2 Peter 1:20 says, “Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.”  Revelation 22:7, “Behold, I come quickly: blessed is he that keepeth the sayings of the prophecy of this book.”  In both of these verses, the word for prophecy comes from the Greek word, ‘propheteia’ which means to predict.  We are familiar with many prophets of the Old Testament who predicted judgment for the nation of Israel as they continued to disobey and rebel against the Lord.

Now let’s read 1 Corinthians 14:1, “Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.”  1 Corinthians 14:31 says, “For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.”  The Greek word translated prophesy here is ‘propheteuo’, a very similar word to the one noted above, but with a more general meaning.  It means to speak under inspiration, or to speak as the Lord moves.  In 1 Corinthians 14, we have much said there about the New Testament prophet and New Testament prophecy.  Notice what we read in verse 31, “ye may ALL prophesy…”  This is something that every believer can do; he can speak the Word of God as the Lord moves him to speak.

What is New Testament prophesy?  Let’s look at 1 Corinthians 14:3, “But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.”  This is a clear teaching concerning prophesy today.  It is to speak, as led of the Lord, in order to edify, exhort and comfort others.  To edify means to build up; to exhort is to stir up; and to comfort is to lift up.  This is ministry from the Lord to meet the needs of His people to encourage them with thoughts of Himself.  The ability to minister God’s Word is not limited to a few, or even to the many, but according to verse 31, every believer may be used of God to ‘speak under inspiration’ and offer needed ministry to others.  This doesn’t say anything about predicting future events, but its purpose is to meet present needs.

1 Corinthians 14:29-32 gives us instruction concerning prophesying in the church.  That says, “Let the prophets speak two or three, and let the other judge. If any thing be revealed to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace. For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted. And the spirits of the prophets are subject to the prophets.”  This speaks of a meeting where the church comes together to hear from the Lord.  Perhaps the Lord will use two or three different men to speak on His behalf.  While two or possibly three will speak, the others are told to judge, or discern whether or not what they are hearing is truly from the Lord and is consistent with the Word.  The intent of this meeting is that all may learn (be edified or exhorted) and all may be comforted as the Lord speaks through His Word.

What does it mean to preach?  The word means to proclaim.  To teach is to share knowledge.  So, these words are usually synonymous; it is where someone is proclaiming God’s truth, as led of the Lord.  New Testament prophecy would also be considered as preaching or teaching.  The Lord is using someone to share His Word with others.  The Apostle Paul told Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:2, “Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.”  May we heed this valuable instruction and preach God’s Word.  This doesn’t mean that we have to find a podium to speak from.  We simply speak God’s Word to those that we come in contact with every day.  Having a Bible verse to share with others is a good way to preach.  When we wait upon the Lord and look to Him for direction, He will use us to share His Word with others that they may profit thereby.  May we also keep in mind that we also ‘preach’ with our actions.  Let’s be sure that the way we act, the way we treat others, and the language we use is consistent with God’s Word and reflects the character of our savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.  (224.2)