Devotional: ‘The Gift of Prophecy’


1 Corinthians 12:28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets…

There are many opinions and explanations concerning what the Gift of Prophecy may be. Many believe that it refers to someone who is willing to take a stand, even when no else is willing to stand with them. Others believe that it refers to preachers who speak boldly from the pulpit. Then there are others who consider it to be those who receive special revelations from God. What is the Gift of Prophecy and is it still active today?

The reason many associate this gift with bold speaking and preaching is because they have in mind the character and ministry of many of the Old Testament prophets. They see men like Elijah who called down fire from heaven. Yet we must also keep in mind that there were other prophets who were as much broken as bold. Perhaps you will remember that Jeremiah was known as the Weeping Prophet and wrote a book called Lamentations.(weeping) There are some who are bold because it is their personality and temperament. Yet spiritual boldness as it is illustrated in the New Testament has more to do with the Spirit’s filling than the Spirit’s gifting. (see Acts 4:31)

As we consider the Old Testament prophets, we must keep in mind that they were used as God’s mouthpiece. A common phrase associated with them and their ministry is – ‘the word of the LORD came to them saying …’ Sometimes the LORD used His prophets to remind the people. Other times the LORD used His prophets to reveal to the people. Yet the ministry of the prophet was always dependent upon what God said directly to and through him.

What then about the New Testament prophets? What was their ministry? Paul gives us some valuable insight in understanding the role and ministry in the church.

1. It Was a Gift for Foundation

Ephesians 2:20 And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone;

The role of the NT prophet followed closely after the role of the apostle. They helped to establish the early church. Paul reinforces this in his letter to the Corinthians –

1 Corinthians 12:28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets…

2. It Was a Gift for Revelation

1 Corinthians 13:2 And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge…

Ephesians 3:3 How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, 4 Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) 5 Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit;

God used the NT prophets to receive revelation concerning what scripture calls ‘mysteries’ and to reveal them to the church.

The word ‘mystery’ as it is used in the NT refers to a spiritual truth God had declared before the foundation of the world, yet had not revealed until the time of the church. Though Paul refers to ‘mysteries’ (plural), all of these NT mysteries focus on one central truth – GOD HAS MADE SALVATION AVAILABLE TO ALL THROUGH HIS SON, THE LORD JESUS CHRIST.

3. It Was a Gift with Duration

The truth concerning Christ’s Gospel is no longer a mystery to the church. It is the foundation of the church. Therefore it is only natural to assume that the purpose of the NT prophet has now ended. The Gift of Prophecy existed as long as it was needed and once the revelation had been received, the need for the prophet and his gift ended.

In the beginning of this study I categorized the Gift of Prophecy as an Equipping Gift. I did so because of what Paul wrote to the Ephesians –

Ephesians 4:11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12 for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.

In the early days of the church, God used both the apostles and the prophets to equip the church with a foundation that was sure. As master craftsmen, they have laid the foundation. Now it is up to the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, and the rest of the body of Christ to wisely build upon it.

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