The Word of Prophecy

Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.

1 Cor 14:1 ESV

Today, many believers express confusion and consternation over the nature and purpose of the charismatic gift of the word of prophecy (1 Cor 12:10; 14:1-5). We will examine the gift of prophecy and prophetic ministry over the next several days.

The word of prophecy is spontaneous, Spirit-inspired, intelligible speech, orally-delivered to the church gathered intended for the building up of the people of God. In other words, the gift of prophecy is not planned, we cannot make the Holy Spirit give us a word. Properly, the word is not self-generated, but insight and instruction from the heart of God for the people of God. Biblically, the word of prophecy is shared by an individual for the whole Body of Christ in a language that everyone can understand. A word of prophecy, even if given to just one individual, should be submitted to the whole congregation for discernment (1 Cor. 14:29).

Prophecy can be both foretelling, insights into the plans of God; and forthtelling, God’s word for our present circumstances. Prophecy is an important gift for the Apostle Paul encouraged us to “earnestly desire” the gift of prophecy (1 Cor 14: 1) and prophecy has the ability to “strengthen, encourage, and comfort” the Body of Christ (1 Cor. 14: 3). New Testament prophecy is not inspired like scripture, but insights from the Lord for personal guidance and corporate direction.

In its broad meaning, prophecy is simply God communicating His thoughts and intents to mankind. When a true prophecy is given, the Holy Spirit inspires someone to communicate God’s pure and exact words to the individual or group for whom they are intended. It is delivered without any additions or subtractions by the one prophesying, including any applications or interpretations suggested by the one speaking. To be most effective, it must also be delivered in God’s timing and with the proper spirit or attitude.

Bill Hamon, Prophets and Personal Prophecy (Santa Rosa Beach, FL: Christian International, 1987), 29.