“Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge.”
Let two or three prophets speak,
The prophets, as well as tongues speakers, were to speak in an orderly way. There are three simple standards for prophets. First, the church should limit expositors to two or three speakers per church service. The mind can only absorb what the seat can endure!
The prophet was important for the apostolic period because God was still in the process of giving the canon of the New Testament. The prophetic gift included three factors: (1) the prophet received special revelation, (2) the prophet had divine guidance in declaring this revelation, and (3) the message of the prophet must carry authority from God. The Holy Spirit classifies this gift second in importance to the gift of apostleship (12:28). The prophet’s message was free from error.
Agabus possessed the gift of prophecy (11:27, 28; 21:11, 11) and predicted a famine, and warned Paul of sufferings. Barnabas, Simeon, Lucius, Manen, and Paul were prophets at Antioch (Ac 13:1). The four daughters of Philip had the gift of prophecy (Ac 21:9). Judas and Silas were prophets (Ac 15:32). Paul gave prophecies (Ac 16:6f; 18:9, 10; 22:17-21; 27:23, 24).
The New Testament prophet was similar to the Old Testament prophet except that the New Testament prophets were not national leaders. Otherwise, the continuity between the Old Testament and New Testament prophets is the same.
And let the others judge.
Remember, the primary function of the prophet was to forth-tell rather than fore-tell. The second standard for prophets is that others should check or confirm what a prophet speaks and sift between what is genuine and what is spurious. Discernment is vital to maintaining correct doctrine. The word “judge” means to weigh carefully. Just because an expositor speaks, it does not mean that he faithfully expounds God’s Word. God never inspires human beings; He inspired the text of Scripture (2 Ti 3:16).
The Word of God is the standard for truth.
There is a difference between discernment and judging the motives of others. The Bible commands us throughout to discern truth from error. We reject “inspired” prophets in our day because we live in a day of the silent sky or the hushed heavens. God has not said a word since He revealed Himself finally in the Bible. It is easy to pick up spiritual diseases if we do not know the Word of God.
Ac 17:11, These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.
1 Th 5:21, Test all things; hold fast what is good.
1 Jn 4:1, Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.