THE GOAL OF THE GIFT OF PROPHECY
Exhortation and Encouragement
The apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 14:3, “The one who prophesies speaks to men for edification, and exhortation, and consolation.”
We understand from this passage that the main purpose of the gift of prophecy is for edification, exhortation, and consolation.
Edification means “to build up,” exhortation means “to call near,” and consolation means “to cheer up.” In fact, the gifts of the Holy Spirit are some of the love languages of God. When we prophesy over someone, that person should feel kissed by God. When we operate in the gift of healing, the person we are ministering to should feel embraced by God, and no one should have to be delivered from his or her last deliverance!
Exhortation and assurance are two common purposes of prophecy. Paul contrasts tongues (a Godward speaking) with prophecy (a manward message): “He who prophesies speaks to men for their upbuilding (oikodome) and encouragement (paraklesis) and consolation (paramuthia; 1 Corinthians 14:3).”
Paraklesis has a wide range of meaning. Its root carries the idea “to call alongside to help.” The word can denote “encouragement, exhortation.” The range of meaning of parakelsis in verse 3 extends from “admonishment” (e.g. to “live a life worthy of the gospel”, Hebrews 13:22; cf. Romans 12:1) to “loving encouragement” (e.g. during affliction, 1 Thessalonians 3:2-3).
Another idea expressed by paraklesis is “appeal, request,” even “pleading”. The word also extends to the idea of “comfort, consolation” (Romans 15:4; Colossians 4:8; 2 Corinthians 1:3f). Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would come to His followers as “another Paraclete,” One who would come alongside to the disciples them (John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7). A vitally important way the Spirit is fulfilling this ministry of paraklesis is through the exhortation, appeal, and comforting assurance of the prophetic word.
Paul uses the word paramuthia in 1 Corinthians 14:3 alongside paraklesis to explain the purpose of prophecy. This word means “encouragement,” especially “comfort, consolation,” but is difficult to distinguish clearly from paraklesis. It derives from para, “beside” and muthos, “speech, word, saying.” In classical Greek it could refer to “any address, whether made “for the purpose of persuading, or of arousing and stimulating or of calming and consoling.
Exhortation to obedience and service as well as encouragement and comfort from the Spirit to those experiencing pain and trouble are one aspect of the Spirit’s building up of the church through prophecy
PROPHECY ENCOURAGES THE CHURCH
The primary purpose of the gift of prophecy is not to direct or correct the Body of Christ, but rather to encourage the Church. The book of Acts gives us a great example of this principle when Luke writes, “Judas and Silas, also being prophets themselves, encouraged and strengthened the brethren,” (Acts 15:32).
New Testament prophecy encourages and builds up people; it doesn’t condemn or speak negatively to them. We should never allow people who are ministering in the gift of prophecy to speak negatively into the lives of others. As we have said many times before, the goal of the gift of prophecy is to bring out the best in people!
If we see negative things in someone’s life that we are ministering to, we are to ask the Holy Spirit to give us the answer to the problem that we discern. Then we prophesy the answer—not the problem.
For example, if we are ministering to someone and discern that they are struggling with pornography, the Holy Spirit will often give us a prophetic word for them such as: “God is calling you to a new level of purity and holiness.” In this way, we have prophesied the answer without speaking about the problem; these releases grace to break the bondage of pornography in their lives!
EVERYONE CAN PROPHESY
Anyone who is saved and receives the baptism of the Holy Spirit can minister in the gifts of the Spirit.
Paul wrote, “For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted,” (1 Corinthians 14:31).
Luke echoed Paul’s exhortation with his account of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in the First Century Church. Here is Luke’s record of Peter’s first message,
“It shall be in the last days,” God says, “That I will pour forth of My Spirit on all mankind; and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on My bondslaves, both men and women, I will in those days pour forth of My Spirit and they shall prophesy” (Acts 2:17-18).
It is clear from these verses that the gift of prophecy is available to EVERYONE!