What is the Prophetic Ministry?
n this section we are going to look at what the prophetic ministry actually is, rather
than the place the prophet plays in the church. These two are closely connected but are
not necessarily the same. There are many believers who have ministries that are prophetic,
but they are not necessarily prophets in the true sense of the word. So we are going to
begin by looking at the qualities that make up prophetic ministry and see how such a
ministry can begin at a lower level and the work up to a higher level.
Before we go into detail, let's lay a little groundwork in ministry ideas. The
Scriptures speak of various different levels of ministry. These can be seen from different
Scripture passages and we are going to consider two of them here. They are
Basic ministry types
Basic Ministry Types
Paul mentions this first level in writing to the Romans. Let's have a look at what he
said in Romans 12:3-8
3 For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that
is among you, not to think [of himself] more highly than he ought to think; but to think
soberly, according as God has dealt to every man the measure of faith.
4 For as we have many members in one body, and all members do not have the same office:
5 So we, [being] many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.
6 Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether
prophecy, [let us prophesy] according to the proportion of faith;
7 Or ministry, [let us wait] on [our] ministering: or he that teaches, on teaching;
8 Or he that exhorts, on exhortation: he that gives, [let him do it] with simplicity; he
that rules, with diligence; he that shows mercy, with cheerfulness.
Paul is talking here at the level of the ordinary member of the Body. He is speaking
about things that the average believer can do. And he mentions several different types of
ministry. I am not going to deal with these in detail here, because we want to discuss the
prophetic ministry mainly. However he does mention such things as prophecy, ministry,
teaching, exhortation, giving, ruling and showing mercy.
Many of these functions can also be seen in the ministry of the prophet, but if a
person is functioning in one of these ministries, it doesn't necessarily mean that they
are destined to be a prophet. For example the ministry of prophecy is certainly one that
involves speaking the word of the Lord out in a prophetic way. But we cannot label such a
person a prophet.
The Greek word prophet that is used here is made up of two words
Pro, meaning fore, in front of or prior to
Phemi, meaning to show or make known, to speak or say
It therefore has a sense of foreknowledge or foretelling, so that prophecy is often
considered as prediction. It is actually a lot more than that as we will see later, but
the key issue here is that it involves an utterance or communication through words. In a
nutshell, prophecy is speaking ahead of time, what God is planning to do. It can also
involve preparing the ground for what God is planning to do.
Because prophecy is an utterance it actually covers a lot of what goes as normal
preaching. Whenever a person speaks forth under inspiration what God is saying to others
at the present time, they are exercising a prophetic ministry. So prophecy can also fall
under inspired preaching. But it is of course a lot more than that.
The ministry of exhortation is also a prophetic function. Although it is not prophetic
in itself, the prophetic ministry is usually designed to motivate and encourage believers
to go on with God and to find their place in the Body.
So in this list of lower level ministries, we see some of the elements of the prophetic
already appearing. These are the kind of things we begin to see manifesting in a person's
life as soon as they start moving into their ministry in the Body.
In 1 Corinthians 12:4-10 Paul deals with the Gifts of the Spirit.
4 Now there are various different gifts, but the same Spirit.
5 And there are various different ministries, but the same Lord.
6 And there are various different [modes of] operation, but it is the same God that
operates all [of them] in all [cases].
7 But the manifestation of the Spirit is given so that everyone can benefit.
8 For to one is given through the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of
knowledge through the same Spirit;
9 To another faith through the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same
10 To another the performing of miracles; to another prophecy; to another distinguishing
of spirits; to another [different] kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of
Here Paul is speaking about spiritual gifts that are available to all believers, but he
distinguishes gifts from ministries. He says that there are various gifts and that there
are also various ministries. And then there are different modes of operation when these
two are put together. In other words, you can put gifts and ministries together in
different combinations to produce difference kinds of functions. The gifts are
administered by the Spirit, the ministries are given by the Lord (Jesus) and the different
modes of operation are controlled by God (The Father). Although we know that God is one,
we see here a kind of distinction in the functions of the Spirit, The Son and the Father
as it relates to ministries in the Church.
We are dealing here with the Spiritual Gifts, so let's just look at those for now.
These gifts are available to all believers. They are given under the direction of the Holy
Spirit, but there is something we can do about moving into them. Paul covers this further
in Chapters 12, 13, and 14 of this epistle. This is a study in itself, which we have
covered elsewhere so I will not go into detail now.
What I want to look at is the gifts of the Spirit that are necessary for the operation
of a prophetic ministry. Since the prophet must speak under inspiration, it is clear that
the gifts of utterance must be in operation. Thus the gift of prophecy, which is a
spontaneous utterance under inspiration of the Holy Spirit is a necessary part of
prophetic ministry. In order to speak concerning God's future plans and purposes, the gift
of the Word of Wisdom is also necessary. Thus it would be fair to say that a prophetic
ministry would need to operate at least in the gifts of Tongues, Interpretation, Prophecy
and the Word of Wisdom.
There is one further revelation gift that tends to also operate along with these, and
that is the Word of Knowledge. In order for God to speak to someone concerning the future,
it is often necessary to also deal with the past and present. The Word of Knowledge is
revelation concerning the past and present, and will usually operate along with the Word
Thus if you take a basic ministry of prophecy or exhortation, and add to it these
gifts, you will begin to see some degree of prophetic ministry coming into operation. Bear
in mind however, that the gift of prophecy alone does not mean a prophetic ministry. A
person who is used in this gift might speak a word from the Lord, but they do not
necessarily have a prophetic ministry.
You will notice that the average prophetic utterance to the church is one of
exhortation and encouragement. However, once a person starts to speak forth a Word of
Wisdom or Word of Knowledge from God by means of the Gift of Prophecy, only then do we
start to see the elements of a prophetic ministry appearing. Now the message is not only
one of exhortation and encouragement. It starts to take on elements of correction,
instruction and direction. Rather than speaking in general terms, the prophetic utterance
becomes one of "thus says the Lord to you specifically in your current situation and
concerning your future." In other words, the prophetic utterance starts to become
To Whom The Prophetic Ministry Is Directed
The prophetic ministry is not for the world or to unbelievers. Although we are all as
believers to preach the Gospel to all of creation, the prophetic ministry is confined to
true believers who have already accepted Jesus as the Saviour and entered the Body of
Christ through the New Birth. Thus anyone who claims to have received a revelation
concerning future events in the World and publishes this to unbelievers, is not exercising
a prophetic ministry.
Let's clarify this so I am not misunderstood. We generally think of a prophet as
someone who predicts future events. This is certainly a function of the prophet, but when
such a revelation is given, it is given for the Body, not the world. In other words, if a
prophet speaks out concerning the future, it is not for the world to respond, but for the
Church to respond.
We must never confuse the prophetic ministry with the fortune telling tactics of Satan.
Nor should we confuse it with such men as Nostradamus who clearly were not inspired of God
and certainly were not exercising a prophetic ministry. God's prophets are sent to speak
His words to the His Body, the church.
We need to also realize that the prophet is not meant to predict disaster in order to
bring people under fear. Generally the prophet will speak a positive word, but when it is
negative, it is given for believers to act on, not to accept in fear. When Agabus stood up
in the early church and predicted that a famine was coming, it was not to cause the church
to respond in fear. It was to warn the believers so that they could act on it to prevent
the disaster that the enemy was trying to bring. You can read about it in Acts 11:27-30
27 And in these days came prophets from Jerusalem unto Antioch.
28 And there stood up one of them named Agabus, and signified by the Spirit that there
should be great dearth throughout all the world: which came to pass in the days of
29 Then the disciples, every man according to his ability, determined to send relief unto
the brethren which dwelt in Judaea:
30 Which also they did, and sent it to the elders by the hands of Barnabas and Saul.
The believers were warned of an impending problem that was to take place in the world.
And they acted on it immediately, by making a collection to help those who were going to
be affected by it. This is why God warns and gives prophetic prediction - so that we can
be forearmed against what is happening.
There are times however, when we do not need to accept the prediction, but can stand
against it. We will see in due course that the prophetic ministry also involves
intercession. So when God reveals a future disaster through the prophetic ministry, He
might be showing the things that need to be opposed in prayer. And through intercession
the disaster can be averted.
Responsibilities of Prophetic Ministry
The Prophetic Ministry has many responsibilities, which makes it a very important and
also very stressful and pressured ministry. This is why the preparation for this ministry
is an arduous one. Many who seek to enter into it see only the glamour and appeal of being
in a position of speaking forth God's words to others, or obtaining revelations concerning
the future. But there is a great price to pay for all of this. We have covered this aspect
in the section on Prophetic Preparation.
The prophetic ministry is responsible to God for the condition of the church. It is via
the prophet that God corrects, leads, warns and protects. The Church is a living organism,
which is why it is likened to a body. Although all the ministries are involved in causing
the Body to function efficiently, the prophet is involved more in the troubleshooting
In the Old Testament the prophet was compared with the watchman on the walls of the
city. When an enemy attacked, it was the watchman who saw the attack coming and would warn
the people, so that they could prepare to defend themselves. This function still applies
to the New Testament prophet. God will reveal to the prophetic ministry both what He is
doing and what the enemy is doing. In this way the church can be warned of impending
Since the warfare of the New Testament church is spiritual rather than physical it is
therefore a function of the prophetic ministry to engage in spiritual warfare. This is a
subject on its own, but I would like to mention here some aspects of spiritual warfare
that are usually manifest in the prophetic ministry
The prophet is a specialist in Intercessory Prayer. This is a subject we are also
covering on its own, but I mention it here specifically as it applies to this ministry. An
intercessor is one who prays on behalf of another. So the prophetic ministry will receive
revelation concerning the needs of others and is responsible to pray according to what has
been revealed. This was also a function of the early prophets of the Old Testament and can
be seen in the lives of the great prophets of that era.
God says in the Old Testament that He does nothing without first revealing His secrets
to the prophets.
Amos 3: 7 Surely the Lord GOD will do nothing, unless he reveals
his secret to his servants the prophets.
This is because it is the responsibility of the prophets to release into the earth, the
plan of God. Whatever God does, He is going to do through the prayers of His people. The
prophetic ministry is especially geared to handle this responsibility. Thus God reveals
His plan and purpose to the prophets so that they can pray forth His will into the earth.
Praise and Worship
Praise and worship are warfare. Many do not realize this and think that they are only
an emotional release caused by singing loud fast songs. This is also a complete subject
that could be covered on its own, but we do not have the space here. Perhaps it will be
dealt with elsewhere on this site. However many good books have already been written on
the subject, so you can research it on your own.
Prophetic ministries have the ability to bring the presence of God into a gathering.
Since the prophet is in touch spiritually with the mind of God, it is inevitable that as
the prophetic ministry starts to function, the Holy Spirit will be released to work. This
is also brought about as people are led into the place God wants them to be as the
prophetic ministry exhorts, encourages and gives direction.
" GMR International: A Christian Resource Ministry dedicated to The Fivefold Ministry and Church Structure, based on the foundation of Jesus Christ."
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