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Romans 12:6-8

The Gift of Prophecy

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 teacheth, on teaching; 8 Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, [let him do it] with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.


There has been some debate about the proper translation of verses 6-8. As the reader can see by the italics, the KJV has added words to each of these verses in order to convey what the translators understood the meaning to be. This is also true with most of the modern translations but more difficult to see because they do not italicize the added words. There are some fine arguments for doing this, but I do not believe that we should add to the word of God, unless it is absolutely necessary to convey its meaning into another language. I do not think that is the case in these verses.

James D.G. Dunn translates the passage by connecting these verses as one sentence with what has come before. Thus, "5 so we are all one body in Christ, and individually members of one another--- having charisms which differ in accordance with the grace given to us, whether prophecy in proportion to faith, 7 or service in service etc." (Dunn, James D.G., Word Biblical Commentary, Vol 38B p.719; Word Inc. 1988)

The first point that Paul wants to make in this passage is that, while we are all members of the body of Christ, each of us has been given different gifts to be used for the functioning of the church. He then describes those gifts, and there is no reason for us to change his description of them into imperative sentences.

The gifts have their origin in "the grace that is given to us." They are not natural gifts but are God inspired charisms given "For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:" (Ephesians 4:12) Each member has specific gifts for specific purposes just as each organ of our body has its own unique qualities in order to perform its specific function.

Prophecy is the first gift that is mentioned and is perhaps the most misunderstood gift in today's church. Charles Hodge wrote a lengthy explanation of it, and I want to share a portion of what he wrote.

"The original and proper meaning of the Hebrew word rendered prophet in the Old Testament, is interpreter, one who explains or delivers the will of another. And to this idea the Greek term also answers. It matters little whether the will or purpose of God which the prophets were called upon to deliver, had reference to present duty or to future events. They derived their Hebrew name not from predicting what was to come to pass, which was but a small part of their duty, but from being the interpreters of God, men who spoke in his name. We accordingly find the term prophet applied to all classes of religious teachers under the old dispensation. Of Abraham it is said, “He is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee and thou shalt live,” Gen 20:7. The name is often applied to Moses as the great interpreter of the will of God to the Hebrews, Deu 18:18; and the writers of the historical books are also constantly so called. The passage in Exo 7:1, is peculiarly interesting, as it clearly exhibits the proper meaning of this word. “And the Lord said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a God to Pharaoh; and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet,” i.e. he shall be thy interpreter. In Rom 4:16, it is said, “He shall be a mouth to thee;” and of Jeremiah, God says, “Thou shalt be as my mouth,” Jer 15:19; compare Deu 18:18. Any one, therefore, who acted as the mouth of God, no matter what was the nature of the communication, was a prophet. And this is also the sense of the word in the New Testament;" (Hodge, Charles; Commentary on Romans, Ephesians and 1Corinthians; The Word Bible Study Software)

The gift of prophecy is the ability to interpret the will of God and to speak for Him, which originates from His grace, and is given according to the proportion of one's faith. It must also be added that divinely inspired prophecy should be judged according to scripture. It cannot add to what scripture has already told us nor can it contradict anything that has already been written therein. (Proverbs 30:6; Deuteronomy 4:2; 12:32; Revelation 22:18-19) There are and always have been many false prophets in the world and it is our task to search the scriptures to verify what every one of them has to say.

We will look at verses 7-8 in tomorrow's study.

Before The Throne:

Sometimes our spiritual gifts are hidden from us until we commit ourselves to doing what God has called us to do. Pray about what He wants you to do and do not worry about your ability to do it. If God has called you to any task within the church, He will grant you the gift to do it according to the measure of your faith. So humble yourself before Him today and be ready to answer the call. Let your faith be your guide.

For Further Study:

(v.6)
** then. Rom 1:11; 1Cor 1:5-7; 1Cor 4:6-7; 1Cor 12:4-11; 1Cor 12:28-31; 1Cor 13:2; 1Pet 4:10-11; ** whether. Matt 23:34; Luke 11:49; Acts 2:17; Acts 11:27-28; Acts 13:1; Acts 15:32; Acts 21:9; 1Cor 12:10, 28; 1Cor 13:2; 1Cor 14:1, 3-5, 24, 29, 31-32; Eph 3:5; Eph 4:11; 1Thess 5:20; ** according to the proportion. Rom 12:3; Acts 18:24-28; 2Cor 8:12; Phil 3:15;

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