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Work, vocation, or utterance of a prophet. OT Heb. words: nabi' (probably from a root meaning “to announce”), ro'eh (seer), and chozeh (seer). NT Gk.: prophetes (forth-teller). In classical Gk. thought prophecy is related to divining, but in Scripture a prophet is a divinely inspired forth-teller (1 Sm 10:6; Jer 1:2; Eze 1:1; Hos 1:1; 1 Ptr 1:11; 2 Ptr 1:21) who rebukes sin (2 Sm 12; Is 58:1; Eze 3:17; Mi 3:8), shows God's mercy (Is 40; 53), and in gen., proclaims messages of God (Ex 4:14–15; 7:1–2: Eze 11; Heb 1:1–2). He does this in assoc. with events of the past, present, and future, with constant emphasis on God's acts; hence the Messiah has a prominent place in prophecy.

Moses was the great prophet of the OT (Dt 18:15–18; 34:10–12). Jesus Christ of the NT (Jn 1:1–18).

The Heb. canon speaks of former prophets (Jos, Ju, 1-2 Sam, 1-2 K) and latter prophets (Is to Malachi), not with reference to time, but to the place of the books in the canon. The latter prophets include the 4 major (Is, Jer, Eze, Dn; called major because of the great range they cover and the large size of their books; Is, Jer, and Eze are each larger than all 12 minor prophets together; Dn is ca. the size of the 2 largest minor prophets, Hos and Zech, together) and the 12 minor (Hos, Jl, Am, Ob, Jon, Mi, Nab, Hab, Zeph, Hg, Zch, Ml; called minor because of the comparatively small size of their books and their much smaller spheres of activity; cf. Ecclus 49:10 [12]).

The vague and possibly misleading phrase “schools of the prophets” (not used in Scripture) came into use in reference to prophetic assocs., companies, communities, or bands or prophets with which Samuel, Elijah, and Elisha were connected (1 Sm 19:18–20; 2 K 2:1–7; 4:38).

In the NT the proclamation of the Gospel is the chief function of prophets. In course of time “prophesy” came to be largely a synonym of “foretell.”

Edited by: Erwin L. Lueker, Luther Poellot, Paul Jackson
©Concordia Publishing House, 2000, All rights Reserved. Reproduced with Permission

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