “love” throughout this chapter.

13:1Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal. 2And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing. 3And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profiteth me nothing.

There are a series of hypothetical situations here. Get this. I want to stress that these are hypothetical. The grammatical structure of these statements tells us they are hypothetical. That’s what’s wonderful about the Greek language. The structure and tense and voice and mood and case of the words provide for us the intended meaning.

In each of the situations that Paul gives in verse 1 through 3, the structure is exactly the same. We have what is called a 3rd class condition. A third class condition has the following structure: you have the Greek word εαν which means “if ever” coupled with a verb in the subjunctive mood. The subjunctive mood is called the “mood of probability.” In English we typically use the words “should or “would” to indicate the subjunctive mood. Take note that the subjunctive mood implies a future tense; something that we might possibly do in the future.

So each of these three verses could be read like this:

If ever I should speak…

If there should ever be a time in the future where I would speak with tongues of men and angels, and I’m not doing it out of a motivation of love for the Body, I am just unintelligible noise.

Now contrast that with what we learned about the gift of tongues from Acts 2 and Acts 10. We learned that the gift of tongues was a literal human language that was meant to be understood by the hearer. It was clear and distinct.

I also want to point out the implied future tense of the passage. Paul is not saying that I DO right now have this gift and that I CAN right now presently speak with some heavenly language of the angels that no one else can. This is a hypothetical situation. He is saying, if it were ever possible, or if the possibility existed that there was some special angelic language, but no one understood me, I am not showing love, and I am nothing but noise. Unintelligible noise. And we know for certain that the gift of tongues was meant to be understood by the hearers so that they could be edified.

That should also give us another clue into what Paul was rebuking them over. Paul is acknowledging that there IS a genuine gift of tongues, but he just spent all this time making the point that everyone has their own gift and that not everyone has the same gift. But they were all coveting some gift of tongues, and it appears that what they were coveting after may have been some counterfeit use of the gift. Do you understand how this could be the case? If they were exercising what they thought was the gift of tongues, and we know for certain that not everyone could have this gift, then it is reasonable to conclude that many of them were exercising some counterfeit form. In which case, they would be uttering nothing but gibberish.

Now look at the next hypothetical argument. This one has to do with prophecy. The word prophecy simply means “to speak before” or “to speak in front of.” Usually we think of this word having to do with the revelation of future events. But prophecy is more broad than that. It can refer to the forth-telling of ANY kind of revelation from God. So in the technical sense of the word, what I am doing right now is prophesying. I am standing in front of you and speaking. I am speaking before you. And while I am not giving you any NEW revelation, I am speaking to you about what God has already revealed in His word.

Now quickly lets look at the next two verses. Because while we are focusing on tongues, Paul does something rather clever here. The poetry in these lines are not just beautiful prose, but they are an intellectual progression. In fact he seems to be addressing the summation of spiritual gifts he just mentioned in chapter 12. I’ll put them in chart here to help us see this.

Spiritual Gift
(1 Corinthians 12)
Contrasting Argument
Wisdom …so that I might understand wisdom…
Knowledge …and that I might understand knowledge…
Faith …if ever I should have faith…
Prophesy …if ever I should have prophecy…
Miracles …so as to transport a mountain…
Tongues …though I speak with tongues…
Helps …if ever I should give all I have to the poor…

Now this is clever the way Paul presents this, because you could take each one of these on its own and you could say whichever gift you have, if you aren’t using it in love it doesn’t do you any good. Let me come back to this idea of “doing us any good” in just a second.

There is also a cumulative effect in his progression of thought. Each statement builds on the next. He says, even if you have this gift, and you add another gift, and then you add another, and then you add another, no matter how many gifts you may have, even if you have every gift possible, if you don’t have love, it doesn’t do you any good.

Now why is that? Well first of all, we should ask, should the spiritual gifts be of any benefit to us personally to begin with? No. Why? Because the gifts are to be used to edify the Body. Why were the Corinthians being taught to covet tongues? Perhaps there was a perceived personal benefit. Personal spiritually because it was a sign of their new birth; a sign of them having the Holy Spirit perhaps. Personal from a social aspect; and here we see a little bit of the caste mentality maybe creeping in, those who had tongues were viewed as more mature, more spiritual, more holy, more whatever, fill in the blank.

Well Paul throws water all over this notion of a personal benefit. In the first place, the whole idea of love is antithetical to personal gain. And he will elaborate on that in the next several verses. And since love should be the motivation, the whole notion of personal benefit becomes moot. And that is his point in these first three verses. The only way you are going to get a personal benefit from your gift would be a by-product of exercising it for the purpose of benefiting the whole body. So you benefit only as the Body benefits together. So if you don’t exercise you gifts in love, all your efforts are fruitless. You are nothing, and you profit nothing.

So what is love then? We are talking about something that is other than seeking your own benefit. Honoring and respecting the rights and the benefits of others. That really is the definition of love.

(Author’s note: It is understood that love and values are closely tied because this is dealing with the philosophical discipline of ethics.  We love someone because we ascribe value to them.  As John Immel taught us in his 2016 TANC sessions, values are the result of individuals seeking out those things necessary to sustain life.  While we would not say that we value/love another person because we directly “feed” off of them to sustain our lives, we do recognize the emotional enrichment certain people bring to our lives, especially those with whom we have close personal relationships.  But fundamentally we ascribe value to others because in others we recognize the value of our own life.)

Paul engages in this very comprehensive discourse now to explain to us what this looks like. What does it look like not just when we are using our gifts in love but just loving God and others in general. I don’t think it needs to be said that “others” doesn’t just mean other believers, but this should apply to the way we show love to unbelievers as well.

The complexity of the poetry in this chapter is astounding. It is a fantastic work. They way Paul organizes his thoughts into a logical progression, builds his argument, and then does so in such a poetic way is such an epic work that can be appreciated for its aesthetics alone.  We’ll take a look at the structure, but before we do that I want to do a quick word study on these verses. Let’s take a quick look at each of these – let’s call them characteristics of love – and then we’ll dissect the poetical structure.

“Suffereth long”
μακροθυμει (mak-ROTH-oo-my) – To be long-spirited. Forbearing or patient. Love hangs in there for the long run.

“Is kind”
χρηστευνεται (chray-STYOO-neh-tie) – Derived from the word χρηομαι (CHRAY-oh-my), and this has to do with the hand in the sense where one is furnishing that which is needed. “Lending a hand”. To show oneself useful. Acting useful. Benevolent. Love does what is needed for another’s benefit.

“Envieth not”
ου ζηλοι (oo dzay-loy) – “oo” being the negative particle meaning “no” or “not”. “Dzay-loy” is derived from the word which means “heat”. To be boiling with heat. Zeal in an unfavorable sense. “Hot headed”; petulant. Love does not behave like a petulant child who doesn’t get his way.

“Vaunteth not itself”
ου περπερευεται (per-per-you-eh-tie) – The prefix “peri” has the meaning of going beyond or further. The double use of “per” in this word gives emphasis of going farther beyond what is necessary, which is what a braggart does. Giving oneself more honor than one should; elevating oneself. Love does not boast, brag, or elevate itself.

“Is not puffed up”
ου φυσιουται (foo-see-OO-tie) – This comes from the root word φυω (foo-oh) meaning to swell up or grow. To inflate or puff up. Used figuratively, to become proud. Love is not proud.

“Doth not behave itself unseemly”
ουκ ασχημονει (ah-SCHAY-mo-nie) – A compound word with the negative particle “a” meaning “no” or “without” and a derivative of two closely related words; εχω (ech-oh) which means to possess some ability, and σχημα (schay-ma) which is some figure, form, or pattern. Literally, it means “not being able to possess its form.” If someone is behaving in a manner that is considered indecent, he is not behaving the way one would expect him to.  Love behaves in a way that would be congruent with what one should expect of love.

“Seeketh not her own”
ου ζητει τα εαυτης (“oo DZAY-tie ta heh-OW-tays) – Literally, “not seek of herself”. The key word in this expression is ζητει (dzay-tie), and it has the idea of plotting or making a plan. But it is also used as a “Hebraism” (a Jewish idiom or figure of speech) to indicate worship to God. Either meaning has application. Love does not plan for its own self-interest. Love does not worship itself.

“Is not easily provoked”
ου παροξυνεται (par-ox-OO-na-tie) – A compound word from the prefix παρα (para), meaning along or beside, and οξυς (ox-zoos) meaning keen or sharp or swift. Literally, “to sharpen beside.” To make “on edge”. If you think about this figuratively, if someone is “on edge” they are irritated or frustrated. Love does not become frustrated quickly. Think about how this is related to the first quality of “suffering long”.

“Thinketh no evil”
ου λογιζεται το κακον (oo log-idz-eh-tie to ka-kon). The key word in this expression is λογιζεται (log-id-zeh-tie), and it means to take an inventory. Love does not take an inventory of evil. Or as Paul Dohse says, “don’t keep a sin list.”

“Rejoiceth not in iniquity”
ου χαιρει επι τη αδικια (oo CHAI-rie epi tay ah-di-KEE-ah) – The word αδικια (ah-di-kee-ah) is a compound word from the negative particle “a” meaning “no” or “without”, and the word δικη (dee-kay) meaning right or just. So this expression literally means “not cheerful about unjustness.” Love does not show joy over unrighteousness.

“Rejoiceth in the truth”
συγχαιρει δε τη αληθεια (soon-CHAI-rie deh tay a-lay-THIE-ah) – The word for truth is interesting;  “a-lay-thee-ah”.  It is a compound word from a negative particle “a” meaning “no” or “without”, and the word “lathano” which means “to lie hidden” or “to be ignorant”. Truth in this sense is literally that which is no longer hidden, or something revealed. Truth is the opposite of ignorance. But notice now that the word “rejoice” translated here has the prefix “soon” before it. The prefix “soon” means “together”. In this one statement, we are to understand that two things are joyful; love AND truth. Each are dependent upon the other. Love shares a joyful symbiotic relationship with truth.

Paul sums up his dissertation on love with four concluding statements.

“Beareth all things”
παντα στεγει (PAN-ta steh-GEH-ee) – Literally, “to roof over”, that is, “to cover with silence”. In other words, to keep quiet about something. Think about how this relates to “suffering long” and “not taking an inventory of evil”. Love does not bring up past wrongs. It is all-enduring.

“Believeth all things”
παντα πιστευει (PAN-ta pis-tyoo-EH-ee) – To have faith in someone or something. To have faith in someone means that you assume the best about them. Love does not automatically think the worst about others. It is all-believing.

“Hopeth all things”
παντα ελπιζει (PAN-ta el-PID-zie) – To anticipate with joyful expectation. The Greek word for “hope” does not describe a wishful sort of thinking. It is a looking forward to with absolute certainty, like a child anticipates Christmas morning. He knows it’s going to happen. Love anticipates with certainty the best from others. It is all-expecting.

“Endureth all things”
παντα υπομενει (PAN-ta hoo-poh-MEH-nie) – A compound word from the prefix “hupo”, meaning “under” and the word “meno”, meaning “to stay or remain”. Literally, “to remain under” like the foundation or some other supporting structure. The implications here are both one of submission but also one of support. Love remains supporting even when it has been wronged. It is all-supporting.

Something you should notice about chapter 13 is that there is a distinct change in the literary style. In chapter 12, Paul’s style was logical and conversational. But Paul’s Hebrew cultural influence becomes apparent in chapter 13 as he switches to a very poetic style. One of the most defining characteristics of Hebrew poetry is parallelism. This can be seen in Psalms, where the writer expresses a thought and then restates that same though another way in the next line. The thoughts can either be comparative or contrasting. Paul uses a more complex form of parallelism called inverse parallelism, and you can see it here in 1 Corinthians 13:7. The relationship between these four aspects of love looks like this:

With inverse parallelism, what you have is a structure where the two outer statements are related, and the two inner are related. Rather than just a simple parallelism where you have a statement followed by a restatement or a contrasting statement. Here is another way you can look at it.


Paul uses parallelism as a poetic way to express his thoughts by restating the same idea in a different way in order to make his point understood. If you look closely at the definitions you will see that the ideas of “bearing” and “enduring” are very much the same thought. Love does not bring up past wrongs (all-bearing/enduring); The parallel thought is, it remains supporting even when it has been wronged (all-enduring/supporting). It endures those wrongs. Likewise, the ideas of “believing” and “hoping” are also very much the same thought. Love does not automatically think the worst (all-believing), and the parallel thought is, it anticipates the best with certainty (all-hoping/expecting).

In fact, if you go back and consider the first 8 characteristics of love in verses 4 through 6, they are also arranged in a much larger and even more complex inverse parallelism construct. Let me show you what that looks like.

But, here you have the first 8 characteristics of love. And I’ve drawn brackets around the lines of parallel thought, and you can see how they are nested inside of each other. This is a good way to help you visualize the lines of parallel thought.

Look also at this group in the middle that actually begins with the last clause of verse 5 and includes verse 6. Paul says love “thinketh no evil,” and then to reinforce that statement, he uses a pair of parallel statement to clarify it or enhance or embellish what he means by that. In what way does love not think evil?

Now the structure of the chapter changes again here. And I want us to try and see the parallelism. Paul makes a grand summarizing statement about love and then contrasts that with three examples. So what is the grand summarizing statement? One generalized, overall characteristic of love.

Love never fails.

ουδεποτε εκπιπτει (oo-deh-POH-teh ek-PIP-tie) – The word for “faileth” is a compound word from the prefix “ek”, meaning “out of” and the word “pipto”, meaning “to fall”, literally or figuratively. In this sense, it does not describe something that comes to an end, but rather something that no longer measures up to a perceived standard of excellence. Love will never let another down. Another way to think about this is that love will never not live up to its expectations.

BUT! Compare that to other things. And Paul uses three examples, and notice that he chooses three spiritual gifts to use as examples. Take note of the progression.

8Love never faileth: but

whether there be prophecies, they shall fail;
καταργεω (kat-ar-GEH-oh) – to be rendered entirely useless

whether there be tongues, they shall cease;
παυω (POW-oh) – to pause or stop

whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away.
καταργεω (kat-ar-GEH-oh) – to be rendered entirely useless

I’m not sure why the translators of the King James used a different expression for the same word, but they did. I think they took some liberties with the poetry there to make it seem to say something it doesn’t. But what I do want to mention is that all three of these verbs are in the passive voice. That means the subject is the recipient of the action. So prophecies don’t just fail, prophecies will be rendered entirely useless.  Tongues don’t just cease, tongues will be stopped.  Knowledge doesn’t just vanish away. Knowledge will be rendered entirely useless.

Now Paul has only referenced three gifts here. He could have used all of them couldn’t he? But usually when you’re making an argument it is sufficient to cite three examples. So really, what Paul is saying about these three gifts can really be said about all the gifts can’t they? Why is that? What do you suppose Paul is getting at? What’s his point?

I think the point is the temporary nature of spiritual gifts. All of them. And I don’t mean temporary from standpoint of any given age or dispensation or era, but temporary in the sense that we shouldn’t make more out of gifts that what is intended. The transient nature of gifts. Again, what is the purpose of gifts? It is for mutual edification of the Body. Not for the edification of the individual. The Body isn’t always going to be here. One day it’s going to be taken in the rapture, or individual members are doing to die and await the resurrection, so you can already see this transient nature of spiritual gifts. They only serve a rather immediate purpose only.

So I think what Paul is getting at here is that it’s foolish to spend all this time coveting after something that you can’t have in the first place, is of no benefit to you personally, and is really only temporal in nature for the time that you are here in this world fellowshipping with the Body of Christ.

To drive home this point, Paul takes each of the three examples and develops each of them with a now/then comparison. So here we see the parallelism come into play again. Using this kind of comparison he going to show the incompleteness of each gift, and you will see the transient, temporal nature of spiritual gifts; how they serve a purpose now, but something better is coming.

So here’s the first one, in verses 9 and 10:

9For we know in part, and we prophesy in part.
10
But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away.”

So what is the “now”? What is true about now? Knowledge and prophesy are incomplete. The word in the Greek actually refers to it as an installment. And that is really interesting the way Paul puts this. What does Paul call the Holy Spirit elsewhere in the New Testmant? Doesn’t he refer to the Holy Spirit as the “earnest” of our inheritance? What is an earnest? That’s an Old English term that means like a down payment. It’s a good faith payment that signifies that the rest of the payment in full is coming. Now isn’t it interesting to think of spiritual gifts as an installment. So God has an inheritance waiting for us. But He didn’t give it to us all at once. He gave us a down payment on it when He gave us the Holy Spirit, and He made an installment payment when He gave us our spiritual gifts.

Isn’t that an even more important reason why we should not covet after someone else’s gift? It’s a payment that isn’t ours. It’s not owed to us. It’s owed to someone else. Do you think we should covet after someone else’s installment payment that’s really owed to them? So for now, gifts are only a partial payment, but something better is coming.

THEN, something perfect is coming. The word here for “perfect” actually means mature or complete. So, why settle for a partial payment when the complete payment is yet to come? When we get our inheritance, the partial payment, the installment, the gift, is no longer needed. So NOW, we have only an installment, but THEN full and complete reward.

Ok, next one. Verse 11:

11When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child:
but when I became a man, I put away childish things.”

And this one builds on this idea of maturity or completeness. I used to be a child. I talked, behaved, and though like a child did because I was immature. I was not grown up yet. But I grew up and became a man, and so I don’t behave like a child anymore. So here is a great metaphor that Paul uses to make this point. We understand this. We understand what it means to grow up. So NOW, restating this idea of incompleteness, NOW we are not mature or complete, but THEN, one day in the future, we will be mature and complete. So let’s understand that these gifts that we are coveting after that we think are so important and we place such significance on, in the grand scheme of things, one day we are going to put them away. They are childish. Not childish in the sense of pettiness, but childish in the sense of being not complete or not mature. Maturity should be our goal. That’s where our aim should be.

Last one. Verse 12:

12For now we see through a glass, darkly;
but then face to face:
(now I know in part;
but then shall I know even as also I am known.)”

Notice this one even has a parenthetical thought inside of it, another parallel thought that restates this parallel thought. What is the “now”? NOW we see through a glass darkly. And we can assume that this implies knowledge, but we don’t have to assume because he tells us in the parenthesis, my knowledge is incomplete. Now I know in part. With that word for “in part” he again refers to it as an installment. I don’t have full knowledge.   It is like looking at my reflection in a foggy mirror.  If I have the gift of knowledge, guess what, it’s only an installment payment. There is more coming.

Well when will that be? THEN – face to face. When I see the Father face to face I will be complete. How complete will I be? “Even as I am known.” Everything God knows about me – which is everything. God knows everything about me, so we will know just like God knows about us. The suggestion here is that we’ll know everything God knows.

You see why love is so important? You see why Paul rebukes the Corinthians. Let’s put our gifts into perspective. There is something better coming. Don’t get so hung up on the here and now. Just love each other and don’t worry about what everyone else has.

You know I heard a good saying some weeks ago. I can’t remember who said it, but I use it with my kids at meal time. You know how kids are, kids are all about fairness, so they always get stressed out if one of their siblings is taking too much corn, or too many potatoes, or the bigger piece of chicken. But I heard this, and this is what I tell them. Don’t look into your neighbor’s bowl to see if he has too much. Look into you neighbor’s bowl to make sure he has enough. And I though, what a great statement! That’s what love is about. Not coveting after what your neighbor has and comparing it with what you don’t have. No, love says, hey brother, do YOU have enough?

Paul says the spiritual gifts are only an installment. They have a purpose only for now, to edify the body. The full payment is coming.

But there is something that is going to stay. There is something that IS now and will remain forever. What is of lasting value? There are three things.

Faith, Hope, and Love.

And out of all of these, the greatest is love. Why is love the greatest? Because love fulfills the law. Love is the antithesis of fear.  Fear is all about condemnation and judgment and death. But love is all about life!

…To be continued

Andy Young 2016 Session 2 Archive Video (YouTube)  Audio Only (mp3)

Why Are You “Dissing” the Church?

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on May 24, 2016

Originally published April 16, 2015

andy-profile-1Leaving the institutional church has been one of the best decisions our family has made. Granted, there are the social aspects that we miss (my wife especially, she’s a people person), but it doesn’t take much searching to admit that real friendships have to be based on more than just a weekly formal gathering. Want to know who your real friends are? Just try leaving your church for whatever reason. See how many of them still keep in contact with you. In fact, it was a comment very similar to that which I posted on Facebook a few weeks ago, which prompted quite a debate.

There is a young man with whom I am friends, let’s call him “Trevor”. I have personally known Trevor for many years. Trevor has come to me with many questions about some of the things I post on Facebook, and we have had some very edifying discussions. We’ve talked at length about the differences between Justification and Sanctification. He is genuinely seeking answers, and I am grateful for the opportunities to help disciple him.

But a few weeks ago, Trevor sent me the following private message on Facebook:

 “Hey Andy I keep seeing you dissing on churches and even though you are probably right why not use your intelligence and abilities on helping teach people about God. There are a lot of people who need God that I’m sure are reading that and when people see hostility amongst Christians towards other Christians it turns them off to it completely and isn’t that contradictory to what we want for people”

I understand the motivation behind his response, and I don’t hold it against him. It is typical from anyone who sits under the orthodoxy of the institutional church. Trevor has probably even spoken with his pastor about some of these issues I’ve brought up, and maybe this response comes after the result of one of those conversations. Either way, his tone of concern is well noted and appreciated. So below you will find my response to Trevor. I apologize that it is rather lengthy, but I hope that it will be edifying.

 Dear Trevor,

 I’m sure you will agree that it is hard to give a full-orbed treatise within the confines of a simple Facebook status message. It doesn’t lend itself well for going into details. So the goal is to try and make your point in the most direct and concise manner possible. For that reason, a simple matter-of-fact statement may come across as curt and abrasive. That is unavoidable. Nevertheless, statements such as these should prompt people to think. But often times, rather than think, people respond defensively because they automatically assume I am attacking them. I am not attacking people, I am challenging ideas. But most people are too lazy to differentiate the two because they have too much ego invested in their ideas, and therefore take any attack on an idea as a personal attack. This is true of both Christians and non-Christians alike. And actually I have found that those who call themselves “Christian” have an even greater tendency toward ego investment, and there is a very good explanation for that, which leads me to the next point.

 When you challenge what a “Christian” has traditionally been taught, you are indeed challenging their very salvation. And this is a frightening prospect for them. But it is for this very reason that these notions need to be challenged, because what it boils down to is that their faith is in a “belief system” rather than belief in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. That which passes for “the church” is the very embodiment of this belief system. Is it any wonder then that people have such a knee jerk reaction? For someone to even raise the question that what they have been taught might be wrong scares the crap out of them!

 This is why I criticize the institutional church, because it embodies this system that has kept people in the spiritual dark ages for centuries! The institutional church is based on “authority”, and the system is needed to maintain the authority. But this is so contrary to scripture. There is to be no authority among the brethren of Christ. Christ is the authority! And he is the only mediator between God and man. Now that is not to say that there is not leadership, but leadership is not the same as authority. Authority implies “power”, while leadership implies “example”. But the emphasis within the traditional “church” model is predicated on power and authority, and everything that happens within the confines of these institutions is designed to maintain that power structure. It has been that way since the very early beginnings of the Roman Catholic church in the 4th century. And Protestantism is no different.

 I see many good genuine Christian people languishing away within the walls of the institutional church, and it grieves me deeply, for there are eternal consequences at stake. Not as far as salvation goes, but with regard to eternal rewards. You have spiritually illiterate Christians looking to some authority to tell them what to believe, who have never been equipped to carry out the task that was given to them from the first day they were born again- to go out and make disciples. They are not exercising their gifts. Instead they hide their talent in the ground, waiting for the Master to return and say, “here Lord, here’s what you gave me.” And there will be no eternal reward for them. And the church is purposefully keeping them in this state of immaturity. How I long for believers to realize their full potential as Children of God! But that will never happen in the “church”. The church serves itself.

 So, even having said all of that, I still haven’t fully been able to explain the depth of this all. But your concern is how this arguing among believers will turn off others. I contend that what turns of the unsaved is not the fact that they see Christians argue, but rather that Christians don’t even know what they believe.   Furthermore, what they do claim to believe is not even rational. Christianity for the past 1500 years has simply failed to produce a fully rational explanation for why someone should believe in Jesus. There must be more to it that just, “well you just have to have faith.” Faith must be grounded in reality. So we don’t simply lay aside arguments regarding contending for truth just for the sake of presenting the illusion of a unified front to the world.

 In addition, the traditional excuse for evangelism is simply nothing more than who has the better sales pitch for getting someone to attend their church versus another. This ties in directly with the notion of salvation being in the church. Christians are more interested in getting people into their church than they are with teaching people about the gospel of the Kingdom. By definition, the church cannot be comprised of unbelievers. The body of Christ, the “assembly”, is only made up of believers. The purpose of believers assembling is for edification, and that happens by four functions: instruction in the word, fellowship, sharing meals (including the Lord’s table), and praying together. (Acts 2:42). How can an unbeliever possibly be any part of that? He shares nothing in common. He is not a part of the Body. 2 Corinthians 6:14-15 says, “Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?” Unbelievers have no part in the fellowship of God’s people.

 Now the excuse has been that we need to bring unsaved to church so that they can get saved. But that is simply a lazy excuse for evangelism. It is not what Christ’s instructions were. Believers gather in fellowship to be edified. Having then been properly equipped, WE can go OUT into the world to take the gospel TO the lost so that they can HEAR it from US. Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. How then shall they believe in whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they be SENT? (Romans 10:14-15, 17) Every believer is a preacher- and ambassador from God’s heavenly Kingdom – sent forth with the message of reconciliation to the world. It is our mandate as individuals, NOT the function of an institution!

 And so seeing how the “church” has utterly failed in every way in all of these areas, I hope you can better understand now why I have such disdain for it and am so critical of it. But the answer is not reform. It doesn’t need to be reformed, it needs to be defeated because it is not what God intended for His people. The answer is, to come out from among them and be separate. And that is what I have done, and that is what I want to encourage all believers to do. Come out from this institution and join in genuine fellowship with other like-minded believers and start exercising your gifts. There is no horizontal authority between men among believers. All authority is in Christ.

 Andy

 

 

 

What is Love?

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on February 11, 2016

“Love (agape) suffereth long, and is kind; love (agape) envieth not; love (agape) vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil; rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Love (agape) never faileth:”
~ 1 Corinthians 13:4-8

This passage of scripture is one of the most well-know sections of the Bible. It is most often referred to as the great love chapter, and often the chapter is used in the context of marriage. And while it certainly has application to married couples, the apostle Paul had a much larger context in mind when he began his treatise.

The context actually begins in chapter 12 and extends through chapter 14 of 1 Corinthians. Paul was addressing a specific problem in the assemblies in Corinth and the province of Achaia. The issue was with regard to spiritual gifts among believers, and there were those who regarded certain gifts as more important or of higher esteem than others. More specifically, the Corinthians viewed tongues as the most important gift, and so if you didn’t speak in tongues, then you were considered a lower-class of believer. As a result, everyone wanted to speak in tongues. In 1 Corinthians 12:31 he said you earnestly covet the best gifts (or what they thought were the best). But Paul rebuked them by showing them that this was not loving behavior. This is what prompts the apostle to launch into his in-depth dissertation on the definition and characteristics of love. Let’s consider each one of these characteristics in detail.

“Suffereth long”
μακροθυμει (mak-roth-oo-my) – To be long-spirited. Forbearing or patient. Love hangs in there for the long run.

“Is kind”
χρηστευνεται (chray-styoo-neh-tie) – Derived from the word χρηομαι (chray-oh-my), having to do with the hand in a sense where one is furnishing that which is needed. “Lending a hand”. To show oneself useful. Acting useful. Benevolent. Love does what is needed for another’s benefit.

“Envieth not”
ου ζηλοι (oo dzay-loy) – “oo” being the negative particle meaning “no” or “not”. “Dzay-loy” is derived from the word which means “heat”. To be boiling with heat. Zeal in an unfavorable sense. “Hot headed”; petulant. Love does not behave like a petulant child who doesn’t get his way.

“Vaunteth not itself”
ου περπερευεται (per-per-you-eh-tie) – The prefix “peri” has the meaning of going beyond or further. The double use of “per” in this word gives emphasis of going farther beyond what is necessary, which is what a braggart does. Giving oneself more honor than one should; elevating oneself. Love does not boast, brag, or elevate itself.

“Is not puffed up”
ου φυσιουται (foo-see-oo-tie) – From the root word φυω (foo-oh) meaning to swell up or grow. To inflate or puff up. Used figuratively, to become proud. Love is not proud.

“Doth not behave itself unseemly”
ουκ ασχημονει (ah-schay-mo-nie) – A compound word with the negative particle “a” meaning “no” or “without” and a derivative of two closely related words; εχω (ech-oh) which means to possess some ability, and σχημα (schay-ma) which is some figure, form, or pattern. Literally, it means not being able to possess its form. If someone is behaving in a manner that is considered indecent, he is not behaving the way one would expect him to. Love behaves in a way that would be congruent with what one should expect of love.

“Seeketh not her own”
ου ζητει τα εαυτης (“oo dzay-tie ta heh-ow-tays) – Literally, “not seek of herself”. The key word in this expression is ζητει (dzay-tie), and it has the idea of plotting or making a plan. But it is also used as a “Hebraism” (a Jewish idiom or figure of speech) to indicate worship to God. Either meaning has application. Love does not plan for its own self-interest. Love does not worship itself.

“Is not easily provoked”
ου παροξυνεται (par-ox-oo-na-tie) – A compound word from the prefix παρα (para), meaning along or beside, and οξυς (ox-zoos) meaning keen or sharp or swift. Literally, to sharpen beside. To make “on edge”. If someone is “on edge” they are irritated or frustrated. Love does not become frustrated quickly. Think about how this is related to the first quality of “suffering long”.

“Thinketh no evil”
ου λογιζεται το κακον (oo log-idz-eh-tie to ka-kon). The key word in this expression is λογιζεται (log-id-zeh-tie), and it means to take an inventory. Love does not take an inventory of evil. Or as Paul Dohse says, “don’t keep a sin list.”

Rejoiceth not in iniquity
ου χαιρει επι τη αδικια (oo chai-rie epi tay ah-di-kee-ah) – The word αδικια (ah-di-kee-ah) is a compound word from the negative particle “a” meaning “no” or “without”, and the word δικη (dee-kay) meaning right or just. So this expression literally means “not cheerful about unjustness.” Love does not show joy over unrighteousness.

“Rejoiceth in the truth”
συγχαιρει δε τη αληθεια (soon-chai-rie deh tay a-lay-thie-ah) – The word for truth is interesting. It is a compound word from a negative particle “a” meaning “no” or “without”, and the word “lathano” which means “to lie hidden” or “to be ignorant”. Truth in this sense is literally that which is no longer hidden, or something revealed. Truth is the opposite of ignorance. But notice now that the word “rejoice” translated here has the prefix “soon” before it. The prefix “soon” means “together”. In this one statement, we are to understand that two things are joyful; love AND truth. Each are dependent upon the other. Love shares a joyful symbiotic relationship with truth.

Paul sums up his dissertation on love with four concluding statements.

“Beareth all things”
παντα στεγει (pan-ta steh-geh-ee) – Literally, “to roof over”, that is, “to cover with silence”. In other words, to keep quiet about something. Think about how this relates to “suffering long” and “not taking an inventory of evil”. Love does not bring up past wrongs. It is all-enduring.

“Believeth all things”
παντα πιστευει (pan-ta pis-tyoo-eh-ee) – To have faith in someone or something. To have faith in someone means that you assume the best about them. Love does not automatically think the worst about others. It is all-believing.

“Hopeth all things”
παντα ελπιζει (pan-ta el-pid-zie) – To anticipate with joyful expectation. The Greek word for “hope” does not describe a wishful sort of thinking. It is a looking forward to with absolute certainty, like a child anticipates Christmas morning. He knows it’s going to happen. Love anticipates with certainty the best from others. It is all-expecting.

“Endureth all things”
παντα υπομενει (pan-ta hoo-poh-meh-nie) – A compound word from the prefix “hupo”, meaning “under” and the word “meno”, meaning “to stay or remain”. Literally, “to remain under”. The implications here are both one of submission but also one of support. Love remains supporting even when it has been wronged. It is all-supporting

Something you should notice about chapter 13 is that there is a distinct change in the literary style. To this point, Paul’s style has been logical and conversational. But Paul’s Hebrew cultural influence becomes apparent in chapter 13 as he switches to a very poetic style. One of the most defining characteristics of Hebrew poetry is parallelism. This can be seen in Psalms, where the writer expresses a thought and then restates that same though another way in the next line. The thoughts can either be comparative or contrasting. Paul uses a more complex form of parallelism called inverse parallelism, and you can see it here in 1 Corinthians 13:7. The relationship between these four aspects of love looks like this:inverse parallel 1
If you go back and consider the commentary we just discussed on each expression, you should notice how closely the inner two characteristics are related and how closely the outer two are related. Another way to see this inverse parallelism is like this:

inverse parallel 2
Paul uses parallelism as a poetic way to express his thoughts by restating the same idea in a different way in order to make his point understood. If you look closely at the definitions you will see that the ideas of “bearing” and “enduring” are very much the same thought. Love does not bring up past wrongs (all-bearing/enduring); it remains supporting even when it has been wronged (all-enduring/supporting). It endures those wrongs. Likewise, the ideas of “believing” and “hoping” are also very much the same thought. Love does not automatically think the worst (all-believing), but it anticipates the best with certainty (all-hoping/expecting).

In fact, if you go back and consider the first 8 characteristics of love in verses 4 through 6, they are also arranged in a much larger and even more complex inverse parallelism construct, where one is related to eight, two is related to seven, three is related to six, and four is related to five. Here is a summary of all the characteristics of love just discussed. To help you better see the parallelism just described, I have grouped them accordingly.

Love hangs in there for the long run.
        Love does what is needed for another’s benefit.
                Love does not behave like a petulant child who doesn’t get his way.
                        Love does not boast, brag, or elevate itself.
                        Love is not proud.
                Love behaves in a way that would be congruent with what one should expect of love.
        Love does not plan for its own self-interest; it does not worship itself
Love does not become frustrated quickly.

 

Love does not take an inventory of evil.
        Love does not show joy over unrighteousness.
        Love shares a joyful symbiotic relationship with truth.

 

Love does not bring up past wrongs. It is all-enduring.
        Love does not automatically think the worst about others. It is all-believing.
        Love anticipates with certainty the best from others. It is all-expecting.
Love remains supporting even when it has been wronged. It is all-supporting.

 

Love will never let another down!

Paul’s final statement on love in verse 8 has no parallel line of though with it, but rather it becomes the opening statement to a series of contrasts which we won’t discuss here. Nevertheless, it is still a characteristic of love worth considering.

“Never faileth”
ουδεποτε εκπιπτει (oo-deh-poh-teh ek-pip-tie) – The word for “faileth” is a compound word from the prefix “ek”, meaning “out of” and the word “pipto”, meaning “to fall”, literally or figuratively. In this sense, it does not describe something that comes to an end, but rather something that no longer measures up to a perceived standard of excellence. Love will never let another down.

Think about how these characteristics apply to the use of spiritual gifts among believers. The purpose of gifts is for the mutual edification of the Body of Christ so that each of us may be properly equipped to tell others the good news of the Kingdom. If we are distracted being envious or jealous over each others’ gift or preoccupied over petty disputes or offences toward each other, then we have disqualified ourselves from serving our Father in the mandate He has given us as ambassadors.

Furthermore, think about how love is the antithesis of control. Love does not change behavior by controlling another. It persuades. If we are preoccupied trying to control others, we are not loving them. I am reminded again of the second greatest commandment; love thy neighbor as thyself. Have you ever noticed that it doesn’t say love your neighbor MORE than yourself? No man hates himself. In fact, we are pretty good at loving ourselves. God’s word says to love others JUST AS MUCH AS you love yourself! This means, treat another the same way you want to be treated. That is the definition of love.

Andy

The Life of the Believer is Logical, Reasonable, Practical, and Objective

Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on July 27, 2015

https://paulspassingthoughts.com/More than anything, Christ reasoned with people. More than anything, Christ challenged people to think and ponder. One of His favorite introductions to challenging people to think was, “What do you think?” followed by a parable or an example from everyday life.

When Christ began to preach the good news of the kingdom, the Jewish culture was mired in spiritual caste and mysticism. The straightforward commonsense practicality of The Sermon on the Mount, a transcript of Christ’s “good news of the kingdom of God” was utter culture shock. Christ spoke directly to their responsibility in understanding kingdom living and cited NO earthly authority whatsoever. It also demonstrates the kingdom’s mode of operation in regard to present ambassadorship: one head instructing common folks for a common goal.

Christ completely bypassed the spiritual hierarchy of that day as he would in our day if He walked among us as He once did. He wouldn’t contact the Pope, he wouldn’t contact Al Mohler, He wouldn’t contact John Piper; He would take His mandate directly to the common people who are organized and energized by individual gifts—NOT authority.

The institutional church in our day is a mirror image of that day’s spiritual caste; whether the Pope or the Neo-Calvinists, they are no less the contemporary Pharisees and Sadducees of our day. Be sure of this: spiritual authority is ALWAYS accompanied by the idea that God has mediated knowledge through preordained human agencies in addition to Christ. And also be sure of this: spiritual authority will ALWAYS result in illiterate kingdom knowledge and living at best, and cultic tyranny at worst. The supposedly meek pastor is no less a tyrant for disarming you with ignorance that doesn’t even have an ability to ask the right questions.

The apostle Paul could not have been clearer on this as he used the human body to illustrate the function of Christ’s assembly; body parts don’t have authority, they have function. The right hand can tell the bladder to behave itself till the cows come home, but if the bladder is not doing its job, the right hand is wasting its breath (1Corinthians 12). The assembly of believers operate as a body, not an institution. Proper function leads to organized productivity, wellbeing, the advancement of the gospel, and the glory of God.

Christ offered His body once so that we may follow Him in the death and resurrection of the new birth. Once we are born again, our “reasonable (logikos: logical) service” is to offer our bodies as a living sacrifice for the kingdom. Paul’s use of words in Romans 12:1 is stunningly practical. In contrast, cultures have traditionally seized on hokey gimmicks of every sort offered by cultic mediators to bring spiritual manifestations down to earth for our experiential enjoyment or escape from the responsibility of real life. In the first century, as today, the misrepresentation of speaking in tongues is certainly no exception.

1 Corinthians 14:1 – Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy. 2 For one who speaks in a tongue speaks not to men but to God; for no one understands him, but he utters mysteries in the Spirit. 3 On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. 4 The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church. 5 Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up.

6 Now, brothers, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I benefit you unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching? 7 If even lifeless instruments, such as the flute or the harp, do not give distinct notes, how will anyone know what is played? 8 And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle? 9 So with yourselves, if with your tongue you utter speech that is not intelligible, how will anyone know what is said? For you will be speaking into the air. 10 There are doubtless many different languages in the world, and none is without meaning, 11 but if I do not know the meaning of the language, I will be a foreigner to the speaker and the speaker a foreigner to me. 12 So with yourselves, since you are eager for manifestations of the Spirit, strive to excel in building up the church.

13 Therefore, one who speaks in a tongue should pray that he may interpret. 14 For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays but my mind is unfruitful. 15 What am I to do? I will pray with my spirit, but I will pray with my mind also; I will sing praise with my spirit, but I will sing with my mind also. 16 Otherwise, if you give thanks with your spirit, how can anyone in the position of an outsider say “Amen” to your thanksgiving when he does not know what you are saying? 17 For you may be giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not being built up. 18 I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. 19 Nevertheless, in church I would rather speak five words with my mind in order to instruct others, than ten thousand words in a tongue.

20 Brothers, do not be children in your thinking. Be infants in evil, but in your thinking be mature. 21 In the Law it is written, “By people of strange tongues and by the lips of foreigners will I speak to this people, and even then they will not listen to me, says the Lord.” 22 Thus tongues are a sign not for believers but for unbelievers, while prophecy is a sign not for unbelievers but for believers. 23 If, therefore, the whole church comes together and all speak in tongues, and outsiders or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are out of your minds? 24 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or outsider enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all, 25 the secrets of his heart are disclosed, and so, falling on his face, he will worship God and declare that God is really among you.

The key to spiritual growth and true manifestations (our walking in truth) of the Spirit is MATURE THINKING and edification by which God’s people mature. Experiential endeavors that are not objective do NOT edify. Period.

Susan and I have a wonderful marriage, but we are not exactly on the same page regarding perceived value in listening to Christian radio. She thinks it has some limited value while I think it is utterly devoid of any edification whatsoever. While riding in the car with her yesterday, we listened to a young girl giving her personal testimony on a “Christian” radio station. Susan often beckons me to “give Christian radio another chance.” The girl spoke of her “personal relationship” with Christ as opposed to merely knowing Him. Trust me, few of these people, if any, can define what it is to have a “personal relationship” with Christ. It’s the mindless spewing of a spiritual bumper sticker that posits subjective piety which supposedly knows beyond knowing. Yes, it’s not about what Jesus says in His word, it’s about the “intimate” relationship with Him. After all, “He’s a person, not a precept.” And so goes the incessant gagathon.

The girl concluded her Gnostic diatribe by sharing how she led her sister to the Lord. Apparently. Yes, she is really happy that her sharing of the gospel lacked substance and knowledge because she had been praying for her sister’s salvation. Hence, she can be confident that it was all of God and not her proficiency in sharing according to knowledge. Susan then asked, “Would you like me to turn the radio off?” I would. This is just another example of why the institutional church is a wasteland of destruction and death. Like gangrene, feeble thinking leads to the silent eating away of flesh and a crippled body with an ongoing need for amputation.

Spiritual growth goes hand in glove with the individual believer being responsible for personal understanding, and by the way, for unity sake must be “convinced in his own mind” (Romans 14). Critical and central to the relevance of home fellowships is EDIFICATION. Teaching and learning must be a primary focus. Home fellowships must be rooted and grounded in objective truth.

paul

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