Posts Tagged ‘prophesying’

1. Where it is mentioned in Scripture: (post-Jesus’ resurrection) Acts 2:17-18; 19:6; 21:4; Romans 12:6; 1 Corinthians 12-14; Ephesians 2:20; 3:5; 4:11; 1 Thessalonians 5:19-22; 1 Timothy 1:18; 4:14; 1 John 4:1-3; Revelation 19:10. Jesus said he would send out prophets – Matthew 23:34. Examples of prophets: Agabus (and others) Acts 11:27-28; 21:10; several are named, including Barnabas and Saul (Paul) – Acts 13:1; Judas and Silas – Acts 15:32; the four daughters of Stephen – Acts 21:9.

2. What is it?

  • It is Spirit prompted: Prophecy is a “manifestation of the Spirit” – 1 Corinthians 12:7. (2 Peter 1:21; Acts 21:11.)
  • The person is in control. They can choose to speak or not – 1 Corinthians 14:29-30. “The spirits of prophets are subject to prophets” – 1 Corinthians 14:32. It can be received and then delivered later.
  • Prophecy is spoken to people, not God. It is a message from God. “One who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation” – 1 Corinthians 14:3.
  • It can come in a dream (Acts 2:17), a vision (Acts 2:17; Revelation) or simply as a verbal message.
  • It is a revelation from God about a matter – 1 Corinthians 14:30. In 1 Corinthians 14 “prophecy” and “a revelation” appear to be talking about the same thing.
    • It can disclose “the secrets” of someone’s heart – 1 Corinthians 14:24-25.
    • Agabus predicted a famine – Acts 11:28.
    • Prophets in Antioch confirmed sending out Barnabas and Paul on their first missionary journey – Acts 13:2.
    • Agabus warned Paul about his coming arrest – Acts 21:11.
    • Timothy was given guidance and encouragement for ministry – 1 Timothy 1:18.
    • A gift for ministry can be given by prophesy – 1 Timothy 4:14.
    • The book of Revelation is a prophecy. It includes exhortations, admonitions and visions of the future.
  • It can come as an encouragement or as an admonition (warning, challenge, rebuke) – 1 Corinthians 14:3; 14:24-25; Revelation.
  • It is not simply a teaching or a sermon, but these can come from prophetic insights given to the teacher or preacher. Teaching is a different gift – 1 Corinthians 12:28. Although in the Old Testament much of what prophets did was teach and preach based on the revelation God gave them. Paul saw his teaching as prophetic – 1 Corinthians 14:37-38.

3. Not everyone has this gift. Paul says, “earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy” – 1 Corinthians 14:1. He also says, “Now I want all of you to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy” – 1 Corinthians 14:5. Nevertheless, the question he asks in 1 Corinthians 12:29, “are all prophets?” grammatically requires a “no” answer. Although each of us has the Holy Spirit in us and so at any point any of us could exercise any gift, if God so chooses, normally God gives different gifts to different people and then calls us to act as a body complimenting each other. So only some will have a regular gift of prophecy.

4. Prophecy must be evaluated. Since it purports to give a message from God, it must be tested to see if it is sound. Paul says, “do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good” – 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21. He says, “Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said” – 1 Corinthians 14:29. 1 John 4:1 says, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.” It is evaluated by the Scriptures.

5. Prophecy does not equal Scripture. All of Scripture is inspired by God (2 Timothy 3:16) and prophecy also comes from the Spirit. But there are prophecies that are not recorded as Scripture in both Old and New Testaments (e.g. King Saul and Silas. See also Mark 13:11). And Scripture itself is made up of more than prophecy, including narratives, parables, teaching, proverbs etc. To be Scripture requires something more than just giving a prophecy. For instance, in the New Testament it has to be “apostolic.” That is, it has to be from the apostles or from the apostolic church under their guidance. They had a unique and nonreplicable role in giving us the message of Jesus. This is the foundational and irreplaceable revelation of Jesus. No prophecy today can claim this. Rather each prophecy today must be judged by the apostolic witness.

6. Rules for prophecy in church. Two or three may speak. “If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent” – 1 Corinthians 14:29-30. Everything must be done decently and in order – 1 Corinthians 14:40. “For God is not a God of confusion, but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints” – 1 Corinthians 14:33.

7. Paul’s high view of prophecy. “Earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy” – 1 Corinthians 14:1. “The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets” – 1 Corinthians 14:5. Prophecy builds up the church.

8. How is prophecy a sign to believers (1 Corinthians 14:22, 24-25)? Prophecy builds up, consoles and encourages believers – 1 Corinthians 14:3. It shows that God’s favor rests on them because he is speaking to them. Prophecy can even lead an unbeliever to become a believer – 1 Corinthians 14:24-25. And then that person will confirm that “God is really among you” – 1 Corinthians 14:25.

9. More from Acts. a) Prophecy is the larger term of which tongues is a sub-category. They all spoke in tongues and Peter said this fulfilled the prophecy that all would prophesy – Acts 2:14-17. b) Prophecy can be an outward evidence of the reception of the Spirit (Acts 2; 19:6). But so can any other Spirit manifestation/gift or no manifestation at all (Acts 13:12, 48-42; 14:21).

10. Love is more important than prophecy. “If I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge . . . but have not love, I am nothing” – 1 Corinthians 13:2. “As for prophecies, they will pass away” – 1 Corinthians 13:9. But “love never ends” – 1 Corinthians 13:8.

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