The Office of Prophet

A prophet is one who receives supernatural revelation and speaks by divine inspiration. Naturally, he is used frequently in the spiritual gift of prophecy as well as the revelation gifts: the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge, and discerning of spirits.

Any believer may be used of God in the gift of prophecy as the Spirit wills, but that does not make him a prophet. A prophet is, first of all, a minister who can preach or teach with an anointing. Because the prophet seems to be the second highest calling (see the order as it is listed in 1 Cor. 12:28), even a fulltime minister would not be placed in the office of a prophet until he has been in ministry for some years. If he does stand in that office, he will have the supernatural equipment that goes with it.

Two men who are named as prophets in the New Testament are Judas and Silas. We read in Acts 15:32 that they delivered a lengthy prophecy to the church in Antioch:

And Judas and Silas, also being prophets themselves, encouraged and strengthened the brethren with a lengthy message.

Another New Testament example of a prophet would be Agabus. In Acts 11:27-28 we read:

Now at this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. And one of them stood up and began to indicate by the Spirit that there would certainly be a great famine all over the world. And this took place in the reign of Claudius.

Notice that Agabus was given a word of wisdom–something about the future was revealed to him. Of course, Agabus didn’t know everything that would happen in the future, he only knew what the Holy Spirit willed to reveal to him.

In Acts 21:10-11, there is another example of the word of wisdom operating through Agabus’ ministry. This time it was on behalf of one person, Paul:

And as we were staying there for some days, a certain prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands, and said, “This is what the Holy Spirit says: ‘In this way the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.'”

It is scriptural under the new covenant to seek personal guidance from prophets? No. The reason is because all believers have the Holy Spirit within them to guide them. A prophet should only confirm to a believer what he already knows is God’s direction in his own spirit. For example, when Agabus prophesied to Paul, he gave him no direction as to what he was supposed to do; he only confirmed what Paul had known for some time.

As stated previously, Paul stood in the office of a prophet (and teacher) before he was called to the ministry of an apostle (see Acts 13:1). We know that Paul received revelations from the Lord according to Gal. 1:11-12, and he also had a number of visions (see Acts 9:1-9; 18:9-10; 22:17-21; 23:11; 2 Cor. 12:1-4).

As with true apostles, we don’t find true prophets within the false church. The false church would (and does) shun true prophets like Silas, Judas or Agabus. The reason is because true prophets would bring a revelation of God’s displeasure of their disobedience (as did John to most of the churches of Asia Minor in the first two chapters of Revelation). The false church isn’t open to that.