I Corinthians 14:22 it talks about tongues being a sign, not to those who believe but to unbeliever, but prophesy is for a sign not to unbelievers but to those who believe. Further down it says that if an unbeliever walks into the church and everyone is speaking in tongues they will think they are all going mad. But if they are prophesying then they will be condemned of their wrongdoing and repent. My question is if that is true why is tongues a sign for the unbeliever, why is it not the other way around.
1 Cor 14:22 “Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is for believers, not for unbelievers.”
The word “then” from the Greek “hooste” means “therefore” and is used as a conclusion of what was earlier said.
To understand 1 Cor 14:22, one must read what the apostle Paul wrote before.
a. 1 Cor 14:18-19
“I thank God that I speak in tongues more than all of you. But in the church I would rather speak five intelligible words to instruct others than ten thousand words in a tongue.” NIV
The apostle Paul clearly encourages believers here to speak in tongues, but preferably not in church.
First of all tongues are used to speak directly to God:
1 Cor 14:2 “For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God. Indeed, no one understands him; he utters mysteries with his spirit.” NIV
Secondly speaking in tongues edifies the one speaking, not those around him/her.
1 Cor 14:4 “He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself…” NIV
Third of all, if there is no order in speaking in tongues at church, chaos will seem to reign in the assembly and unbelievers will think Christians are mad!
1 Cor 14:23 “So if the whole church comes together and everyone speaks in tongues, and some who do not understand or some unbelievers come in, will they not say that you are out of your mind?” NIV
Prophecy in contrast is for the edification of others.
1 Cor 14:3 “But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort.” NIV
No wonder that prophecy could be used to bring people to God!
1 Cor 14:24-25 “But if an unbeliever or someone who does not understand comes in while everybody is prophesying, he will be convinced by all that he is a sinner and will be judged by all, and the secrets of his heart will be laid bare. So he will fall down and worship God, exclaiming, “God is really among you!” NIV
b. 1 Cor 14:20-21
“Brothers, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults. In the Law it is written:
“Through men of strange tongues and through the lips of foreigners I will speak to this people, but even then they will not listen to me,” says the Lord.” NIV
It is right after quoting Isaiah 28:11, 12 that Paul wrote: 1 Cor 14:22 “Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is for believers, not for unbelievers.”
From Isaiah it appears that “tongues”, which are not interpreted, are not a sign for believers (although for Cornelius and his friends it was a sure sign to the Jewish believers that God had granted them salvation), but for unbelievers, who like Israel reject the sign and the message that goes with it.
It is true as well, that God through His Holy Spirit has given the ability to some to speak another language of this planet that they had previously no training for nor any ability to speak. People were ministered that way in their own language and saw proof that what was said to them was from divine origin.
Looking in context it is clear that the apostle Paul isn’t contradicting himself. In fact Paul concludes:
1 Cor 14: 26-28 “What then shall we say, brothers? When you come together, everyone has a hymn, or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation. All of these must be done for the strengthening of the church. If anyone speaks in a tongue, two-or at the most three-should speak, one at a time, and someone must interpret. If there is no interpreter, the speaker should keep quiet in the church and speak to himself and God.” NIV
Order must reign in the church and all should be open to the Holy Spirit’s promptings. Jesus is the head of the church (see Eph 1:22) and we are to follow him as our example!
Do you know Jesus as your friend? Why don’t you invite Him into your life now by answering the Saviour’s Call!
Because as a believer you are able to talk directly to God and Satan can not understand what it is you are saying and then can not interrupt the answer from god with something of his own that you will mistakenly believe is an answer from god. and an unbeliever will want to have this ability so then he will believe.
The way the Corinthians were speaking in tongues was helping no because believers did not understand what was being said, and unbelievers thought the people speaking in tongues were crazy. Speaking in tongues was supposed to be a sign to unbelievers after speaking in tongue, believers were supposed to explain what was said and give the credit to God. The unsaved people would then be convinced of a spiritual reality and motivated to search the Christian faith further. While this is one way to reach unbelievers, Paul says that clear preaching is usually better.
Miriam & Stephanie
Is speaking in tongues a benchmark of Christianity, an overflow of worship or a tool of evangelism? An unbeliever will respond to someone speaking in tongues if the message he hears solves the dilemma of the heart [“…every man heard in his own tongue”]. If we view tongues as an overflow of worship, apostolic rules of order apply. If we view tongues as a benchmark, we limit GOD.
While believers know the source of the truth being prophesied [foretelling], unbelievers do not know the source, so to them it is foolishness. If the prophesying is forthtelling [preaching] they will “hear” and have the opportunity to believe.
Therefore, we must distinguish between tongues of worship and tongues of evangelism. Furthermore, we must realize that the prophesy of foretelling strengthens the believers view of GOD and the prophesy of forthtelling relates the gospel and demands a response of faith. The reality is that speaking in tongues can be a sign or a stumbling stone and prophesy can be directed to the believer or the unbeliever.
GOD bless you as you seek to serve HIM
I truly believe a person has to be filled with the Holy Spirit to know the answer to this question. Many so called believers live by one verse of the Bible. For God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him, shall not perish but have ever lasting life. My answer is what the Holy Spirit speaks to me. I am not undermining anyone else’s belief. I feel that the true Believer reads the word of God, and accepts it as Truth, and lives by it, according to what Jesus said. In Mark 16:17 And these things shall follow them that believe: In my name shall they cast out devils and speak in tongues.
This verse says this will happen to those that believe. It does not say it might happen. It does not say to some it will happen. The true believer takes every word that God said as Truth without question. Therefore tongues is a sign to the unbeliever, because the unbeliever does not know or understand all the gifts and fruits of the Spirit. In simple terms, the believer expects to speak in new tongues, and is not surprised when this happens, they have already accepted it as Gods word. The unbeliever not being aware of this would assume these people had gone mad. I think our actions and reactions to circumstances is what divides the Believers from the Unbelievers.
As for Prophecy. Prophecy leads the unbeliever to God, and makes a Believer of them. The center verse of the Bible (KJV) is Psalms 118:8 Put all your trust in the Lord, not in man. Since the unbeliever is still living in the flesh. They can not understand the word of God, nor has the veil been lifted. When the unbeliever hears man speaking Prophecy, they can accept this as fact. Since this person is trusting Man, not God. This unbeliever can be lead to God through man. The Believer knows God speaks through man by giving Man His Spirit. Therefore Prophecy is for the believer to encourage them, as well as to lead the unbeliever to the word of God as a Believer. I hope this makes sense to someone other than me…LOL
Because tongues brings forth prophecy. The tongues are used when the church is being established to help bring forth the prophetic word i.e., interpretation.
Rev. K. BailJohna@aol.com
I think the difference is between “other tongues” and “unknown tongues”. “Other tongues” is a language that exists and is spoken and understood by people on earth. “Unknown tongues” is a language known and understood only by God and needs to be interpreted for us to understand it.With “unknown tongues” if we speak it, we are speaking directly to God and no one can understand unless a person with the gift of interpretations is there to interpret it.
In the day of Pentecost, when the disciples were preaching, Acts 2:6 says, “…everyone heard them speak in their own language.” In this instance, the gift of tongues were heard to reach the many different speaking people in “their own language.” 1 Corinthians 14:9 “So likewise, unless you utter by the tongue words easy to understand, how will it be know what is spoken? For you will be speaking into the air.” vs 11 “Therefore, if I do not know the meaning of the language, I shall be a foreigner to him who speaks, and he who speaks shall be a foreigner to me.”
You have to look at verse 21 for part of the answer. Unbelievers it says will not listen which means they will not understand tongues but it is as a sign to them of those who do believe. Read verse 21 and see if it begins to make any sense. In His service,
Tongues are a sign for the unbeliever that “God is in them of a truth” (1Cor.14:25), wheras the “natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God” (1Cor. 214), and needs the heart searching-exposing preaching of the Truth to convince/convict him of the former reality. This is what convinceth the soils in acts 2, as an expalaination of tongues.