Do we have prophets in the church today?
Prophets served an important role in the Old Testament and in the early stages of the church. However, there is much confusion whether there are prophets in the church today. Do prophets still exist?
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While many claim to be prophets, the real question is whether this is a practice God continues to use today. In the early church, God used both apostles (literally "sent out ones") and prophets as the foundation for the church's early growth (Ephesians 2:20). Ephesians 4:11-12 says, "And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ."
Some seek to make a distinction between the apostles and prophets of the New Testament period with the idea of apostles and prophets in a general sense today. In other words, this view would agree there are no apostles and prophets today similar to the New Testament period, but that God continues to raise up leaders with the abilities to reach new areas for Christ (apostles) or serve as "truth tellers" (prophets) today. Though this may be true observationally, this does not really answer whether the role of prophet continues today as in the New Testament.
A look at the New Testament itself seems to indicate that the early period of Christianity included some aspects unique to that period. Among these are the roles of apostles and prophets. In fact, the later New Testament books give much emphasis to warning believers about false prophets. First John 4:1 notes, "Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world." As the books of the New Testament were completed, there would not have been the same need for apostles and prophets to reveal new truth about God.
Though there do not appear to be prophets today as in the New Testament period, two concessions must be noted. First, it is still possible God can speak through people in whatever way He chooses to reveal certain information at certain times. This "revealed" information will not contradict what God has already revealed about Himself in the Bible. This type of "prophet" is different from being a prophet in the same way certain figures were in the New Testament. Second, the need for "prophets" in the sense of those who speak truth to a sinful culture are still of great value. Though these individuals may not be prophets in the same sense as the New Testament prophets, the role of bold speakers of God's truth remains greatly needed today.
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