1 Corinthians 14

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Small Group Material: 
Week Commencing: 
28 Jun 2009
Bible Base: 
1 Corinthians 14

Background
This chapter has been at the forefront of discussion around tongues and prophecy for the past 100 years as spiritual gifts have been re-discovered by the church. One of the problems of interpretation is that we are all very prone to reading our experience back into scripture! In reality, all we know of the experience of these gifts in the New Testament church is what we read in these chapters. Tongues may be existing languages (as in Acts 2) and/or it may also refer to prayer language not using existing human language. Prophecy is seen by some as related to preaching; others see it as a word from God received spontaneously. The likely truth is that with each there were a number of things going on.
 
The principles behind this chapter are
 
1)      Love requires that we should be concerned that our gifts help others.
2)      God is a God of order, and therefore our worship should not be chaotic.
 
Discussion Questions
1)      How does verse 1 connect with the previous chapter?
2)      How would you respond to someone who said that all this stuff about gifts causes so much trouble that we should leave it alone?
3)      Verses 2-5 What are the outcomes of (a) someone speaking in tongues without the words being put into ordinary language (b) words of prophecy?
4)      Share experiences of these gifts being used in church – both positive and negative. For example, have you ever felt like an outsider or an inferior Christian; or has a word from someone really spoken to you?
5)      What do verses 12-17 say should happen if someone speaks in tongues in public worship?
6)      Verses 22-25 How might an outsider react to the use of tongues in public worship? In what way will it be a “sign” to an outsider? How might an outsider react to a word of prophecy? (vv 24-25). How might it then be a “sign” in this case?
7)      How do things like raising hands in worship and using flags relate to this passage? When should we use such things? When might it be right not to?
8)      What has this passage to say about our use of religious jargon in worship?
9)      Is verse 26 an “ought” or an “is” ie does it describe what should happen in public worship in Corinth or what was happening? What difference does the answer to this question make?
10) In case the message has not yet got through, what is the purpose of all the different contributions to worship?
11) What do verses 27-32 say about the need to control the numbers exercising these sorts of gifts? What do these verses have to say about the commonly held view that tongues and prophecy just come over you and you cannot help speaking them out?
12) “God is not a God of disorder but of peace”. What does this have to say to our worship at St Johns?
13) “Women keeping silent”. Look at chapter 11 verses 4-10. Did Paul allow women to prophesy? So can ch 14 verses 34-35 possibly mean that women cannot speak in church?
14) So what does he mean? First of all look at the context, which is of people giving prophecies and the church “weighing them carefully” (v 29). – which presumably involves saying whether they are from God or not. Suppose one of the men in church gave a prophecy. Who should be the last person in church (other than themselves) to pronounce whether it is from God or not?
(Several commentators have argued that what is being discussed here is women being publicly critical of their husband’s prophecies. Remember here the fact that Jesus’ own family found it hard to see him as a prophet. Most of us probably find it hardest to hear God speaking through our loved ones, because we know what they are like at home!!! Also, the Greek word translated “be in submission” (NIV) is thought by many to mean something like “respect the proper order of things” – public criticising of husband (or indeed wife) is not doing that.
15) Verses 39-40 are Paul’s summary of his whole argument in chapters 12-14. What would be your summary of the conclusions from these chapters for us as a church?