Testing the ProphetsAll prophets must be tested against the Biblical qualifications of a prophet. Because "many false prophets are gone out into the world" the Bible instructs us to "try the spirits" (1 Jn. 4:1), which means to test, prove, examine and verify. The following list provides Biblical tests to apply when testing a prophet or the teachings of a prophet.
Biblical Qualifications of a Prophet
Admits that Jesus came in the flesh."Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world. Hereby know ye the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is of God: And every spirit that confesseth not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is not of God: and this is that spirit of antichrist, whereof ye have heard that it should come; and even now already is it in the world" (1 Jn. 4:1-3).
True prophets will believe and admit that Jesus is of God and has already came to this earth in human form.
Manifests fruit of the Spirit."Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? (Matt. 7:15-16).
"Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. 24 And they that are Christ's have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts" (Gal. 5:19-23).
Good things will be evident in a true prophet's life and there will be repentance and growth. They have sinned against God, but repent and overcome (e.g. David, Moses, Paul). The opposite traits of character (works of the flesh) will inevitably appear and reoccur in the unrepentant false prophet.
This test of a prophet can sometimes be difficult. If we continue reading in Matthew 7, we learn that some false prophets will not look dangerous, do wonderful things, and will claim to be Christians.
"15 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. 16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? 17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. 18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. 19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. 20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. 21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. 22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? 23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity" (Matt. 7:15-23).
Someone may do works that appear to be good fruit. They may claim to be working in the name of the Lord. They may work miracles and cast out devils. But they are a false prophet and not doing God's will. If they would only let God into their heart, then the Lord would know them and they would know and do His will.
Makes predictions that come to pass."And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? 22 When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him" (Deut. 18:21-22).
If the prediction of a prophet does not happen, and the conditions of the prophecy are met, they are a false prophet. False prophets may be able to guess and predict many things, but only God knows the future and predicts with 100% accuracy.
Keep in mind that prophets do make conditional prophecies. An example is when Jonah told the people of Ninevah their city would be destroyed in 40 days (Jonah 3:4-10). But, the people repented and God did not destroy the city. Jonah was still a true prophet; he had just made a conditional prophecy, and there were different possible outcomes depending on what people chose to do.
Speaks in harmony with the Scriptures."And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that peep, and that mutter: should not a people seek unto their God? for the living to the dead? 20 To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them" (Is. 8:19-20).
"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (2 Tim. 3:16).
A false prophet will speak contrary to the Scriptures, which are all the testimony of God through the prophets. God will never contradict Himself or change His Word. No prophet can claim to be able to change, add to, or correct Scripture.
"But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you" (1 Pet. 1:25).
"For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book" (Rev. 22:18).
"For I am the LORD, I change not; therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed" (Mal. 3:6).
Upholds God's law.To the law and to the testimony: if they speak not according to this word, it is because there is no light in them" (Is. 8:20).
"Neither have we obeyed the voice of the LORD our God, to walk in his laws, which he set before us by his servants the prophets" (Dan. 9:10).
"Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. 5 And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee" (Deut 13:4-5).
"And the Spirit of God came upon Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, which stood above the people, and said unto them, Thus saith God, Why transgress ye the commandments of the LORD, that ye cannot prosper? because ye have forsaken the LORD, he hath also forsaken you" (2 Chron. 24:20)
A false prophet will not uphold God's Law and will even urge away its restraining influence. They may appear or claim to uphold the law, but there will be some point, perhaps just in one commandment, that is undermined or ommitted.
In the Bible, the loss of the ability to prophesy went hand-in-hand with rejecting God's law.
"Her gates are sunk into the ground; he hath destroyed and broken her bars: her king and her princes are among the Gentiles: the law is no more; her prophets also find no vision from the LORD" (Lam. 2:9).
Teaches repentance."Yet he sent prophets to them, to bring them again unto the LORD; and they testified against them: but they would not give ear" (2 Chron. 24:19).
"In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judaea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand" (Matt. 3:1-2) (John the Baptist was a prophet - see Luke 7:28).
Prophets have a hard message to bear. People do not want to hear that they are doing wrong and need to repent. But, prophets speak directly to sin and make no excuse for it. They will point you to God for forgiveness.
Manifests physical signsThere are certain physical phenomena that can help identify a genuine prophet. (Note that we do not have record that all true prophets must show these signs. Also note that false prophets may also show physical phenomena.)
- (A) Their eyes are open, without blinking, while in vision.
"And he took up his parable, and said, Balaam the son of Beor hath said, and the man whose eyes are open hath said: He hath said, which heard the words of God, which saw the vision of the Almighty, falling into a trance, but having his eyes open" (Numbers 24:3-4, 15-16).
- (B) They have no strength while in vision.
"Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength" (Dan. 10:8).
- (C) They do not breathe while in vision.
"For how can the servant of this my lord talk with this my lord? for as for me, straightway there remained no strength in me, neither is there breath left in me" (Dan. 10:17).
- (A) Their eyes are open, without blinking, while in vision.
Provides guidance through the present crisis."Surely the Lord God will do nothing, but he revealeth his secret unto his servants the prophets" (Amos 3:7).
"And by a prophet the LORD brought Israel out of Egypt, and by a prophet was he preserved" (Hosea 12:13).
Prophets are sent to God's people for a reason. There is something new that is happening or about to happen. God sends a prophet to help guide His people and preserve them through current events and approaching disasters. It is not surprising that He would send a prophet to His people in our day during the end-times.
Again, it is important to note that false prophets can be very tricky. They may say soothing things and appear to promote peace and Godly things. On the other hand, God's true prophets may not always say what you want to hear, or predict peace, unity or say politically correct things.
"To wit, the prophets of Israel which prophesy concerning Jerusalem, and which see visions of peace for her, and there is no peace, saith the Lord GOD. 17 Likewise, thou son of man, set thy face against the daughters of thy people, which prophesy out of their own heart; and prophesy thou against them" (Ez. 13:16-17).
End Time Prophets
Not all prophets' writings are in the Bible
Prophets wrote the books of the Bible, but there are also prophets who's writings are not recorded in the Bible.
"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" (Acts 21:8-9).
"For I say unto you, Among those that are born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist: but he that is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he" (Luke 7:28).
"And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near, and said, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word" (1 Kings 18:36).
"And Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, she judged Israel at that time" (Judges 4:4).
Lots of prophets, men and women, were mentioned in the Bible, but their writings (if any) are not included in the Scriptures.
More prophets will come
The Bible predicts that there will be true and false prophets who arise in the last days, and specifically during the time of the end. Each and every one of them must be carefully and thoroughly tested according to the Biblical requirements of a prophet.
"But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; 17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: 18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: 19 And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: 20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come" (Acts 2:16-20).
"And the dragon was wroth with the woman, and went to make war with the remnant of her seed, which keep the commandments of God, and have the testimony of Jesus Christ" (Rev. 12:17).
The "testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy" (Rev. 19:10), and it will be manifest by the remnant church as portrayed in prophecy. The remnant is the organized movement God chooses to spread His final warning message (the three angels' messages - Rev. 14) to the world just before His Second Coming.
God wants us to embrace His prophets
"Despise not prophesyings. 21 Prove all things; hold fast that which is good" (1 Thess. 5:20-21).
Time after time, prophets warned God's people of approaching disaster and how to avoid it. They gave clear instruction, from God, on how to live healthfully, be happy, and stay safe. It is for our own good to heed God's prophets. What a blessing they are!
Return to The Remnant.
Return to Revelation 12.