Paul addresses many problems with the Corinthian church throughout 1 Corinthians. In chapter 14 he addresses their aberration from what was normative in New Testament churches particularly in the area of tongues. Although this passage mainly deals with speaking in tongues, we can find the normative pattern of worship that the early church observed during their Lord’s Day gatherings.
The gathering was primarily of believers
Paul clearly expected the gathering to be primarily of believers. He did acknowledge that there would be unbelievers present, but the purpose of the Lord’s Day gathering was very clearly not evangelism. Although the Gospel would always be presented and applied each time the Church gathered, the purpose was the edification of the body of Christ for His glory.
Prophecy in a known language was the central focus of the gathering
Paul advocates that what the church should desire is the spiritual gift of prophecy. Simply put the church was to have men filled with the Spirit of God directly and pointedly apply the Word of God to the hearts of each person present. This was to be done in a known language to the hearers or through an interpreter.
The purpose was edification
The Corinthian church was using the gathering for an audience to showboat their spirituality. Paul here corrects them and commands them that the purpose of the gathering is to build up the body of Christ. As in Ephesians 4, the spiritual gifts are given to serve the church not use the church for one’s own ego.
Many men were to speak
The idea of “the preacher” or “the sermon” was foreign to the early church. Paul clearly expected several men (two or three) to preach each time the church gathered. Not only that but each man present was to be actively studying the Scriptures to hear the voice of the Spirit and apply the Word to their families and the rest of the church. Men were expected in turn to show what God had revealed to the them from His Word while the other men were speaking. This results in everyone in the body being taught and comforted by the Spirit.
Only men were to address the congregation
While all Spirit-filled believers are gifted for service, only men are to address the congregation and apply the Word of God. This is keeping with God’s Law and His order from the beginning of creation. Each man is to study to know God’s Word so that he can edify his wife, children, and the body of Christ.
Everything was to be done in decency and order
All of this was to be done in an orderly fashion. There was not to be interruptions and shouting each other down. Each person was to speak in turn. Each song, doctrine, etc. was to have its proper place within the order.
Are you actively seeking to apply God’s Word when you hear it preached? Are you actively seeking to grow in your faith so that you can teach others?