The Hebrew word for “prophet” is “nabiy”; one who prophesies through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. To prophesy is to speak the mind of God for the purpose of direction, building, and encouragement of the Church.
“Beforetime in Israel, when a man went to inquire of God, thus he spake, Come, and let us go to the seer: for he that is now called a Prophet was beforetime called a Seer.” (1 Samuel 9:9)
“Seer” comes from the Hebrew word “ra’ah” which means one who has the ability to see or perceive. It also denotes one who is a beholder of visions.
In Greek, the word “prophet” means “prophetis”, a foreteller or an inspired speaker. It is important to note here that the same word used for Prophet is the same used for a prophetess. They are foreteller or an inspired speaker. A prophetess is not simply a wife of a prophet, but they are foreteller or an inspired woman speaker with the grace as a prophet. This office is not limited to men, but it is also for women.
A prophet operates frequently in the gifts of prophecy and word of knowledge. A word of knowledge is the ability to reveal a matter by the inspiration of the Spirit of God without reliance on human knowledge.
Clairvoyance, extrasensory perception, fortune telling and other forms of witchcraft activities are demonic and are counterfeits.
A prophet operates in the gift of prophecy. He is able to predict, to sense and become aware of things that are future.
It is important for us to note here that the gifts of “Word of Knowledge” and “Prophecy” is part of the spiritual gifts known as the Gifts of the Spirit which is resident and can be manifested in any believer (1 Corinthians 12: 8-10), but this does not make one who operates the gifts of “Word of Knowledge’ and “Prophecy” a prophet.
A prophet is called by God and stands as a foundational ministry in the Body of Christ, just as the apostle. The prophet can also function as a governmental office in the Church.
The ministry of the prophet is not guesswork or a prediction issue. The ministry of the prophet is to stand in the presence of God and without doubt hear and declare His word. A prophet is God’s representative that speaks God’s mind and purpose to His people.
The primary function of the prophet is to reveal the mind of God to the people through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Prophets bring divine guidance and direction and can foresee the future.
“And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them.” (Acts 15:32).
Part of the prophetic function is to “exhort” and “confirm” the Church.
To exhort means to encourage. In the Greek the word is “parakaleo” which describes the prophetic function as “to call near, invite, invoke (by imploration or consolation), call for, or to entreat.”
To confirm comes from the Greek word “episterizo”, which means “to support further, re-establish or strengthen”. This too is a prophetic function.
Unfortunately, some only desire the title of prophet and others come for a personal word of prophecy because they want the prophet to tell them about their past, present and future. We need to recognize that the prophet is more that just a medium of knowledge for the past, present and future; he is a foundational gift that brings a level of establishment and maturity to the Body of Christ.
Ignorance of the true ministry of the prophet and immature expectations has given room to the spirit of divination or a “python spirit” that operates in most churches today. A python spirit is derived from the Greek word “pytho”, meaning an office of the Delphic oracle, a priestess of the ancient Greek god Apollo who had a spirit of divination. A python is a nonpoisonous constricting snake that has the power to squeeze to death. This spirit seeks to squeeze the life of God from the Church. This same spirit is operating and manifesting in the Church today as an ancient spirit that is squeezing the life of God from the Church. It tends to kill the operation of the Spirit of God in the gathering and worship of God’s people. We need to identify and recognize true prophets and begin to give them room to operate along with the other five-fold ministry gifts. The prophetic ministry is not lost as taught by dispensationalist during the Dark Age, but it is still active and operational in the Body of Christ today. If the Church is to come into maturity, then we must recognize the existence of the office and ministry of the prophet in the Body of Christ.
It is wise to commend and honour the prophets that have carried the Church through past prophetic seasons. True prophets have stood the test of time and declared this present season in the midst of rejection. The prophetic ministry is a ministry of rejection. Many will reject and condemn the prophets because of God’s revealed truth – the truth of God’s word that is revealed to them in bringing correction and alignment.
The prophetic ministry aligns the Church with God’s purpose. It will expose sin; bring correction and order to the Body. The prophetic ministry reveals the righteous judgment of God. However, true prophetic ministry does not bring condemnation to the Body of Christ, but brings encouragement.
“Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD, Behold, I lay in Zion for a foundation a stone, a tried stone, a precious corner stone, a sure foundation: he that believeth shall not make haste. Judgment also will I lay to the line, and righteousness to the plummet: and the hail shall sweep away the refuge of lies, and the waters shall overflow the hiding place.” (Isaiah 28:16-17).
A true prophetic ministry will reveal Christ and lead others to Him and not draw men to themselves.
“The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world. This is he of whom I said, After me cometh a man which is preferred before me: for he was before me. And I knew him not: but that he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore am I come baptizing with water. And John bare record, saying, I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode upon him. And I knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize with water, the same said unto me, Upon whom thou shalt see the Spirit descending, and remaining on him, the same is he which baptizeth with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God. Again the next day after John stood, and two of his disciples; And looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus.” (John 1:29-37).
Many are drawn to the ministry of the prophet, but the purpose of the prophetic ministry is eternal, to draw people to God. The ministry of the prophet is a conduit between God and His Church.
The release of the prophetic ministry in the local assembly is supported by the operation of the other ministry gifts. The prophet works closely with the apostle as they lay a foundation and bring strength and order to the Body of Christ. God has given His grace to apostles and prophets to receive a revelation of His mysteries and to reveal them to the Body. (Ephesians 3:1-7). This makes both ministries foundational builders.
“Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.” (Acts 13:1-3).
The Church in Antioch was first governed and administrated by prophets and teachers. These five men were prophets and teachers, the oversight that released the apostles (Saul “Paul” & Barnabas) into the ministry under the direction of the Holy Spirit. It spoke nothing about the apostles being a part of this eldership. This means that matured and gifted prophets and teachers can oversee a local assembly with the plurality of elders. Releasing others into the work is part of the prophetic function.
Copyright © 2017 by Israel Onoriobe
Our ministry is a faith-based ministry and this material is provided free of charge to the body of Christ for equipping the saints. If this material has been a blessing to you or a source of encouragement we ask that you prayerfully consider giving a love offering to help us carry the message of the Kingdom of God to the nations – (Hebrews 10:6).