What is Prophecy?
“Prophecy” refers to the total revelation of God which did not originate by human invention but as the writers of Scripture were “moved by the Holy Ghost,” meaning they were “borne along” by the Holy Spirit. Thus, He moved upon them in such a way that their words were indeed the very Word of God! (LIBERTY BIBLE COMMENTARY, Vol. II, p. 756)
Meaning and Purpose of “Prophets” in the Bible
The biblical meaning of the term “prophet” is: one who speaks forth or openly, a proclaimer of a divine message, hence, in general, a prophet was one upon whom the Spirit of God rested (see Numbers 11:17-29). A prophet is one to whom and through whom God speaks (see Numbers 12:2; Amos 3:7-8). Prophets were both foretellers and forthtellers. They received their message from God and delivered it for God to men. They had deep insight into spiritual truths as they interpreted God’s message under the power of the Holy Spirit (see II Peter 1:21).
Old Testament Prophecy
In the case of the Old Testament prophets their messages were very largely the proclamation of the divine purpose of salvation and glory to be accomplished in the future. Though much of the Old Testament prophecy was purely predictive, prophecy is not necessarily, nor even primarily, foretelling. Prophecy is the declaration of that which cannot be known by natural means, it is the forthtelling of the will of God, whether with reference to the past, the present, or the future.
New Testament Prophecy
The prophesying of the New Testament prophets is both a preaching of the divine counsels of grace already accomplished and the foretelling of the purposes of God with reference to the future. The office of the New Testament prophet is of great importance. He appears among the ministry gifts of Ephesians 4:11. The office of the prophet is also included along with Christ and the apostles in forming the foundation upon which the church is built.
And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone (Ephesians 2:20).
In the New Testament passages of I Corinthians 12:28 and Ephesians 2:20, the prophets are placed after the apostles, since not the prophets of Israel are intended, but the ‘gifts’ of the ascended Lord (see Ephesians 4:8,11; Acts 13:1). The purpose of the New Testament prophet is to edify, to comfort, and to encourage the believers. The New Testament prophets also minister to the unbelievers by showing them that the secrets of a man’s heart are known to God, thus convicting the unsaved of their sin, and to constrain them to come to Christ (I Corinthians 14:24,25).
Teacher is the New Prophet
With the completion of the Canon of Scripture prophecy apparently passed away (I Corinthians 13:8,9). In this measure the ‘teacher’ has taken the place of the prophet (see Ephesians 4:11; II Timothy 3:2). The difference is that, whereas the message of the prophet was a direct revelation of the mind of God for the occasion, the message of the teacher is gathered from the completed Revelation contained in the Scriptures. (VINES EXPOSITORY DICTIONARY OF NEW TESTAMENT WORDS, p. 893)
Were There Prophets After Christ?
There are many Bible scholars who believe that there were no prophets after Christ. This is basically true in the sense that the unique prophetic ministry of Christ was the consummation of all prophecy, for He came as the greatest Prophet, Priest, and King. He fulfilled the prophecy of Deuteronomy 18:15. In this passage a “prophet” would come from among the Jews and be like Moses.
This passage denotes only one prophet and no more. However, in that passage the word is also used in a distributive sense … Consequently, while focussing on that one prophet who was to come, the context leads us to expect a succession of prophets. That is exactly how Peter viewed the passage in Acts 3:21,24 and as did Stephen in Acts 7:37. The line of true prophets was consummated in Jesus Christ. (HANDBOOK OF BIBLICAL PROPHECY, p. 84)