Paul speaks at length to the Corinthians about the penchant for becoming a celebrity preacher fan club:

[1Co 1:10-12 NLT] (10) I appeal to you, dear brothers and sisters, by the authority of our Lord Jesus Christ, to live in harmony with each other. Let there be no divisions in the church. Rather, be of one mind, united in thought and purpose. (11) For some members of Chloe's household have told me about your quarrels, my dear brothers and sisters. (12) Some of you are saying, "I am a follower of Paul." Others are saying, "I follow Apollos," or "I follow Peter," or "I follow only Christ."

He also finds the need to give them guidance on giving and receiving prophecy:

[1Co 14:3-5 NLT] (3) But one who prophesies strengthens others, encourages them, and comforts them. (4) A person who speaks in tongues is strengthened personally, but one who speaks a word of prophecy strengthens the entire church. (5) I wish you could all speak in tongues, but even more I wish you could all prophesy. For prophecy is greater than speaking in tongues, unless someone interprets what you are saying so that the whole church will be strengthened.

As I was reading some pseudepigraphia (prophecies written in the name of a historical personage by someone else aka "a forgery" of a sort) I began to wonder (and this is my question)...

Can we tell from the text whether the prophecies being discussed are to be understood as ecstatic prophetic utterances where, without preparation, by immediate inspiration they blurt out a sentence or two about how the Lord is about to do a great work so be encouraged, etc. OR, would the saints (or perhaps just the celebrities) come to the meeting with a written prophecy, perhaps from their favorite celebrity or in the style of some of the pseudepigraphia we see extant, and read it out loud?

  • 1
    This question is tantamount to a question about how the canon of scripture was developed and finalised. A bit broad for this site.
    – user25930
    Mar 31, 2019 at 1:09

3 Answers 3


The mode of reception for προφητεύω prophetic gifts can vary. By definition the word suggests a "speaking forth."

According to Tregelles' Gesenius Lexicon the noun "prophet" came from the verb naba [נָבַע], in which the original final letter, ayin , was softened into an aleph (naba נָבַע); this verb meant "to bubble up" or "boil forth." The concept of "boil forth" is reminiscent of the grape harvest in which fermenting juice bubbles (i.e. boils) forth into wine. As it says in Proverbs 9:4-5 (Passion Translation):

Whoever wants to know me and receive my wisdom, come and dine at my table and drink of my wine.

For the most part, the sharing of prophetic revelation involves wisdom insights for living that is Scripturally grounded and applied in a relevant manner. At other times, its manifestation can be viewed as a call to personal guidance and invitations to prayer (e.g. words of knowledge).

The famous 19th century Confessional European Lutheran, Friedrich Adolf Philippi (1809-1882), did a lot of research on the meaning of inspiration in relationship to Scripture and also in comparison to the understanding of the early church fathers. The late 19th century Lutheran theologian, George Stoeckhardt, relied upon his research in describing how the prophetic gifts operated in New Testament times in occasional exotic ways. He wrote:

It is not wrong if one defines the charism of prophecy as an inspired, magnifying outpouring concerning divine things... the New Testament prophets were not in the strict sense of the word inspired, as the prophets and apostles…. Even if the Spirit of God did move them and give them revelation What the Spirit revealed to them, the theme which he suggested to them, they discussed in a free manner, in their own words. So it could easily happen that in their prophecy they let their own and erring thoughts enter, so that a strange fire mingled with the light and fire from above...Therefore, the apostle admonishes the Christians to judge and test the prophecy... (Commentary on Romans, Koehlinger Translation, page 172)


1 Corinthians chapter 12 to 14 is one paragraph that Paul discussed about spiritual gifts. In chapter 12, Paul elaborated every Christian was inspired by the same Holy Spirit for different purposes. Together all Christians form a body, the Church, to glorify Jesus as the head of the Church. However, Paul was astounding the Corinthians were favor in certain spiritual gifts, that became a conflict amongst themselves, so he asked the Corinthians;

1 Corinthians 12:29-30 NIV

29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?

30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues? Do all interpret?

In Chapter 13, Paul elaborated all spiritual gifts did not have a value if lack of LOVE in its ingredient. Then he continued to explain what is "LOVE".

Up to here, I found Paul was using a subtle language to tell the Corinthians what was wrong in the Church. Though Paul did not want to confront the Corinthians with direct accusation, but readers should be able to perceive from the context, that the Corinthians (though not all) were arrogant, eagerly expressing themselves having the greatest spiritual gifts, boosting their status in the church.

In Chapter 14, Paul was taking one most admired spiritual gift of the Corinthians to condemn (Paul was using a mild language), that was the gift of tongue.

1 Corinthians 14:3-5 NIV

3 But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort.

4 Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves, but the one who prophesies edifies the church.

5 I would like every one of you to speak in tongues, but I would rather have you prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be edified.

Paul was speaking very gently. His main attention was not on the nature of prophesy, but condemned people who speak in tongues, pretending they had the gift. Paul was saying those spoken in tongues that cannot be interpreted was only boosting themselves, and had no contribution to the church. So rather than speaking in tongues, Paul found the one who prophesied was greater to the Church.

Paul continued the same topic from verses 14:6-27, rebuked the pseudo act of speaking in tongues, illustrated how serious this issue was in the Church of Corinthians by that time.


The meaning of the word προφητεύω (Strong 4395) given by Thayer (see the Biblehub page link) is not just a matter of prediction. The whole meaning of the word is a matter of revelation. It is that which is revealed to someone.

A 'prophet' is someone who 'sees', he or she is also called a 'seer'. They see what is. And they see what will be, because of what is. See I Samuel 9:9.

Within that breadth of meaning, Thayer also lists 'declare by divine revelation', 'break forth in lofty discourse' and (notably in our present concern) Thayer refers to several texts in Corinthians to clarify the further usage of :

To teach, refute, reprove, admonish, comfort others.

Thus the 'prophesying' in Corinth was a matter of individuals in the assembly speaking in turn, who were edifying the church in their own situation : exhorting, teaching, comforting.

There is no question of 'celebrities' or 'blurting out'.

These are sane people, ordinary folk, men in the congregation who speak from their own place (not getting up on a platform) to express a word or two to their Christian brethren in the gathered church.

That is what the word προφητεύω (as used by Paul in Corinthians and as documented by Thayer) means.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.