Through the Bible with Les Feldick
LESSON 2 * PART 4 * BOOK 28
I CORINTHIANS 12:1 – 14:3 – PART 2
As we continue in I Corinthians Chapter 12, Paul has been explaining that the Body of Christ, that invisible make-up of all believers from wherever they are on the planet, and of whatever background, every true child of God becomes a member then of that Body of Christ. And that is a revelation that was given only to the Apostle Paul, because you do not see the Body of Christ taught until Paul comes and shares the revelations that he got from the ascended Lord. And that is what we’ll be emphasizing in Chapter 15; a chapter about the resurrection. You see the resurrection of Christ was at the core of all of Paul’s preaching.
But here Paul has been addressing problems because the Church was still so carnal, they had not grown spiritually. Now it’s interesting that of all the things he has dealt with in Corinthians from Chapter 1, where they had divisions of whom they were following, and going to court against each other, and the problem of immorality in the Church, he also had to deal with the tongues phenomenon, which it had also become a problem. He does not address it as some aspect of their spirituality, because it had become a problem. It had upset the function of the local Church, and they were causing disorder, and he has to address it. So all these things had been in answer to questions that they had written to Paul requesting some answers. Tongues were unique in the Corinthian Church, and this is what I can’t get over in my own study, as we never see again in any of his other churches tongues even mentioned. We only find tongues at this carnal Church at Corinth, and that should tell us something.
But for now let’s get back to where we left off, and here Paul is dealing with the Body of Christ which is composed of people who have been baptized by the Holy Spirit. Now that Holy Spirit baptism is not an emotional phenomenon, or a physical thing, because you or I never felt a thing, or didn’t know anything had happened when the Holy Spirit baptized us into the Body. We know it happened only because the Book says so, and that’s the only way we know that we were placed into the Body of Christ, and we have to leave it at that. We don’t try to look for some emotional thing or feeling. I’ve told people so often that word feeling is not used in the Scriptures. We take these things by faith, and not by feeling. Now let’s look at verse 23:
I Corinthians 12:23
“And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, (remember in the last lesson I used the little toe as an example. It’s very seldom seen, and we probably think it’s totally useless until you lose it, because if you lose your little toe it inhibits walking, and balance. It may be the place of less honor, but it is still important, so also are the less noticed, and less honored members of the Body of Christ.) upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.” In other words, that’s just the way that God works. He takes the foolish things of this world and confounds the wise. He says in another place in I Corinthians that He took the things that are not, to confound the things that are, and it’s basically on this same premise.
I Corinthians 1:27
“But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;” Now let’s look at verse 24:
I Corinthians 12:24
“For our comely parts (the best part of our appearance) have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked:”
Isn’t that amazing? As I was studying this I couldn’t help but think of parents who have had a retarded child, maybe even the Down Syndrome child. We’ve talked to several who have had this kind of child and even though they had several children, the Down Syndrome child was always the most responsive. That was the child that they poured their love to in such a very special way, and every parent that has one will tell you that same thing. They are the most lovable, and the most easy to love of all children. Well I think Paul is saying the same thing here, we take the weakest believer, the one that the world would think, “Well, the Church certainly can’t use that person.” But that’s the very one that God wants us to enhance, and to bring them to the forefront. Now verse 25, all of these things are for one purpose.
I Corinthians 12:25,26
“That there should be no schism (or division) in the body; (That is the Body of Christ) but that the members should have the same care one for another.” In other words, every believer in God’s eyes deserves the same amount of love and compassion as the next one. Verse 26:
“And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it;…
And again he’s going to use the analogy of the human body and what is it? You hit your thumb with a hammer, and the whole body is shot with pain. It’s the same way with the Body of Christ, if a believer is hurt, then the whole Body hurts with it. Now verse 27.
I Corinthians 12:27
“Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.”
As an individual, we don’t just come into the Body of Christ as a number, but every one of us is an individual in God’s sight, whom He knows. And He knows our every need, and He knows our every heartache and joy. So many times Christians pray, and we think, “Oh it’s just another sound to God.” No it’s not! It’s just as if you are the only one in the throne room with Him, and that’s the kind of God we serve. Now verse 28, and again here’s the list that he has in Corinthians compared with the one we saw in the Book of Ephesians.
I Corinthians 12:28-31
“And God hath set some in the church, (that is the local Church) first apostles, (we know they went off the scene) secondarily prophets, (we know that has left, because we now have the printed Word) thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, (or administrations) diversities (the ability to speak more then one language, and that’s what the word tongues in the plural always implies; it was known languages, and they were able to communicate the Gospel to those of a different language.) of tongues.”
“Are all apostles? (of course not, the Church would get lopsided.) Are all prophets? (No) are all teachers? (No) are all workers of miracles? (Of course not) Have all the gifts of healing? (No) do all speak with tongues? (absolutely not) do all interpret? (No) But covet (or desire) earnestly the best gifts: and yet shew I unto you a more excellent way.”
And that’s why I taught Chapter 13 first, because all of this, even to be an apostle, even to be a gifted man, at especially in the Church at Corinth, if they didn’t exhibit the love of God in what they were doing, then they were better off staying at home. Just don’t even do it, if you can’t do it in that attitude of love. Now since we’ve covered Chapter 13, let’s go right on over to Chapter 14.
I Corinthians 14:1
“Follow after charity, (love) and desire spiritual gifts, (don’t request them specifically; ask the Lord to use you) but rather that ye may prophesy.”
Now remember the word `prophesy’ is not being able to tell the future as we think of Daniel or Isaiah, but to simply speak the Word of God. Share the Word, that’s what it is to prophesy, and that’s what every believer should desire. “Lord give me that ability to just share your Word with people, whether it’s believers who need to be taught, or the unbeliever who is still out there in darkness, Lord give us that opportunity to speak forth the Word. “ Now verse 2 which reads:
I Corinthians 14:2
“For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue (Now watch the language here because the word “unknown” is italicized. So it’s been added by the translators, because even way back at the time of the King James translators, they really didn’t know how to handle this word tongue in the singular, because, like I explained in an earlier lesson, this denoted a sound that had no phonetics to it. It could not be reduced to writings, it was just a guttural sound , and had no pronunciation.) speaketh not unto men, but unto God: (because only God could understand it) for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit (Now it’s a small s so it’s not the Holy Spirit, but in his mind and his own thinking processes) he speaketh mysteries.”
Those things are beyond the ordinary human comprehension. Now before we go any further, come back to what we just read: that the person speaking in this so-called “unknown”tongue, or in this unwritten tongue, was speaking to God. Let’s go back to the three times in Scripture when the Holy Spirit delegated this miracle of speaking in tongues to men, and there are only three times. The first is in Acts Chapter 2, and here is our first example of the gift of speaking in tongues, but it’s plural so it’s languages, and of course it’s back when God was still dealing with the Nation of Israel. And here it was on the day of Pentecost. I’ve always maintained that Pentecost was a Jewish feast day, and Gentiles had nothing to do with Pentecost.
“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,…”
Other languages, because there were Jews there from all over the then-known world all speaking different languages. Now the miracle of Pentecost was that God gave these apostles for sure this gift to speak all the languages of the people that were out there in that massive crowd in front of them. And then you come 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.”
This is the first time in Scripture that we have a manifestation of the Holy Spirit given to men – this gift of speaking known languages, but which was not intrinsic to their own education. In other words, where did Peter and most of the disciples come from? Galilee. They were uneducated fishermen, and all of a sudden here they are speaking the various languages that were evident there on the day of Pentecost. It was miraculous, and it was the work of the Holy Spirit, but as Paul said in I Corinthians, who were these men talking to? Other men, and what was the purpose? To bring them salvation. That’s the whole purpose of this Book from cover to cover. The purpose is that mankind might hear the plan of salvation, and it was the same way at Pentecost. Peter and these other disciples were promoting the Gospel of the Kingdom, that Jesus was the Christ, but they were doing it in languages that everyone could understand, so it had a divine purpose.
Now the next time this happens is in Acts Chapter 10. And Peter is now up in the house of a Gentile, the Roman, Cornelius. You all know the account, how that Peter, contrary to his own desires, is forced by God to go up to the house of Cornelius. And you remember the last thing Peter said as he goes through the door: “Cornelius, you know it is an unlawful thing for me, a Jew, to come into the house of another nation. But God has shown me.” In other words, there was a distinct divine purpose in Peter coming up to the house of Cornelius. Now, as he is preaching and is probably expounding about Jesus of Nazareth, and how He had come to be Israel’s Messiah and Redeemer and King, I imagine as Peter was laying all of this out, in the back of his mind he was thinking, “Why am I giving this to Gentiles?” He had no idea that there was something moving in God’s purposes that He, God, was now going to go out to the Gentile world. He certainly was not aware that in the previous chapter (I don’t know how many months previous to this, but not many), that God had saved Paul of Tarsus and had told him He was going to go to the Gentiles. I don’t think Peter knew that yet. But here he is in this Gentile house of Cornelius and is proclaiming the Gospel of the Kingdom that Jesus and the Twelve preached: that Jesus was the Christ, the Messiah, Repentance, and water baptism, which was in a different administration, and is completely different from the Gospel of Grace that was given to the Apostle Paul, and the Gospel that we believe for salvation. (Ref. I Corinthians 15:1-4) Now let’s look at verses 44 and 45:
“While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.” Now you want to remember, this was in the confines of a gentlemen’s house. This wasn’t in a great coliseum. This was in the house of Cornelius, a Roman officer. But as Peter was preaching, the Holy Spirit fell on that house full of Gentiles. Verse 45.
“And they of the circumcision (these Jews) which believed (they were like Peter. They had recognized Jesus was the Christ) were astonished,….”
Now we pointed all this out when we taught the Book of Acts, that these Jews, six men who came with Peter for a total of seven, were just utterly astonished that these Gentiles were hearing a salvation message and believing it. Now in order for God to prove to these seven Jews that He was doing something totally different than had ever been done before, what does He do? He proves it with these Gentiles speaking other languages. Not just the Latin, in which they had grown and probably practiced. Maybe not even just Greek that they probably used in their military conversations, but now:
“….as many as came with Peter (these six Jews) because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. (how did they know?) For they heard them (the Gentiles)speak with tongues (known languages) and magnify God…”
Were they talking to God? NO! They were talking to fellow men and they were magnifying God in the presence of these seven Jews, as well as the members of the house of Cornelius, and there is no manifestation of an unknown language here or a guttural sound. It was speaking languages. That’s the second time that the Holy Spirit was manifested by giving the gift of speaking more language than they were normally living with. Now the third and last time that this happens in the whole of Acts is in Chapter 19. The first time it happened to Jews in Chapter 2 – strictly Jews. The second time it happens – to a whole house of Gentiles. Now the third time it happens it’s another unique little group. Small in number, but they were representative of another larger group and we’ll look at it here in Acts 19 and verse 1.
“And it came to pass, that, while Apollos was at Corinth, Paul having passed through the upper coasts came to Ephesus: (where a church had been founded) and finding certain disciples, (we know they were Jews because he says they are) He said unto them, `Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed?’ And they said unto him, `We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost.’ And he said unto them, `Unto what then were ye baptized?’ And they said, `Unto John’s baptism.’ (John the Baptist) Then said Paul, `John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, (that was to the Nation of Israel and John baptized in Jordan with the message of repentance) saying unto the people, that they should believe on him which should come after him, that is, on Christ Jesus.’ When they (these Twelve men) heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, (these twelve Jews) the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues (languages other than their own) and prophesied.”
Now those are the only three times in the whole Book of Acts, in fact in all of Scripture, where the Holy Spirit manifested Himself by giving out the gift of speaking a multitude of languages. They were known languages. They were languages that could be understood if somebody happened to be in that same room with that same background. There was no need for interpreters. No emotional upheaval. This was just simply the working of the Holy Sprit to the third category of people that God would be dealing with in the Book of Acts. Remember what they were. Chapter 2 – with the Nation of Israel. Chapter 10 – with the Gentiles in the house of Cornelius. Chapter 19 – with those who were in the transition. They were Jews who had been saved under John’s baptism, but they had known nothing of Paul’s Gospel and now the Body of Christ and these further revelations. And those three categories are the only ones that came under the manifestation of the power of the Holy Spirit to speak in languages other than the ones they normally practiced.
Now let’s go back to Chapter 14 and remember that whenever the Holy Spirit was manifested in the Book of Acts, it was for a divine purpose and that was to prove something. It was to show Israel that God was now moving in the work of the Holy Spirit. It was to prove to the Jews in the house of the Gentiles that God was now saving Gentiles. It was manifested in these twelve Jews to show that there was now a change in the overall program. It was not longer based on John’s baptism and Christ’s earthly ministry. It was now based on that which followed the work of the Cross, His death, burial and resurrection.
I Corinthians 14:3
“But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.” Paul said in verse 1 that the one that they should really long for is the gift of speaking the Word of God. That’s the number one criteria and in verse 3 he re-emphasizes it again.
I Corinthians 14:3
“But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification. (to lift him up, support him) and exhortation (to encourage him. Every one of us need to be encouraged throughout our daily walk) and comfort.”
Now we know that we’re in this old world which is under the curse, and a lot of people are hurting. How can we best comfort them? By proclaiming to them the Word of God.