“to another prophecy”1 Corinthians 12:10
There is much debate as to what προφητεία [prophecy] means. Some see a foretelling element – prediction, prophecy while others see a forthtelling – to declare the divine will; to interpret the purposes of God; or to make known in any way the truth of God. The truth is the word προφητεία contains both senses.
Thayer’s Lexicon gives the following definition:
- a discourse emanating from divine inspiration and declaring the purposes of God, whether by reproving and admonishing the wicked, or comforting the afflicted, or revealing things hidden; especially by foretelling future events
- Used in the NT of the utterance of OT prophets
- of the prediction of events relating to Christ’s kingdom and its speedy triumph, together with the consolations and admonitions pertaining to it, the spirit of prophecy, the divine mind, to which the prophetic faculty is due
- of the endowment and speech of the Christian teachers called prophets
- the gifts and utterances of these prophets, especially of the predictions of the works of which, set apart to teach the gospel, will accomplish for the kingdom of Christ
I personally agree with Jamieson, Fausset and Brown who think that prophecy in this verse is “probably not [used] in the wider sense of public teaching by the Spirit but, as its position between “miracles” and a “discerning of spirits” implies, the inspired disclosure of the future. I think Paul’s inclusion of prophecy in a list of manifestation gifts is because of the second meaning – the inspired disclosure of the future. These are manifestation gifts, which when seen or experienced in action people will respond “wow truly God is among us. There is a similarity between the word of knowledge and the word of prophecy. Both manifest the presence of the Lord. Sometimes the line is blurred between them. In some ways I could classify what happened to me in both examples I used in Bible Gem 431 to be a word of prophecy rather than a word of knowledge. Yes we can debate the classification or terminology used but the reality is still the same. God was manifestly present as a result of a specific word spoken which the speaker could not have known or predicted. I could go on to give other examples but I feel the last Gem have been full of Ian’s experience and I don’t want Gems to become that.
Suffice to say there are times when there is a foretelling, predicting element to this gift mix which we could term “prophecy” and then there is a revelatory aspect to it which we might term word of Knowledge if you are more comfortable with that division. I have experienced personally times when the revelation of something is to the fore, a personal situation which God wants to say I know about that, I know the things you struggle with – give it to me. I know already anyway. Other times when the predicting or foretelling of something that is going to happen which when it does will confirm the “word from the Lord” already spoken. I have no problem with either way God works. I have no problem with however God wants to be supernatural. He’s God; He can do anything. Enough for now, let’s close and prepare for dealing with the discernment gift tomorrow.
If you want the classic biblical example then consider the mention of Cyrus the Medo-Persian King in Isaiah 45:1,2, and 13 two hundred years before his time. This passage was wrtitten by Isaiah some time after 730 BC and before 721 BC. Cyrus didn’t appear on the scene until 539 BC. Isaiah names Cyrus over 200 hundred years before he enters the picture. This is a great example of prophecy as foretelling. If you can’t handle that being the explanation then it shows to you your view of God. The Bible critics find ways to explain that away because they can’t deal with the supernatural aspect of prophecy in the Bible.
God touches and moves, warns and desires all equally, and He wants one quite as much as another. The inequality lies in the way in which His touch, His warnings, and His gifts are received.Johannes Tauler
Use your gifts faithfully, and they shall be enlarged; practice what you know, and you shall attain to higher knowledge.Matthew Arnold