How to distinguish between false and true prophets?


What is the difference between Messiah, a prophet and a saint? In Matthew 24, Jesus prevents us that many will come in His name and that among them will be many false prophets who will deceive many. How to distinguish those who are false from those who are true? Is there any prophet in our days and what should a Christian’s attitude be toward him?

How to distinguish between false and true prophets?Here are more questions, so I will answer them successively.

What is the difference between Messiah, a prophet and a saint?

Messiah is a Hebrew word meaning anointed or chosen, and it relates directly to the person of Jesus Christ, who is the Savior of Israel and of all mankind. The Greek translation of this word is Christ. So, Christ and Messiah means the same thing. Prophet is one who speaks for God to send people God’s message. Old Testament prophets, were saying so, “Thus says the Lord: …” and started sending the message exactly as they had received it from God. So, prophet is one who says the Word of God exactly, being sent by God and of course, sometimes, this message speaks about future times. Saint is the Greek word haghios and it is translated as set apart, or called to be set apart. We, all Christians who have entered a covenant with Jesus were set apart for Him to serve Him faithfully and to proclaim His wonderful powers to the end of the earth and to all creation.

The attitude toward the Word of God

True prophets proclaim the Word of God and call to obedience to it.Those who do not know the Bible exactly become victims of the false prophets, because they immediately believe everything they see and impresses them.In the Old Testament God said:

If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the LORD your God is testing you to find out if you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. You shall follow the LORD your God and fear Him; and you shall keep His commandments, listen to His voice, serve Him, and cling to Him. (Deuteronomy 13:1-4)(NASB)

Do not be deceived by wonders

People usually qualify a prophet as coming from God if he has many followers, or if he does signs and wonders.Never be deceived by it. The Lord Jesus said this:

Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits. Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’ (Matthew 7:15-23)(NASB)

The fruits by which we will know a true prophet are not miracles, or that he casts out devils, or that he announces the future things that take place, but the fact that he remains faithful to God’s Word and speaks it correctly.

Are there prophets nowadays?

Prophets exist nowadays too, because today there are many people that send God’s message to the whole world, and there are also people who preach events related to the future and do it at the urging of God. One of the spiritual gifts is the gift of prophecy and nowhere in the Bible, God says that He has canceled this gift.

What should a Christian’s attitude toward prophets be?

Apostle John wrote this:

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world. (1 John 4:1-3)(NASB)

According to this verse, our responsibility, as Christians, is to study the Scriptures with perseverance and do not believe any alleged prophet, but to examine the message in the light of God’s Word and if it is preached right, then to believe it, and if somehow a false prophet tries to slip a destructive heresy, to stay away from him.And I want to say one more important thing. Usually, false prophets are those who beat their breasts and trumpet abroad from morning till night that they are the only true prophets and attack fiercely those who are true. Read the book of the prophet Elijah attentively and see how this was during his life.

Translated by Felicia Rotaru