1 CORINTHIANS 14:26-40

26 What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up. 27 If any speak in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn, and let someone interpret. 28 But if there is no one to interpret, let each of them keep silent in church and speak to himself and to God. 29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said. 30 If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged, 32 and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. 33 For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints, 34 the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says. 35 If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church. 36 Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached? 37 If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. 38 If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized. 39 So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. 40 But all things should be done decently and in order.


The Corinthians had received and were using many spiritual gifts – so much so that it sometimes things got rather chaotic in their gatherings! Just as a fireplace allows a fire to heat up a room without burning down a house, these instructions are intended to help them minister to one another in a way that gives room for the Holy Spirit to powerfully work through the members of the body, while ensuring that everything is also “done decently and in order” (v. 40).

Notice how these church gatherings do not involve passive consumers, but active participants. Each person is encouraged to “bring something” and be ready to minister to others when they come together (v. 26). Verses 34-35 are difficult to understand and apply. While it seems this instruction fits with the general theme of providing order and structure for the church’s meetings, it is important to look at what the rest of the Bible says, too. This includes what we read in chapter 11 - where it is assumed that women will be praying and prophesying during these gatherings. This passage cannot be prohibiting all speech, but (at most) a certain kind of speaking. For a more in-depth, practical and helpful treatment of this issue that lays out a few possible interpretations of these difficult verses, check out the link below.


When you come together with the church, are there ways you tend to think like a consumer? How might God be leading you to be more of a participant and a minister?

Are you more inclined to seek the fire of the Holy Spirit, or the structure of a fireplace? Are there any routines you need to let go of? Or, are there areas of your life and church that could benefit from some structure?