Biblical Foundations of The Prophets Office
by Kenneth E. Hagin
1Cor.12:28 And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, SECONDARILY PROPHETS.Eph.4:11 And he gave some, apostles; and some, PROPHETS….
A. Are there prophets today?
1. Some would tell us that the office of the prophet has been done away with – that there were prophets in the Old Testament and in the New Testament, but there are none today.
a. There is no scriptural evidence for this.
2. The Word of God tells us that He gave some apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, some pastors, and some teachers (Eph. 4:11).
a. Some say the only ministries we have today are evangelists, pastors, and teachers.
b. The Word of God makes no distinction. It seems to me the list either stands or falls together.
c. For what purpose were they given? “For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ.” Have the saints all been perfected yet? Is there any work of the ministry going on today? Does the Body of Christ need edifying? Emphatically, yes! Then all these ministry gifts should be in operation.
d. These ministry gifts will be necessary until Jesus comes for His Church.
B. What constitutes the office of a prophet?
1. Commenting on what the New Testament Greek says concerning the prophet, an outstanding Greek scholar said, “He speaks from the impulse of a sudden inspiration, from the light of a sudden revelation at the moment. The idea of speaking from sudden revelation seems here to be fundamental, as relating either to future events or the mind of the Spirit in general.”
A prophet speaks by direct divine inspiration, an immediate revelation – not something he thought of, but something given at the spur of the moment by sudden inspiration.
2. To stand in the office of a prophet, one is first of all a minister of the gospel, separated and called to the ministry with the calling of God upon his life. The prophet is a ministry gift.
a. A prophet is first of all a preacher or a teacher of the Word.
b. There are no prophets among what we call the laity – because a prophet is one who is called to the full-time ministry.
c. A layman may prophesy, but you are not a prophet just because you prophesy.
1. Paul encouraged the entire church at Corinth to covet to prophesy (1 Cor. 14:1-3).
Then he gives the definition of what the simple gift of prophecy is: “But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort’ (v. 3).
Yet the answer to the question “Are all prophets?” is obviously “No” (1 Cor. 12:29).
2. Distinguish between prophesying – though a prophet might prophesy – and the ministry of the prophet.
ACTS 21:8-11 V.8 And the next day we that were of Paul’s company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him. 9 And the same man had four daughters, virgins, WHICH DID PROPHESY. 10 And as we tarried there many days, there came down from Judaea A CERTAIN PROPHET, named Agabus . And when he was come unto us, he took Paul’s girdle, and bound his own hands and feet, and said, Thus saith, the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles. The four daughters of Philip did prophesy. That means they were operating in the simple gift of prophecy, “speaking unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort” (1 Cor. 14:3).Agabus was a prophet. And although a prophet may prophesy what is revealed at the moment, Agabus is not prophesying here. He is just telling what the Holy Spirit had previously revealed to him.
3. To stand in the office of prophet, one must have a more consistent manifestation of at least two of the revelation gifts (word of wisdom, word of knowledge, or discerning of spirits) plus prophecy.
a. The three revelation gifts are:
1. Word of Wisdom: Supernatural revelation by the Spirit of God’ concerning the divine purpose in the mind and will of God. Always speaks of the future.
2. Word of Knowledge: Supernatural revelation by the Spirit of God- of facts in the mind of God concerning people, places, or things. Always present or past tense.
3. Discerning of Spirits: Supernatural insight into the realm, of, spirits. Seeing and hearing in the spirit realm.
b. Any Spirit-filled believer might have occasional manifestations of these gifts as the Spirit wills and as the need arises. But a prophet would also stand in the place of preacher or teacher of the Word and would have a more consistent manifestation of them. The difference is that the prophet has a ministry along this line. It becomes a ministry gift on a higher level.
c. A prophet is one who has visions and revelations.
d. There are three types of revelations and three types of visions. The highest type of revelation and the lowest type of vision are similar and sometimes a person cannot tell the difference.
1. A spiritual vision. A person has a vision in his spirit, or sees in his spirit. This is the first and lowest type of vision. Example: Saul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-8). The Bible says about Saul that “. . . when his eyes were OPENED, he saw no man. . . .” Saul’s eyes were shut when he had this vision and saw Jesus. Paul didn’t see the Lord with his physical eyes. He saw into the spirit realm with his eyes closed. Actually, the Bible says Saul was blinded for a time, so he couldn’t have seen Jesus with his physical eyes. Later Ananias prayed for Paul that he might receive his sight (Acts 9:17).
2. A trance. Jesus pointed out to me that the second highest type of vision is when one falls into a trance. When one falls into a trance, his physical senses are suspended for the moment. He is not aware of where he is or anything that contacts the physical realm. He is not unconscious; he is just more conscious of spiritual things than he is of physical things.
Examples: Paul. When Paul went to Jerusalem the first time, he said, ‘And it came to pass, that, when I was come again to Jerusalem, even while I prayed in the temple, I was in a trance; And saw him [Jesus] saying unto me, Make haste, and get thee quickly out of Jerusalem: for they will not receive thy testimony concerning me” (Acts 22:17,18).
Peter. The tenth chapter of Acts relates the story of Peter’s vision in which the Lord told him to take the gospel to the Gentiles. Peter went up on the housetop to pray and there, fell into a trance” When Peter fell into a trance, he saw heaven opened. He was seeing into the spirit realm. We see from the Bible that both Peter and Paul fell into a trance and saw into the spirit realm.
3. An open vision. This is the highest type of vision. When this happens, one’s physical senses are not suspended. His physical eyes are not closed. He possesses all his physical capabilities, yet he sees and hears in the realm of the spirit.
John. In chapter one of the Book of Revelation, it appears that John saw the Lord in an open vision.
e. The prophets of the Old Testament were called seers. They would see and know things supernaturally.
1. The Lord reminded me of the time when Saul, as a young boy, was out looking for some of his father’s donkeys that had strayed away (1 Sam. 9). When Saul inquired about them, someone suggested that he go to the prophet and ask him where to find the donkeys, for the prophet Samuel would know where they were. Saul went to Samuel and was told that the donkeys had been found three days before, and that now people were out looking for Saul. Samuel knew this supernaturally. Samuel also asked Saul to wait, for he had a word of wisdom to him concerning God’s plan. Saul was then anointed to be the first king of Israel. Certainly Samuel didn’t know the whereabouts of every stray donkey in Israel. There could have been many stray donkeys at that time. God had a purpose in revealing this to him at that particular time, for it concerned Israel’s future king.
f. The word “revealed” is used in connection with the prophet’s ministry.
1 CORINTHIANS 14-29, 30 V.29 Let the prophets speak two or three, and LET THE OTHER JUDGE. 30 If any thing BE REVEALED to another that sitteth by, let the first hold his peace.
1. A prophet may speak forth his revelations through the gift of prophecy. This is on a higher level than simple prophecy.
2. A prophet may also bring forth his revelation just by telling what the Holy Spirit is saying.
3. Revelations are to be judged.
Comments: It is scriptural for others to judge prophecy (1 Cor. 14:29). People who don’t want their revelations – or prophecies – judged are wrong. And they could be into spiritual pride. Someone might say, “Well, the Lord doesn’t make mistakes.” Certainly not. But these spiritual gifts are being manifested through human beings who are imperfect. It’s similar to water flowing through a pipe. Water can take on the same taste as the pipe it flows through. Other people have the Spirit of God, especially those who are used in this area, so that’s why the Word says, “. . . let the other judge.”
g. Sometimes the prophet does operate in the place of a foreteller. This is the gift of the word of wisdom in operation through the prophet.
1. Agabus. He foretold a drought (Acts 11:28). He foretold what would happen to Paul in Jerusalem (Acts 21:10, 11).
Some do not believe that personal prophecy is scriptural. They do not believe that a prophet may have a message for an individual.
1. Agabus did (Acts 21:10, 11). He did not tell Paul not to go to Jerusalem. He merely told Paul what would happen to him there, and it came to pass.
2. Many times God has shown me things along this line that have blessed and helped individuals. We need this kind of manifestation today.
3. God does show us things as He wills to prepare us and to get us ready for the future. But you cannot turn the ministry of the prophet on and off as you please. It only operates as the Spirit wills.
4. God does use people sometimes to personally minister a message to someone else. Then sometimes they think they can give everyone a message. No! Those people who are always going around handing out personal messages and prophecies to everybody are in error and fanaticism and in dire trouble. Satan can mislead them. And he will do, it.
There is a similarity between the prophet’s ministry of the Old Testament and the New Testament. However, the prophet under the New Testament does not have the same status as the prophet under the Old Testament.
1. People of the Old Covenant went to the prophet for guidance. Only the king, the priest, and the prophet were anointed by the Spirit of God to stand in their respective offices. The rest of the people had no tangible Presence of God in their lives. The Presence of God was shut up in the Holy of Holies. They didn’t have the Spirit of God either on them or in them. Unless God just saw fit to move and demonstrate Himself in the natural realm, as in the case of Gideon, people would go to the prophet for guidance.
C. Under the New Covenant it is unscriptural to seek guidance through the ministry of the prophet.
1. Jesus said this to me.
2. (Heb: 8:6) We have a better covenant.
3. (1Cor.3:16; 6:19; 2Cor.6:16) We have the same Presence of God within us that was kept shut up in the Holy of Holies. He is living within us. Our bodies become the temple of God under the New Covenant.
4. (Rom.8:14) He is within us to lead us. “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God’.
5. Every believer needs to learn to follow the Spirit of God for himself. He shouldn’t have to go to anyone else for guidance.
6. There are people who endeavor to control people’s lives through personal prophecy. I don’t know why they like to do it because it is unscriptural. They think they have something new and really it’s the spirit of deception. It is not the Holy Spirit at all.
7. Know in your own spirit that God is leading you. If whatever someone else says confirms what you have in your spirit, fine. If it doesn’t, forget it.
8. The prophet Agabus took Paul’s girdle and bound his own hands and feet with it and said:
ACTS 21:11-14 V.11 Thus saith the Holy Ghost, So shall the Jews at Jerusalem bind the man that owneth this girdle, and shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.12 And when we heard these things, both we, and they of that place, besought him not to go up to Jerusalem. 13 Then Paul answered, what mean ye to weep and to break mine heart? for I am ready not to be bound only, but also to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus. 14 And when he would not be persuaded, we ceased, saying, the will of the Lord be done.
Notice something. Agabus foretold what would happen. But he did not say one thing about what God’s will was in the matter. Agabus didn’t tell Paul to go or not to go to Jerusalem. He did not give Paul any personal direction about it. Agabus just told Paul what was out in front of him. Paul had to make his own decision whether or not God was leading him to go to Jerusalem. Some people think Paul missed God – that the Spirit of God was telling him not to go to Jerusalem. That cannot be the case. For when Paul was arrested while on his mission, Jesus appeared to him in the night. ACTS 23:11 And the night following the Lord stood by him, and said, Be of good cheer, Paul: for as thou hast testified of me in Jerusalem, so must thou bear witness also at Rome. If Paul had been out of the will of God, the Lord would have told him so.
D. Put the Word first. Even though there are supernatural manifestations in your life, Don’t build your ministry on supernatural manifestations. Invite them and have, them. But build your ministry on the Word. Even if you’re a prophet, build your ministry on the Word.
1. God told me,” You can’t build a ministry on spiritual gifts. Develop your preaching ministry. Go ahead and operate in the spiritual gifts, but develop your preaching ministry. If you don’t, you’re going to wind up on the spiritual junk heap. “You see, I’m building on the Word, not on spiritual gifts, and the Word lasts forever. It never fails.”
E. It is dangerous to feel obligated to perform.
1. Some people who have been called of God, anointed and equipped by Him to stand in a certain office, have thought, I’m obligated to perform. So when the Holy Spirit is not in manifestation, they try to operate something themselves. THAT IS A DANGEROUS PLACE TO GET INTO. If the manifestation is there, fine. If it is not – don’t try to produce it yourself.
F. Discern the difference between the Spirit of God and familiar spirits.
1. There is no use being scared off because of evil spirits – actually it is familiar spirits which are operating. They are familiar with people and they communicate with the one through whom they operate.
2. (Exod.7:12) When God led Israel out of Egypt, you remember that Aaron threw down his rod and it turned into a serpent. The magicians did the same thing – they threw down their rods and they turned into serpents. However, Aaron’s rod swallowed up the magicians’ rods.
3. The devil knows some things. But he is not all-knowing like God. But the Bible talks about familiar spirits. They are here. And they are familiar with you – even though you are saved and filled with the Holy Spirit. If someone is in contact with them, they will tell him things about you.
The little maiden Paul cast the devil out of had a spirit of divination – a spirit of divining (Acts 16:16-19). That means foretelling or fortune telling, but it is the wrong kind of spirit.
The devil knows things that are going to happen to people if they keep walking just like they are. If they’re his children, he knows exactly what’s going to happen to them.
4. I know a certain person through whom the word of knowledge supposedly operated. He’d know things about people. He would just rattle off the revelation he had received about people. While he was speaking, I heard the Holy Spirit speak up and say, “Familiar spirits.” I knew the Lord was telling me that familiar spirits were operating through him.
5. How can you tell the difference?
a. From I Cor.12:1-3 V.1 Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant. 2 Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, EVEN AS YE WERE LED. 3 Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that NO MAN CAN SAY THAT JESUS IS THE LORD, BUT BY THE HOLY GHOST.
Interpret this scripture in context. Paul is writing about spiritual manifestations and things pertaining to the Holy Spirit. Of course, a person could say, “Jesus is Lord” out of his head. A rank sinner could say that. But what this scripture is saying is, when the Holy Spirit is in manifestation, He always makes Jesus Lord. When it is the Holy Spirit in manifestation, He says Jesus is Lord. The Holy Spirit doesn’t attract attention unto man and make man Lord.
b. Does the manifestation bring glory to Jesus? Does it bring blessing to people? Does it bring them nearer to God?
c. Or does it exalt man? Does it attract attention to the human?
6. There’s no use being scared off because of evil spirits. GOD CAN TOP ANYTHING THE DEVIL CAN DO. The manifestations of the Holy Spirit are real. Let’s have the real manifestations that will bless people.
7. Be open to God and invite the Spirit of God to manifest Himself among us in the various and the varied ministries that He set in the Church.
G. Misconceptions people have relative to the prophet’s office.
1. Many think that a prophet is supposed to do nothing but prophesy. But the foremost ministry of the prophet is to preach or teach the Word.
a. A prophet does more than prophesy. In fact, very often when he is giving forth the revelation of the moment he is not prophesying at all – he is just telling what was revealed to him. For example, Agabus “signified by the Spirit” that there would be a great drought (Acts 11:28).
b. A prophet does more than have revelations. People get into error who think, I’m called to be a prophet (and they might be) so they’re always trying to have a revelation, or always trying to prophesy.
c. Before anything else, a prophet would be a preacher or a teacher of the Word. Jesus said John the Baptist was a great prophet, yet we have no record that John ever foretold anything. Rather, he forth told or preached the message of the Kingdom of God under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
d. The laying on of hands goes with the prophet’s ministry.
e. A healing ministry goes along with the prophet’s office. And when the prophet exercises the gifts of healings (or any ministry function), it is a prophet’s ministry in operation.
1. Elisha. Jesus said: LUKE 4:27 And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian. Elisha had a healing ministry. And people knew about it. The reason Naaman came to Elisha was that a little Jewish maiden was captured by Syria in a war against Israel. She was a slave in Naaman’s home. When she learned Naaman had leprosy, she said,” . . Would God my lord were with the prophet that is in Samaria! For he would recover him of his leprosy” (2 Kings 5:3).
2. Jesus stood in the office of prophet. His healing ministry exemplifies all the varied manifestations you would not see in just one person’s ministry.
3. A prophet’s healing ministry can operate through the laying on of hands.
4. It can also operate in various other ways.
a. Elisha didn’t lay hands on Naaman. He didn’t even go out to see him. He had a word from the Lord. He sent a messenger saying, “. . . Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean” (2 Kings 5:10).
b. Jesus ministered healing through laying on of hands. But He also ministered healing by other methods. For example, without touching ten lepers, Jesus said to them, “Go and show yourselves to the high priests.” As they went, they were healed
(Luke 17:12-14). Jesus spit on the ground and made clay of the spittle and rubbed it on a blind man’s eyes and said, ‘Go wash it off in the pool of Siloam ” (John 9:6,7). Why did He do that? Because the Spirit of God told Him to. He was standing in the office of the prophet. Gifts of hearings were operating through Him. Jesus was anointed with the healing power of God (Acts 10:38). And on other occasions, Jesus ministered healing by the transfer of power. In other words, people were also healed when the healing anointing flowed out of Jesus into them. The woman with the issue of blood is an example (Mark 5:25-34). (See also Matthew14:34-36; Mark 6:56; Luke 6:19.)
5. Concerning the healing of Naaman through the ministry of the prophet Elisha, Jesus said, “And many lepers were in Israel in the time of Eliseus the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, saving Naaman the Syrian” (Luke 4:27).
Why couldn’t Elisha get all the lepers in Israel healed?
Naaman was a heathen; he wasn’t even an Israelite. He wasn’t in covenant with God. He worshiped the idol Dragon. Why couldn’t Elisha tell all the lepers of Israel, including those who were in covenant with God, “Go dip in the River Jordan seven times and your flesh will come again clean as a little child”? Because God didn’t tell him to! You cannot go beyond the word of the Lord. The word of the Lord, no doubt, came unto Elisha and told him what to do in the case of Naaman. Some people who are not knowledgeable about the Bible said, “That couldn’t be God. If He healed one, He would have healed the others too.” The others could have been healed if they would have believed God and made contact with Him on their own, but somehow or another they did not.
2. Many think that a prophet should always know everything about everyone and everything that is happening round about him.
a. That could not be so. For if it had been so, Gehazi, the servant of Elisha, would have known he didn’t stand one chance in a million of getting by with what he did (2 Kings 5:20-27).Naaman offered the prophet Elisha gifts after his healing was manifested. Elisha would not accept them. So Naaman went happily on his way back to Syria. But Gehazi ran after him and lied to him. He said, “My master has sent me. After you left two young prophets came. And although my master wouldn’t take anything for himself, he said it would be all right to talent of silver and two changes of garments for them” (2 Kings 5:22).Naaman, thrilled about being healed from such a terrible condition, Gehazi more than he asked for. Gehazi took it and hid it. But when Gehazi got into the presence of his master, Elisha asked him where he had been. Gehazi answered,” ‘ . . Thy servant went no wither” (2 Kings 5:25). And Elisha said unto him, “. . . Went not mine heart with thee, when the man turned again from his chariot?”
However, if Elisha had always known everything about everyone and all that was going on around him, Gehazi, who was with Elisha continually, would have known that. And Gehazi would never have tried what he did.
b. The Lord only tells a prophet what He wants him to know. He does not tell a prophet everything. Other Scriptures also indicate that the prophet does not know everything. For example, when the Shunammite woman came to Elisha the prophet and caught him by the feet after her son had died, Elisha said, “. . . her soul is vexed within her: and THE LORD HATH HID IT FROM ME, and hath not told me” (2 Kings 4:27).
3. Some think that because one is a prophet, they can ask him at any time, “have you got a word for me?’
a. You cannot conjure up these things as you will.
b. God may give you a word and He may not. The majority of times He will not.
Personal comments: The word of knowledge, the word of wisdom, discerning of spirits, as well as prophecy, operate in the office of the prophet. Because these are spiritual gifts, they will also operate in the life of any Spirit-filled believer as the need may arise or as the Lord wills. But the occasional operation of these gifts does not make one a prophet.
(If you do have a revelation, seek God for wisdom on how to handle it properly. Don’t just blurt it out. It is possible to shipwreck people’s lives and mess things up so that God won’t give you further revelation. You can grieve the Spirit of God so He won’t show you anything else because He can’t trust you.)
If God did call you to an office, you couldn’t step into it immediately. You’d make a mess of it if you did. But God will add a little here and a little there. If He does have in mind to put you in that office, eventually, if you’ll be faithful, when He sees He can trust you with it, He will set you in it. God will not violate the principles set forth in His own Word. The Spirit of God said through Paul not to put a novice in office, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil” (1 Tim. 3:6).
The same is true in other offices. If novices were put into these offices, Satan would tempt them and they would be lifted up and destroyed. I think some have been destroyed because they sensed in their spirits the calling, but instead of waiting for God to set them into that office, they tried to set themselves into it.
I can see the wisdom of God in my own ministry. As a younger person and immature mentally as well as spiritually, if I had been thrust into some offices and places I fill now, I would never have made it. I would have fallen by the wayside. When God used me, my head would have gotten so big I couldn’t have walked out of the door.
I’m glad God can use us. But I don’t get lifted up in any way when He does. It humbles me for God to use me. I don’t get the least bit of pride. I don’t even get excited or show emotion over a lot of things. I just say, “What of it? After all, I read in the Old Testament that God spoke Hebrew through a donkey. That didn’t make the donkey anything special. So if God sees fit to use this donkey, praise the Lord, God did it. Give Him all the glory.”
Don’t be taken up with names and titles.
And don’t go out and say, “I’m a prophet.” You may be one day, and then again you may not be. But if you are called to the prophetic office, let God set you into it. Don’t try to set yourself in a particular office.
*This is the clearest & most accurate teaching on the Office of The Prophet that I have come across. I hope this will help bring some understanding to the modern day New Testament Prophet, Brother Brad