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The daily summaries are written by Wayne D. Turner, Pastor of Fayette Bible Church in Fayetteville, Georgia

This is the September 10 reading. Select here for a new reading date:


BibleTrack Summary: September 10
<< 1 Cor 13

For New King James text and comment, click here.

I Corinthians 14-16    Listen Podcast

 

Before reading the commentary on chapter 14, make certain that you have read the commentary on chapters 12 and 13.
Click here to go to that commentary.

The superiority of prophecy over tongues (I Corinthians 14:1-20)

1 Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.
2 For 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.
3 But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.
4 He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.
5 I 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 church may receive edifying.
6 Now, 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?
7 And 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?
8 For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle?
9 So 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.
10 There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification.
11 Therefore 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.
12 Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.
13 Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret.
14 For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.
15 What 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.
16 Else 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?
17 For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified.
18 I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all:
19 Yet in the church 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.
20 Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.

As was pointed out at the beginning of the comments in I Corinthians 12 (see notes), it is important to note that there are no passages in the scripture promoting speaking in tongues in public church services. If that sentence troubles you, please go back and read the notes on that chapter before proceeding here in chapter 14.

Let's do a little bit of review from chapters 12 and 13 regarding prophecy and tongues. Both were given as gifts of the Spirit for the purpose of partial revelation from God. While prophecy stands on its own, tongues are only useful in corporate worship if someone gives an interpretation of those tongues. Let's begin with an overview of these first 20 verses of chapter 14. We glean from chapter 14 that a lot of tongue speaking was taking place without interpretation. Without interpretation, it is meaningless jabber to those listening. For the purposes of clarity, the King James version added the words "unknown" when describing the Corinthian practice in verses 2, 4, 13, 14, 19 and 27. Note that the word is italicized to protect the integrity of the translation. Italics in the KJV indicate a word that is not translated from the original-language text, but added by the editors for clarity.

It is important to understand that the tongues used as the model for the modern-day movement are patterned after Acts 2:1-13 (see notes). Read this passage and see that they spoke in languages they had not learned, but they were languages recognizable by those who were listening. In other words, they were not "unknown" tongues; they were real languages. In this chapter, we see a lot of distinctions made between the benefits of prophecy as opposed to speaking in tongues; we'll distinguish the occasions when one is used over another as we look at verses 21 and 22 (see below).

We do see from the context of I Corinthians 14 that these Corinthians were, in fact, practicing tongues in their church services which were not recognized as known languages. It is worth noting that Paul does not completely invalidate the use of these "unknown" tongues - just in the public church meetings. Look at I Corinthians 13:1 (see notes) again, "Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal." Without endorsing or condemning the "unknown" tongue, he does acknowledge the practice with his term "tongues of angels" in I Corinthians 13:1.

Let me say again, there is no evidence of tongues used in the Book of Acts that were "unknown" to the listeners. Only here in I Corinthians 12-14 do we have any hint whatsoever of this practice of "unknown tongues" being spoken. And what does he say about these "unknown" tongues practiced at the Corinthian church? Let me challenge you to read this chapter and honestly tell me that Paul is endorsing the use of these "unknown" tongues in the church service. HE IS NOT! He is, without question, telling the Corinthians that they have no place in corporate worship. There is an occasion in the church service when a "known" tongue is appropriate; we'll see that in verses 21 and 22 (see below). He sums up his thoughts on their practice of imperceptible tongues-speaking in verse 19 when he says, "Yet in the church 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."

Now, let's look at these verses more specifically. Since verse 1 sets the tone here, let's break it down:

Verses 2-20 are packed with no-nonsense statements about the shortcomings of speaking in tongues:

Having read from the beginning of chapter 12 through 14:20, how can it be honestly proposed that Paul is endorsing speaking in tongues in corporate worship? Keep in mind: These are the only passages we have in all of the New Testament epistles dealing with the practice of speaking with tongues. However, Paul then explains an exception in the next two verses (21-22).

Here's a scriptural occasion for speaking in tongues (I Corinthians 14:21-22)

21 In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord.
22 Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.

Here are two very important verses when it comes to explaining the purpose of speaking in tongues. First of all, note that Paul quotes from Isaiah 28:11-12 (see notes) when he says in verse 21, "In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord." Based upon Isaiah's prophecy to Israel, to whom is he referring when he says, "I will speak unto this people..."? Well, of course he is speaking to Israel - the Jews. So if the "this people" refers to the Jews, who are the people with the "other tongues and other lips" who are doing the speaking? That's obvious; in Isaiah 28 they are Gentiles. So here's the point Paul is making: Gentiles speaking in tongues as a sign to Jews is a fulfillment of Isaiah's prophecy.

Then Paul goes on in verse 22, "Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe." There it is...plainly stated: tongues are for a sign to the Jews - to unbelieving Jews. Now don't minimize these two verses; they're very important. God always dealt with the Jews by giving them signs. Remember the manna from Heaven, the water from the rock, the plagues on Egypt, the battle of Jericho...and the list goes on and on. Paul says in I Corinthians 1:22, "For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom:" The Jews were "show-me" kind of people - had to have signs. Paul plainly says here that speaking in tongues is one of those signs to Jewish people. Although this Gentile/Jew operation is clearly stated in Isaiah 28 from which Paul directly quotes, these two key verses are often overlooked. THESE TWO VERSES EXPLAIN EVERYTHING!

Let's take a brief detour here to discuss the occurrences in Acts of speaking in tongues. The first was Acts 2:1-8 (see notes). But wait! They didn't speak in "unknown" tongues; they were recognized as real foreign languages; it says so right there in Acts 2:5-8. Oh, by the way, there was more that happened there than just speaking in known tongues; there was also the "cloven tongues like as of fire" that danced around on top of their heads and also the "mighty rushing wind" which filled the house. Does it seem a little strange to you that today folks talk about Acts 2 as being the modern-day pattern, but they are completely satisfied to exclude two-thirds of the miracle of that day - the fire and the wind?

So, what was the purpose of tongues on that day? Easy question - a sign to the Jews, a miracle. Such was the case when the Samaritans were evangelized in Acts 8 (see notes) and the Gentiles (Cornelius) in Acts 10 (see notes). Each time Peter was there demonstrating to the Jews that these were God-ordained additions to the newly-formed church (previously a Jewish-only entity), and it was done with miracles. These two verses in I Corinthians 14:21-22 validate that exact usage of tongues. As I Corinthians is written after the occasion of Acts 2, 8 and 10, why integrate speaking in tongues into the Corinthian church service at all? That's clear in verses 21 and 22 - when there are unbelieving Jews present in accordance with the fulfillment of Isaiah 28:11-12 (see notes). When there are no unbelieving Jews present, Paul says to prophesy instead; they don't need the miracle.

Visitors will think you are mad! (I Corinthians 14:23-25)

23 If therefore the whole church be come together into one place, and all speak with tongues, and there come in those that are unlearned, or unbelievers, will they not say that ye are mad?
24 But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all:
25 And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.

What about people who dropped in to visit with the Corinthian church? Verse 23 answers that question, "...will they not say that ye are mad?" That's what Paul says about this practice of rampant tongue speaking going on in Corinth. He tells them that people can be edified with the giving of God's revelation (prophecy) instead.

It's all about order (I Corinthians 14:26-40)

26 How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.
27 If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret.
28 But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God.
29 Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge.
30 If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace.
31 For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.
32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.
33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.
34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.
35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.
36 What? came the word of God out from you? or came it unto you only?
37 If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.
38 But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.
39 Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.
40 Let all things be done decently and in order.

Paul then gives some very specific instructions about how the manifestation of spiritual gifts are to be controlled in the church service. Let's go ahead and stipulate some important points we saw earlier. What is prophesying compared to speaking in tongues? Remember our discussion from I Corinthians 13:8-13 (see notes)? The early church had no Bibles like we do. Do you contain in your hands the completed revelation from God (your Bible) or don't you? They had no such Bible. Paul describes prophesying and tongues (with interpretation) as the giving of partial revelation to the church. He said this would have to be sufficient until "that which is perfect (complete) is come." Is your Bible God's completed revelation to the church? The Mormons don't think so; do you?

It is interesting to me that nobody seems to be writing down the tongues (with interpretation) or prophecies they hear in their churches on Sunday. If they really believe that God is giving fresh revelation, isn't that important enough to record and publish for all to read? The Mormons published the prophecies of Joseph Smith and study them alongside the Bible. I'm afraid the reality in churches that practice tongues and prophecy in their church services is more because it is fun and exciting than useful and edifying. Verse 26 seems to drive that point home as being the case in the church at Corinth when he says, "How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying."

So then Paul gives some rather structured guidelines about the exercising of tongues and prophecy in the church services. Here they are beginning with verse 27.

  1. No more than one at a time speaking in tongues (verse 27).
  2. After no more than three have spoken in tongues sequentially, let someone interpret those tongues (verse 27).
  3. If there is no one to interpret, let those intending to speak in tongues remain silent (verse 28).
  4. Let two or three prophets speak with one prophet judging the validity of their prophecies (verse 29).
  5. Let the prophets exercise self control and wait for another to finish - no interruptions of another. God does not work in an environment of confusion (verses 30-33).
  6. The women are not permitted to speak in tongues. It is a shame for them to do so (verses 34-35). Paul is very clear about that here.
  7. Let it all be done according to this order (verse 40).

In verses 36-39 Paul seems to be tackling a feeling of superiority he perceived the Corinthians were feeling over Christians in other churches because of their active exercising of spiritual gifts within their worship services. Paul says, in essence, "If you're really as spiritually advanced as you project yourselves to be, then you should acknowledge the scriptural validity of that which I have just set before you. However, in verse 38 he seems to be saying, "If you don't acknowledge what I have just taught on this issue, your ignorance remains."

In conclusion, let me say share an observation from personal experience; these seven guidelines of verses 27-40 are largely dismissed - literally ignored - by most churches where tongues are permitted in the course of their corporate worship. Why? In my opinion, these guidelines of restraint just suck the fun right out of the practice. In the church at Corinth, it appears to have been carnal people (I Corinthians 3:1-5, see notes) just having some fun in their services. Paul issues this stern correction to them. There is no mention in scripture of tongues in regular corporate worship, except as practiced at Corinth and corrected in these three chapters in I Corinthians 12-14, and it was practiced by the most carnal church in the New Testament.

If only churches today would heed the simple, easy-to-understand instructions of the Apostle Paul in I Corinthians 12-14, there would be no scriptural dispute on the practice of tongues in corporate worship. However, many won't. Why? It is because the uninhibited, emotionally-charged, frenzied atmosphere of a Corinthian-style worship service is just too much fun to leave behind for those folks who care more about having their emotions tickled than mastering the power of the Word of God. Oh...excuse me; was I too candid there?

The gospel...defined (I Corinthians 15:1-4)

1 Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand;
2 By which also ye are saved, if ye keep in memory what I preached unto you, unless ye have believed in vain.
3 For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;
4 And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

In the first four verses of this chapter we have a formal definition of the Gospel. Paul defines "the gospel" as the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. To summarize, that is precisely the aspect of Jesus' incarnation that makes our salvation possible. It is the combination of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ that makes Christianity unique among all world religions.

Since these four verses constitute the very essence of what we preach about God's salvation through Christ, let's spend a little more time analyzing them. The conjunction "moreover" leading off verse 1 is translated from the simple Greek conjunction "de" and is used to tie this presentation of the Gospel message to the thoughts at the end of chapter 14 (see above). There the subject was the heavy emphasis that had been placed on the manifestation of Spiritual gifts there at the Corinthian church. Notice again that Paul refers to these letter recipients as "brethren," despite the rowdy environment in the church there. Paul reflects on the fact that he was the one who had personally preached the Gospel message to them.

It was on Paul's second missionary journey when he first arrived to minister at Corinth in Acts 18 (see notes). According to 18:11, he spent eighteen months there. Now notice in our text here (verse 1) that Paul says he preached the Gospel to them, "which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand." So, while the Gospel itself is going to be defined as the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ in verses 3-4, there is a necessary reception of the message on which these Corinthians subsequently stood. For more detail on this, let's look back at Acts 18:8 (see notes), "And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized." Now, let's look at what we have so far with regard to action items associated with the Gospel: They "received" the Gospel message which is expanded in Acts 18:8 as having "believed on the Lord." That's the necessary component leading to salvation. The Greek verb for "believe" is "pisteuo" and is the very same root as the noun for "faith" (pistis). Hence, to "believe" in Jesus Christ means to exercise faith in Jesus Christ. The Louw and Nida Greek dictionary defines the verb (pisteuo) this way: "to believe to the extent of complete trust and reliance."

Salvation is a faith thing. When you understand that faith in Jesus Christ for salvation is comprised of believing the efficacy of the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ and determining to receive it as your only means for getting to Heaven, that's what salvation is. That's what we see in I Corinthians 15:1-4 and Acts 18:8 that the Corinthians did. Now notice verse 2, "By which also ye are saved." Here's the deal: You gotta be saved! And...when you believe and receive the Gospel message, you are saved.

The remainder of verse 2 might throw you a little bit if taken out of context. Actually, a clear understanding of the context develops fully several verses down in chapter 15. It centers around the resurrection, both of Jesus himself and Believers afterward. It seems that there were several in the church of Corinth who had been taught that the resurrection is not important. So, with that in mind, understand that the "unless ye have believed in vain" phrase directly applies to those who discount the resurrection of Jesus. I mean, if you don't believe that Jesus has power over death, your faith in Jesus is in vain. In that scenario, Jesus would not be able to save anyone.

Finally, in verse 3-4, Paul gives the formal definition of the Gospel (Greek: euaggelion - good news) content:

While there seems to be no dispute among the Corinthians with regard to the death and burial of Jesus, we see in the balance of this chapter that his resurrection was a hot topic there. That's why Paul is careful with his formal definition of the Gospel to list the resurrection as an absolutely necessary component in the Gospel message. And again, without the resurrection of Jesus, one's faith in Jesus for salvation is in vain.

The witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus (I Corinthians 15:5-11)

5 And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve:
6 After that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep.
7 After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.
8 And last of all he was seen of me also, as of one born out of due time.
9 For I am the least of the apostles, that am not meet to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God.
10 But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
11 Therefore whether it were I or they, so we preach, and so ye believed.

Then Paul names some of the witnesses who saw the resurrected Christ. Of course, he saw him too - a fact he points out in verses 8-11. Two instances about which he may be speaking come to mind. The first was his miraculous conversion on the road to Damascus (Acts 9, see notes). The other is the occasion in Acts 14 (see notes) where Luke reports in verse 19, "And there came thither certain Jews from Antioch and Iconium, who persuaded the people, and, having stoned Paul, drew him out of the city, supposing he had been dead." This is perhaps the instance he mentions in II Corinthians 12:1-10 (see notes) when he says he visited the "third Heaven" - a reference to God's abode; after all, they did leave him for dead after a stoning. Anyway, he says he saw the resurrected Christ also.

In verse 9 Paul claims his apostleship and defends it a bit. The more complete discussion of Paul's apostleship he had already discussed in I Corinthians 9 (see notes). These comments serve as an addendum to that discussion.

Those mixed up Corinthians (I Corinthians 15:12-28)

12 Now if Christ be preached that he rose from the dead, how say some among you that there is no resurrection of the dead?
13 But if there be no resurrection of the dead, then is Christ not risen:
14 And if Christ be not risen, then is our preaching vain, and your faith is also vain.
15 Yea, and we are found false witnesses of God; because we have testified of God that he raised up Christ: whom he raised not up, if so be that the dead rise not.
16 For if the dead rise not, then is not Christ raised:
17 And if Christ be not raised, your faith is vain; ye are yet in your sins.
18 Then they also which are fallen asleep in Christ are perished.
19 If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.
20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming.
24 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.
25 For he must reign, till he hath put all enemies under his feet.
26 The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.
27 For he hath put all things under his feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him.
28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.

I'm still amazed today at how so many mature Bible teachers make no attempt to reconcile their doctrine so that all of their positions on scripture are consistent. The Bible is what it is. It isn't contradictory. As Bible students, we need to see it all fit together. We see in verses 12-19 that the Corinthians had a problem with this as well. There were people in the church at Corinth who did not believe in a bodily resurrection. Paul immediately points out the inconsistency of that position since, after all, we know that Christ DID resurrect from the dead. His argument goes on: If there is no bodily resurrection of Believers, then Christ didn't resurrect either, which means our faith and preaching are in vain; there is no forgiveness of sins...and those having been among us who have passed away have perished. He concludes ridiculing that inconsistent view in verse 19 when he says, "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable." You see, Christ's death and resurrection is the cornerstone of our salvation, a point which Paul reiterates in verse 20, "But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept."

In verse 21, Paul then pursues a line of doctrine that he more fully develops in Romans 5:12-21 (see notes) - the spiritual death sentence brought upon mankind because of Adam's transgression. Verse 22 says that Adam brought death, but Christ brings life. Verse 23 says Christ is the first fruit of those to be resurrected - a reference to Believers. We find a little bit of prophecy in verses 24-28 where we see a mention of the reign of Christ during the millennium and the subsequent events immediately following that one-thousand-year period; that's the occasion when Satan is loosed from the bottomless pit and finally destroyed in Revelation 20:1-10 (see notes). In that same chapter, death and hell are cast into the Lake of Fire. Then, all enemies of God will have been destroyed once and for all - including death. That event in Revelation 20:14-15 (see notes) marks the end of specified events in scripture and the fulfillment of all prophecy. Revelation 21:1 (see notes) says, "And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea."

So, to put it simply, Revelation 20:14-15 marks the end to which Paul refers in I Corinthians 15:24; the new struggle-free, adversarial-free beginning starts in Revelation 21:1. This picture of Christ putting all enemies under his feet has as its foundation Psalm 110:1 (see notes), "The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool." Peter embraces this prophetic Psalm when he declares on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2:34-36 (see notes), "For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, Until I make thy foes thy footstool. Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ." The Greek word for "Christ" is "christos" which literally means "Messiah."

How about another wacky Corinthian idea (I Corinthians 15:29-32)

29 Else what shall they do which are baptized for the dead, if the dead rise not at all? why are they then baptized for the dead?
30 And why stand we in jeopardy every hour?
31 I protest by your rejoicing which I have in Christ Jesus our Lord, I die daily.
32 If after the manner of men I have fought with beasts at Ephesus, what advantageth it me, if the dead rise not? let us eat and drink; for to morrow we die.

Verse 29 indicates they were a little mixed up about another issue. Apparently they practiced some sort of a ritual of baptizing for the dead - perhaps a practice carried over from their pagan background. Paul points out how inconsistent it is to baptize for the dead when you don't even believe the dead are to be resurrected. What would be the point?

By the way, the Mormons take this verse 29 and run with it. They have developed a formal procedure for new converts to be baptized for all their dead relatives so they, too, can have eternal life. That's the point of their intense interest in genealogy. You join, you look up your ancestors, and you get baptized for them. There is absolutely no mention of such a practice anywhere else in the New Testament. Paul only mentions their wacky practice of baptizing for the dead to show their gross inconsistency in their denial of the resurrection; he is not endorsing the practice. Paul immediately integrates this pagan practice into his discussion to demonstrate how inconsistent their doctrine is as he once again runs with the futility of the no-resurrection scenario in verses 30-32.

Stay away from bad company (I Corinthians 15:33-34)

33 Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners.
34 Awake to righteousness, and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God: I speak this to your shame.

These verses deal with testimony. Verse 33 says, "Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners." In other words, you become who you hang with. When you hang with godless people, your morals will become loose and your doctrine disjointed. The implications are that these Corinthians had become doctrinally confused because of their attempt to integrate their life in Christ with their life in the world. They don't mix.

Everything you need to know about your heavenly body (I Corinthians 15:35-50)

35 But some man will say, How are the dead raised up? and with what body do they come?
36 Thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened, except it die:
37 And that which thou sowest, thou sowest not that body that shall be, but bare grain, it may chance of wheat, or of some other grain:
38 But God giveth it a body as it hath pleased him, and to every seed his own body.
39 All flesh is not the same flesh: but there is one kind of flesh of men, another flesh of beasts, another of fishes, and another of birds.
40 There are also celestial bodies, and bodies terrestrial: but the glory of the celestial is one, and the glory of the terrestrial is another.
41 There is one glory of the sun, and another glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars: for one star differeth from another star in glory.
42 So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown in corruption; it is raised in incorruption:
43 It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power:
44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.
45 And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.
46 Howbeit that was not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; and afterward that which is spiritual.
47 The first man is of the earth, earthy: the second man is the Lord from heaven.
48 As is the earthy, such are they also that are earthy: and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly.
49 And as we have borne the image of the earthy, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly.
50 Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; neither doth corruption inherit incorruption.

Well...since we're talking about the resurrection here, inquiring minds want to know, "What's my glorified body going to look like?" First of all, there are a lot of different kinds of bodies under God's creation (verses 37-41). The term "celestial" is derived from the Greek word "epouranios" which is a compound word combining the preposition "epi" (upon) with "ouranos" (the word for heaven or sky). On the other hand, the term "terrestrial" comes from another compound word coming the same preposition "epi" (upon) with the word for "earth" which is "ge." Thus the Greek "epigeios" refers to our "upon earth" body.

Paul compares the resurrection of our bodies to planting a seed. The seed planted looks nothing like the plant that shoots forth from the ground, a point he further makes in verses 42-44. Therefore, our glorified (celestial) bodies may bear no similarity to these earthly (terrestrial) bodies (like the seed planted) we have now. Our current bodies have limitations and flaws; our glorified bodies will not. Verses 48 and 49 point out that our "earthy" (Greek: choikos—made out of dirt) body was patterned after that of Adam, but our glorified bodies will be patterned after the glorified body of Christ ("the last Adam"). I John 3:2 (see notes) says, "Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." That settles it; our glorified bodies will be like Christ. And, by the way, Mary and the disciples recognized Jesus in his glorified body - just in case you were wondering. Verse 50 points out that our current bodies are not fit for Heaven - gotta have a new glorified model.

Here's a mystery for you (I Corinthians 15:51-58)

51 Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
52 In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
54 So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
55 O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
56 The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
57 But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

Paul gives a brief explanation of the rapture (Latin: raptus—carrying away). The rapture, by the way, is not the same as the second coming of Christ. The basic position I advocate, with regard to the timing of the rapture, is commonly referred to as pretribulation, premillennial. In other words, I am confident scripture teaches that the tribulation period of Revelation chapters 6-19 takes place prior to the one-thousand-year rule of Christ. Furthermore, I am most comfortable with the position that the resurrection of Believers to Heaven takes place at the beginning of the seven-year tribulation.

Incidentally, other good Bible teachers have a variation of positions on the timing of these events. While many people commonly refer to the rapture as the second coming of Christ, technically that is incorrect and promotes confusion. Here's why I say that; in this passage, as in I Thessalonians 4:13-18 (see notes), Paul states that Christ does not actually return to earth at the rapture, but instead, Believers meet him in the clouds. His actual return all the way to earth does not take place until the end of the subsequent seven-year tribulation when the final battle at Armageddon in Revelation 19:11-21 (see notes) takes place.

Most prophetic passages refer to the actual second coming of Jesus Christ after the tribulation (aka 70th week of Daniel). If you're looking for clear rapture verses, you have only two: I Corinthians 15:51-58 and I Thessalonians 4:13-18 (see notes).

The two rapture passages (I Corinthians 15:51-58 and I Thessalonians 4:13-18) give us the following details:

The chart below is provided for perspective in studying these passages.
Read the summary on Matthew 24 as you view the chart to gain more perspective.

Matthew 24 Timeline
You may click on the chart to view it in a separate window.

In I Corinthians 15:54-55 Paul loosely quotes from Isaiah 25:8 (see notes) and Hosea 13:14 (see notes) about the completeness of the deliverance that takes place. In verse 56 he shows that sin brought death, and sin is exposed by the words of the Law of Moses, a thought that he develops more fully in Romans 7:7-25 (see notes). Finally, verses 57 and 58 give us a word about the victory that is ours in Christ as Believers - and then a challenge, "...be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord." In other words, we have victory; let's live like it.

Collecting the offering (I Corinthians 16:1-4)

1 Now concerning the collection for the saints, as I have given order to the churches of Galatia, even so do ye.
2 Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.
3 And when I come, whomsoever ye shall approve by your letters, them will I send to bring your liberality unto Jerusalem.
4 And if it be meet that I go also, they shall go with me.

Paul gives some instructions regarding giving. In this passage, his remarks are not intended to give a comprehensive overview on Christian giving, but do provide information on a couple of its aspects. He specifically makes mention of laying aside offerings for the saints in Jerusalem on each Sunday. Some have disputed that verse 2 is an indication that we are to bring this offering to the church gathering place on Sunday; they think that it teaches to simply separate it from spendable income. However, verse 2 seems to indicate that Paul is encouraging them to have it already collected, so that it will not have to be gathered after he arrives. The lesson we may derive from these verses is that Paul is teaching the practice of going to church on Sunday ("first day of the week"), and taking your offering with you when you go. Oh, one more point may be gleaned from verse 2 - proportional giving according to income; he says in verse 2, "...as God hath prospered him..." You will also notice that these particular funds were being collected for the church in Jerusalem.

Incidentally, Paul follows up on this call for help for the saints in Jerusalem in II Corinthians 8-9 (see notes). As a matter of fact, he goes into more detail regarding the spirit and intent of giving, especially in II Corinthians 9:6-15 (see notes).

Some final instructions and salutes (I Corinthians 16:5-21)

5 Now I will come unto you, when I shall pass through Macedonia: for I do pass through Macedonia.
6 And it may be that I will abide, yea, and winter with you, that ye may bring me on my journey whithersoever I go.
7 For I will not see you now by the way; but I trust to tarry a while with you, if the Lord permit.
8 But I will tarry at Ephesus until Pentecost.
9 For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.
10 Now if Timotheus come, see that he may be with you without fear: for he worketh the work of the Lord, as I also do.
11 Let no man therefore despise him: but conduct him forth in peace, that he may come unto me: for I look for him with the brethren.
12 As touching our brother Apollos, I greatly desired him to come unto you with the brethren: but his will was not at all to come at this time; but he will come when he shall have convenient time.
13 Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong.
14 Let all your things be done with charity.
15 I beseech you, brethren, (ye know the house of Stephanas, that it is the firstfruits of Achaia, and that they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints,)
16 That ye submit yourselves unto such, and to every one that helpeth with us, and laboureth.
17 I am glad of the coming of Stephanas and Fortunatus and Achaicus: for that which was lacking on your part they have supplied.
18 For they have refreshed my spirit and yours: therefore acknowledge ye them that are such.
19 The churches of Asia salute you. Aquila and Priscilla salute you much in the Lord, with the church that is in their house.
20 All the brethren greet you. Greet ye one another with an holy kiss.
21 The salutation of me Paul with mine own hand.

Paul outlines his intended route on his way to Jerusalem - a route that matches the account of Acts 19-20 (see notes). Verse 9 is easy to overlook, "For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries." Paul's planning his trip to culminate in Jerusalem where he will find opportunity and adversity. Understand, just because there is resistance from adversaries, doesn't mean it isn't God's will to pursue.

The reference to Timothy’s appearance in Corinth (verses 10-11) is to be connected with Acts 19:22 (see notes). There we see that Paul had sent Timothy (and Erastus) into Macedonia. Therefore, at the time Paul wrote this, Timothy was traveling and was expected to arrive in Corinth.

You will notice Paul's words of solidarity with Apollos in verse 12. Since he had dealt with the fragmented groups at Corinth in I Corinthians 1:10-17 (see notes), it apparently was important for him to show the Corinthians that he and Apollos were unified.

In the course of speaking specifically regarding some of the folks there in the church at Corinth, Paul gives a challenge to them in verse 13, "Watch ye, stand fast in the faith, quit you like men, be strong." That phrase, "quit you like men" comes from a single compound Greek word and literally means "act like a man." These are strong verses encouraging a stedfast Christian testimony for all Believers.

Then Paul issues a reminder of the necessity of demonstrating "charity" (Greek: "agape" which is sacrificial love) to one another - a theme he emphasized extensively in I Corinthians 13 (see notes).

Finally, in his closing remarks, he mentions the "house of Stephanas." Stephanas was a member of the church at Corinth, whose family were among those Paul had baptized (1 Corinthians 1:16, see notes). Many think that Stephanas was the Corinthian jailer of Acts 16:25-40 (see notes). We don't have any additional information regarding the identity of Fortunatus. Paul first met Aquila and Priscilla (verse 19) in Acts 18:2 (see notes).

According to Charles Ryrie's reference Bible, "The 'holy kiss' was an expression of Christian love and was apparently restricted to one’s own sex." Verse 21 indicates that Paul had dictated his letter for another to write, but he wrote verse 21 himself.

A rather blunt ending (I Corinthians 16:22-24)

22 If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha.
23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.
24 My love be with you all in Christ Jesus. Amen.

For those who think that the church needs to be a safe haven for diversity in thought, including even those who have no regard for trusting Jesus Christ as their personal savior, here is the verse that should put that unscriptural notion into perspective. Verse 22 says, "If any man love not the Lord Jesus Christ, let him be Anathema Maranatha." The Greek word for "anathema" here is an exact transliteration to English (from Aramaic through Greek) and is used a total of six times in the New Testament. In every other place it is translated "accursed" (4 times) or "curse" (one time). I'm not sure why the KJV translators chose to transliterate exactly from the Greek "Anathema Maranatha." rather than to translate it. The word "Maranatha" transliterates through two languages (Aramaic to Greek to English KJV); it very well may have been a common greeting among the early Christians, and it literally means, "O Lord, come!"

Actually, the Greek sentence in this verse ends after the word, "anathema." At that point the curse has been pronounced. Then, a complete sentence in Greek is formed by the single word, "Maranatha" (transliterated from two words, "maran" and "atha" in Aramaic and Greek), thus signaling how much he was looking forward to the return of Jesus Christ to receive Believers. However, for those who were not looking forward to the return, nor did they love Jesus, Paul issues a curse upon them. It's just this clear. The local church is to be comprised of people who have trusted Jesus Christ as personal savior and demonstrate a desire for service. Paul has spent the whole Book of I Corinthians taking to task those in the church of Corinth who were contrary to that notion. This verse with a curse (Ooooo, that has a ring to it!) is designed to say in essence, "If you're hangin' in the church for some other reason than for the purpose of developing a personal love relationship with Jesus Christ, you should leave." Read verse 22 again, and you may think that even I have understated the strength of this verse just a bit.


For commentary on another passage, click here.


Copyright 2003-2011 by Wayne D. Turner