We have had a great time as a church studying about the Holy Spirit…who He is and how He works. After the messages the last two weeks, we have had a time of “Q and A.” Many have commented that this series has been especially helpful because so many in our church come from a background where the gifts of the Spirit are not often discussed. I’m thankful for a church family that takes Scripture seriously even when we have looked at passages that can make some a little nervous.
During the Q and A time, a lady in our church asked a question that I (Mike) did not know the answer to…so here was my response via e-mail to all those who were part of that group. I figured others wondered the same thing.
First off, thanks SO much for coming up to discuss the message about tongues on Sunday. I wanted to pass on what I think is a helpful answer to what the apostle Paul says in 1 Cor.12:31—“Earnestly desire the higher gifts…”
I think (the lady) asked “What are the higher gifts?” and I had my very well articulated answer “I don’t know.”…so, I was doing some reading today and found that there are different answers to this, but I think the best answer is what follows:
Paul seems to be heading toward his argument in 1 Cor. 14 about the fact that intelligible gifts are greater/better/more desirable than those gifts that are not intelligible (mainly tongues without interpretation…which the Corinthians abused). 1 Cor. 13 is kind of an interruption to Paul’s flow of talking about the gifts b/c he wants to make sure that the Corinthians know that love needs to be the foundation of the gifts being used.
So, if this is true, the “greater” or “higher” gifts would be those that are intelligible because they can edify the believers in the Worship Gatherings in a way that tongues (without interpretation) cannot.
I hope that helps…Gordon Fee’s 1 Corinthians commentary (p.623-625) has several of the argument and Fee comes out in favor of the position above. Obviously this is a secondary issue and the Gospel is primary, but I wanted to let you know what I found.