Jesus spoke of “the Law and the Prophets.” Jews have a larger corpus of “prophets” than Christians. Why is that and how do Christians and Jews differentiate prophets?
What is a prophet?
A prophet is a person called by God to speak God’s words inspired by the Holy Spirit. Thus all the prophets of the Old Testament and New Testament were moved by the Spirit of God when they were speaking.
For no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God. (2 Peter 1:21)(NASB)
Jesus – The Law and the Prophets
Jesus talked a lot from the Law and the Prophets. He Himself came to fulfill the Law and what the prophets had written in the Old Testament prophets.
Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill. For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Whoever then annuls one of the least of these commandments, and teaches others to do the same, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever keeps and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For I say to you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 5:17-20)(NASB)
The Law and the prophets were fulfilled in Jesus Christ. Thus the Law and the Prophets announce the coming of Jesus Christ which is fulfilled at the birth of Jesus Christ. Jesus is born under the Law, He perfectly fulfills the Law which was impossible for any man before and after him. But the most important thing is that in Christ Jesus both the Law and the Prophets are fulfilled. With Christ the Law and the Prophets of the Old Testament are not abolished but the Law comes to be customized, the love of enemies, doing good on the Sabbath day, to use your money for the Kingdom of God, etc.
Christians respect the prophets of the Old Testament
God’s desire has always been to communicate with the man immediately after his fall. By his disobedience, man distanced himself from God. He who seeks to communicate with us to save us is God. That is why God called Moses to send him to Pharaoh (Exodus 3:10) to communicate God’s request to allow His people leave Egypt. Later God chose the prophet Samuel, and sent him to the people of Israel who had fallen into idolatry, to speak for Him. Throughout the history God speaks to the people of Israel through different men, like Amos, Isaiah, Jeremiah, etc. Thus all the prophets are God’s messengers who communicated God’s words to the people of Israel in different times and different circumstances.
After the Babylonian exile, the synagogue system practices created the environment in which Christian preaching was developed into an action recognized during the service of worship.
The prophecy of the New Testament is preaching. Preaching in the New Testament begins with John the Baptist which is the bridge connecting the two Testaments, the Old Testament – the New Testament. Then the Lord Jesus says in Luke 4 that He was sent to preach, proving that preaching was His first priority. Then the 12 disciples were empowered by the Holy Spirit to go and preach the Gospel to everyone. Then Apostle Paul follows, and all those who were called after him to go and preach the Gospel.
For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not in cleverness of speech, so that the cross of Christ would not be made void. (1 Corinthians 1:17)(NASB)
So, preaching in season and out of season has become a principle for Christians.
So, Christians do not make a distinction between the Old Testament and New Testament prophets. Moreover Christians preach the message of God sent through the Old Testament prophets and they themselves are those who continue to send the words of God inspired by the Holy Spirit that we have today written in those 66 books of the Bible.
Translated by Felicia Rotaru