Life is about turning around a youth who is on the express way to hell; the wide
gate and the broad way, that leads to destruction back to the road that leads to
heaven; the strait gate and the narrow way which leads unto life eternal.
Life is all about living to fulfill the purpose of God for your life. This is why you were
born and you are born again. This is what will give meaning to your life. This is what will give value to your life.
Invest your life eternally for God’s purpose. You have only one life to live.
“Life is not defined by what you have, even when you have a lot.” Luke 12:15 (The
Message Bible).

Moment of truth
OUR SISTER HAS NO BREASTS… sobs
I stumbled on a verse of the Bible in church today and I
could only but smile as I remembered the way my Chaplain
had told us a story in the chapel
Some guys were caught misbehaving in the chapel and he had asked them to quote five verses in the Bible.
The whole verses they quoted apart from Gen 1:1 and John
3:16 were from the Book of Songs of Solomon… We
laughed over it then as he narrated the whole thing while
the nostalgic mood made me dig deep.
Until I got another revelation of it. Songs of Solomon 8:8
We have a little sister and she hath no breasts; what shall
we do for our little sister in the day when she shall be
spoken for?
Let’s break it down a bit.
My brothers: We have a little sister and her name is Lizzy. She has no breasts. What shall we do for lizzy when any
man comes to ask for her hand in marriage?
Now, lets wait there…
The verse in another sense does not refer to the twin tower
on your chest as a woman.
They could mean a lot of things. You wanna get married and your family members are
scared for you because you have no breast.
You have nothing to offer to your man and your unborn
children.
You have no beauty to show forth…
You don’t know time management nor do you give a damn about what that means.
You don’t know how to spend or save
You don’t know how to pray or intercede.
You can only put water on fire and probably parboil some
eggs but simple Eba you cannot make
You haven’t learnt anything about how to take care of children.
You have nothing at all to show off… my sister, you are
breastless!
You don’t know how to talk,
you don’t know how to dress,
you are stinkingly dirty… your white underwears are brown and yellow already…
the skin between your two laps have become hard and
dark…
your teeth and hair are an eyesore,
you are addicted to movies that you could have your three
square meal served you before your laptop with the three used plates littering round you at night.
Mine mine, you are breastless!
You hate people correcting you,
you are proud, mannerless and you don’t know how to talk,
you are ready to slap anyone that speaks against your
views, you just can’t bend, you are too pretty for anyone to talk to
anyhow.
No wonder!… Its no wonder why you are still praying and
nothing seems to happen. It could be the reason why the
brother hasn’t even approached you yet. He is still fighting
the Holy Spirit… he is just so scared… how do I talk to this lousy, dirty lady?… Tufiakwa!
My sisters, increase your intake in calcium, iron and
vitamins, make your meals balanced again and your shape
would start coming out.. Your breasts can still grow.
Learn to pray and put your temperament under
control!…stopshouting or looking down on people. Learn to cook different dishes even if you don’t like them because
your children or husband could like them. Learn to take
your baths well and wash your parts with care yet great
tenacity.
Carry yourself with such smartness and dignity and not with
dragging of legs and all. If you need a change of wardrobe, May God provide… remember me too o… lol
Just take all the shabby, skimpy, oversized, short clothes
away.
May God help us all to be very breastful so that our men
and children would be gladly satisfied and call us blessed.
P.S I sincerely hope the guys know that this epistle is talking to
them too.

#OATH_TAKING_IN_RELATIONSHIPS. • Oath taking is a situation where
two or more persons enter into a
blood covenant to stand up for
each other or keep something
secret. •
But in a relationship, it’s when two teenagers or adults agreed to
be together without backing out.
Is oath important in relationships?
I have heard many people say to their partners, “if you love me
please let’s have an oath”..
especially from ladies. • #Why? Some ladies demand for oath when they feel insecure and scared of loosing a guy, while others seek for oath so as to scare the guys from looking at
another feminine gender. #That_is_nonsense! Why doubt a friend’s love and still went ahead demanding for oath, thinking that it scares everyone?

Someone that is meant for you will
stay even without any oath taking;
but when someone don’t love you, even #Okija_shrine can’t hold him down for you because he will still
go away after the oath.

Before considering taking oath, did
you go for blood check up to know
if there’s no disease in his/her blood? Sometimes people regret why
taking the oath after finding out
that there’s no way out because
blood has been exchanged.
• Sometimes, we hear people
committing suicide because they saw it as the only means to break themselves loose.

Other times, we hear that someone killed his partner because they
don’t want another person to have them. #Why_all_this_myths? • This is 21st century where all this beliefs should be dropped by the
way side. #Oath_taking is a covenant and when you start feeling uncomfortable with it, next idea
won’t be too nice.

#Oath_taking is a cage many have
put themselves in and swallowed
the key to unlock their freedom. Oath taking is like a bottomless pit that you keep falling deeper daily..nothing is good about taking oaths.

Don’t force people to take an oath
so as take prove how much they
love you, look into their eyes and see it boldly written.
An old lady told her daughters, if not the oath I took with him, I
would have ended this relationship called hell”.

My dear brothers and sisters, Pray for the right person and oath taking won’t cross
your mind.
Anybody that demands an oath from you, wants to keep you as a prisoner… Slavery till Jesus come.

Think About It Now. . .

Can Christians “Speak in Tongues” Today?
“Would you explain the ‘speaking in tongues,’ as this practice took place in the
early church?What was the nature of those ‘tongues’?”
Literally speaking, the “tongue” is an organ of taste and speech within the mouth
(cf. Lk. 16:24).By metaphorical (figurative) extension, however, the term is used
commonly in literature for a human language (see Rev. 5:9; 7:9, etc.).Herodotus, for example, used the expressions “language of Pelasgi” and “the tongue spoken by
Pelasgi” interchangeably (History 1.57).The Bible student, therefore, must interpret
the term “tongue” (when used of human speech) in this light, unless there is
contextual evidence to demand that the word is being employed in some unusual
sense.
Shortly before his ascension back into heaven, Christ promised his disciples that one of the gifts that would accompany believers, confirming the validity of their
messages, would be the ability to speak with “new tongues” (Mk. 16:17). The term
“new” (Grk. kainos) signifies a fresh mode of speaking, not a new language
previously unknown to the human family (see: “New,” W.E. Vine, Expository
Dictionary of New Testament Words).As D. Edmond Heibert observed, “this can
mean only languages not before known to the speakers” (The Gospel of Mark, Greenville, SC: Bob Jones University, 1994, p. 485).
In the New Testament, the gift of “tongues” was one of the manifestations of the
Holy Spirit (see 1 Cor. 12:8-11).
There are two major views within the community of “Christendom” relative to the
nature of these “tongues.”
The “Pentecostals,” or “charismatics,” contend that the gift of tongues constituted a type of “heavenly language,” a series of unintelligible sounds that are unrelated to
normal human speech.
By way of contrast, others argue, with much greater force, that the gift of a
“tongue” was simply the divinely imposed ability to communicate the gospel of
Christ in a human language that the speaker had not been taught by the ordinary
education process. The “human language” view is supported overwhelmingly by the biblical
evidence.This may be demonstrated by a consideration of the following points:
Acts 2
On the day of Pentecost, the phenomenon of “speaking in tongues” was identified
decisively as the supernatural employment of human languages.Note how
“tongues” and “language” are used interchangeably in the opening section of Acts 2.
“And when the day of Pentecost was now come, they were all together in one
place. And suddenly there came from heaven a sound as of the rushing of a mighty
wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto
them tongues parting asunder, like as of fire; and it sat upon each one of them.
And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. Now there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews,
devout men, from every nation under heaven. And when this sound was heard, the
multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard
them speaking in his own language. And they were all amazed and marveled,
saying, Behold, are not all these that speak Galileans? And how hear we, every
man in our own language wherein we were born? Parthians and Medes and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, in Judaea and Cappadocia, in Pontus
and Asia, in Phrygia and Pamphylia, in Egypt and the parts of Libya about Cyrene,
and sojourners from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabians, we
hear them speaking in our tongues the mighty works of God” (bold emphasis
added).
If we let the Bible explain itself, unquestionably the “tongues” of this text are ordinary human languages.The apostles were supernaturally endowed with the
ability to speak these languages, though they had never known them before.
The Corinthian Context
It is sometimes claimed, though, that whereas the “tongues” of Acts 2 were
ordinary human languages, elsewhere in the New Testament (e.g., 1 Corinthians
14) “tongues” were ecstatic utterances, that is, mysterious sounds, unknown to anyone except to the speaker and God.The evidence, however, from the
Corinthian context demonstrates otherwise.Consider the following points with
reference to the data in 1 Corinthians 14.
The “tongue” of this context was a gift that provided edification (v. 4) and
instruction (v. 19). Mere inarticulate sounds do not.
In a church assembly composed of various nationalities, a Christian was forbidden to use his tongue-gift before an alien audience, unless someone was present who
could “interpret.” (vv. 5, 13, 27-28). The Greek word for interpret is diermeneuo,
which normally means to translate from one language to another (see Cesla Spicq,
Theological Lexicon of the New Testament, Peabody, MA, 1994, Vol I, p.
312).Compare Acts 9:36, where the name “Tabitha” is translated as “Dorcus”—the
former being an Aramaic name, the latter the Greek version. Paul says that if one speaks in a “tongue,” and others do not understand the
language, the speaker would sound like a “barbarian” (v. 11).This term signifies a
one who speaks a “foreign tongue” (F.W. Danker, et al., Greek-English of the New
Testament, Chicago: University of Chicago, 2000, p. 166; see also Acts 28:2).This
is another indication that human languages are in view.
The expression “strange tongues” (v. 21), is taken from Isaiah 28:11, where the reference is to the language of the Assyrians (a nation that would invade
Israel).This use by Paul further demonstrates the nature of “tongues” in the
Corinthian context.
Paul gave instructions regulating one who possessed the gift of a “tongue.”If those
within the church assembly did not understand the particular “tongue” he was able
to speak, he either must use an interpreter, i.e., translator (see above), if one was available, or else he was to remain silent (vv. 27-28).Those who claim to “speak in
tongues” today jabber on— irrespective of the composition of the audience.Their
practice does not conform to the New Testament standard.
Conclusion
As we conclude, we must emphasize this fact. The Scriptures teach that the gift of
“tongues” was to cease with completion of the New Testament canon (1 Cor. 13:8ff).As W.E. Vine wrote: “With the completion of Apostolic testimony and the
completion of the Scriptures of truth (‘the faith once for all delivered to the saints,’
Jude 3, RV), ‘that which is perfect’ had come, and the temporary gifts were done
away” (Commentary on First Corinthians, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1951, p. 184).
(Elsewhere on this web site we have provided a detailed study of this context in 1st
Corinthians; see: “”Miracles””). Finally, there is this very telling point.Those who profess to speak in tongues today
reveal a woeful inconsistency.In their mission training schools, they must teach
their missionaries to speak in the “tongues” of those nations they seek to
evangelize.This practice demolishes their contention of being in possession of the
miraculous gift of tongues, such as that exhibited on the day of Pentecost.

In a former article, we responded to an inquiry dealing with the nature of the gift of
“speaking in tongues,” as such is set forth in Acts 2; 1 Corinthians 12-14; etc.In
rejoinders to our article, several courteous readers wrote to us, essentially asking
this question: “Why do you forbid to speak in tongues, when the Bible says, ‘Forbid
not to speak in tongues’ (1 Cor. 14:39)?” Let us address this sincere inquiry.
It is impossible to understand the significance of the command, “forbid not to
speak in tongues” (1 Cor. 14:39), without fitting that prohibition into the larger
context of the entire segment dealing with spiritual gifts discussed in 1st
Corinthians, chapters 12 through 14.
Paul begins this portion of the epistle by the phrase, “Now concerning spiritual gifts” (12:1).Following, then, is a discussion of several aspects of the “spiritual gift”
problem as such related to the Corinthian church.Paul’s need to address this
controversy likely was generated by a report of divisiveness within that church (cf.
1:10ff), and as a result of correspondence with some of the saints there (7:1).
Chapters 12-14 may be summarized as follows:
Chapter 12 catalogs the various spiritual gifts available, e.g., wisdom, knowledge, healings, prophecy, tongues (the ability to speak a foreign language
supernaturally), interpretation of tongues (the divine gift of translation from one
language to another), etc. (vv. 8-10).Further, this section argues that the gifts issue
from a unified source, the sacred Godhead—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit (vv.
4-5,11).
The implication clearly is this: those who possess these gifts must not act in an individualistic, adversarial fashion; rather, unity within the body of Christ must
prevail (vv. 12ff).
Based upon the foundation laid in Chapter 12, Chapter 13 argues that spiritual
gifts must be exercised in love.A gift recklessly invoked, with no consideration for
others, is nothing more than an irritating noise (vv. 1-3).
“Love” is defined with such an exhilarating range of qualities that, were these traits to be mastered, nothing but unity would result (vv. 4-7).
After such a magnificent discussion of “love” is concluded, this lofty attribute— so
enduring in its nature -is set in contrast to the fact that the “spiritual gifts” (creating
such a controversy among the Corinthian Christians) were but a temporary
phenomena anyhow.They were merely piece-by-piece modes of conveying divine
revelation, so that when the “perfect” (teleios – complete; see “perfect,” W.E. Vine, Expository Dictionary) arrived, i.e., the finished canon of Scriptures, these gifts
were to cease.
Chapter 14 then reveals the sort of contentious disposition that marred the
Corinthian church.The apostolic instruction sought to correct those evils by
regulating the use of the spiritual gifts, particularly the gifts of prophecy, tongues,
and the interpretation (translation) of tongues. This provides an abbreviated background of the difficulties with which Paul was
forced to deal in Chapter 14.How, then, does this relate to the prohibition, “forbid
not to speak in tongues”?There appears to have been two principal problems
related to the gift of “tongues” and the gift of “prophecy.”Let us consider each of
these matters.
Some of those who possessed the gift of speaking in tongues were abusing their blessing.For example, a brother might have the “gift” of speaking in a particular
dialect—let us say, as an example, Persian.What was he to do if, in a certain church
assembly, only Greek-speaking folks were present?If there was no one who
possessed the gift of translation, he was to remain silent (vv. 2,6ff).
While one person was delivering a message in a “tongue,” another was not to
interrupt.Rather, those endowed with such gifts were to communicate “in turn” (v. 27).The use of their individual gift was under their personal control (v. 32), and they
must exercise self-control in order that confusion not disrupt the meeting (v. 33).
Another prevailing factor was the reality that “prophecy” was deemed to be a
“greater” gift than that of tongues.And why was this the case?Because prophecy
was the more versatile gift; it involved the divine ability to teach the congregation
in the native language (in this case Greek) so that each Christian could be edified (v. 3).On the other hand, the gift of tongues frequently was curtailed by the need
for a translator, in the absence of which, the brother with the language gift was
required to remain mute.
On account of this difference, prophecy was considered to be the “greater” (v. 5)
gift.Because of its utilitarian nature, the gift of “prophecy” is viewed as superior,
from a practical vantage point, to that of “tongues” (vv. 1-5; 12; 22-25). When one blends into this equation the fact that some of the Corinthians were
inclined to a divisive spirit anyhow (3:1ff), it is not difficult to see that the
disposition could develop which suggested that those who possessed the gift of
prophecy were superior to those with the gift of tongues.Carried a bit further, the
former might even attempt to suppress those who possessed the gift of tongues.In
view of this, Paul’s warning, “forbid not to speak in tongues,” makes perfect sense. This is how verse 39 is to be interpreted within the framework of the overall context
of the discussion.The gift of prophecy still was to be desired, but such was not to
be used as a device to silence those who had the more limited gift.
It is an egregious misuse of this prohibition to employ it as a proof-text for the
notion that the gift of tongues was intended to last throughout the Christian age—a
theory in direct conflict with 13:8ff.

“In one of your web site articles, Can Christians Speak in Tongues Today? , you
stated that when Christians of the early church spoke in ‘tongues,’ they only spoke
in foreign languages that were native to certain nationalities. You suggested that
the ‘tongue speaking’ of the Pentecostal movement, in which certain ‘sounds’ of no
known language are spoken, is not in harmony with the Bible. I attend a Pentecostal church, and though I’ve never spoken in tongues, I am told that Paul’s
statement about the ‘tongues of angels’ (1 Cor. 13:1) implies a heavenly language,
distinct from the languages of men. Would you comment on this?”
With all due respect, Paul’s reference to the “tongues … of angels” (1 Cor. 13:1)
affords no evidence for the so-called “Pentecostal experience,” in which the
uttering a series of rapidly-spoken, indiscernible syllables is alleged to reflect a “heavenly” tongue of an inexplicable variety. The following lines of evidence
discredit the Pentecostal theory.
Tongues: Intelligible Language
In an effort to exhort the Corinthian Christians toward a greater level of concern for
one another in their use of “spiritual gifts,” Paul wrote this admonition. “If I speak
with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am become a sounding brass, or a clanging cymbal” (1 Cor. 13:1).
If it can be established that the term “tongues,” when employed with reference to
men, has to do with intelligent communication (and such can be demonstrated: see
the article referenced above), then it must be conceded that the word “tongues,”
when used of angels, similarly signifies an understandable language.
In order for the “Pentecostal” view to be valid, there would have to be some compelling contextual evidence to indicate that the term “tongues” is used in two
different senses in this passage, and there simply is none.
Unintelligible Tongues Are Unloving
In chapter 14 of the first Corinthian letter, one of Paul’s major points of emphasis is
this. If one employs his gift of tongues before an audience that cannot understand
the language spoken, and no interpreter is present to translate the message, such would be a violation of God’s will. In fact, it would be an act of vanity, and not a
demonstration of love for the listener.
This is the precise point of 13:1 as well. To speak in a tongue, when no one can
understand the words, is an act void of love. Such would be nothing more than a
sound (an irritating noise); it would not be an instructive message.
The implication behind the argument is this. If the gift were exercised properly, i.e., in conjunction with an interpreter, the audience could understand the instruction,
and such would evince the speaker’s love.
But the identical point is made whether the allusion is to “the tongues of men” or to
the “tongues of angels.” Even the tongues of angels, if it were possible to exercise
such in an appropriate way, could be understood. There is nothing here suggesting
a “gibberish” sort of utterance; just the opposite is the case. Angels Always Spoke Understandably
There are numerous Bible examples of angels speaking to men. In not a single
instance do they communicate in anything except in languages that are perfectly
understandable — a communication that the recipient can process readily. There is
not one shred of biblical evidence to suggest that angels speak in disjointed,
incomprehensible sounds. As one scholar astutely observed: With respect to the words of angels which are recorded in the Scriptures, nothing
can be plainer, more direct, and, we may say, more unimpassioned. They seem to
say with the utmost conceivable plainness what they have been commissioned to
say, and nothing more. No words are less the words of ecstasy than theirs (Sadler,
217).
Angel’s Tongues: Hyperbole Paul’s appeal to “angels” in 13:1 is a form of hyperbole (an exaggeration for
emphasis’ sake) that is designed to accentuate his argument.
Consider a similar use of this figurative expression in the apostle’s letter to the
Galatians. He wrote:
“But though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach unto you any gospel other
than that which we preached unto you, let him be anathema” (Gal. 1:8; emphasis added).
The apostle is not suggesting that an angel actually is likely to proclaim a different
gospel; the point is one of emphasis. Even if an angel were to preach a different
gospel, there would be no validity in it, and he would fall victim to divine wrath.
So similarly, in 1 Corinthians 13:1, Paul is not indicating that some Christians speak
an “angelic” (ecstatic) language. Rather, he is merely saying that even if one could ascend to a new height, and communicate on the level of angels, if he did not
exercise love by speaking in an understandable fashion, he still would be nothing
but a distracting noise. The apostle’s argument does not hint of a mysterious,
unintelligible utterance; in fact, it reflects just the opposite.
When all the data is considered, there is no basis in 1 Corinthians 13:1 for the
notion that there is a heavenly, ecstatic “glossolalia” that some saints are able to access, whereby they speak to God alone.

When we think about miracles in the New Testament, we often consider the
miracles of Christ in the Gospel accounts. There are, however, many miracles
recorded in the book of Acts. A survey of these miraculous works is worthy of our
reflection.
Remember, Jesus Christ revealed to his disciples that they would have the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, after the Lord returned to heaven (John 14:26). Their
teaching was to be inerrant and sufficient, and they would have the divine
corroboration of supernatural works. Thereby, hearers of the apostolic message
could have confidence in what they heard; they relied upon the apostolic preaching
as being from God. The miracles provided objective, indisputable testimony
concerning the gospel message (cf. Mk. 16:20; Heb. 2:4). Let us note the miracles that are recorded in the book of Acts.
Luke refers to the visible appearance of Jesus after his resurrection (1:3). The
inspired historian records the miraculous ascension of Christ into heaven (1:9). We
read, in Acts 2, of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the twelve apostles,
accompanied by the miraculous wind, fire, and speaking in tongues (i.e., speaking
in languages that were unknown by the apostles; cf. 2:6). Many miracles were performed by the apostles (2:43). Peter healed the lame man
at the Temple (3:7-11). God answered Peter in a miraculous earthquake (4:31).
Ananias and Sapphira were slain by the Lord (5:5-10). Signs and wonders
continued to be done by the apostles (5:12). Peter healed many from various cities
(5:12-16). The prison doors were opened by an angel (5:19). Stephen wrought
great wonders and signs (6:8). In Samaria, Philip did great miracles and signs (8:6,7,13).
The Lord appeared to Saul, but Saul is unsaved until he responds to the preaching
of the gospel by Ananias (9:3-9). Ananias healed Saul’s blindness (9:17-18). Peter
healed Aeneas (9:32-35). In Joppa, Peter raised Dorcus from the dead (9:39-42).
Cornelius saw an angel. He and his family spoke in tongues, but he was saved by
responding to the preaching of the gospel by Peter (10:4,46; cf. v. 48; 11:14). Peter saw the vision on the roof and spoke with the Lord (10:9-22).
A prison gate was miraculously opened (12:10). Paul blinded Elymus (13:11-12).
Paul performed miracles in Iconium (14:3,4). At Lystra, Paul healed a crippled man
(14:8-18). Paul healed a woman possessed by an evil spirit (16:18). The miraculous
earthquake unloosed all the chains and doors in the Philippian prison (16:26). In
Ephesus, twelve men spoke in tongues, and prophesied (19:6). Paul performed other miracles in Ephesus (19:11,12). In Troas, Paul raised Eutychus from the dead
(20:8-12). Paul was not affected by the viper at Melita (28:3-6). He also healed
those on the island who were diseased (28:8-9).
As we can see, if one were to “demythologize” the book of Acts, as those of a
liberal bent are wont to do, much would be missing concerning the amazing growth
and development of the early church. In fact, we would have a difficult time explaining how so many Greeks, Romans, and “barbarians” (i.e., non-Greeks),
obeyed the gospel. Is it rational to think that Paul is going to walk onto some island
in the Mediterranean and convert many people simply because he is convincing, or
friendly —or was there some other reason? To the contrary, they observed
indisputable deeds that confirmed the message of the apostle. In case after case,
many believed the message that was confirmed by the miracles. This is one reason for the amazing success that the gospel enjoyed in the first century.
The confirmation that goes along with our preaching today is the completed
revelation of God (cf. 1 Cor. 13:8-10). Now, we appeal to the written record of these
events (John 20:30-31), and we are privileged to possess the completed, final
revelation of God’s will.
SCRIPTURE REFERENCES John 14:26; Mark 16:20; Hebrews 2:4; Acts 2; John 20:30-31

With the fall of the iron curtain, thrilling evangelistic opportunities have opened up
in Russia and Eastern Europe. Our hearts have been genuinely warmed as the
news reached our ears that thousands have embraced the gospel of Christ and
have organized congregations after the New Testament order. May Jehovah bless
such efforts, and may we lend our support to these new kinsmen in the Lord. Whenever the church is introduced into a new cultural environment, problems are
bound to arise. Such were the circumstances during the first century, and it is no
less true today. One difficulty that we are encountering in formerly communist
nations has to do with the role of women. In those countries women have long
been a force in the educational and industrial aspects of society. They have
assumed a great variety of leading roles. Accordingly, it may be difficult for some of our new sisters to adjust to the idea that woman’s public role in the church is
limited. The divinely imposed restriction is grounded in spiritual principles that are
universal and ageless, not in cultural peculiarities.
As our brothers have worked in Eastern Bloc countries in recent years, they
occasionally have encountered situations in which no male was present to
translate for the American preacher. Accordingly, some have employed native women who, standing alongside the evangelist before the assembly, translates his
message for the group. I have been told that on occasion a woman was selected to
do the interpreting even when a qualified man was present. I have no doubt that
those who are operating in this way are very sincere and honestly believe that they
are not compromising the teaching of the Scriptures. But are they? Perhaps the
pressing demands of these new opportunities caught us unprepared, without our having had the opportunity to study these matters as carefully as we might. This
study is offered in the hope that we can calmly examine the biblical data and draw
only such conclusions as are consistent with truth.
That women were employed as teachers of the gospel in the early church is
beyond controversy. No one will dispute the fact that the Great Commission
applies to women, who are required not only to submit to the gospel, but to proclaim it as well (Matt. 28:19,20). On the day of Pentecost, Peter hinted of
woman’s teaching role in the Christian economy (Acts 2:18). Priscilla, along with
her husband Aquila, was involved in instructing the eloquent Apollos more
accurately in the way of the Lord (Acts 18:26). The evangelist Philip had four
daughters who prophesied (Acts 21:9). Women in the church at Corinth prophesied
(1 Cor. 11:5). Older Christian women were responsible to teach younger women the duties of domestic demeanor (Tit. 2:3,4). Women taught.
While the foregoing passages indicate that women functioned as teachers in the
primitive church, it is equally clear that their instructive capacity was restricted by
additional inspired information. In 1 Corinthians 14, Paul required that women, in a
certain sense, remain quiet in the church assembly (34). In the apostle’s first letter
to Timothy, he declared that the woman may not teach in a situation during which she acts as an authority-figure over the man (2:12). For a further discussion of this
matter, see the author’s article, “Woman’s Role in the Church” in our “Archives”
section.
First Corinthians, chapter 14, has frequently presented a difficulty for Bible
expositors. To what extent does it prohibit a woman speaking in a church
assembly? Some, focusing upon the term “silence” (sigao – vs. 34) contend that the assembly under consideration is one in which a woman could not utter a sound. It
was, they allege, a unique first-century situation, hence the restriction of this
passage really is not applicable today.
These brethren, I believe, have overlooked an important point. The term “silence”
of verse 34 is not employed absolutely, but relatively; i.e., it is qualified by the
context. For example, in his discussion of the abuses of spiritual gifts, Paul says that the brother who has the gift of tongues should keep “silence” if there is no one
to interpret for his alien audience (28). That obviously does not mean that he could
not utter a word during the entire church service; rather, he was to keep silence
insofar as the matter under consideration was concerned (cf. 30).
Similarly, the woman’s requirement to keep silence was not absolute. There was
only a certain sense in which she was not to “speak.” No one will argue that the women at Corinth were forbidden to sing, and yet singing is a form of speaking
(see Eph. 5:19).
Some respond by suggesting that the assembly of this setting was not the public
worship assembly. That does not seem to be true, however, since teaching,
praying, and singing are all mentioned within the context (cf. 14:15).
Furthermore, reference is made to “the whole church” being assembled (cf. 11:18,20) — with even unbelievers being present (23). It is obvious that this was a
public assembly. But consider this — even if it could be established that the meeting
of 1 Corinthians 14 was not a public gathering, how would this alter the basic
instruction? If the apostle forbade a woman to teach in this allegedly private
situation, does it stand to reason that he would condone her serving as a teacher
in a public gathering? Surely not. Moreover, even if one could somehow dispense with 1 Corinthians 14, he would
still have to reckon with 1 Timothy 2:12, which disallows a woman to assume the
role of a teacher in the assembly.
What then does the injunction regarding silence mean in the Corinthian context?
Many scholars would argue that Paul is teaching these saints the very same truth
that he later enunciated to Timothy. Here is an interpretive principle that is worthy of reflection. Whenever a biblical
writer addresses the same topic in different places, and yet one context is clearer
than the other, the more obscure should be viewed in light of the plainer.
When 1 Corinthians 14:34ff and 1 Timothy 2:12ff are placed side-by-side, it is
obvious that they deal with the same general theme. The Corinthian
correspondence is the more difficult to comprehend due to its lack of details. Thus, let the apostle’s more lucid instruction in his letter to Timothy bring the former
passage into focus. There are striking similarities in the language.
1 CORINTHIANS 14
1 TIMOTHY 2
Woman not to speakWoman not to teach
Keep silence/subjectionBe quiet/subjection As saith the lawFor Adam was first
A consideration of these parallels suggests that the type of speaking forbidden in
the Corinthian letter was the same as the authoritative teaching prohibited in the
epistle to Timothy.
That being the case, it appears that Paul was cautioning the Corinthian women in
two respects: First, some were to cease interrupting their husbands during the services (perhaps they were inquiring as to the meaning of certain oracles; they
could satisfy their curiosity at home).
Second, even if a woman possessed a spiritual gift, she could not publicly exercise
it in the church assembly, for such violated her appointed role in the divine
constitution of things, as evidenced by the order of creation, and as a consequence
of her part in humanity’s original transgression (cf. 1 Tim. 2:13,14). Now to the issue at hand. Does standing before the assembly, translating a
message from God, constitute a violation of 1 Corinthians 14?
In this chapter, Paul discusses three spiritual gifts by which divine revelation was
conveyed to the congregation.
First, there was prophecy. This was the proclamation of truth to a group of the
same language as the speaker. Second, there was the gift of speaking in a tongue. This involved the supernatural
communication of revelation to an alien audience, the teacher having been
granted the ability to converse in a language he had never learned naturally.
Finally, there was the gift of interpretation (translation). This allowed a person with
a language gift to convey a message (by means of an inspired translator) to an
audience unable to discern the particular language gift which he possessed. What seems apparent from a consideration of all the details is this. Each of these
persons addressing the congregation functioned in the capacity of a public teacher
— whether by a message in the native dialect alone (as in prophecy), or by a
message in a foreign language (the case of tongue-speaking), or by a message, a
language, and a translation combined (the interpreter).
There seems to be no difference, from the divine viewpoint, in the teaching role being exercised by these speakers. Yet, it is within this very context that the
apostle plainly commands: “… let the women keep silence in the churches
[assemblies] ….”
If it was permissible for a woman to stand before the church and teach by means of
the translation process, just because the message did not actually originate with
her, but rather from a man ultimately, why did Paul not acknowledge that exception in his discussion?
Defensive Arguments
But some brethren -respectable brethren- believe the use of women translators is
defensible. The following is a review of some of the arguments being offered in
support of this practice.
“The woman translator is merely serving as an instrument-much like an amplifier. She is not actually doing the teaching.”
But the fact is, she is not a machine. She is a person, and she does not lose her
feminine personhood just because the message does not emanate from her.
Could a woman stand before an audience, receive her message from a distant
place via electronic transmission, and preach the gospel to a mixed group? If not,
what would be the objection? Here is an interesting question. Could a Christian woman memorize one of N.B.
Hardeman’s famous tabernacle sermons, deliver it to the church, and be justified
on the ground that the material did not originate with her — that she was merely
functioning as a “recording machine”?
Exactly what is “teaching”? Does it not involve communicating an understandable
message? Two people stand before an audience — a man and a woman. He speaks in a language the people do not understand; she conveys the message in a
language that is understood. Who is doing the teaching? Not the man alone. A
mere sound does not teach. It was on the basis of this principle that Paul forbade
tongue-speaking to an alien audience when no translator was present. If the
woman stops speaking, the teaching ceases. In concert, both are teaching. Paul
attributes the edification to the interpreter (14:5,12,13,26-28). An interpreter instructs (cf. 19).
In logic there is a principle that states that things which are equal to each other are
equal to the same thing. If it is the case that the man speaking to the assembly is
preaching, and if it is likewise the case that the woman beside him is doing exactly
the same thing that he is doing, then it logically follows that she is preaching as
well. Or to make the point even stronger — if it is the case that the man who speaks to
the audience is preaching (even though the group understands not a word he
says), then surely it is the case that the woman who speaks beside him (with the
assembly understanding every word she says) is similarly preaching.
“The woman translator is not exercising authority over the audience.”
But if it is the case that she is functioning in the role of a teacher of the group (as the paragraph above clearly indicates), then she is exercising the type of authority
that is prohibited by 1 Timothy 2:12. The grammatical construction of this passage
demonstrates that the position of a public teacher is a role of authority.
Consider this analogy. The New Testament was originally written in Greek. It was
the authoritative Word of God in that form. Does it lose that authority merely
because it passes through the translation process? It does not. Similarly, a mere change of language does not alter the fact that both the original speaker and the
translator are teaching in the same authoritative way.
“If a translator is actually a teacher, when we hire a non-Christian translator (as
has been the case in some mission situations), then we are hiring an unbeliever to
preach the gospel.”
This is a valid point. The question is — is either practice right? When Paul discussed a situation in the Corinthian assembly where someone had the gift of tongues, but
no interpreter was present, he told the tongue-speaker to keep silent. He did not
suggest that some unbeliever, who might be present (cf. 14:23,28), could be
employed as the translator if he were qualified.
When we go into a mission field, we need to go prepared to speak the gospel in
the native language. Would it be permissible to go into a mission region, hire a non-Christian translator, leave with him printed materials, and tell him to do the
teaching for us?
“Though Paul’s restriction of a woman’s speaking in the church assembly would
prohibit the ‘interpretation’ of a language, it would not forbid simple translation.
Interpretation and translation are different.”
The Greek term hermeneuo, and its related forms, are used in two different senses in the New Testament. The word can denote an “explanation.”
Following His resurrection, Jesus encountered two disciples on the road to
Emmaus. In the course of their conversation, the Lord “interpreted” (explained) to
them the things that had been written concerning Himself in the law of Moses and
the prophets (Lk. 24:27).
On the other hand, these kindred terms can have to do with the “translation” of words from one language into another. For instance, at Joppa there was a disciple
whose name was Tabitha, which by “interpretation” (i.e., translation – from Aramaic
to Greek) was rendered Dorcas (Acts 9:36). The context must determine whether
an “explanation” or a “translation” is in view.
Clearly, in 1 Corinthians 14 the gift of “interpretation” was the inspired ability to
translate a divine message, initially given in a foreign tongue, into the vernacular of the audience. This is clearly evidenced by Paul’s allusion to the many kinds of
voices in the world (10), and his reference to the barbarian (a non-Greek-speaking
person) in verse 11 (cf. Acts 28:2). I have discussed the nature of these tongues
more fully in my tract, Speaking in Tongues.
Horst Balz and Gerhard Schneider note that:
“Paul demands that tongue speakers express themselves in the assembly only when an hermeneutes is present and able to translate and make intelligible to the
congregation what has been said in the tongues” (Exegetical Dictionary of the New
Testament, Eerdmans, 1991, Vol. 2, p. 54).
I have examined a number of language authorities on the use of “interpretation” in
1 Corinthians 14. Those who suggest that the term is employed of “explanation”
invariably contend that the “tongues” of this chapter are “ecstatic utterances” — not human languages. And so, when the apostle enjoins a woman to silence, it is
within a context that includes audible translation.
“The context of 1 Corinthians 14, which forbade a woman to speak, dealt with the
miraculous. It is thus not appropriate to introduce that situation as a precedent for
the present circumstances.”
The fact that the speaking in 1 Corinthians 14 was miraculous has nothing to do with the argument. A woman’s silence is enjoined because of her gender, not the
miraculous nature of what is done. Are we to believe that the apostle would forbid
an inspired woman to exercise the gifts mentioned in chapter 14 (which included
translation), and yet he would allow the practice for an uninspired woman of our
day? Does that really ring true?
“If we can utilize a woman to ‘sign’ for the deaf, then we can employ a woman to translate for the preacher.”
First, in some situations, “signing” may not be parallel to publicly preaching the
word. A woman might sit silently, sign to a few nearby folks, and the arrangement
be more comparable to an informal conversation.
Second, if there is a parallel between public teaching (as in the translating
procedure) and signing, and the former is shown to be inappropriate, then signing should be limited to men. Two wrongs do not make a right.
What if there were a congregation composed of those who can hear and those
who are deaf. The only qualified preacher in that church is a deaf brother, and the
only person qualified to interpret sign is a woman. Can the brother sign to one
group while the sister audibly preaches to the remainder of the church? If those
who are advancing this argument would object, they must analyze why such should not be done.
“If we do not use women translators, many will be deprived of the gospel.”
The same argument could be made regarding women preachers. Suppose there is
a mission region ripe for the gospel, and the only available person to go is a
woman. Can she preach, establish a church, and direct its worship simply because
there is no man to carry on these functions? Again, we need to fully prepare to do the work upon which we have embarked. We
must not compromise the truth in order that good may abound.
Some are saying: “If there is no man to do the work, I don’t see the harm in it.” If it
is intrinsically right for a woman to serve in this capacity, then it is right for her to do
it regardless of whether there are qualified men to do the work.
“When we engage in ‘part singing’ within our assemblies, sometimes the women have parts where they alone are singing. This is comparable to the woman
translator circumstance.”
The analogy is false. The woman who is singing has not assumed the “teacher”
role over the male (as addressed in 1 Timothy 2:12). Paul did not forbid women to
sing in his letter to Corinth, but he did prohibit them from speaking in a context
where translating was being discussed (1 Cor. 14:15,33,34). That aside, this is the very argument that some have used in defense of women
preachers in general, and more recently it has been employed to justify women
singing solos in the worship assembly.
“The woman-translator is doing no more than the lady who comes to the front of
the assembly and confesses Christ prior to baptism.”
Surely this cannot be a serious argument. Suppose a woman responds to the invitation and states her desire to become a Christian. The preacher asks: “Do you
believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God?”
She responds: “I do, and with your permission, I have prepared a presentation —
which will not take more than thirty minutes. It expresses the nature of biblical faith
as I see it. May I speak to the church?”
What do you suppose his response would be? There is a clear difference between making a simple confession of faith and functioning in the role of a teacher.
Conclusion
Brethren who are working in foreign fields need to give this matter some protracted
study. We do not question their motives. They are sincere and dedicated people.
We understand the situation of being caught in a novel arrangement without
having had the opportunity to carefully analyze the circumstances and make a more deliberate decision. Still, we must be scriptural.
The practice of using women translators in the public assembly should be
reconsidered for the following reason.
It is without scriptural authority.
It transgresses explicit apostolic instruction (1 Cor. 14:33,34; 1 Tim. 2:12).
The practice will create dissension among sound brethren. It is setting a precedent that will escalate and have long-range consequences in
the mission field and at home. Already we have heard of cases where women have
taken the initiative to lead prayers and singing because they felt they were the
best qualified.
May God help us to give serious and prayerful consideration to these matters.
SCRIPTURE REFERENCES Matthew 28:19, 20; Acts 2:18; Acts 18:26; Acts 21:9; 1 Corinthians 11:5; Titus 2:3,
4; 1 Corinthians 14; Ephesians 5:19; 1 Timothy 2:12; 1 Corinthians 14:34; 1
Timothy 2; Luke 24:27; Acts 9:36; Acts 28:2; 1 Corinthians 14:15, 33, 34; 1
Corinthians 14:33, 34

Likewise the Spirit also helps our infirmity: for we know not what we should pray for
as we ought: but the Spirit himself makes intercession for us with groanings which
cannot be uttered. And he who searches the hearts knows what is the mind of the
Spirit, because he makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God
(Romans 8:26-27). Much controversy surrounds this passage as to its particulars. In this essay, we will
set forth the view that we feel best conforms to the overall context of Romans 8,
together with the grammatical particulars that are employed in these two verses.
Romans 8 is a chapter that rings with Christian assurance. One can be confident of
his salvation in Christ, provided he does not pursue the life of the “flesh”; rather, he
walks after the leading of the Spirit (vv. 1-4), whose guidance is effected through the Scriptures he inspired (Ephesians 5:18; cf. Colossians 3:16; Galatians 5:16;
Ephesians 6:17).
The leading of that holy revelation generates “life and peace” (v. 6). Our
confidence is grounded in the fact that the indwelling Spirit eventually will be
instrumental in effecting life for our mortal bodies by means of the bodily
resurrection from the dead (vv. 11, 23). By the leading of the Spirit we may be assured of our status as “sons of God” (v. 14).
Moreover, the Spirit himself bears witness with the Christian’s personal spirit,
confirming our child-father relationship with God (v. 16). Our knowledge of the
indwelling Spirit, which relationship is a “first-fruits” of that yet promised, enables
us to cope with “the sufferings of this present time,” and so to live in hope of the
glory that is to come (vv. 18-25). A cursory reading of the first twenty-five verses of this remarkable chapter clearly
reveals the role of the Holy Spirit in this marvelous reliance the child of God may
entertain relative to his future destiny. In this section alone, the third person of the
Godhead is alluded to no less than fourteen times. This emphasis, we believe,
contributes to our understanding of verses twenty-six and twenty-seven. We now
direct our attention to a consideration of the precise language of these two passages.
“In like manner”
The couplet begins with the phrase, “In like manner the Spirit also helps our
infirmity.” The phrase, “in like manner,” directs the student’s attention back into the
previous context. The allusion most likely is to the “hope” just mentioned (vv.
24-25). Just as our awareness of the Holy Spirit, as a presence in our lives (vv. 9, 11, 23),
provides us with hope for the future, “in like manner,” we may take consolation in
the fact that the Spirit is an abiding companion, assisting with our present infirmity.
J. B. Phillips paraphrases as follows: “The Spirit of God not only maintains this
hope within us, but helps us in our present limitations.”
“the Spirit” To what does the expression “the Spirit” refer in this passage? While a few sincere
students have alleged that this is an allusion to the human spirit, the overwhelming
majority of competent Bible scholars are confident that it refers to the third person
of the Godhead, the Holy Spirit. The following points, we believe, are worthy of
serious thought:
(1) All of the major Bible translations reflect this persuasion (e.g., the King James Version, the English Revised Version, the American Standard Version, the Revised
Standard Version, the New English Bible, the New American Standard Bible, the
New King James Version, The Twentieth Century New Testament, the New
International Version, etc.). All have the term pneuma set in type as “Spirit.”
While this procedure is a translating judgment, it does indicate the prevailing view
of these renown scholars. In addition to these, there are numerous one-person versions that join the chorus (e.g., Phillips, Weymouth, Bruce, Goodspeed, Verkuyl
(Berkeley), Williams, Wuest, Beck, McCord, etc.).
(2) Numerous other scholarly authorities of New Testament Greek identify “the
Spirit” of Romans 8:26-27 as the Holy Spirit. Among these are Arndt and Gingrich,
Thayer, Robinson, Green, Chamberlain, Vine, Robertson, etc.
We mention these to emphasize the fact that the unusual view, which alleges that the term “Spirit” in Romans 8:26-27 is the human spirit, does not have the support
of the respectable scholarship of the biblical world.
(3) As noted above, the expression “in like manner” ties this context to the
apostle’s previous discussion of “the Spirit” (v. 23), which, unquestionably, is the
Holy Spirit.
(4) The term “helps” (see below) suggests an assistance from someone other than the person being helped, i.e., beyond the resources of the Christian himself. So,
similarly, with reference to the term “intercession” (v. 27); the Spirit makes
intercession for the saints.
The “Spirit” here is not a component of the saint himself. One does not intercede
for himself (see below).
(5) The grammar more readily lends itself to the concept that the Holy Spirit is in view. For example, the verb “helps” is a third person form, while the pronoun
“our” (“our infirmity”) is a first person term.
Similarly, “we know not how to pray as we ought” reflects first person emphasis; yet
the phrase “the Spirit itself [himself – ASV] makes intercession” manifests a third
person structure.
Moreover, if the human spirit were in view, one would think that pneuma would take a plural form (“spirits”) to conform to the plurals “our” and “we know not,” i.e.,
the sense would be “our spirits help our infirmity: for we know not how to pray as
we ought; but our spirits themselves make intercession for us.”
Quite obviously this does not conform to what the original text actually says, and,
frankly, doesn’t express a sensible thought.
(6) There is a contrast in the text between what the Spirit is able to do on our behalf, and what we are not able to do for ourselves, because we do not know how:
“[W]e know not how . . . but the Spirit . . .”
The “but” (de) functions as an adversative particle here. Note the contrast in verses
twenty-two and twenty-three: “[T]he whole world groans . . . And not only so, but
[de] ourselves also.” Clearly the “Spirit” is an entity separate from the “we.”
Let us say the same thing but in a slightly different way. There is the affirmation that “we know not.” Since it is the “spirit” within man that is capable of either
“knowing” or “not knowing” (1 Corinthians 2:11), and, as this passage asserts that
“we know not,” that is the equivalent of saying that our spirit does not know. But
the implication of this passage is that the Spirit (under consideration here) does
know. Thus the Spirit, here in view, is not the human spirit.
(7) The Spirit is said to “make intercession for us.” The Greek verb for “intercession” (v. 27) is entunchano, meaning: “A pleading with one party on behalf
of another, usually with a view to obtaining help for that other” (Bromiley 1982,
858).
But in verse twenty-six, there is a compound term, huperentunchano, which
signifies “to make a petition or intercede on behalf of another” (Vine 1991, 424).
The word is multifaceted: the main stem is tugchano, “to happen,” together with en, “in,” and huper, “on behalf of.” The addition of huper onto the front of the word
merely intensifies the force of the base word (cf. Chamberlain 1979, 147); it does
not imply another intecessor, in addition to the Holy Spirit.
Guy Woods observed that the word suggests “to happen just in the nick of time, for
our assistance.” He adds: “How comforting it is, when exhausted and weary from
heavy burdens, to have a friend or brother come along, and lend a willing hand until the task is done. Such is the picture presented us in this verb of the Holy
Spirit’s aid” (1970, 72).
Note how the term entunchano is elsewhere used. Christ, at the right hand of God,
“makes intercession for us” (Romans 8:34). Again, the Lord “ever lives to make
intercession for us” (Hebrews 7:25). In addition, a noun form of the word (in the
plural) is used in 1 Timothy 2:1, to describe the petitions we make on behalf of others (e.g., rulers).
Here is the point: one does not intercede on his own behalf. The fact that the Spirit
intercedes for us is evidence that “the Spirit” is someone other than ourselves.
It is sometimes objected that the Holy Spirit cannot be the one interceding for us,
because Christ is said to accomplish that task. What is the problem in having more
than one intercessor on my behalf? If hundreds of Christians can intercede for me (1 Timothy 2:1), why cannot both Christ and the Spirit intercede on my behalf? The
objection is not logical.
Roy Lanier Sr. observed that all three persons of the Godhead are said to “sanctify”
us (1 Thessalonians 5:23; Hebrews 2:11; Romans 15:16) (n.d., 60). No one, so far
as we can determine, sees any conflict in this. Neither are two intercessors
problematic in Romans 8. For these reasons, at the very least, it is almost incomprehensible to this writer that
anyone should take the position that the Spirit in this context is anything other
than the Holy Spirit of God.
“also helps our infirmity”
The verb “helps” is most fascinating. In the Greek Testament, it is a present tense
form, suggesting sustained activity. The original word is sunantilambano, consisting of these elements: sun (with), anti (over against, facing), lambano (to
take up).
The picture conveyed is that of two persons sharing a load. The term is used
elsewhere in the New Testament only in Luke 10:40, where Martha implores Jesus
to bid Mary, her sister, to “help” her. One can almost imagine a heavy piece of
furniture that needs moving. In his massive grammar of the Greek New Testament, A. T. Robertson provides the
sense in our present context: “The Holy Spirit lays hold of our weakness along with
(sun) us and carries his part of the burden facing us (anti) as if two men were
carrying a log, one at each end” (1919, 573).
Samuel Green noted that the expression signifies “to help by coming into
association with” (1907, 152). It certainly suggests an assistance, other than one’s self, in dealing with our limitations in communicating adequately with God.
The Greek word for “infirmity” is astheneia, a compound term signifying “without
strength.” The better textual evidence has it in the singular; it is a common infirmity
shared by all Christians. It suggests an inability to produce a desired result
(whatever may be indicated by the context).
While the immediate text focuses upon the Christian’s lack of knowledge in knowing “how to pray” with absolute precision, the Spirit’s function, in assisting
with the entire panorama of human difficulties with which we struggle, may be
hinted at as well (cf. Murray 1968, 311).
For example, it is entirely probable that the divine Spirit is active in the
orchestration of providential benevolence on behalf of the children of God. Jesus
once promised that the Father will “give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him” (Luke 11:13). In a parallel reference, God is said to “give good things to them that ask
him” (Matthew 7:11).
The use of “Holy Spirit” in Luke’s version appears to be an example of the figure
known as metonymy, in this case, the cause being put for the effect (see Horne
1841, 359). The Spirit is named for the blessings he effects. This strongly hints of
the providential activity of the Spirit of God in the lives of the saints. It is not inappropriate that we briefly discuss what the Spirit of God does not do on
our behalf. There is a common idea in the community of “Christendom” that the
Scriptures are not sufficiently clear for human beings to understand, hence, the
Spirit operates in a mysterious way so as to “help” us comprehend the meaning of
the sacred text. This concept is called the “illumination” of the Spirit.
Professor Allan Killen argues as follows: “Without an illumination of the Holy Scriptures [by the Spirit], no man can understand God’s divine, infallible revelation.
. . [I]llumination [is] the means by which the Scriptures are made clear to the
reader” (Pfeiffer, Vos, and Rea 1998, 831).
This notion is false for the following reasons:
(1) In terms of divine knowledge, the Scriptures furnish us completely unto every
good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17). This statement could not be true if the revelation as given is incomplete and thus requires supplementation by the Spirit’s direct
influence.
(2) We are commanded to “understand the will of the Lord” (Ephesians 5:17). The
command is superfluous if, in reality, we cannot understand the will of the Lord as
made known in the Scriptures. If one must understand the Scriptures, but does not,
whose fault would that then be? (3) Many who claim to have the “illumination” of the Spirit teach ideas that clearly
contradict the Spirit-given Bible.
(4) Many who profess to posses Spirit “illumination” disagree with one another in
matters of doctrine. If a person offers an interpretation of the New Testament
which he claims is the result of “illumination,” how may others check this person’s
views? Would it be by the Scriptures themselves? If so, how would he know his interpretation of the Scriptures, in evaluating that “illuminated” message, was
correct unless he perhaps had an “illumination” by which to verify the previous
“illumination.”
(5) The fact is, if the Spirit provides ongoing, modern-day illumination, why is there
even the need for a book twenty centuries old?
(6) If the Spirit could not make the Scriptures plain when initially providing them, how can we have confidence that he would do any better on the second go-
around?
(For additional study on this subject see our The Holy Spirit Illumination Theory: A
Critical Review.)
“for we know not how to pray as we ought”
In this phrase, our pitiful, limited knowledge of the ideal will of God is dramatically underscored. We think we have the avenue of prayer perfected, but how woefully
mistaken we are. We sometimes pray for things which, if supplied, would be most
harmful to us. There is much truth in the saying that “one of life’s greatest
blessings can be unanswered prayers” (cf. 2 Corinthians 12:8-9).
Too, there are deep needs that we have, but of which we are unaware.
Accordingly, we do not think to pray for them. And so, we do not “know” how to pray as we ought.
The verb rendered “know” is oida, which Vine suggests has to do more with
“fullness of knowledge” (444). Wuest thus renders the phrase: “[W]e do not know
with an absolute knowledge” (1961, 366).
Though the verb is a perfect tense form technically, it yields a present tense sense
(Arndt and Gingrich 1967, 558), which indicates that we never master the art of expressing our prayer needs adequately. The Christian will always need the
Spirit’s assistance.
“but the Spirit himself makes intercession for us”
The expression “Spirit himself” is emphatic; it expresses an activity of the Holy
Spirit personally, rather than what he may accomplish through a representative
medium (cf. John 4:2). While the pronoun auto (“itself” – KJV; “himself” – ASV) is a neuter form, it is more appropriate here to render it as a masculine, since the Holy
Spirit is a person, not a thing. This has the precedent of Scripture itself (cf. John
14:26 where the masculine ekeinos is used of the “Spirit”—a neuter term).
“with groanings which cannot be uttered”
The term “groanings” (stenagmois) denotes a sigh or groan. It is used (in various
forms) more than fifty times in the Greek version of the Old Testament, and it reflects a “human lament” which suffering people are powerless to remedy on their
own (Balz and Schneider 1993, 272). For instance, it describes the anguish of the
Israelite people under the burdens of Egypt (Exodus 2:23; cf. Acts 7:34).
The notion that the “groanings” refer to “speaking in tongues” is to be rejected
totally. Stott comments: “These groans can hardly be glossolalia, since those
‘tongues’ or languages were expressed in words which some could understand and interpret” (1994, 245).
But whose groanings are these? Though some would attribute them to the Holy
Spirit, the better view appears to be that they are the Christian’s groanings, which
are conveyed on his behalf by the Spirit unto God. Clearly the term refers to the
Christian’s plight a few verses earlier in this chapter (v. 23), though a different
point of focus is in view. The context seems to suggest that the groanings originate because “we know not
how to pray as we ought” in a knowledgeable and articulate way. It would seem,
therefore, more in harmony with the general tenor of the Bible as a whole, then, to
conclude that it is the Christian who gives rise to these “mute sighs, the expression
of which is suppressed by grief” (Thayer 1958, 25), rather than the groanings
issuing from the omnipotent Spirit of God. Hardeman Nichols observes: “Surely the Holy Spirit who has the ability to
completely reveal the mind of God to man would have no difficulty in pleading
man’s cause to God” (1980, 350).
It is not impossible, though, that there may be a blending of two thoughts. Some
think that the groanings, though originating with the Christian, actually are “shared
by the Holy Spirit and the believer” (McComiskey 1976, 424). John Stott suggests that “the Holy Spirit identifies with our groans,” so that “we
and he groan together” (245). One thing is certain: when the groanings reach God,
they are perfectly clear to him.
It is imperative, though, that we emphasize this point: it must not be concluded that
the Father could not know of our plight apart from the Spirit’s intercession; no,
rather, it is the role of the Spirit as a companion in the Christian’s life that is being emphasized. His work has been divinely orchestrated, consistent with the planning
of the entire Godhead.
H. Leo Boles wrote: “Since [the Holy Spirit] dwells in Christians, he helps them in
the act of prayer. Prayer is to God the Father in the name of Christ, and by the help
of the Holy Spirit. Hence, each member of the Godhead is included in acceptable
prayer” (1983, 256). “and he who searches the hearts”
The heart-searcher of this passage is generally conceded to be God, the Father,
mentioned subsequently in the verse. God is said to “search” the heart of man.
The word means to examine, to investigate. It is a form of the figure known as
anthropomorphism (representing God with human traits), the design of which, in
this text, is to emphasize the all-knowing aspect of deity (cf. 1 Chronicles 28:9; Psalms 7:9; Proverbs 17:3; 1 Thessalonians 2:4). Similar expressions are used both
of Christ (Revelation 2:23) and of the Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:10).
The present tense form argues for the concept of a God who is ever aware of our
needs. The “heart,” of course, is the soul or spirit of man, the rational, feeling
aspect of the human being—that part made in the very image of God himself
(Genesis 1:26-27; Daniel 7:15; 1 Corinthians 2:11; Romans 10:9-10). “knows what is the mind of the spirit”
Again the verb (oida), employed as a present tense (see above), reveals the fact
that the Father and the Spirit are constantly in close communication with one
another, if we may express ourselves in the same sort of accommodative language
discussed just above. God is ever aware of the Spirit’s insights into our souls,
hence can adequately respond to our needs. Cottrell suggests that Paul’s argument here is one where the reasoning proceeds
from the less likely to the more likely: “If God knows what is in the minds of created
beings who are qualitatively different from him and relatively independent of him,
then surely he knows what is in the mind of the Spirit himself, who is qualitatively
equal with God and one in nature with him” (1996, 498).
“because [that – ASVfn] he intercedes for the saints” The present tense of the verb (“intercedes”) depicts the characteristic activity of
the Spirit on behalf of the Christian. (For the meaning of “intercede,” see above.)
The term “saints,” as used in the New Testament, is a general term for those who
are faithful to God. It is commonly used for the members of various congregations
of the Lord’s people (cf. Romans 1:7; 1 Corinthians 1:2; Ephesians 1:1; Philippians
1:1). It is linguistically related to the words “holy” and “sanctified.” It refers to a person who, by virtue of his obedience to the gospel plan of salvation (cf.
Ephesians 5:26) and his consecration of life has become “separated unto God” (cf.
1 Thessalonians 4:3-4, 7; Romans 6:19, 22; Hebrews 12:14).
The Holy Spirit is delighted to operate on behalf of a people dedicated to
righteousness. The Roman Catholic concept of “sainthood” bears utterly no
relationship to the New Testament Scriptures. “according to the will of God”
The Greek text simply says, “according to God.” The translators of both the King
James Version and the American Standard Version have supplied the words “the
will of” (as indicated by the italics) for clarification purposes. God the Father and
the Holy Spirit operate in perfect unison in the interest of Christian people.
Perhaps it is not out of place at this point to remind ourselves that, unlike the so- called “gods” of the ancient pagan world, the members of the sacred Godhead are
never at variance with one another. They function in absolute harmony.
As we conclude this rather detailed discussion, perhaps we could sum up with a
commentary-paraphrase that brings everything together.
Just as we entertain a precious hope for the future as a result of the promised
activity of the Spirit of God, in like manner, even now, the Spirit helps us by taking hold with us of our infirmity.
Especially is this true in the matter of our prayers; we just do not know how to fully
address our needs in prayer. On this account, therefore, the Spirit personally
pleads our case. He takes the sighs which reflect the true needs of our souls, which
we are unable to put into words that form a proper request, and he conveys them
on our behalf to God. And God, who is perfectly familiar with the inner workings of the human mind, and
who certainly knows the mind of the Spirit, responds to our needs. He honors the
role of the Spirit who is making intercession on behalf of those who have been set
apart for divine service by virtue of their obedience to the truth.
Yes, God answers according to his will, rather than according to our superficial
requests. Most Bible students would agree that this marvelous pair of verses, dealing with
the work of the Spirit of God on behalf of Christians, is one of the most thrilling one
can contemplate. Surely there are things about these verses that as yet challenge
our understanding.
In spite of the limited scope of our comprehension, there is enough here to almost
take away one’s breath! Thanks be to the divine Godhead for their precious interest in those who love them and are submissive to their will.

In a refreshing declaration, an Old Testament writer affirms:
“Blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered” (Psa. 32:1).
In stark relief, another biblical writer says:
“He who covers his transgressions shall not prosper…” (Prov. 28:13).
The former passage commends the covering of sin; the latter one condemns such. How are these two inspired oracles to be reconciled?
The solution to this seeming difficulty is quite simple actually. In the former text, a
blessing is pronounced upon him who has his sin covered by means of God’s
forgiveness. On the other hand, the writer in Proverbs is addressing the state of
one who attempts to deal with his evil in a human fashion, rather than seeking
Heaven’s pardon. Generally, man is a rebel. He does not seek to do the will of his Creator, hence, he
is ever involved in wickedness. Jeremiah indicts haughty humanity as follows: “The
heart is deceitful above all things, and it is exceedingly corrupt: who can know
it?” (17:9).
It is hardly a wonder that human beings, stubborn as they are, should seek, in their
vain imaginations, a variety of methods by which they might avoid facing the responsibility for their violations of divine law. In this article, we will review briefly
several of these attempts.
Denial
One method of dealing with evil is simply to deny its reality. Atheism argues that
sin does not exist. Humanists reason: There is no God. If there is no God, there is
no objective code of ethics. If there is no code of ethics, there can be no transgression. Therefore, there is no such thing as sin.
French philosopher Jean Paul Sartre contended that whatever man chooses to do
is right; we can, he affirmed, “never choose evil” (279). And so, the skeptic covers
his sin by contending that it has no basis in reality.
Sigmund Freud characterized it as a mere “illusion.” What a convenient way of
addressing the problem of human evil! It is much like the case of the deluded patient who has been diagnosed with a terminal malignancy. In denial, to his
physician he says: “Do not be concerned, doctor; I am fine. I do not believe in
cancer.”
Concealment
For centuries man has entertained the idea that he can hide his wickedness. If
others do not know, what’s the difference? The difference is: wrong is still wrong, whether others are privy to it or not.
Adam and Eve sought to hide their shame from the Creator, but the effort was for
naught (Gen. 3:8ff). After the battle of Jericho, Achan hid the forbidden spoils of
battle beneath his tent, but God brought the rebellious deed to light (Josh.
7:20-22). A few years back, a country music song, “Slipping Around,” typified the
modern attitude. Concealment can be but a temporary respite. The day will come when that which
has been done in secret will be shouted from the housetops (Lk. 12:3). God is the
revealer of the secrets of men (Rom. 2:16).
Redefinition
Another ploy in dealing with evil is the alteration of vocabulary. Somehow we labor
under the illusion that if we can but find a less emotive term by which to designate our vices, the evil has disappeared.
And so, drunkenness becomes “alcoholism,” adultery is merely an “affair,” sodomy
is “gay,” and pornography is “adult literature.” But, as Shakespeare once noted, “…
a rose by any other name smells as sweet.” And so it is —sin, under any alternate
appellation, is still its vile self.
Rationalization Rationalization is the mental process whereby one justifies his actions by
assigning to them a motive that appears to legitimize the conduct. A student
throws trash on the schoolroom floor and defends his act on the ground that if the
janitor did not have work to do, he would have no job, hence no income with which
to support his family!
King Saul of Israel disobeyed Jehovah and refused to destroy the livestock booty taken from the Amalekites. He excused himself on this basis: “… the people spared
the best of the sheep and oxen, to sacrifice unto Jehovah your God” (1 Sam.
15:15).
America is expert in the art of rationalization. A student cheats on his final exam
and feels no guilt because “others are doing it,” and he “must make the grade
curve.” After all, a future job is at stake. We abort our babies and defend the atrocity on the basis that we must not produce millions of youngsters who will not
have adequate medical and educational facilities.
Rationalization is a soothing lotion for dull conscience.
Legalization
Another way folks cover their sins is to appeal to the license of civil law. The claim
frequently is: “Well, it’s legal, isn’t it?” A man sits in front of his TV and guzzles beer. Whose business is it? It’s not against the law. A woman divorces her
husband because she no longer finds him attractive. Subsequently, she marries a
former boy friend. So what! It’s legal.
What many obviously do not understand is that civil law is human law, and not
infrequently it is in direct violation of the will of God.
Substitution Substitution is the idea one can engage in the vices of his desire, but it really
doesn’t matter, because he does plenty of other things to balance the account.
Good deeds are thought to gloss over base conduct. This is the common
philosophy of many within the Roman Church. One is free to pursue almost any
lifestyle, provided he rattles off the appropriate number of “Hail Marys.”
Conclusion Human attempts to cover disobedience are futile. The wise person will let the Lord
handle the problem —in his appointed way. In the divine plan of redemption, Jesus
Christ becomes the “covering” (“propitiation” —Rom. 3:25) for sin. By virtue of the
Lord’s sacrifice at Calvary, and our reponse to his will, our sins can be covered.