1 Thess. 5:19.
J. A. Trench.
Article 24 of 55 from 'Truth for Believers' Volume 2.
The connection in which the exhortation, "Quench not the Spirit" occurs, shows to what it refers. The next sentence is, "Despise not prophesyings." It has to do with the gifts of the Spirit and their exercise in the holy liberty and power of the Spirit. These gifts are enumerated in great variety in 1 Corinthians 12:8. The Word of wisdom, of knowledge, faith (not that which believes the gospel, but that which could remove mountains and the like), gifts of healing, working of miracles, prophecy, discerning of spirits, divers kinds of tongues, the interpretation of tongues — of which it is said, "All these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will."
But, after 1 Corinthians 13 has brought in the spirit of love, in which alone they can be profitably exercised, we learn from 1 Corinthians 14 that all the gifts were not of the same value. For instance, tongues were for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not, but prophesying serveth, not for them that believe not, but for them which believe. (Ver. 12) Hence, the Apostle bids us "follow after love (as the R.V. gives it rightly) and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy." (Ver. 1) Only we must not think of prophecy, in the N.T., at least, as limited to foretelling events. It is that character of ministry of the Word, by which souls are brought consciously into the presence of God. As with the woman of Samaria, when her conscience was reached by the searching words of the Lord, "Go, call thy husband" — "Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet." And her testimony, "Come, see a man that told me all things that ever I did," shows how she was affected. This is prophesying in the N.T. sense. Hence, it was the most valuable of the gifts: "He that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort." (Ver. 3) But it did not set off and display the man so much as some of the other gifts. And there was the tendency — such the treachery of our hearts — to make much of the more showy gifts, as of tongues, etc., and to undervalue the gift which was most especially intended for the edification of the Church. Hence, the need of the word, "Despise not prophesyings."
Still "Quench not the Spirit" would go further, and warns us against any attempt to shut out, or impose limits on the free action of the Holy Spirit in the gifts He has entrusted to the saints. The important thing is to see that the exhortation does not refer to any conduct of the individual believer, as to the Spirit who dwells in him; as, for instance, when it is said in Ephesians 4:30, "Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption." But it refers to anything that, whether by human arrangement or the like, would interfere with His operation in gift in the Church.