24But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all. 25And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you.
The “but” shows a contrast between tongues speakers and those who expound the Bible.
if all prophesy,
“Prophesy” here is to proclaim the Word of God publicly. The word “all” does not convey the idea of all proclaiming at one time, but one-by-one (14:31).
and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in,
An “unbeliever” is a non-Christian. The “uninformed” is an untaught Christian.
he is convinced by all,
Expositing the Word has the effect of convincing and convicting non-Christians or uninformed Christians of their state before God. The words “convinced” and “convicted” carry the ideas of conviction and judgment, respectively. “Convinced” refers to influence on the conscience. Unbelievers become convinced that God’s Word is true by reason and perception.
he is convicted by all.
The word “convicted” means to bring to light, to expose, conviction of truth, and means to undergo judgment, to call to account. Expositors bring home the truth of the Word of God to those without Christ. The idea is a judicial hearing (2:15; 4:3f).
Exposition has a positive effect on unbelievers.
the secrets of his heart are revealed;
Exposition of the Word of God makes the unbeliever fall into a perception that he is under God’s judgment. God discloses truth by His Word.
and so, falling down on his face,
Falling down on one’s face to the ground is an act of worship. This is an act of contrition or unworthiness.
he will worship God and report that God is truly among you.
Having worshiped God, the unbeliever gives a “report” that God is “truly among you.” The word “report” (declare) carries the idea of confession with speech. This unbeliever reports that God is “truly” or certainly among the Corinthian congregation. The idea is that prophecy is genuine or authentic. God always draws authentic worship.
The purpose of the church is to convince those without Christ to come to Him.
Some churches today are mutual admiration societies where puncture-proof saints gather every Sunday to meet each other’s needs. Their concern is to be amused and entertained. They want to enjoy Christianity rather than work at it. They do not want to reach the unreachable and untouchables. People are going to hell in their living rooms, and no Christian cares. As long as we are going to heaven and having a nice time, that is all that counts.
I have a quick question: in 1 Corinthians 14:22, Paul says prophecy is not for unbelievers. But in verse 24-25, he gives a scenario in which prophecy has a positive impact on an unbeliever; this appears to contradict his earlier statement (verse 22) that prophecy is for believers, not for unbelievers.
How do we resolve this apparent contradiction between 1 Cor. 14:22b and 1 Cor. 14:24-25?
Carl, Paul does not reverse ground in vv.24ff for the prophesying of verse 24 is not evangelistic preaching. However, in the case where an unbeliever enters a congregation where the Bible is taught, the unbeliever hears the content of the Bible and then comes to a recognition of his need of the Savior. The least common denominator of the argument is that when it comes to outreach, tongues must take a back seat to prophecy because Bible-teaching delivers content that he needs to hear.
Your definition of “prophesying” in this passage (1 Corinthians 14:21-25) doesn’t make much sense to me. You say prophesying means to exposit or declare the Word of God publicly. What exactly does this mean? In the scenario given by Paul in this passage, an unbeliever who walks into the church has the SECRETS OF HIS HEART REVEALED by prophecy. This shows that prophesying in this text is not simply a reference to the general exposition of the Word of God. Rather, it is akin to a specific word of knowledge targeted at this unbeliever since it specifically reveals the secrets in the heart of this unbeliever. How else are we to understand the statement that “the secrets of his [the unbeliever’s] heart are revealed”? This form of prophetic utterance appears to be a specific word of knowledge targeted at a particular individual. Another example of this type of prophetic utterance seems to be when the Samaritan woman at the well told Jesus that she had no husband, and Jesus told her that she, in fact, had had five husbands, thereby revealing the secrets in her life. The woman replied, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet”. I am inclined to believe that something similar to what this Samaritan woman experienced (i.e., the revelation of the secrets in her life) is what Paul is talking about in the scenario he gave in 1 Cor. 14:23-25 regarding the unbeliever/uninformed person who walks into the church and, as a result of prophesying, the secrets of his heart are revealed by prophecy.
Austa, thanks for your reasoned response. Note below the Greek usage of the word for prophecy. The secrets of the heart are where the exposition of the Word of God convicts a sinning person of their sin. I have seen this many times as a pastor.
GIFT OF PROPHECY
Greek word: PROPHETEIA, Pro= before; phemi =to speak; Means: to declare openly
In cognates – over 200 times of scripture, the gift, a person, a proclamation, prediction, a process or act of ministry.
The capacity both to receive inspired information and to speak it forth~ Foretelling is incidental.
Illustrations of the gift:
Ex 7:1; 1 Sa 3:19-20; Acts 21:8-9; 11:27–28; (21:10-11); 15:27-32; 1 Co 14:3,4; Eph 2:20; 1 Th 5:20.
It makes the Word of God relevant to special needs.
It ranks among the highest gifts. (1 Co 12:28; Ch. 14}
Basic idea — proclamation
All are not prophets (1 Co 12:29) yet all may prophesy (14:31) and some have the special gift (1 Co 12:19; Ro 12:6).
Prophecy as new revelation passed away with the completion of the New Testament (1 Co 13:8-10).
Ministers by bringing edification, exhortation, and comfort (1 Co 14:3)
Prophecy can minister to unsaved (1 Co 14:24).
Prophecy mentioned in 1 Co 12 and Ro 12.
Prophecy has one qualification. – “According to the proportion of his faith,” Ro 12:60; “Proportion” – analogia, English~ analogy; meaning= agreement and equality or right relation; point—don’t go beyond what God has given
Definite article before “faith” indicates the reference is to the entire Word of God, not the ability to believe.
Thank you for your response and explanation.
Good evening Grant,
I just started in the faith but I have two question. In your response to Austa you said, “All are not prophets but allay prophesyansld some have the special gift” But my question is what is the difference between them?
Then in your answer to Carl you said,”when it comes to outreach, tongues must take a backseat to prophecy because Bible teaching delivers content that he need to hear” but then what would people who speak in tongues do? What is their purpose in serving God as people who speak in tongues? As everyone has a part to play in the Christian body then what is the purpose of those who speak in tongues
Ryan, I am blessed that you have embraced Christ as Savior. Your question involves a lot of things. To study the issue of tongues more fully go here: https://versebyversecommentary.com/articles/problem-passages/tongues-issue-in-the-bible/44583-2/
The biblical use of prophecy involves the distinction between two roles: 1) to prophesy something in the future, and 2) the primary usage is to proclaim a message from God.
If you go to this site, it will explain the purpose of all gifts, not just the gift of tongues: https://versebyversecommentary.com/articles/problem-passages/tongues-issue-in-the-bible/spiritual-gifts-2/
If you begin studying this passage and then the following links, you will see the purpose of tongues: https://versebyversecommentary.com/2003/01/16/1-corinthians-1421f/