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Are We Guilty of Over-Emphasizing the Spiritual Gift of Prophecy?


Some readers of this blog and my books on spiritual gifts may be wondering if I’m placing too much of an emphasis on the spiritual gift of prophecy. I don’t believe I am, and here is why.

First, we know from the events on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2 that Peter, quoting the words of the OT prophet Joel, described the entire present church age in which we live as one that will be characterized by the gift of prophecy among all of God’s people.

“And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters will prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams; even on my male servants and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy” (Acts 2:17-18).

All NT scholars agree that the words “the last days” is a reference to the entire present church age in which we live, the age spanning the gap between the first coming of Christ and his second coming at the end of history (see 2 Tim. 3:1; Heb. 1:1-2; 9:26; James 5:3; 1 Peter 1:20; 1 John 2:18; cf. also 1 Cor. 10:11; 1 Tim. 4:1). Of all the things that Peter could have said about the present church age, he mentions the gift of prophecy operating at all levels and ages and among both genders.

It is during this present church age that the Spirit will be poured out “on all flesh,” that is to say, not just kings and prophets and priests but on every child of God: every man and woman, every son and daughter, young and old (see Acts 2:17). Peter’s (and Joel’s) language is unmistakable when it comes to this New Covenant universalizing of the Spirit’s empowering presence: “all flesh” (v. 17), i.e., irrespective of age (“old men” and “young men”), gender (“sons” and “daughters” and “male servants” and “female servants”), social rank (“servants”), or race (“all flesh”; cf. v. 39; i.e., both Jew and Gentile).

I need to explain my use of the word “characterize” when I speak of prophecy in the church age. This is justified in light of Peter’s reference to the “last days”. Some have tried to argue that the events that occurred on the Day of Pentecost in the first century were designed solely to launch or inaugurate or in some sense jump-start the age of the New Covenant. Now, make no mistake, the coming of the Spirit in power on Pentecost most assuredly did inaugurate the New Covenant age in which we now live. But what the Spirit did on that day centuries ago is also designed by God to characterize the experience of God’s people throughout the course of this age until Jesus comes back.

In other words, what we are reading in Acts 2:17-21 is a description of what the Holy Spirit does in and through and on behalf of God’s people throughout the entire course of this present age. Simply put, prophecy, whatever it may mean, is designed by God to be normative for all God’s people in this age in which we live, as we await the return of the Lord.

Second, of all the spiritual gifts that Paul tells us to earnestly desire and seek, he singles out prophecy as the most important.

“Pursue love, and earnestly desire spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy” (1 Cor. 14:1).

“So, my brothers, earnestly desire to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues” (1 Cor.14:39).

In spite of the abuses and misunderstandings concerning prophecy on the part of the Corinthians, Paul considered it of such high value that he exhorts them to make it the focus of their prayerful pursuit. He doesn’t say this about any other gift. That isn’t to say the others aren’t important. It is only to say that prophecy is more important.

Third, there are four places where numerous spiritual gifts are listed, and the only gift that appears in every one of them is prophecy (see Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:8-10; 12:28-30; Ephesians 4:11).

Fourth, note that Paul specifically identifies the despising of prophetic utterances to be quenching of the Holy Spirit.

“Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast to what is good. Abstain from every form of evil” (1 Thess. 5:19-22).

I suppose the Spirit can be quenched any time we suppress or inhibit the expression of other gifts. But Paul is careful to link the danger of quenching the Spirit to a critical and cynical view toward prophetic utterances.

Fifth, consider how important Paul believed prophecy to be in the life of his spiritual son Timothy.

“This charge, I entrust to you, Timothy, my child, in accordance with the prophecies previously made about you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, holding faith and a good conscience” (1 Tim. 1:18-19).

There are numerous resources we are to bring to bear in our battle with temptation and the schemes of the devil. Evidently Paul believed that reflecting on and drawing strength from prophecies previously spoken over Timothy was one of the more powerful ways in which we “wage the good warfare” and hold to our faith and to a good conscience.

So, am I overemphasizing the importance of prophecy. No!


Your blog seems to imply that it is all church goers duty or possibility to prophesy. The text in Acts must be weighed as descriptive instead of prescriptive. Prophesy is the SCRIPTURE. What comes from the mouths of modern American Christians is mostly NOT scriptural doctrine. Mainly because the American Church has drifted away from historical doctrine and is, once again, teaching dsoctrines that were deemed as heresy by the councils and synods of yesteryear. It would behoove us all to read our bible daily and study the history of systematic Theology so we do not get led astray by blogs such as this.
Take 100 Christians and let them speak their doctrine and you'll find 99 who are Theologically illiterate, and thus speaking heresy.
Regina asks a great question.

My concern is not about overemphasis of prophecy but the under-emphasis on Biblical prophecy and thoroughly teaching people to accurately judge prophecies as called to in the New Testament.

If teachers continue to promote those that don’t accurately test for truth, perhaps we are not rightly dividing the Word.

Could you comment on this? I'm really bothered by this video. I have view Mike as a man of integrity, but this is bothering me. I also feel like he may be believing prophecies that are false. He keeps talking about a billion souls coming into the kingdom, but Jesus said FEW are they who come to Jesus. The last time I was at IHOP, I met a lady there who said Joe Biden was a fake man and that the real Joe BIden had been killed. She also hung on Kat Kerr's every word, and believed the prophecy that Trump and the military would take back the presidency by Oct. 2022. When I told her to stop listening to false prophets, she rebuked me. So the false prophecies that go around are really hurting people and stifling true faith. There should be testing and discernment going on. Where is that.

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