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In these passages Paul compares two of the spiritual gifts: ‘Prophecy’ and ‘speaking in tongues’. Paul said that one should desire to have the gift of prophecy, for this gift edifies the church. ‘Speaking in tongues’ only helps the one speaking, unless there is someone who can interpret what he says. However, the one who prophesies speaks to the Church for edification, exhortation and consolation. The one who prophesies helps the church and strengthens it.

I believe that the gift of prophecy in Paul’s day was not a gift of predicting the future. Rather, it was a gift of understanding the Word of God and being able to interpret the various passages for the members of the Church. A person who prophesies or interprets scripture is able to link various passages from different parts of the Bible and use those passages to help in the interpretation.

This is essential because misinterpretation can lead a Church astray. In fact, some erroneous doctrines are based on misinterpretation of just a few passages of scripture. For example, the doctrine of ‘assurance of salvation’ is erroneously based on a few scripture passages. When the entire Bible is considered, the error of this doctrine becomes quite evident. Therefore, we must know the entire Bible to avoid misinterpretation.