False Prophets are mentioned throughout the Old and the New Testaments. There is much speculation as to what is meant by the term as well as the personage of who is considered a false prophet. Some people mistakenly confuse the term “false prophets” with “the False Prophet” mentioned in the Book of Revelation. I will get into more detail about “the False Prophet” later. For now, I will explain the Biblical meaning of the Term “false prophet” as it is found throughout scripture.
Some researchers and laymen have assumed that a false prophet is someone who claims to be Jesus. The fact is that this view is not scriptural. Many point to the Olivet Discourse (in which Jesus explained the signs of His 2nd coming on the Mount of Olives). If we analyse the Scripture, we find that this is not the case. In Matthew 24:5 (“For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.”), Jesus specifically explains that many will come in His name, but He does not attribute them with the term “false prophets” or “Pseudoprophetes” in the Greek (meaning one who, acting the part of a divinely inspired prophet, utters falsehoods under the name of divine prophecies ).
However, in Matthew 24:11, (“And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many.”), Jesus specifically mentions the term and characterizes them with deception. In a later verse, Matthew 24:24 (“For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.”), Jesus again mentions the term “false prophets”, but He also mentions a new term,” Pseudochristos” in Greek or “false Christ”. He specifically separates them with the conjunction “kai” in the greek, meaning “and”. Grammatically, this implies that the two have different meaning. Ultimately, a False Christ claims to be the Christ when he is not, whereas a “false prophet” is not claiming to be Christ, but is claiming that his prophecies are God-inspired when they are not.”
Both can deceive many and if possible even “the Elect” as mentioned in Matthew 24:24. There is also speculation about what that exactly means. Some believe that the reason it is not possible, is because “The Elect” will essentially be” Raptured” or snatched away by Christ before “the Great Tribulation” of the Earth so they will not be here to be deceived. Others believe that this is an ongoing process from the time of “Acts” on, whereas “The Elect” cannot be deceived because they have the Holy Spirit living inside of them, shielding them from this deception. I find one serious flaw in the 1st view. That is, even though scripture does seem to support a “Rapture”, we find in the Book of Revelation that there are many who come out of the Tribulation washed in the blood of the Lamb. Obviously, they were people (Gentiles and Jews) who became Christians after the “The Rapture”. Many are Martyred (beheaded) for their belief in the True Christ. Not only are they not deceived, they also died for not accepting a lie (deception) and believing the Truth about Jesus Christ.
False Christs have come and gone and most are exposed for what they are. True Christians know that Christ will return on the clouds as he ascended to Heaven after His 1st coming and the whole world will see His coming. So He warns us in Matthew 24:25-28, ” Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together.”
False prophets are not as easy to recognize, but a true Christain can use wisdom and Spiritual discernment to reveal to them the truth about the so-called prophet. They are everywhere and have been since the time of the Acts forward. Jesus warned us in Matthw 7:15 “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.” He goes on to explain, “Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.” (Matthew 7:16-20).
John tells us in his 1st epistle to test the Spirits, “Beloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.” John 4:1.
Peter describes some of them in more detail, “Having eyes full of adultery, and that cannot cease from sin; beguiling unstable souls: an heart they have exercised with covetous practices; cursed children:
Which have forsaken the right way, and are gone astray, following the way of Balaam the son of Bosor, who loved the wages of unrighteousness; But was rebuked for his iniquity: the dumb ass speaking with man’s voice forbad the madness of the prophet. These are wells without water, clouds that are carried with a tempest; to whom the mist of darkness is reserved for ever. For when they speak great swelling words of vanity, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through much wantonness, those that were clean escaped from them who live in error. While they promise them liberty, they themselves are the servants of corruption: for of whom a man is overcome, of the same is he brought in bondage.” II Peter 2:14-19
In Deuteronomy 18:20-22, We are told exactly what is requred of a prophet of the Lord. “But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.”
Moses explained to the people that a prophet of the Lord MUST be 100% accurate, otherwise they should be put to death. John explains that we should put the spirits to the test and Peter goes on to describe the true heart of many false prophets.
Are there people today who claim to be prophets of the Lord? Yes, but I will not get into naming some as it is not up to me to judge lest I be judged. Judgement is reserved fo the Lord, but he does command us to test and discern any so-called prophet or prophecy using our knowledge of scripture as well as spiritual discernment. The test is pretty simple. If you can answer yes to all of the basic questions than it is likely that the person may truly be a prophet of God.
1. Is the socalled prophet 100% accurate all of the time?
2. Is what the prophet prophecying Scriptural?
3. Do the so-called prophet bare good fruit?
4. Is the prophet claiming to get this knowledge through the Holy Spirit or Jesus Christ?
Equipped with this knowledge you should have no problem discerning many of these so-called modern day prophets.
Finally, there is mention of “The False Prophet” in the Book of Revelation. He is 1st mentioned in Revelation 13:11-15, “And I beheld another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb, and he spake as a dragon. And he exerciseth all the power of the first beast before him, and causeth the earth and them which dwell therein to worship the first beast, whose deadly wound was healed. And he doeth great wonders, so that he maketh fire come down from heaven on the earth in the sight of men, And deceiveth them that dwell on the earth by the means of those miracles which he had power to do in the sight of the beast; saying to them that dwell on the earth, that they should make an image to the beast, which had the wound by a sword, and did live. And he had power to give life unto the image of the beast, that the image of the beast should both speak, and cause that as many as would not worship the image of the beast should be killed.”
Obviously, there is much speculation about the personage of “The False Prophet”. Some theologians claim that this scripture refers to the anti-Christ, but the Scripture does not make any ascertion that this person should be worshipped as God, but it does show that this person will make people worship the 1st beast as a god. Many theologians and Bible researchers assume that the 1st Beast is both an empire and a person (the anti-Christ), whereas the second beast, having two horns of a lamb indicates that the 2nd Beast (the False Prophet) is a religious figure. He is mentioned again with 2 other figures in Revelation 16:13, “And I saw three unclean spirits like frogs come out of the mouth of the dragon, and out of the mouth of the beast, and out of the mouth of the false prophet.”
There are 3 unclean spirits and three figures. This is not only telling us that these figures are evil, one can easily allude to the significance of what is being portayed here. Some theologians suggest that these evil beings (the Dragon, the Beast and the False Prophet) are attempting to immitate the Holy Trinity (the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit). Others suugest that although this may be the case, there is also a inverse connection to the 2nd coming of Christ. The 1st Beast rises up out of the sea (inidicating a political figure). The second beast arises out of the Earth with horns of a lamb (inidcating a religious figure as mentioned before). There is an inverse nature to this unholy union that mirrors the prophecies of the Old Testament. The False Prophet mentioned here more than likely alludes to the mirror of Elijah (the prophet that they are expecting to come to prepare the way for the Christ). The scripture in Revelation 13:11-14 states that the False Prophet will excercise the power of the 1st Beast and make the Earth worship the 1st Beast. So assumeably, the False Prophet is the anti-Elijah. Assuming this is correct, then the 1st Beast would mirror the coming of the Messiah (the Christ), which would make him “the anti-Christ”. So the Dragon of course, is none-other-than Satan (the Devil).
Although many see the OT prophets as well as the Book of Revelation as Allegorical and next to imposible to interpret, nothing can be farther from the Truth. If the Christian is equipped with the correct historical references (they have some background on some of the History of the Jews and the Bible in general), the prophecies come to life. Unfortunately, many pastors and teachers, disregard the Old Testament as not relevant for current times, but the history, the stories and the words of wisdom and praise are of extreme importance. In addition, it is a foreshadowing of the Gospel of Christ and is jam packed with prophecies that have been filled as well as many that have yet to be fulfilled or are being fulfilled before our eyes. The fact is that 25% of the Bible is prophecy and if a Church is not preaching on it, they are cheating their members of something exciting. Bible Prophecy is a great topic for discussion in church and especially in small groups. If you have been reluctant to study Bible Prophecy, there is no better time than now to start. We are living in a time that the Bible speaks more about than any other time in history. You can literally watch prophecy unravel before your eyes. The challenge is yours to partake. I wish you all God speed in your journey into the fascinating world of Bible Prophecy.