Gift of Prophecy-Gift of Tongues: 1 Corinthians 14:5


 I would that you all spoke tongues but rather that you prophesied for greater are they who prophesy than they that speak tongues[1] except they interpret[2] that the Out-Called may receive edification 

[1] Paul’s reference to “greatness,” in connection with the gift of prophecy, may give insight into the statement of Jesus that his followers would do “greater” things than he did. We know that no single person can do anything greater than our Savior did. After all, what is greater than raising people from the dead, healing incurable diseases, performing miracles, speaking prophetically into people’s lives, giving one’s own life for someone else? 

All of these things have been done by Christians, through the gifts of the Holy Spirit. But how do we do greater things than that? 

The answer is, we cannot. 

But Jesus said we would. 

Now, we know the statement of Paul [about the prophet being greater than the one who speaks with tongues], had nothing to do with quantitative prominence, that of being highly esteemed by large numbers of people. It is sinful to desire that. It is rather a qualitative promise, that the gift of prophecy does greater good over the gift of tongues, because the gift of prophecy is designed for public ministry, whereas the gift of tongues can be limited to a private and personal refreshing (Isaiah 28:11)

There is nothing wrong with that. 

When such is the case, it is meant to be exercised between the individual believer and God alone. The statement of Jesus [about believers doing greater works than he] contains both a quantitative and a qualitative promise. 

Believers can do greater things than Jesus, only because they exist in greater numbers. Every member of the Body of Christ, is indwelled by his Holy Spirit. Therefore, large numbers of believers can benefit great numbers of people—often simultaneously—by the gifts of the Holy Spirit. Therefore, followers of Christ will do greater works than he did, and those who prophesy are greater than those who speak with tongues. 

[2] All tongues are not meant to be interpreted. At the beginning of 1 Corinthians, chapter 14, Paul stated that when one spoke in tongues they were speaking to God alone, and no one could understand them. He wrote to the Romans that when we did not know how to pray as we ought, the Holy Spirit would pray for us with unintelligible groanings and utterings, which includes (but not limited to) praying in tongues. 

Paul called praying in tongues, praying in the Holy Spirit. Prayer is between the believer and God—not the between the believer, and God, and the Out-Called. But, the gift of tongues can also be exercised in tandem with the gift of interpretation of tongues. When that happens, The gift becomes a public blessing, with the two gifts—tongues and interpretation of tongues—being equal to the one gift of prophecy.

This is an excerpt from The Hungry Hearts Bible commentary edited by this author

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