Coptic Orthodox Diocese of the Southern United States
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Could you please explain the verses in the Holy Book of 1 Corinthians 14:22-26?  

The Holy Book of I Corinthians 14:22-26 is a continuation of St. Paul commending the gift of prophecy, which is the essence of chapter 14 of this epistle. St. Paul has this to say of "tongues." Spiritual gifts are for all. This includes Christians as well as those who are not Christians. Tongues do not edify most Christians and fail to convert non-believers (v.22), instead "tongues" may have the opposite effect and lead others away from Christianity. In verse 23 it states that "tongues" may implicate that Christians are "out of their mind."

We are assured in Chapter 14 that prophecy is indeed superior to "tongues." God judged the builders of the Tower of Babel and divided their unity by confusing their language. At Pentecost Vespers it is said, "Of old there was confusion of tongues because of the boldness of the tower builders." Then "God condemned the infidels."

But at Pentecost, "the Spirit of Christ illuminated the fishermen." At Babel, there was "confusion of tongues." At Pentecost, "the vision of tongues was renewed." In the Orthodox Church, as in the New Testament, the gift of tongues is last on the list of the gifts (I Cor 12:10,28). St John Chrysostom said, "that tongues are neither altogether useless, nor very profitable."

The practice of tongues is not a part of the Divine Liturgy because in worship we know that God is truly among us because we have His prophetic Word. God is not the author of confusion. The tradition of the Church tells us that if God is truly moving through the Spirit there will be peace. True spirituality is manifested within preparedness, order, and above all control.

If you will also read further in this same chapter, you will note that an early tradition was that women keep silent and did not speak at all during the Divine Liturgy. While they were permitted to prophesy (I Corinthians 11:5) they were not allowed to converse and talk. With spiritual gifts everyone is equal in the Lord Jesus Christ.

May God bless you in all your search for Scriptural understanding.
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