Wednesday, September 19, 2018
“In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord. Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe” (1 Corinthians 14:21,22 KJV).
While it is commonly overlooked, today’s Scripture describes God’s righteous judgment on a certain group of unbelievers. Who are they? What is God’s message to them? Who is delivering that message?
Acts 18:11 says Paul preached God’s Word in Corinth for 18 months (verse 18 indicates even longer). When he had first arrived, he preached to and converted Jews and Greeks in the synagogue (verses 1-5). Once unbelieving Israel opposed him, he pronounced God’s judgment on them (verse 6) and went next door to the house of Justus, a Gentile, to start a local assembly (verse 7). “And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized” (verse 8). Eventually, there is a second leader of the synagogue, Sosthenes, but he too becomes a convert of Paul (verse 17 cf. 1 Corinthians 1:1).
When we approach the Books of 1 and 2 Corinthians, we should keep the above background in mind. The Christians at Corinth met in a building that “joined hard” (Acts 18:7)—shared a common wall—with the Jewish synagogue. In other words, believers in Jesus Christ frequently met in close proximity to unsaved Israel! It was because of these lost Jews that the Holy Spirit through Paul wrote today’s Scripture. God had a special message for them: it was important that the Corinthian saints maintain a clear, influential testimony to enlighten and evangelize lost Israel.
In today’s Scripture, Paul quotes Isaiah’s prophecy to describe a similar situation occurring in the Book of Acts. (Remember, Paul wrote 1 Corinthians circa Acts chapters 19-20.) God is operating the spiritual gift of tongues among Paul’s Gentile converts, which is to signify something to Israel. Israel, knowing the Old Testament, is expected to make the connection and be converted to Christ….