The Holy Spirit: Prophecy

Enjoying the Giver and His Gifts

Each week, we produce notes, discussion points and application questions for the Sunday talks — helping you go deeper into everything we’re looking at together and resourcing our Small Groups during the week. Use the embedded player to listen to the talk, or click here to visit Soundcloud and download it on a PC.

Key Passages

  • 1 Corinthians 12–14


  • So far in this series, we’ve heard that the Holy Spirit is a person — the third person of the Trinity, described as ‘another advocate’ (helper, counsellor, comforter) in John 14:15–18.
  • We’ve explored how the Spirit works through the Word to bring revelation of God, creating light and life (Genesis 1, John 1). Therefore, we don’t separate Word and Spirit as if they are different emphases or in competition. Word and Spirit are inseparable.
  • We’ve seen that the Holy Spirit leads us into all truth, glorifies Christ and makes Him known to us (John 16:12–15). He also convicts us of sin, righteousness and judgement, which is God putting the world to right, and so is something to be celebrated and not feared (John 16:8–10).
  • We’ve looked at how the Spirit makes us more like Jesus as we see and savour Him more (Gal 5:22–23)
  • Now, we’re looking at how the Spirit gives us good gifts (1 Corinthians 12–14).

Focus on Prophecy
What is prophecy? It’s a word from God to make Himself known and reveal something of His plans and purposes for us to enter into. We see this particularly in 1 Corinthians 14:1–5:

“Pursue Love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy.”

Hallmarks of prophecy in new covenant (An overview of 1 Corinthians 12–14)

  • A spiritual Gift to be offered not a spiritual hammer to force on someone / gathered people (12:1)
  • Glorifying Jesus (12:3)
  • “For the common good” (12:7)
  • Various gifts, common Spirit (12:8–11). There are a variety of gifts, but the common trait is that they are for the common good and they glorifying Jesus. Therefore, we should become suspicious when the name of Jesus is not clearly proclaimed by a prophetic word, or when the name of any man or woman is elevated rather than Christ alone.
  • One body, many parts, each equally honoured (12:12–31). Gifts are to be exercised with humility, for the good of the whole in the context of unity and mutual honour.
  • Love is central — motivating the handling of such gifts (all of chapter 13). Within this section (1 Cor 12–14) on spiritual gifts, Paul exposition of love sits in the middle. Right at the centre is love that is patient, kind, not envious or boastful, not rude, not insisting on its own way, not irritable or resentful, and always rejoicing with the truth. This should be the flavour of the spiritual gifts, including the prophetic.
  • The purpose of prophesy is the up-building, encouragement and consolation/comfort of others (14:3)
  • Building up the church is a holy ambition to pursue (14:12). We’re to be those who “strive to excel in building up the church”.
  • We all have something to bring to build up others (14:26)
  • Prophecy needs weighing (14:29), and so we should always invite others in to weigh the prophetic with us. We do not prophesy with Old Testament, scriptural authority; it’s never “thus sayeth the Lord”. We know in part and we prophesy in part (13:9), and therefore should “test everything” (1 Thessalonians 5:19), taking that which is good and leaving that which is not.
  • You are in control of prophesy (14:32). It says that “the spirit of the prophet is subject to the prophets”, and so prophecy is not apersonal agenda. It’s not “I must be heard”. It’s not “God has given this to me, I have to bring it”. Rather, we bring it in humility and love, for the building up of others, with control and for peace.
  • Wait for the right time (14:30–32). You may have heard from God, but if someone else is prophesying in a different direction, ensure that you do not create confusion by what you bring. God is a God of peace not confusion (1 Cor 14:33). There’s no condemnation for not bringing something. Of primary importance is the up-building of the church, not your personal agenda or discharge of responsibility. Let peace reign! When the Spirit comes upon us and speaks to us it can cause an emotional reaction that affects how we speak and communicate. That’s ok! But it’s not necessarily the case. Prophecy doesn’t have to be a weird moment!


  1. What struck you about Sunday’s talk?
  2. When you think about ‘encountering the Holy Spirit’ what comes to mind? Do you tend to think of Word and Spirit as separate? How does understanding the Word as the ‘sword of the Spirit’ (Ephesians 6:17) influence how we expect to encounter God?
  3. What is your experience of prophecy?
  4. How do you view the prophetic? Do you think of it as important or unimportant? Is it exciting or does it make you nervous? Does it leave you wanting more, or unsure about what it all means?
  5. How does 1 Corinthians 12–14 help us recognise what is from God and what is not?
  6. How can we grow in both receiving and exercising the prophetic?