1 Corinthians 14:24
But if an unbeliever or uninstructed person comes in while everyone is prophesying, he will be convicted and called to account by all,
Preaching to UnbelieversR. Tuck 1 Corinthians 14:24
A Lesson for PreachersJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 14:1-24
Choosing LoveScougal.1 Corinthians 14:1-24
Edification, Exhortation and ComfortProf. Godet.1 Corinthians 14:1-24
Following After LoveGreat Thoughts1 Corinthians 14:1-24
Grace and GiftsD. Thomas, D. D.1 Corinthians 14:1-24
Ineffective PreachingJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 14:1-24
Love Lessening Misery1 Corinthians 14:1-24
Private and Public EdificationJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 14:1-24
Prophecy and TonguesF. W. Robertson, M. A.1 Corinthians 14:1-24
Speaking in a TongueProf. Godet.1 Corinthians 14:1-24
Spiritual GiftsEssex Congregational Remembrancer1 Corinthians 14:1-24
Spiritual Gifts and Public WorshipM. Dods, D. D.1 Corinthians 14:1-24
The Gift of TonguesJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 14:1-24
The Gifts of the Spirit Must be Wisely EmployedJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 14:1-24
The Girls of Prophecy and TonguesA. F. Barfield.1 Corinthians 14:1-24
The Prompting of Love1 Corinthians 14:1-24
Three Modes of PreachingJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 14:1-24
True PreachingJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 14:1-24
Unedifying Preaching1 Corinthians 14:1-24
Universal BenevolenceJ. Orr, D. D.1 Corinthians 14:1-24
Conversion Prepared forE. Hurndall 1 Corinthians 14:23-25
How a Spectator Would Regard the TonguesC. Lipscomb 1 Corinthians 14:23-32
Conversion Prepared ForE. Hurndall, M. A.1 Corinthians 14:24-25
Conviction of SinG. Burder.1 Corinthians 14:24-25
Faithful PreachingR. Tuck, B. A.1 Corinthians 14:24-25
Prophesying in the Primitive ChurchJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 14:24-25
The Awakening of the SinnerJ. Lyth, D. D.1 Corinthians 14:24-25
The Conviction of the UnbelieverJ.R. Thomson 1 Corinthians 14:24, 25
The Nature of Spiritual Gifts, and Some DirectionsF. W. Robertson, M. A.1 Corinthians 14:24-25
The Secrets of the HeartW. T. Bull, B. A.1 Corinthians 14:24-25
In estimating the gifts of intelligent prophecy on the one hand, and the gifts of tongues on the other, the apostle tests their respective value by their practical utility. It could not be denied that one great end of the existence of the Christian Church was, as it still is, the instruction of the ignorant and the reformation of the sinful. It is clear that at Corinth, and at other places where Christian communities existed in the first age, there was already a constant intercourse between the Church and the world. Attracted by curiosity, or driven by spiritual wants and hopes, the unbelieving heathen and Jews would sometimes attend the Christian assemblies. This being so, Paul asks, What must be the effect upon such persons, first of such an exhibition of supernatural powers such as the Corinthians delighted in, and secondly of the proclamation of the truths and promises of the gospel? His own answer is that, whilst the speaking with tongues may amaze, it will probably be set down as ranting; whilst the utterance of God's Word will sometimes issue in the enlightenment, conviction, and salvation of the sinner. Surely a sufficient and decisive test!

I. THE MEANS OF THE UNBELIEVER'S CONVERSION. This is represented as prophecy, i.e. the uttering forth by man, as God's messenger, of God's mind and will. And in the case supposed by the apostle, evidently the declaration concerns the sinful state and the spiritual needs of man, the merciful purposes of God, the provision of pardon, renewal, and eternal life, through the Saviour Jesus Christ. Prophecy, so understood, has never ceased in the Church of the Lord Jesus. His ministers prophesy when they give witness to him, when they publish the gospel and its gracious invitations.

II. THE PROCESS OF THE UNBELIEVER'S CONVERSION. The question arises - How does the Christian prophecy affect the mind and heart of the ignorant and unbelieving hearer? According to the representation of the apostle, the word evinces its own divinity by making the sinner known to himself. And there can be no more generally convincing and conclusive evidence of the authority of religion than is afforded by the fact. that the preaching of the gospel reveals man to himself in his true state and position. The truths of the gospel are the utterances of him who formed the human heart. The candle of the Lord searches even the dark places of man's nature, and that which is hidden is brought forth to light. The conscience stricken sinner realizes his guilt and danger, and his need of a Divine Deliverer. He is convinced, examined, judged, by the several messages which penetrate his nature. The secrets of his heart, his iniquities, his sorrow and penitence, his aspirations for a better life, are all made manifest.


1. His enmity to God and to God's truth is utterly vanquished. He falls down, contrite and submissive, like him Who cried, "God, be merciful to me a sinner."

2. His enmity is exchanged for reverence and worship. Before, he may have adored the false gods whom he has been trained to revere; now and henceforth there is for him but one God, the Saviour of all men.

3. He acknowledges the Divine presence in the Church. Had he listened only to "tongues," he would have deemed the speakers to have raved. But listening to words of grace and truth, the convert acknowledges that in meeting e he has met with God, and their assembly has become to him, as it has God's people he has met with God, and their assembly has become to him, as it has become to multitudes, "the house of God, and the gate of heaven. - T.

But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all.

1. Not the prediction of future events (ver. 3), nor ordinarily the discussion of Scripture, since the New Testament was not yet written.

2. But the preaching of New Testament truth already learnt from the apostles and others, under the direct impulse of the Spirit (ver. 30), which was liberally bestowed upon the members of the Church (ver. 24).


1. The edification of the Church.

2. The conviction of the ignorant and unbelieving — producing awakening of conscience, confession of sin, and the acknowledgment of God's presence.


1. The direct communications of the Holy Spirit are superseded by the completed canon of Scripture, which must be carefully studied by persons properly qualified, and appointed.

2. Yet it were well if there were less of human art and method and much more of the Spirit's unction and power.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)


1. Unbelieving.

2. Ignorant.


1. The voice of the preacher.

2. The proclamation of truth.

3. The awakenings of conscience.


1. Confesses his sin.

2. Worships God.

3. Bears testimony to His presence and power.

(J. Lyth, D. D.)

I. PREACHING THE GOSPEL IS AN ORDINANCE OF GOD, AND WAS CONSTANTLY USED IN THE PRIMITIVE CHURCH (Matthew 28:19). Believing in Christ is necessary to salvation; and preaching the gospel is generally necessary to believing (Romans 10:14; 1 Corinthians 1:21).

II. CURIOSITY FREQUENTLY LED PERSONS TO THE CHRISTIAN ASSEMBLIES. The religion of Christ made a great stir in the world. Some were greatly prejudiced against it. But when they saw miracles performed before their eyes; when they saw some of their neighbours forsake the altars of their idols, and become moral and lovely in their conduct, they were forced to stop and consider how these things could be, and some of them would, of course, go and hear for themselves. Our text supposes. such a thing. God often overruled this kind of curiosity for good. Zaccheus wanted to gratify his curiosity; but Christ, in mercy, called and converted him. And it is happy for many that they did not suffer their own prejudices, or the fear of man, to prevent their judging for themselves.


1. The unbeliever, coming into the assembly, is convinced; whoever preached, his doctrine had this tendency, to convince the man of sin. This is done by the power of the Spirit, going along with the Word (John 16:8).

2. "He is judged of all"; tried, and condemned. The consideration of his own sin is brought home to his conscience, as when Nathan said to David, "Thou art the man!" He receives the sentence of death in himself. It is the office of an enlightened conscience to anticipate the judgment of the great day. Most men have such a notion of the mercy of God as to forget His justice and holiness; but when a person is convinced of sin he sees that God is holy and just; and he cannot but dread these terrible attributes, till he learns from the gospel how God is at once "a just God and a Saviour" (Isaiah 45:21; Romans 3:36).

IV. PREACHING THE WORD TENDS TO DISCLOSE THE SECRET WORKINGS OF THE HEART, WHICH WERE UNOBSERVED BEFORE. Most men are so busied in worldly affairs, or stupefied with worldly pleasures, that they are great strangers to themselves. But the faithful preaching of God's Word has a tendency to rouse men from their supineness. The Word of God is a mirror that shows men their hearts. Persons who have not been used to hear the gospel are frequently surprised, when they sit under a powerful ministry, to hear their own case and character so exactly described. This is the proper effect of the Word of God, which carries with it a mighty and convincing argument of its truth, as being the Word of Him who searcheth the heart and trieth the reins (Jeremiah 17:10).

V. WHEN A MAN IS CONVERTED TO GOD HE ALWAYS BEGINS TO PRAY. This was the symptom of Paul's own conversion: "Behold, he prayeth!" It is sad to think that so many people never pray. A short form of words, always the same, and always unfelt. Behold here, a man so overpowered with a sense of the majesty and justice of God; so deeply affected with his danger as a sinner, and so eagerly desirous of pardoning mercy, that be forgets he is surrounded by mortals, and falls down before his God with the publican's petition (Luke 18:13). So have I seen a condemned criminal at a human bar, when the sentence of death has been pronounced, fall down on his knees, and, regardless of the gazing throng, implore the favour of the judge. So have I seen dying persons, expecting soon to appear before God, cry aloud for mercy, without considering who surrounded their beds. The place, or the posture of prayer, is of little consequence. It might disturb the public worship, yet when a person is greatly affected, it will be difficult to conceal his emotions. He will lift up his heart, if not his voice to God.

VI. CONVERTED PERSONS DROP ALL THERE PREJUDICES AGAINST THE PEOPLE OF GOD, AND SPEAK HONOURABLY OF THEM. "He will report that God is in you of a truth." Profane people treat them with contempt and scorn. But no sooner does a man come to himself, and see things as they are, than he forms a very different opinion of godly persons. He sees that they are the excellent of the earth, the children of God, and heirs of eternal glory.

(G. Burder.)


1. The door of the sanctuary should be an open one (ver. 23). Restrictions should be swept away. Non-church-goers are often such through the action of church-goers.

2. Means should constantly be employed in the sanctuary. The gospel should be preached. The presence of "unbelievers "and unlearned should be borne in mind.


1. Order and propriety in the sanctuary. The building is not unimportant, for there are some churches in which it is difficult to be converted. The services should be decorous, or the stranger may think we are mad. But dulness and coldness are not decorous.

2. Worship. Song and prayer have won not a few — but both may hinder.

3. Preaching should be —

(1)Intelligible — not over the heads of the people.

(2)Sensible — not under their heads.

(3)Direct (ver. 24), so that the hearer may feel that it is meant for him.

(4)Searching — manifesting the secrets of the heart.



1. What do the unbelieving and ignorant think of them? Some will scoff; but what will the common-sense and sincere think? What ought they to think?

2. What results will follow? Are they those of ver. 25? If not something is amiss. Is it the want of the Holy Spirit?

(E. Hurndall, M. A.)


1. It is the exertion of spiritual power.

2. It will arouse and liberate the conscience.

3. It must include the aspects of truth directly suited to reach the unbeliever.


1. Impression, "He is convinced of all."

2. Knowledge of self, "Secrets of heart made manifest."

3. Sense of God (ver. 25).

(R. Tuck, B. A.)

And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest
I. THE HEART IS THE DEPOSITORY OF MANY SECRETS. The assumption of knowledge is one of our most besetting and perilous weaknesses; how little we really know of the world around us! We know far less of that within. Note some of the secrets of the heart of an unbelieving man.

1. There is hidden within him an immense amount of ignorance and conceit of which he knows nothing. He has no true knowledge of himself as a sinner. Had he such knowledge he would apply at once for salvation, and not pharisaically congratulate himself that he is not as other men.

2. A deep and inexhaustible depravity which alienates him from God. Of this he knows nothing, or the knowledge would be such a misery as would give him no rest until a remedy was discovered.

3. Many unremembered and unthought-of sins. Sin unknowingly committed as well as those willingly forgotten lie buried deep in the memory till the hour of revival.

4. Numerous latent fears. The child that is happy in the broad daylight knows nothing of those fears which the dark and lonely night will awaken. Even in this world the unbeliever's fears may emerge from the caverns in which they lie concealed; but in the hereafter who can prognosticate the fears which will be awakened by the consciousness of unforgiven guilt?

5. A sense of God, right, truth, and immortality. No one is so utterly degraded as to have no traces of those radical principles. Not that we are born with any positive ideas of them, but we are born with certain capacities which infallibly secure to us impressions of the invisible, infinite, and eternal. And there will come a time when these will be the grand all-absorbing truths.

II. THE MANIFESTATION OF THOSE SECRETS. Ignorant as we are of the depths of our own nature there is a limited but sufficient knowledge that we may obtain of ourselves. By the light of God's Word and the teaching of His Spirit we may learn so much as to see the necessity and suitableness of God's provision for our salvation. And oftentimes it pleases God — as in the case before us — to lead the unbeliever to the assembly of His people, and by the truth published and the Spirit given there, to shed light into the heart. As psalm and prayer uprise, as the Scriptures are read and explained, new and surprising revelations are vouchsafed. The slumbering conscience is aroused, memory is quickened, the consciousness of God, judgment, and eternity becomes vivid, and the once unbeliever is overpowered, and confesses to the Divine revelation made to his heart. Conclusion: If you have not seen any of these things, consider —

1. Your fearful and benighted ignorance.

2. The danger of this revelation when it will be of no avail.

3. The necessity of the prayer, "Lord, that I may receive my sight."

(W. T. Bull, B. A.)

for their use: —

1. A. "spiritual gift" is the faculty in each in which the Holy Spirit reveals Himself. Every man has some such, in which his chief force lies.

2. There are certain creative epochs when intense feelings elevate all the powers preternaturally. Such, e.g., was the close of the last century, when the revolutionary spirit created a preternatural abundance of military talent. Such, too, was the first age of Christianity. The Holy Spirit was poured out largely, and whatever it touched it vivified. The Holy Ghost may mingle with man in three ways — with his body, and then you have a miracle; with his spirit, and then you have that exalted feeling which finds vent in "tongues"; or with his intellect, and then you have prophecy.

I. IN THE CASE OF PROPHECY, cultivated minds were themselves able by the understanding to convey to the understanding what the Spirit meant.

1. But the essential in all this was the Divine element of life. Just as when rain falls on dry ground, the resultant greenness and vigour are simply the outward manifestation of invisible life — so the new life penetrated the whole man, and gave force to every faculty.

2. Consider what this gift must have done in developing the Church! Men came into Christian assemblies for once, and were astonished by the flood of luminous and irresistible truth which passed from the prophetic lips: it became an instrument of conversion.

3. In ver. 29 we learn that private inspiration was always to be judged by the general inspiration — i.e., it was not to be taken for granted because spoken. Inspiration is one thing, infallibility is another. God the Holy Ghost, as a sanctifying Spirit, dwells in human beings with partial sin. Did He not do so, He could not dwell with man at all. Therefore, St. Paul says that the spirits of the prophets are to be subject to the prophets. Neglect of this has been a fruitful cause of fanaticism. The afflatus was not irresistible; a man was not to be borne away by his gift, but to be master of it, and responsible for it.

II. RESPECTING TONGUES, note the following directions.

1. Repression of feeling in public. This state of ecstacy was so pleasurable, and the admiration awarded to it so easy to be procured, that numbers, instead of steady well-doing, spent life in "showing off." The American camp meetings, etc., show how uncontrolled religious feeling may overpower reason — mere animal feeling mingling with the movements of Divine life. There is great danger in this, and just in proportion as feelings are strong do they require discipline. When religious life degenerates into mere indulgence of feeling, life wastes away, and the man or woman becomes weak, instead of strong. What a lesson! These Divine high feelings in Corinth — to what had they degenerated! A stranger coming in would pronounce the speakers mad!

2. "Forbid not to speak with tongues." A common man would have said, "All this is wild fanaticism; away with it!" St. Paul said, "It is not all fanaticism: part is true, part is error." The true is God's Spirit. Learn, then, to sympathise with deep feeling. There are cold, intellectual men, who frown on every manifestation of feeling; whereas only the Spirit can interpret the Spirit.

3. To prefer gifts which are useful to others, rather than those which draw admiration to ourselves. And yet there are few who would not rather be the gifted singer, at whose strains breathless multitudes melt into tears, than some nurse of a hospital, soothing pain, or a Dorcas making garments for the poor. It is better to be useful than brilliant.

4. The real union of the human race lies in oneness of heart. This gift was not a gift of foreign languages; a Greek might be speaking in the Spirit, and another Greek might not understand him; but a Roman or a Mesopotamian might, and this by a gift of sympathy. The world is craving for unity; it may be centuries before it comes; still it is something to be on the right track. Christianity casts aside all human plans and speculations as utterly insufficient. It does not look to political economy, to ecclesiastical drill, nor to the absorption of all languages into one; but it looks to the eternal Spirit of God, which proceeds from the eternal Son. One heart, and then many languages will be no barrier. One spirit, and man will understand man. Conclusion: There are gifts which draw admiration to a man's self, others which solace and soothe him personally, and a third class which benefit others. The world and the Bible are at issue on the comparative worth of these. A gifted singer soon makes a fortune, and men give their guineas ungrudgingly for a morning's enjoyment. An humble teacher in a school, or a missionary, can often but only just live. Only remember that, in the sight of the Everlasting Eye, the one is creating sounds which perish with the hour that gave them birth, the other is building for the eternal world an immortal human spirit.

(F. W. Robertson, M. A.)

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