The prophets were also to make edification the priority in their teaching. The gift of prophecy and of apostleship had the task of delivering to the church the word of God, but this function ceased very early in the church age when all of God’s revelation had been delivered and recorded by inspiration.
These gifts were given to lay the foundation for the church (Eph 2:20). Thereafter, evangelists, pastors, and teachers would lead, exhort, clarify, and apply the content and meanings of all that the apostles and prophets gave us of the word of God: “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim 3:16–-17).
Once recorded for all time, a prophet’s primary function was unnecessary since there were no more divine revelations to be given.
Revelations of God’s word were given “in part” (1 Cor 13:9) and would continue “part” by “part” until the entirety of God’s word was “complete” or “perfect” (teleios, means “finished, goal that has reached its end, wanting in nothing”). The term does not refer to an absolute perfection, but the completion of a process, in this case, the process whereby each prophet and apostle delivered another part of what God revealed to him of His word.
In the meantime, the prophets spoke for God to the churches. This was a limited group. Only two or three were allowed to speak in any one service. The rest of the church had to be familiar with all that God had revealed to make sure no one contradicted what an apostle or prophet had revealed.
Those who were not prophets were to “be always evaluating what was said,” to “test the spirits to see whether they [were] from God” (1 Jn 4:1). Nowhere does Paul suggest that preaching or “prophecy” is privileged beyond critical reflection and evaluation.
By definition, someone who pretends to be speaking divine prophecy must be infallible (Deut 18:20–-22). Because prophets were laying the foundation of the church, the integrity of their message was vital and unquestioned. There could be no deviations from any previous revelations. God expects us to master His word “once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3).
“Heavenly Father, Your plan for the edification of the church is perfect. May all of us be diligent by prayerfully listening and studying in order to evaluate what is taught. Give us such a high regard for Your word as to seek its true meaning always. Thank You for all You have given us to know.”