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  • Does the text signify "praying and singing with/by the spirit and the mind," "volitional," or "non-volition"?

Text: 1 Cor. 14:15 (NASB)

What is the outcome then? I will pray with the spirit, but I will pray with the mind also; I will sing with the spirit, but I will sing with the mind also.

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I think this (1 Cor 14:15) is much less complicated that some have tried to make it. The grammatical construction is simple - the dative is used and most versions correctly render it something like this (my translation):

... I will pray with the Spirit but I [will pray] with the mind also. I will sing praise with the Spirit but I [will sing] also with the mind.

Paul is simply saying that he likes to pray and sing to God "with the Spirit" but he does this intelligently, using his mind. That is, he does not loose control and go "out of his mind" in the process.

Thus, Paul is also saying that the Holy Spirit helps him to pray and sing to God and Jesus - an idea entirely consistent with John 16:13. 14

However, when the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth. For He will not speak on His own, but He will speak what He hears, and He will declare to you what is to come. He will glorify Me by taking from what is Mine and disclosing it to you.

Ellicott offers this comment:

(15) What is it then?—The Apostle, in answering this question—viz., What, then, is the practical conclusion of the whole matter?—still speaks in the first person, quoting his own conduct and resolution. He will not let his public ministrations as regards prayer and praise evaporate into mere enthusiasm; nor will he, on the other hand, allow a cold intellectual creed to chill and freeze the warm emotions of the spirit.

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It is Paul's spirit and he can restrain it

This is part of Paul's argument, so it is worth looking at the verse before:

For if I pray in a tongue, my spirit prays, but my mind is unfruitful.

We see mind being contrasted with spirit here, as we do in verse 15. However (just proceeding), here we are told explicitly it is Paul's spirit and Paul's mind. We can only think of it as the Holy Spirit in 15, if we also think it refers to a Holy Mind. The parallelism demands that of a good reader.

Is this voluntary?

Yes, and that is what the entire chapter is about. It is about Paul urging the Corinthians to behave orderly by controlling themselves.

In verse 12 we read:

So you too, since you are eager to possess spiritual gifts, strive to excel for the edification of the church.

That is the Corinthians are to put in effort to edify the church. Verses 13-25 (which include 25) explain that this effort involves praying less exclusively in the spirit, and more with the mind.

Verses 27-28, demonstrate that Paul is calling on them to restrain themselves.

27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, it must be by two or at the most three, and each one in turn, and one is to interpret; 28 but if there is no interpreter, he is to keep silent in church; and have him speak to himself and to God.

Indeed, the book of Corinthians is about Paul giving instructions to defeat divisions. In Chapter Five, sexual morality. In chapter Six, lawsuits discouraged. Closer to fourteen, chapter Eleven: hair covering and the Lord's Supper

In Chapter Thirteen Paul talks about love, and in Chapter Fourteen they are to restrain themselves out of love, it being more important to demonstrate love for others than tongues speaking.

In conclusion, Paul is writing to the Corinthians about real divisions and he is giving them a real standard that he expects them to adopt. Much of this standard is about praying and singing in the spirit (the person's spirit) in contrast with the mind (the person's mind) and Paul's standards are adoptable and he gives them to be adopted.

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