There are those who claim to be apostles and prophets by their own word. Others claim it by showing their signs, wonders and miracles. This so-called signs and wonders movement is part of an effort to restore what they understood to be the five-fold ministry described in Ephesians 4:11. The proliferators of the movement claim that these dynamics are what is necessary for the church to have power. In actuality, those who lay claim to this ministry today are operating under a misunderstanding of apostles and prophets of the Bible. The Lord confirmed His signs to the apostles' words to show a transition of authority from Israel and its priesthood to the apostles who were laying down the foundation for the church, a new entity. This unique anointing testified to Israel and to the gentiles a new order of leadership, the demonstration of spiritual authority was transferred to the church Christ body. Becoming aware of what the Bible says about these positions in the early church can help us guard against misleading teachings in the church today.
Validated by signs and miracles, the apostles deemed the faith for the whole Church and established the written word by inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Once the scriptures were completed, the Church had all that was necessary in the area of revelational truth. The apostles' instructions were in words, then put to paper for all succeeding generations on how to live in obedience to the faith.
Once a foundation is laid down and a house is built, we don't rebuild the foundation.(Eph.2:20) Neither should we rip apart the house that the Lord has built.
A true apostle would point out the false ones. Yet today, not only do those who claim to be apostles fail to do so, but there are threats and manipulations for those who do not go along with what they are trying to portray. 'Jezebel,' 'Antichrist,' and 'Blasphemer of the Holy Spirit' are common terms used for those who speak against them.
Alarmingly, these impostor’s claim to be exclusively without error in their interpretations and teachings on these matters. They are to be questioned by no one. In reading the letter of Jude, we find him exhorting the believers to contend for their faith among apostates in the church. More specifically, verse 17 reminds the church of the apostles' warnings of mockers coming in the last days that are natural men not having the Spirit. Today we find those who claim to have more of it than others. Nowhere do we find the apostles preaching they are anointed and certainly did not imply they were more so than others. The danger of these mislead leaders is that they will cause divisions without realizing the harm they do, nor the judgment that they will eventually incur upon themselves.
Most scholars agree there are at least 3 and possibly as many as 5 groupings of apostles in the NT. First is Jesus who stands alone as the apostle in Heb.3:1-6 sent by God to be the Savior of the world. All other apostles derive their position under him. We find an apostle is 'one sent from'. There is a technical use and a general use in this term.
Scripturally we find that the apostles were all personally chosen by the Lord Jesus. Mt.10:1-4 and in Lk.6:12-16 names the 12 apostles, one of which was chosen for perdition. The 70 as well as the twelve were also trained and sent out. The position of the apostles were not permanently fixed number until after the resurrection (Matt. 19:28-30; Lk. 22:28-34; Jn. 21:15-18). The number 12 then becomes an eternally established number.
Matthew and Mark use the term “apostle” only once for the Twelve who were sent on a missionary journey (Matt. 10:2; Mk. 6:30). Luke uses the title the most frequently and almost exclusively calls the Twelve “apostles” (Lk. 6:13; 9:10; 17:5; 22:14; 24:10; Acts 1:26; 2:43; 4:35,37; 5:2,12,18; 8:1. )
One of the Biblical requirements for one to be rightly regarded as an apostle were those following Jesus from the time of John’s baptism. They also were to have seen the risen Lord be witnesses of his resurrection. When the closed group of twelve became eleven, they sought another to take Judas' office: Acts 1:21-22 “Therefore, of these men who have accompanied us all the time the Lord Jesus went in and among us beginning from the baptism of John to that day he was taken up from us One of these must become a witness with us of his resurrection.' “
The men went on to cast lots, and the lot fell on Mattias which closed the group of 12 permanently. We later see God choosing Paul in Acts 9. Also see 1 Corinthians 9: 1.) We find that the apostles were given authority to perform special miracles . In Revelation 12:12 there are 12 gates and the name of the 12 tribes in Rev.21:14, there is reference to twelve foundations with the names of the 12 apostles of the Lamb which are written on them in Heaven. Jesus referred to this in Mt.19:28, that in the millennium those who have followed him (the apostles) will sit on 12 thrones judging the 12 tribes of Israel. These twelve seem to relate to Israel specifically, while Paul does not.
Paul's own words in defense of his apostleship claim in 1 Cor. 9:1: “Am I not an apostle? ... Have I not seen Jesus Christ our lord? Essentially there were two different groups those who were with Jesus when he was alive and then were witnesses of his resurrection and Paul as one who was witness to his resurrection only not having him be of the 12.(I need to mention that there are some who hold the position that apostleship was temporary and as Judas was replaced so could be any of the others. This does not seem to be a tenable position since there is no mention of this occurring in scripture.)
In 1 Cor. 15 Paul describes the gospel and concentrates on the resurrection and the sequence of his appearing during the 40 day period after the resurrection.Vs.5 “And that he was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: then by over 500.” Vs.7 “Then he was seen by James then by all the apostles.”
After the resurrection the “twelve”, is a number used to Identify the apostles originally with Jesus. This does not necessarily mean their were 12 only gathered to see him. It certainly cannot mean it was Matthias as one of the 12 since he was picked after Jesus left and ascended. Their is no account of a special appearance to him or anyone else as was with Paul only. The term 12 identified them as the group number that began with John and saw the resurrection. But from the group of 500 he appeared to, there were apostles among them as well as in vs.7 Then the apostles all.
Other requirements within this first qualification of being from John and a witness to the resurrection. He must have been taught divine truth by Jesus personally (Gal.1:1,12; 1Cor.15:3). The 11 were commissioned together as Jesus breathed on them the Holy Spirit as an indication of their unity and authority to forgive sins ads they proclaimed the Gospel. The exception is Paul who was taught personally by Christ while he was in Arabia for 3 years. When he emerged he had the same teaching as the 12. (Jn.14:26, 16:13; 1 Cor.13:37) So an apostle will agree with the already commissioned apostles in Scripture.
They were commissioned to communicate the very words of the Lord (1 Thess.2:13;1 Jn.4:6) They could speak words of judgment and the miraculous and have it immediately executed (Jn.20:23; Acts 5:3-11; 13:10, 1 Cor.5:3-5; 1 Tim.1:20). The Apostles exercised a position of authority as a community of elders over the church which was to be obeyed as if it was the Lord himself. (1 Cor.5:3-5; 2 Cor.10:6,8,11; 2 Thess.3:7-12,14). All these were in the nature of the office of an apostle.
Paul sometimes uses the term “apostle” in a broader sense for a messenger like a legate (2 Cor. 8:23; they are called apostles of the church),” a non technical term with a general meaning. There is a difference supported in scripture to be an apostle of the Lord, personally chosen and sent by him; and an apostle of the church, sent out by the body of believers. This broader usage made it possible to include others who would be considered false apostles, messengers (2 Cor.11:14; Rev 2:2). Paul also uses the word for a group of witnesses who had seen the risen Lord before him and had received a specific call to an apostleship. This group was larger than the Twelve.
The book of Acts is recording a transitional period from when Christ left physically and sent the Holy Spirit to continue his ministry. The book of Acts traces the missions of two of the apostles specifically and others when they relate to their ministry. Peter to the Jews and Paul to the Gentiles.
When the apostles came and laid hands on people they received the Spirit in the dramatic way like Pentecost. The Bible never shows any regular Christian laying hands and their receiving the gift of the Spirit in this way.
A question often posed is, 'Can others do miracles like the apostles, since Mark 16:17-18 describes “and these signs will follow those who believe in my name they will cast out demons they will speak in other tongues and… will heal the sick.” (' Note: these particular verses are not found in the majority of the manuscripts, granted that they are...) The answer is found in a careful examination of the text. Where we find in the Mark 16:14 narrative that Jesus is speaking to the 11 and commissions them to preach the Gospel first then baptizing the believers. So we find that the Lord is in fact speaking directly to the apostles just before he is taken up into Heaven (verse 19). Afterward, the apostles went out and preached, and the Lord was working with them confirming His Word through accompanying signs. Therefore, there is no evidence that all believers can do what the apostles did. What did occur is the word was first preached and the signs and wonders followed to validate the new leadership for the church. In much the same way Jesus’ miracles were to validate his person and message. If these signs and wonders were to follow all who believe how could one tell who the apostles were? There would be no distinction in leadership. The very reason for the signs and miracles were to appoint the apostles as a governing leadership over Gods new entity the Church. If we look at the book of Acts who was it that took up a serpent? Paul an apostle. Who laid hands on the sick and they recovered? The apostles. This was never a normal occurrence for everyone who was a Christian. When Dorcas died the believers did not raise her but sent for Peter to raise her from the dead (9:36-42). This also shows that Mk.16:17 is not a promise that was being exercised to all believers.
“ Truly the signs of an apostle were accomplished among you with all perseverance, in signs and wonders and mighty deeds.”(2 Cor. 12:12) The sign of an apostle was the miracles done, this distinguished them from the other believers.
Unlike those who claim miraculous healings today the apostles healed totally and instantaneously. It was permanent not as some claim today that one must continue in faith or the devil will steal it away. They were able to heal all such as Paul on the Island of Malta in Acts 28 healed Publius and the rest of the people who had diseases came to him. He was also able to be unaffected by a poisenous snake. They healed organic disease on those from birth. They raised the dead . Peter raised Dorcas Acts 9:36-42, Paul raised Eutyches back to life after he fell 3 stories Acts 20:6-12. Like Jesus it was by a word or a touch, as God approved their office it was immediate and permanent .
Acts 2:43: “Then fear came upon every soul and many signs and wonders are done through the apostles. Acts 5:12 “And through he hands of the apostles many signs and wonders were done among the people. Acts 14:3” Paul and Barnabas speak boldly in the Lord, who bears witness to His word of grace, granting signs sign and wonders to be done through their hands.”
All these and many more scriptures show that the apostles were special men commissioned for a unique role in a particular time period for the Church. (Ephesians 2:20) “Having been built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets…Notice past tense, been built. Once a foundation is laid it does not need to be laid down again, it is built upon “ It was upon these men the apostles and prophets that the foundation the church was built on, Jesus Christ himself being the chief cornerstone. Those who claim apostolic authority today are attempting to rebuild the church whose foundation was already laid and built . Later on in Eph.4:11 Paul writes, “and he himself gave some to be apostles and prophets, some evangelists and some pastors and teachers…” he does not say he keeps on giving apostles and prophets for the simple reason formerly stated they were the foundation of the church. Paul makes no distinction of what is continued or what is not in this passage. Anything mentioned in Eph.4:11 must be in light of the former statement in 2:20 of the apostles and prophets laying down the foundation in the past tense (foundation in the scriptures for us to come to the unity of the faith.) We do see Pastors and teachers continue as they are not supernatural offices or sign gifts but leaders and rulers over the congregations after the apostles were gone. The Apostles wrote down the teachings for the Church to follow. If their are apostles today in the sense of the Church’s beginnings there would have to be new revelation. This would have to be included as Scripture because apostolic revelation is authoritative and infallible. It would then be on the same level as our Bible. This is what the Mormon church claims and many other cult groups. To say we have modern day apostles like Matthew and Paul is to say Scripture is continually being written which means rejecting the former revelation of the apostles given by Jesus. As John writes in his 1st epistle 1:1-4 “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, concerning the Word of life-- the life was manifested, and we have seen, and bear witness, and declare to you that eternal life which was with the Father and was manifested to us-- that which we have seen and heard we declare to you, that you also may have fellowship with us; and truly our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son Jesus Christ. And these things we write to you that your joy may be full.”
The greatest men who influenced the church throughout history never claimed they were apostles or prophets. They never taught that these 2 offices continued. Athanasius, Irenaeus, Hippolytus, Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Edwards, Finney, Great theologians like Charles Hodge , A.H Strong or Gill and all others were satisfied to build upon the foundation already laid by the original apostles.We find the only apostles mentioned in Church history after the bible was completed were false ones.
The gift and office of apostleship was the first and most important gift given after Christ ascended, but it was a temporary gift and office that does not continue to our present time. For the simple reason people do not see Jesus Christ in His bodily resurrection. For this to be so he would have to leave the right hand of God and make a special appearance. We know from scripture the next time he comes is for everyone at the rapture, there are no secret comings. The apostles had completed their mission of laying the foundation of the Church and the doctrine was inscripturated. God's Word is complete no new revelation is needed. While the Lord does speak to us today he does not give any new revelation or doctrine since it has been delivered and completed.
There were also apostolic legates those directly commissioned by an apostle, their were no apostolic miracles done except in the presence of one or being commissioned by one. Two examples are Stephen and Philip. Acts 6:5-8: “And they chose Stephen, a man full of faith and the Holy Spirit, and Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas, a proselyte from Antioch, whom they set before the apostles; and when they had prayed, they laid hands on them. Then the word of God spread, and the number of the disciples multiplied greatly in Jerusalem, and a great many of the priests were obedient to the faith. And Stephen, full of faith and power, did great wonders and signs among the people.”
Stephen was directly appointed by an apostle approved into ministry. He was what is called an apostolic legate, one that is commissioned by an apostle. It is these legates like Philip who went to Samaria (Acts 8) ahead of the apostles to bring the gospel to new areas until Paul and Barnabas were sent. Even in Acts 8 when Philip preached Christ and did miracles they believed and were baptized. They sent for the apostles vs.14-15 and when they came and prayed it was then as they laid hands on them they received the Holy Spirit from on high. also in Acts 10, and 19. So all the miracles were in the presence of one of the apostles or one commissioned by one. (James the Lords brother was called an apostle Gal.1:19, James is included in Gal. 2:9 also Barnabas 1 Cor. 9:5-6)Paul became an apostle by seeing the resurrected Christ Acts 9 and 1 Cor.15:8. Paul was picked by Jesus. There are those today who claim that someone can see Jesus and be an apostle just like Paul. We have to look at this event carefully. Jesus appeared to choose him, he was an unbeliever at the time. It became his conversion. Jesus appeared to him in glory more in the manner of what John saw on the Isle of Patmos when he wrote the Revelation, not like the disciples saw him after his resurrection.
Acts 9:5 It is clear, from this event that there was a personal appearance as he states [I am Jesus of Nazareth] who was the object of his contempt. Jesus appeared in a manifestation “crowned with glory and honor.” As Paul states in Gal 1:16 I did not immediately confer with flesh and blood. Paul certainly understood what this shekinah glory was knowing the OT. as he did. Paul actually became blind from seeing the glory Acts 22:11.
In Acts 9:17, after the Lord speaks to Annanias in a vision he States to Paul “Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus, who appeared to you on the road as you came.”
And Barnabas states when he brought him before the apostles at Jerusalem, he declared to them how he had SEEN the Lord in the way, and that he had spoken unto him; and in Acts 22:14, “The God of our fathers has chosen you that you should know His will, and see the Just One, and hear the voice of His mouth.”
Gal 1:1 Paul, an apostle (not from men nor through man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father who raised Him from the dead). He then became an apostle to the gentiles (as well as Barnabas Gal.2:9; Acts:13:2,7, 15:12) as Peter and the others was to the Jews. In 1 Cor. 9:1 Paul in defense of his position states “Am I not an apostle? Am I not free. Have I not seen Jesus Christ our lord? He then validates his position by their salvation. So he met the 2nd requirement, to be a witness of the resurrection Acts 1:22.
Paul defended his apostleship in 2 Corinthians 12:11-12, using examples of signs and wonders. If these miracles and signs were common for everyone, how then could Paul use these as proof of his authority? Even when the apostles were alive, all Christians could not do signs and wonders so they certainly cannot do them today. Some of these were unusual miracle uncommon occurrences such as healing from his handkerchiefs Acts 19:12. Again, God used these miracles as witnesses to confirm His gospel as truth, and to identify His new leadership it was these men who penned down the words of the Holy Spirit that has become our New Testament. Once the scripture was completed we find no more apostles
How can we know this for sure? Because Paul states unequivocally in 1 Cor.15: after going through the witnesses of the resurrection. Vs. 8 “Then LAST OF ALL seen by me also, as one born out of due time.” Paul is appealing to his unusual appointment. He was the last on earth (Gr. last in time) to see the risen Christ (Thayers Gr. optanomai or optomai- to look at, to behold , to allow oneself to be seen, to appear ) and that his encounter was an abortion. “Paul resembled such a birth, in the suddenness of his new birth, in that he was not matured for the apostolic function, as the others were, who had personal converse with our Lord. He was called to the office when such conversation was not to be had, he was out of time for it. He had not known nor followed the Lord, nor been formed in his family, as the others were,” (from Matthew Henry's Commentary)
In the same sense neither are there any more apostles by abortion today. Since Paul was the LAST OF ALL. “Paul’s adverbs of time here is chronological: then (eita), then (epeita), then (epeita), then (eita), last of all (eschaton panto�n)”. (A.T. Robertsons word Pictures)
This should settle the issue that just as the 12 became a closed group, so likewise Paul ended the Lord choosing others. The fact is there is no more apostles chosen after Paul.
The pastoral epistles give the principles and positions for church leadership throughout history, they mention elders, teachers and deacons. They never mention apostles. The only apostolic category that consists today is the one of being sent out as a missionary planting Churches. There are pastors, teachers and elders for Church government today also evangelists, as well as spiritual gifts being operational for the local body.
Jude said, “But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 17). Jude does not mention any continuance of apostles in the Church, he points back to them. When the apostles spoke, there was no debating. They were already recognized as the leaders revealing Gods will for the Church . Whereas the prophets, whose words had to be judged as to their accuracy.
While there is no contest that at least some of the gifts of the Spirit are operating today (God still heals supernaturally and does miracles), but we must keep our views in healthy balance with the scriptures. The Biblical portrayal or definition of the position of apostle is as an appointed office by Christ, not merely a spiritual gift. The word apostle can be used in a general sense in reference to someone commissioned to go out and start churches (2 Cor. 8:23). In this sense, a believer can exercise the gift of apostle today, as a 'sent out one.' However, one cannot claim to hold the office of an apostle as in the 12 as we see many doing today.
The Apostles set position were authenticated by the miraculous. Acts 3:3-11Peter healed the crippled man at the gate of the Temple as well as others. (Acts 5:15-16) Paul had also brought Eutychus back to life after he had fallen to his death (Acts 20:6-12). No apostolic miracles were ever performed in the apostolic era by anyone other than the apostles and those who were commissioned by them, showing this office was unique to its time.
It is also worth pointing out that the apostles were limited on the miracles they performed; none of them ever fed five thousand as Jesus did, nor did they ever walk on water or translocate into a room on their own. Yet they did do unusual healings and miracles and resurrect people, which was also the last sign Jesus said would be given to the unbelieving generation at that time. Today it seems we are again surrounded by unbelief, even in the church, because so many are following those who do signs and wonders. Jesus said it was an evil and adulterous generation that seeks after a sign and a wonder. Today our generation is repeating the same error as the unbelieving Jews except it supposedly from believers.
The apostles never preached signs and wonders to attract the multitudes much less those who already believe. Seeing a sign was never a assurance of belief.
We are warned of false apostles those who claim authority that is not from God and can do miracles. In much the same way as the false prophets God told Jeremiah,” I have not sent them or spoken to them.”
With all this in mind Paul did not use the signs and miracles as the absolute proof of his apostolic position.
1 Cor. 4:9-13: “For I think that God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; for we have been made a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men. We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are distinguished, but we are dishonored To the present hour we both hunger and thirst, and we are poorly clothed, and beaten, and homeless. And we labor, working with our own hands. Being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we endure being defamed, we entreat. We have been made as the filth of the world, the offscouring of all things until now.” Notice he says they were last examples condemned to death, weak, poor, hungry, beaten and homeless. Its obvious we don’t see those who claim these positions today living in such a manner. They for the most part became martyrs. Today those who claim apostolic positions live in luxury and opulence.
Col. 1:24 “I now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ, for the sake of His body, which is the church.” Paul’s life of weakness and suffering showed his gifting and position. Paul’s life of denial showed his anointing.
2 Cor.1:6: “Now if we are afflicted, it is for your consolation and salvation, which is effective for enduring the same sufferings which we also suffer. Or if we are comforted, it is for your consolation and salvation.”
History tells us that all of the apostles (minus one Judas) were killed for their service to the Lord. This is hardly the case for those claiming this position today.
There are numerous warnings in scripture, in Mt.7 there is number of people who claim before the Lord have we not prophesied in your name, cast out demons in your name and done many wonders. Clearly they are laying claim to some type of apostolic position. Then I will declare to them I never knew you, depart from me you who practice lawlessness.” They tried to be accepted by what they did , by the power they supposedly had but they did not do the will of the Lord which is to preach the Gospel in truthfulness. Yet the lord said he never had a relationship with them. So his name is not a stamp of authenticity for anyone (obviously it was a different Jesus who was their source of power.) They were lawless they were not under his leadership, or guidance they did not practice the law of Christ. They tried to approach God on their own merit by their good deeds saying look at what we did, we had power. It wasn't about power but about knowing him in a relationship. “I never knew you “he gave them what they already possessed, since they were departed from him to begin with.
In Rev. 2:2: “unto the church in Ephesus write… Thou hast tried them that say They are apostles and are not, and has found them to be liars.”
They were false apostles because they did not see the risen Lord nor were they commissioned by him. They did not live or teach to the standard of scripture.
2 Cor.11:12-14: “For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into apostles of Christ. And no wonder! For Satan himself transforms himself into an angel of light, Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also transform themselves into ministers of righteousness, whose end will be according to their works.” They can look right but if they do not speak according to the word already delivered then whatever follows in miracles is not from God but from another source.
The true apostles are unique in their ministry , office, and power never to be duplicated. They were for a specific period in Church history. It is impossible for their to be modern day apostles as in the beginning since none of those today possess the necessary credentials to be an apostle. In 1 Cor.4:9 Paul explains what it was to be an apostle. “For I think God has displayed us, the apostles, last, as men condemned to death; “ (this is in the aorist tense meaning that they do not continue.) The apostles example were that they gave their lives for Christ and the Church. It was their teaching and it being written including miracles that made them apostles.
In warning, Jesus said to those who were following Him for the blessings, 'Unless you people see signs and wonders you will by no means believe.' Our choice today is to believe His Word that he spoke, not self-appointed men in spiritual offices in which they clearly do not belong.
Jude said, “But you, beloved, ought to remember the words that were spoken beforehand by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Jude 17).This is Gods word to those who think they are in the category of the ancient apostles.
The apostolic age was unique in histories timeline and it ended. Jesus says it, Paul does, history teaches this, theology teaches it, and the New Testament itself continually affirms it.
What makes a prophet
The Old Testament prophets taught the basic truths and principles of God, and the facts and nuances of man's relationship with Him. They condemned sin, they brought comfort to the remnant, and conviction to those who sinned. They were invariably persecuted by the target portion of Israel, and most importantly, they spoke of things to come both near and far into the future Deuteronomy 18:15 -19 tells us of the nature of a true prophet. Verses 20 through 22 state that if one claiming to be a prophet speaks in the Lord's name, something God has not given him to say, or speaks in the name of other gods, then he is to die. Thankfully, the Lord provides a method for identifying fallacies spread by would-be divine spokesmen. If what is said in His name does not come to pass, then God has not spoken it.
In Ezekiel there is an interesting scripture Ezek. 13:2-3 “Son of man, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who prophesy, and say to those who prophesy out of their own heart, 'Hear the word of the LORD!'“ Thus says the Lord GOD: “Woe to the foolish prophets, who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing! God says one can actually say they are hearing from the Lord but it really is their own spirit.
In the OT prophets prophesied within three time frames . Their own time, for the 1st coming and the 2nd coming. The test of a prophet was his near prophecies which would be fulfilled in his own lifetime. Obviously, if it was beyond his lifetime, he wouldn't be around to have to answer for it. Prophecy was very specific in the Old and the New Testament. They would foretell God's revelation to the people and if one looks back at Biblical record to study a prophet's calling, it was God who picked them and they are often found arguing not to have the office. In contrast, there are now schools to train new prophets because the people desire this office.
Another test used on would be prophets, found in Deuteronomy 13:1. In addition to whether or not their predictions came true is whether they used signs and wonders as tools to draw people to other gods or a different representation of God. (Such as Jannes and Jambres in 2 Timothy 3:8). Here, God is testing the people to see if they love only Him. This is probably the most overlooked scripture pertaining to examining the claims of those who profess supernatural powers that come from God. If they were to contradict the teaching that had already been revealed - which had provided knowledge of the one true God then they were seen as false prophets. God did not, and still does not tolerate false prophesying. If they wrong once, they are false, they were to be stoned. If this occurred today many if not all who lay claim to this position would have a quick end to their so called anointing!
Remember: just because one performs miracles, even inside a church, does not mean God is working. We should be more on guard inside the church than we would like to think. In 1 Corinthians 4:6, we are told no to go beyond what in written. If one contradicts the apostolic writings and teachings, then they are false (2 Cor.11:14). Those who go beyond the word having God speak to them directly with new revelation, become puffed up with self deception. There is something called humility that is practiced when one adheres to the same standard that everyone else does. Isa.8:16” bind up the testimony (of the Prophets) seal the law among my disciples”. (Moses) vs. 20 “To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because their is no light in them.” This standard distinguishes a believer from an unbeliever. The test of the prophet was his conformity to the word of God, he condemns sin, he comforts the brethren, and he speaks of things in the near future and later than his life. A prophet, like an apostle, not only functioned as a gift, but as an office. A prophet would declare God's will for his generation, addressing idolatry or lukewarmness. We see this personified in John the Baptist who warned and rebuked the people preparing the for the Messiah.
Jesus said there was no greater prophet than John the baptizer (of the old Testament dispensation) because he had the privilege to introduce the messiah.
In the Old Testament there were prophets who did not speak for God yet the people loved to hear what they had to say more than the true prophets words. Jer.23:16 “They speak visions from their own minds, not from the mouth of the LORD”. A few verses later God calls them lying prophets, v. 30 “who steal from one another words supposedly from me.”
Isa. 29:10-13: “For the LORD has poured out on you the spirit of deep sleep, and has closed your eyes, namely, the prophets; and He has covered your heads, namely, the seers. The whole vision has become to you like the words of a book that is sealed, which men deliver to one who is literate, saying, “Read this, please.” And he says, “I cannot, for it is sealed.” Then the book is delivered to one who is illiterate, saying, “Read this, please.” And he says, “I am not literate Therefore the LORD said: “Inasmuch as these people draw near with their mouths and honor Me with their lips, but have removed their hearts far from Me, and their fear toward Me is taught by the commandment of men.” When we see new prophets operate outside the written word or give new unknown meanings to the word they have become illiterate to expounding truth. When this happens many turn to signs and wonders to validate their ministry. Its not truth that they have to give, but the power to display. 2 Tim.4:3 The time will come when they will not adhere to sound doctrine but according to their desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers, and they will turn away from the truth and be turned aside to fables.” Fables are all things beyond what is written in the word.
Time is the enemy of a false prophet, so if one cannot discern from their conforming to scriptures, then they will certainly be able to tell by waiting to see if what was said will come to pass. In the New Testament, when the foundation of the faith was being laid down, a prophet saying “thus saith the Lord” would bring forth new revelations which in turn became our scripture. This is a strong reason why there are no more prophets today.
Acts 13:1: “Now in the church that was at Antioch there were certain prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord and fasted, the holy spirit said “now separate unto me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them.” Remember the NT. was still being written down and there was revelation given. The prophets here were Saul and Barnabas and more likely the others were the teachers mentioned.
God is able and still does speak in various ways, yet he has chosen a more explicit but simple way to convey his message. It is by his son. Not just any Son but one who is God himself who delivered it in person. his words are written down so it can be understood equally to all. To change this or reject this method is to reject God.
Not everyone mentioned in the Bible who received direct revelation from God was a prophet or even a believer. God spoke to Pharaoh in a dream also Nebuchadnezzar. In Gen.20 Abimelech is warned by God not to take Sarah into his harem. So just because one receives a dream or vision does not mean they are of God. Also we need to know the enemy can give prophecies that will come to pass but will oppose Gods word. So all needs to be tested by the words of the true prophets and apostles.
In Jeremiah’s day he was commissioned to be the prophet to the people as they were in Babylonian captivity. Jeremiah was made an illustration to the Hebrew people as the time was ordained to be 70 years of captivity. The children of Israel were to submit to being in captivity for the duration ordained by God for the sake of their own survival or it was considered rebellion. Jeremiah’s message to Zedekiah the king was not to believe the false prophets they encourage the people to rebel. We find Jeremiah is put in a yoke for 4 years to illustrate Israel captivity to Babylon.
In Jer.28 Hananiah the prophet publicly prophecies in the temple that within 2 years Jeconiah and all taken captive with him the vessels of the Lords house will be brought back into Jerusalem. The yolk will be broken. To illustrate this he takes the yoke off Jeremiah that the Lord had him wear and breaks it. Jeremiah immediately receives a word from the Lord in which he says Go tell Hananiah Thus says the Lord you have broken the yokes of wood but you have made in their place a yolk of Iron. Gods response to his self made prophecy is he will put all the nations in the surrounding area in a yolk of iron to serve the king of Babylon. It is then Jeremiah addresses him directly saying “hear now, Hananiah, the Lord has not sent you, but you make these people trust in a lie. Therefore says the Lord I will cast you from the face of the earth, this year you shall die because you have taught rebellion against the Lord and so he died in the 7th month of the same year. Obviously Jeremiah and others were in no position to bring sentence on the false prophets so God did.
What we see is false prophets incorporate their own agenda. We find censoring the false prophets protects Gods people from harm, physically and spiritually. Anyone who allows people of this type of questionable ability to go for it in their church needs to question whether they are pleasing man or God. As a shepherd do they really care for the sheep or are for promoting their own ministry. We don’t read of any second chances for false predictions or an attitude of let bygones be bygones. The scripture does not allow to let prophets practice because practice makes perfect. There are no readjustments in their figures. Nor do we hear, lets see if any harm comes from what they say first before we judge. 2 Peter 1:19 says we have a more sure word of prophecy. No prophecy of scripture is of any private interpretation. There seems to be a common denominator with all the new cults that disguise themselves as the original. They have new views on basic fundamental doctrines that have been accepted for almost 2,000 years it usually starts with the Lord told me or he appeared to me or I went to heaven. Sorry the job description has been filled your to late.
Hebrews 1:1 I tells us that God has spoken in times past to the fathers by the prophets in many various ways, but in these last days, He has spoken by His Son. Once the New Testament was completed, there was no longer a need for prophets to reveal God's will or new revelational knowledge. His Son's words are all we need. prophets are not a continuing position. However, we do have the gift of prophecy functioning for edification, consolation, and exhortation within the local church body. But this is never doctrine. Prophets are not sent, as in Old Testament times, to rebuke; rather the gift is to console and build us up.
God is able and still does speak in various ways yet he has chosen a more explicit but simple way to convey his message. It is by his son. Not just any son but one who is God himself to delivered it in person. To change this or reject this method is to reject God. As Jesus said he who receives you receives me and he who receives me receives the one who sent me, the father.
What do all false prophets have in common? A hope of not being tested! They count on the people not to test their writings by putting guilt and fear in those that would dare to question Gods “anointed ones”. Most people think that if we just teach the truth then we don’t have to address error. However error dies a slow death and must be exposed and then killed by the truth. Infections don’t leave the body by just eating right they need to be combated by antibiotics. The writers of the scripture did not believe in the concept of just teaching the truth. We have numerous letters that have their major content and themes addressing the false views and practices that arose in the early church. 1 Cor., 2 Thess. and 2nd John, Jude would not have been written if the apostles did not put the truth alongside error to expose it. All error challenges the truth and if accepted will usually rise above it. It was chased out of the early church and if a church is to be true to the words delivered by the apostles then it needs to be forged with the same attitude today. To be apologetic in ones approach to the culture and beliefs of the people is to be evangelical. That is to make sense out of the Gospel. The Bible teaches to preach the word not new revelation knowledge. If someone claims the position of a prophet they need to be brave enough to accept the consequences of one.
Today prophecy dos not have the same import that it did with the prophets to Israel.1 Cor. 14:3 “But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.”
Ephesians 2:20 says that the church has been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets. Ephesians 3:5 reads that the mystery concerning the church has been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets through the Holy Spirit. The scriptures indicate that these roles were fulfilled in the first century, and do not continue today. Many believe the apostles were also the prophets and that they wrote the future down in scripture for us. Acts 13:32 names Judas and Silas as also being prophets. Jude admonishes his readers to avoid false doctrines not by listening to the living prophets or apostles, but by recalling what the apostles already taught them in vs.17. The church today does not need new prophets and apostles today, just to listen more carefully to the old ones