1-Corinthians - 14:24

24 But if all prophesy, and someone unbelieving or unlearned comes in, he is reproved by all, and he is judged by all.

Verse In-Depth

Explanation and meaning of 1-Corinthians 14:24.

Differing Translations

Compare verses for better understanding.
But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all:
But if all prophesy, and there come in one unbelieving or unlearned, he is reproved by all, he is judged by all;
But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or an unlearned person, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all.
But if all prophesy, and some unbeliever or simple person come in, he is convicted of all, he is judged of all;
and if all may prophecy, and any one may come in, an unbeliever or unlearned, he is convicted by all, he is discerned by all,
But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believes not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all:
If, on the other hand, every one is prophesying and an unbeliever or an ungifted man comes in, he is convicted by all and closely examined by all,
But if all are teaching as prophets, and a man without faith or knowledge comes in, he is tested by all, he is judged by all;
But if everyone prophesies, and one who is ignorant or unbelieving enters, he may be convinced by it all, because he understands it all.
While, if all those present use the gift of preaching, and an unbeliever, or someone without the gift, comes in, they are convinced of their sinfulness by them all, they are called to account by them all;

*Minor differences ignored. Grouped by changes, with first version listed as example.

Historical Commentaries

Scholarly Analysis and Interpretation.

But if all prophesy As he had previously showed them, how much more advantageous prophecy is to those that are of the household of faith (Galatians 6:10) than the gift of tongues, so he now shows that it would be useful also to those that are without. (1-Corinthians 5:13.) This is a most powerful consideration for showing the Corinthians their error. For what a base part it is to depreciate a gift that is most useful both within and without, and to be wholly taken up with another gift which is useless to those that are within the house; and, in addition to this, gives occasion of offense to those that are without. He sets before them this advantage of prophecy, that it summons the consciences of the wicked to the tribunal of God, and strikes them with a lively apprehension of divine judgment in such a manner, that he who before in utter regardlessness despised sound doctrine, is constrained to give glory to God. We shall find it, however, much easier to understand this passage, if we compare it with another that occurs in the Epistle to the Hebrews (Hebrews 4:12.) The Word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword; piercing to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow -- a discerner of the thoughts of the heart. [1] For in both passages, it is the same kind of efficacy of the Word of God that is spoken of: only in that other passage it is spoken of more fully and distinctly. So far as the passage before us is concerned, it is not difficult to understand now, what is meant by being convinced and judged. The consciences of men are in a torpid state, [2] and are not touched with any feeling of dissatisfaction on account of their sins, so long as they are enveloped in the darkness of ignorance. In short, unbelief is like a lethargy that takes away feeling. But the Word of God penetrates even to the farthest recesses of the mind, and by introducing, as it were, a light, dispels darkness, and drives away that deadly torpor. Thus, then, unbelievers are convinced, inasmuch as they are seriously affected and alarmed, on coming to know that they have to do with God; and, in like manner, they are judged in this respect, that whereas they were previously involved in darkness, and did not perceive their own wretchedness and baseness, they are now brought into the light of day, and are constrained to bear witness against themselves. When he says, that they are judged and convinced by all, you must understand him as meaning all that prophesy; for he had said a little before, If ye all prophesy, (1-Corinthians 14:24.) He has expressly made use of a general term, with the view of removing the dislike that they felt for prophecy. [3] The unbeliever, I say, is convinced -- not as if the Prophet pronounced a judgment upon him either silently in the mind, or openly with the mouth, but because the conscience of the hearer apprehends from the doctrine his own judgment. He is judged, inasmuch as he descends into himself, and, after thorough examination, comes to know himself, while previously he was unmindful of himself. To the same purpose, too, is that saying of Christ: The Spirit, when he is come, will convince the world of sin, (John 16:8;) and this is what he immediately adds -- that the secrets of his heart are made manifest For he does not mean, in my opinion, that it becomes manifest to others what sort of person he is, but rather that his own conscience is aroused, so that he perceives his sins, which previously lay hid from his view. Here again Chrysostom asks, how it comes to pass that prophecy is so effectual for arousing unbelievers, while Paul had said a little before that it was not given to them. He answers, that it was not given to them as a useless sign, but for the purpose of instructing them. For my part, however, I think that it will be simpler, and therefore more suitable, to say that it was not given to unbelievers, who perish, whose hearts Satan has blinded, that they may not see the light which shines forth from it. (2-Corinthians 4:3, 4.) It will also suit better to connect this statement with the prophecy [4] of Isaiah (Isaiah 28:11,12,) because the Prophet speaks of unbelievers, among whom prophecy is of no profit or advantage.


1 - "Des pensees et intentions du coeur;" -- "Of the thoughts and intents of the heart."

2 - "Elles sont comme endormies et stupides;" "They are, as it were, drowsy and stupid."

3 - "Afin de monstrer qu'il ne se faut point lasser de la prophetic;" -- "In order to show that they ought not to entertain a feeling of dislike for prophecy."

4 - The reader will observe that this is the prophecy to which the Apostle refers in 1-Corinthians 14:21. -- Ed.

But if all prophesy - See the note at 1-Corinthians 14:1. If all, in proper order and time, shall utter the truths of religion in a language intelligible to all.
Or one unlearned - One unacquainted with the nature of Christianity, or the truths of the gospel.
He is convinced of all - He will be convinced by all that speak. He will understand what is said; he will see its truth and force, and be will be satisfied of the truth of Christianity. The word here rendered "convinced" (ἐλέγχετἀι elengchetai) is rendered "reprove" in John 16:8, "And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin," etc. Its proper meaning is to "convict," to show one to be wrong; and then to rebuke, reprove, admonish, etc. Here it means, evidently, that the man would be convicted, or convinced of his error and of his sin; he would see that his former opinions and practice had been wrong; he would see and acknowledge the force and truth of the Christian sentiments which should be uttered, and would acknowledge the error of his former opinions and life. The following verse shows that the apostle means something more than a mere convincing of the understanding, or a mere conviction that his opinions had been erroneous. He evidently refers to what is now known also as "conviction" for sin; that is, a deep sense of the depravity of the heart, of the errors and follies of the past life, accompanied with mental anxiety, distress, and alarm. The force of truth, and the appeals which should be made, and the observation of the happy effects of religion, would convince him that he was a sinner, and show him also his need of a Saviour.
He is judged by all - By all that speak; by all that they say. The "effect" of what they say shall be, as it were, to pass a "judgment" on his former life; or to condemn him. What is said will be approved by his own conscience, and will have the effect to condemn him in his own view as a lost sinner. This is now the effect of faithful preaching, to produce deep self-condemnation in the minds of sinners.

But if all prophecy - If all those who teach do it in the tongue which all understand; if an unbeliever, or one who knows nothing of the sacred language, come in and hear things just suited to his own state, he is convicted by all, and he is judged by all.

But if all prophecy,.... That is, all that speak publicly in the church, not together, but in their order, one after another, as is hereafter directed:
and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned; an unbeliever that has only the knowledge of his mother tongue, in which prophesying or preaching is used:
he is convinced of all, he is judged of all; of all the prophets or preachers; they all reprove him, and detect his secret, as the Arabic version renders the words; and to the same purport the Ethiopic. This must be understood of such persons whom the Spirit of God, under, and by the ministry of the word, powerfully works upon; whose hearts he opens to receive the word, and to whom he effectually applies it; whom he convinces of sin, righteousness, and judgment, shows the evil of their hearts and ways, reproves their errors, convicts them of their mistakes, and informs their judgments, and condemns all their principles and practices which are not agreeably to the word of God.

all--one by one (1-Corinthians 14:31).
prophesy--speak the truth by the Spirit intelligibly, and not in unintelligible tongues.
one--"anyone." Here singular; implying that this effect, namely, conviction by all, would be produced on anyone, who might happen to enter. In 1-Corinthians 14:23 the plural is used; "unlearned or unbelievers"; implying that however many there might be, not one would profit by the tongues; yea, their being many would confirm them in rejecting the sign, as many unbelieving men together strengthen one another in unbelief; individuals are more easily won [BENGEL].
convinced--convicted in conscience; said of the "one that believeth not" (John 16:8-9).
judged--His secret character is opened out. "Is searched into" [ALFORD]. Said of the "one unlearned" (compare 1-Corinthians 2:15).

He is convicted by all - who speak in their turns, and speak to the heart of the hearers. He is judged by all - Every one says something to which his conscience bears witness.

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