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The Prophet 


What is prophecy?


In Biblical terms, prophecy is a message that is authorized by God to be spoken on His behalf.  Prophecy isn't always foretelling future events.  In New Testament times, the prophetic message is a gift of the Holy Spirit given to the believer to speak. (1 Corinthians 12:7:11) 


Who can prophesy? 

If someone is given the gift of a prophetic message, (1 Corinthians 12:9) he is obligated to speak it.  Paul says that every believer can prophesy when gathered together with others. (1 Corinthians 14:31)  Peter, in Acts 2:17, quotes the Old Testament prophet Joel when he says that "sons and daughters will prophesy".  In Acts 21:9, four women prophesied.  The prophetic gift is genderless and available to all believers to speak, upon being authorized by the Holy Spirit.    


What can be prophesied?


In 1 Timothy 4:14 we learn that Timothy was given the ministry gift of teacher/preacher when elders prophesied this ministry into his life.  In Acts 13:1, the elders in Antioch spoke a prophetic message that sent Paul and Barnabas on their first apostolic mission.  In Acts 21:10 and 11 Agabus prophesied that Paul would be arrested when he arrived in Jerusalem .  Peter prophesied when he warned and pleaded with God-fearing Jews to save themselves from their corrupt generation. (Acts 2:40) 


In both the Old and New Testaments the prophetic message was spoken to individuals, nations, and God's people.  The prophecy gave personal and corporate direction, was a warning of coming judgment, was a call to repent, and a promise of restoration upon repentance.      


What is a prophet?


In Biblical terms, a prophet is one who has been authorized by the Lord to speak on His behalf.  A prophet prophesies, but not all who prophesy are prophets.  In New Testament times the prophetic ministry is a gift from Jesus to the church. (Ephesians 4:11)  A prophet is not a gift of the Spirit as is prophecy. (1Corinthians 12:7-11)   


Are prophets found in the New Testament?


The prophet is a ministry to the church. (Ephesians 4:11)   Agabus was a New Testament prophet. (Acts 21:10-11)  So were Judas and Silas. (Acts 15:31)  Prophets lived in Antioch. (Acts 13:1)


Is there a difference between Old and New Testament prophets?


Prophets in both the Old and New Testament foretold future events, spoke words of warning, judgment, repentance, faith, and encouragement.  In both cases they spoke to individuals, nations, and God's people.  


Old Testament prophets usually worked alone.  New Testament prophets are one of many ministries networked together in the Body of Christ and therefore  work in conjunction with others to whom they are personally joined.    


Are we all prophets?


Not all believers are prophets even though all believers can prophesy.  In 1 Corinthians 14:29 to 33 Paul says that all can prophesy but 2 or 3 prophets should speak in a gathering.  This distinguishes between a believer who has a gift of a prophetic message and a believer who has the ministry of a prophet.   


Don't Despise Prophecy


In 1 Thessalonians 5:20 Paul teaches us not to despise prophecy.  I've been around long enough to be tempted to despise prophecy.  I've heard many wacky prophecies from many wacky prophets.  Despite the abuses, we're to respect the real prophetic message, listen to the true prophet, and carefully judge what we hear. (1 Corinthians 14:29)  


What about today?


I said all of the above to say this.  There's nothing in the Bible that suggests the prophetic message and the prophet doesn't exist today.  I believe the apostle Peter's warning applies to us as it did to those in his day .  "If you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed, but praise God that you bear the name.  For it is time for judgment to begin with the family of God; and if it begins with us what will the outcome be for those who do not obey the gospel of God". (1 Peter 4:16-17)  


Many parts of what we call "church" today are in serious need of repentance.  As Peter warned God's people in his day of coming judgment, so the prophets are warning the church of judgment in our day.  As Peter also warned, if judgment comes to God's people, it will surely come to the nations in which God's people live.  The prophetic warning of coming judgment is now beginning to be proclaimed to our national leaders.            


I say, "bring on the prophet.  Bring on the prophetic warning . Bring on the spirit of repentance".  We often pray for national repentance, but before we seek repentance from our nations, we as the church must repent, something many Christians don't see the need for.   



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