And Daughters will Prophesy

By Scarlett Stough

“…this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy….’ (Acts 2:16-18.)”

It seems clear from Paul’s writings that the gift of prophecy does not primarily refer to the ability to foretell future events. Prophets did tell people what God planned to do in response to their continuing sins or their repentance, turning from those sins back to God. But the primary purpose of prophecy, telling others what God has said, is not to satisfy our curiosity about what the future may hold.

“But everyone who prophesies speaks to men for their strengthening, encouragement and comfort. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church (I Corinthians 12:3-4.)”

Prophesying is speaking God’s word for the purpose of “strengthening, encouragement and comfort” which “edifies the church.” Even though this may include speaking in front of a congregation of people as is inferred in I Corinthians 11:5, most of us, men or women, do not have that opportunity or calling. Yet, we can strengthen, encourage and comfort others in our private conversations.

Philip had four unmarried daughters who prophesied (Acts 21:8-9.) What form did this take? We are not told. We don’t have to have the details of how they used their gift. We have instructions through Paul giving us guidelines for using this gift in a church setting. The Church in Corinth appears to have had many people with the gift of prophecy which had led to some disorder in their meetings. They had to be instructed to not all talk at once and to listen politely to one another and even to keep silent under some circumstances. Those with the gift were reminded to exercise self-control; their gift was under their control (I Corinthians 14:26-40.) Some believe verse 34 excludes women from all speaking in a congregational setting. Yet, the topic here is asking questions and how to have an orderly meeting not about gender roles.

Kindness and courtesy, humility and patience in our words and conduct go much further in revealing the power and mercy of God than a thousand eloquent speeches before millions of people (I Corinthians 13:4-8.) Women who practice their faith are more effective than those who merely voice it (I Peter 3:1-2.)

When we do speak, our words ought to be in agreement with the word of God. Our words ought to, in some way, strengthen, encourage or comfort whoever is listening--a crowd or a single small child.

Volume 10 Issue 6 | Notes from Nancy | Women in Christ Commentary | Bible Study Guide | Abundance of the Heart | Exhortation | Book Review

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