What is Prophecy?

According to Strong’s Concordance the word prophecy comes from the Greek word prophēteia (Strong’s G4396) meaning: a discourse emanating from divine inspiration and declaring the purposes of God, whether by reproving and admonishing the wicked, or comforting the afflicted, or revealing things hidden; esp. by foretelling future events”

The noun “discourse” means, “speak or write authoritatively about a topic.”

Said plainly, prophecy is God speaking.

He spoke to man in the garden:

“28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” – Genesis 1:28

He spoke through the blood of Abel:

“50 so that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be required of this generation.” – Luke 11:50-51

“10 And the Lord said, “What have you done? The voice of your brother’s blood is crying to me from the ground.” – Genesis 4:10

He spoke through Enoch the seventh from Adam:

14 It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, “Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones, 15 to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him.” – Jude 1:14-15

He spoke to Moses in the Burning Bush:

“2 And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush. He looked, and behold, the bush was burning, yet it was not consumed.And Moses said, “I will turn aside to see this great sight, why the bush is not burned.” When the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the bush, “Moses, Moses!” And he said, “Here I am.”” – Exodus 3:2-4

He spoke through specific prophets within the nation of Israel:

“18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.” – Deuteronomy 18:18

Like David:

35 And as Jesus taught in the temple, he said, “How can the scribes say that the Christ is the son of David? 36 David himself, in the Holy Spirit, declared,

“‘The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at my right hand,
    until I put your enemies under your feet.”’

37 David himself calls him Lord. So how is he his son?” And the great throng heard him gladly.” – Mark 12:35-37

And Elijah:

13 And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said. But first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make something for yourself and your son. 14 For thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the Lord sends rain upon the earth.’” – 1 Kings 17:13-14

And John the Baptist:

What then did you go out to see? A prophet?[a] Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. 10 This is he of whom it is written,

“‘Behold, I send my messenger before your face,
    who will prepare your way before you.’

11 Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” – Matthew 11:9-11

He can speak through the creation:

19 The heavens declare the glory of God,
    and the sky above[a] proclaims his handiwork.
Day to day pours out speech,
    and night to night reveals knowledge.
There is no speech, nor are there words,
    whose voice is not heard.
Their voice[b] goes out through all the earth,
    and their words to the end of the world.” – Psalm 19:1-4

A donkey:

“28 Then the Lord opened the mouth of the donkey, and she said to Balaam, “What have I done to you, that you have struck me these three times?” – Numbers 22:22-35

Stones:

39 And some of the Pharisees in the crowd said to him, “Teacher, rebuke your disciples.” 40 He answered, “I tell you, if these were silent, the very stones would cry out.” – Luke 19:39-40

Even through an enemy of God like Saul:

23 And he went there to Naioth in Ramah. And the Spirit of God came upon him also, and as he went he prophesied until he came to Naioth in Ramah. 24 And he too stripped off his clothes, and he too prophesied before Samuel and lay naked all that day and all that night. Thus it is said, “Is Saul also among the prophets?” – 1 Samuel 19:23-24

Or Caiaphas:

“49 But one of them, Caiaphas, who was high priest that year, said to them, “You know nothing at all. 50 Nor do you understand that it is better for you that one man should die for the people, not that the whole nation should perish.” 51 He did not say this of his own accord, but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation, 52 and not for the nation only, but also to gather into one the children of God who are scattered abroad. 53 So from that day on they made plans to put him to death.” – John 11:49-53

He speaks through his own testimony, the Holy Scriptures:

“19 And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, 20 knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. 21 For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”  – 1 Peter 1:19-21

And in these “last days”, he speaks through his people, the church:

“‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,

that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,

and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,

    and your young men shall see visions,

    and your old men shall dream dreams;

even on my male servants and female servants

    in those days I will pour out my Spirit, and they shall prophesy.” – Act 2:17-18

People like Agabus:

“27 Now in these days prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world (this took place in the days of Claudius).” – Acts 11:27-28 

“10 While we were staying for many days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands and said, “Thus says the Holy Spirit, ‘This is how the Jews[c] at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’” – Acts 21:10-11

Or the daughters of Phillip:

On the next day we departed and came to Caesarea, and we entered the house of Philip the evangelist, who was one of the seven, and stayed with him. He had four unmarried daughters, who prophesied.” – Acts 21:8-9

Or the Two Witnesses of Revelation:

“3 And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth.” – Revelation 11:3

Or even people like you and me, together with all the saints of God:

“For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged,” – 1 Corinthians 14:31

The point is, prophecy is God speaking.  And through any means he desires.

“8 Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound!” – 2 Timothy 2:8-9

Whatsmore, it just so happens he most desires that we, his church, should be the primary means by which he speaks in this age.

“13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.” – John 16:13-15

“14 Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer,15 for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict.” – Luke 21:14-15

And the heart of what He is speaking through his body the church is the gospel of Jesus Christ crucified and risen for the remission of sin.

10 Then I fell down at his feet to worship him, but he said to me, “You must not do that! I am a fellow servant with you and your brothers who hold to the testimony of Jesus. Worship God.” For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” – Revelation 19:10

 

Next: What is Prophecy’s Purpose?

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