In part 2 of our study we saw that the ministry of the church prophet will impact people in many ways: evangelism, edification, exhortation, comfort, profit, teaching, revelation, encouragement, explaining mysteries and knowledge, revealing what was hidden, and equipping believers for their service to God. Jesus Christ, the Chief Prophet of the Church, is our greatest example of each aspect of the prophetic ministry. Paul is also a leading church prophet whose example we can follow (Philippians 3:15-17; 2 Timothy 3:10-11) .
In the last part of our study we looked at the “ministry of reconciliation” and how the prophet’s voice will impact unbelievers.
“But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an uninformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all. And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so, falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that God is truly among you.” 1 Corinthians 14:24-25
Prophets speak the Truth as revealed to them by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit then uses those prophetic words to convict the unbeliever of their sin and convince them of their need for Christ the Savior.
In this study we’ll look at how a church prophet will edify members of the Body of Christ. First, let’s get a good definition of what it means to “edify.”
“edify” (verb) – oikodome – to build a house … “edification” (noun) – oikodomeo – the act of building a house
The words come from a combination of oikos (household, home) and demo (to build). The word can be used both for the literal building of a house, and the figurative building up of another person. Jesus used it in the literal sense in Matthew 16:18 when He spoke of building His Church – “And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” Paul used it in the figurative sense in Romans 14:19 of building up people spiritually – “Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.”
Let’s begin with Jesus. He has been “building” things since the beginning of the universe. He is the Master Builder.
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.” Colossians 1:15-18
Jesus literally built the heavens and the earth and through that building edified everyone and everything in it. He has also managed several “households” (oikonomia– dispensations) during the thousands of years following Creation. In the process of creating and managing, Jesus has also “edified” (built up) hundreds of millions of people. In fact, the Church is called the “building” of God in 1 Corinthians 3:9 – “For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building.” The Greek for “building” is oikodome – the same word for “edify.” Jesus is the Builder of His Church – and the Cornerstone. Paul used the word oikodome for “building” in his letter to the Ephesians.
“Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being fitted together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.” Ephesians 2:19-22
Jesus is the Cornerstone of the Building He is building, and everything He is building is for us. What a Savior!
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.” Ephesians 1:3-6
What is the greatest way Jesus “edifies” those who believe in His Name?
“In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace which He made to abound toward us in all wisdom and prudence, having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself, that in the dispensation of the fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven and which are on earth—in Him. In Him also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestined according to the purpose of Him who works all things according to the counsel of His will, that we who first trusted in Christ should be to the praise of His glory.” Ephesians 1:7-12
When will Jesus complete this amazing “edification?”
“In Him you also trusted, after you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation; in whom also, having believed, you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, to the praise of His glory.” Ephesians 1:13-14
We are Christ’s “purchased possession” and He will bring us to Himself very soon.
“But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words.” 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Jesus Christ is the Chief Prophet of the Church, and as such He is the Chief Edifier. Though a church prophet cannot die for the sins of unbelievers, Jesus often calls on His prophets to die for the prophetic ministry (Matthew 23:33-35; John 16:1-3). As we know from the history of the Church, many church prophets were killed performing their prophetic ministry. In fact, church prophets are still being killed in our world today, and we know many more will die before our Lord’s Second Coming.
Paul was the Apostle to the Gentiles and a leading prophet of the Church. His primary goal was to win unbelievers to faith in Jesus Christ, then build them up in their faith. In fact, Paul said that Jesus gave him his apostolic authority for the purpose of edifying believers.
“For even if I should boast somewhat more about our authority, which the Lord gave us for edification and not for your destruction, I shall not be ashamed—lest I seem to terrify you by letters.” 2 Corinthians 10:8-9
In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul said, “But we do all things, beloved, for your edification.” All things! Paul did “all things” for the “beloved,” for their “edification.”
That’s key – to understand that building up believers in their faith is a high purpose of a prophetic ministry. One of the great failures of the Church through the centuries has been in the area of edifying its members. Look at Paul’s prophetic teaching about edification.
“Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another.” Romans 14:19
“Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification.” Romans 15:2
“All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify. Let no one seek his own, but each one the other’s well-being.” 1 Corinthians 10:23-24
“But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church. I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification.” 1 Corinthians 14:3-5
“Even so you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel.” 1 Corinthians 14:12
“How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification.” 1 Corinthians 14:26
“And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ … from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” Ephesians 4:11-12, 16
“Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers.” Ephesians 4:29
“Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11
Evangelizing unbelievers and edifying believers are priorities #1 and #2 for a church prophet. In our next study, we will look at the next priorities for the prophetic ministry.
In Christ’s Love and Grace,
Building Confidence Through Evidence
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”