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 1: The Body as a Metaphor

Posted in Uncategorized by Andy Young, PPT contributing editor on July 26, 2017

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

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

I usually have trouble trying to decide on what my sessions are going to be about for these conferences. Those of you who are familiar with the Tuesday Night Bible study endeavor, you know that I am very comfortable taking a book of the bible and just methodically working through it like we did with our Acts study. I am not very comfortable with topical studies because you run into the danger of proof-texting. (stacking verses to support your topic). And I think I explained that somewhat at the beginning of my first session at the 2014 conference a couple of years ago.

Some time ago when Paul and Susan and John Immel and I were first getting into the planning stages for this year’s conference, Paul was wanting to go with this theme of coming out of a Protestant Dark Age. This Dark Age has been characterized by fear. This protestant gospel keeps men under condemnation, and so as a result you have millions of Christians walking around in constant fear that they are going to do something to mess up their salvation because they are still worried about condemnation, even though Romans 8:1 PLAINLY states that there is therefore now NO condemnation for those who are in Christ.

Rather than living lives characterized by fear, the life of the believer should be characterized by love. So with this “awakening” as it were, as we try to help believers come out of this Dark Age, what we need to be doing as believers, as we seek to disciple others, as we seek to build up each other and equip each other, we need to help people overcome this fear of condemnation and help each other learn how to love. I really think if we spent more of our time, our effort, our energy focused on loving others there wouldn’t be any time to think about fear.

A few months ago I wrote an article for Paul’s Passing Thoughts, on 1 Corinthians 13. It was basically a word study on the definition of love. As I was trying to decide on a topic that would fit in with the theme for this year’s conference I decided that I would take what I wrote for that article and expand on it. What the apostle Paul is dealing with in chapter 13 is not just a treatise on love. Chapter 13 is great study on its own, but there is so much more to be learned in the larger context, and so I want us to be able to see where this definition of love fits in, what is Paul’s larger message that he’s trying to communicate. What exactly is Paul addressing here in this section of 1 Corinthians?

So I think this will work, because it allows me to be able to speak on a particular topic, but at the same time we will go through an exegetical study of a larger passage, and so we will avoid the risk of “proof-texting”.

To put it in a nutshell, this section of 1 Corinthians is actually about spiritual gifts. And while chapter 13 is a wonderful treatise on love, it is really about how believers are supposed to use their gifts. This topic entails all of chapters 12 through 14, and we are going to go through all of it.

So here’s how I’m going to do this. I don’t intend to get bogged down in a detailed look at each of the gifts. If we wanted to do that we could probably spend months on that kind of study, and frankly I don’t think the canon of scripture we have is an exhaustive list of spiritual gifts. I really think that there are other gifts that some believers possess that aren’t listed in scripture. And I could give you various reasons for that.

As we go through this study we are going to see Paul discusses the gift of tongues at length. Because of that, I think it would be helpful in our study if we began with a review of tongues. So before we get into 1 Corinthians, lets begin by going to Acts 2.

“And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.” ~ Acts 2:1-4

They were filled with the Holy Ghost (furnished).  And as a result of being furnish with the Holy Ghost, what happened? Verse 4

“…[they] began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.”

Here is the first reference to what many call gift of tongues. Now I’m using the King James, and it is translated “tongues”

γλοσσα – “glos-sah” – the tongue. By implication, a language.

This is where we get our English word “glossary.” Not some mystical, spirit-language. I would assert that this means an actual literal spoken language. There is more evidence that supports this later on in Acts 2, but I want you to look at this other word.

utterance – αποφθεγγομαι – “ap-off-THENG-oh-my” – to speak forth plainly and distinctly

“As the Spirit gave them the ability to enunciate plainly!”

Do you see here, the implication is that these disciples were speaking a language that was meant to be understood by those who heard it because it was plain and distinct. And later on when we get to chapter 14 of 1 Corinthians, we’ll see this notion of plain and distinct come up again.

What else do we learn about tongues from this passage? Jump down to verse 6

“Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born?…we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.” ~ Acts 2:6-11

Once again we see in this passage the word “tongue”. I want you to see something here. This is not the same word that was used in verse 4. This is not “glossa,” it’s a different word. The word here in the Greek is:

διαλεκτος – “dee-ah-lek-tos”, dialect, more specifically, vernacular.

Now what do I mean by that? What is vernacular? Well let’s think about it this way. We all speak English here right?  I was born and raised in a suburb of Buffalo, NY. When I moved to Columbus I didn’t really think I talked much differently from people around me, but people used to ask me all the time if I was from Cleveland. If you’re not familiar with Ohio, Columbus is in the middle of the state, and Cleveland is in the north end of the state right on Lake Erie. Buffalo is also on Lake Erie, and so it makes sense that people in Columbus thought I sounded like I came from further north.

We all know that there are many verbal cues that people use that immediately tells others something about what part of the world they come from.

– Accents
– word usage

pop, soda, Coke.
grocery bag, sack, poke
athletic shoes, tennis shoes, sneakers
cookie, biscuit
diaper, “nappy”
elevator, lift

– idioms and figures of speech.

All these things are not just unique to a particular language but also to various regions within the same country that speak the same language.

So this is important to keep in mind with what we see happening here in Jerusalem on Pentecost. You have thousands of people who have made this pilgrimage. These are Hellenistic Jews who live in various regions all over Asia Minor and Persia and northern Africa as a result of the dispersion following the Jewish captivity in Assyria and Babylon, and they have made this trek to Jerusalem to observe Pentecost. And suddenly they hear native Jews speaking in their home language of these Hellenistic Jews.

And not just speaking their language. See, when you learn a foreign language, it’s one thing to learn the words and the grammar and sentence structure. But what most people have a hard time getting right is the accent. You can tell right away when you hear someone talk, if they have an accent that gives it away, they’re not from here.

But these Jews said, “These men from Jerusalem, they sound just like us! We hear them in our own dialect, our own vernacular.” The same accent. They sound just like a native speaker. They sound just like someone who spoke this language all their life. That’s not something everyone can master. But when the Spirit filled these disciples in the upper room, they began to speak and they sounded just like those from their native countries. I think this is yet one more point that supports this idea of an actual human language. It certainly was plain and it certainly was distinct. Distinct enough that these men were amazed that Galileans could speak and sound just like them!

So we have established that the gift of tongues from the very beginning was a real language meant to be understood by the hearer. In fact, they said it again in verse 11. We hear them in our own tongue.   It’s the same word again, “dialektos”.   And just like any other spiritual gift, it was given to men for the purpose of building up the body of Christ and equipping believers to do their work of the ministry. Ephesians 4:11, 12 tells us that. And we see that very thing happening in Acts 2. When the disciples were speaking in tongues they were preaching the wonderful works of God! They were giving the gospel, in languages that were foreign to them, but could be understood by those who heard it.

But tongues also served a more specific purpose. Being a spiritual gift, it was to be used for edifying the body, but Peter explained in Acts 2 that this gift of tongues was a sign. And it was a sign specifically to the Jews. And I won’t get into it here, but Peter goes on to cite Joel 2 and he says that this sign of tongues was part of the fulfillment of the Joel 2 prophecy. The Jews would see this sign of tongues and it would be an indication to them that what was happening was authentic. It stated to the Jews that being born again by faith in the name of Jesus Christ was the real thing.

This was vitally important to understand because when we fast-forward to Acts 10, and we have this account with Cornelius, we have this first account of a mass-conversion of Gentiles. And what happened to them? Acts 10 says while Peter was yet speaking, the people (Gentiles) listening were persuaded, and they believed and they were born again. How do we know that? Because THEY (Gentiles) started speaking in tongues!

Up to this point the Jews thought that being born again was a Jewish thing. They still didn’t really understand the concept of the New Man that would be comprised of both Jew and Gentile. So this was a major lesson for Peter and the rest of these Jews present at Cornelius’ house. They see Gentiles all of sudden speaking in tongues, and now this sign has relevance for them as well. It was God’s way of saying, “See, just like when this happened to you at Pentecost, the same thing is happening with these Gentiles.” And Peter and the rest say, “Wow, so I guess God means to bring salvation to the Gentiles too, because now they have the Holy Spirit just like we do!”

So this gift of tongues was important because it was a sign that indicated outwardly to everyone who witnessed it that indeed this person was truly born again. But! – and let me emphasize this – it’s purpose as a sign was meant for the Jews.

So now we finally come to 1 Corinthians 12, and this gift of tongues comes up again, because it appears as if there was some confusion. The Corinthian believers were a confused bunch weren’t they? And I’m not going to take the time here to try and get into the details of what Paul is responding to. This letter is a response. It is reactive and not proactive. Paul is reacting to things that have been brought to his attention.

I will go so far as to say that this is true of not just Paul’s letters but all of the letters of the New Testament. The only exception might be the letters Paul wrote to Timothy. But what we see throughout 1 Corinthians is Paul attempting to correct wrong thinking or wrong teaching and ultimately wrong behavior in these assemblies. In the first part of the letter he’s dealing with a man having an inappropriate relationship with his step-mother. In the chapter just prior to our passage he’s dealing with their unruliness when they fellowship in general and observing the Lord’s Table in particular.

When we come to chapter 12, you can see there is a dramatic change of subject. Paul puts a period at the end of chapter 11. “Ok, I’m done with that subject, let’s move on to the next issue,” as if he’s marking off a checklist of topics.  That next issue has to do with spiritual gifts.

So like I said, I don’t want to get into the details of speculating about what exactly Paul is responding to or more specifically, what was the issue that the Corinthian assemblies brought to Paul’s attention. The beginning of chapter 12 gives a little indication, but as we go through this we come to learn that it has something to do with spiritual gifts in general and tongues in particular.

So Paul starts out here giving kind of an overview about the function of spiritual gifts, particularly in regard to this idea of a body.

12For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ. 13For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit. 14For the body is not one member, but many. 15If the foot shall say, “Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body;” is it therefore not of the body? 16And if the ear shall say, “Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body;” is it therefore not of the body? 17If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?

18But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. 19And if they were all one member, where were the body? 20But now are they many members, yet but one body. 21And the eye cannot say unto the hand, “I have no need of thee:” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” 22Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: (23and those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. 24For our comely parts have no need). But God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: 25that there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. 26And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it.

This is Paul’s reasoning. He’s using a physical body as a metaphor to describe the Body of Christ. These are the assumptions, the premise, the starting point. “Let’s assume this to be true.” He’s using an example that everyone is familiar with. He is establishing reality. People can relate to this because they can observe this. That’s how we organize reality. We observe how things work and we come up with assumptions and draw conclusions. So we have these assumptions about a physical body, and then Paul says, well, this is how the spiritual body works as well, and then we take action accordingly.

So let’s ask ourselves some questions.

How is the Body of Christ like a physical body?
– A body is one.

Now I don’t want to digress into a discussion about if a body is a collective or is it an individual, or get into this argument about was Paul promoting collectivism or the notion of the destruction of the individual for the benefit of the group, because that is not the point here at all. This passage should not be used as a proof text for either side of that argument. This is a metaphor. It is a figure of speech used to aid in the understanding of truth.

13For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free;

This isn’t the only time Paul has used this kind of language to describe believers. If you go back to one of the things I talked about at last year’s conference, you remember I spoke about the believer’s identity, and how a believer is part of the body. We looked at this passage in Ephesians 2:11-17.

“Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world: But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh.” ~ Ephesians 2:11-17

So a body is one. It is whole. It functions as one. But even though it functions as one whole…

– A body is made up of parts.

14For the body is not one member, but many...
But now are they many members, yet but one body…

This next point I think is most important because this is where we start to get into the meat of the passage.

– All the parts are necessary!
God put all the parts together to make the body work properly. If there is no nose, the body can’t smell. If there is no eye, the body can’t see. Remember these things. We’re going to come back to this in a minute, but there is one other thing I want to mention before we go on to the next point. A body with a missing part is still a body, but its ability to function is hindered. Let me say that again… A body with a missing part is still a body, but its ability to function is hindered.

– The parts are not envious of each other!
This ties in with the previous point. Just because a foot is not a hand doesn’t mean it’s not a body part. The foot doesn’t go around wishing that it were a hand. Just because an arm is not a leg doesn’t mean it’s not a body part. The arm doesn’t go around wishing it were a leg.

Taking this point a little further…

A body that is nothing but arms is not much of a body. Unless you’re an octopus, a body that’s all arms (or all feet or all hands) is pretty useless. If your body is all hands, it can’t see or hear or taste or smell or run or jump or speak.

So remember how we just said that a body that is missing a part is hindered in function, so also is a body that has too many of a particular part. It’s not going to be very effective at what it was designed to do.

Now, Paul says that believers are part of a body; the Body of Christ; the New Man. What is this spiritual body designed to do? Go out and make disciples. Or think Ephesians 4:12, the “work of the ministry.” This body has a job to do. And just like a physical body, the spiritual body is made up of parts, and those parts are put in place by God to carry out a particular function that enables the body to do its job.

The functions of the physical body parts are analogous to spiritual gifts. Every person who is added to the Body of Christ is given a particular gift, as God sees fit, that will best help the Body to accomplish its job. And Paul lists some of these gifts. This list is by no means exhaustive. We can look in some other places in the New Testament and find other gifts listed that aren’t mentioned here, but there is this list in starting in verse 8. Words of wisdom, words of knowledge, faith, healing, miracles, prophesy, discerning of spirits, tongues, and interpretation of tongues.

Now a little later on in the chapter he is actually going to prioritize these, so we’ll get to the in a minute. But the point is, God has given different gifts to every believer.

• Not everyone has the same gift.


• No one has every gift.

I think that’s important to notice. What if everyone had every gift? We wouldn’t need each other would we? There would be no need for us to fellowship together. The Greek word is koinania. It means having in common. What do believers have in common? Do we all have the same gift? No. We are all part of the same body. That’s what we have in common. We’re all part of the Body of Christ. And for the body to function, we need to come together from time to time for fellowship, and edify each other by exercising our gifts. When we come together as a body, and the whole body is working as one, and every part is doing what it’s supposed to do, every part of the body grows. It’s edified.

More than that, the whole body grows. We are edified to do the work of the ministry, and that is to go out and make disciples. We go out and give people the gospel of the Kingdom, and they hear it, and they are persuaded, and they believe, and then they are added to the body, and they receive a gift so that they can in turn edify and be edified. Mutual edification of the body, and they grow and mature, and then they go out and give the gospel, and it goes on and on and on and the pattern repeats itself over and over.

This by the way, is God’s method for church growth. Notice there is nothing here about a building program, or a week of special services, or an evangelical outreach committee, or a youth mission retreat, or inviting your lost friends to church. It’s the body that goes out and finds them. The body gives the message. This is by the way the one task that is common to every believer despite whatever happens to be their particular dispensation of gifting. This is not a task only for pastors. This is not a task only for evangelists. This is not a task only for specially trained missionaries going to a particular country. This is the task of EVERY believer. And when the whole body is working together, when everyone is exercising their specific gift, then each member is edified, and EVERYONE has everything they need to go out and make disciples themselves!

So where does love fit into all of this? Well another point that Paul makes about the body, and I touched on this before, is that every part is vital. Paul acknowledges in this passage that there are some parts that are of greater importance than others. Now I need to be careful here because I don’t want to give the wrong idea. We understand that every part is important because it is part of the body. But we also understand that the heart is more important than the pinky toe. We can live without our pinky toe, but we can’t live without our heart. That being said, none of us would ever say, I don’t need my pinky toe so I’m just going to cut it off right now.

But Paul goes on to say that those parts of our body that seem insignificant we take special care of. Your pinky toe might not seem to be all that important, but have you ever smashed your pinky toe? If you have a broken toe, you know it with every step you take. It’s there. Or how about this; you’re pounding a nail, and the hammer misses and you hit your thumb. What is the first thing you do? Other than scream a few choice words that believers would never utter, what do we do? We grab our thumb with the other hand and hold it tight. Notice, that when one part of the body hurts, other parts of the body come to its aid. And also as a body, we would never hit our thumb on purpose. I tell that to my kids. Kids do that, they can often get into the practice of cutting each other down and calling names. But I tell them, hey we’re a family. We’re all part of a body. Why are you trying to hurt your body? Why are you hitting your thumb with a hammer on purpose?

When one member hurts, the whole body hurts. And conversely, when one member is praised or honored, the whole body rejoices with it. What affects one member affects the whole body, whether positively or negatively.  Paul made this same point in Romans:

“Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.”
~ Romans 12:15

This is love. Now Paul doesn’t come right out and call this love. He’s going to develop that in chapter 13. But these are the points he makes.

This is love:

  • Recognizing that we are all part of the same body
  • That we all have a particular function (gift)
  • Each member’s gift is important to helping the body grow
  • Each member’s gift is important to helping the body do its job
  • I should not be envious of another member’s gift
  • I should be exhorting other members to use/develop their gifts.

Now Paul begins to address the specific issue. The problem is that the Corinthians weren’t doing this. They weren’t showing love when it came to exercising spiritual gifts. Go back to our passage in 1 Corinthians 12, and go to verse 27. Paul makes the connection here for us in this passage. Paul draws this conclusion that we’ve already discussed. Just like a physical body, believers are members of Christ’s Body. Look at verse 27.

27Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. 28And God hath set some in the assembly, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. 29Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? 30Have all the gifts of healing? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? 31But [you] covet earnestly the best [better] gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.

Ok, so there’s the connection. Now Paul has already given us a list of gifts up in verses 8-10. But notice what he does here. He prioritizes them. Remember we made that point that some gifts were more important than others. Some part of the body were more “comely” than others, but that doesn’t mean we despise those parts that seem less important. We don’t cut them off and say we don’t need them. So Paul prioritizes them for us, in order of importance. Apostles, then prophets, then teachers, then miracles, then healings, then helps (think of Tabitha in Acts 9), then governments (this Greek word is a Latin derivative meaning “pilotage” or having to do with the steering of ships; the implication is leadership/administration), then tongues.

Notice that tongues is listed last in priority, below all the other gifts. And we won’t see this now, not until we get to chapter 14, but Paul makes the case that tongues is a minor gift. It’s not even the most important one. It serves a purpose, but when we get to chapter 14, Paul states that there is another gift that is more important than tongues. So there is a priority of importance.

Then next he draws another parallel. Remember how we said that if you have a body that is nothing but arms, it is not going to be a very useful body. And so Paul says here, is everyone an apostle? Is everyone a prophet? And so forth. The question is, in this assembly, does everyone have the same gift? Are you all the same body part? No, obviously no. It’s a rhetorical question, and Paul uses this argument very effectively, to the extent that here is his accusation: Why are you all trying to covet the same gift?

That is the point in verse 31. Now we have a bad translation here in the King James. For sake of comparison let’s look at verse 31 in some different translations.

(KJV) “But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.”

(ESV) “But earnestly desire the higher gifts. And I will show you a still more excellent way.”

(NASB) “But earnestly desire the greater gifts. And I show you a still more excellent way.”

For the most part they all translate this verse the same way, but I think the point is lost in the poor translation. Two things we need to point out. You have this expression “covet earnestly” which in the Greek is the word “dzay-LAW-oh”, which means to be zealous over. This word is in the present tense imperative mood. And we know that an imperative is a command. So in the first part of the verse the Corinthians are being commanded to do something. What is that? Be zealous for the best gifts. The word “best” is also mistranslated, because the word in the Greek is the comparative form and not the superlative form. It should be translated “better” or “greater”.

I think the God’s Word translation actually has the best rendering of this verse

(GW) “You only want the better (comparative not superlative) gifts, but I will show you the best thing to do.”

Now there are two ways you can understand this. Since we are dealing with a command, the question then is who is giving the command? Since it is Paul writing, one could assume that Paul is commanding them. So you could understand it this way:

I, Paul, command you to be zealous for the better gifts.

But what if someone else is commanding them instead. What if Paul is calling attention to the fact that their behavior is a result of what someone else has been teaching erroneously them?

You are commanded to be zealous for the better gifts.

Notice the tense hasn’t changed. It’s still present tense. But now there is a different implication. And this seems to be the source of the problem that Paul is addressing. They were being taught in these assemblies that they need to be zealous for better gifts, better than the ones they may have already been given. And in the context of the whole passage (and that runs all the way through chapter 14) it seems like they were coveting tongues. It would appear that there was a teaching going around these assemblies that, well yes you may have a particular gift, but you all should be speaking tongues, and so they were all going around coveting tongues, to the point of jealousy. Which is not…love. They all wanted something that not all of them had.

And later on when we get to chapter 14, Paul is going to say, look, if you’re going to covet after a gift, you should covet prophecy because prophesy is more important because more people in the assembly can be edified by it. Now, not that Paul was condoning coveting ANY gift, because clearly here at the end of chapter 12 he’s rebuking them. But hypothetically speaking, if you are going to covet a gift, why are you coveting an inferior one. It’s almost sarcasm.

Paul says you are not showing love because you are not interested in gifts for the sake of how it will edify the body. You want this because you think it is somehow superior, or maybe that it is indicative of your spiritual state. And look at Paul’s final statement at the end of verse 31. “Let me show you a more excellent way.” Let me show you a better way. Let me teach you about love. Let me show you why it is important to have a proper view regarding spiritual gifts. And he launches into this fantastic treatise on the definition of love. And that is what we will look at in the next session.

…To be continued

Andy Young 2016 Session 1 Archive Video (YouTube)  Audio Only (mp3)

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.


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

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



Posted in Uncategorized by Paul M. Dohse Sr. on July 22, 2015

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