Words of Edification, Exhortation, and Comfort
These are the Words that God speaks to us. Examples are all throughout the Church Epistles in the Bible. When believers are together, God wants us to speak these same words to each other.
I Corinthians 14: 3 -- But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to† edification, and exhortation, and comfort.
A more literal translation according to usage is:
I Corinthians 14: 3 -- But he that prophesies [speaks forth God's Word and God's Will] speaks unto the listeners edification [words that build them up in their minds] by exhortation [encouragement] and comfort [gentle speech].
This verse deals with the activities in the Church when believers come together to worship God and teach the Word to each other. The person who prophesies speaks God's Will in the language known to those present. They understand the words, so their minds are edified (built up) in believing, by way of the encouragement, entreaties, and gentle speech of the person speaking.
I Corinthians 14: 4 -- He that speaketh in an unknown† tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.
Speaking in tongues was designed to edify the spirit, not the mind. Someone who speaks in tongues edifies only their own spirit within. If they speak out loud, no one else can understand what they are saying. The listeners do not hear words of edification, exhortation, or comfort. But, if someone prophesies, the church (body of believers present) is edified.
Other verses in this chapter of I Corinthians repeat the theme of the first part of verse four (4). God wants us to know what happens when we speak in tongues.
I Corinthians 14: 2 -- For he that speaketh in an unknown† tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him ; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries [divine secrets].
Remember that words in italics are ADDED by the translators and are not part of the original God-breathed Word. I Corinthians Chapter 13: 1 says clearly that . . . "I speak with the tongues of men and of angels", but yet verse 14: 2 says that "no man understandeth him " . Notice that the word Ďhimí is in italics and should be deleted. A person speaking in tongues could be speaking a language of men known somewhere on earth [See Acts Chapter 2, beginning with verse 7]. That also means that the word Ďunknowní should also be deleted.
I Corinthians 14: 14 -- For if I pray in an unknown† tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.
I Corinthians 14: 16, 17 -- Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest? For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified.
When we speak in tongues, it is purely a spiritual prayer. We do not understand the prayer, but it is perfect prayer because it is our spirit talking to God. If a person speaks in tongues out loud in the presence of others, they do not know what you said. How can they say 'Amen'? You prayed perfectly, but the others present were not edified. When we are together as believers, God wants us to edify each other. The following verses from chapter 14 of I Corinthians reiterates this:
I Corinthians 14: 12 -- Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts [things], seek that ye may excel [abound] to the edifying of the church.
Note that the word 'gifts' is in italics. This means it was a word added during translation. There was no word in the corresponding Greek text for 'gifts'. This has caused confusion over the years regarding spiritual 'gifts'. This verse is more accurately translated without 'gifts'.
I Corinthians 14: 12 -- Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual matters [or spiritual things], seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.
If we are zealous about spiritual things, we ought to expend our efforts to excel at edifying the other believers.
I Corinthians 14: 18, 19 -- I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all: Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice† I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown †tongue.
Again, watch the words in italics. They can all be deleted to achieve the rightly divided Word of God. Paul says in verse 18 that he speaks in tongues more than anyone, but it is only in his own private prayers. In the church, with other believers, he would rather speak five words to teach others, than 10,000 words in a tongue. Why? At least the hearers would understand the five words, and be edified by them.
Throughout the scriptures we see Paul's example.
II Corinthians 12: 19 -- Again, think ye that we excuse ourselves unto you? we speak before God in Christ: but we do† all things, dearly beloved, for your edifying.
Many times in the New Testament we are told to do things to edify others.
Romans 14: 19 -- Let us therefore follow after [pursue with zeal] the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.
We are to pursue ways to keep the peace, and to edify each other. We just don't sit around and wait for the situation to arise.
Ephesians 4: 11, 12 -- And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:
Verse 11 lists the five gift ministries God gave to man: apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers. These people are important for the three uses listed in the next verse: perfecting of the saints (our completion), the work of the ministry, and for the edifying of the body of Christ, the believers.
Ephesians 4: 16 -- From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.
The whole body is the body of believers, the church. We each have a part to play, we each serve some function in the body. If we do this, working together on God's Word, we edify ourselves and the whole body. We see also that edification involves love. We are not prone to build someone up unless we love them. If we love others, we will edify them.
Ephesians 4: 29 -- Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
Corrupt communication is talk that is negative and tears down. The words that come from our mouths should edify or build up those that hear it.
Exhortation means that we are encouraged or entreated to act in a certain manner.
I Thessalonians 4: 1 -- Furthermore then we beseech you, brethren, and exhort you †by the Lord Jesus, that as ye have received of us how ye ought to walk and to please God, so †ye would abound more and more.
Paul taught the Thessalonians how to live a Christian life. He was exhorting them to follow his example, so that they would abound more and more.
I Thessalonians 2: 11, 12 -- As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth† his children. That ye would walk worthy of God, who hath called you unto his kingdom and glory.
Here, exhorted and comforted are again used in the same sentence. Paul encouraged the believers, and comforted them like a father. He exhorted them to walk worthy of God, who has called us to be part of His Kingdom, and to share in the glory.
And finally, another instance where we are exhorted to "walk worthy" of God is in Ephesians.
Ephesians 4: 1, 2, 3 -- I Therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech [exhort] you that ye walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, With all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love; Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
II Corinthians 1: 3, 4 -- Blessed be† God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
Even in tribulation, we are comforted by God and His Word IF WE BELIEVE what II Corinthians 1: 4 says. Therefore we can comfort others who have problems and trials.
Colossians 2: 2 -- That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;
It was Godís Will and Paulís will, that the believersí hearts might be comforted, and knit together in love.
II Thessalonians 2: 16, 17 -- Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us †everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work.
God has given us everlasting consolation! That's certainly a comfort to know.
And finally, we are to comfort each other as well. I Thessalonians describes what will happen when Christ returns for us. All the born again believers will be united as we meet Christ, even those who have died. This is a comfort to believers who have lost loved ones.
I Thessalonians 4: 16, 17, 18 -- For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then, we which are alive and †remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord. Wherefore comfort one another with these words.
Now we will review just a few scriptures from the Church Epistles that belong in the category of 'edification, exhortation, and comfort'. These are verses that encourage us to stand tall for God and His Word, verses that help build up our believing in God and His Word, and they comfort us.
Colossians 2: 6, 7 -- As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so †walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.
These verses exhort us to walk according to God's Word. We are rooted (born again) and built up in him, our faith is established.
Romans 8: 28 -- And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his †purpose.
This verse is comforting. Even if things look bad, God will make it work out for us.
Romans 8: 38, 39 -- For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature [created thing], shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
This is another verse of comfort. There is nothing that can take away the love that God has for us.
Galatians 5: 1 -- Stand fast therefore in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again with the yoke of bondage [the Law].
We are exhorted to embrace the liberty given to us by God. We are no longer bound by the law. Christ's sacrifice made us free.
Galatians 6: 10 -- As we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men,† especially unto them who are of the household of faith [Godís household].
We are encouraged to do good to all, but especially unto them who are seriously dedicated to renewing their mind to Godís Word and have addicted themselves to the ministry.
Ephesians 2: 10 -- For we are his workmanship [masterpiece], created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
This scripture is edifying. It states that we are God's masterpiece, created in Christ Jesus! Since we are masterpieces, we must endeavor to act the part, and walk according to God's Will.
Part of our job as a believer is to comfort, exhort, and edify other believers in the body of Christ. Not only does it help the individual, but it strengthens the entire body, the church. This is God's Will for us, and it is a blessing for us to perform.
I Thessalonians 5: 11 -- Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.