When many Christians think of prophets, they think of the prophets of the Old Testament. They think of Elijah, Isaiah, Daniel, Ezekiel and others. But are there still prophets today? Many Christians would say they are not sure, but many others would give a resounding, “Yes!” I believe there are prophets today within the Christian church, though it’s important to understand what a prophet is.
What is a Prophet?
Many people think of a prophet as someone who predicts the future. But is that what a prophet is? Let’s look at the prophets of the Old Testament. While telling of things to come was certainly a part of the message of some of the Old Testament prophets, it was not the limit of their prophetic ministry.
A prophet was someone who spoke the Word of God to the people. If that Word related to future events, then, yes, the prophet would foretell things to come. However, often times, the prophets spoke of the current situation. They spoke of the way God was working in Israel, they gave Israel and its leaders direction, they called people to repentance, the brought a message of the blessings of God, and more.
Today, as well, a prophet is someone who brings a message from God.
Is Everyone a Prophet?
In a sense, one could say that everyone who speaks the passages of the Bible or conveys to others what God has been telling them during their devotional times is a prophet. They are a bringing the Word of God to people. But being a prophet is also a specific ministry. Again, we see in the Old Testament that even though priests regularly read to the people from the Torah (the Word of God through Moses) they were not considered prophets. Prophets are people specifically called by God into a specific office of ministry.
The Office of Prophet
In Ephesians, we are told of five distinct offices of ministry:
“So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.” – Ephesians 4:11-13
Established in the Old Testament and continued in the New Testament, the office of prophet is a ministry God has provided. So, what are characteristics of a prophet?
1. They have a heart passion for inspirational creativity.
2. Their main gifts are creative abilities and a sense of timing & rightness.
3. Their emotional characteristics are that they are quite emotional—both ups and downs.
4. Their goal is to experience the creative flow and help others to experience that flow.
5. They judge others by their ability to experience or appreciate the creative flow.
6. They influence others through edification, exhortation, and comfort.
7. Their value to an organization is that they give creative expression, spirit encounter, and provide a sense of divine timing and destiny.
8. They run the risk of overusing their position by living only out of intuition without validation.
9. When under pressure they retreat to be alone.
10. Their biggest fear is not being able to capture the intuitive creative flow.
The prophet is just one of the offices mentioned in Ephesians 4:11. It is one aspect of an organizations ministry that, while important to the organization, needs to be balanced with the other four offices. Those found to be of the characteristics of the prophet who sense the call of God to ministry should be encouraged to pursue their ministry in the role of prophet alongside ministers with the calling of the other offices.