Ephesians 4:7-16; Spiritual gifts – purpose of NT prophets, evangelists.

Class Outline:

Wednesday November 3,2021

Prophets: this gift was receiving truth by direct revelation from God, which truth would later become written Scripture.


1CO 14:37-38

If anyone thinks he is a prophet or spiritual, let him recognize that the things which I write to you are the Lord's commandment. 38 But if anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized.


Purpose of NT prophecy? Edification, exhortation, and consolation of the church.


1CO 14:1-5

Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. 2 For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men, but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries. 3 But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation [paraklesin] and consolation. 4 One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the church. 5 Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying.


Paul lists prophecy as second in importance after apostleship. Since none in Corinth are apostles, to tell them to desire prophesy makes sense. And, since we know that God gives spiritual gifts sovereignly, Paul could only mean that they should desire the gift of prophecy in the church more than others, meaning that they should honor it and give it importance. Why? Prophecy edifies, exhorts, comforts (vs. 3) by performing intelligible (as opposed to the foreign language of tongues), articulate, communicative acts of speech which have a positive effect on others and the whole community. In contrast to prophecy which edifies the church, tongues edifies self (vs. 4) since it is speaking in the language of the unbeliever.


There is a contrast here between building up (edification) the body of Christ (here in reference to prophecy and in EPH 4:12, 16 [building up in love]) to the building up of self. Paul writes in 1CO 8:1 that “Knowledge makes arrogant, but love edifies.”


Then the prophets exhort. The Greek word paraklesis is the function of a parakletos or helper, a title for both Jesus and the Holy Spirit. Jesus said that He was the helper, but upon His departure that He would send another, the Holy Spirit. The prophets had this function, and they exercised it through gospel preaching and ethical instruction. All of us throughout the church, though without the gift of prophecy, are to help one another in any way we see that we legitimately can. In the church, a believer can seek to glorify God or to glorify self.


Remember that all spiritual gifts are for the building up of the body of Christ.


1CO 14:12

So also you, since you are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek to abound for the edification of the church.


Prophecy was to have special benefit to those who believe.


1CO 14:22-25

So then tongues are for a sign, not to those who believe, but to unbelievers; but prophecy is for a sign, not to unbelievers, but to those who believe. 23 If therefore the whole church should assemble together and all speak in tongues, and ungifted men or unbelievers enter, will they not say that you are mad? 24 But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all; 25 the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you.


Vv. 1-25 relate integrally to what Paul has said about love in 13:1-13; vv. 26-40 reflect the concerns about differentiation in 12:4-31.


Love, specifically divine love, concerns respect for the needs of others. What we just read concerns the function of love. The next have of the chapter concerns the order that love gives to a variety of gifts, or the differentiation within the body of Christ, which is a unity like the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who, as we know, have different functions revealed to us, yet are one God.


The experience, the thought, the gifts, of the individual were made available for the benefits of all. One with a natural aptitude for poetry threw his devotional feeling into a psalm, and furnished the church with her earliest hymns. Another with innate exactness of thought set some important aspects of Christian truth so clearly before the mind of the congregation that it at once took its place as an article of faith. Another, after pondering the truths so far known, discovered a depth of understanding that he penned into something like a sermon. These and more came together in the public meeting, and without any fixed order or uniformity, they all felt the need to speak or perform or sing or pray. If love was the overall guide of the meeting, such services are greatly to be desired for their freshness, fulness, and variety.


1CO 14:26-29

What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification. 27 If anyone speaks in a tongue, it should be by two or at the most three, and each in turn, and let one interpret; 28 but if there is no interpreter, let him keep silent in the church; and let him speak to himself and to God. 29 And let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment.


“pass judgment” - diakrino = to thoroughly judge, to discern. We examine every teaching with Scripture.


1TH 5:19-22

Do not quench the Spirit; 20 do not despise prophetic utterances. 21 But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; 22 abstain from every form of evil.


1JO 4:1

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world.


The content of the speaker was examined in light of OT Scripture, known knowledge, the teaching of the apostles that was passed on, and possibly through the gift of discerning spirits. This shows us that we are each responsible for our own understanding of truth. Everything taught should be examined from the Scripture. We still have a lot of false teachers. But even the true teachers will make mistakes because they don’t know everything. It is up to each of us to discern the truth, to judge or discern whatever we hear or read. We will all make mistakes doctrinally, but the more important question is if we will humbly evaluate through the Scripture and make the necessary corrections.


So then, we see that there must be leadership in the church, a distinction of clergy and laity (using the old terms), but in our day, pastors and elders ensuring that there is order, but not themselves acting like tyrants and affording opportunity for whatever and whoever would contribute to service and worship during the church’s gatherings.


1CO 14:30-36

But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, let the first keep silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted; 32 and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets; 33 for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.


34 Let the women keep silent in the churches; for they are not permitted to speak, but let them subject themselves, just as the Law also says. 35 And if they desire to learn anything, let them ask their own husbands at home; for it is improper for a woman to speak in church. 36 Was it from you that the word of God first went forth? Or has it come to you only?


Vv. 34-35 is another section of this epistle which is not very clear, and so there are quite a few attempts at interpreting it that differ in certain ways. The simplest explanation is that they were not allowed to publicly teach during the church service. That some women had the gift of prophecy, Paul states in 1CO 11:5. Some think that they were to do so in private, but not knowing the entire look of an early church gathering to service, we cannot say for sure what this passage fully entails. It doesn’t seem to be a major problem in the modern church. As for the female pastors in certain churches and denominations, if in light of this passage and Paul’s statement, “Let a woman quietly receive instruction with entire submissiveness. But I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet” (1TI 2:11-12), and members of the congregation still attend and submit to her, all I can say is that it’s a free country, though I believe it violates a biblical standard.


In vs. 36 Paul is correcting any attitude that might think that they don’t need apostolic authority and that they will always be guided by these supernatural spiritual gifts. Paul then states the final authority is the written word.