The word prophetes can also mean “an inspired speaker”. However, the New Testament record seems to indicate that the ministry of the prophet is more than eloquent preaching. However, sometimes preaching becomes prophetic, when an unpremeditated truth or application is brought forth spontaneously by the Holy Spirit through a chosen vessel. This can also happen to a pastor, teacher or elder who does not have the ministry gift of prophet.
A good working definition for “prophet” might be: A prophet will reveal and declare the heart or mind of God to people, and he/she will expose the heart and thoughts of people before God when he/she ministers.
B. The Levels Of Prophecy
There are at least three levels of prophecy in Scripture. Each level has a special place and purpose.
- The prophecy of Scripture (2Pet 1:19, 20).
The Scripture is the highest form of prophecy. It is “given by inspiration of God” (2Tim 3:16). It is without error in the original records, and is absolute or final in authority. This level of prophecy is no longer given today (Rev 22:18, 19). The Bible is complete, and is the standard against which all other prophecies must be tested.
- The gift of prophecy (l Cor 2:10).
This is one of the nine gifts of the Spirit. It operates or functions under the general guidelines for all of the gifts. It is a gift in which any believer may function from time to time (Acts 2:18). (See Chapter 3 in this issue of ACTS Magazine for more details.)
In general use, it is for building up, stirring up and comforting the Body of Christ (l Cor. 14:3). Anything beyond this should be limited to the prophets. Operation or use of this gif t does not make one a prophet, as we shall see (Num 11:29; l Cor 14:24, 31).
- The ministry of the prophet (Rom 12:6; lCor 12:29; Eph 4:11).
The ministry of a prophet has to do with one’s calling. Its purpose goes beyond the limitations of the general gift of prophecy. The prophet may function in the realms of: confirming, guidance, rebuke, judgment, correction, warning, and revelation. (We will say more about revelations later.)
C. The Origin Of The Prophetic Ministry
God, as always, had a prophetic voice upon the earth. He chose to speak through godly leaders even before the ministry of the prophet had been given:
- Abel (Luke 11:50,51)
- Enoch (Jude 14)
- Noah (Heb 11:7; 2Pet 2:5)
- Abraham (Gen 20:7)
- Isaac (Ps 105:9-15)
- Joseph (Gen 50:24)
- Moses (Deut 34:10)
- Miriam (Ex 15:20)
- Aaron (Ex 7:1)
- Deborah (Judg 4:4)
God gave to Moses the guidelines by which all future prophets should be judged (Num 12:6; Deut 18:15-22; Isa 8:19,20;Luke 16:29).
The specific ministry of the prophet was first given, however, through Samuel. He was the last of the judges and first of the prophets (Acts 3:24, 25; 13:20; Heb 11:32).
It was Samuel who started the schools of the prophets (2Kings 2:3-15). He created a new prophetic order of men. They were taught in the Word. They were sensitive to the Spirit of God. And they worshiped the Lord in spirit and in truth. Every prophet shares in that spiritual heritage.