It became necessary for Paul to give some
hard counsel, and he did not hesitate to do so. Realizing that their gift
of tongues had become a communication medium without substanceófor how
would they be able to transmit the beauty of the gospel and the immense
love of Christ if they themselves had lost the concept of its very meaning
and were living in open violation of supreme loveóhe gave them a
"Though I speak with the tongues of
men and of angels, and have not charity, I am become as sounding brass, or
a tinkling cymbal," he pointedly advised them in Chapter 13:1, and
continued, "Charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not;
charity vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself
unseemly, seeketh not her own, is not easily provoked, thinketh no evil;
rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth in the truth; beareth all things,
believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things." 1 Cor.
13:4-7. "Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather
that ye may prophesy." l Cor. 14:1.
Several Bible translators have throughout
the years substituted the word "love" for "charity,"
but in either case, Paul is advising the Corinthians to reach out for
those qualities that would make it impossible for them to tolerate the
conditions they had brought into the church; the very ones which caused
him to write the letter.
Contrary to the interpretation advanced
by the charismatics, in chapter 13:1 Paul does not claim that he speaks
with the tongues of men and angels. Dr. Gerhard F. Hasel of Andrews
University suggests that, "Paul seems to say with hyperbole that if
all linguistic possibilities including divine speech were at his disposal
and he lacked love, it would mean nothing. 1 Cor. 13:1 does not provide
the key to Paulís idea of Ďspeaking in tongues.í"
The Living Bible paraphrases 1 Cor. 13:1
as follows: "If I had the gift of being able to speak in other
languages without learning them, and could speak in every language there
is in all of heaven and earth, but didnít love others, I would only be
At this point it would be well for us to
recognize the subtle changes the translators have brought about in the
Bible. Throughout Paulís discussion of the manifestation of tongues in
Chapters 12, 13 and 14, he has used the word "tongue" or
"tongues" twenty-three times. But even though in 1 Corinthians
14:2, 4, 14, 19, and 27 the adjective "unknown" precedes the
"tongue" or "tongues," nowhere can this be found in
the original text! The translators who prepared the King James Version
merely added it to the texts with the hope that it would help clarify the
meaning. This is signified in some editions by printing it in italics.
It appears that they have accomplished
just the opposite!