What Does it Mean to ‘Prophesy in Part?’

Troy Black

Back in February of 2022, I posted a blog and did a video in which I examined a prophesy given by Troy Black that he had claimed was given to him by God back in September of 2021. Troy had claimed that some events were going to occur in January of 2022 that were related to some events from 1990. It’s my contention that those events did not occur as prophesied, and therefore, we can know for certain that God was not speaking through Troy as he had claimed.

Both that blog & video that I had published still seems to be drawing a lot of comments from viewers, who write to defend Troy.  And I want to take a moment to note that I wasn’t attacking Troy at all, I was only doing what both Troy had asked his viewers to do, and what God wants us to do; and that was test the spirits. But, in any event, I noticed a commonly raised objection among the comments. It’s this objection that I would like to respond to today.   

A number of people, in defense of Troy, pointed out that we “prophesy in part.” I even got this type of response in a blog I wrote back in December of 2020, when so-called prophet Kevin Zadai falsely prophesied that Trump was going to win the election. A reader of that blog also reminded me that we “prophesy in part.” This, of course, is a quotation from the New Testament, 1 Corinthians chapter 13 and verse 9 to be exact.      

I don’t want to put words in the mouths of the objectors, because they didn’t explain in detail what they had in mind. However, I believe I got a sense of what they were trying to say. So, let me kind of put that together and then respond to it, if I may.   

In context, this passage of Scripture was quoted to me when I pointed out that someone had missed their prophesy. Kevin Zadai had suggested to us that God told him Trump was going to win the election and Troy Black announced that God told him events from 1990 were going to resurface in January of 2022. Now, I’m not going to rehash those so-called prophecies in detail here, you can go back and read and watch my analysis, however, suffice it to say that I found neither of those prophecies came true. Yet, several objectors reminded me that we “prophesy in part.” I take it that what they believe is that prophesy isn’t something that’s going to be exact. In other words, if we “prophesied in whole” we would expect that the entire prophesy could be trusted. But, because it’s in part we can’t be too quick to judge if it doesn’t line up with reality. Well, we need to take a look at the passage and see if that’s what the author intends for us to understand.  

The verse in question comes from a very well-known and loved chapter of 1 Corinthians, which is sometimes called the “love chapter.” You’ve probably heard it read at a few weddings. The author, Paul, seems to be trying to convince his readers that whatever is done without love – regardless of how great or miraculous – is meaningless. Then, in verse 8, Paul begins, “Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away.  For we know in part and we prophesy in part.  But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.”      

In this section, Paul seems to be telling us that love will never fail, or come to an end, or vanish away. He compares this with what I suspect to be gifts of the spirit, such as prophecies, tongues, and knowledge, and suggests that they will someday come to an end, but love will not. In the middle of this passage he writes, “for we know in part and we prophesy in part.” But what does that mean?

Well, let’s look at the next verse, which says, “But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away.”

So, whatever he means by “in part” he seems to contrast it to the perfect, which is coming, because it brings an end to the partial.

And then Paul goes on, “When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now, we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known.”

So, here Paul seems to be telling us a bit more about what he has in mind because he uses an illustration. He compared his life as a child to that of a man. As a child he thought and understood as a child would think and understand, and when he became a man he set aside doing things like a child because he was no longer a child. Evidently, whatever Paul has in mind as “that which is perfect” is like the maturing process of growing from a child to a man. Now, I believe it’s obvious to all of us that when we were children our thinking and speaking was not the same as it is as adults. Deeper and more detailed thinking and speaking would be expected as we reach maturity. Therefore, when Paul is suggesting that we now ‘know in part and prophesy in part’ he seems to be saying that it’s like a child on his way to maturity. It’s certainly not as full as it will be when that child reaches adulthood.

A 5th grade child may write a report on Abraham Lincoln. His report is not likely to be same in depth and detail as what would be expected to be written by professor. However, the child’s report might still very well be true in every detail.  But, is 1 Corinthians 13 suggesting, as some of the viewers seem to hold, that Paul means to tell us that at this present time a true prophet might not get all of the details correct? Is Paul suggesting that normative prophetic words, prior to that which is perfect has come, might at times be wrong, or just not completely true? Does this passage tell us that if a person, who claims to be a prophet, predicts an event which does not occur as they had described, that that person is still a prophet because we can only hope to prophesy in part? Does it mean that if a person tells us that God told him that a certain person will win an election, and then that person loses the election, that this still falls under the category of true prophesy because it’s only in part?     

Well, if this is what you have been taught, then ask your teacher what the difference is between a true prophet and a false prophet.

One of the most obvious tests that we have to recognize true and false predictive prophesy is whether or not that event occurs in reality. If Paul in the passage we just discussed is telling us that a true prophet may at times get things wrong, then he’s removed the only way in which we can test predictive prophesies. There is no other way to examine them. Therefore, this hardly seems to be what he’s saying because it ignores other passages which admonish us to test the spirits.

But, someone might object and say that “false prophets are identified by their teaching. Didn’t Jesus say that we would know them by their fruits? Didn’t Peter suggest that these false prophets and teachers would be identified by the heresies they bring?

Well, those things are true, but I think we’re talking about two different kinds of prophets, or at least two different kinds of prophetic words.

Sometimes a prophet would act as a mouthpiece for God, bringing a word for someone. For example, in Acts 15, we read that “Judas and Silas, themselves being prophets also, exhorted and strengthened the brethren with many words.” This is a description of what happened in Antioch with Judas and Silas after Paul had returned from the Jerusalem council. These two men uplifted the people with encouraging words. And though we find no record of them predicting any event, they still were considered prophets. Their prophetic role here seems to be based on them speaking encouraging words from the Lord; not predicting any event.   

So, how could the early church know that they were prophets? Well, by examining the fruit of their life; by taking a look at their teaching; their doctrine, and whether or not their encouraging words were consistent with God’s truth as revealed to them.     

In another case, a man named Agabus, who was listed as a prophet, predicted a great famine (Acts 11). How would anyone test this prophecy? Well, if the famine didn’t take place, then it wasn’t a true word from the Lord. And so we can see a difference between how predictive prophecy is tested and how the prophecy of a person who shares an encouraging word is tested.

If Agabus had predicted a famine but the famine didn’t take place, then we would have known that he wasn’t speaking for the Lord; that he was a false prophet. If Silas and Judas were sharing encouraging words and at the same time were leading people away from the Lord, then they could be identified as false prophets. 

And so, to insist that those who make failed predictions today are only “prophesying in part” but are still genuine prophets, is a failure to recognize the whole teaching of scripture.

Yes, there is an immaturity, if you will, to prophecy before that which is perfect has come, but that doesn’t mean that we can expect true prophets to prophesy falsely. Rather, I believe that to prophesy in part means that until this full maturity in the Lord comes, we have limited prophecy, not false prophecy.

When Paul said that as a child he thought and spoke as a child, I don’t think he means to imply that what he said and thought were lies, rather that it wasn’t fully encompassing. It wasn’t as broad or as deep as prophecy after that which is perfect has come.  

There is a huge difference between something that’s less broad or deep and that which is plainly false. 

Yes, we see through a glass dimly, but God doesn’t. So, if you’re sitting under a prophet who is teaching that the details of their predictive prophecies don’t have to come true because they’re only prophesying in part, then my advice is that you run – not walk – away from under that person’s teaching. 

Let everyone know your thoughts in the comment section below.



Dane Cramer is a backpacker, follower-of-Jesus blogger, jail chaplain, amateur filmmakerPodcast host, and author of two books: Romancing the Trail and The Nephilim: A Monster Among Us , and has worked as an investigator for over 36 years.



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