Definition of Prophet

By Genelle Austin-Lett

Categories: Elijah and Elisha, Ezekiel, Isaiah, and Jeremiah, Old Testament


Who or what is a prophet?


A prophet is one who sees, thinks, and acts spiritually. The prophet communicates God's messages. Richards Complete Bible Dictionary defines a prophet as "a person authorized to speak for God." Richards further elaborates five steps in the prototype of a prophet. You might want to take the prophets we've studied to this point and see if these steps apply to any of them.

Moses is the foundation on which the Old Testament prophecy is built.

Step 1. God reveals Himself and His purpose to the prophet. God did this with Moses and the burning bush. God told Moses the purpose of the communication was to deliver the children of Israel from Egyptian slavery.

Step 2. Prophets receive a special call. Isaiah receives his call in Isa. 6; Jeremiah's call is in Jer. 1:4-19; and Ezekiel's call comes in Ezek. 1-3.

Step 3. Moses was told to deliver his message in the name of "I Am," however the prophets of Israel said, "Thus saith the Lord." When the prophet spoke those words, the people knew that the breath of God was breathing His message through the prophet.

Step 4. God gave his prophets signs that would compel people to believe. God opened the Red Sea, gave the children manna in the wilderness, and caused the pot of oil not to diminish, to name a few.

Step 5. Not all prophecy is predicting the future. It does, however, establish God's presence in our lives. It is a promise that God will guide.

The role of the prophet was to serve as a voice of God to his generation. The prophet had a responsibility to point out sins and ask people to repent, such as when Nathan pointed out David's sin with Bathsheba and Elijah condemned Ahab for murdering Naboth.

Prophets act as the spiritual consciousness of a nation, suggesting that it's time for us to be willing to let God reveal Himself to us and be prepared to answer the call.


Richard, Lawrence, O. Richards Complete Bible Dictionary. Iowa Falls: World Bible Publishers, Inc., 2002.

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