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THE FIRST EPISTLE OF PAUL THE APOSTLE TO THE CORINTHIANS - Chapter 14 - Verse 21

Verse 21. In the law it is written. This passage is found in Isa 28:11,12. The word law here seems to mean the same as revelation; or is used to denote the Old Testament in general. A similar use occurs in Joh 10:34; 15:25.

With men of other tongues, etc. This passage, where it occurs in Isaiah, means, that God would teach the rebellious and refractory Jews submission to himself, by punishing them amidst a people of another language, by removing them to a land—the land of Chaldea—where they would hear only a language that to them would be unintelligible and barbarous. Yet, notwithstanding this discipline, they would be still, to some extent, a rebellious people. The passage in Isaiah has no reference to the miraculous gift of tongues, and cannot have been used by the apostle as containing any intimation that such miraculous gifts would be imparted. It seems to have been used by Paul, because the words which occurred in Isaiah would appropriately express the idea which he wished to convey, See Barnes "Mt 1:23,) that God would make use of foreign languages for some valuable purpose. But he by no means intimates that Isaiah had any such reference; nor does he quote this as a fulfilment of the prophecy; nor does he mean to say, that God would accomplish the same purpose by the use of foreign languages, which was contemplated in the passage in Isaiah. The sense is, as God accomplished an important purpose by the use of a foreign language in regard to his ancient people, as recorded in Isaiah, so he will make use of foreign languages to accomplish important purposes still. They shall be used in the Christian church to effect important objects, though not in the same manner, nor for the same end, as in the time of the captivity. What the design of making use of foreign languages was, in the Christian church, the apostle immediately states, 1 Co 14:22,23.

Yet for all that, etc. Notwithstanding all this chastisement that shall be inflicted on the Jews in a distant land, and among a people of a different language, they will still be a rebellious people. This is the sense of the passage, as it is used by Isaiah. Isa 28:12. It is not quoted literally by the apostle, but the main idea is retained. He does not appear to design to apply this to the Corinthians, unless it may be to intimate that the power of speaking foreign languages did not of necessity secure obedience. It might be that this power might be possessed, and yet they be a sinful people; just as the Jews were admonished by the judgments of God, inflicted by means of a people speaking a foreign language, and yet were not reformed or made holy.

{a} "law" Joh 10:34 {b} "it is written" Isa 28:11,12 {*} "tongues" "languages" {+} "hear" "hearken to"

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