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Read Introduction to 1 Corinthians


“to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.”


to another prophecy,

Prophecy with ecstasy or frenzy was widespread in religions of the first century. Paul’s perspective on prophecy came from Judaism, where the prophet spoke on behalf of God through inspired utterances. Sometimes the Holy Spirit canonized these utterances in Scripture.

Prophecy is more than predicting the future or foretelling; it is forth telling. Paul used this gift in the sense of forth telling in chapter 14. It is the gift of speaking the mind of God to the mind of man. The Greek word consists of two words: pro = before; phemi = to speak. The basic thrust is proclamation. The idea is to declare openly. It is the capacity to absorb and receive divine inspiration and pass it on to others. Foretelling is incidental to prophecy. Prophecy can make the Word of God relevant to special needs.

All are not prophets (1 Co 12:29) yet all may prophesy (14:31) and some have the special gift of prophecy (Ro 12:6; 1 Co 12:19). Prophecy can minister to those without Christ (14:24). Prophecy ministers by bringing edification, exhortation, and comfort to Christians:

1 Co 14:3, But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.

Prophecy ministers by bringing edification, exhortation, and comfort (1 Co 14:3), so it ranks among the highest gifts (1 Co 12:28; chapter 14). Prophecy has one qualification – “according to the proportion of his faith” (Ro 12:6). The word “proportion” means agreement, equality, right relation. The idea is to not go beyond what is written. Prophecy must agree with the Bible. The article before the word “faith” indicates the entire Word of God, so the preacher of God’s truth should not go beyond the Word of God in his preaching.

Prophecy was the ability to understand and reveal the content of the New Testament before God completed the writing of the New Testament in the first century. Thus, there are two dimensions to the gift of prophecy: (1) it was a revelatory gift that gave the New Testament content before God revealed it, and (2) it is the capacity to proclaim God’s Word. In 1 Corinthians 13:8, tongues came to an absolute stop (cease), but knowledge and prophecy were “rendered inoperative.” The latter term does not mean they ceased to exist but that they lost capacity. The Greeks used this term for cutting the hamstring of a horse so that he could not jump a fence. The horse was still alive, but the cutting of his hamstring greatly reduced his capacity to function. That is the same with prophecy. Today people do not have the capacity to introduce new revelation, but they do have the capacity to preach the revelation they have (14:3). Prophecy as a receptor of new revelation passed away with completing the New Testament (1 Co 13:8-10).


God provides divine capacity for ministry.


Christian work requires divine capacity. People can study medicine as a profession, but ministry is not a profession in that sense. Pastors need to study for the ministry, but no amount of study will give them the capacity to do Christian ministry – they need gifting from the Holy Spirit. No matter what amount of success a minister may have, he can take no credit for it. God provides the capacity, the ability, and the enablement through the Holy Spirit. The moment we ascribe success to ourselves, we have a problem. God does not share His glory with anyone.

Is 42:8, I am the Lord, that is My name;

And My glory I will not give to another,

Nor My praise to carved images.