“At thy right hand there are pleasures for evermore” (Ps. 16: 11)
The Basket Case Chronicles #163
“But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort. He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church. I would that ye all spake with tongues, but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying” (1 Cor. 14:3–5).
The three elements of prophecy that are mentioned here are edification, exhortation, and comfort. This can happen when the prophesying is fresh revelation, as when Agabus spoke under the power of the Spirit, and it can also happen when the Holy Spirit empowers a man who is speaking expositionally from the text. In the former instance, the Spirit is giving new words, and in the latter He is keeping the preacher close to the words. In both instances, He is anointing the words. This identification of preaching with the gift of prophesy was common among the Puritans. For example, William Perkins wrote a book on preaching that was called The Art of Prophesying.
Aside from that use of terms, it is undeniable that in a modern healthy church, the three consequences of prophecy described here are the three consequences of good preaching—edification, exhortation, and comfort. Every preacher ought to aim for that, every time.
When someone speaks in a tongue, he himself is edified while no one else is. Tongues speaking closes in on itself. The man who prophesies edifies everyone. Paul wishes that everyone could speaking in tongues, but more than that, he wishes that they could all prophesy. This is because prophesy is greater than speaking in tongues, unless an interpretation of tongues accompanies it, so that the church may be edified. This is the reason why I believe that tongues + interpretation = prophesy. A man who speaks in tongues is not just speaking his thoughts in a language he never acquired naturally. He is speaking God’s thoughts, such that when the tongues are interpreted, it is the equivalent of prophesy. And so, Paul argues, in the congregation, why not just cut out the middle man?