6But now, brethren, if I come to you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you unless I speak to you either by revelation, by knowledge, by prophesying, or by teaching?
Paul now turned to illustrations (vv. 6-12) to make the point that if there were no speakers in the language spoken in the service, there was no point speaking in tongues.
The argument in chapter 14 to this point is as follows:
Tongues were unintelligible to the speaker and to the hearers who did not speak in that given foreign language, 1 Co 14:2,3.
Tongues were addressed to God while prophecy addressed to men, 1 Co 14:2,3.
Tongues edified the speaker while prophecy edified the church, 1 Co 14:4.
The speaker of prophecy was more significant than the speaker of languages unless there was a translator, 1 Co14:5.
The word “brethren” is punctuation throughout chapter 14 (1 Co 14:20, 26, 30, 39). Paul’s appeal to members of the family of God softens his rebukes.
if I come to you speaking with tongues,
Paul used himself as an example of a tongues speaker in the illustration to show the inferiority of unintelligible speaking in tongues in contrast to the exposition of prophecy. Paul spoke in tongues (1 Co 14:18), but the book of Acts does not record one instance of him speaking in tongues.
what shall I profit you unless I speak to you either
The idea around which Paul makes his point is the profitability or practicality of doing something that does not benefit listeners.
Revelation is the exposure of the mind of God to the mind of men. Today, fortunately, we have revelation inscripturated in the Bible, but no one has the capacity to give revelation today since the canon is closed.
Knowledge is the accumulation of data about the Word of God. Knowledge probably also includes the idea of communication of knowledge as a Bible expositor does.
Prophecy in the first century was both direct revelation and exposition of that revelation to the church, but today it is only the exposition of revelation.
or by teaching?
“Teaching” is an instruction in formal ideas about the Christian faith (doctrine).
Anything that hinders a clear understanding of God’s Word is a detriment in the local church.
We need to put a premium on the exposition of the mind of God to the mind of men. Do you regularly expose yourself to an exposition of the mind of God?