Prophecy Series, Prophetic or Prophet

Posted on May 31, 2015


A common question concerning prophecy and prophets is just because someone prophesies once or twice are they a prophet?  So I hope to distinguish the difference between prophecy and the office of prophet.

The Prophet

The New Testament clearly distinguishes that there are two primary offices or positions of title amongst believers, the apostle and the prophet. So many today are being taught and teaching about the “Five Fold Ministry” derived from Ephesian 5:11 where a list five titles are mentioned.  This list is one of many but the only list to mention these particular titles all in one place and in addition there is not one biblical example of implementation, teaching, or in action.  So to teach this Five Fold Ministry doctrine is erroneous and not supported by the Bible in anyway.  Each of these five aspects of ministry is important and should be in the church but the problem is when they are taught as the exclusive and or primary ministry positions in churches today. The office of prophet is both supported by many scriptures, stories, and teachings in the Bible, both in the New Testament and Old Testament.

The prophet is one who reveals the hidden things of God. Now these things that are revealed are revealed in many ways both to the prophet and to those that receive the prophecy. Most often we think of prophecy being spoken by a prophet to an individual or group and we are not always clear on how the prophet receives the word but very often from the Old Testament and in life today many prophets prophesy from just living their lives.

Prophecy Without the Prophet    

In I Corinthians we find that prophecy is one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

1 Corinthians 12: 8 For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; 9 To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; 10 To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues:

From this passage and others we can see that prophecy and other forms of revelatory speaking are gifts of the Holy Spirit which shows us that these gifts are not always attached to a person that is in the office of prophet.  The instructions that are given by the Apostle Paul for proper use of these gifts is addressed to the church at Corinth not just to the prophets of Corinth so they are for all to know and possible operate with.  The safer place to be in life is operate in prophecy and other revelatory gifts such as words of wisdom, knowledge, tongues and interpretation as that you are operating within those gifts of the Holy Spirit not in the office of prophet.  Those in the office of prophet are operating the same way but have a different focus of ministry over all.

1 Corinthians 14:39 Wherefore, brethren, covet to prophesy, and forbid not to speak with tongues.

The Apostle Paul encouraged everyone in the church of Corinth to prophesy which implies to all the believers in his time and now that we all should desire to be used in prophecy.  A person that only delivers an occasional prophecy does not imply that the prophecies that they deliver are less important and lower in impact to the mission of God.  In general these types of prophecies will be more focused for individuals and for individual calls and missions of God.

The Still Small Voice

Each one of us has a way we most commonly hear from God. The term taken from the book of I Samuel about the still small voice was how the Prophet Samuel began to learn and experience how to hear the voice of God.  Samuel was even given advice by a non-prophetic person, Eli, on what he should do and the first prophecy Samuel received was of national significance.  Samuel heard a voice that was just a whisper but each one of us God wishes to speak to in some way.  This is where it can get very confusing since God speaks in so many ways that while a person may by listening for the still small voice the message may be in the sky, literally!  Our prayer needs to be “God I am listening and watching for you to speak, help me to receive your words however you send them.”  For me personally I have many dreams, feelings in my heart, feelings in my body, repeating patterns in life, and directly from others. I have never heard a voice or saw a vision while I was awake yet God has shown me some very profound things.

Walking With God

We first see the term walking with God in respect to Enoch who was a prophet.

Genesis 5:24 And Enoch walked with God: and he was not; for God took him.

Walking with God implies a real relationship. People often use this language in reference to getting saved that they have a relationship with God that they never had previously but what I am talking about is much deeper than that in most cases.  Walking with God is making God a part of your entire life and taking Him with you in every part of your life. Too often God is only a part of our church life and when we need something.  The deeper walk with God is being a student of the Bible for life!  Reading and studying the Bible as regular part of your life helps put you inside God’s head so to speak.  The Bible is our opportunity to dig in and get to know God as He has revealed himself to us in in laws, ceremonies, likes, dislikes, examples like David, and of course through Jesus.  The greater depth that you know and walk with God, His voice, however He speaks to you will get much clearer and deception will be less possible and likely.  A student of the Word is a win, win, win situation for you, God, and those around you.

A Prophet’s Sphere of Influence

All prophets are the prophet of something or someplace.  One of the things that separates a prophet from one that prophesies is assignment in regards to the gift of prophecy.  As the Apostle Paul declared he was an apostle to the gentiles.

Romans 11:13 For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office:

In Paul’s epistles he makes this statement directly three times and basically all his writing as example of being apostle to the gentiles as well so this is solid truth that we rely on and teach to others.  In this case Paul was apostle to a group of people that were found in many places so his writings and revelations were written in the context for his group primarily.  Likewise today ministry is much the same.  If we are a prophet typically it is to a specific group of people, which could be a small group or a very large one. Today I believe there are and should be prophets of the local church, local city, local region, possible a state, for a nation, and for the world and their messages should primarily reflect the position they are called to.  God has placed local prophets in my life that have assisted me and encouraged me in my walk with God and ministry.  As an individual, a church, a region, or a nation walks with God the prophets begin to appear and be more obvious.  God wants to speak to a people that want to hear!  God is God and also can just show up and through a prophet to try to get man back on track and to avoid judgment; this is most often what we saw in the history and example of the Old Testament. So what every your group, drawing close to God the prophet will naturally begin to step in and be available.

Who Wants to be a Prophet?

No one can become a prophet, prophets are born and if not seen at birth are just revealed later in life. Sadly the title of prophet is just that a title in many churches and some denominations having nothing to do with a true call of God, just a title.

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.

As God spoke to Jeremiah, the same is true for today and all ages, God births prophets and they are revealed to the culture they live in as He sees fit or the walk of God with that culture opens their eyes to the prophet.  There has been an awakening and many prophets have risen up to their place in the church today but there are also many still not recognized or accepted by the group they are born to minister to.  The rise of the prophetic and prophets in the last two or three decades has led to abuse and misused as well and the worst is the glamorization of the title.  What we read in the Bible about prophets is not what we see today.  We have stories in the Bible about many prophets being loaners, outcasts, and have meager livings, yet today believers pay top dollar to get into conferences which provide a very nice living to many prophets creating this glamour and desire for others to be a prophet.  Just like many things, it boils down to appeasing our carnal nature to appear successful and have things.

More to Come

Watch for more in this series about prophets and prophecy, false prophets, character, life of prophecy, and using prophecy correctly.