The office of the prophet
Ephesians 4:11-16 - And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ— from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.
The prophetic ministry is one of the five perfecting ministries God gave to men so that Christians may come to spiritual maturity. Apostles, prophets, teachers, evangelists, and pastors are the governing body of the church. The office or ministry of the prophet falls into this category.
Prophets are given to help train and equip God’s people and to bring them to maturity.
They are to prepare the saints for works of ministry and to teach them how to build up the body of Christ. The purpose is to bring the church into unity of the faith so that the body of Christ can grow into the full measure of Christ Himself.
This is also true for the other four ministry offices that have been given to the church.
God gives to some to proclaim the word of God with clarity and to apply it fearlessly with a view to the strengthening, encouragement, and comfort of believers and the convincing of unbelievers. It is a special gift whereby the Spirit empowers certain Christians to interpret and apply God's revelation in a given situation.
It is the divine enablement to reveal truth and proclaim it in a timely and relevant manner for understanding, correction, repentance, or edification. There may be immediate or future implications.
The prophet is one who hears from God and speaks forth His Word into the earth. When a prophet speaks, it is sent as a creative word. They are preachers of righteousness, revealers of future events, and they can be said to be God's mouthpiece on earth. They speak God’s mind and purpose as well as words of correction.
b. Their function
Jeremiah 1:9-10 - Then the Lord put forth His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me: "Behold, I have put My words in your mouth. See, I have this day set you over the nations and over the kingdoms, To root out and to pull down, To destroy and to throw down, To build and to plant."
In accordance with this Scripture, the purpose of the prophetic anointing are:
* to root out weeds both in the lives of individual believers as well as in the church, which is false teaching and false brethren
* to pull down resistances and rebellion to God’s Word and will by believers
* to destroy vain philosophies and imaginations raised up against the knowledge of God as well as the works of Satan
* to throw down the kingdoms of men and strongholds of the devil
* to build the church spiritually upon the foundation of the life of Christ
* to plant Christ as the Seed of God in the church and in the individual lives of believers as well as planting churches
Prophecy is speaking ahead of time revealing what God is planning to do. It can also involve preparing the ground for what God is planning to do.
A prophet is called by God and stands with the apostle as a foundational ministry in the body of Christ.
Prophets speak on behalf of God and reveal His will. They are important in the church today because all Christians need to know the heart of God and learn how to work together for His glory.
Prophecy involves an utterance or communication through words. Since the prophet must speak under inspiration, it is clear that the gifts of utterance must be in operation.
Their message is first to the bride of Christ and then to the lost.
We need to recognize that the prophet is more than just a medium of spiritual knowledge but is a foundational gift that brings a level of order and maturity to the body of Christ.
The purpose of the prophetic ministry is to guide the church. The prophets usually exercise revelation gifts such as words of knowledge, words of wisdom, and discerning of the spirit in their prophecies.
With these revelation gifts in operation, they are able to foretell the future and expose the destructive works of Satan which may be active in the body of Christ.
We should not reject those who are called to the prophetic office but neither should we accept every utterance without using the Biblical guidelines of evaluating and judging their prophecies.
As the prophetic ministry is restored to its true status in the local church as an office in its own right, there will obviously be many who will make claims to being called to the office. Prophets are all called and prepared by God alone.
The office of the prophet is only given to certain individuals who God anoints with supernatural enablement to minister.
A person cannot simply study to be a prophet and no one can teach someone to be a prophet. You cannot choose to be a prophet. The prophets of God are not trained in the religious schools of man, nor are they raised up from among the leadership of the organized church.
There is a lot of confusion in the Body today on what constitutes the office of a prophet. Many people today declare themselves prophets simply because they prophesy, but not every Christian who prophesies is a prophet.
Many Christians who operate in the gift of prophecy claim to be prophets because they do not understand the true nature of the New Testament prophet.
Every prophet will have the gift of prophecy but not every person who has the gift of prophecy is a prophet. For example, every doctor provides medical care but not every person who provides medical care is a doctor.
Acts 21:9 - Now this man had four virgin daughters who prophesied.
The four daughters of Philip the evangelist were not prophets, even though they prophesied.
The office of the prophet is not a gift of the Holy Spirit and is not available to all believers. It is an office that Jesus Himself put in place and is an extension of His government over His church.
Often believers have some revelation or some impression regarding their calling but do not fully understand it. The prophet can bring confirmation which builds hope in the lives of believers and bring them to a full knowledge of the Lord.
The prophet operates in the spiritual gifts as well, but because of the anointing and authority given by God, they bring much deeper clarity and spiritual insight which God uses to edify and establish the church.
c. The characteristics of a prophet
People like to be told they are right with God. It is for that reason why prophets have always had a difficult relationship with God's people. They speak what God wants to say to them and not necessarily what others want them to say.
Prophets are the eyes of the body of Christ. They are to provide vision so the church may go forward without stumbling and to stay on the path that it has been called to follow.
Luke 11:34 - The lamp of the body is the eye. Therefore, when your eye is good, your whole body also is full of light. But when your eye is bad, your body also is full of darkness.
A prophet must have the eyes of their hearts opened which gives them true prophetic vision to the degree that they look through the eyes of the Lord. What they see in the spiritual realm is more real to them than what they see in the natural realm.
ii. Secrets of God
Amos 3:7 - Surely the Lord God does nothing; Unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets.
One of the functions of a prophet is to reveal the mind of God to the people through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Prophets bring divine guidance and direction and can foresee the future. Prophets release the plan of God into the earth. God reveals His plan and purpose to the prophets so that they can pray forth His will into the earth and to release divine preparation into the church.
A true prophet is an intercessor. Divine revelation is imparted through prayer and fellowship with the Holy Spirit.
The prophetic ministry will receive revelation concerning the needs of others and is responsible to pray according to what has been revealed.
When prophets make a declaration they do not simply predict or indicate the will of God, but they literally speak forth a decree into the earth. That word is sent forth in power to make things happen.
It is very important therefore that prophets hear correctly before they speak.
Numbers 12:8 - I speak with him face to face, even plainly, and not in dark sayings; And he sees the form of the LORD. Why then were you not afraid to speak against My servant Moses?
Psalm 105:15 - Saying, "Do not touch My anointed ones, And do My prophets no harm."
Moses had an intimate face to face relationship with God and God shared many of His secrets with Moses.
God dealt severely with those who dared to speak against him because of this special relationship he had with God.
Prophets also have to be very close and intimate with the Lord in order for God to reveal His secrets and plans for the earth. They should therefore also be honored and respected.
The ministry of a prophet is one of rejection. All believers and Christian leaders should honor the true prophets of God who have carried the church through past prophetic seasons.
In accordance with God’s Word, we have the right to judge prophecy and from that basis, we can either accept or reject a prophetic word. We are not permitted to deliberately hurt someone else’s ministry.
We are not the accusers of our brothers and sisters in Christ. That is the devil’s job.
vii. Reveals Christ
Prophets reveal Christ and lead others to Him and do not draw men to themselves. This is what John the Baptist did when he saw Jesus coming towards him.
John 1:29-30 - The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him, and said, “Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! This is He of whom I said, ‘After me comes a Man who is preferred before me, for He was before me.’”
Many people are drawn to the ministry of the prophet, but the purpose of the prophetic ministry is to draw people to God.
The prophet is called to do a very specific work of purification in the church. We also need prophets to bring correction into the church.
A Prophet does not just prophesy good things. In fact, the prophetic anointing should bring the fear of God into the church, because it exposes sin and proclaims the way of holiness and sanctification. The prophetic ministry will also reveal the righteous judgment of God.
Leaders set the standards for the people. When it becomes necessary to do so, a prophet will encourage others not to compromise in their service to the Lord. They set standards of holiness and righteousness as declared in the Word of God and have a thorough understanding of God’s Word.
The prophetic anointing brings conviction as to what is right and what is wrong which will move the people to repentance. Prophets are given to help train and equip God’s people and to bring them to maturity.
They are to prepare the saints for works of ministry and to teach them how to build up the body of Christ. The purpose is to bring the church into unity of the faith so that the body of Christ can grow into the full measure of Christ Himself. This is also true for the other four ministry offices that have been given to the church.
ix. Sphere of influence
Each prophet is given a mandate and a sphere of influence. The prophet must be careful to stay within these God given boundaries. For example, Agabus was appointed to the church in Jerusalem, whereas Nehemiah was called to rebuild Jerusalem.
Prophets are meant to form part of the local church leadership and are to be sent from there like any other ministry.
The prophetic anointing gives the prophets a deeper understanding and knowledge of the mind of Christ. Such a privilege will demand a deeper sense of responsibility by the Holy Spirit on the prophet.
Prophets must walk in humility and not think that they are above everyone else.
The prophetic ministry is responsible to God for the condition of the church because God guides His church through the prophetic anointing.
A very important and regular task of the prophets is to judge any prophecy being uttered and also to discern any attempts by Satan to infiltrate the local church through an individual or group of individuals. This could be brought to the attention of the church leadership who will take the necessary corrective steps.
Acts 15:32 - And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them.
Part of the prophetic anointing is to exhort and to encourage the church. Prophets speak words of encouragement, comfort, and revelation.
d. Old Covenant prophets
The prophets came from all sorts of varied backgrounds. Jeremiah and Ezekiel were from priestly families whereas Isaiah, Daniel, and Zephaniah were associated with royalty. Amos was a shepherd.
The prophets received and spoke divine revelation that was recorded as the Old Testament Scriptures. God entrusted approximately half of the entire Bible to these prophets.
Because of their responsibility to establish a perfect Old Testament Scripture, God Himself ensured that the prophetic ministry was absolutely infallible. The prophets themselves, as people, were not perfect, but their ministry certainly was.
Prophets would be executed not only for prophesying in the name of a false god, but also if they prophesied incorrectly. In like manner, if the people did not obey God’s commandments, they were also stoned.
The prophets were given absolute authority and their prophetic word was the final authority from God for the entire nation of Israel. It was to be obeyed without hesitation or question.
The prophetic word of the true prophet of God was never tested or judged and the prophecy was divine law.
Jeremiah 6:19 - Hear, O earth! Behold, I will certainly bring calamity on this people—The fruit of their thoughts, Because they have not heeded My words, Nor My law, but rejected it.
The prophets also demonstrated miracles, signs, and wonders to enforce their authority.
If the prophecy came from a true prophet, the word was to be immediately and indisputably accepted by all Israel.
They received communication mainly through external revelations through their five physical senses. Such revelation was direct, clear, and easy to reproduce without errors.
At times, God spoke to them in an audible voice, dictating exactly what to say and write. Other times He sent angels to appear on His behalf and dictate a message.
The prophets ministered only within the Jewish cultural context because Israel was God's chosen nation through whom He communicated His plans and purposes for mankind.
The prophets were not integrated into the main community and lived separate from the larger Israelite community.
e. New Covenant prophets
The prophet is required to provide specific messages from God that encourages and builds the church and prepares the body of Christ for the return of Jesus.
They do not write Scripture as the Word of God is complete.
Their prophetic ministry is not infallible and their prophecies could contain inaccuracies.
The prophets have a lesser type of authority. All prophecy is to be judged and tested by the hearers for divine authenticity and harmony with the Scriptures which minimizes their authority to a certain extent.
The prophetic messages are communicated to the prophet through internal revelations by the Holy Spirit which dwells within every Spirit filled child of God.
The prophets strengthen, encourage, and comfort the people of God.
Prophecy is primarily for the church and prophets are essential to bringing the church to maturity. God's main focus is on the church and includes everyone whether Jew or Gentile, male or female, young or old, and from every class of people.
The prophets are integrated into the faith community and are part of the fellowship and church leadership.
f. True and false prophets
Mathew 24:24 - For there shall arise false christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.
In a time when the prophetic ministry is becoming more widely accepted and more visible, we are seeing more mistakes, miscalculations, and even untrue words being uttered.
The first response by Christians is to reject the prophet. We should be careful before labeling someone a false prophet.
It is becoming more and more difficult to recognize true prophets from false prophets. In these last days, we need to be continually filled with the Spirit of God because we will only identify the difference through spiritual discernment.
False prophets will speak things that are true and they will also perform miracles, signs, and wonders. The doctrines they will teach will initially be true, but they will slowly begin to mix the truth with their own demonic doctrines which will deceive and seduce God’s people away from the Lord.
2 Peter 2:1 - But there were also false prophets among the people, even as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Lord who bought them, and bring on themselves swift destruction.
There will be false prophets who have never accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior. There will be others who once walked closely with Him but allowed themselves to be drawn away from the truth of God’s Word and relationship with Him.
Jesus teaches us that even the elect could be misled. This is very serious. Each person is responsible for their own salvation. We have to develop and pursue a daily and close relationship with the Holy Spirit in these last days in order to be spiritually prepared for the coming demonic onslaught against God’s children.
Prophets have always played a very important part in the unfolding plan and purpose of God both in the Old and New Testaments. The Lord requires us to respect the prophetic anointing as well as the prophetic office.
Psalm 105:15 - Saying, "Do not touch My anointed ones, And do My prophets no harm."
We are living in the age of the prophetic and according to Biblical prophecy God is going to send prophets like Elijah and John the Baptist who will herald the return of Jesus. In the last days there are going to be true prophets of the Lord and false prophets as well.
Jesus was a true prophet and the multitudes followed Him. Towards the end of His ministry the crowds began to dwindle because they were initially attracted to the many signs and wonders He performed.
There were only 120 true believers who gathered in the Upper Room to await the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Day of Pentecost.
In the last days not many will follow the true prophets of the Lord because this will require true repentance, a holy lifestyle, and a change of attitude. The Bible teaches us that multitudes will follow after false prophets.
1 Timothy 4:1 - Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons.
Matthew 24:24-26 - For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect. See, I have told you beforehand. "Therefore if they say to you, 'Look, He is in the desert!' do not go out; or 'Look, He is in the inner rooms!' do not believe it.
Historically, every major prophet of God was both misunderstood and rejected by all except for a small minority.
We will need discernment to receive the true prophet of God. The religious establishment rejected Jesus because He did not meet their preconceived idea of the Messiah. They also rejected John the Baptist because he was unconventional and uneducated, but yet he was a true prophet of God.
The 21st century prophets will not be packaged in a way we will want them to be presented to us and this will cause many to reject them. If we reject the true prophet that the Lord sends, we reject His message which could be a life line to the body of Christ in these closing days of the church age.
False prophets will lead people astray by appealing to the desires of their sinful nature, but God will also ordain true prophets who will be examples to the church. The anointing on their lives will bring greater protection and assurance to God’s children.
God is bringing order back to His church through the prophetic anointing in these last days.
i. The marks of a true prophet
True prophets always speak in the name of the Lord with the authority given by God. This is the first and foremost test whether a prophet is from God or sent by Satan.
True prophets exhibit Godly qualities such as love, peace, joy, longsuffering, faith, goodness, gentleness, and holiness. They do good works and speak good words. They also glorify God through their words, action, and any supernatural signs they perform. They give glory to God for the anointing and power that operates in their lives.
True prophets lead people to God and His teachings. A true prophet will always speak with authority from God’s Word. They point people to Jesus and declare that He is God that became flesh and that He is the only way to salvation and to the Father.
ii. The marks of a false prophet
False prophets speak in a name other than the name of Jesus.
False prophets do not possess Godly character or fruit. Even though Satan and the demons can perform miracles, they cannot imitate God's nature and character. They pretend to be servants of God but are after their own gain. False prophets lead people to themselves. They pretend to care for people, but in reality they control and manipulate them.
False prophets will be widely accepted by men, admired, and well-spoken of by all. They pervert the ways of the Lord for their own purposes. They will have power but it will not be comparable to the power manifest in God’s true prophet. They demonstrate the wisdom of men and love to be praised.
False prophets promote self-interest and demand belief in their position. They share their own opinion to explain Scripture. They have it in their heart to deceive the people of God and eventually lead them into worship of someone or something other than the one true God. They may prophesy correctly but could still be false prophets.
They will have what initially appears to be humility but it will be a false humility. They will reject correction and answer to no man. Although they will teach on love, they will do it to gain the affection for themselves.
Ephesians 2:20-22 - Having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the whole building, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together for a dwelling place of God in the Spirit.
The apostles and prophets are the two foundational ministries in the body of Christ.
Jesus revealed Himself to be the cornerstone of the church and continues to build it through His apostles and prophets.
1 Corinthians 12:28 - And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets…
Apostles are the first and prophets are second among the ministries in building the church of God because they lay a foundation of understanding concerning the mystery of Christ.
Unfortunately, these are the two ministries that are least recognized in the church today. God is bringing order back to His church and is fully restoring the ministry of the apostles and prophets.
Without the ministry of apostles and prophets the revelation of the blueprint necessary for the building is incomplete.
The prophet works closely with the apostle as they lay a foundation and bring strength and order to the body of Christ. God has given His grace to apostles and prophets to receive a revelation of His mysteries and to reveal them to the body.
When we look at the current state of the church, it is clear that it needs to make significant foundational shifts and changes. It is evident that the ministry gifts of the pastors, evangelists, prophets, and teachers are active in the church today. When we make a comparison of where the church should be headed in terms of its maturity and unity, the office of the apostle has not been fully restored to the church. The bride of Christ can only prepare for the Bridegroom once all five of these anointing are fully active.