Paul’s Guidelines for Meeting in a Home

In “I Corinthians 14:26-33″, remember they are meeting in Gaius Justus’ house, a Roman convert to Judaism and then Christianity. Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue is mentioned as joining them along with many Jewish converts, and Corinth is a Greek city with many Greek converts. All 3 cultures are meeting together under one roof as Paul writes his first letter to the Corinthians. Also remember that historically, Jewish women in the synagogues were seated to the side behind a lattice work, and not allowed to participate at all. (Acts 18: 1-8)

“What then, brethren, is the right course? When you meet together each one has a hymn, a teaching, a disclosure of special knowledge or information (revelation), an utterance in a tongue or an interpretation of it (gifts of the Spirit), But let everything be constructive and edifying and for the good of all.” v26

This establishes the context. Anything that happens will fall under these 4 categories: Worship/prayer, teaching, revelation, gifts of the Spirit. The subject is order and how to meet for the good of all.

“If some speak in an unknown tongue, let the number be limited to two or at the most three, and each one taking his turn, and let one interpret and explain what is said.”┬áv27

The message is be polite as you are a guest in someone’s home. Take turns.

“But if there is no one to do the interpreting, let each of them keep still in (the meeting) and talk to himself and to God.” v28

Sometimes in a home meeting a person will feel like they have something from the Lord that MUST be shared. This scripture says that is not the case. If there is no opportunity, if the timing is not right, even if they are being moved in the gifts of the Spirit, they do not have to share it. They have not sinned if there is no opportunity to share it, they are to speak to the Lord and use the opportunity as a matter for prayer.

“So let two or three prophets speak, those inspired to preach or teach, while the rest pay attention and weigh and discern what is said.” v29

In a home meeting it must be understood that while all may share given the rules of politeness as a guest in someone’s home if the opportunity is there; what is said will be judged, possibly with negative results. Often a person wants to talk and expects everyone to say yea and amen, but that may not be the case.

The principle Paul mentions here means a person does not have to allow someone to pray for them, speak a prophetic word over them, nor must they automatically accept anything said as from the Lord. And of course, whatever someone says may be accepted completely as well. His point is that no one may dominate, nor should anyone who speaks expect what they say to be accepted automatically – the relationships should be strong enough that what a person says may be challenged without developing into a heated arguement.

“But if an inspired revelation comes to another who is sitting by, then let the first one be silent.” v30

Here again is a reference to politeness and not having to share something you have from the Lord if there is no opportunity. Grace and deferring to another in love is greater than having to share that revelation, having to share that tongue & interpretation/prophecy, greater than you being moved by the Spirit. If another also feels they have something from the Lord to share, Paul says defer to the first and you be silent.

“For in this way you can give testimony, prophesying and thus interpreting the divine will and purpose one by one, so that all may be instructed and all may be stimulated and encouraged.” v31

His point: Politeness and courtesy, walking in love, leads to the whole group being built up.

“For the spirit of the prophets, the speakers in tongues, are under the speaker’s control and subject to being silenced as may be necessary.” v32

You are always in control. The Holy Spirit is a gentleman and never presses someone to the point they must absolutely share what they have. Paul says you are still in control, thus if there is no opportunity to share, or if someone else has a word, wait your turn or even keep silent, speaking to yourself and the Lord (in prayer).

“For He Who is the source of their prophesying is not a God of confusion and disorder but of peace and order. As is the practice in all the churches of the saints.” v33

Here again is the emphasis that meetings are to be a place of peace, of order and grace, and he lets them know what he is telling them is the way it (house church) is done throughout the body of Christ.


Verses 34-35 deal with the local issues of having 3 cultures thrown together in 1 house meeting. Greek and Roman women did not wear veils to the extent (or not at all) as the Hebrew women did. The Greek and Roman women were generally more educated than the Jewish women, who previously had been separated in the synagogue not allowed to participate. Now they may. Paul tells them here for the sake of order and the flow of a meeting to ask their husbands at home if they have questions.

In chapter 11 and verse 5 Paul says women may pray or prophesy as long as they are appropriately dressed (veiled), but in 14:34-35 he tells the wives that just in the event of questions, to ask their husbands at home, for the sake of order and flow.

He was not contradicting himself, telling them to pray and prophesy in 11:5 and then telling them to be quiet in 14:34-35. His concern in 14 is order, the flow of a meeting, and politeness, thus the instructions that rather than interrupting the meeting for questions, ask later at home until they are brought up to speed.

This is confirmed by verses 39-40, where he again mentions and closes the subject by restating that meetings are to be conducted with politeness, order, and for the benefit of all.


John Fenn

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