1 Thess 5:21 “But examine~~ all things; hold fast~~ to what is good.”
Christ is the head of the church (Eph 5:23), and the church is subject to Christ (5:24)—-but how does this work in practical life?
What is spoken under the revelation and inspiration of God’s Spirit is to be taken as if from God Himself and must be subjected to great scrutiny.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:21, the command to “continue to examine” means to “test for authenticity, put it to the proof.” God’s followers must distinguish between divine truth and error. In this context, “all things” refers to anything claimed to be the word of God. The church at Berea was notable: “They received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).
We must ask ourselves if a teaching agrees with what God has already revealed; there must be no contradictions in Scripture or with God. It is the listener’s task to make sure that what he hears fits with what God says. Prophets in the early church were limited, and what was spoken had to be examined: “Two or three prophets should speak and the others should evaluate what was said” (1 Cor 14:29).
The apostles and their prophetic associates were the unique recipients of divine revelation, which they proclaimed and/or recorded under inspiration. They gave us the “foundation” for the church (Eph 2:20).
Anyone who gave a prophecy that was not fulfilled was a false prophet. In the Old Testament, this is very serious: “The prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, . . . that prophet shall die” (Deut 18:20). All that deviates from the Bible’s text is prompted by “deceiving spirits” or demons (1 Tim 4:1). This is how false teaching invades the church and causes division.
On the other hand, we are to “hold fast” (Gr. katecho), or “to embrace wholeheartedly, or take possession of,” the teachings that are “good” (Gr. kalos), “genuine, or right,” or faithful to all God has already revealed.
The only deterrent to false prophecy is for believers to know well the written word of God and to reject error. Are you testing what you hear by always asking, “Does God’s word support this?”
“Father, there are so many contrary views in this world; deepen my conviction in the certainty of Your truth and deepen my understanding of its truths so I may not be swayed by error.”