Hello, I am a member of a Baptist church, a born again Christian and I have a genuine relationship with God. I discovered that God has blessed me with the gift of prophecy. It manifests itself differently. Sometimes, I see a person for the first time and in my mind I see verses of encouragement or I feel that person’s struggles. After having a discussion with that person, I surprisingly discover that my first impressions were true. I could not know of these things except by the Holy Spirit’s revelation. I would like to hear a Biblical explanation of this phenomenon. Thanks.
The meaning of the word PROPHET
In Greek (the language of the New Testament) the word translated “prophet” is προφητης and means one who speaks on behalf of another or one who interprets and explains a divine message. This word also carries the idea of receiving a vision from the Lord or a person sent by and inspired by the Lord. It all revolves around the Lord’s message. In the Christian Church, a prophet is a person who has received the gift of expounding (explaining) divine truth. It can also means foretelling things that will take place in the future. Unfortunately, today, like in the past, many just limit the meaning and understanding of the word “prophet” to one who reveals the future. This mistake ends up ignoring the first and most essential part of this gift, explaining the Word of God.
How does the gift of prophecy manifest itself?
In the Corinthian church there were some people who were self-proclaimed prophets, claiming to be inspired by God and that is why the Apostle Paul addressed this issue in detail in chapters 12 through 14 in his epistle to the Corinthians. While explaining the essential truths that apply to all spiritual gifts, including that of prophecy, Paul writes:
7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. (I Corinthians 12)
Whoever has the gift of prophecy should realize that it was given to him for the common good and the ones who use this gift correctly confirm its presence or the opposite is also true. If using this gift does not produce a benefit, used for the good of others and instead only causes trouble and sorrow, then that is also conformation of its absence. At the beginning of chapter 14 the Apostle Paul talks about speaking in tongues and then, by contrast, says …
3 But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation. (I Corinthians 14)
In the next verse the Apostle says that the gift is not to be used to serve the individual who has it, instead, it is to be used to serve the entire church. That is why he says “he who prophesies edifies the church.” This is repeated in verses 5 and 12 of chapter 14. Prophecy is a sign for all believers who come to listen to the explanation of the Word of God as the person who has this gift gives edification, exhortation, and comfort to all who are present. Also, unbelievers enjoy being around people who have the gift of prophecy because when they hear the Word explained by the prophet of God, he is convinced of the truth of God and convicted.
What the gift of prophecy is not
Since some of the self proclaimed prophets who claimed to be inspired by God were doing all sorts of weird things and calling them “prophecies”, the Apostle Paul taught the Corinthian church the following:
29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment. (I Corinthians 14)
The message of each prophet had to be verified by the other prophets. It had to be a consistent message and in harmony with the whole message of God’s Word that is found in the Holy Scriptures. This harmony among the true prophets led by the Holy Spirit is seen in the following:
30 But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, the first one must keep silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one , so that all may learn and all may be exhorted ; 32 and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets ; 33 for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. (I Corinthians 14)
Looking in this context, we see that those who were self proclaimed prophets claiming to be inspired by God were the same ones who were disturbing the order in service. They did not appreciate and respect the other prophets in the church and therefore Paul write the following:
34 The women are to keep silent in the churches ; for they are not permitted to speak, but are to subject themselves, just as the Law also says. 35 If they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home ; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church. (I Corinthians 14)
It is shameful for a woman or for a man to disturb order during Christian worship. In no way can we interpret this passage to mean that Paul is against women prophesying or having the gift of prophecy. Not at all. The same apostle Paul, also addressing the Corinthians, wrote:
4 Every man who has something on his head while praying or prophesying disgraces his head. 5 But every woman who has her head uncovered while praying or prophesying disgraces her head, for she is one and the same as the woman whose head is shaved. (I Corinthians 11)
When Paul wrote to the women be silent in the churches he did not mean that they were to stand in silence and not speak. He wanted them to follow the order of service, especially when praying or prophesying. In conclusion, the Apostle Paul writes:
37 If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord’s commandment. (I Corinthians 14)
Now that we have seen what the Scripture teach, I recommend that you do the following …
Steps to identifying and using the gift of prophecy
- Check your “vision” in the light of God’s Word to see if it lines up with Biblical truth.
- Ask yourself, “how is the church being edified by what you have seen and are about to share”.
- If you are married, talk with your husband and see what he says and thinks about the gift that you have assumed to be the gift of prophecy given by the Holy Spirit.
- Visit your local church and speak with one of the pastors or leaders about what you have experienced. If you have a gift of prophecy, be sure that the gift will be recognized and you will bless the church with your service because as we have seen, “spirits of prophets are subject to prophets”.
- Be ready to be submissive to the pastors’ authority on this matter.
May the Lord help us.
Translation by: Erik Brewer