Pastor, I have a question. I have someone in the family who is the Jehovah witness, and he claims there are no prophets anymore. He referred to this verse, ” Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away” (1 Corinthians 13:8). I am thinking of the verse given. What does this verse mean, are there prophets or not? Thank you very much, and God bless you.
There is the gift of prophecy, and there are prophets even today. To understand better, I want to look at the context of the Book of 1 Corinthians. Paul addressed this book to a church with many problems, some of which brought Paul and many sorrows. But through this epistle, Paul addressed a major issue of the church in Corinth. The Church did not serve one another with the spiritual gifts for the building of the Body of Christ but misused them. Instead of building the Body of Christ, they provoked conflicts, despised one another, were stumbling, — they were doing things that should not have happened in a church. Chapters 12-14 of the Book 1 Corinthians are dedicated by the Apostle Paul to the subject of spiritual gifts.
At the beginning of chapter 12, Paul explains that there are different gifts. All gifts come from the same Holy Spirit, and all gifts were given to edify the Church and to serve each other. Each member received certain gifts to serve the other members, and in this way, the church of Christ was edified. Here also Paul points out that every gift is equally important and we never have to despise people who do not have our gift or those who have gifts through which they do not stand out and who remain in the shadows. We must teach them to appreciate others, give them their due honor, and teach to appreciate one another in the Body of Christ.
In Chapter 13, Paul addresses a very important aspect, namely our motivation to use the spiritual gifts correctly. The Apostle Paul shows that the right motivation is love.
If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. (1 Corinthians 13:1)
In verse 1, Paul points out that if we do not have love, we can be the ones that only cause discomfort just like a clanging cymbal. A cymbal, if it is in the hands of a good musician who plays with love, would bring edification, joy, and pleasure. But if the cymbal falls into the hand of a man who just clanges, then he does nothing but annoy.
Love is patient, love is kind and is not jealous; love does not brag and is not arrogant, does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own, is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. (1 Corinthians 13:4-8)
In these verses, Paul lists many gifts: faith, generosity, knowledge, prophecy. In the way we practice spiritual gifts, when we have love, we show patience to others. Love is kind to others in the Body of Christ, love does not brag or does not envy people who have other gifts. Love does not brag, and is not arrogant in relation to the other members of the church who may not have the same gift. The one who has love doesn’t even think to be arrogant that he has a more special gift than someone else.
Love does not act unbecomingly; it does not seek its own benefit through the spiritual gift it has, it is not provoked, does not take into account a wrong suffered, does not rejoice in unrighteousness, but rejoices with the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. He says that love will never fail, and here when Paul says that prophecies will be done away, tongues will cease, knowledge will be done away, he refers to spiritual gifts. Paul lists only three, but this refers to all the spiritual gifts, which are received by a believer when he/she repents and receives the Holy Spirit. Apostle Paul says there is a time when these gifts will no longer be necessary, and he explains why in verse 9.
When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known. (1 Corinthians 13:11-12)
In the Body of Christ, one has the gift of prophecy, the other has the gift of knowledge, but Paul says that there will come a time when all these gifts will not be needed when what is perfect will come. Here Paul refers to the times when we will be with our Lord Jesus Christ, when we are in new bodies, in spiritual bodies, then we will no longer need these gifts. Today, through the spiritual gifts we help each other to know the Lord Jesus Christ, we serve each other to know the mysteries of the Kingdom of God to grow in our faith in our way to Christ. When we know the Lord Jesus, we will see Him face to face. These gifts will no longer have any purpose then, that is what the Apostle Paul refers to here.
Then in chapter 14, Paul presents the role of the gift of prophecy:
Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries. But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation. (1 Corinthians 14:1-3)
The role of prophecy is not just to say the future, the role of this gift is to proclaim the will of God. In these verses, it is mentioned that the prophecy is for edification, exhortation and consolation. The church of Christ needs it now as much as it needed it in the first century and will need until the Lord Jesus will come, until the rapture comes and we will meet the Lord Jesus Christ. Until then, we all need all these gifts; therefore prophecy remains to be a necessary gift, which works today. And thanks to the Lord for them. Paul offers an important emphasis on prophecy, preaching, teaching the Word of God, which is important today.
I would like to recommend you an inductive Bible study course “Spiritual Gifts”, where fourth lesson studies the gifts of apostle and prophet, which is why I recommend all of you to get this handbook. To purchase this manual, you can reach “Bunavestirea” church in Chisinau each Tuesday and Thursday at 18:00 or on Sunday from 14:00 to 16:00.
- How do you know if you have the gift of prophecy?
- How to distinguish between false and true prophets?
Watch a video and read this article in Romanian.