What does the Bible tell us about the gift of prophecy?


Prophecy is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit as enumerated in 1 Corinthians 12:7-10.

"But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, 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."

But Christians have mixed feelings about prophecy and the prophetic ministry that can be influenced by their upbringing or own church denomination's teachings.

Some say that the prophetic ministry ended with John the Baptist, but this ignores the fact that the book of Acts mentioned that the Spirit still empowered prophets:

"And in these days prophets came from Jerusalem to Antioch. Then one of them, named Agabus, stood up and showed by the Spirit that there was going to be a great famine throughout all the world, which also happened in the days of Claudius Caesar." (Acts 11:27-28)

"Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers..." (see Acts 13:1)

"Now Judas and Silas, themselves being prophets also, exhorted and strengthened the brethren with many words." (Acts 15:32)

"And as we stayed many days, a certain prophet named Agabus came down from Judea." (Acts 21:10)

Knowing this, we should all realize that the prophetic ministry continues to exist today, for the Spirit that empowered such prophetic ministers continues to empower those who listen to the voice of God today.

What the Bible says about the gift of prophecy

Now that we've established that the prophetic gift remains at work today, we will take a look at what the Bible says about it.

God Himself said that it will continue in the last days (Acts 2:17-18)

"And it shall come to pass in the last days, says God, that I will pour out of My Spirit on all flesh; Your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions, your old men shall dream dreams. And on My menservants and on My maidservants I will pour out My Spirit in those days; And they shall prophesy."

Authentic prophecy comes from God alone (2 Peter 1:20-21)

"...knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God[c] spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit."

It does not replace God's Word (1 Corinthians 14:37)

"If anyone thinks himself to be a prophet or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things which I write to you are the commandments of the Lord."

Not all Christians are called to be prophets (1 Corinthians 12:29)

"Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles?"

It does not trump love (1 Corinthians 14:2)

"And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing."

It edifies and comforts others (1 Corinthians 14:3)

"But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men."

It must not be despised, but it must be tested (1 Thessalonians 5:19-22)

"Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies. Test all things; hold fast what is good. Abstain from every form of evil."

It must be desired ( 1 Corinthians 14:39)

"Therefore, brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak with tongues."

It's a gift that allows for a glimpse of the future (John 16:13; see also Acts 11:27-28, 21:10-11)

"However, when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth; for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak; and He will tell you things to come."

It is meant to glorify Christ (John 16:14)

"He will glorify Me, for He will take of what is Mine and declare it to you."