Question: Are there modern day prophets or is there a need for prophets today?
Answer: In the New Testament, the gift of the office of prophet was a temporary one granted by God for the purpose of building His Church. Contrary to the apostles, who had broad ministries, these men had localized ministries within local churches, as we see illustrated in such places as Acts 11:21-28 and Acts 13:1.
Scripture shows us that the prophets of the New Testament had two primary purposes:
They were gifted men given to the Church and appointed by God (Eph. 4:11, 1 Cor. 12:28) for the purpose of helping to lay the foundation of the Church (Eph. 2:20).
They, like the apostles, received God’s revelation (Eph. 3:5) and truth and proclaimed it to their churches. It is important to remember that the early Church did not have a completed Bible, so God granted this revelation for the purpose of teaching His message to the Church. The New Testament prophets also spoke forth and taught the apostles’ doctrine. Everything taught by these prophets had to be consistent with the teaching of the apostles (1 Cor. 14:36-37).
So, are prophets still needed today? Looking at the two functions listed above, we can see that the office of prophet is one that is no longer necessary and has ceased within the Church because:
The foundation of the Church was laid long ago.
God’s revealed Word was completed with the close of the New Testament canon.
The Church’s foundation does not need to be laid again and there is no need for further revelation beyond what God has provided for us in His complete Word, the Bible. Today we are blessed to have Scripture as our complete and final authority in all things (2 Tim. 3:16-17). If someone now claims to have received a “special revelation,” we must test it against Scripture. If it is contrary to the Word of God, then it must be rejected. If it is consistent with Scripture, then we have to ask why an “extra” word was necessary if its truth is already contained in the Bible. So while we always need men who are willing to proclaim boldly the Word of God as contained in Scripture (as pastors, teachers, and evangelists), there is no need for the office of “prophet” as it existed in the New Testament.
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