What does “God is not a God of confusion” really mean?

Sibleys here.

We're happy to have ya here in our cozy virtual living room. Get your beverage of choice and let's learn and grow together.

hey hey!

Useful Resources:

free download

Guide to Studying Your Bible Theologically

Follow our tiktok

@thesibleys on TikTok for Bible Trivia, Theology Shorts, and more!

subscribe to our podcast

The One Degree Podcast



Digital library of theological trainings with guided notes

Exegetical Bible reading plans and studies with daily videos going deeper

Monthly Theology Couch Chat discussing a theological hot topic


In Episode No. 34, we introduced a new series that we want to do occasionally. What in the actual context? Every once in a while, we are going to take a deep dive into a passage of Scripture that is easily and often taken out of context. This episode is part two of that series!

A Quick Refresh

There are many times that we hear Bible verses, whether through listening to a podcast, reading a blog, or even listening to a sermon. When we hear only a single verse it can sound like it means one thing, but when we evaluate the context (the chapters surrounding that verse, who the author was, who the audience was, the historical component, etc), it actually means something totally different than we originally thought. 

Again, don’t be embarrassed if you’ve used verses out of context before. We all have. The Christian walk is all about learning and growing.

Remember, our goal is to interpret what the author is saying, not what we want it to mean.

If you’re new and are thinking to yourself, “Why does this matter?”, consider this example: In the sports world, there is a big story going on. Giannis Antetokounmpo roasted Kevin Durant saying that he could teach him how to carry his team to the NBA finals. A lot of people are calling him out for it, but looking at the context, Giannis was on a tv show where he was given the line to read as part of a joke. He was actually really struggling to read the lines. People easily take one sentence to make it mean something that it doesn’t.

1 Corinthians 14:33

“For God is not a God of confusion, but of peace.”

1 Corinthians 14:33

When you first hear this verse, you may think, “If I’m pursuing God’s will, there will not be confusion around my next steps.”

We have heard of a situation where people were faced with a big decision. If they took on a certain task, it would have been a really difficult, but rewarding way to live out the gospel. But since they went back and forth about it and didn’t feel at peace, they decided not to. They cited this verse as their main reasoning. We aren’t saying that what they decided to do was wrong or unbiblical, but how they used this verse was. Their justification for using this verse doesn’t actually match the verse’s context.

Context of Orderly Worship

1 Corinthians 14, starting with verse 26, is talking all about orderly worship and how tongues and prophecy fit into orderly worship. Honestly, starting in chapter 11, Paul is giving instructions for what it should look like when believers gather. 

Beginning in 14:26, in this whole section, “Paul wants to ensure that there is order in the way worship is done. The order in worship is to reflect the fact that God himself is a God of order”

Paul Gardner

That’s the whole purpose of this passage. When we worship the God of order, our worship should reflect that.

Spiritual Gifts

The Apostle Paul starts by saying “when you come together” (verse 26). This is referring to gathering for worship. This is an important thing to remember when evaluating the rest of the section. 

In verse 27, Paul is giving stipulations for speaking in tongues during worship (at most 2 or 3, and there must be an interpreter). Verse 28 says if they don’t have an interpreter, they must remain silent.

Something important to note here: this means that spiritual gifts can be controlled. They can surely be spontaneous and jubilant, but they can be controlled by the one using them. You may have seen someone acting crazy in worship who gave the reasoning that they were overtaken by the Holy Spirit and were out of control. Their reasoning is not supported by Scripture.

Self-control is included in the fruit of the Spirit. Even at Pentecost when people said the apostles were drunk, the apostles were still in control of their gifts. Peter stopped his proclamation to refute their argument. Don’t hear us saying that there can’t be excitement, passion, and energy in worship. But there is still control.

The purpose of our gifts is to build others up, not to make a name for ourselves.


Next, verses 29 through 31 give instructions for prophesying in the church.

We see that prophecy should be spoken one at a time so all can hear. We see the ideas that if another starts prophesying let the first be silent (self-control), to let others weigh what is said, and that the purpose of prophecy is for all the congregation to learn and be encouraged.

In verse 32: “The spirit of the prophets is to be subject to the prophets.” If you are confused, this again refers back to control. The prophets were to be in control when they prophesy. To be out of control does not mean one is more spiritual, in fact, it may mean the opposite. It all comes back to self-control.

Verse 33

Now we finally get to verse 33.

God is not a God of confusion, but of peace. 

Gardner, who we also quoted earlier, says this: “God is a God of ‘peace’ and hence not of ‘disorder.’ Nowhere should this ‘imaging’ of God be more clearly seen than in the worship of the gathered congregation. As Paul ends this section, therefore, his concern remains for the building up of the body of Christ even when he is talking about an especially useful gift like prophecy. All the good learning and encouragement (v31) that should come from a prophecy comes to nothing if the presentation of the prophetic messages is not ordered in a humble and peaceable way.”

So you see, Paul is talking about the order of worship, not personal decision-making. The gathering of believers is to be done in an orderly fashion. Again, this is not to say that there can’t be passion, excitement, healing, works of God, etc… But if there is mass hysteria and confusion at your worship service, we can see here that that would not be considered biblical.

Confusion and Making Decisions

If you are wrestling with a big decision, feeling indecision does not mean you shouldn’t take a leap of faith (it also doesn’t mean you should either). Confusion in decisions is part of being human. So what should you do?

  • Cast your anxieties on God (aka- pray). We should always start here.
  • See what Scripture says.
  • Talk to trusted mentors and friends to get their advice.
  • Weigh the decision (and don’t be afraid to walk out in faith). 
  • Aim for faithfulness (not success or praise, not what the world says).

A lot of times, following the Lord’s leading still feels confusing to our earthly understanding. It’s not as simple as feeling complete peace when trying to make a decision. Maybe we should do an episode on how to make difficult decisions…

One Degree Shift

Weigh what you hear with scripture. When someone gives you a single verse as justification for reasoning, look at the verse in context.

Homework: The next bible passage we are going to be discussing in this series is 1 Peter 5:8b:

“Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.”

What have you heard as that verse’s meaning? Evaluate the context and meaning of this verse and tune into our next “What in the Actual Context” to hear us break it down.

Want to Stay a Little Longer?

+ show Comments

- Hide Comments

add a comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

We're the Sibleys.

Welcome to our cozy virtual couch on the internet. Our biggest prayer is that you'd feel welcomed into an honest space to be real, and ultimately, to grow to be a more faithful follower of Jesus.

We truly believe the Gospel transforms every area of our lives – our relationships, work, parenting, school, and everything in between – and our heart is to have conversations and make resources that equip you and support you in that transformation. 

Grab a cozy drink, pick your favorite spot on the couch, and stay a while. 


Your new straight-shooting pals and encouragers.