The apostle Paul tells the believers in Corinth or the church in 1 Corinthians 14:20-40, how they were to function together as the church. Paul opens in 1 Cor.14:20 writing to the believers saying, “Brethren”, so we know he is writing to all the believers both men and women. Paul writes and clarifies this in 1 Cor.14:23, “If the whole church comes together in one place and all speak with tongues”. Here we have the church or believers assembling together to participate and function in ministry together. Paul is referring to all believers who are gathering together participating and functioning in ministry. Paul continues in 1 Cor.14:24 saying, “But if all prophesy… he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all.” We find that all believers could prophesy and minister something that was to be understood by an unbeliever. The result of all the believers ministering to the unbeliever is found in 1 Cor.14:25, “he will worship God and report that God is truly among you.” The presence of God was evident among the believers gathered together. The Word of God confirms the Lord’s presence among believers in Matt.18:19-20 saying, “Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. “For where two or three are gathered together, there I am in their midst”.
The apostle Paul says in 1 Cor.14:26, “How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.” First, we need to understand that all believers were allowed to speak and were to have something to share it could have been psalms, a teaching, tongue, revelation, or an interpretation. The problem the apostle Paul was correcting was that the believers were all trying to speak or share at the same time. They were talking over one another and it created disorder and confusion among them. Paul’s corrective solution to the problem was to instruct the believers to each take turns in 1 Cor.14:27, “If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be two or at the most three, each in turn, and let one interpret”. Paul is being a spiritual father and instructing the believers how to properly function in ministry toward one another one at a time or “each in turn” as any father or mother would instruct their children.
Again, the apostle Paul clarifies the corrective solution in 1 Cor.14:29-31 saying, “Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. But if anything is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged”. It is clear that the Apostle Paul’s corrective solution allowed every believer the opportunity to speak as long as it was one at a time. It prevented confusion among the believers caused by speaking over one another. The apostle Paul stated very clearly in 1 Cor.14:31, “For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged.” Every believer was allowed to speak as long as it was done one at a time, that all may learn and be encouraged by the one who was speaking as they took turns. Picture yourself in a room of 2-20 people all trying to speak and share and the same time it does not work. It does not work at the dinner table or in a class room when all are trying to talk over one another has the volume and intensity rises. It does not work at home or in a class room and definitely will not work when believers are gathering together when all are trying to speak at the same time. This is undisciplined speaking, sharing, and or discussion which will not produce the desired results of ministry which is edification for the believers gathered together.
The believers all came together to share and to minister to one another which is the priesthood of all believers in action (Rom.15:14; 1 Cor.12:1-27; 15:58; Eph.5:19; Phil.4:9; Col.3:16-17; Heb.3:12-13; 6:10; James 5:19-20; 1 Peter 2:5, 9; 4:7-11). This is what the Apostle Paul taught everywhere in every church that all the believers were to participate and function through the gifts the Lord had given to each of them (1 Cor.4:17; Phil.4:9). Paul taught every believer was to bring something the Lord had put on their heart to share that was already prepared. Regardless of having something ready to share or not, all the believers present were to be sensitive to the Holy Spirits leading and listening to what the Holy Spirit was speaking to them during the meeting to share with those present for their edification. The Holy Spirit could give a word of knowledge, word of wisdom, or prophecy during the meeting that He wanted to communicate with the believers gathered together (1 Cor.12:7-11). All believers were encouraged to participate and function by serving one another out of a motive of love (1 Cor.12:31-14:1, Gal. 5:6, 13-14; Eph. 5:1-2; 1 Pet. 1:22; 3:8; 4:7-11 ). The main reason for coming together as the church was to consider one another in order to stir up love and good works which was accomplished by exhorting one another daily (Heb.3:12-13; 10:19, 24-25).
Maybe during the week the Lord ministered to a believer through a psalm and they felt led by the Holy Spirit to share what the Lord revealed to them with the other believers who were present. Another believer may have studied out a passage and had a teaching they felt led by the Holy Spirit to share with the believers present to encourage, warn, instruct, or exhort them in their relationship with the Lord. Another believer may have received a tongue during the week or during the meeting to share with those gathered. Another believer may have received a revelation during the week they felt led to share. Maybe the Holy Spirit gave a believer a revelation during the meeting in which something uncovered, revealed to them and were enlightened in a specific area they felt led to share. Another believer may have received an interpretation to a tongue during the week or received an interpretation to a tongue during the meeting.
In 1 Cor.14:2-4, 18, Paul addresses the use of tongues for personal edification (Jude 20). He addresses the use of the gift of tongues for the church in 1 Cor.14:27-28, for those who would want to share a tongue with the believers. Those desiring to speak in a tongue should have already received the interpretation of the tongue, or they need to make sure those with the gift of interpretation are present to interpret the tongue. If none are present with the gift of interpretation they should remain in silence speaking to himself and to God, so not to disturb the other believers present in the meeting.
Paul tells us in 1 Cor.14:30-33, if the Lord reveals something to anyone present in the meeting that they were allowed to speak and share what the Lord had revealed to them. All could prophesy as led by the Holy Spirit, however, it was to be done one at a time. It was to be done one at a time for edification of the believers present and to avoid any disorder and confusion. The purpose was for the believers who gathered together to understand what the Lord was saying to them. The Lord does not want anyone to misunderstand or be confused about what He is saying to them. In a meeting where everyone is talking over the others it is not only disorderly it also create confusion. The Lord wanted them to understand what He was saying to them through the Holy Spirit.
We must understand in 1 Cor.14:34-35, in the context of 1 Corinthians 14 as a whole, which makes it very clear that all could and were allowed to speak in the meeting. We have all ready seen that all believers were allowed to share, speak, teach, or prophesy, as long as it was done decently and in order, so that all present could understand what was being said and be edified. We need to understand the Greek word “gyne” for woman or women in 1 Cor.14:34, can be translated “wife” and taken together in context with 1 Cor.14:35, “And if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is shameful for women to speak in church.” Paul is clearly writing about a wife who may have not understood something that was said in the meeting. Instead of asking questions in the meeting and getting off on rabbit trails trying to understand what was said during the meeting, the women were to wait and ask their own husbands at home. It should be understood it is referring to asking questions that would disrupt and distract allowing the meeting to get out of control and become disorderly. This would obviously not be beneficial and would prevent the edification of the believers present in the meeting. This could also interfere or even quench the ministry of the Holy Spirit to believers and therefore it needed to be dealt with.
We can also look at 1 Corinthians 11:5, “But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head”. This refers to a woman or more than likely a wife who is being un-submissive demonstrating her selfish pride. It is obvious that every woman was allowed to pray and prophesy. Both daughters and maidservants who would receive the baptism with the Holy Spirit could prophesy if led by the Spirit to do so (Acts 2:17-18). Another example is Philip, who functioned as an evangelist who had four daughters who prophesied (Acts 21:8-9).
It is clear the manifestation of the Holy Spirit is given through the various gifts to individuals for the profit of all (1 Cor.12:7, 11). It is clear all were allowed to participate and function in their gifts and the gifts distributed by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor.12:1-27; 15:58; Eph.5:19; Col.3:16-17; Heb.3:12-13; 6:10; 1 Peter 2:5, 9; 4:7-11). This is what the apostle Paul taught everywhere in every church and would do so today if he were still alive (1 Cor.4:16-17).