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The Powerful Gift of Prophecy

A study of the gift of prophecy in the Bible. We will look at what prophecy gift is and how the prophetic works.  

gift of prophecy

Out of all the gifts mentioned in the New Testament…it’s the gift of prophecy that is said to be desired the most. But do you know why the apostle Paul encouraged us to pursue the gift of prophecy?

Well, let dig deep into God’s word and find out! We will check out an overview of the prophetic gift and see how it works in the body of Christ. 

Curious about all the gifts? Don’t forget to check out the other gifts below:

To make things easier you can use the table of contents below to jump to certain topics or you can scroll through like usual. If you are new the gifts I encourage you to read through it. 

The Gift of Prophecy 

prophecy as a spiritual gift

7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: 8 for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, 10 to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kind of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. – 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 NKJV (emphasis added in bold)

When writing on the gifts I thought it might be easier to break up information by answering the 5 W’s. If you are not familiar with the 5 W’s it basically means, who, what, when, where, and why. 

The w’s below might not go in that order but I will be answer each one according to the gift of prophecy. And for now I have skipped out on “when.” If in the future I come up for a when question or a helpful reading has some suggestions…I’ll add it to the post. But I sure hope this structure helps to make things clear and easy to digest.

What Is the Gift of Prophecy?

The Greek word for prophecy is prophēteia it means to predict

προφητεία prophēteía, prof-ay-ti’-ah; from G4396 (“prophecy”); prediction (scriptural or other):—prophecy, prophesying.

The gift of prophecy is the supernatural ability to give a right-now word from the Lord. It must edify, exhort, and comfort the body of Christ. 

What the Gift of Prophecy Is Not?

Fortune Telling Or Any Forms of Divination 

Divination is strictly forbidden in scripture. Any form of it from contacting spirits, necromancy, soothsaying, fortune-telling, praying to angels, angel numbers, witchcraft, palm reading, tarot cards….and the list goes on. We should have no part in any of that!

Those things are NOT the gift of prophecy. A great example is the is when Paul discerns a spirit of divination on a girl in Acts 16:16-18…

16 Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. 17 This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” 18 And this she did for many days.

But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And he came out that very hour.

The girl under the influence of that spirit was correct in her statement about Paul and Silas. But it was under an evil spirit. It was Paul’s gift of discernment that was able to see right through her “true” words. 

The Ability to Preach 

Many people who don’t understand the prophetic gift or fear it will classify it to mean the ability to preach or speak. This is not the case as the word preach means to proclaim and to announce. Being an skilled orator does not mean you are prophetic. Prophetic utterance and revelation (dreams, visions, angelic visitation) are much more different than preparing a sermon and delivering it. 

The Office of Prophet

In Ephesians 4:11-12 we see the five fold ministry and prophet is listed as one of the offices. You may have a powerful gift of prophecy and not be a prophet. These are two different functions in the body of Christ. For more on the office check out my post on the Five-Fold Ministry. 

What Is the Purpose of the Gift of Prophecy?

Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. – 1 corinthians 14:1 

Out of the 9 gifts that Paul speaks of he encourages us to especially desire to prophesy. And there is a big reason for that. This gift has an incredible supernatural ability to strengthen individuals and churches. 

The three main purposes for the prophetic gift is:

To EdifyTo build up, strengthen, to make more effective 
To Exhort To stimulate (stir up), to encourage, to admonish
To ComfortTo cheer up

There’re other purposes for the prophetic gift, like instruction and learning (1 Corinthians 14:31) and to convict the lost (1 corinthians 14:24-25)

IMPORTANT – The gift of prophecy should never reject, shame, alienate, hurt, condemn, or cause division, even if the person is an unbeliever.  Many so-called prophetic voices create such pain and issues in the church. With all gifts and especially the prophetic we must PURSUE LOVE. Without it, we will make a big mess, hurt people, and make everything about us. 

What Are Some Examples of the Prophetic Gift in the Bible?

1 Timothy 1:18 – Prophecies were used to tell Timothy about his ministry and strengthen him. 

Acts 19:6 – Disciples in Ephesus were baptized in the Holy Spirit. They spoke in tongues and prophesied. 

Luke 1:67 – Zacharias was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied 

Acts 21:8-9 – Phillip had 3 daughters that all prophesied

Who Is the Prophetic Gift For?

I reference 1 Corinthians 14:1 earlier how the apostle Paul encourages to pursue love and desire the gifts especially the ability to prophesy. As believers of Jesus Christ we can ask the Lord for the gift of prophecy. 

But like the gift of discernment, there needs to use wisdom, have accountability, and a willingness to be grounded in the Word of God. These gifts open us up to the spirit realm. We start to hear and see things and we must be able to rightly discern and have our words be judged by the church. Why you may ask? Because the Word is clear, that Satan himself poses as an angel of light. (2 Corinthians 11:14) 

Many believers have been deceived by “so-called revelation” they thought was God when it was the enemy twisting things, but making it look like it’s good or God. 

I have sadly witnessed this real life example: 

“The Lord told me to divorce my husband…He has better plans for me.” 

That may sound “good” and you can justify the reasons why you feel God is saying that, but it is incongruent with the Bible…

The Bible says, ““For the Lord God of Israel says That He hates divorce..” Malachi 2:16  and Jesus, says in  Matthew 19:3-6 –

The Pharisees also came to Him, testing Him, and saying to Him, “Is it lawful for a man to divorce his wife for just any reason?” 4 And He answered and said to them, “Have you not read that He who made them at the beginning ‘made them male and female,’ 5 and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? 6 So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let not man separate.”

God will never go against His word. Never! Therefore what you are feeling, hearing, or seeing…is NOT God. It is what Paul is saying in 2 Corinthians 11:14… “Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light”

A prophetic word MUST line up with the word of God, it MUST be judged if it is the word of the Lord, and it MUST edify, exhort, and comfort. 

I encourage all prophetic people to get grounded in the Word. Study the Bible, read it daily, and pursue LOVE. 

Why Is This Gift of Necessary for Today?

I mention this with all the gifts of the Spirit. But if it was necessary for the early church, it’s necessary for us now!

Does the body of Christ today need to be encouraged, edified, and comforted? That would be a big fat YES! So, many people are hurting and struggling and the prophetic gift can bring strength and courage that is needed.

It gives us insight into God’s calling for our lives and helps us to move forward when things get tough. It brings HOPE! This is why Paul was such a huge advocate for the prophetic gift to be used in the Church. To the point he encourages us to desire it! 

Where Can I Find in the Bible?

A good chunk of scripture is prophetic. So, it’s an easy gift to study and you will see that there different levels of the prophetic gifting and prophetic calling ( Like the office of a prophet). We will look below at a handful of verses that mention the gift of prophecy. 

Gift of Prophecy Bible Verses 

1Co 14:3-4 NKJV 3 But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. 4 He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. 

1Th 5:20-21 NKJV 20 Do not despise prophecies. 21 Test all things; hold fast what is good. 

1Co 14:1, 29-33 NKJV 1 Pursue love, and desire spiritual [gifts], but especially that you may prophesy. … 29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others judge. 30 But if [anything] is revealed to another who sits by, let the first keep silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, that all may learn and all may be encouraged. 32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. 33 For God is not [the author] of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints. 

1Jo 4:1-3 NKJV 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. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, 3 and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the [spirit] of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world. 

1Co 14:24-25 NKJV 24 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all. 25 And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on [his] face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you. 

1Pe 4:10-11 NKJV 10 As each one has received a gift, minister it to one another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 11 If anyone speaks, [let him speak] as the oracles of God. If anyone ministers, [let him do it] as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen. 

Rom 12:6 NKJV 6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, [let us use them]: if prophecy, [let us prophesy] in proportion to our faith; 

1Co 12:10 NKJV 10 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.

My Conclusion and Summarization about the Gift of Prophecy

The prophetic gift can literally change individuals and a church. But it should be done with wisdom and Holy Spirit led. You are speaking the heart and will of God over someone. When done properly (in love and wisdom) incredible things happen, but when done poorly like out of pride or immaturity it can cause a big mess.

When you prophesy the word you should always edify, exhort, and comfort. And a lot of how we can do that is how we deliver the word…What we say, and how we say it. A good way to do is to think about how you would feel if you got this word.

And the words you receive and the words you give should be judged. This is to help us grow and protect us.

Well, I hope this article has helped you and encouraged you to pursue the prophetic gift. From more on the prophetic gift check out these posts:

Feel free to leave me a comment below! I would love to hear about what the Lord is doing in your life.

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