The verse ‘Let all things be done decently and in order’ – what does 1st Corinthians 14:40 mean?
Last night at a non-disclosed venue a brother in Christ spoke to me about my open-air evangelism. He advised that my open-air preaching is “unbiblical.” I asked him why so. He specifically spoke about a comment that I made on my Facebook wall yesterday, whereas I advised that while preaching in San Bernardino, I “almost got hit with a large rock, and an unopened can of beer” (video here).
He advised me that if I am preaching in the streets and chaos occurs, or if I’m being “disruptive,” that I am not obeying the verse that says “Let all things be done decently and in order.” I value constructive criticism from my brethren, but let’s take a look at that verse in its proper context.
In the 14th chapter of 1st Corinthians, Paul was speaking to the church in Corinth. Verse 40 (and 39) are a ‘concise summary’ of the entire 14th chapter. Putting that verse into context, Paul had just spoken about ‘spiritual gifts.’
Paul knew that some were zealous to use the gifts, and that they would be troublesome if not used Biblically. Paul reminded them that God was not the author of confusion, but of peace within the body of Christ (or local church setting).
The spiritual gifts Paul had just spoken about were the gift of tongues, the interpretation of tongues, but more specifically the gift of prophecy. Paul was saying that those whom used those gifts then, could only do so if they were done with a proper order of worship. Henceforth chapter 14 ends with verse 40, “Let all things be done decently and in order.”
Paul was not talking about preaching the Gospel in a dark decadent world, he was talking about the local church congregation. More specifically the application of gifts. Brethren if you are preaching the Gospel out in a sinful world, chaos will erupt. Sometimes people curse, mock, and/or heckle the Gospel. Sometimes they will hurt, harm, or even kill you. It happened in the Scriptures, it happened in the early church, and it still happens today.
The above misuse of Gods Word is why an ‘exegetical’ teaching of the Scriptures is crucial, rather than an ‘eisegesis.’ An eisegesis is where we take Gods Word out of context to prove our point. But an exegesis is where we accurately interpret the Text.
“Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” 1 Cor 15:58).
To know what the Apostle Paul’s attitude was towards other preachers that he did not agree with (excluding false teachings or what’s clearly hate mongering), click here.
Update: Below in comments is a compilation of some excellent ‘iron sharpens iron’ comments to this post, taken from my Facebook.