Is All Prophecy Equal to Scripture? Part 4

Thursday, November 21, 2013

This brief blog series is about attempting to answer one important challenge from cessationism: prophecy is equal to Scripture.  Since the Scriptures are completed, there is no further need for prophecy.  Therefore it does not exist today in any legitimate form.  

In Part 2 I attempted to survey the fact that most of what has been legitimately prophesied in ages past was never recorded in Scripture.  Therefore, the things they prophesied are not equal with Scripture.  In Part 3 I attempted to survey the differing qualities of prophecy that we find in the book of Acts and 1 Corinthians, in particular.  Out of Part 3 arises another application of the same point that there is a plain and clear difference in the nature and quality of prophecy in the Bible.  In this post I want to elaborate.

In 1 Corinthians 14:34-35, we find Paul's teaching on the subject of women and prophecy.  
"Women should be silent during the church meetings. It is not proper for them to speak. They should be submissive, just as the law says.  If they have any questions, they should ask their husbands at home, for it is improper for women to speak in church meetings."
Immediately it becomes evident that women were among those who had the gift of prophecy in the New Testament.  Our survey in Part 2 of this series discovered that Philip had four daughters who seemed to be prophetesses and therefore prophesied in the early church (Acts 21:9).  In 1 Corinthians 11 Paul gives instruction regarding women who prophesy (11:5).  This is all is no doubt the joyful inclusion given in the New Covenant promise and fulfillment at Pentecost.  
"In those days I will pour out my Spirit even on my servants— men and women alike — and they will prophesy" (Acts 2:18).
When it came to the issue of women remaining silent during church meetings, we only need to reach out to the previous verses to get the context of what he's talking about.
"Let two or three people prophesy, and let the others evaluate what is said.  But if someone is prophesying and another person receives a revelation from the Lord, the one who is speaking must stop.  In this way, all who prophesy will have a turn to speak, one after the other, so that everyone will learn and be encouraged.  Remember that people who prophesy are in control of their spirit and can take turns.  For God is not a God of disorder but of peace, as in all the meetings of God's holy people" (14:29-33).
When taken in context, Paul is explaining that when it came to the act of evaluating prophetic activity (v. 29), the women were prohibited from participating (v. 34).  Evaluating was therefore something relegated to the men.  Why?  Because Paul had already explained in another letter that women were not to exercise authority over men.  This applied to the prophetic context of a church gathering, as well as to teaching, and to other forms of authoritative activity within the local church.
"Women should learn quietly and submissively. I do not let women teach men or have authority over them. Let them listen quietly. For God made Adam first, and afterward he made Eve. And it was not Adam who was deceived by Satan. The woman was deceived, and sin was the result" (1 Tim. 2:11-14).
Now consider for a moment how these two passages fit together, as it relates to women, prophesy, authority, and Scripture.  
  • Paul acknowledges that women may prophesy.  
  • Paul teaches that women may not exercise authority by evaluating prophetic words.  The very act of evaluating or judging was an activity reserved only for men who were prophets.
  • Prophecy is therefore not always an authoritative activity in the local church. 
  • Some prophetic activity that was authoritative was recorded in the Scriptures we have today.
  • Therefore, some prophetic activity, at least by women, was not considered authoritative, and therefore was not recorded in the Scriptures.
  • Therefore not all prophecy is equal to Scripture.
In short, there is a clear difference in the very nature of prophecy itself.  There is prophecy that is authoritative, and some of that was recorded for us in the Scriptures.  And there is prophecy that is not authoritative, and was obviously not written in the Scriptures.  This should be proof enough that not all prophecy is equal to Scripture, and at least an argument for the concept that prophecy today should at least be considered a possibility, and a valid and biblical one at that.

About the Author: Rob is a follower of Jesus at Jubilee Church.  From there he pursues Jesus' mission at Revive Consignment as the Business & Operations Development Director, as well as at Jubilee Church of Atlanta, in Woodstock, GA. From there he envisions and pursues missional-shaped business for the kingdom. He and his wife Sherri have been married for 20 years and together have three sons and a daughter. Rob believes the mission of the gospel is summed up in four simple phrases: know God, obey Jesus, make disciples, and plant churches. This is the pursuit of his life, as well as the point of his blog.

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