What Does the Bible Say About Prophecy?

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“Prophecy” is a Greek word which in Hebrew is “nabi” and which in English means “spokesperson”; i.e. a person who speaks for someone else. God reveals his will through people who are filled with the Spirit of God and specially chosen. Prophets in the Old Testament were often ordinary people who were commissioned to preach the Word of God to the people of Israel, especially God’s warnings when they did not live according to God’s written word. With Jesus, many of the Old Testament prophecies are fulfilled. In New Testament times, i.e., today, the Holy Spirit is poured out “on all flesh” which means, among other things, that all believers can hear God’s voice and convey prophetic messages. In addition to this, the Holy Spirit also gives certain persons the “Gift of Prophecy”, which means that God speaks more and more clearly through these persons. Prophetic messages are intended to bring upbuilding and encouragement and consolation to the church. God’s prophetic words must always be consistent with God’s written word and all Christians are encouraged to always “test everything” prophetically and keep the good.

Bible Verses

20knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.(2 Pe 1:20–21)

30Many years you bore with them and warned them by your Spirit through your prophets. Yet they would not give ear. Therefore you gave them into the hand of the peoples of the lands.(Ne 9:30)

17“ ‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams;(Ac 2:17)

28And God has appointed in the church first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, and various kinds of tongues. 29Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles?(1 Co 12:28–29)

26What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.(1 Co 14:26)

3On the other hand, the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation. 4The one who speaks in a tongue builds up himself, but the one who prophesies builds up the church. 5Now I want you all to speak in tongues, but even more to prophesy. The one who prophesies is greater than the one who speaks in tongues, unless someone interprets, so that the church may be built up.(1 Co 14:3–5)

20Do not despise prophecies, 21but test everything; hold fast what is good.(1 Th 5:20–21)

22when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.(Dt 18:22)

 Study Questions

  1. Are there any differences between a prophet in the Old Testament and a prophet in the New Testament?
  2. What is the purpose of the gift of prophecy in the New Testament?
  3. Have you ever heard a prophetic message?
  4. Have you ever felt that God has spoken to you?
  5. How do you know if you have received the Gift of Prophecy?
  6. Why is it so important that this gift be used in the church?
  7. How do you know if a prophetic message really comes from God?

Additional Bible Verses

Jer 1:4-10, Deut 18:22, Luke 24:44, Heb 1:1, Jer 30:3, Ezek 11:24-25, 1 Cor 13:1-2, Ex 7:1, Eph 4:11, Acts 21:8-9, Acts 11:27-28

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