Paul continues writing to the Corinthians about corporate worship. He says, “He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.” He goes on to say that a person speaking in tongues does not benefit the church unless they have an interpreter who can translate for others. Paul warns the Corinthians not to speak in tongue within the body of the church without an interpreter, in case an unbeliever visits the church and assumes they are out of their minds. Therefore, Paul encourages prophecy within the body because unbelievers can understand prophecy, a word from the Lord, which could lead an unbeliever to conviction, repentance, and salvation.
Since there is some disorderly conduct within the church concerning people with the gift of tongues, people with the gift of prophecy, and women who are speaking out of turn, Paul instructs them to keep silent within the gathering of the church. “For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.”
In Paul’s day, women hardly had any rights. Therefore, Paul tells the women of the Corinthian church to keep silent and be submissive, as the law says. But as Sarah Ruden explains in her book Paul Among the People, Paul flips the culture when he says, “if they want to learn something, let them ask their own husbands at home.” Paul is giving the women an opportunity and the freedom to learn and grow in the Lord in a society that oppresses women. Paul is determined to bring equality among the Christians, this is why Paul says, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28).
Paul also teaches about resurrection, starting with Christ. He says that after Jesus’ resurrection, “He was seen by Cephas [Peter], then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time… But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive.”
Paul explains that when Jesus returns and puts an end to evil for good, all who have resurrected will receive new bodies raised up in glory. He says when the last trumpet sounds, the dead will be raised incorruptible. ”So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: ‘Death is swallowed up in victory.’ ‘O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory?’ The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
Tomorrow we read the closing remarks to the Corinthians, and Paul writes to the Romans.
(1 Corinthians 14:1-15:58)