Almost every time I teach on Prophecy, Prophets or Prophetic Gifting; I usually make this statement somewhere as a foundational truth: “Every Prophet will Prophesy, but not everyone who Prophesies is a Prophet!” I recently posted this statement on Facebook and got a slew of “Likes” and comments stating things like: “Too many do not understand the difference, and the difference is vast!” “If the Church taught it properly we would not have this confusion.”
Getting this kind of feedback lets me know that there is, in spite of all the excellent teaching and books that are out there, still a tremendous amount of ignorance in the Body of Christ when it comes to this subject matter.
First of all the Gift of Prophecy is one of the nine Gifts of the Holy Spirit that we find listed in 1 Corinthians chapter 12, which operates as the Spirit wills. The Office of the Prophet is a Ministry Gift found in Ephesians 4:11 and the TWO ARE NOT THE SAME!
I know that there is a teaching out there that says well gifts are gifts are gifts. To me that is one of the stupidest things I have ever heard. That is like saying well sports are sports are sports. You don’t play (American) Football with Baseball Rules! Nobody has ever thrown a home run pass, but they have thrown a touchdown pass. Gifts of the Spirit and five-fold Ministry Gifts are not the same. They have different purposes and are given different ways.
When it comes to the Gift of Prophecy, like all the other eight Gifts of the Holy Spirit the Bible is quite clear that these gifts operate as the Spirit wills. (1 Corinthians 12:11) So it is evident from this that the Gifts of the Spirit are Gifts that the Holy Spirit gives or administers.
When it comes to the Office of the Prophet, like the other four Ascension Gifts of Christ the Bible is clear that when Jesus ascended up on high HE gave Gifts to men. (Ephesians 4:8-11) So it is evident from this that the Ascension Gifts or 5 Fold Gifts are given by the Head of the Church, the Lord Jesus Christ.
One is a Gift that is given by the Holy Spirit and the other is a Gift that is given by Jesus. The Gifts of the Spirit are given to provide for and meet needs while the 5 Fold Ministry Gifts are given to Equip the saints. Their purpose is not even the same. So Prophecy and a Prophet are not the same thing. Yet as we stated at the beginning: “Every Prophet will Prophesy, but not everyone who Prophesies is a Prophet!”
Prophecy is just one of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit that will function in the life of a Prophet, not the only one, there are others as well. You could say that the Prophet will have the gift of Prophecy fully developed in their life and ministry and will flow in it at a much higher level than someone who just gives a ‘Prophetic Word’.
The New Testament truth is that every Born Again, Spirit Filled, Believer can and should prophesy.
“Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy.” 1 Corinthians 14:1 NKJV
Who was 1 Corinthians written to? To the Church that was at Corinth. (1 Corinthians 1:2) Notice Paul in writing to the church admonished them to desire (the New American Standard Bile says desire earnestly) spiritual gifts and especially prophecy. So out of all nine gifts of the Spirit that He gives to the Church to provide for and meet needs we are told to especially desire the Gift of Prophecy. Now if it wasn’t for all believers, why would the Apostle Paul say to desire this gift above all the others?
When we consider the Ministry Gift, the Office of the Prophet, it is quite different. Where the Gift of Prophecy all believers are encouraged to believe for and earnestly desire it, the Office of the Prophet is for those that are hand selected by the Head of the Church, the Lord Jesus Christ. Look at the wording in Ephesians chapter 4 in relation to the Ascension Gifts:
“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers.” Ephesians 4:11 NKJV (Emphasis Mine)
Did you happen to notice the word ‘Some’? Notice it did not say He gave all…it says He gave some. This indicates to us that this Gift of the Office of the Prophet as well as the other four Ministry Gifts are limited. Notice also what the Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Corinth along this line:
“And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the best gifts…” 1 Corinthians 12:28-31a NKJV (Emphasis Mine)
The way Paul is asking the questions rhetorically the obvious answer is NO! All are not Apostles! All are not Prophets! All do not have the Gifts of Healings! Did you also notice that Prophecy is not mentioned here? I believe that was not by mistake or happenstance because as we saw in the above references all Believers could and should Prophesy.
So clearly we can see that the Gift of Prophecy is for all Believers but the Office of the Prophet is for a select few.