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Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonors his head. I Corinthians 11:4
In the last article we saw how the Old Testament prophet, the prophet in the early church and the modern-day prophet, are connected by this one thread. They all had (have) the task of accurately presenting God’s message to His people. Their role is not limited to that, but will always include the exposition (presentation) of God’s Word.
There are many false prophets in the world today, so exactly how can we distinguish between them? In the last article we said, if the prediction of a prophet does not come true, we know he is a false prophet. We should also remember that a true prophet will always point others to Christ, never to himself. He will never look for praise, honor, and recognition from men, but will glorify his Master.
Today we hear of prophets that speak in tongues, and then interpret the important message for others to understand. This process doesn’t make any sense because the person could have said it clearly, without the tongues. They were completely unnecessary. This kind of behavior makes you scratch your head and ask, what’s going on here? Paul says in I Corinthians14:3, that a prophet should speak “edification, and exhortation, and comfort to men.” Paul also says in 14: 19, that he would rather speak five words with the understanding, “that I may teach others, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.”
How are we to understand what could appear to be contradictions in what Paul was saying? At times, Paul seemed to be going in circles, like a cat chasing its tail. He says one thing and then seems to contradict it. Paul seems to be bending over backward to try and work with the church at Corinth. Rather than cut them off with condemnation, he allows them a foot and they take a mile. Here is one example of what I am referring to.
In I Corinthians 14: 34, Paul says, “Let your women keep silent in the churches, for they are not permitted to speak.” But Paul also said in 11:5, “Every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head.” Now wait a minute! If the woman is forbidden to speak, how can she be praying or prophesying in the local church? Here is how I interpret this situation.
Paul’s strong desire for the women at the Corinthian church, was that they might listen, learn, and grow spiritually; be submissive to their own husbands. But he also realized there was a possibility that some godly prophetess might come into the church and desire to say something to be a source of encouragement. The apostle Philip had five unmarried daughters who prophesied, Acts 21. Paul also knew what the Old Testament prophet Joel had said, “That I may pour my Spirit out on all flesh, your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your young men shall see visions – I will pour out My Spirit in those days, and they shall prophesy,” Acts2: 17-18.
He also knew that the apostles, disciples, and founders of the early church were blessed with power to perform miracles, signs, and wonders to help in building of the early church. Therefore, Paul had to leave a little wiggle room in the establishment of the local church, even in the worldly, carnal, self-centered Corinthian church.
After the new covenant was put in place and the early church was established, Paul gives direction in I Timothy 2: 10-15, that women should learn in silence and submission. The bishop, elder, and overseer began to take on the role of the modern-day prophet. In I Timothy 6: 20, Paul tells Timothy to avoid “the profane and vain babblings and contradictions of what is falsely called knowledge.”
He also tells Timothy to “be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in faith, and in purity.” One of the most important things we can do is become more Christ-like; it is much more important than prophesying. As we reflect the character of God to those around us, we will glorify our Heavenly Father and be pleasing to Him.
Lyndon Stimeling, of Richfield, has been writing about faith and family for many years. He has self-published three books, “Common Thoughts on The Word” in 2016 and “Eye of a Needle” in 2017 and “Common Thoughts on The Word II” in 2019. He has also had articles published in The Coming Home Journal and local newspapers and has written a children’s book.
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