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This article is one in a series of studies on prophecies, particularly those of William Branham - you are currently on the article that is in bold:
- What is a Prophet?
- The Prophecies of William Branham
- A Challenge Regarding William Branham's prophecies
- Prophecies about Jesus
- Other Biblical Prophecies
Is a "New Testament prophet" the same as an "Old Testament prophet"? What does the Bible teach?
Old Testament prophet = New Testament apostle?
Old Testament prophets had an amazing responsibility—they were able to speak and write words that had absolute divine authority. They could say, “Thus saith the Lord,” and the words that followed were the very words of God. The Old Testament prophets wrote their words as God’s words in Scripture for all time (see Num. 22:38; Deut. 18:18–20; Jer. 1:9; Ezek. 2:7, et al.). Therefore, to disbelieve or disobey a prophet’s words was to disbelieve or disobey God (see Deut. 18:19; 1 Sam. 8:7; 1 Kings 20:36; and many other passages).
In the New Testament there were also people who spoke and wrote God’s very words and had them recorded in Scripture, but we may be surprised to find that Jesus no longer calls them prophets but uses a new term, apostles. The apostles are the New Testament counterpart to the Old Testament prophets (see 1 Cor. 2:13; 2 Cor. 13:3; Gal. 1:8–9, 11–12; 1 Thess. 2:13; 4:8, 15; 2 Peter 3:2). It is the apostles, not the prophets, who have authority to write the words of New Testament Scripture.
When the apostles want to establish their unique authority, they never appeal to the title “prophet” but rather call themselves “apostles.” For example, “Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus” (1 Cor. 1:1; see also Rom. 1:1; 1 Cor. 9:1–2; 2 Cor. 1:1; 11:12–13; 12:11–12; Gal. 1:1; Eph. 1:1; 1 Peter 1:1; 2 Peter 1:1; 3:2, et al.).
The Meaning of the Word Prophet in the Time of the New Testament
Why did Jesus choose the new term apostle to designate those who had the authority to write Scripture? It was probably because the Greek word prophētēs (“prophet”) at the time of the New Testament had a very broad range of meanings. It generally did not have the sense “one who speaks God’s very words” but rather “one who speaks on the basis of some external influence” (often a spiritual influence of some kind). Titus 1:12 uses the word in this sense, where Paul quotes the pagan Greek poet Epimenides: “One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, ‘Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.’ ” The soldiers who mock Jesus also seem to use the word prophesy in this way, when they blindfold Jesus and cruelly demand, “Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?” (Luke 22:64). They do not mean, “Speak words of absolute divine authority,” but “Tell us something that has been revealed to you” (cf. John 4:19).
Many writings outside the Bible use the word prophet (Gk. prophētēs) in this way without signifying any divine authority in the words of one called a prophet. In fact, by the time of the New Testament the term prophet in everyday use often simply meant “one who has supernatural knowledge” or “one who predicts the future”—or even just “spokesman” (without any connotations of divine authority). Several examples near the time of the New Testament are given in Helmut Krämer’s article in Theological Dictionary of the New Testament:
- A philosopher is called “a prophet of immortal nature” (Dio Chrysostom, AD 40–120)
- A teacher (Diogenes) wants to be “a prophet of truth and candor” (Lucian of Samosata, AD 120–180)
- Those who advocate Epicurean philosophy are called “prophets of Epicurus” (Plutarch, AD 50–120)
- Written history is called “the prophetess of truth” (Diodorus Siculus, wrote c. 60–30 BC)
- A “specialist” in botany is called a “prophet” (Dioscurides of Cilicia, first century AD)
- A “quack” in medicine is called a “prophet” (Galen of Pergamum, AD 129–99)
Krämer concludes that the Greek word for “prophet” (prophētēs) “simply expresses the formal function of declaring, proclaiming, making known.” Yet because “every prophet declares something which is not his own,” the Greek word for “herald” (kēryx) “is the closest synonym.”
Just as an apostle could sometimes be called a “teacher” (which Paul calls himself in 1 Timothy 2:7) along with other teachers in the churches, and just as an apostle could sometimes be called an “elder” (Peter calls himself a “fellow elder” in 1 Peter 5:1) along with other elders in the churches, so too the apostles could sometimes be called “prophets” or give a “prophecy,” though there were other prophets in the churches as well (so the book of Revelation, written by John, is called a “prophecy” in Rev. 1:3; 22:7), but there were also many other prophets in the churches. However, the apostles were not often called “teachers” or “elders” or “prophets.”
The important point is that, in first century Greek, the terms prophet and prophecy did not imply divine authority for their speech or writing. Much more commonly, the words prophet and prophecy were used of ordinary Christians who spoke not with absolute divine authority but simply to report something that God had laid on their hearts or brought to their minds. There are many indications in the New Testament that this ordinary gift of prophecy had authority less than that of the Bible, and even less than that of recognized Bible teaching in the early church.
Indications That Prophets Did Not Speak with Authority Equal to the Words of Scripture
In Acts 21:4, we read of the disciples at Tyre:
- “Through the Spirit they were telling Paul not to go on to Jerusalem.”
Although the word prophecy is not in this verse, it seems to be a reference to prophecy directed towards Paul, but Paul disobeyed it! He never would have done this if this prophecy contained God’s very words and had authority equal to Scripture.
Then in Acts 21:10–11, Agabus prophesied that the Jews at Jerusalem would “bind” Paul and “deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles,” a prediction that was nearly correct but not quite: the Romans, not the Jews, bound Paul (v. 33; also 22:29), and the Jews, rather than delivering him voluntarily, tried to kill him, and he had to be rescued by force (v. 32). The prediction was not far off, but it had inaccuracies in detail that would have called into question the validity of any Old Testament prophet. However, this text could be perfectly well explained by supposing that Agabus had had a vision of Paul as a prisoner of the Romans in Jerusalem, surrounded by an angry mob of Jews. His interpretation of such a “vision” or “revelation” from the Holy Spirit would be that the Jews had bound Paul and handed him over to the Romans, and that is what Agabus would (somewhat erroneously) prophesy. This is exactly the kind of fallible prophecy that would fit the definition of New Testament congregational prophecy proposed above—reporting in one’s own words something that God has spontaneously brought to mind.
One objection to this view is to say that Agabus’ prophecy was in fact fulfilled, and that Paul even reports that in Acts 28:17: “I was delivered as a prisoner from Jerusalem into the hands of the Romans.”
But the verse itself will not support that interpretation. The Greek text of Acts 28:17 explicitly refers to Paul’s transfer out of (Gk. ex) Jerusalem as a prisoner. Paul’s statement describes his transfer out of the Jewish judicial system (the Jews were seeking to bring him again to be examined by the Sanhedrin in Acts 23:15, 20) and into the Roman judicial system at Caesarea (Acts 23:23–35). Paul correctly says in Acts 28:18 that the same Romans into whose hands he had been delivered as a prisoner (v. 17) were the ones who (Gk. hoitines, v. 18), “when they had examined me … wished to set me at liberty, because there was no reason for the death penalty in my case” (Acts 28:18; cf. 23:29; also 25:11, 18–19; 26:31–32). Then Paul adds that when the Jews objected, he was compelled “to appeal to Caesar” (Acts 28:19; cf. 25:11). This whole section of narrative in Acts 28:17–19 refers to Paul’s transfer out of Jerusalem to Caesarea in Acts 23:12–35 and explains to the Jews in Rome why Paul is in Roman custody. This narrative does not refer to Acts 21:27–36 and the mob scene near the Jerusalem temple at all. So this objection is not persuasive. The verse does not point to a fulfillment of either half of Agabus’ prophecy: it does not mention any binding by the Jews, nor does it mention that the Jews handed Paul over to the Romans. In fact, in the scene it refers to (Acts 23:12–35), once again Paul had just been taken from the Jews “by force” (Acts 23:10), and, far from seeking to hand him over to the Romans, they were waiting in an ambush to kill him (Acts 23:13–15).
Another objection to this understanding of Acts 21:10–11 is to say that the Jews did not really have to bind Paul and deliver him into the hands of the gentiles for the prophecy of Agabus to be true because the Jews were responsible for these activities even if they did not carry them out. Robert Thomas says, “It is common to speak of the responsible party or parties as performing an act even though he or they may not have been the immediate agent(s).” Thomas cites similar examples from Acts 2:23 (where Peter says that the Jews crucified Christ, whereas the Romans actually did it) and John 19:1 (we read that Pilate scourged Jesus, whereas his soldiers no doubt carried out the action). Thomas concludes, “The Jews were the ones who put Paul in chains just as Agabus predicted.”
In response, I agree that Scripture can speak of someone as doing an act that is carried out by that person’s agent. But in every case the person who is said to do the action both wills the act to be done and gives directions to others to do it. Pilate directed his soldiers to scourge Jesus. The Jews actively demanded that the Romans would crucify Christ. By contrast, in the situation of Paul’s capture in Jerusalem, there is no such parallel. The Jews did not order him to be bound but the Roman tribune did it: “Then the tribune came up and arrested him and ordered him to be bound with two chains” (Acts 21:33). And in fact the parallel form of speech is found here because although the tribune ordered Paul to be bound, later we read that “the tribune also was afraid, for he realized that Paul was a Roman citizen and that he had bound him” (Acts 22:29). So this narrative does speak of the binding as done either by the responsible agent or by the people who carried it out, but in both cases these are Romans, not Jews. In summary, this objection says that the Jews put Paul in chains. But Acts says twice that the Romans bound him. This objection says that the Jews turned Paul over to the gentiles. But Acts says that they violently refused to turn him over, so that he had to be taken from them by force. The objection does not fit the words of the text.
In 1 Thessalonians 5:19–21, Paul tells the Thessalonians, “Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good”. If the Thessalonians had thought that prophecy equaled God’s Word in authority, he would never have had to tell the Thessalonians not to despise it—they “received” and “accepted” God’s Word “with the joy of the Holy Spirit” (1 Thess. 1:6; 2:13; cf. 4:15). But when Paul tells them to “test everything” it must include at least the prophecies he mentioned in the previous phrase. He implies that prophecies contain some things that are good and some things that are not good when he encourages them to “hold fast what is good.” This is something that could never have been said of the words of an Old Testament prophet or the authoritative teachings of a New Testament apostle. Therefore, prophecies that were given by ordinary Christians in the church at Thessalonica did not have the authority of God’s very words. These prophecies must have been ordinary human words reporting something that God had brought to mind.
It is significant that Paul tells the Thessalonians to test the prophecies, not the prophets. “Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good” (1 Thess. 5:20–21). It is the “prophecies” (plural of Gk. prophēteia, “prophecy”) that are not to be despised but are to be tested. It is the “good” content in prophecies that they are to “hold fast.”
More extensive evidence on New Testament prophecy is found in 1 Corinthians 14. When Paul says, “Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others weigh what is said” (1 Cor. 14:29), he suggests that they should listen carefully and sift the good from the bad, accepting some and rejecting the rest (for this is the implication of the Greek word diakrinō, here translated “weigh what is said”).
We cannot imagine that an Old Testament prophet like Isaiah would have said, “Listen to what I say and weigh what is said—sort the good from the bad, what you accept from what you should not accept”! If prophecy had absolute divine authority, it would be sin to do this. But here Paul commands that it be done, suggesting that New Testament prophecy did not have the authority of God’s very words.15 In 1 Corinthians 14:30–31, Paul allows one prophet to interrupt another one: “If a revelation is made to another sitting there, let the first be silent. For you can all prophesy one by one.” Again, if prophets had been speaking God’s very words, equal in value to Scripture, it is hard to imagine that Paul would say they should be interrupted and not be allowed to finish their message. But that is what Paul commands.
Paul suggests that no one at Corinth, a church that had much prophecy, was able to speak God’s very words. He says in 1 Corinthians 14:36, “Or was it from you that the word of God came? Or are you the only ones it has reached?” Paul expects the answer “no” to both questions. But this means that “the word of God” did not come from the church at Corinth even though there were many people giving prophecies (as Paul’s instructions in chapters 12–14 indicate).
Then in verses 37 and 38, he claims authority far greater than any prophet or any potential prophet at Corinth: “If anyone thinks that he is a prophet, or spiritual, he should acknowledge that the things I am writing to you are a command of the Lord. If anyone does not recognize this, he is not recognized.” Paul would not allow the possibility that any prophet at Corinth could speak with authority equal to his authority as an apostle. This implies an assumption that no prophets at Corinth were speaking the very words of God. All of these passages indicate that the idea that prophets spoke “words of the Lord” when the apostles were not present in the early churches is simply incorrect.
In addition to the verses we have considered so far, one other type of evidence suggests that New Testament congregational prophets spoke with less authority than New Testament apostles or Scripture: the problem of successors to the apostles is solved not by encouraging Christians to listen to the prophets (even though there were prophets around) but by pointing to the Scriptures. So Paul, at the end of his life, emphasizes “rightly handling the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15), and the “God-breathed” character of “Scripture” for “teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Tim. 3:16). Jude urges his readers to “contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 3). Peter, at the end of his life, encourages his readers to “pay attention” to Scripture, which is like “a lamp shining in a dark place” (2 Peter 1:19–20), and reminds them of the teaching of the apostle Paul “in all his letters” (2 Peter 3:16). In no case do we read exhortations to “give heed to the prophets in your churches” or to “obey the words of the Lord through your prophets.” Yet there certainly were prophets prophesying in many local congregations after the death of the apostles. It seems that they did not have authority equal to the apostles, and the authors of Scripture knew that. The conclusion is that prophecies today are not “the words of God” either.
Paul writes about prophets in Ephesians as follows:
- “So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone” (Eph. 2:19–20).
A frequent objection to the view that prophets in New Testament churches did not speak the very words of God is based on Ephesians 2:20: if the entire church throughout the world (“the household of God”) is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, then it seems evident that these “prophets,” like the apostles, spoke the very words of God—words that were equal to Scripture in their authority. And therefore, it is argued, since no more words are now being added to Scripture, the gift of prophecy has now ceased. In response, I agree that the kind of “prophets” mentioned in Ephesians 2:20 ceased in the first century. The “foundation” for the church throughout the world was laid once for all in the first century and will not be laid again. But the question is whether this verse describes all who had the gift of prophecy in the New Testament churches. I see no convincing evidence that it describes all who prophesied in the early church. Rather, the context clearly indicates a very limited group of such prophets. In fact, just a few verses later, Paul gives us more information about these apostles and prophets:
- When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. (Eph. 3:4–6)
In Paul’s writings, a “mystery” (Gk. mystērion) is often a truth that was only faintly revealed in the Old Testament but now has been clearly revealed in the New Testament age. And in Ephesians 3:6 the specific “mystery” that Paul is talking about is the fact that God wants to include gentiles (!) as well as Jews among God’s people and that these gentiles will have equal standing with Jews before God (they will be “fellow heirs” and “members of the same body” with the Jewish believers in Christ). Paul says that the understanding of this mystery was revealed to “his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit.”
Therefore, the “prophets” that Paul is talking about in Ephesians 2:20 and 3:5 are a very limited, very specific group: they were (a) part of the very foundation of the church, (b) closely connected with the apostles, and (c) recipients of the new revelation from God that the gentiles were equal members with Jews in the church.
But surely that group does not include all the Christians with the gift of prophecy in all the New Testament churches at that time. The Ephesian Christians to whom Paul was writing were not pictured by Paul as part of the “foundation” because he says they were “built on” the foundation—they were part of the (metaphorical) building that was continually being built up after the foundation had been laid. The same can be said for all the “sons” and “daughters” and “male servants and female servants” who prophesied in fulfillment of Peter’s sermon at Pentecost (Acts 2:17–18), the prophets in Jerusalem (Acts 11:27), the prophets at Antioch (Acts 13:1), the brand-new believers who suddenly “began speaking in tongues and prophesying” in Ephesus (Acts 19:6), the Christians with the gift of prophecy in Tyre (Acts 21:4), Phillip’s four daughters who prophesied in Caesarea (Acts 21:9), people with the gift of prophecy in Rome (Rom. 12:6), the men and women who were prophesying during the church services in Corinth (1 Cor. 11:4–5), the Christians in Corinth who were given a gift of prophecy after they followed Paul’s encouragement to “earnestly desire to prophesy” (1 Cor. 14:39), and the ordinary Christians who had a gift of prophecy in the churches of Ephesus (Eph. 4:11) and Thessalonica (1 Thess. 5:20).
Surely not all of these prophets were laying again and again the “foundation” of the church, and receiving again and again the revelation about the gentiles being included with Jews in the church (about which Paul had already written), but they were part of the (metaphorical) church building that was being built on the foundation. And for these ordinary Christian prophets in churches throughout the New Testament world, the passages I have discussed in the previous sections indicate again and again their prophecies were ordinary human words (not God’s words) in which they were reporting things that God spontaneously brought to mind.
This is certainly a different situation from the Old Testament, where there were individual prophets or small groups of prophets from time to time in Israel, but there is no indication that there were prophets in every village and every city. But now in the New Testament our impression (from multiple verses) is that there were people with the gift of prophecy in every church. This is another argument showing that these ordinary prophets in the churches were not speaking the words of God. Or are we prepared to say that thousands of “prophets” in hundreds of churches throughout the Mediterranean world were actually speaking the very words of God? Were God’s people to be expected to go around to the many hundreds or even thousands of churches in the first century world, collect the prophecies given week after week, write them down, and produce hundreds of volumes of “words of the Lord” that they were to obey like Scripture? In fact, we have no record of anything like this happening, nor do we have any record anywhere in the New Testament of churches recording or preserving these prophecies as if they were “words of the Lord” that were foundational for the entire church throughout the world. Rather, they preserve and obey the writings and teachings of the apostles, not of the prophets.
Who then were the small group of “prophets” in Ephesians 2:20 and 3:5 who were part of the foundation of the church? There are two possibilities. The first possibility, and the one on which I have based my argument above, is that they were a small group of individuals who were not actually apostles but who were closely connected to the apostles, and who played a foundational role in the beginning of the church. Perhaps this group even included some of the authors of New Testament books who were not themselves apostles, such as Mark, Luke, Jude, and the (unknown) author of Hebrews.
The second possibility, which I have advocated elsewhere in writing (though it is not at all important to my understanding of the gift of prophecy), is that the expression “the apostles and prophets” is referring to one group of people, “the apostle-prophets,” or, in other words, the apostles functioning in the role of prophets (just as apostles can elsewhere be referred to as teachers or elders or preachers). The grammatical construction in Ephesians 2:20 is the same as the construction in Ephesians 4:11, which speaks about “the shepherds and teachers,” which some commentators understand to be one group, the shepherd-teachers. I have not based my understanding of Ephesians 2:20 on that second possibility.
How Should We Speak about the Authority of Prophecy Today?
The conclusion is that prophecies in the church today should be considered merely human words, not God’s words, and not equal to God’s words in authority. But does this conclusion conflict with current charismatic teaching or practice? I think it conflicts with much charismatic practice but not with most charismatic teaching.
Most charismatic teachers today would agree that contemporary prophecy is not equal to Scripture in authority. Though some will speak of prophecy as being the “word of God” for today, there is almost uniform testimony from all sections of the charismatic movement that prophecy is imperfect and impure and will contain elements that are not to be obeyed or trusted. For example, Bruce Yocum, the author of a widely used charismatic book on prophecy, writes, “Prophecy can be impure—our own thoughts or ideas can get mixed into the message we receive—whether we receive the words directly or only receive a sense of the message.”
But it must be said that in actual practice much confusion results from the habit of prefacing prophecies with the common Old Testament phrase, “Thus says the Lord” (a phrase nowhere spoken in the New Testament by any prophets in New Testament churches). This habit is unfortunate because it gives the impression that the words that follow are God’s very words, whereas the New Testament does not justify that position, and when pressed, most responsible charismatic spokesmen would not want to claim it for every part of their prophecies anyway. So there would be much gain and no loss if that introductory phrase were dropped.
Now it is true that Agabus uses a similar phrase (“Thus says the Holy Spirit”) in Acts 21:11, but the same words (Gk. tade legei) are used by Christian writers just after the time of the New Testament to introduce very general paraphrases or greatly expanded interpretations of what is being reported (so Ignatius, Epistle to the Philadelphians 7:1–2 [about AD 108] and Epistle of Barnabas 6:8; 9:2, 5 [AD 70–100]). The phrase can apparently mean, “This is generally (or approximately) what the Holy Spirit is saying to us.” If someone really does think God is bringing something to mind that should be reported in the congregation, there is nothing wrong with saying, “I think the Lord is putting on my mind that …” or “It seems to me that the Lord is showing us …” or some similar expression. Of course that does not sound as authoritative as “Thus says the Lord,” but if the message is really from God, the Holy Spirit will cause it to speak with great power to the hearts of those who need to hear.
What identified an Old Testament prophet?
God knew that His people would have trouble identifying true and false prophets so the Bible contains some very clear identifications of a true prophet.
- …Listen to my words: ‘When a prophet of the Lord is among you, I will reveal myself to him in visions, I speak to him in dreams.’
This text reveals how God gives information to a prophet. When a prophet speaks, people do not know whether the prophet is lying (speaking out of his own imagination) or if the prophet has actually received a dream or a vision from God. God told Israel to listen to everyone who claims to have received a vision from Him because such persons must either be believed or destroyed! The question is - What is the REAL Biblical test of a prophet?
The "One Mistake" rule of Deuteronomy 18
A true Prophet must be 100% accurate. There is absolutely no margin for error.
Deuteronomy 18:20-22 states:
- But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die. And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the Lord has not spoken?’ — when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.
The true Prophet of the Lord predicts that which does come to pass. If the Prophet's predictions fail, they are exposed as NOT of God. Jeremiah 28:9 tells us:
- The prophet which prophesieth of peace, when the word of the prophet shall come to pass, then shall the prophet be known, that the LORD hath truly sent him.
Ezekiel 13:2-9 is also an interesting passage:
- Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel, who are prophesying, and say to those who prophesy from their own hearts: ‘Hear the word of the LORD!’ Thus says the Lord GOD, Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing! Your prophets have been like jackals among ruins, O Israel. You have not gone up into the breaches, or built up a wall for the house of Israel, that it might stand in battle in the day of the LORD. They have seen false visions and lying divinations. They say, ‘Declares the LORD,’ when the LORD has not sent them, and yet they expect him to fulfill their word. Have you not seen a false vision and uttered a lying divination, whenever you have said, ‘Declares the LORD,’ although I have not spoken?” Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: “Because you have uttered falsehood and seen lying visions, therefore behold, I am against you, declares the Lord GOD. My hand will be against the prophets who see false visions and who give lying divinations. They shall not be in the council of my people, nor be enrolled in the register of the house of Israel, nor shall they enter the land of Israel. And you shall know that I am the Lord GOD.
God says a false prophet can actually say they are hearing from the Lord but it really is their own spirit.
In 1 Samuel 3:19-20, the Bible says this of the prophet Samuel:
- As Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him, and everything Samuel said proved to be reliable. And all Israel, from Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south, knew that Samuel was confirmed as a prophet of the Lord
In the Old Testament, prophets prophesied within three time frames: their own time, for the 1st coming and the 2nd coming. The test of a prophet was his near prophecies which would be fulfilled in his own lifetime. Obviously, if it was beyond his lifetime, he wouldn't be around to have to answer for it. Prophecy was very specific in the Old and the New Testament. They would foretell God's revelation to the people and if one looks back at the Biblical record to study a prophet's calling, it was God who picked them and they are often found arguing not to have the office. In contrast, there are now schools to train new prophets because the people desire this office.
Another test used on would be prophets, found in Deuteronomy 13:1. In addition to whether or not their predictions came true is whether they used signs and wonders as tools to draw people to other gods or a different representation of God. (Such as Jannes and Jambres in 2 Timothy 3:8). Here, God is testing the people to see if they love only Him. This is probably the most overlooked scripture pertaining to examining the claims of those who profess supernatural powers that come from God. If they were to contradict the teaching that had already been revealed - which had provided knowledge of the one true God then they were seen as false prophets. God did not, and still does not tolerate false prophesying. If they wrong once, they are false, they were to be stoned. If this occurred today many if not all who lay claim to this position would have a quick end to their so called anointing!
Remember: just because one performs miracles, even inside a church, does not mean God is working. We should be more on guard inside the church than we would like to think. In 1 Corinthians 4:6, we are told no to go beyond what in written. If one contradicts the apostolic writings and teachings, then they are false (2 Cor.11:14). Those who go beyond the word having God speak to them directly with new revelation, become puffed up with self-deception. There is something called humility that is practiced when one adheres to the same standard that everyone else does. Isa.8:16” bind up the testimony (of the Prophets) seal the law among my disciples”. (Moses) vs. 20 “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because their is no light in them.” This standard distinguishes a believer from an unbeliever. The test of the prophet was his conformity to the word of God, he condemns sin, he comforts the brethren, and he speaks of things in the near future and later than his life. A prophet, like an apostle, not only functioned as a gift, but as an office. A prophet would declare God's will for his generation, addressing idolatry or lukewarmness. We see this personified in John the Baptist who warned and rebuked the people preparing the for the Messiah.
William Branham applied the Deuteronomy 18:20-22 test to himself
It is clear that William Branham considered himself to be an Old Testament prophet and that as a result he was not subject to the judgment of the church. He also stated the test in Deuteronomy 18:20-22 applied to him:
- “Let one speak and two or three judge,” said Paul. Now, those are the spirits of the gifts that’s in the Church. But the only person that has a right to say, THUS SAITH THE LORD, is an a vindicated prophet. You never seen anybody judging Isaiah, or Jeremiah, or those people. They were prophets, foreordained and borned in the world to be prophets. And they foresaw the thing by a vision, and then said, “THUS SAITH THE LORD,” for the Lord had already said it.
- You can go to my hometown and find it one time, in all the times that It’s ever told anything, that didn’t come to pass just exactly the way It said. Now, you pin a sign on my back as a false prophet, and I’ll walk through your streets. Cause it’s not myself, I’m a man, but He’s God. And He’s the One Who does the saying. If I would say it, it could be a lie, ’cause I’m subject to any—any mistakes, lies, anything else, like anybody else.
- Prophets are foreordained. They’re prophets. Now, there’s a gift of prophecy in the church, that could be on one, then the next one, the next one, the next one, and so forth—of prophecy. Paul said you may all prophesy one by one. But there’s a lot of difference between a prophet and a prophecy. A prophecy has to be judged by three witnesses (two or three) before it can be given or accepted in the church, according to the Scriptures. But a prophet, like the Old Testament prophet, they had the Word of the Lord. The translation was right to them. And they were known, because the Bible said, “If there be one among you spiritual or a prophet, I, the Lord, will make Myself known unto him, speak to him in visions, and reveal Myself in dreams. And if what this man says comes to pass, then hear him, for I’m am with him. If it doesn’t, then don’t hear him. I’m not with him. Don’t fear him.”
- And you who will not come back, I want you to do me a favor, mark a little piece of paper, and put it in your Bible, and say, “Brother Branham said, ‘THUS SAITH THE LORD.’” Then if God lets us live, watch what this thing’s coming to. If God lets us live for a few more years and I pass through Phoenix, get that—get a little yellow piece of paper out, and walk up to the pulpit and say, “What about this, Brother Branham?” Then I’ll tack it on my back, and you get in your car, and drive me down the street, as a sign on my back, “A false prophet.”
- God always sends a prophet. The Word comes to the prophet; the written Word, a discerner of the thoughts of the heart. Did you always notice? The prophet, being that he knowed that he was a prophet, is because that the Word of God discerns the thought that’s in the heart, foretells things, forth-teller and teller-forth. Did you ever take the dictionary, the old Hebrew dictionary, and see what the word seer means? It’s the one that has the Divine revelation of the written Word. And how it’s vindicated, he foresees things that he foretells, and they come to pass. 42 Now, how does that type in with the Scripture? Just exactly. “If there be one among you, who is spiritual or a prophet, I the Lord will make Myself known to him, speak to him in visions. And if these things comes to pass, then it’s God. If they don’t come to pass, then don’t hear him; don’t fear him at all, but just ignore it.”
- The Bible said, “If there be one, and what he says comes to pass, then you hear him; but, if it doesn’t, don’t believe him, don’t fear him, but My…if—if My Word is not in him. But if it does come to pass, then My Word is in him.” That’s his identification. That’s the characteristic of a prophet.
- Now, prophets. There’s such a thing as “gift of prophecy” in the Church; but a prophet is predestinated and foreordained for the hour. See? Yes, sir. Now, if a prophecy goes forth, two or three has to set and judge whether that’s right or not, ’fore the church can receive it. But nobody set before a prophet, ’cause he was—he was absolutely the Word of God. He was that Word in his day. You seen God reflect. Now, God has promised to send us that again in the last days, to bring the Bride out of that ecclesiastical mess, in the only way it can be done. ref>William Branham, 65-1204 - The Rapture, para. 136</ref>
True prophets do not plagiarize
A true prophet does not plagiarize from others.
- So I, the LORD, affirm that I am opposed to those prophets who steal messages from one another that they claim are from me. (NET)
Performing miracles proves NOTHING
Moses stated that a prophet that performed miracles could still be a false prophet in Deuteronomy 13:
- If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder spoken of takes place, and the prophet says, “Let us follow other gods” (gods you have not known) “and let us worship them,” you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. It is the LORD your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him. That prophet or dreamer must be put to death for inciting rebellion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. That prophet or dreamer tried to turn you from the way the LORD your God commanded you to follow. You must purge the evil from among you.
What is a New Testament prophet?
New Testament prophets are not the highest office
1 Cor. 12:28:
- And God has appointed in the church, first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, various kinds of tongues.
Performing miracles proves NOTHING
Jesus said that false prophets can perform great signs and miracles, so we know that displays or manifestations of supernatural power do not necessarily mean that God has sent a prophet. In fact, the book of Revelation reveals that a time is coming when the devil himself will call fire down out of the sky to prove that he is God, and this overwhelming miracle will deceive most of the inhabitants of Earth. “And he performed great and miraculous signs, even causing fire to come down from heaven to earth in full view of men. Because of the signs he was given power to do on behalf of the first beat, he deceived the inhabitants of the earth…” (Revelation 13:13,14) So, the ability to perform miracles does not prove that a prophet is sent from God.
- "For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before.
Jesus warned His followers,
- “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves…. Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?’ Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!’”
- “For false Christ’s and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect – if that were possible. See, I have told you ahead of time.”
These few verses tell us that false prophets can:
- be gifted and talented people who deceitfully use the name and gospel of Jesus for recognition, power, and/ or money,
- perform great signs and miracles because they are associated with demons,
- have no affiliation with Christ and His gospel even though they may speak volumes about Jesus and salvation, and
- will exist until the end of time. In fact, the last “false prophet” mentioned in the Bible is the devil himself.
The apostles never preached signs and wonders to attract the multitudes much less those who already believe. Seeing a sign was never a assurance of belief. With all this in mind, Paul did not use the signs and miracles as the absolute proof of his apostolic position.
- For I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, but we are dishonored To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now.”
Notice he says they were last examples condemned to death, weak, poor, hungry, beaten and homeless. It's obvious we don’t see those who claim these positions today living in such a manner. They for the most part became martyrs. Today those who claim apostolic positions live in luxury and opulence.
There are numerous warnings in scripture, in Mt.7 there is number of people who claim before the Lord,
- ...have we not prophesied in your name, cast out demons in your name and done many wonders. Clearly they are laying claim to some type of apostolic position. Then I will declare to them I never knew you, depart from me you who practice lawlessness.”
They tried to be accepted by what they did, by the power they supposedly had, but they did not do the will of the Lord which is to preach the Gospel in truthfulness. Yet the Lord said he never had a relationship with them. So His name is not a stamp of authenticity for anyone. They were lawless; they were not under his leadership, or guidance; they did not practice the law of Christ. They tried to approach God on their own merit by their good deeds, saying "look at what we did, we had power." It wasn't about power, but about knowing him in a relationship.
In warning, Jesus said to those who were following Him for the blessings, 'Unless you people see signs and wonders you will by no means believe.' Our choice today is to believe His Word that he spoke.
- For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light, Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.
They can look right but if they do not speak according to the word already delivered then whatever follows in miracles is not from God but from another source.
Followers of William Branham's message point to only one thing - the miracles. They state that his "gift of discernment came from God for the purpose of vindicating him as a true servant of God".
Having one or more gifts of the Spirit does not make one a New Testament prophet
The Bible indicates that Jesus bestowed spiritual gifts on the early church. (The word “church” as it is used in this study should not be confused with a particular denomination.) Paul wrote, “it was he [Jesus] who gave some [gifts to ordinary people so that they could serve as] to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, [so that all of these should work together] to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” (Ephesians 4:11-13, insertions mine)
These verses reveal that Jesus equips ordinary people with extraordinary gifts for the benefit of building up His church. Please notice that Paul identifies their order of importance: “And in the church God appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then workers of miracles, also those having gifts of healing, those able to help others, those with gifts of administration, and those speaking in different kinds of tongues.”
Both Old and New Testament prophets had to be judged
Once the scriptures were completed, the Church had all that was necessary in the area of revelational truth. The apostles' instructions were in words, then put to paper for all succeeding generations on how to live in obedience to the faith.
Once a foundation is laid down and a house is built, we don't rebuild the foundation.(Eph.2:20) Neither should we rip apart the house that the Lord has built.
In terms of authority, the Bible is a closed book. When the apostolic age ended, the Bible was completed. God has not given subsequent prophets any information that extends Scripture. Everything that God wanted said in the Bible has been said in the Bible and the Canon is closed.
This means that Scripture must test all prophetic utterances since the apostolic age. The words of prophets today are not authoritative (that is, their words are not to be regarded as an extension to Scripture). True prophets always direct people to the Bible because every true prophet knows that the Bible is man’s sole authority in matters pertaining to God.
Yes, we should consider the claims of people who say that God has told them something, but we have to test their claims by the Bible. Paul wrote, “Test everything. Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil.” (1 Thessalonians 5:21,22) Those claiming to receive dreams or visions from God are not to be revered, quoted as an authority, or worshiped. Instead their words are to be thoroughly challenged by the Word of God and if they bear up after close investigation, the Word of God is to be exalted – not the prophet!
The lives of the prophets should also be examined. Speaking of prophets, Jesus said, “Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them.” (Matthew 7:19,20)
Each time a prophet claims to reveal something from God, that claim has to be verified. If the claim is found to be in harmony with Scripture, then a clearer understanding of Scripture will unfold and the body of Christ will be blessed! Otherwise, I hope that none of you will have anything to do with the subtle lies of a false prophet!
- “For the LORD has poured out on you the spirit of deep sleep, and has closed your eyes, namely, the prophets; and He has covered your heads, namely, the seers. The whole vision has become to you like the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one who is literate, saying, “Read this, please.” And he says, “I cannot, for it is sealed.” Then the book is delivered to one who is illiterate, saying, “Read this, please.” And he says, “I am not literate Therefore the LORD said: “Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men.”
When we see new prophets operate outside the written word or give new unknown meanings to the word they have become illiterate to expounding truth. When this happens many turn to signs and wonders to validate their ministry. Its not truth that they have to give, but the power to display.
- The time will come when they will not adhere to sound doctrine but according to their desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers, and they will turn away from the truth and be turned aside to fables.”
Fables are all things beyond what is written in the word.
A prophet does not point to himself
The Bible also indicates that a prophet cannot validate himself. In other words, no person becomes a prophet because he decides to be a prophet and neither can any man appoint a prophet. God Himself decides who will speak for Him – and that person may prophesy once during his entire lifetime or he may prophesy many times. (1 Samuel 19)
Paul wrote, “All these [gifts, including the gift of prophecy] are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he [the Spirit] gives them to each one, just as he determines.”
Jesus said, “If I testify about myself about myself [claiming that I am the Messiah], my testimony is not valid. There is another who testifies in my favor, and I know that his testimony about me is valid. You have sent to John and he has testified to the truth [that I am the Messiah].”
If a person is “gifted” with visions from God, this gift will become evident over time. Spiritually mature people will test and validate the gift and of course, time will prove whether the prophet spoke of God or out of his own imagination.
Followers of William Branham's message state that William Branham never said he had the spirit of Elijah — but that he did point out many of the scriptures that the "end-time Elijah would fulfill. Unfortunately, this statement is the product of cognitive dissonance.
William Branham pointed to himself repeatedly and often.
A true prophet will point out the false ones
A true apostle would point out the false ones. Yet today, not only do those who claim to be apostles fail to do so, but there are threats and manipulations for those who do not go along with what they are trying to portray. 'Jezebel,' 'Antichrist,' and 'Blasphemer of the Holy Spirit' are common terms used for those who speak against them.
Alarmingly, these impostor’s claim to be exclusively without error in their interpretations and teachings on these matters. They are to be questioned by no one. In reading the letter of Jude, we find him exhorting the believers to contend for their faith among apostates in the church. More specifically, verse 17 reminds the church of the apostles' warnings of mockers coming in the last days that are natural men not having the Spirit. Today we find those who claim to have more of it than others. Nowhere do we find the apostles preaching they are anointed and certainly did not imply they were more so than others. The danger of these mislead leaders is that they will cause divisions without realizing the harm they do, nor the judgment that they will eventually incur upon themselves.
Lack of popularity is not "proof"
True prophets are not popular during their lifetime because Almighty God does not trifle with man nor does God send trivial messages through His prophets. When God sends a message, His words cut like a double-edged sword. God condemns sin and exposes error. So, the message of a true prophet is usually hated, and historically, the life span of a true prophet is short and painful. Jesus acknowledged Israel’s customary treatment of the prophets saying, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how often I have longed to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing.”
However, being unpopular is not an indication that someone is a prophet. Joseph Smith, the founder of the Mormons, was killed for his beliefs but this did not make his beliefs correct.
Does not give a private interpretation of scripture
2 Peter 1:20, "Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation." A true Prophet NEVER gives his private interpretation. He only shares what the Lord reveals. Scripture defines Scripture, not man.
Does not glorify himself
2 Peter 1:21, "For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."
A true Prophet only prophecies in the name of the Lord. He only seeks to glorify the Lord. He will never seek glory to himself. NEVER!
Purpose is to edify, comfort, and uplift the church
1 Corinthians 14:3-4, "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."
A true Prophet will look to edify, comfort, and uplift the Church body by his testimony as well as exhort them.
Believes that Jesus Christ is God
1 John 4:1-3, "Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world."
A true Prophet believes and preaches the incarnation of Jesus Christ. He will preach Jesus as God who came to Earth and put on humanity in order to redeem us all.
Gender is not an issue for either Old or New Testament prophets
Exodus 15:20, "And Miriam the prophetess, the sister of Aaron, took a timbrel in her hand; and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dances." Judges 4:4, "And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time." 2 Chronicles 34:22, "And Hilkiah, and they that the king had appointed, went to Huldah the prophetess, the wife of Shallum the son of Tikvath, the son of Hasrah, keeper of the wardrobe; (now she dwelt in Jerusalem in the college:) and they spake to her to that effect." Luke 2:36, "And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity;" Acts 21:8-9, "And the next day we that were of Paul's company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him. And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy." Gender makes no difference. Women can, and have been prophet's as well.
Age is not an issue
Acts 2:17-18, "And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy:"
Age makes NO difference in being a prophet.
Does not disagree with scripture
Isa. 8:20. "To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, [it is] because [there is] no light in them." The "law" here is a reference to the "Law of Moses," the first five books of the Old Testament, which also contain the Ten Commandments law, and "testimony" is a reference to the rest of the Old Testament, and by extension including the New Testament, which also contains the "testimony of Jesus Christ" (Rev. 12:17), that both together explain what the "Law of Moses" means in mankind's practical experience.
True prophet's sayings are totally consistent with all that the Holy Spirit has already revealed in Scripture.
Does not create pride
Mt. 7:15. "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. ... Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither [can] a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. ...Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them." True prophets lead people to repentance and humility before God, and to love their fellow humans. They never lead people to become competitive, prideful or self-exalting.
Marks of a false prophet
They expect God to fulfill their words
The Bible is clear that genuine and false prophets will exist until the end. I believe the first step in identifying a true prophet is found in the book of Ezekiel: “The word of the Lord came to me [Ezekiel]: ‘Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who are now prophesying. Say to those who prophesy out of their own imagination:
- [They deceitfully say] ‘Hear the word of the Lord! [But,] This is what the Sovereign Lord says [to them]: Woe to the foolish prophets who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing! Your prophets, O Israel, are like [noisy] jackals [roaming aimlessly] among ruins. You [claim to speak on my behalf, but you] have not gone up to the breaks in the wall to repair it for the house of Israel [that is, you have not turned My people away from their decadent sins] so that it [My house] will stand firm [in righteousness] in the battle on the day of the Lord. Their visions are false and their divinations a lie.’ They say, ‘The Lord declares,’ when the Lord has not sent them; yet they expect their words to be fulfilled. Have you not seen false visions and uttered lying divinations when you say, ‘The Lord declares,’ though I have not spoken?’” (Ezekiel 13:1-7, insertions and italics added)
Visions are not indicative
Not everyone mentioned in the Bible who received direct revelation from God was a prophet or even a believer. God spoke to Pharaoh in a dream also Nebuchadnezzar. In Gen.20 Abimelech is warned by God not to take Sarah into his harem. So just because one receives a dream or vision does not mean they are of God. Also we need to know the enemy can give prophecies that will come to pass but will oppose Gods word. So all needs to be tested by the words of the true prophets and apostles.
Healings can't be "taken away if you lose faith"
“Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds.”(2 Cor. 12:12) The sign of an apostle was the miracles done, this distinguished them from the other believers.
Unlike those who claim miraculous healings today the apostles healed totally and instantaneously, and it was permanent. Those healings were not as some claim today that one must continue in faith or the devil will steal it away. They were able to heal all, such as Paul on the Island of Malta in Acts 28 healed Publius and the rest of the people who had diseases came to him. He was also able to be unaffected by a poisenous snake. They healed organic disease on those from birth. They raised the dead . Peter raised Dorcas Acts 9:36-42, Paul raised Eutyches back to life after he fell 3 stories Acts 20:6-12. Like Jesus it was by a word or a touch, as God approved their office it was immediate and permanent .
Acts 2:43: “Then fear came upon every soul and many signs and wonders are done through the apostles. Acts 5:12 “And through he hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. Acts 14:3” Paul and Barnabas speak boldly in the Lord, who bears witness to His word of grace, granting signs sign and wonders to be done through their hands.”
Time is the enemy of a false prophet
Time is the enemy of a false prophet, so if one cannot discern from their conforming to scriptures, then they will certainly be able to tell by waiting to see if what was said will come to pass.
In Jer.28 Hananiah the prophet publicly prophecies in the temple that within 2 years Jeconiah and all taken captive with him the vessels of the Lords house will be brought back into Jerusalem. The yolk will be broken. To illustrate this he takes the yoke off Jeremiah that the Lord had him wear and breaks it. Jeremiah immediately receives a word from the Lord in which he says Go tell Hananiah Thus says the Lord you have broken the yokes of wood but you have made in their place a yolk of Iron. Gods response to his self made prophecy is he will put all the nations in the surrounding area in a yolk of iron to serve the king of Babylon. It is then Jeremiah addresses him directly saying “hear now, Hananiah, the Lord has not sent you, but you make these people trust in a lie. Therefore says the Lord I will cast you from the face of the earth, this year you shall die because you have taught rebellion against the Lord and so he died in the 7th month of the same year. Obviously Jeremiah and others were in no position to bring sentence on the false prophets so God did.
False prophets incorporate their own agenda
What we see is false prophets incorporate their own agenda. We find censoring the false prophets protects Gods people from harm, physically and spiritually. Anyone who allows people of this type of questionable ability to go for it in their church needs to question whether they are pleasing man or God. As a shepherd do they really care for the sheep or are for promoting their own ministry? We don’t read of any second chances for false predictions or an attitude of let bygones be bygones. The scripture does not allow to let prophets practice because practice makes perfect. There are no readjustments in their figures. Nor do we hear, "lets see if any harm comes from what they say first before we judge".
2 Peter 1:19 says we have a more sure word of prophecy. No prophecy of scripture is of any private interpretation. There seems to be a common denominator with all the new cults that disguise themselves as the original. They have new views on basic fundamental doctrines that have been accepted for almost 2,000 years. Their doctrines usually start with "the Lord told me" or "he appeared to me" or "I went to heaven".
Prophets do not bring new doctrine
Hebrews 1:1 I tells us that God has spoken in times past to the fathers by the prophets in many various ways, but in these last days, He has spoken by His Son. Once the New Testament was completed, there was no longer a need for prophets to reveal God's will or new revelational knowledge. His Son's words are all we need. Prophets are not a continuing position. However, we do have the gift of prophecy functioning for edification, consolation, and exhortation within the local church body. But this is never doctrine. Prophets are not sent, as in Old Testament times, to rebuke; rather the gift is to console and build us up.
God is able and still does speak in various ways yet he has chosen a more explicit but simple way to convey his message. It is by his son. Not just any son but one who is God himself to delivered it in person. To change this or reject this method is to reject God. As Jesus said he who receives you receives me and he who receives me receives the one who sent me, the Father.
Today prophecy dos not have the same importance that it did with the prophets to Israel.
1 Cor. 14:3 “But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.”
False prophets resist being tested
What do all false prophets have in common? A hope of not being tested! They count on the people not to test their writings by putting guilt and fear in those that would dare to question Gods “anointed ones”. Most people think that if we just teach the truth then we don’t have to address error. However error dies a slow death and must be exposed and then killed by the truth. Infections don’t leave the body by just eating right they need to be combated by antibiotics. The writers of the scripture did not believe in the concept of just teaching the truth. We have numerous letters that have their major content and themes addressing the false views and practices that arose in the early church. 1 Cor., 2 Thess. and 2nd John, Jude would not have been written if the apostles did not put the truth alongside error to expose it. All error challenges the truth and if accepted will usually rise above it. It was chased out of the early church and if a church is to be true to the words delivered by the apostles then it needs to be forged with the same attitude today. To be apologetic in ones approach to the culture and beliefs of the people is to be evangelical. That is to make sense out of the Gospel. The Bible teaches to preach the word not new knowledge. If someone claims the position of a prophet they need to be brave enough to accept the consequences of one.
|And if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the LORD have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel. (Ezekiel 14:9)|
Scriptures in the Old Testament concerning prophets
|GENESIS 20:2-7||And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister: and Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah. But God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man's wife. But Abimelech had not come near her: and he said, Lord, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation? Said he not unto me, She is my sister? and she, even she herself said, He is my brother: in the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands have I done this. And God said unto him in a dream, Yea, I know that thou didst this in the integrity of thy heart; for I also withheld thee from sinning against me: therefore suffered I thee not to touch her. Now therefore restore the man his wife; for he is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live: and if thou restore her not, know thou that thou shalt surely die, thou, and all that are thine.|
|EXODUS 7:1||And the LORD said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet.|
|NUMBERS 12:6-8||And he said, Hear now my words: If there be a prophet among you, I the LORD will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream. My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all mine house. With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in dark speeches; and the similitude of the LORD shall he behold: wherefore then were ye not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?|
|DEUTERONOMY 13:1-5||If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.|
|DEUTERONOMY 18:15-22||The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken; According to all that thou desiredst of the LORD thy God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not. And the LORD said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken. I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him. But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.|
|DEUTERONOMY 34:9-10||And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him: and the children of Israel hearkened unto him, and did as the LORD commanded Moses. And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face,|
|I SAMUEL 3:19-20||And Samuel grew, and the LORD was with him, and did let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan even to Beersheba knew that Samuel was established to be a prophet of the LORD.|
|I SAMUEL 9:9||(Beforetime in Israel, when a man went to enquire of God, thus he spake, Come, and let us go to the seer: for he that is now called a Prophet was beforetime called a Seer.)|
|JEREMIAH 1:5||Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.|
|EZEKIEL 14:9||And if the prophet be deceived when he hath spoken a thing, I the LORD have deceived that prophet, and I will stretch out my hand upon him, and will destroy him from the midst of my people Israel.|
|HOSEA 12:13||And by a prophet the LORD brought Israel out of Egypt, and by a prophet was he preserved.|
|MALACHI 4:5||Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:|
Scriptures In the New Testament concerning prophets
|MATTHEW 10:41||He that receiveth a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he that receiveth a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward.|
|MATTHEW 11:7-10||And as they departed, Jesus began to say unto the multitudes concerning John, What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind? But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings' houses. But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee.|
|MATTHEW 13:57||And they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house.|
|MATTHEW 16:4||A wicked and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given unto it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas. And he left them, and departed.|
|MATTHEW 21:11||And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee.|
|LUKE 1:76||And thou, child, shalt be called the prophet of the Highest: for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord to prepare his ways;|
|LUKE 4:17-21||And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. And he began to say unto them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.|
|LUKE 7:16||And there came a fear on all: and they glorified God, saying, That a great prophet is risen up among us; and, That God hath visited his people.|
|LUKE 13:33||Nevertheless I must walk to day, and to morrow, and the day following: for it cannot be that a prophet perish out of Jerusalem.|
|LUKE 24:18-19||And the one of them, whose name was Cleopas, answering said unto him, Art thou only a stranger in Jerusalem, and hast not known the things which are come to pass there in these days? And he said unto them, What things? And they said unto him, Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, which was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people:|
|JOHN 4:17-19||The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, Thou hast well said, I have no husband: For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly. The woman saith unto him, Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet.|
|JOHN 9:17||They say unto the blind man again, What sayest thou of him, that he hath opened thine eyes? He said, He is a prophet.|
|ACTS 2:29-32||Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses.|
|ACTS 3:22-23||For Moses truly said unto the fathers, A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass, that every soul, which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people.|
|ACTS 8:34-35||And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached unto him Jesus.|
|ACTS 21:10-11||And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea a certain prophet, named Agabus. And when he was come unto us, he took Paul's girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.|
|I CORINTHIANS 14:37||If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord.|
- Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, Second Edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic, 2020), 1294.
- Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, Second Edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic, 2020), 1294–1296.
- Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, Second Edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic, 2020), 1296–1303.
- Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine, Second Edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Academic, 2020), 1303–1304.
- Numbers 12:6
- Deuteronomy 18:20-22
- Jeremiah 28:9
- The Holy Bible: English Standard Version (Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001), Eze 13:2–9.
- 1 Samuel 3:19-20
- William Branham, 50-0405 - Expectation, para. 16
- William Branham, 53-1106 - Do You Now Believe?, para. 10
- William Branham, 61-0205E - Jesus Christ The Same Yesterday, Today, And Forever, para. 12
- William Branham, 57-0306 - God Keeps His Word #1, para.42
- William Branham, 64-0120 - His Unfailing Words Of Promise, para. 41
- William Branham, 64-0320 - God Identifying Himself By His Characteristics, para. 85
- The New International Version (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2011), Dt 13:1–5.
- New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), 1 Co 12:28.
- Matthew 24:24-25
- Matthew 7:15, 21-23
- Matthew 24:24,25
- Revelation 19:20
- 1 Cor. 4:9-13
- 2 Cor.11:12-14
- 1 Corinthians 12:28
- 1 Corinthians 12:11, insertions and emphasis added
- John 5:31-33, insertions added
- Matthew 23:37