“Do not despise prophecies“
We now come to the second command about corporate worship.
Do not despise prophecies
The word “despise” means to make of no account and frequently signifies to despise. We can make prophecies of no account and treat them with contempt. “No account” is less than one. We can treat the Bible as nothing. It is dangerous to treat with disdain what God says or reject with contempt God’s revelation.
“Prophecies” here probably refers to the gift of prophecy. The person with this gift could directly receive revelation from God before the Bible was completed. There came a time toward the close of the first century when this prophetic gift came became inoperative (1 Corinthians 13:8). The prophetic gift not only dealt with future things but things in the present (Acts 13:2). “Prophecies” include both a prophetic element and a proclaiming element. These were oral proclamations before the revelation of the New Testament. The prophetic element came to close but the preaching element continues to this day.
Some people in Thessalonica may have pawned off their own personal notions without the gift of prophecy. People today pawn off their personal ideas about God by claiming that they have special contact with God.
Others despise the teaching of God’s Word. They falsely interpret and twist the Bible to suit their biases. They reject the clear claims of Scripture. The believer who treasures the Word is the believer who honors what it says.
“But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification” (1 Corinthians 14:3-5).
Prophecy was a special, temporary gift before the completion of the canon (the writing of the New Testament books) of the New Testament. By this gift, God revealed His mind and will to a prophet so that Christians could understand New Testament truth before the New Testament existed.
Today God succeeded the prophet by the teacher who expounds the mind of God already revealed on the pages of completed Scripture.
Christians are to carry a positive attitude toward the teaching of God’s Word by their pastor.
Some Christians believe that they must challenge all teaching from the pastor. They make themselves the final arbiter of truth. Their pride keeps them from learning from God’s appointed teacher. The three pastoral books (1 and 2 Timothy and Titus) all declare that the church operates under a pastor/teacher who clearly and systematically sets forth doctrine.
The qualification to the above statement is that Christians who listen to the exposition of Scripture should check what the pastor teaches against the Word of God (Acts 17:11). That is why the church is to “test” the prophecy (5:21).
It is bad enough to discourage the preaching of God’s Word. It is even worse to despise it. When we underestimate the significance of God’s Word, we do it to our loss. Some people view the teaching of the Bible as irrelevant to their lives.