The bugle’s indistinct sound.

John Farley
January 5, 2020


The bugle’s indistinct sound

1Co 14:1-9

1. Paul deals with the relationship of the gifts to each other in the body of Christ. (chapter 12).

2. Paul teaches about love (gifts are useless without it) and what endures (vs. what will fade away). (chapter 13)

3. Paul teaches that the gift of prophecy is superior to the gift of tongues. (14:1-25)

4. Paul gives specific directions about how the gifts are to be employed (orderly and edifying to all). (14:26-40)

In chapter 12, the Holy Spirit has given to each believer a manifestation of the Spirit to contribute to the common good.

In chapter 13, we saw that love is the key to understanding the spiritual gifts.

The gifts of prophecy and knowledge will be done away by the arrival of “the perfect”, while the gift of tongues will stop by itself.

The “perfect” refers to the complete set of Paul’s epistles.

sometime between the end of the Acts period (60 AD) and the death of Paul (in 65 AD).

1Co 14:1-5

1Co 12:31

1Co 14:1-5

verses 2 and 3 contrast the gift of tongues with the gift of prophecy.

Chapter 14 is primarily about the gift of tongues and its limitations.

Which gift does a better job of building up or edifying the church?

His goal is for the church to be edified. He will make his point three more times in chapter 14: verses 12, 17, and 26.

1Co 14:14

1. Paul teaches on the subject of tongues. He contrasts tongues with prophecy. He is clear and direct. (verses 1-5)

2. Paul teaches by way of analogy.
(verses 6-12)


3. He applies his teaching on tongues and prophecy to the assembly. (verses 13-25)

4. He gives instructions for conducting their worship services – focusing on the tongues speakers and prophets. (verses 26-39)

Paul’s critique of the gift of tongues is in the context of the church gathering together for worship.

He has a problem with uninterpreted tongues in public worship.

1Co 14:4-5

The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues.

1Co 12:7

1Co 14:2-4

The gift of tongues here in 1 Corinthians 14 was a private gift.

A person speaking in tongues spoke to God. No one could understand him.

On the other hand, the one who prophesied spoke to men, for their edification and exhortation and encouragement.

One who spoke in tongues edified himself.

One who prophesied edified the church.

These analogies drive home the difference between sounds with meaning and sounds that are unintelligible.

1Co 14:6-9

The saints will gain nothing if Paul comes to them and only speaks in tongues.

They will be able to understand what he is saying.

Random noises being emitted from a musical instrument is nothing but a cacophony.

A cacophony is a mishmash of unpleasant sounds, often at loud volume.

In the time that Paul wrote, generals would issue commands to the troops in the field using bugle calls.


Imagine a bugler at that key moment playing some random sounds.

When we gather together as a body to worship the Lord in prayer, song, and preaching, …

…do we come to receive some private benefit or blessing (what I got out of the message today) …

…or do we come to build up, encourage, and console one another?



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