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Prophets were chosen by God to be His spokespersons, delivering His messages to the people. They played a critical role in guiding, warning, and comforting the nation of Israel. As God told Moses, “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their kindred, and will put my words into the mouth of the prophet; the prophet shall tell them all that I command. Anyone who will not listen to my words which the prophet speaks in my name, I myself will hold accountable for it. But if a prophet presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded, or speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die” (Deut 18:18-20). This directive highlights the seriousness of the prophet’s role and the consequences of misusing it.

The Divine Call

Prophets were chosen by God and often experienced a divine calling. For instance, God touched Jeremiah’s mouth with His hand, saying, “See, I place my words in your mouth!” (Jer 1:9). Similarly, God told Isaiah, “I have put my words into your mouth” (Isa 51:16). This divine intervention ensured that the messages delivered by the prophets were directly from God.

The Prophetic Vision

The Greek word for prophet, “prophetes,” means one who speaks out or is an advocate. God communicated with prophets through visions and dreams. For example, when Aaron and Miriam spoke against Moses, God said, “If there are prophets among you, in visions I reveal myself to them, in dreams I speak to them” (Num 12:6). However, God spoke to Moses directly, face to face (Num 12:8), highlighting Moses’ unique role.

Prophets as Visionaries

Prophets were not only spokespersons but also visionaries who foresaw future events due to their spiritual insight. They called people back to God and His commandments, often addressing moral and religious abuses. Their messages included warnings of consequences for disobedience and promises of blessings for faithfulness. The Bible names over 133 prophets, including 16 women. Key figures like Abraham, Moses, Samuel, and David had prophetic roles, while others like Elijah and Elisha performed miracles. Prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel were instrumental during significant periods of Israel’s history, including the Babylonian exile and the restoration.

New Testament Prophets

In the New Testament, John the Baptist and Jesus were central prophetic figures. Jesus, recognized as a prophet (Lk 13:33; 24:19), also selected twelve apostles to continue His mission. These apostles acted as prophets, preaching Jesus’ message and extending His ministry. The early Church recognized a special order of prophets (1 Cor 12:28; Eph 2:20; 3:5), whose mission continues through the Church’s ordained ministers.

Prophetesses in the Bible

Although prophets were predominantly men, there were notable prophetesses, including Miriam (Ex 15:20), Deborah (Judg 4:4), Huldah (2 Kgs 22:14), Noadiah (Neh 6:14), and Isaiah’s wife (Isa 8:3). Anna, who witnessed Jesus’ presentation at the temple, also served as a prophetess. While fewer in number and often serving shorter terms, these women played vital roles in delivering God’s messages.

The Danger of False Prophets

The privileged position of a prophet sometimes led to the emergence of false prophets. Jesus warned against such individuals: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but underneath are ravenous wolves” (Mt 7:15). He also predicted their rise during the end times (Mt 24:24). God allowed false prophets to test the people’s fidelity (Deut 13:2-4). These false prophets, often indistinguishable in appearance and language from true prophets, could be identified by their attitudes and goals. False prophets existed both in the Old Testament and the early Church, and they continue to pose a threat today.


In modern times, we must remain vigilant against those who falsely claim prophetic authority. Many self-proclaimed prophets start their own churches and seek to convert followers for selfish motives, promising effortless salvation. As Christians, we need to discern true teachings from false ones, aligning ourselves with the authentic message of Christ and His apostles.

Paul’s words to the Colossians serve as a timely reminder: “Whatever you do, do from the heart, as for the Lord and not for others, knowing that you will receive from the Lord the due payment of the inheritance; be slaves of the Lord Christ” (Col 3:23-24). By staying true to this principle, we can safeguard ourselves against deception and remain faithful to God’s true message.

Let us, therefore, seek wisdom and discernment through prayer and study of the Scriptures, always being cautious of false prophets and steadfast in our commitment to God’s truth. May we embrace the genuine teachings of the prophets and live lives that reflect our devotion to the Lord.

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