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What the Bible says about prophets:

Believe in the Lord your God, so shall ye be established; believe His prophets, so shall ye prosper. 2 Chronicles 20:20

The work of a prophet:

See, I have this day set thee over the nations and over the kingdoms, to root out, and to pull down, and to destroy, and to throw down, to build, and to plant. Jeremiah 1:10


1. To speak for God and reveal His purposes. Exodus 3:10; 4:10-17; 7:1,2; Jeremiah 1:7,17; Revelation 1:19

2. To reveal the enemy and his purposes. 2 Kings 6:8-17

3. Sometimes to foretell. Amos 3:7; 2 Kings 17:23

4. To guide and strengthen. 2 Chronicles 20:20; Revelation 12:17; 19:10; 14:12

5. To call God's people to faithfulness. Malachi 4:5; 1 Kings 18

6. To condemn sin. Exodus 5:1; Matthew 14:3,4

7. To provide leadership. 1 Kings 18

8. To teach and preach. Exodus 18:20; 1 Samuel 12:23; Mark 4:1; 6:2,34; Luke 11:1

9. To pronounce God's judgments. Hosea 6:5

10. To perform miracles. 2 Kings 4-6

11. To execute judgment. 1 Kings 18:40

Biblical categories of prophets:

A. Prophets who wrote some portion of the Bible, like Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Paul.

B. Prophets who wrote none of the Bible, but whose life and teachings are sketched int eh Scriptures, such as Elijah, Elisha, Enoch, and John the Baptist.

C. Prophets who apparently gave only oral testimonies that have not been recorded. There are many prophets in this group. Numbers 11:24,25; 1 Samuel 10:5,6,10; 19:18-24; 1 Kings 18:4,13.

D. Prophets who wrote books that have not been preserved, including these materials:

  • The book of Nathan the prophet. 1 Chronicles 29:29
  • The book of Gad the Seer. 1 Chronicles 29:29
  • The book of Jasher. Joshua 10:13; 2 Samuel 1:18
  • The book of Shemiah the prophet. 2 Chronicles 12:15
  • The book of Iddo the Seer. 2 Chronicles 12:15; 9:29
  • The prophecy of Oded. 2 Chronicles 15:8
  • The prophecy of Ahijah. 2 Chronicles 9:29
  • The book of Jehu. 2 Chronicles 20:34
  • The epistle of Paul to the Laodiceans. Colossians 4:16
God sometimes gives messages through His prophets that apply more directly to a specific time and place. Even everything that Jesus said was not preserved. John 21:25

Biblical tests of a prophet:
  • God's previous revelations always judge revelations that come afterwards. Thus, the Bible tests all post-biblical revelations. This Spirit never contradicts His previous instruction. Isaiah 8:20
  • What fruit does the ministry of the prophet bring? Does it lead God's people to holiness and purity? Matthew 7:15,20; 1 Corinthians 14:3,4
  • God's predictions come true. This test is supplemented by the Bible truth that all prophecy is conditional. Jeremiah 28:9; 18:9,10; Jonah 1-4
  • A right conception of the incarnation of Christ is also a pointed test. 1 John 4:2
Note: (a)the tests are cumulative, (b)no single test should be relied upon in isolation from others, (c)it is usually easier to detect a false prophet than it is to be certain of the true.

Was Christ the end of prophecy?

He was the ultimate revelation of God (Hebrews 1:1,2), but the Bible speaks clearly of prophecy after Christ (Acts 2:16; Joel 2:28,29). All the lists of spiritual gifts appear after the death of Christ on the cross (Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, 12:27-31; Ephesians 4:8,11-16). There is a time when prophecyings will end (1 Corinthians 13:8). The purpose of prophecy after the death of Christ is to build up God's people into maturity (Ephesians 4:13; Hebrews 5:11-6:3).

The Spirit of prophecy in the remnant church:
  • God sends us prophets to help us and give us forewarning. Amos 3:7. This suggests that before the end, God will do so again!
  • The church reaches full maturity only in the end under prophetic light. Ephesians 4:13; 2 Peter 3:11,12
  • In the last days, we should be especially attentive to prophecy. 1 Th 5:20,21
  • We live in a time when false prophecy is to be especially prevalent; this points to the presence of the true. Matthew 24:3,4,11,24; 2 Peter 2:1; Jude 3,4
  • The traits that identify God's people in the last days are total obedience to God's law, and the testimony of Jesus. Revelation 12:17
  • The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. Revelation 19:10; 1 Corinthians 1:5-7

Ellen G. White, 1888 Materials 808-809:
These persons are disposed to conceal the fact that in connection with the work of the third angel's message the Lord through the Spirit of Prophecy has been communicating to His people a knowledge of His will. They think that the truth will be received more readily if this fact is not made prominent. But this is mere human reasoning. The very fact that this light coming to the people is not presented as having originated with human minds will make an impression upon a large class who believe that the gifts of the Spirit are to be manifested in the church in the last days. The attention of many will thus be arrested, and they will be convicted and converted. Many will thus be impressed who would not otherwise be reached.

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Last Modified 20 March 2000

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