“How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.” (1 Corinthians 14:26, KJV)
When I was working as a field service engineer, one of the things I did was manage the installation of industrial printing machinery. One of these machines was about 120 feet long with multiple units. The installation took about two months and required various trades people. There were masonry workers, millwrights, electricians, plumbers, etc. Everything had to be done in a specific order. It was my main job to set the order of the various stages of the installation and organize the trades people to accomplish the work in the most efficient manner. Order was paramount to meeting the installation schedule.
Now, imagine that there was no order for the installation. All the trades people just showed up at the same time and started doing their thing. What would happen? It would be a total mess and the installation would probably take a year or so, if it ever was finished. The machine might never have been built up correctly. The reason? A state of confusion would have surrounded the project.
Paul was primarily dealing with the church at Corinth’s misuse of the gift of tongues in their corporate assemblies. This resulted from their acting in an immature manner. They had missed the main point. The overriding concern was that their practices in their meetings were not edifying. The word “edifying,” oikodome, refers to architecture (Strong G3169), that which is the result of building. Paul told the church that they needed to act in their corporate assemblies in a way that resulted in them being built up in the faith.
Paul lists a variety of things that would happen in their assemblies. There would be psalms, or spiritual and harmonious songs. There would be doctrinal teaching and the revelation of truth. There would also be speaking in a foreign language, a tongue, but always with a translation. While all these things might happen, it was vital that the result would be mutual edification. For this to happen these elements needed to be blended in an orderly fashion. Disorder would confuse the issue and severely limit the edification that was to happen.
The church’s corporate assemblies should always be led by the Spirit. This does mean that there will be an element of free flow. However, the Spirit will never lead the church into a state of disorganized confusion. Yet, this is what was happening at the church in Corinth and the main culprit was their misuse of tongues. However, the problem is not just tongues. Any elements in the assembly that are not led by the Spirit, can lead to a disorganized and confusing gathering. The church must protect against such for the sake of the church body.
At a church I once pastored, we would often have a time where the parishioners could go to the microphone and share their thoughts and testimonies. It was done in an orderly way. Yet, we would sometimes hear things that were confusing and, as the pastor, I would have to slow things down and clarify points of doctrine so that there would be no confusion.
The main point in this is that there must be order in the church’s corporate gatherings. This is so there will not be confusion since God is not one of confusion (v33). The result of this will be the building up of those present.