Prior to delving into the study, our group recognized the importance of clarifying the definition of two terms, tongues and prophecy, to best understand St. Paul’s message in Chapter 14. We deciphered ‘tongues’ as the gift of speaking, and ‘prophecy’ as the gift of interpreting what is spoken, in relation to one delivering God’s Word.
We determined that while speaking in tongues should still be recognized as a gift of the Holy Spirit, St. Paul suggested that maturing Christians should increasingly pray and desire for the gift to prophecy. He emphasized prophesying as a means to build up, encourage, and console others, while speaking in tongues can often sound confusing and provide no real meaning to the listener.
Upon discussing various instances of meaningless or mindless worship, we agreed that members of the Armenian Church, particularly in America, are prone to reciting hymns and prayers by memory without necessarily interpreting the meaning of what they are singing or praying. A suggested solution was to implement reminders throughout the Badarak for the congregation to read directly from the books at the pews in the language with which they are most familiar (English, Armenian, or Russian).
We compared our experience in the Armenian Church to our experiences visiting churches of other denominations, and concurred that the most effective services took into account St. Paul’s final teachings in Chapter 14; that pastors or members of the Body interpret God’s Word two, or at most three, at a time, and each in turn, and that if women speak or preach, they are veiled (cross reference to 1 Corinthians 11:5) and do so by the permission of men.
1. Pursue love and strive for the spiritual gifts, and especially that you may prophesy.
4. Those who speak in a tongue build up themselves, but those who prophesy build up the church.
27. If anyone speaks in a tongue, let there be only two or at most three, and each in turn; and let one interpret.
34. Women should be silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be subordinate, as the law also says.