“And he himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets…” Ephesians 4:11

The second gift is prophecy. The word prophet occurs 65 times and prophets 87 times in the New Testament. Prophecy occurs 17 times. As I looked up each of these verses, I saw that many of them referred to the Old Testament prophets. Jesus and John the Baptist were both referred to as prophets. But there were many more verses that referred to the gift of prophecy. Unlike apostle, Paul had many more mentions of this gift along with instructions on how it was to be used. There are also examples of prophets named. We’ll start with those.

Agabus is written about twice in Acts. In 11:17, he predicted by the Spirit that there would be a severe famine in the Roman world. In Acts 21:10, he told Paul that the Holy Spirit said that the Jews would bind him and he shouldn’t go to Jerusalem. In Acts 13, it calls Barnabas, Simeon, Lucius, Manean, and Saul prophets and teachers. The Holy Spirit spoke to them and said to set aside Barnabas and Saul for the work to which he had called them. Acts 15:32 names Judas and Silas as prophets. We can clearly see that there are prophets in the New Testament. But what is their role? Is it different than the Old Testament prophets?

In the Old Testament, the prophets were used by God to reveal His message to Israel and bring them back to holiness. They were used to call Israel back to repentance. Today we have the Word of God, and Jesus’ completed work on the cross. Some would argue that there is no need for prophecy today because of these things. But unlike the gift of apostleship, where I could only find the two verses, I found quite a few verses supporting the gift of prophecy. Let’s take a look.

“According to the grace given to us, we have different gifts: If prophecy, use it according to the proportion of one’s faith…”(Romans 4:6).

“Now there are different gifts, but the same Spirit.There are different ministries, but the same Lord. And there are different activities, but the same God works all of them in each person. A manifestation of the Spirit is given to each person for the common good: to one is given a message of wisdom through the Spirit, to another, a message of knowledge by the same Spirit, to another, faith by the same Spirit, to another, gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another, the performing of miracles, to another, prophecy, to another, distinguishing between spirits, to another, different kinds of tongues, to another, interpretation of tongues. One and the same Spirit is active in all these, distributing to each person as he wills” (1 Corinthians 12:4-11).

“And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, next miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, leading, various kinds of tongues” (1 Corinthians 12:28).

“And he himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors and teachers…”(Ephesians 4:11).

We have verses that support prophecy. So what is it for? Fortunately, we have the Bible to show us! I think the best verse can be found in 1 Corinthians. “On the other hand, the person who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouragement, and consolation. The person who speaks in a tongue builds himself up, but the one who prophesies builds up the church” (1 Corinthians 14:3).  In Ephesians 4, we are told that the gifts are to build up the body of Christ. Prophesy for today is to strengthen, encourage and console the body of Christ.

We also have directions on how to use it. 1 Corinthians 14:29-33 gives very clear instructions on how this should look.

 “Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should evaluate. But if something has been revealed to another person sitting there, the first prophet should be silent. For you can all prophesy one by one, so that everyone may learn and everyone may be encouraged. And the prophets’ spirits are subject to the prophets, since God is not a God of disorder but of peace.”

What I took from this passage is that there is to be orderliness and accountability. We see here the word “encouraged” which goes back to the main purpose of this gift, which is to build up the body of Christ.

There were several mentions of false prophets in these passages. Jesus warns us to be on guard against false prophets.

“Be on your guard against false prophets who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravaging wolves” (Matthew 7:15)

 “Many false prophets will rise up and deceive many” (Matthew 24:11).

“For false messiahs and false prophets will arise and perform great signs and wonders to lead astray, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:24

And 1 John 4:1 warns us, “Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see if they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.”

 I do not think that there is an office of prophet like some today are teaching. In my last post I talked about the church movement that says we’ve entered into a new Apostolic Age and that we must obey the Apostles and Prophets. Many of those apostles are considered to be prophets also. These “prophets” have made multiple false prophesies which can be easily researched online. They make claims saying, “Says the Lord Your God” and “In the Name of Jesus” that never come to pass. Many of them offer schools, in-person or online, in prophetic training. I Googled “school of prophecy” and was shocked at how many came up! If this is a gifting of the Holy Spirit, we do not need to pay someone to teach us how to do it. We need to heed Jesus’ warnings. I think we do have false prophets among us performing signs and wonders. I think that believers are being led astray. We need to test the spirits to see if they are from God. The way we do that is by checking everything against the Word.

“For the word of God is living and effective and sharper than any double-edged sword, penetrating as far as the separation of soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).

In conclusion, I do believe that we still have the gift of prophecy for today. I have to admit, I am kind of surprised at my results, because when I started my research, I was thinking that both apostle and prophet were ended after the New Testament was finished. But as I looked up all the verses, it became clear to me that there were many prophets in the New Testament, and Paul had clear instructions for what they were to do. I think that we get it wrong most of the time, and that many who think they have this gift use it in a manner to build themselves up rather than the church. I am a little suspicious of anyone who says they have a word from the Lord for me. I think we need to look back at the instructions in Corinthians. Is there someone else who can corroborate? Is it to build up the church? Is it a word of encouragement? These are clearly biblical. If it goes against these principles, run away!

Grace be with you!


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