What does “my judgment” mean in 1 Corinthians 7:25 and 40?

Please explain the phrase, “my judgment” in 1 Corinthians 7:25 and 40. How could Paul be giving his opinion and also be inspired of God?

Some translations (such as the NASV) render the word judgment in this passage as “opinion.” There are others as well. Most speak of this “judgment.” But whether we use the word “judgment” or “opinion,” we are basically faced with the same question. Was Paul giving personal advice to these Corinthians? Was Paul stating his opinion? And if so, how can that be inspired of God?

In order to correctly understand God’s word, one of the things that we need to remember is that there are several recorded statements in the Bible of uninspired people. For example, when Satan said to Eve, “Thou shalt not surely die,” it was a lie. Note also that in Matthew 4:1-11 we find Satan tempting Jesus and uttering words. These are the words of Satan. Are they inspired? These lies that Satan spoke are recorded in the Bible, but that doesn’t mean that just because it is recorded in the Bible that the statement itself is true. It is recorded that Satan spoke it; that is, the fact of his making the statement is true and we can be sure of that, but the statements themselves are falsehoods spoken by Satan. So for something to be inspired doesn’t guarantee the truthfulness of quoted statements of others within the Bible. Inspiration merely guarantees the truthfulness that those statements were spoken by the person the Bible claimed to speak.

Similarly, sometimes in the Bible, we find opinions given by men. For example, in the case of Paul’s trial before Agrippa, Agrippa thought that Paul should have been set free (Acts 26:32). That was certainly Agrippa’s opinion, but it is recorded for us in the scriptures. Acts 26:32 is inspired in that it portrays an accurate representation of Agrippa’s opinion. We are guaranteed by God that these were the historical words that Agrippa said. However, the words that Agrippa spoke himself were not inspired words in and of themselves. The same could be said of Pilate and Festus as well.

The case with 1 Cor.7 is a little more difficult, because we are dealing with an inspired apostle. The weight of the opinion of an apostle is heavy. But, nevertheless, Paul said that he was speaking in matters of his own personal judgment. So we must respect that fact. It is guaranteed by inspiration to be a true representation of Paul’s own personal judgment. Paul was addressing a special situation in which the people of that time were under
“distress” (vs. 26). It is due to that distress that Paul gives his own opinion on how to deal with the question of marriage. The question as to whether to marry or not is ultimately always a judgment call. There is no biblical requirement to be married. So Paul is simply saying in this passage, “since we have some persecution going on, it would be better to
remain unmarried during this time as opposed to getting married and consequently facing the prospect of seeing your mate tortured.” So, did Paul give his opinion? Yes he did. Is this passage of scripture inspired? Yes, it is. It is inspired in the sense that we are guaranteed to have Paul’s opinion on this matter. Would that opinion be binding upon us today? If we were in similar circumstances then we would do well to heed his advice. However, we note that even in this context Paul says that it is better to marry than to burn (with passion) (1 Corinthians 7:9). So the context clearly indicates that we are dealing with Paul’s own personal opinion and advice, given the situation of persecution that was upon the church.

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What is Speaking in Tongues?

What is speaking in tongues?

First let’s look at Mark 16:17-20. In this passage, Jesus tells the disciples that they would do many signs. Verse 20 says that these signs were for the purpose of confirming the word which they preached to those who heard them. One of the signs that Jesus promised they would be able to do was to speak in new tongues. What do we find in the scriptures regarding this aspect of early Christianity?

First, the Bible teaches that speaking in tongues is merely speaking in another human language. Acts 2:1-12 is the perfect example. There, the apostles miraculously spoke in languages that other people could understand. That was the point of speaking in tongues. The gospel was young and there were many who needed to hear it. To get the gospel to the most people in a short period of time, the disciples were given the miraculous ability to speak in other human languages. These were languages previously unknown to the speaker. They were given so that there would be no cross-cultural language barrier in preaching and teaching the gospel. Those who have been to foreign countries where they speak a different language know how difficult it is to communicate. It is even more difficult when trying to communicate religious concepts. So the Lord promised the disciples that He would help in this area. Notice what 1 Corinthians 14:21 says, “In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord.” This verse definitively states that it is with tongues of men that they spoke. We should allow it to settle the question.

Second, we find that speaking in tongues was generally abused by the church. We have a lot of detailed information on speaking in tongues in 1 Corinthians 12, 13, and 14. One of the truths contained within this passage is that tongues were going to be done away (1 Corinthians 13:8). Speaking in tongues was never intended to be a permanent part of the religion of Christ. The point Paul makes was that in exercising the gift of tongues, the abusers of this gift were not using the gift in the spirit with which the gift was intended. They were not practicing it in love. They were practicing it when an interpreter was not present so the message of the gift was not being understood. The most pertinent point regarding tongues is made in 1 Corinthians 14:22 which says, “Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.” Tongues were a sign for the unbeliever. They were supposed to be a help to the stranger who didn’t know the gospel so that the gospel could be preached to them. Tongues were never intended to be for the believers. That’s what prophecy is for (1 Corinthians 14:1).

Do we have the gift of tongues today? No. We noticed that they were going to be done away in 1 Corinthians 13:8. So what about all of those people who claim to speak in tongues today? Here is the problem with modern day tongue speakers. 1) They don’t speak in human languages; they speak in alleged “angelic” tongues, so there is no way to confirm whether they are truly speaking another language or not. 2) The tongues that they speak in, they speak for their own edification, not for unbelievers. 3) They don’t speak in tongues to prove what they say is true. Here are at least three things in which the Bible contradicts modern day tongue speakers.

Now, what about those “angelic” tongues? Is there any authority for speaking in “angelic” tongues based upon 1 Corinthians 13:1? The “tongues of angels” in 1 Corinthians 13:1 is first and foremost hypothetical. Paul�s point is this: even if I could speak with the tongues of angels, it would do me no good if I didn’t have love. We should not assume from this verse that there was some sort of angelic tongue that the early church spoke. In fact, given what we have already studied on the subject, it would be inconsistent to claim such. Another possibility is that Paul is using the Greek word “angelos” in the sense of “messenger.” In other words he is discussing the tongues of “messengers.” This might be someone who could speak in multiple languages. The official diplomatic messengers of the day spoke in numerous languages in order to communicate from one part of the Roman Empire to the other. We also note the languages spoken on the day of Pentecost. There would, no doubt be more, in the extent of the Roman Empire. An official messenger would need to be fluent in several to communicate official messages. This is at least one possibility other than some kind of heavenly angelic language.

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Where’s the List?

The other day I was having a conversation with someone who was, in essence, asking for a list of things that were right and wrong for Christians to do. His contention was that since we believe that we must be obedient to God and live a life that is holy and pure that therefore, we must have a detailed list of things that were right and wrong, so that we wouldn’t make any mistakes and know precisely how to be obedient. Does the Christian need such a list in order to live right and be holy? Does obedience to God’s word demand such a list of things?

The first thing that we ought to consider in this regard is that God has indeed communicated to us things that are right and wrong in the Bible. But the Bible isn’t a right-and-wrong-list. The Bible records the history of God’s dealings with man. Within that history God reveals to us how we can live in a way that is pleasing to Him by giving us various different methods of comprehending right and wrong besides a list. As God records his history with man we find attitudes and motives, emotions and desires, and actions and consequences. By dealing with the whole of man’s situation instead of simply providing man a “laundry list,” God teaches us how to know good and reject evil. God often does this through examples of people, both good and bad, who had a relationship with God of one kind or the other. Through these examples, God exhorts us to follow the good (1 Corinthians 11:1) and shun the bad. The Bible’s central character, Jesus, provides us an example of how to live a perfectly obedient life and we, as Christians, are expected to follow Jesus’ example (2 Peter 2:21). In this way God gives us everything that we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3) and for the man of God to be completely furnished to every good work (2 Timothy 3:16, 17). We don’t need a comprehensive right-and-wrong-list in order to be pleasing to God.

Now, having said that, the Bible does have some lists of things that are right and wrong. These lists are found in various places in the Bible. Jesus gives us a good start on what is right and wrong in the sermon on the mount in Matthew 5-7. Paul lists several things that are sinful in the first chapter of the book of Romans. He then lists several things that are good in Romans 12. Galatians 5 contains two lists, one good, the fruit of the spirit, and one bad, the works of the flesh. Peter sets forth the Christian graces (good things) in 2 Peter 1:5-7 and then he enumerates several evil things in 2 Peter 2. Here are at least a few places where lists of both good and bad things are present in the Bible. For us to not do the good things (otherwise known as the sin of omission, James 4:17) or for us to practice the bad things (committing sin, 1 John 3:4) is to be guilty of that which is wrong and when we so act (or fail to act, as the case may be) we disobey God.

In contrast, sometimes God simply states a principle upon which he expects us to discern the right from the wrong. For example, the Bible clearly teaches that God’s people are to maintain self-control in their life (Titus 2:12, 1 Peter 1:13). If we understand what that means, then that excludes a lot of behavior that would be classified as not having self-control (such as doing drugs, gambling, and pornography, none of which are specifically forbidden in the Bible). The Bible also tells us that we need to have the attitude of humility (Matthew 18:4, James 4:10). If we have this attitude, then that attitude will exclude a lot of behavior that is arrogant and rude in nature (such as inappropriate gestures, language, or behavior). God uses principles to guide our behavior from a higher altitude than the “thou shalt nots” and we must respect those principles by understanding and adhering to them. Using principles, God doesn’t have to spell everything out for us; He expects us to be spiritually mature and make appropriate judgments concerning what is right and wrong (Hebrews 5:13, 14).

Finally, our attitude itself has much to do with whether or not we are going to live obediently. This is why the first commandment has always been to love God with all of one’s heart, soul, and mind (Matthew 22:37). When we love God we will desire to keep his commandments and those commandments will not be grievous (1 John 5:3). We won’t see them as burdensome, but rather, as the response of a heart that loves God. The person who loves God doesn’t need a right-and-wrong-list; he knows, through diligent study of God’s word, how God wants us to live and his good attitude ensures that he lives that way. No, God’s requirement of our obedience doesn’t require that we have a comprehensive right-and-wrong-list. It simply requires that we love God.

If we were to, on our own, develop a list of things that are right and wrong and then require adherence to such a list from Christians throughout the world, then that would, in essence, be contravening the purpose of God’s word itself. Why? Because God gave us his word to fulfill this exact purpose, namely, to teach us right from wrong. As has been stated by others, there’s only three possible conclusions regarding any religious documents external to the scripture upon which someone basis one’s faith: it’s either something more than God’s word, in which case we don’t need it because we’re not to add to God’s word; it’s something less than God’s word in which case we don’t need it because we’re not to take away from God’s word, or it’s the same as God’s word in which case we don’t need it because we already have God’s word. God’s word is all that we need in order to know what is right and wrong (2 Peter 1:3). God’s word is all that we need to be his people (2 Timothy 3:16,17). And as God’s word, the Bible, “as is,” is wholly sufficient to meet our needs to know right from wrong and to obey it.

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