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As the Apostle Paul ends his first letter to the Thessalonians, he gives several important instructions for the saints.  In 1 Thessalonians 5:20he instructs them, “Despise not prophesyings.”  What is prophecy in the New Testament sense?  We learn in 1 Corinthians 14:3, “…he who is prophesying to men doth speak edification, and exhortation, and comfort.”  To prophesy is to minister a word from the Lord that will edify, exhort, and comfort His people.  It’s been explained like this:

  • Edification removes weakness.
  • Exhortation removes sluggishness.
  • Comfort removes sadness.

These are three things greatly needed in the church today, wouldn’t you agree?  Who is able to be used of the Lord to speak a word of prophecy today?  1 Corinthians 14:31 says, “For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.”  Prophesying is simply giving a Word from the Lord as He leads us to do so.  Of course, this means we must be students of the Bible so that we might learn and have the knowledge to be used of the Lord.

So, returning back to your original question: What does it mean that we should not despise prophesyings?  Simply put, true prophesy comes from the Lord.  It will edify, exhort and comfort.  When the Lord provides prophesy, we should not neglect or disregard the instructions we receive.  Let’s consider this verse in light of the verse that precedes it.  1 Thessalonians 5:19, “Quench not the Spirit.”  It is the Spirit of God that will lead us to prophesy.  Putting these two verses together, we get the thought that we should minister as the Lord leads and receive the ministry the Lord gives us through others.  Solomon tells us in Proverbs 9:9, “Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.”  (154.9)