- What is the goal of anyone's contribution to a meeting?
- How are tongues to be exercised?
- How should prophecy be exercised?
- How and why should it be tested?
- What will be women's role in this?
- Why this role?
- What is Paul's conclusion to these chapters (v39-40)?
- What does it mean, from ch12-14 (and in view of ch1-4), to be fitting and orderly?
- What specific challenges must we take action on from these studies?
Every contribution is to be for strengthening the body. People may bring all sorts of contributions, a song, a word, whatever someone contributes it is not for themselves but for the benefit of the body, for its growth in the gospel, in unity in Christ.
Tongues are limited to two or three and must be translated. Without that the person must be silent... without clarity there is no benefit to the body.
Again, two or three are to share prophecy. Like tongues the gift is under the control of the person exercising the gifts. A prophet prophesies for the benefit of the church not self-seekingly (which would lack love). If another prophecy comes while one is speaking they can step aside - they do not need to have their say, its about hearing God not about hearing them.
What is given must be tested by the congregation. This implies that prophecy doesn't have any authority. There is no room for the prophet to attach words like thus says the Lord to their prophecy. They cannot do that. Prophecy needs testing. The authority lies with the congregation who weigh it.
What is it tested against? Scripture, what else! This should remind us that we shouldn't pursue prophecy to the exclusion of doctrinal depth. How can we say we're serious about God's word if we wont study the written word and only pursue contemporary revelation. Churches most serious about prophecy should be the most serious about careful teaching of God's word. Note also that much Old Testament prophecy is rebuke and call to repentance, and is never ego-massaging....
- Gospel-centred - confessing Christ and calling for repentance (though it may also be more specifically directive, from NT example)
- For the common good to strengthen others faith - the contribution of any Christian to the congregation must be for this purpose (this presupposes the next qualification...)
- Clear and intelligible. Those who hear it must be able to understand it sensibly in their own language. Faith does not grow by ignorance or merely observing a phenomena.
- Non-authoritative. It must be tested and weighed by those present (though it would seem not with wives testing their own husbands prophecy, for the sake of order)
- Given by male or female. It can be given by male or female members of the congregation. The prophet is in control of themselves when speaking and can stop speaking to allow another to speak. Only prophecy given in love is useful so a prophet will be happy to step aside for the good of others.
- Not Bible teaching but spontaneous revelation.