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THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS - Chapter 14 - Verse 14

Verse 14. For if I pray, etc. The reference to prayer here, and to singing in 1 Co 14:15, is designed to illustrate the propriety of the general sentiment which he is defending, that public worship should be conducted in a language that would be intelligible to the people. However well meant it might be, or however the heart might be engaged in it, yet, unless it was intelligible, and the understanding could join in it, it would be vain and profitless.

My spirit prayeth. The word spirit here (pneuma) has been variously understood. Some have understood it of the Holy Spirit—the Spirit by which Paul says he was actuated. Others of the spiritual gift, or that spiritual influence by which he was endowed. Others of the mind itself. But it is probable that the word "spirit" refers to the will; or to the mind, as the seat of the affections and emotions; i.e., to the heart, desires, or intentions. The word spirit is often used in the Scriptures as the seat of the affections, emotions, and passions of various kinds. See Mt 5:3, "Blessed are the poor in spirit." Lu 10:21, "Jesus rejoiced in spirit." So it is the seat of ardour or fervour, (Lu 1:17; Ac 18:25; Ro 12:11; ) of grief or indignation, Mr 8:12; Joh 11:33; 13:21; Ac 17:16.

It refers also to feelings, disposition, or temper of mind, in Lu 9:55; Ro 8:15. Here it refers, it seems to me, to the heart, the will, the disposition, the feelings, as contradistinguished from the understanding; and the sense is, "My feelings find utterance in prayer; my heart is engaged in devotion; my prayer will be acceptable to God, who looks upon the feelings of the heart, and I may have true enjoyment; but my understanding will be unfruitful, that is, will not profit others. What I say will not be understood by them; and of course, however much benefit I might derive from my devotions, yet they would be useless to others."

But my understanding. o de nouv mou. My intellect, my mind; my mental efforts and operations.

Is unfruitful. Produces nothing that will be of advantage to them. It is like a barren tree; a tree that bears nothing that can be of benefit to others. They cannot understand what I say, and, of course, they cannot be profited by what I utter.

{+} "unknown tongue" "Language" {++} "unfruitful" "but not being understood is without fruit"

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