When Will the Gift of Prophecy Cease? -- By: F. David Farnell

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 150:598 (Apr 1993)
Article: When Will the Gift of Prophecy Cease?
Author: F. David Farnell


When Will the Gift of Prophecy Cease?

F. David Farnell

[F. David Farnell is Chairman of the Department of Ministerial Studies, Southeastern Bible College, Birmingham, Alabama.]

[This is article four in the four-part series, “Is the Gift of Prophecy for Today?”]

In discussing the cessation of New Testament prophecy, two essential areas should be examined. First, prophecy’s miraculous nature must be stressed. Because prophecy is a miraculous gift mediated by the Holy Spirit, any attempt at describing or defining the gift without proper consideration of this element may result in a marked misunderstanding of the nature and operation of prophecy. Current novel attempts at defining prophecy impugn the miraculous nature of New Testament prophecy. True New Testament prophets declared Spirit-inspired messages that were fully authoritative and completely accurate-not “merely human words” that could be “mistaken” or accepted and rejected by the congregation on a “take it or leave it” basis.1

Second, strategic arguments demonstrate that the gift of prophecy, like the other miraculous gifts of apostleship and tongues, has ceased. The gift of prophecy played a vital role in the foundational aspects of the church. With the church firmly established through the ministry of the first-century apostles and New Testament prophets, prophecy passed from the scene.

The Miraculous Nature of New Testament Prophecy

In both the Old and New Testaments, prophecy’s essential nature is that of a miraculous gift involving the direct reception of revelatory information from God to the prophet. This miraculous nature of prophecy can be demonstrated in several ways. The following facts illustrate the supernatural character of the prophetic gift.

The Prophet as Spokesperson for the Lord

The chief function of the prophet (προφήτης) or of prophecy (προφητεία) was not necessarily found in the element of prediction of future events.2 Though prediction was an important factor in the prophetic role, the predictive aspect is considered a later development in the significance of the word group.3

A primary function of the prophet in both extrabiblical and biblical usage was to proclaim or announce the will of God to the

people.4 As such, the prophet was the “immediately...

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