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1 Corinthians 14:6:

Now, brothers, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I benefit you unless I bring you some revelation or knowledge or prophecy or teaching? (ESV)

But now, brothers and sisters, if I come to you speaking in tongues, how will I benefit you unless I speak to you either by way of revelation, or of knowledge, or of prophecy, or of teaching? (NASB)

Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine? (KJV)

And now, brethren, if I may come unto you speaking tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either in revelation, or in knowledge, or in prophesying, or in teaching? (YLT)

What is the difference between revelation, knowledge, prophecy and teaching?

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    rev·e·la·tion /ˌrevəˈlāSH(ə)n/ 2. the divine or supernatural disclosure to humans of something relating to human existence or the world. Jun 3, 2022 at 15:48
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    knowl·edge /ˈnäləj/ 1. facts, information, and skills acquired by a person through experience or education; the theoretical or practical understanding of a subject. Jun 3, 2022 at 15:50
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    proph·e·cy /ˈpräfəsē/ - A divinely appointed speech act which addresses people in the interest of edifying the church. Jun 3, 2022 at 15:52
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    teach·ing /ˈtēCHiNG/ 2. ideas or principles taught by an authority. "the teachings of the Bible" Jun 3, 2022 at 16:00
  • SEE SIMILAR QUESTION - Question #54131, Difference between wisdom, knowledge and prophecy? Asked 2 years ago, seen 6k times.
    – ray grant
    Jul 25, 2023 at 23:19

3 Answers 3

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I think it's wise to note Ciampa and Rosner's words on this text: "Paul’s use of the terminology is not consistent enough to be dogmatic."1 That commentary suggests that it is possible that "revelation" and "knowledge" are froms of information and prophecy and teaching are ways of communicating that information respectively (revelation by prophecy; knowledge by teaching).

Paul's use of the four terms throughout the rest of the book and his letters is not thoroughly consistent. It seems that in 1 Corinthians 14:6 revelation is referring to information about eschatological events (the now and not yet), knowledge refers to cognitive knowledge,2 prophecy refers to biblical edification,3 and teaching refers to, well, teaching. The words don't really mean anything special unless we read doctrine into the words "revelation" and "prophecy." Again to reiterate, it is hard to know since Paul is not consistent in his use of the words "revelation" and "prophecy."

So, the differences is that, in my opinion, revelation and knowledge are two forms of information, and prophecy and teaching are two forms of receiving that information.


1Ciampa, Roy E., and Brian S. Rosner. The First Letter to the Corinthians. The Pillar New Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI; Cambridge, U.K.: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2010. 679.

2Thiselton, Anthony C. The First Epistle to the Corinthians: A Commentary on the Greek Text. New International Greek Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 2000. 1102.

3"the term ‘prophecy’ should be read throughout chapter 14 as synecdoche for all forms of intelligible speech gifts that edify the church." Ciampa & Rosner, 679.

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The four words are these with meanings taken from BDAG:

  1. ἀποκάλυψις (apokalyspis = "revelation"): making fully known, revelation, disclosure (a) of the revelation of truth generally, Rom 16:25, Eph 1:17, Luke 2:32. (b) revelations of a particular kind, through visions, etc: with generally the author of Jesus Christ, Gal 1:12, Rev 1:1, 2 Cor 12:1, Gal 2:2, Eph 3:3, etc. (c) of the disclosure of secrets belonging to the last days (about the glory of Christ) 1 Peter 4:13, 1:7, etc.
  2. γνῶσις (gnosis = "knowledge"): comprehension or intellectual grasp of something, knowledge as possessed by God, Rom 11:33, 1 Cor 8:1, 7, 10, Luke 11:52, especially refers to understanding the Scriptures, 2 Cor 6:6, 2 Peter 1:5ff, ... Although in Col 2:3 σοφία and γνῶσις are almost synonymous, Paul distinguishes between them in 1 Cor 12:8; he places γνῶσις between ἀποκάλυψις and προφητεία in 14:6 and beside μυστήρια in 13:2 and thus invests the term with the significance of extraordinary mystical knowledge, a meaning which the word has in Hellenistic Greek. ...
  3. προφητεία (propheteia = "prophecy"): (A) act of interpreting divine will or purpose, prophetic activity, Rev 11:6. (B) the gift of interpreting divine will or purpose, gift of prophesying, Rom 12:6, 1 Cor 12:10, 13:2, 8, 14:22, 1 Thess 5;20 (C) the utterance of one who interprets divine will or purpose, prophecy, Matt 13:14, 1 Peter 1;20, 1 Cor 14:6, 1 Thess 5:20, 1 Tim 1:18, 4:14, Rev 1:3, etc
  4. διδαχή (didache = 'teaching"): (A) the activity of teaching, teaching, instruction, 1 Cor 14:6, 2 Tim 4:2, Mark 4:2, 12:38. (B) the content of teaching, teaching, Matt 16;12, John 7:16, 18:19, Acts 2:48, 5:28, 13:12, Rom 16:17, 1 Cor 14:26, 2 John 9, Rev 2:24, Titus 1:9, Heb 6:2, Rom 6:17, etc.

Thus, prophets prophesy to reveal the will and purpose of God; teachers teach the teaching that will to impart divine knowledge of salvation through grace by faith.

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Consider this: •Revelation- Divine 'what' •Knowledge- 'where/when' of Rev •Prophecy- 'why' of Rev •Teaching- 'how' of Rev

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