Understanding What is a Prophet in the Bible

In the Bible, a prophet holds a significant role as an individual chosen by God to speak on His behalf and communicate His message to the people. Prophets possess spiritual insight, often demonstrating an ability to “see” the future or understand the will of God. These individuals are not only messengers but also serve as leaders, confronting and comforting people in various situations.

Decoding Their Divine Role
Decoding Their Divine Role

Throughout both the Old and New Testaments, many prophets have emerged to guide their respective communities and teach God’s message. Some well-known examples include Moses, Isaiah, and John the Baptist. Additionally, the Bible mentions women who served as prophets, further emphasizing the importance and diversity of this divine role.

Understanding the role of prophets in the Bible helps us to appreciate these individuals as direct channels of communication between God and His people. By examining their lives and messages, we gain insight into God’s will and learn valuable lessons for our own spiritual journeys.

Biblical Definition of a Prophet

what is a prophet in the bible
Biblical Definition of a Prophet

Role and Functions

A prophet is someone chosen by God to speak for Him. Their primary role is to accurately impart God’s messages to the people. The term “prophet” is derived from the Hebrew word nabi, meaning “to bubble forth” or “to utter” 1. In the Bible, prophets also had the responsibility to call the people back to God’s ways and guide them spiritually.

Prophets played various roles in biblical times, such as guiding leaders in crucial decisions, warning of impending judgments, and sometimes even assisting in miraculous events. Some well-known examples include Moses, who led the Israelites out of Egypt, and Elijah, who performed several miraculous feats through God’s power.

Characteristics of True Prophets

True prophets possess certain traits that set them apart from others. First and foremost, they receive divine revelations and possess spiritual insight, which often enabled them to “see” the future 2. They are also able to discern the will of God and deliver His messages to the people. True prophets display great faith and boldness in carrying out their mission, even when facing adverse circumstances.

Additionally, the scriptures indicate that genuine prophets’ words will align with God’s teachings, and their prophecies must come true3. In this way, their nature is consistent with their role as divine spokesmen acting on God’s behalf.

False Prophets

In contrast to true prophets, false prophets mislead people away from God’s teachings. They may claim to speak for God or predict the future, but their words contradict God’s truth 4. In the Bible, God warned about the dangers of following false prophets. These individuals often promote their own interests or those of other people, rather than serving the divine purpose.

In conclusion, a prophet, according to the Bible, is a divinely chosen spokesperson who conveys God’s messages and guides people on the righteous path. True prophets possess spiritual insight, unwavering faith, and a genuine connection with God. In contrast, false prophets deceive and lead people astray.


  1. Bible Study Tools – Prophet
  2. GotQuestions – What is a prophet in the Bible?
  3. What is a Prophet? Bible.org
  4. Christian answers – What is a PROPHET in the Bible?

Major and Minor Prophets

Major and Minor Prophets
Major and Minor Prophets

Differences Between Major and Minor Prophets

In the Bible, specifically the Old Testament, prophets were individuals who communicated messages from God. These messages often provided guidance, warning, or predictions of future events. Prophets are divided into two main categories: Major Prophets and Minor Prophets. This distinction is not based on the significance or relevance of their messages, but rather on the length and scope of their writings.

The Major Prophets have longer writings that cover a broader range of topics, while the Minor Prophets have shorter writings with more specific content. Nonetheless, both groups were equally significant in delivering important messages from God.

Key Figures and Writings

Major Prophets

We have three well-known Major Prophets in the Old Testament: Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Daniel.

  • Isaiah: Isaiah was a prophet in the 8th century BC who delivered messages to the people of Judah and Jerusalem. His prophecies were compiled into a book known as the Book of Isaiah.
  • Jeremiah: Jeremiah, often referred to as the “weeping prophet,” served the people of Judah and Jerusalem during the 7th and 6th centuries BC. His prophecies can be found in the Books of Jeremiah and Lamentations.
  • Daniel: Daniel was not only a prophet, but also an adviser to Babylonian kings. He experienced many visions, including those related to the end times, which are documented in the Book of Daniel.

Minor Prophets

There are 12 Minor Prophets, also known as “The Twelve”. Some notable figures and their writings include:

  • Hosea: Hosea is known for his symbolic marriage to an unfaithful wife, which represented God’s relationship with Israel. His messages are documented in the Book of Hosea.
  • Joel: Joel called for repentance and warned of the “Day of the Lord.” His prophecies can be found in the Book of Joel.
  • Amos: Amos was a shepherd who spoke out against social injustices. His book, the Book of Amos, focuses on themes of social justice and divine judgement.

Although they have shorter writings with more focused messages, the Minor Prophets were still vital instruments of God’s communication to His people. Reading these prophetic books, whether Major or Minor, can provide valuable insight into God’s message for humanity.

Prophecy and Revelation

what is a prophet in the bible
Prophecy and Revelation

Nature of Biblical Prophecy

In the Bible, prophecy is a message from God, often conveyed through a chosen individual known as a prophet. These prophets come in different forms, including seers who possess spiritual insight or the ability to foresee the future events. Their purpose is to communicate God’s truth to others and provide guidance, direction, or warning to His people.

Prophecies may include foretelling – predictions about future events, including the coming of the Messiah, or forthtelling – revealing God’s guidance or judgement on present situations. The Bible contains numerous prophetic books, such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, in which these messages are recorded.

The Book of Revelation is unique among the New Testament books, as it is majorly prophetic, concerning the events of the last days. The name is derived from the Greek term apokalypsis, meaning “unveiling” or “revelation”, which unveils the spiritual powers and forces at work in the world and in heavenly realms.

Fulfillment of Prophecies

The Bible contains multiple fulfilled prophecies. One of the most significant is the coming of Jesus Christ, the Messiah, who fulfilled numerous Old Testament predictions, for instance:

  1. Born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14)
  2. Born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2)
  3. From the lineage of David (2 Samuel 7:12-13)

Moreover, some prophecies relate to the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus, known as Messianic prophecies:

  • Praise by children (Psalm 8:2; Matthew 21:16)
  • Betrayal by a friend (Psalm 41:9; Mark 14:10)
  • Crucifixion (Psalm 22; John 19:23-30)

While many prophecies have been fulfilled, others await their fulfillment in the future, particularly those found in the Book of Revelation, which describe end-time events or the second coming of Jesus Christ.

By understanding the nature of biblical prophecy and recognizing the fulfillment of prophecies, we can deepen our knowledge of God’s Word and strengthen our faith, as well as find guidance and hope in His promises.

The Prophets and Israel’s History

The Prophets and Israel's History
The Prophets and Israel’s History

Prophets During the Monarchy

The role of prophets in the Bible is closely intertwined with Israel’s history as a nation, particularly during the time of the monarchy. Following the leadership of Moses, who was also a prophet, the nation of Israel was established under the rule of kings. The first few notable kings were Saul, David, and Solomon. Throughout their reigns, prophets were essential as they served as God’s mouthpieces, guiding and rebuking the kings and the people of Israel.

During the reigns of David and Solomon, the nation experienced a period of prosperity and unity. However, after Solomon’s death, the nation of Israel split into two kingdoms: the northern kingdom, known as Israel, and the southern kingdom, known as Judah. Prophets played a vital role during this time, warning the people of both kingdoms about the consequences of turning away from God. Some well-known prophets during this period include Elijah and Elisha in the northern kingdom, and Isaiah and Micah in the southern kingdom.

Exile and Restoration

As Israel and Judah continued to drift away from God, their transgressions led to their eventual downfall. The northern kingdom of Israel fell first, conquered by the Assyrians in 722 BC. Prophets like Hosea and Amos had warned the people of the impending judgment, which ultimately led to the devastation of their nation.

The southern kingdom of Judah managed to survive a little longer. However, they too were conquered, this time by the Babylonians under Nebuchadnezzar II1. Prophets like Jeremiah and Zephaniah had prophesied about these catastrophic events, but their warnings went unheeded. During this time of exile, prophets such as Ezekiel and Daniel played significant roles in delivering God’s messages of hope and eventual restoration to the people of Judah.

Following the exile, God used prophets like Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi to guide His people through the process of restoration and rebuilding. They encouraged the people to remain faithful to God and to rebuild not just their cities and temples but also their spiritual lives.

Throughout the history of Israel and Judah, the prophets served as God’s representatives, holding the people and their leaders accountable for their actions. Their prophetic messages, which often foretold of judgment and future blessings, are still relevant today, reminding us of the importance of staying true to our faith while staying connected to God.


  1. Theology of Work

Prophets in the New Testament

what is a prophet in the bible
Prophets in the New Testament

John the Baptist

John the Baptist is a prominent prophet in the New Testament, playing a key role in the arrival of Jesus. He is well-known for his ministry of baptism and repentance, preparing the way for the Messiah1. John’s significance grew as he foretold the coming of Jesus and baptized Him, identifying Jesus as the Lamb of God2. His prophecies and martyrdom exemplify the role of prophets in the New Testament.

Jesus as Prophet

Jesus Himself holds multiple roles in the New Testament, one of them being a prophet. As a prophetic figure, Jesus carries out several important tasks. Apart from fulfilling numerous Messianic prophecies from the Old Testament, He also predicted future events, such as His crucifixion and resurrection, and the destruction of Jerusalem3. Furthermore, Jesus spoke of His Second Coming4, highlighting His powerful function as a prophet, along with being the Messiah, priest, and king5.

The Church and Prophecy

Prophets took an influential position in the early church, contributing to its foundation6. Paul acknowledges the importance of prophets in his letter to the Ephesians, as they served the church through edification, exhortation, and comfort7. They were also recognized as leaders within the New Testament church, working closely with apostles, evangelists, pastors, and teachers for the benefit of the Christian community.

During the birth of the church, several prophecies took place, such as those given by the apostle Paul8 and Agabus9. These prophecies provided guidance for the church, and they were tested and judged by others within the Christian community10. Prophets and prophecy remain crucial for the church’s spiritual growth and discernment, shaping its understanding of God’s will.


  1. Matthew 3:1-6
  2. John 1:29-34
  3. Matthew 16:21; 24:1-2
  4. Matthew 24:36-44
  5. Hebrews 1:1-2
  6. Ephesians 2:19-20
  7. Ephesians 4:11
  8. Acts 21:10-14
  9. Acts 11:27-30
  10. 1 Corinthians 14:29

Frequently Asked Questions

what is a prophet in the bible
Frequently Asked Questions

Who are considered prophets in the Old Testament?

Many individuals are considered prophets in the Old Testament. Some prominent figures include Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel. Lesser-known prophets, often called minor prophets, include Hosea, Joel, Amos, Obadiah, Jonah, Micah, Nahum, Habakkuk, Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi. These individuals were chosen by God to deliver His messages and warnings to His people.

What characteristics define a prophet according to the Bible?

In the Bible, a prophet is described as someone chosen by God to speak on His behalf [^1^]. Prophets are often called “seers,” as they possess spiritual insight and sometimes have the ability to predict the future. Key characteristics that define a prophet include the ability to communicate God’s truth, provide guidance, and confront issues in society. They are expected to be honest and faithful messengers of God’s word.

How many prophets are there in the Bible and who are they?

There is no exact number of prophets mentioned in the Bible, as some passages refer to unnamed prophets or groups of prophets. However, it is generally agreed upon that there are at least 40 named prophets in both the Old and New Testaments. These include major prophets such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, and Ezekiel, as well as minor prophets like Hosea and Malachi. In the New Testament, John the Baptist and Jesus are also considered prophets.

What functions did prophets serve in biblical times?

Prophets served various functions in biblical times. Their primary role was to communicate God’s messages to the people. They often warned against disobedience, called for repentance, and predicted consequences if the people failed to follow God’s commandments. They also had the task of guiding the nation during times of crisis and providing encouragement in times of distress. Additionally, prophets called for social justice and challenged the people to live according to God’s will.

In what ways did Jesus fulfill the role of a prophet?

Jesus is considered the ultimate fulfillment of the prophet’s role in the Bible. He taught about the kingdom of God, performed miracles, and carried a message of love and forgiveness. Jesus also foretold future events, such as His own crucifixion and resurrection. As the Son of God, Jesus not only shared God’s messages but also demonstrated the perfect example of how to live according to God’s will.

What does the Bible state about the qualifications of a prophet?

The Bible provides some guidelines for identifying a true prophet. In Deuteronomy 18:20-22, it states that a prophet must speak in the name of the Lord and that their words must come true. Additionally, the prophet’s message must align with previously revealed Scripture and lead people towards obedience to God. If anyone claiming to be a prophet encourages disobedience or false worship, they are to be rejected as a false prophet.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top