An Alphabetical Analysis
Volume 10 - Practical Truth - Page 32 of 277
He stressed the need to 'interpret' whenever the gift of tongues was
exercised; he affirmed that even though he prayed in an unknown tongue, his
understanding would be 'unfruitful' and concluded his remarks on this
important element of service by saying:
'I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all: yet in the
church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my
voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown
tongue' (1 Cor. 14:18,19).
The gift of language is a sacred trust and no man of God is 'throughly
furnished' who is not scrupulously careful in the use of this great
implement.  From 1 Corinthians 14 we can compile the following list of words,
each of which has a distinct bearing upon the purpose of speech and therefore
indicates what should form a part of the preacher's preparation.
'Edification', 'exhortation', 'comfort', are set forth
as objects at which to aim.  'Revelation', 'knowledge', 'prophecy' or
'doctrine' are indicated as the burden of the speaker's message.  Distinction
in sound, ease of being understood, words having signification and meaning,
are alone profitable, and 'to be understood' is the goal of all speech.  The
words 'easy to be understood', in 1 Corinthians 14.9 translate the Greek word
eusemos, a word that is composed of eu, 'good', and semos, 'a sign'. It
indicates the avoidance of ambiguity, but inculcates the choice of words, the
significance of which cannot be missed.  If our words are 'good signs' we
shall not select them merely for their 'sound' but for their 'meaning'.  In 1
Corinthians 14:10 the word 'without signification' is aphonon, or 'dumb' as
in 12:2, a word the meaning of which is not clear, like the unintelligible
noises uttered by the dumb.  In 1 Corinthians 14:11 the word 'meaning' is in
the original dunamis.  Where the meaning is not grasped a word loses its
dynamic force, and accomplishes nothing; conversely, when the full meaning is
understood, such a word will possess power approximating to a 'miracle', as
the same word is rendered in 12:10 and 28.
While therefore we must stress the spiritual preparation of the man of
God, without which, necessarily, all will be dead and ineffective, the
spiritual man will not despise the dictionary, the grammar, the concordance,
the lexicon, and all aids that are at hand to enable him to 'speak with
understanding'.  Eternal issues hang upon the use of 'right words'.  'How
forcible', said Job, 'are right words!' (Job 6:25).  How needful to be able
to speak a word 'in season'! (Isa. 50:4).  How precious are words 'fitly
spoken'! (Prov. 25:11).  How important to follow the example of 'the
Preacher' who 'sought to find out acceptable words ... even words of truth'!
(Eccles. 12:10).  The 'thorough furnishing' of the man of God, even though it
take cognisance of both 'matter' (2 Tim. 3:16,17) and 'morals' (2 Tim. 2:19 -
21), would still be lacking if it did not also provide for the 'manner' in
which the message entrusted should be given.
Among the elements of 'manner' that are found in Scriptural references
to acceptable ministry, must be included 'assurance':
'Our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power, and in
the Holy Ghost, and in much assurance' (1 Thess. 1:5).
'Continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been
assured of' (2 Tim. 3:14).