“Brethren, do not be children in understanding; however, in malice be babes, but in understanding be mature.”
This verse brings us to a transition in chapter 14 regarding the purpose of tongues (14:21-22).
Paul used the word “brethren” as punctuation throughout chapter 14 (14:6, 20, 26, 39). He appealed to the Corinthians as members of the family of God to consider what he had to say about the relative value of tongues when there was no translator. This softened the rebuke of calling them infantile in the next phrase. “Brethren” also indicates a change in the subject.
do not be children in understanding;
The word “children” means infants. Preoccupation with tongues is infantile spirituality. Christians can be “children in understanding.” Twice Paul used the word “understanding” in this verse. Mature spirituality stresses reasoning power over the subjective. The Corinthians took a childish delight in using this very unusual gift; in doing so, they were immature.
However, in malice be babes,
The word “malice” refers to general wrong. It can refer to evil, wickedness, depravity, or it can mean badness, difficulties. Whatever distracts the believer from maturity dislocates movement towards maturity. We live in a day when evangelical Christians are “adult” in their understanding of the world. They have allowed their hearts to be distracted from growth in Christ. Christians expose themselves to evil without any attempt to purge it out of their lives.
1 Pe 2:1-3, Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, 2as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, 3if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
but in understanding be mature.
Corinthian infatuation with tongues blunted their maturity in Christ.
God puts the priority on exposition over experience.
God always puts the priority on cognitive and understanding. A central objective of the worship service is to teach doctrine. Any other form of worship is infantile. We cannot measure our spirituality on experience without exposition.
I still do not understand verse 20
Brenda, what do you understand about it?
the explanation is not clear to me
Florence, thanks for your comment. What specifically do you not understand about this study?
I’m having a problem understanding verse 22, which seems to contradict the premise of the preceding verses.
22 “Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for
unbelievers; prophecy, however, is for believers, not for
unbelievers. 23So if the whole church comes together
and everyone speaks in tongues, and some who do not”
In my mind the words “believers” and “unbelievers” seem to be switched in context. What am I missing here?
Tom, the argument of this section of First Corinthians is 1) classification of gifts (ch 12), 2) correct use of gifts (ch 13) and the misuse of gifts (ch 14). In chapter 14 the argument is the superiority of clear teaching so that people can mature as over against tongues, which is not a mature issue. The ultimate purpose of tongues is not for edification but to witness to unbelieving Jews (14:22). The ultimate purpose (note the grammar of verse 22) is to send a signal to unbelieving Jews that the transition has taken place between the Old Testament and the New. Israel as a nation has been set aside in God’s purpose but to be renewed in the future. Therefore, the purpose of tongues throughout the NT is to show Jews this transition has taken place. Note this study here: http://versebyversecommentary.com/articles/problem-passages/tongues-a-transition-issue-in-acts/ The Corinthians had misused tongues for edification rather than to show the Jews during the transition period from the OT to the NT that the church is now the new economy for God’s dealing with God’s people.
Life’s to short to listen.