Through history, God has given the gift of prophecy to faithful men and women. This lesson is on prophecy as a Gift of God’s Spirit to faithful men and women, and is separate from a lesson on the Office of Prophet which will be part of the series on New Covenant offices of responsibility.
We have become used to the erroneous idea that the word prophesy means ONLY to predict.
The word “prophecy” in the biblical sense means to pass on a communication inspired by God to others; teach the things of God; to exhort to godly thoughts and actions; to reveal the things of God; to turn people to God; to excite a zeal for God’s Word and for sincere repentance from living contrary to the whole Word of God.
Predictions are mainly about God’s plan of salvation and how that plan will be and is being worked out; so that when these things come to pass all peoples will remember, believe and turn to the Eternal Father.
Predictions are only a small part of the prophet’s whole job which is to turn all people to a passionate zeal and love for God and the whole Word of God; and in this latter day two such men will work to prepare all people to accept Messiah the Christ at his coming.
In this study we are are looking at one more of the gifts of the Holy Spirit which is the “Gift of Prophecy”. This gift is listed with the other spiritual gifts in 1 Corinthians 12 and Paul also includes it as one of the seven gifts that are listed in Romans 12.
1 Corinthians 12:10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:
Romans 12:6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;
In both of these verses the Greek word for “prophecy” is prophéteia (Strong’s #4394) and means: prophecy, prophesying; the gift of communicating and enforcing revealed truth. (Strong’s Concordance)
Word Helps defines “prophesy” as: “to make clear, assert as a priority” – properly, what is clarified beforehand; prophecy which involves divinely-empowered forthtelling (asserting the mind of God) or foretelling (prediction). (Word Helps)
The Complete Word Study Dictionary defines a prophet: “not primarily one who foretells things to come, but who (having been taught of God) speaks out of His [God’s will] will”. (The Complete Word Study Dictionary: New Testament, page 1244).
What is the “Gift of Prophecy”?
Prophecy is speaking forth the Word of God through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. God gives the gift of prophecy to His called out inspiring them with his Holy Spirit; but for a few individuals, He gives an extra measure of this gift to be used to benefit the whole body.
Individuals with the gift of prophecy are often given deep insight and revelation into the meaning of God’s Word and intent and they often know how to link the scriptures to bring out the true meaning of a particular teaching or doctrine. They sometimes are given insight as to how the prophecies of the Bible are going to be played out and/or deeper and more profound understanding of the teachings contained in God’s Word.
Peter states that prophecy does not originate from the mind of men but instead means to speak under the inspiration of God’s Holy Spirit; those that prophesy are moved by God’s Spirit to speak God’s words and thoughts.
2 Peter 1:21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
In the book of Jude, Jude says that as far back as Genesis, Enoch prophesied of the Lord’s coming.
Jude 1:14 And Enoch also, the seventh from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the Lord cometh with ten thousands of his saints.
But even before that, just after Adam and Eve took of the forbidden fruit, God prophesied of the coming of the Messiah at the same time that He cursed Satan for beguiling Eve.
Genesis 3:14 And the Lord God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.
So we see that prophecy has been given to men since the days of Adam and Eve. God chose certain men throughout history to speak forth God’s word through the power of His spirit to impart His messages, His Covenant, and His warnings to His people.
Luke 1:70 As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began:
The Bible tells us that when men prophesy, it is God speaking but using men’s mouths to do so. God speaks to the prophets and He also speaks through them. David, who was a prophet himself, explains it like this:
2 Samuel 23:1 Now these be the last words of David. David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, said, 23:2 The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and his word was in my tongue. 23:3 The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.
Here, David states that God spoke through him by putting God’s own words in his mouth. David wrote most of the Psalms which are inspired teachings and prophecies that come directly from God.
Jesus said in the following verse that David was inspired by the Holy Spirit when he wrote in the Psalms of the things of God. It was by God’s Holy Spirit that David prophesied.
Mark 12:36 For David himself said by the Holy Ghost, The Lord said to my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool.
God also says through Isaiah that He puts His words in the mouths of His prophets, those who are speaking for Him as His representatives.
Isaiah 51:16 And I have put my words in thy mouth, and I have covered thee in the shadow of mine hand, that I may plant the heavens, and lay the foundations of the earth, and say unto Zion, Thou art my people.
Isaiah 55:11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.
Isaiah 59:21 As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the Lord; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever.
The prophets spoke as the mouthpieces of God, delivering God’s messages to His people,and by this means they were given the commandments, ordinances, precepts, judgments and statutes of God. Prophets were also used to warn the people – especially the civil and religious leaders – when they strayed from the ways of God about what would happen if they refused to repent.
There are very few men and women who really believe that God speaks through mere humans and that God inspired His holy prophets and His apostles to write the books of the Bible. Most people believe that the Bible is merely a work of men. There are many that give lip service that they believe that the Bible is the inspired Word of God but by their fruits they deny that they really believe or else they would do what God’s says in His Word.
The apostles acknowledged that the men of God and the prophets of old spoke under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and that it was actually God’s words that were spoken by the mouths of such men. On Pentecost in 31 A.D. Peter described how David spoke about a certain prophecy pertaining to Judas’ betrayal of the Messiah and that it was spoken by the Holy Spirit but through the mouth of David.
Acts 1:16 Men and brethren, this scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas, which was guide to them that took Jesus.
The early believers that gathered around the apostles to pray for them understood how God speaks through His prophets.
Acts 4:3 And being let go, they went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them. 4:24 And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: 4:25 Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things?
The apostle Peter distinctly says that David was a prophet and when we read the Psalms written by David, we do indeed see that God used David to prophesy. David had the gift of prophecy.
Acts 2:29 Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. 2:30 Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne;
Prophets in the old Testament and in the New, were used by God to call for repentance and to encourage the members of the Ekklesia to be passionate about living God’s ways more fully and to encourage them to be zealous in the keeping of the whole Word of God including all God’s commandments, statutes, ordinances, precepts and judgments. Sometimes God sends individuals with this gift to warn and to call for revival in the Ekklesia if it has been led astray or has embraced false doctrines and false teachers.
Prophecy is More Than Just Foretelling
We usually think of the definition of prophecy as foretelling of things that are going to happen in the future and many times that is exactly what prophecy is. The Old Testament contains many chapters and books with prophetic messages of future events and warnings of what is going to happen; and in the New Testament Jesus prophesies of things to come in the latter days in Matthew 24, Mark 13, and Luke 21. The Book of Revelation contains many prophecies in regard to the plan of God and especially of things that are going to take place in the end times leading up to the culmination of God’s plan for all of humanity.
But prophecy (and the gift of prophecy) is not always just about predicting future events; it encompasses so much more!
Prophecy can also be properly expounding the intent of God’s will and the words of the Bible, be it explaining and expounding the Scriptures and God’s truth, or it can be exhortation, correction and warning, or perhaps encouraging the brethren to remain faithful and to be zealous in keeping all of God’s commandments.
The gift of prophecy can also involve helping others to understand more deeply the principles and concepts contained in God’s Word and how to apply them in practical matters. This can be done through one-on-one fellowship, preaching to a congregation, or by writing articles and books.
Many of David’s psalms are foretelling of things to come and many times he focuses on the coming Kingdom of God and what it will be like, which are future events. As we read the Psalms, it is quite evident that the words are inspired by God. But David’s psalms are not always about prophetic events; some are profound teachings of the precepts and principles of God; others are records of his words of prayer to God; some are writings of praise and worship of the magnificence of our Great God and all of His attributes; and some are teaching and exhorting his readers to obey God’s commandments and to have faith in God.
We can see that all of David’s words in the Psalms are inspired and yet not all are predicting future events. A prophet may or may not be foretelling and yet he is still speaking God’s inspired messages, and/or he may be just exalting and praising God and giving testimony of God’s mercy and goodness.
In 1 Corinthians 14, the apostle Paul says “But he that prophesieth”; here he uses the word “prophesieth” but in this context he means something quite different than merely foretelling things to come. In the following passage he uses the Greek word prophéteuó (Strong’s #4395) which means basically the same as prophéteia (Strong’s #4394) that is used in the spiritual gift chapters Romans 12 and 1st Corinthians 12. The Strong’s Concordance defines it as: “From prophetes; to foretell events, divine, speak under inspiration, exercise the prophetic office – to prophesy.” (Strong’s Concordance)
But in the following passage Paul is using the word “to prophesy” to indicate other meanings other then to predict or foretell. In these verses he uses the same wording but says that to prophesy is to “edify”, “exhort” and “comfort others”.
1 Corinthians 14:3 But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. 14:4 He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church. 14:5 I would that ye all spake with tongues but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.
In this chapter, Paul is addressing a problem that the Corinthians were having in regard to using the spiritual gifts, specifically the misuse of the gift of tongues (speaking other languages). In comparing the two gifts Paul is emphasizing how important it is that the Ekklesia receive edification. He is saying that “prophesying” is very beneficial to the Ekklesia in regard to building up the body which consists of all those in Christ.
Paul defines a certain type of prophesying as a means to edify and exhort one another, to build up the Ekklesia. Paul explains that it more important that the brethren prophesy by speaking words of edification, exhortation and comfort to their fellow members of the Ekklesia than it is to speak in languages [tongues] not understood by many in the congregation. He repeats in verse 4 that “he that prophesieth edifieth the church”. That is builds up and encourages those to whom the prophesying is directed; primarily to our brothers and sisters in the Ekklesia as we exhort, encourage and comfort them.
Paul is correcting the brethren for concentrating too much on the gift of speaking in tongues [languages] here, and then compares it to the much more beneficial gift of prophecy, because when used properly, it is the gift of prophecy that edifies and builds up God’s people and helps them to grow spiritually and to grow up to the fullness of Christ. As members of the body of Christ we are to help each other do just that.
Ephesians 4:13 Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
Prophecy can mean; to edify, and exhort, and comfort.
The Greek word for “edify” is oikodomeó (Strong’s #3618) and means: to build a house i.e. definition “to erect a building, build; figurative of the building up of character: I build up, edify, encourage.” (Strong’s Concordance)
And by the context we know that it is not a physical house that Paul is referring to in this verse, but rather to edify [build] up the members of the Ekklesia, who are God’s spiritual house, which is also called God’s spiritual temple.
The Greek word for “exhort” is paraklésis (Strong’s #3874) and means: a calling to one’s aid, i.e. encouragement, comfort. From parakaleo; imploration, hortation, solace — comfort, consolation, exhortation, intreaty, a calling for, summons, hence: (a) exhortation, (b) entreaty, (c) encouragement, joy, gladness, (d) consolation, comfort. (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance)
The Greek word for “consolation” is paramuthia (Strong’s # 3889) and means: encouragement, comfort, consolation, exhortation. (Strong’s Concordance)
“Prophesy” can also be translated as: teaches godliness, refutes error, reproves sin, admonishes, or comforts (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon). So we see that to prophesy can also mean to simply teach and expound the Word of God – especially with truth not generally taught by others – to others for their growth and in order to build them up; and for their edification.
When the Greek word for “prophesy” is used in 1 Corinthians 11 and 14, from the context, it means to; teach godliness and the intent of God, refute error, reprove sin, admonish to live by every Word of God, or comfort the struggling, and in this case it does not mean to foretell future events. So we see that many who prophesy, that exercise their “gift of prophecy” are not necessarily “predictive prophets”, but rather explainers of the intended meaning of the Word of God.
Those who have been given the gift of prophecy as per 1 Corinthians 12 are those who have been given an extra measure of the ability to prophesy by means of understanding, teaching, expounding, exhorting, the brethren, especially in things not generally understood or taught. All of God’s people should be exhorting, admonishing, and comforting one another and then there is the expanded gift of prophecy to those God appoints to the “office of a prophet”. (See 1 Corinthians 12:28-31)
In speaking of “prophesying” to edify and build up the Ekklesia in 1 Corinthians 14, Paul is illustrating other aspects of prophecy than just having the ability to predict the future.
One of the functions of the individuals that have been given the gift of prophecy could very well be to foretell the future by divine revelation, but there are other very important functions as well and that is to prophesy in order to reveal and convey the meaning and intent of God’s Word to edify and build up the Household of God which is the Spiritual Temple.
Prophecy is never to exalt one’s self or any physical leader, but those with the gift of prophecy will always, always point the people to God and will encourage the brethren to exalt and obey our Great God with enthusiasm and sincere devotion.
The spiritual gift of prophecy is given to some in order to explain the previously not understood meaning and intent of God’s words and give His messages to the brethren for their edification and spiritual growth.
The messages is to help others to come to a deeper understanding of the Plan and Purpose of God; it might be exhortation to be zealous in keeping all of God’s commandments and to guard the truth; or the gift of prophecy can also be used in warning when the Ekklesia strays from God.
Finally, the gift of prophecy can also be used to encourage God’s people to remain faithful during tough times. We have to always look at the context when determining what use of the word is intended.
The Gift of Prophecy is for Comforting our Brethren
The gift of prophecy as a means of exhortation and consolation can be used to comfort our spiritual brothers and sisters in their time of need. All of God’s people should be able to comfort others who are going through hard trials and hardships. We can remind them that God is on His throne and He knows every detail of their lives. We can comfort each other with God’s promises from the Bible and remind them that God understands and knows our circumstances and that He has not forsaken us just because we are going through difficult trials.
When they quote Scriptures that apply to what the person is going through, they are using God’s own words. In 2 Corinthians 1:4 Paul speaks of this kind of comfort that we are able to give to our brethren and he calls God, “the God of all comforts,” who comforts us with the comfort wherewith we are able to comfort others. If God has comforted us in all of our trials, God wants us to give of ourselves in this way to help others.
2 Corinthians 1:3 Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; 1:4 Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.
When we are going through hard and painful things, we sometimes forget that God is on His throne and that He is sovereign. It is easy to think that things are out of control and we may need to be reminded and comforted by the fact that God is sovereign over all things and that no matter how difficult the trial or painful the situation God knows what we are going through. Those with the gift of prophecy can build up the body by reminding them when facing hard trials that God is in control and that He is on His throne and that He will not let us go through anything we cannot handle but will provide a way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13). Comforting those who are going through trials is a type of edifying of the body.
They will also remind the people that trials are for our good to help mold us into the kind of persons that God wants his people to be and so make us fit for the resurrection to eternal life.
Romans 12:15 Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.
Paul’s Instruction Regarding Prophesying in Worship Services
Paul gives us instructions about certain rules regarding the way we exercise the gift of prophecy in our assemblies. In Hebrews 10:25 Paul admonishes that we are to assemble with those of like mind (and not with sinners 1 Cor 5:11) when we come together.
When we assemble together with believers what are we to do? We are to provoke each other unto love (which is to live by every Word of God) and also exhort one another to well doing. This is one of the definitions of prophecy that we saw earlier, for to “exhort” is to “prophesy” as it is understood in 1st Corinthians 14.
Hebrews 10:23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) 10:24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: 10:25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting [parakalountes – to encourage] one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
Paul gives God’s guidelines on how the members are to conduct themselves when they assemble to worship together. All things were to be done “unto edifying”, decently and according to a peaceful, orderly fashion.
To begin, Paul repeats that prophecy is for the purpose of teaching the congregation and all should learn from each other and be comforted by each other. He states that the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets, meaning that the prophesying should be congruent with the Word of God; it is to be of a sound mindedness and that those prophesying are to be in complete control of their emotions and mental faculties [unlike, those that lose control and emphasize the use of emotions in their worship). The members are to take turns in prophesying and in this way show courtesy and respect for one another. They are to conduct themselves in an orderly fashion (God is not the author of confusion).
1 Corinthians 14:26 How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying. 14:27 If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret. 14:28 But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God. 14:29 Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. 30 If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. 14:31 For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. 14:32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.
In another chapter Paul instructs that men were to worship and prophesy with uncovered heads and that women are to have their heads covered. This, too, shows a proper order of things that are ordained of God when we come together to worship and hear God’s Word.
1 Corinthians 11:3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God. 11:4 Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. 11:5 But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. 11:6 For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.
For more study on head coverings, please see our articles on 1 Corinthians 11.
After giving the instructions in regard to the gifts of tongues and prophecy, Paul told the brethren to desire and seek to have the gift of prophecy for by it the Ekklesia is edified, built up and is much benefited greatly.
1 Corinthians 14:39 Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.
We, too, are to desire to have the gift of prophecy that we may edify and build up the members of the Ekklesia in our modern times; and Brethren, the building, edifying and comforting of the people of God is sorely needed in these end time days!
I know many of you do this, but it is important to reach out to each other; to encourage and comfort our brothers and sisters to hang in there, to keep the faith, and to have a walk that is worthy of our calling. We are at this time so scattered and many of us cannot assemble with other like-minded believers because there is no one else in our area. But we can make use of what we do have available to fellowship the best we can via phone calls, cards, emails, Skype, internet, etc., etc.
It should be our heart’s desire to be qualified and able to teach the way of God to the unlearned, and to encourage our precious brothers and sisters in Christ. The gift of prophecy is a very valuable tool in helping others come to the full knowledge of God, in encouraging one another to fulfill their calling, and to comfort others when they feel downtrodden.
Does God Give the Gift of Prophecy to Women?
Toward the end of the chapter in which Paul is instructing the brethren on the spiritual gifts of tongues and prophecy he goes into detail about how things are to be done in order, he then says that women are to keep silent and are not permitted to speak in the “churches”.
In fact the word church is not in the Bible and is used in place of the proper word Ekklesia meaning “assemblies, or meetings.” King James insisted that the word “church” be used in order to support his position as head of the organization of the Church of England.
1 Corinthians 14:34 Let your women keep silence in the churches [meetings, in this context the formal services]: for it is not permitted unto them to speak;
This leads to another question about the gift of prophecy; if both men and women are to prophesy, as we saw earlier in 1 Corinthians 11:4-6 and to prophesy means to edify, exhort, comfort, and teach, according to 1 Corinthians 14:3-5, how is it that some believe that Paul commands women not to teach (which also means to prophesy) in the body of believers, because of what it says in 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 and 1 Timothy 2:11-12.
In other words, are women in the faith ever permitted to prophesy and to teach men?
In some circles, there is the theological belief that women must be silent and are not permitted to teach men ever. We will look at the two often quoted passages that some use to substantiate this teaching. How do we rightly divide these verses which make up the Word of God? And how to we reconcile them with so many other verses in the Bible that quite plainly say that women are to speak and teach others biblical truth and to encourage all the brethren?
These two places in the Bible seem to be saying that it is not permitted for women to teach because they then would be teaching men. It is from these verses that many mainstream Christian theologians derive their position that God forbids women from being teachers in the body of believers. The apostle Paul is the author of these two oft quoted passages that at first glance appear to be forbidding women from ever teaching; this is what he wrote:
1 Corinthians 14:34 Let your women keep silence in the churches [properly, the formal services] for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. 14:35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.
1 Timothy 2:11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. 2:12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. 2:13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve. 2:14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. 2:15 Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.
If taken out of the context of which it is written it may appear that these verses are telling the women of the Ekklesia that they are not permitted to teach, period. Also that it is a shame for women to even speak in the body of believers.
In order to rightly divide the word of truth, we can ask some questions in regard to what this is actually saying and look to Scripture for the correct application of these verses. We should not take these verses out of the context of the whole message that Paul is trying to convey in these passages, but instead seek to understand exactly what he was referring to. We must put all Scriptures together if we want to know the truth about a particular subject and the Bible clearly tells us in other places that women are to “prophesy” in the church. It helps us to understand if we know that the definition for “prophesy” is another word for “to teach, refute, reprove, admonish, and comfort.” (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon)
What are some of the other verses that seem to “contradict” if, in fact, these two passages are indeed forbidding women to ever teach in the Ekklesia?
And Your Sons and Your Daughters Shall Prophesy
Let’s begin by addressing the “to be in silence” part. If women are to be silent and are not permitted to speak or teach, how do we explain the numerous other passages of Scripture which reveal that women are to prophesy; which simply means to speak, to teach, reprove, admonish, proclaim, comfort and edify the church? In Joel, the prophet foretells that at a certain time in the future, both men and women would be prophesying.
Joel 2:28 And it shall come to pass afterward, [latter days] that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions:
On the day of Pentecost in 31 AD when the Holy Spirit manifested itself in the form of cloven tongues of fire, Luke the author of Acts, says that all who were present were filled with the Holy Spirit and all began to speak with other tongues (foreign languages). We can assume that there were both men and women disciples present. This does not say, just the men, but all began to speak. Peter quoted this very verse from Joel 2 in Acts to explain what was happening which clearly says that in the last days the sons, the daughters, and handmaidens shall prophesy.
Acts 2:1 And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. 2:2 And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. 2:3 And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them. 2:4 And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance.
We know from the context that Peter was referring to what had just happened, both men and women had just been endued with God’s Holy Spirit in a spectacular display of what appeared as cloven tongues of fire. Peter went on to say:
Acts 2:16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; 2:17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams.
The apostle Peter quoted Joel and reiterates that God promised to pour out His Spirit on all flesh in the last days, which had just happened (as a forerunner of this) to the small group of disciples that were gathered and had just received God’s Spirit, including men and women. The result of that pouring out would be that they would then prophesy.
Paul himself elsewhere teaches that women are to prophecy.
1 Corinthians 11:5 But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.
And in Acts 21, Luke records the account of Phillip, one of the seven disciples who were chosen to handle the food distribution in the early days of the church (Acts 6:1-6). We are told that Phillip had four daughters which prophesied.
Acts 21:8 And the next day we that were of Paul’s company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him. 21:9 And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy.
These verses make it clear that it is okay for women to prophesy, and that God even expects for them to prophesy and not remain silent. What does it mean to prophesy? Paul defines for us what it means to prophesy in 1 Corinthians 14.
1 Corinthians 14:1 Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy. [prophēteuēte] 14:2 For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries. 14:3 But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. 14:4 He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.
In verse 3 Paul states “he who prophesies speaketh” and goes on to define in what way this person is to speak; namely to edify, exhort and comfort. To “speak” is the exact opposite of being silent. This verse does not have a clause excluding women from edifying the Ekklesia. Men and women who prophesy will speak. How and what will they speak? This verse tells us that to “prophesy” means to speak words that edify, exhort, and comfort others. He repeats in verse 4 that “he that prophesieth edifieth the church [body of believers”. Paul exhorts all, which includes both men and women, to prophesy which means to edify, exhort, and comfort one another.
“Prophesy” can also be translated as: teaches, refutes, reproves, admonishes, or comforts (Thayer’s Greek Lexicon). When “prophesy” is used in 1 Corinthians 11 and 14 it is translated as “teaches, refutes, reproves, admonishes, or comforts”; it is not meaning here in this passage to foretell future events.
Adam Clark’s Commentary has this to say about how “prophesy” is being used in these instances that talk about both men and women prophesying.
“The word prophesy is not to be understood here as implying the knowledge and discovery of future events; but signifies to teach and proclaim the great truths of God, especially those which concerned redemption by Jesus Christ.” (Adam Clarke’s Commentary)
The word “prophesy,” in simple terms is inspired speaking, preaching, proclaiming, and teaching which edifies, exhorts and comforts which has to do with telling and reminding others of the “great truths of God”.
We also note again that in 1 Corinthians 11:5 Paul teaches about head coverings in conjunction with a woman prophesying.
1 Corinthians 11:5 But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered [akatakaluptos: specifically not being covered with a cloth] dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven. See First Corinthians 11
If the apostle Paul forbids women from prophesying (speaking, teaching and edifying) why would he say a woman must wear a cloth head covering when she prays and prophesies? It does not make sense that Paul would say this if he had in other epistles told women they could not prophesy [speak or teach] as per what some teach 1 Timothy 2:11 forbids.
Therefore if a woman is commanded (as per Paul states in 1 Corinthians 11:5 and 1 Corinthians 14:1-4) to edify the church, that means she will have to “speak” words of edification in order to do so; but if she is on the other hand not permitted to speak or teach, how can she remain silent and edify at the same time? Does this make sense and is this possible? No, of course it does not make sense and needs further exploration, for the Bible does not contradict itself.
The Example of Priscilla
If women are never to teach men, then why was Priscilla permitted to help in expounding “the way of God more perfectly” to Apollos who needed more instruction in how to teach others himself. To expound is the same as to “teach” and Priscilla in this instance was used by God to help teach a man.
Acts 18:1 After these things Paul departed from Athens, and came to Corinth; 18:2 And found a certain Jew named Aquila, born in Pontus, lately come from Italy, with his wife Priscilla; (because that Claudius had commanded all Jews to depart from Rome:) and came unto them.
Acts 18:24 And a certain Jew named Apollos, born at Alexandria, an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures, came to Ephesus. 18:25 This man was instructed in the way of the Lord; and being fervent in the spirit, he spake and taught diligently the things of the Lord, knowing only the baptism of John. 18:26 And he began to speak boldly in the synagogue: whom when Aquila and Priscilla had heard, they took him unto them, and expounded unto him the way of God more perfectly.
The Greek word for “expound” is ektithémi: (Strong’s #1620) and means to set forth, figuratively to declare. (Strong’s Concordance)
When Priscilla and her husband Aquila heard Apollos speak in the synagogue, they took him aside [from the formal service meeting] and showed him in private what he needed to be teaching about Jesus, the Messiah.
Apollos must have been very teachable for after they instructed him, God was able to use him in an even more powerful way in publicly proclaiming the Gospel to convince the Jews that Jesus was the Christ. There is no hint whatsoever by the writer of Acts that Priscilla had overstepped her bounds by not remaining silent; but rather Luke goes on to write of the fruit of her teaching Apollos along side of her husband.
Acts 18:27 And when he [Apollos] was disposed to pass into Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him: who, when he was come, helped them much which had believed through grace: 18:28 For he mightily convinced the Jews, and that publicly, shewing by the scriptures that Jesus was Christ.
The Bible states emphatically without exception that both men and women would prophesy, teach and preach God’s word and speak to the church words of edification, exhortation, comfort, and building others up by encouraging and strengthening them.
The meaning of “prophesy” has the same meaning, whether it is referring to a man prophesying or to a woman prophesying. This kind of prophesying or teaching was predicted in Joel 2:28, and then quoted by Peter in Acts 2:17; that God would pour out His spirit upon all flesh; and that His sons and His daughters would prophesy.
God’s faithful know that the Bible does not contradict itself. So how do we explain the verses that state that women must be silent in the “church” when comparing them to other verses that exhort women to prophesy, to edify and encourage? We know that the Bible does not contradict itself, and God is not the author of confusion and that includes this subject of women teaching. The gifts of the Holy Spirit were given to both men and women for the edification of the body (with no gender qualifications).
The Context in Which Women Must Remain Silent
The understanding comes when we go back a few verses to discover the context and to see just what Paul is talking about when he says that it is a shame for women to speak in the church. In verse 26, he says “when you come together” and from the context we can see that he is talking about formal church meetings or services. He goes on to list the proper decorum for formal services and admonishes that there must be order and proper authority exercised when we all “come together.” He then addresses the issue of women and their proper role when the members are assembled during those times.
1 Corinthians 14:26 How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying. 14:27 If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret. 14:28 But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God. 14:29 Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. 14:30 If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. 31 For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. 14:32 And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets. 14:33 For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints. 14:34 Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience as also saith the law. 14:35 And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.
Then in 1 Timothy 2, if we back up a few verses, we read that this is also talking about when the Ekklesia came together for prayer and supplications [in formal worship services] and again Paul gives instruction for their formal assemblies and first addresses the men, and then he addresses the women. We see then that Paul is talking about how formal worship services should be conducted and how men and women should conduct themselves in public worship.
He writes in 1 Timothy 2:8 “I will therefore that men pray every where [especially when they gather together for services].
The words “every where” indicates the places where the believers would come together for formal collective worship services. This phrase, “every where,” demonstrates that Paul is giving instructions of how the brethren were to conduct themselves where ever they came together to worship. Paul is still talking about the same subject of formal worship when he begins to address how the women ought to conduct themselves in formal public worship services as it says in verse 9 “in like manner also . . .”. In this context Paul instructs men to pray in public worship (2:8) and women to be dressed modestly and to be known for their good works (2:9-10).
1 Timothy 2:1 I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;
1 Timothy 2:8 I will therefore that men pray every where [everyplace], lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. 2:9 In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; 2:10 But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.
Then in keeping with the subject of proper order and decorum in the services Paul continues by saying:
1 Timothy 2:11 Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. 2:12 But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. 2:13 For Adam was first formed, then Eve. 2:14 And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. 2:15 Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.
Just as he addressed maintaining order when church members come together in 1 Corinthians 14, here, again, he instructs the brethren about proper authority roles in the church when it comes to formal church services.
A woman is permitted to prophesy as per the other verses we looked at, but she is not to usurp authority over men – as God has decreed in other places in the Bible – when doing so.
Paul is referring to the authority of a man over his wife which God has ordained when he goes on to talk about Adam and Eve and the order of things. A woman can prophesy or teach in other venues outside of formal worship services, but she is not to speak or teach as an authoritative speaker in formal church services. God is telling us in these Scriptures that He has assigned the leadership role to men; to fathers and to husbands.
In his instructions about how to conduct worship services, Paul tells the men how to pray (without anger or disputing, lifting up holy hands), and the women, how to adorn themselves (not being overly concerned about fine fancy clothing but being clothed with good works), and from this he moves to the topic of the prohibiting of women from teaching or usurping authority over a man.
The subject of authority is also mentioned in chapter 11 of 1 Corinthians which instructs that women are to pray and prophesy with their heads covering by a cloth; but then also goes on to explain that the head coverings represent the authority roles between men and women. In the following passages Paul goes into more detail about men and women roles which reiterates what he taught in 1 Timothy 2 and 1 Corinthians 14.
1 Corinthians 11:7 For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man. 11:8 For the man is not of the woman: but the woman of the man. 11:9 Neither was the man created for the woman; but the woman for the man. 11:10 For this cause ought the woman to have power on her head because of the angels. 11:11 Nevertheless neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord. 11:12 For as the woman is of the man, even so is the man also by the woman; but all things of God.
The command that women are not to teach in the two controversial passages cannot be taken as an absolute command that “no woman should ever teach a man” for if that were true, Paul would have rebuked Priscilla for having a part in instructing and teaching Apollos. The words “usurp authority over” provide us the key to understanding this passage.
Women should not be permitted the role of authoritative leadership in the church and is supported by the verses that follow: “to ask [consult] their husbands” in 1 Corinthians 14 which is referencing back to Adam being formed first, and then Eve, who was created second and as a helpmate for Adam. After the first couple’s disobedience to God by taking of the forbidden fruit, Eve, who represents all the women that would come after her, was told that her husband was to be in authority over her. This is what is being referred to in verses 1 Timothy 2:11-15.
Genesis 3:16 Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.
Women are not become pastors or give sermons in formal church services because God has decreed that it is the responsibility of men to exercise the leadership role, and women are not to take that responsibility away from them. We are not advocating, at all, the ordination of women or that women should be allowed to become pastors or church leaders or to get up front and speak or give sermons at formal worship services.
Paul, in all of these verses, is focusing on the fact that women are forbidden to take leadership roles in the Ekklesia over men, which is very much in tune with the subject of the correct line of authority within the home and family system. Christ is the head of the man, and the man is the head of his wife, their children being subject to both their parents. It is a matter of church government within the family as designed by God.
This issue is much misunderstood. It is all about legitimate godly family structure and is not meant as a slight against women. Women are not to preach in the church service, because it would be unseemly for a lady to be exercising authority over the husband that she vowed before God to obey.
God intends, most certainly, that women are to worship Him along with the males at formal assemblies. God desires that women sing hymns during services, and talk to others, fellow-shipping before and after services; she just must not do so as one having the position of leadership in the congregation. This understanding is in complete agreement with Paul’s discussion in 1 Corinthians 11, a chapter that demonstrates that women did participate in prayer and prophesy in the early church.
We can draw obvious conclusions from all of these Scriptures; that women can certainly teach and declare the works of God by exercising their gift of prophecy. In Titus the older women are specifically commanded to teach the younger women and the children; Paul even describes what they are to teach. The older women are to teach the younger women, among other things, the proper order of headship in the home and how to love their husbands and their children.
Titus 2:3 The aged women likewise, that they be in behaviour as becometh holiness, not false accusers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things; 2:4 That they may teach the young women to be sober, to love their husbands, to love their children, 2:5 To be discreet, chaste, keepers at home, good, obedient to their own husbands, that the word of God be not blasphemed.
It just makes sense that women would be teaching in these areas to other women for they can teach from experience and know what it is like to be a wife and mother, more so than a man trying to teach these things. And we see from the example of Priscilla, that it is not wrong for a woman to teach a man in doctrinal matters either. The Scriptures even tell us what Priscilla and Aquila taught to Apollos; “the way of God more perfectly and that Jesus is the Christ” for Apollos only knew the baptism of John when Aquila and Priscilla heard him first speak.
God Gives Spiritual Gifts to Men and Women are to Use Them to Edify the Church
God gives no indication that the spiritual gifts are only for men, specifically prophesying, teaching or exhorting all of which involve speaking to others. And if it is not permitted for a woman to speak or teach then that stipulation would rule out the practicing of these gifts. Look at what the apostle Peter admonishes ALL the members of the Ekklesia to do:
1 Peter 4:10 As every man [a way of addressing both men women] hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God. 4:11 If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
Again, there is no distinction between men and women as to who can glorify God in these ways. The Greek word for “every man” is generic [each one] that refers to both men and women.
Women are given the spiritual gifts including the gift of prophecy, which is exhorting, teaching, as freely as they are given to men, and both men and women are called to exercise their gifts to edify the body of Christ. Women can teach within the church as long as it is not from the pulpit at formal church services or in any authoritative capacity.
It is very clear that women are certainly free to teach children and other women, but they are also free to teach, exhort, and encourage men as well if they do so in a respectful, tactful way without attempting to set themselves up as an authority over them. Many women, just as many men, have knowledge, wisdom, and experience from which to draw from that can immensely help others in the Ekklesia. Many godly and well versed women, especially those who have been in the Ekklesia a long time may know far more about the Scriptures then many men, and it would be both tragic and absurd to forbid such men to learn from such women.
For a woman to not use her gift of prophecy to edify the body of believers if she is able, and just remain silent is what would be a shame, for she would be withholding knowledge that could possibly help others to learn and to grow. But if she believes it is not permitted for her to speak up, her lack of involvement could very well restrict the work God is doing either in her family, congregation or the Ekklesia at large.
If we hold back because we are afraid or we lack zeal, when it would otherwise be possible to teach, exhort or to encourage others, remember that it would be wrong to withhold good when it is in our power to do so.
James 4:17 Therefore to him that knoweth to do good and doeth it not, to him it is sin, (Also see Matthew 25:14-30 and The Parable of the Talents)
Husbands, Love Your Wives, Even As Christ Also Loved the Church
Ephesians 5:2 Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord. 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head of the church: and he is the saviour of the body. 5:24 Therefore as the church is subject unto Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in every thing. 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; 5:26 That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 5:27 That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. 5:28 So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. 5:29 For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church:
Husbands are to exemplify the role of Jesus Christ in Jesus’ love and care for His collective bride who is espoused to become His wife after the resurrection to spirit and who will be with Him forever more. Both wives and husbands are to live out their respective roles to prepare themselves for ruler-ship under Christ. It is the responsibility of the wives to submit to their husbands as the God-ordained leaders of the family (as long as the husband is leading in the way of righteousness). And it is the responsibility of the husbands to love their wives even as Christ loves His Ekklesia and to help her to grow in things pertaining to godliness.
If the husband loves his wife, then just like Jesus, he would want his wife to grow and mature in the ways of God and he would want to encourage her to be all that God desires her to be; not only in overcoming her human nature and personal sins, but also he would want her to grow in the graces of skillfully handling the Word of God and in articulating God’s Word and the Good News of the way of salvation to others. He would never want to squelch her God-given gifts and talents and hold her back.
Is this not what Jesus wants for all those that the Father has called and those they are working with? Just as Jesus is getting His bride prepared to be a glorious crown of righteousness to be a fit spouse at His side; so the husband’s job is to help his wife to become holy and without blemish and he is not to be in any way a hindrance to her growth or her development as a future priest and king in the kingdom of God. Of course the same can be said of wives, likewise helping their husbands to be all that God wants them to be.
Both husbands and wives should be encouraging each other to use their spiritual gifts and to develop them to the fullest so that each of them can be contributing to the edifying of the church; but also for his or her own personal development so that he or she will have the skills necessary to be effective assistants for Christ in helping Him to bring all of humanity into His family some day.
A woman should never be discouraged from fulfilling her God-given responsibility to teach and encourage others in godliness right along with her husband as a wonderful team of cooperation and ONENESS just like Aquila and Priscilla. I believe their example was included in the Bible to show us how a godly couple should be cooperating with each other to teach others. This godly couple was doing it right even in the days of Paul and the original apostles.
So if there are any husbands or elders reading this article and you are still of the opinion that women should stay quiet and never offer their insights and opinions on subjects pertaining spiritual matters, remember Solomon’s mother who taught him much wisdom and to seek and ask God for wisdom.
I beseech you to really study into this subject, pray for understanding and look to the Scriptures as your guide rather than the time-honored prejudices that have been passed down to us from sincere but misled church leaders who are clearly wrong when it comes to this important subject.
It is everybody’s responsibility to teach godliness and to proclaim the praises of God, to “go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15).
In Paul’s epistles he mentions the many women who labored with him in the Gospel and commended them highly, and a person can hardly labor in the Gospel without preaching or teaching the Gospel. In addition, Paul names a number of women, as well as men, whom he called “fellow workers.”
These women were the apostles’ colleagues in ministry just as many women played a prominent role in the ministry of Jesus. (Matthew 28:1-10; Luke 8:3; 23:49; John 11:1-46; 12:1-8). Further, no spiritual gift is limited to just men in the lists of the gifts of the spirit in 1 Corinthians 12 and Romans 12; and women were admonished to edify the body of Christ, which includes teaching.
As we can see, women (just as men) have had an incredibly important role in God’s people throughout history while exercising their spiritual God given gifts.
As the Scriptures show, prophecy was not limited to telling future events, but also included expounding God’s Word and exhorting His people to repent and turn to God. So for women to prophesy, necessarily, means that they proclaim and teach God’s Word under the authority of their husbands, and if not married, then under the authority of their believing parents and their beloved betrothed Lord and Savior.
There are only two places in the New Testament that at first glance may seem to be saying that women are to be silent and are not to be teachers in the body; but the Bible is full of Scriptures that clearly tell all believers that they must be about the Father’s business and add their voices with all those God has called to be a witness of Him and His WAY to the world; with those in ages past, and now as we have opportunity in our modern era.
We serve a great and loving God; it is only befitting for ALL of His children, sons AND daughters to lift up their voices in praise, in song, in telling others about how GREAT God is and to teach others the “WAY of God more perfectly”!
In Conclusion In Regard to the Gift of Prophecy
For the Testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of Prophecy
Revelation 19:10 And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See thou do it not: I am thy fellowservant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
What does this mean that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy?
When John was talking to the angel he became so overwhelmed that he fell at the angel’s feet to worship him; the angel rebuked him for doing so and told him that he must only worship God. Angels are not worthy to be worshiped for they are only fellow servants just like the brethren, but then the angel went on to say that the people of God “have the testimony of Jesus” and then said that “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy”.
What is the angel’s proclamation of “for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” referring to?
The phrase “the testimony of Jesus” is spoken of four times in the Book of Revelation. In two of these times “the testimony of Jesus” is combined with the phrase “the word of God”. In Revelation 12:7 we are also told that the “seed of the woman”, which is the Ekklesia, have “the testimony of Jesus Christ.” It is only the called-out ones and no others, that have the true Testimony of Jesus and that testimony is the Spirit of Prophecy.
The spirit of prophecy is God’s Holy Spirit, which if we are converted and faithful dwells in us; testifying and giving understanding of the Word of God. Jesus Christ inspired every Word of Holy Scripture and dwells in us through the agency of the Holy Spirit, the presence of the Holy Spirit testifying that we belong to Jesus Christ and to God the Father.
Revelation 1:1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John: 1:2 Who bare record of the word of God, and of the testimony of Jesus Christ, and of all things that he saw.
Revelation 1:9 I John, who also am your brother, and companion in tribulation, and in the kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was in the isle that is called Patmos, for the word of God, and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.
Revelation 12:17 And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ.
And then in Revelation 19 the angel that spoke to John said that the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. By telling John this, he is confirming that these two things compliment each other and are descriptions of the same thing: the Word of God.
Revelation 19:10….and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.
In the very first verse of Revelation John is speaking and he tells us that God gave a special end time revelation to His Son Jesus Christ who in turn gives it to his servants (or his disciples) to show them the things that are going to happen in the future to John who was to bare record (put it in writing) of the word of God and of the testimony of Jesus Christ.
John also combines the “word of God” with the “testimony of Jesus Christ” so we know that the word of God as given in Revelation is the testimony of Jesus Christ. Revelation 1:9 also uses the two phrases as meaning the same thing.
Since the whole Bible is the whole Word of God then we know that all the books of the Bible, (not just Revelation) are the testimony of Jesus Christ as well. And if the testimony of Jesus Christ is the “spirit of prophecy,” then the whole Word of God itself is the spirit of prophecy.
Elsewhere Jesus Christ is called the Word
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 1:2 The same was in the beginning with God.
All the words of the Bible are Christ’s words which are testimony of God’s law and the way humans are to live; the Word of God is instruction in righteousness and it reveals the plan and purpose of God and how we can attain eternal life as a member of God’s family.
2 Timothy 3:16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
John 5:39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.
John 6:68 Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.
John 3:11 Verily, verily, I say unto thee, We speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen; and ye receive not our witness.
Revelation 1:5 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness…
John 3:31 He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all. 3:32 And what he hath seen and heard, that he testifieth; and no man receiveth his testimony. 3:33 He that hath received his testimony hath set to his seal that God is true. 3:34 For he whom God hath sent speaketh the words of God: for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him. 3:35 The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand. 3:36 He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.
From these verses we see that the “testimony of Jesus” is the total package of the words of Christ; the whole Word of God and for those who believe and apply Christ’s Word to their lives, they will receive the gift of everlasting life.
Throughout the entire Bible, Christ’s word testifies to the whole truth of God and of all the divine teachings, true doctrines, commandments, ordinances, statutes and the way to salvation and eternal life.
Jesus alone is called the faithful witness and He gives testimony of God His Father and His Father’s plan of salvation so that mankind can KNOW God and can KNOW that He is the only true God and that only His ways are right and true. Jesus came in the flesh to testify of certain things and all the words of the Bible were written by men who were inspired by the Spirit of Christ to testify to these things so that we may know and believe them.
John 17:1 These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee: 17:2 As thou hast given him power over all flesh, that he should give eternal life to as many as thou hast given him. 17:3 And this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou hast sent. 17:4 I have glorified thee on the earth: I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do. 17:5 And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. 17:6 I have manifested thy name unto the men which thou gavest me out of the world: thine they were, and thou gavest them me; and they have kept thy word. 17:7 Now they have known that all things whatsoever thou hast given me are of thee. 17:8 For I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from thee, and they have believed that thou didst send me.
Only the ones that the Father has called and who have chosen to be faithful followers of His WAY, are the ones that God the Father has given to Jesus to be His disciples and Jesus has given them the words that the Father gave to Him and it is they, the called-out ones, that have received the “Testimony of Jesus”.
God’s Word is also called the “Spirit of Prophecy” for it is not only foretells the future but it is a book that contains the history of God and the history of 6000 years of mankind; it is full God’s promises, it edifies, exhorts, and comforts; it teaches the significance of this life; it is a Book of Prophecy and when God’s servants quote or expound or speak the words of this Book which are the words of Jesus; they too have the testimony of Jesus and the spirit of prophecy and they are speaking forth the Word of God.
To further expand on this, Jesus Christ is theme of the whole Bible from beginning to end. Every book points to Jesus Christ in some way, either directly or indirectly; each book contributes to the ongoing testimony of the history of God and man; and is a complementary segment of the whole message of the grace and redemption of God’s people by and through our Lord and Savior, the Messiah Jesus Christ.
From Genesis to Revelation there is written testimony that bears witness to the Plan of Redemption that God the Father and Jesus Christ have put together from the foundation of the world. It bears witness of God’s commandments and His mercy, the purpose of Jesus’ time here on earth in the flesh; the record of Jesus’ ministry, His trial, death and His resurrection and the fact that He died that men could be forgiven of their sincerely repented of sins. The books of the Bible are full of symbolism and prophecy that pertain to the centrality and Messiah-ship of Jesus Christ throughout all of history reconciling His people to God the Father and speaking of the events that are going to happen in the future.
The story of mankind begins in the Garden of Eden where we are told that after the first two people rebelled against God, God prophesied that He would send a Savior to atone for the sincerely repented sins of mankind and provide a way of reconciliation with God the Father. The Bible testifies of the rebellion of man and of all his failures of trying to live according to what he thinks is right, rather than what God says is right, and the triumph of Jesus’ perfect life and sacrifice for the atonement of those who repent and turn to Jesus; it further speaks of the struggles of the Ekklesia and how she is to be prepared and made ready to be a bride for Christ.
The Bible which is the Word of Christ foretold what He was going to do; and is yet going to do, in relation to the first and second coming and the work of the Messiah reconciling sinners to God the Father. One of the purposes of prophecy is to give men and women hope and faith that He is coming to this earth to save mankind from utter destruction.
The prophecies reveal the events that will take place, not only in regard to His first coming, but also when He returns as King of kings and Lord of lords and establishes His holy and righteous Kingdom on earth, a kingdom that will last forever.
But there are many other related prophecies leading up to the grand finale of God’s kingdom on earth and then the New Jerusalem which is the culmination of all the prophecies. They, too, hold an important place in the great chain of events which demonstrate the over-riding sovereignty of God and that in His wisdom He has a marvelous plan that is beyond human comprehension. The study of prophecy and the gift of prophecy fills us with wondrous hope for what God has in store for humanity and fills us with joyful anticipation of a new world that is coming.
The story culminates at the end of Revelation where we are told that the New Jerusalem will come down out of heaven and men and women will be the holy people of God. This passage also reveals what will happen to those who refuse to repent of breaking God’s commandments; all those who insist on being evil will be destroyed from the face of the earth therefore wickedness and lawlessness will be no more forever.
Revelation 21:1 And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea. 21:2 And I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. 21: 3 And I heard a great voice out of heaven saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God. 21:4 And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away. 21:5 And he that sat upon the throne said, Behold, I make all things new. And he said unto me, Write: for these words are true and faithful. 21:6 And he said unto me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. I will give unto him that is athirst of the fountain of the water of life freely. 21:7 He that overcometh shall inherit all things; and I will be his God, and he shall be my son. 21:8 But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.
The whole Word of God, which is the Bible, is the most fabulous and valuable book in the world for it contains the very words of the Almighty God Ruler of Heaven and Earth, the very Being who created all of humanity including each of us. When we pick up the Bible to read, the words that we read are the very words of our Great God who loves us and wants all men to be saved. He created us to be a unique one-of-a kind child of God if we follow the instructions that He lays out in His Whole Word. It is the testimony of Jesus (who is the faithful witness), which is the spirit of prophecy; a prophecy that is so fabulous and spectacular, it boggles the mind to even think that we have the POTENTIAL to be spirit beings made in the image of God and that we can live forever with Him.
God has an incredibly tremendous future in store for those who come to believe in Him, who love Him and love the words of this prophecy; those who are the true and faithful followers of Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 2:9 But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. 2:10 But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.
1 John 3:1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God: therefore the world knoweth us not, because it knew him not. 3:2 Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is. 3:3 And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.
The more we know and understand about God’s Word, the more it puts within us a burning desire to live for Him and to keep ourselves pure from the things of this world. And the more we put God’s words (His testimony) into our minds and into our hearts, the more we will just naturally prophesy; we will testify of God and of His promises and the words will pour out of our mouths whenever we speak of the wonders of God and what the future holds for those who will trust and obey Him. David said in regard to speaking of the things of God:
Psalm 45:1 My heart is inditing [listing,teaching] a good matter: I speak of the things which I have made touching the king: my tongue is the pen of a ready writer.
Prophecy, which is a manifestation of the Spirit, gives us a glimpse and a revelation of the deep things of God and fills us with love and hope. It gives us a glorious vision of what the future holds (1st Corinthians 13:9, 12). When we have the gift of prophecy and we use it to edify and build up the Ekklesia we provide that vision of what God is about to others and the things that He has planned for those who love Him. What a wonder gift of the Holy Spirit it is!
God’s gift of prophecy is the gift of understanding and explaining the Word of God beyond what is presently understood; of encouraging, exhorting, correcting and revealing the meaning and intent of the Word of God, so as to revive and turn the people to godliness.
Constance Belanger and James Malm
~ Featured Scripture ~
2:28 And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, your young men shall see visions: 2:29 And also upon the servants and upon the handmaids in those days will I pour out my spirit.