The Gift of Prophecy
By Dr. Ray Melugin


Most people think of "prediction" when the word prophecy is mentioned. Does God, in our time, give specific instructions about people, places and things? Does the prophetic gift of today include special, definite, extra-biblical predictions?


I. The Gift of Prophecy in Bible Times

A. A prophet is a forth-teller (Exodus 4:14-16; 7:1)
1. Aaron, forth-speaking for Moses, became his prophet.

2. A prophet of God was God's spokesman. (Isaiah 48:16; Jeremiah 25:4-7; Numbers 16:28, and from Isaiah to Malachi)

Note: These men didn't merely tell the future, but were more concerned with foretelling God's message, which many times included past, present, and future.

3. Prophets received revelations by dreams, visions, or verbal communication from God. (Hebrews 1:1)

Note: What the Lord put in his prophets mouth, he spoke consciously, not in some trance, often using a graphic object lesson to emphasize the message.

B. A prophet instructed, warned, exhorted, promised, and rebuked (II Timothy 4:2)
1. He had the spiritual interest of the people in mind.
a. He reminded the people of the Mosaic Law, divine commands, and of coming judgment (Jeremiah 26:19)
b. He was more concerned with obedience than sacrifice. (I Samuel 15:22)

2. John the Baptist, called a prophet, admonished Herod that he should not have taken his brother's wife. (Matthew 14:3-12)

C. Prophets in the New Testament
1. First mentioned in Acts 11:27-28 signifying a coming famine.
a. Acts 21:11 again shows Agabus graphically warning Paul by the Spirit not to go to Jerusalem.

Note: Most references to New Testament prophets do not stress or even mention a futuristic message.

2. The church at Antioch had "certain prophets and teachers" (Acts 13:1) Five names follow.

3. Judas and Silas are called prophets when they conveyed the decision of how to treat Gentile believers. (Acts 15:32)

4. Philip the evangelist, "had four daughters...which did prophesy." Acts 21:9

5. In Corinth, prophecy seemed to be the delivery of an inspired message to edify the church. (I Corinthians 14:3-4)

6. Paul commanded the Thessalonians, "Despise not prophesying." (I Thessalonians 5:20)

Note: Before New Testament writings were completed in the first century, special revelations and messages may have been given to people with the prophetic gift. (I Thessalonians 5:20)


II. The Gift of Prophecy in Our Day

Note: Is it possible for some to get a prophecy regarding current day events? (i.e. political results, stock market, weather, personal life goals, marriage, jobs, etc.)

A. God's revelation has been finished. (Hebrews 1:1-2)
1. we must check prophecy with the inerrant, infallible Word rather than with errant, fallible people. (I Corinthians 2:13)

2. The bible is our all-sufficient guide today. (II Timothy 3:16-17)

B. Prophecy is now identified with proclamation based on God's Word.
1. II Timothy 4:2-4 "fables" are the words of men, not the Word of God.
2. The Bible is our all-sufficient guide today. (II Timothy 3:16-17)

C. The gift of prophecy is not a new revelation, but a clearer understanding of already-given truth.
Note: (I Thessalonians 5:20) Pulpit Commentary quotes Calvin, "By prophesying, I do not understand the gift of foretelling the future, but the science of interpreting Scriptures, so that a prophet is an interpreter of the will of God."

1. The gift of prophecy makes God's Word relevant to a particular situation in a current context. (2 Peter 1:19)
a. Applies the Scripture to the present scene.
b. Calls for warnings against national decadence.
c. Prophets are God's loudspeakers. (Isaiah 58:1)

2. "The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy." (Revelations 19:10)
a. All Scripture points to Christ
b. Prophecy is Spirit-empowered proclamation of the Living Word.

D. Results of the prophetic gift will be encouragement, edification and comfort (I Corinthians 14:3)
Note: Exercising of prophetic gifts leads to clarity of Scripture, conviction, correction and edification.


III. How Widespread is the Gift of Prophecy?

A. Prophecy ranks high among the gifts. (Ephesians 4:11; I Corinthians 12:28)
1. It follows second only to apostleship. (Ephesians 2:20)

2. Paul affirmed prophecy over the gift of tongues (I Corinthians 14:1-25)

Note: In making the Word of God intelligible, tongues did not help, but hinder.

3. Peter exercised the gift at Pentecost. (Acts 2:14-38)

4. Paul and his missionary team used the gift. (Titus 1:3)

B. The Early Church employed the gift of prophecy from local congregations.
1. They had to sift the true from the false. (I Corinthians 2:13, 1 John 4:1-3)

2. Women in the Early Church possessed the gift. (1 Corinthians 11:5; Acts 21:8-9)

C. There are many varieties of the gift
Romans 12:6 "according to the proportion of faith"

Note: Telling-forth (preaching) to adults, witnessing to children, to believers and unbelievers, small groups, or individuals, radio, TV, neighborhood Bible classes, etc.

All are exercising the same gift for the telling-forth of the Gospel.

1 Corinthians 14:1 "Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy."


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