1 Corinthians 14:11, The Barbarians

Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me.

//It’s fun sometimes to trace back the origin of words. Take this word “barbarian.” It means a savage, or uncivilized person, right?

In Paul’s time, Greeks did indeed look down their noses at non-Greeks (well, except for Romans, who were at the top of the pecking order.) In fact, the world seemed to them divided into two categories: Greeks and non-Greeks, or “barbarians.” The Greeks thought themselves well-educated with a polished rhetoric, and coined this word barbarian to describe the uncultured speech of others, according to how it sounded to Greek ears–“bar … bar … bar”.

In today’s verse, Paul is critiquing those who speak in tongues (meaning an unknown tongue), saying they should instead make every effort to be understood … rather than sounding like a barbarian.

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