Search Bible
Click for Help   Click for QuickNav   Click for Advanced Search Options
Search KJV
Your Bible Version is the KJV
Go to Top
Link to This Page Cite This Page
Share this page Follow the BLB
Printable Page
 
 
Left Contextbar EdgeLeft Contextbar Edge BackgroundRight Contextbar Edge2Prior SectionReturn to CommentariesReturn to Author BiographyNext SectionRight Contextbar Edge2Right Contextbar Edge BackgroundRight Contextbar Edge1
The Blue Letter Bible
BLB Searches
Search the Bible
Search KJV
 [?]

Advanced Options

Other Searches

Multi-Verse Retrieval
x
Search KJV

Let's Connect
x
Daily Devotionals
x

Blue Letter Bible offers several daily devotional readings in order to help you refocus on Christ and the Gospel of His peace and righteousness.

Daily Bible Reading Plans
x

Recognizing the value of consistent reflection upon the Word of God in order to refocus one's mind and heart upon Christ and His Gospel of peace, we provide several reading plans designed to cover the entire Bible in a year.

One-Year Plans

Two-Year Plan

Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: Speaking in Tongues

Don Stewart :: Is Speaking in Tongues to Build up Oneself a Proper Goal?

toggle collapse
Choose a new font size and typeface

Is Speaking in Tongues to Build up Oneself a Proper Goal? (1 Corinthians 14:4)

The Gift of Speaking in Tongues – Question 10

The Bible says that speaking in tongues can be a personal edification or a building up, of the one speaking. Paul wrote to the Corinthians about this. He said.

The person who speaks in [another] language builds himself up, but he who prophesies builds up the church (1 Corinthians 14:4 HCSB).

Is this something good? This has been used to demonstrate that speaking in tongues is a gift that God has given to believers for the purpose of building them up. It is argued that since we can only build up others as much as we ourselves are built up, we need the gift of tongues for personal building up or edification. Therefore, it is a good thing that some people speak in tongues and build up, or edify themselves.

In addition, speaking in tongues, it is contended, makes the believer feel closer to God when he or she prays to God in the Holy Spirit. This is another reason why self-edification is a proper goal for the Christian.

Others Believe That This Is the Wrong Understanding of This Verse

However there is also the viewpoint that tongues are only to be used for the building up of the church, not the individual. It is contended that this verse has been pulled out of its context and misapplied in this area. The passage does not encourage self-edification. There are a number of points that need to be made.

This Verse Has Nothing to Say about the Purpose of the Gift

First, this verse has been wrongly cited as the purpose of speaking in tongues. Paul is not dealing with the purpose of speaking in tongues in this verse. He does this later in the chapter when he writes the following.

Tongues, then, are a sign, not for believers but for unbelievers; prophecy, however, is for believers, not for unbelievers (1 Corinthians 14:22 NIV).

Since speaking in tongues is a sign to the unbeliever, the purpose cannot be self-edification. What Paul is doing in this verse is actually speaking against the use of tongues for self-edification. In other words, he is doing just the opposite of what people are saying he is doing. He is not encouraging people to speak in tongues for self-edification.

Self Edification Is the Result Not the Purpose

In addition, self-edification is the result, not the purpose, of exercising spiritual gifts. For example, when a person exercises the gift of evangelism they are built up. Yet the purpose of the gift is not to build up the evangelist. Neither is it the purpose of any spiritual gift.

This includes the gift of tongues. When any spiritual gift is exercised the person using the gift will always be built up. However this is not the reason that the gift is exercised. It is something that accompanies the use of the gift.

Building up Oneself Is Not a Valid Goal

Finally, the Bible speaks against the idea of building up one self. We are already full of self. The gifts of the Spirit are to build up others, not ourselves. They have been given for the good of the body of Christ. Paul wrote.

A spiritual gift is given to each of us as a means of helping the entire church (1 Corinthians 12:7 NLT).

This is the purpose for the gift; to build up the church.

In this spirit Paul wrote to the Philippians about the need to be thinking of others and not ourselves. He put it this way.

Don’t think only about your own affairs, but be interested in others, too, and what they are doing (Philippians 2:4 NLT).

Therefore, believers in Christ should not seek to edify or build up themselves, but rather to build up the body of Christ, the church.

Summary – Question 10
Is Speaking in Tongues to Edify Oneself a Proper Goal (1 Corinthians 14:4)

The Bible says that those who speak in tongues edify, or build up, themselves. This brings up the question as to whether this is something which should be our goal. Should we attempt to build up ourselves?

There are those who see this as something necessary. They believe that Christians need to build up themselves so they can build up others. Since speaking in tongues builds up, or edifies, the person who is exercising the gift self-edification should be a desirable goal.

Others do not believe it is a valid goal for the Christian. They believe the gift of tongues, as well as the rest of spiritual gifts, are given to profit the entire body of Christ. Indeed, they are not given merely to build up individual believers. The emphasis in Scripture is not on the individual but on the entire church. Gifts are for the edification or building up of everyone, not just a select few.

While exercising spiritual gifts will build up the person exercising the gift, this is the result of using the gift rather than the purpose of the gift. Therefore, we must always remember that the purpose of the gift is the building up, or the edification of, others.

Should a Person Seek to Speak in Tongues? ← Prior Section
Does Speaking in Tongues Have a Devotional Purpose? Next Section →
CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


Donate Contact

Blue Letter Bible study tools make reading, searching and studying the Bible easy and rewarding.

Hotjar - Unlimited insights from your web and mobile sites

Blue Letter Bible is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization