The Apostle Paul once said, “Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy” (1 Corinthians 14:1, NKJV). Why did he stress the importance of the gift of prophecy? He answers in 1 Corinthians 14:3 when he says, “But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.” From that verse alone we see three important aspects of prophecy that make it an important gift:
The word “edification” comes from the Greek oikos, meaning “a home,” and demo, meaning “to build”. So it literally means to “build up” and is used figuratively in regards to the spiritual body of the church. To prophesy then, is to build up the church body or edify it.
“Exhortation” comes from the Greek words para, meaning “beside”, and kaleo, meaning “to call”. The meaning being that of “calling to one’s side,” offering words of comfort, encouragement and aid. The NIV translates exhortation into the word encouraging.
The word “comfort” comes from the Greek para, meaning “near”, and muthos, meaning “speech”. It literally means “speaking closely to anyone”. It has the connotation of offering practical comfort and encouragement to another. So it is an “act” of helping or meeting a need.
All three of these aspects of prophecy – edification, exhortation and comfort should be present in those who prophesy. Why? Because the main reason behind prophecy, indeed behind all spiritual gifts, is to build up the church (Ephesians 4:11-16).
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