Saturday, January 24, 2009

Prophet - Range of Meaning in New Testament Times

In Showing the Spirit, D. A. Carson compares New Testament prophets with those from the Old Testament:

"Although New Testament prophets apparently spoke on a variety of topics, there is little evidence that they enjoyed the clout in the church that either the apostles demanded in the church or the writing prophets demanded in Israel in Judah."(p97)

This goes along well with what Wayne Grudem writes in his book The Gift of Prophecy in the New Testament and Today. Grudem teaches that "By the time of the New Testament the term 'prophet' (Greek prophetes) in everyday use simply meant 'one who has supernatural knowledge' or 'one who predicts the future' - or even just 'spokesman' (without any connotations of divine authority).(p33) He continues, "The word 'prophet' would not automatically suggest 'one who speaks with absolute divine authority' or 'one who speaks the very words of God'. (p34)

In discussing both sides of the matter, Carson brings up Titus 1:12 - One of the Cretans, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons.” The word prophet in this verse cannot possibly be equivalent with the Old Testament use of the word, can it? So I think that it is reasonable to agree with Grudem that the word prophet does not necessarily always mean " 'one who speaks God's very words' after the pattern of the Old Testament prophets"(p40) and that "The precise meaning will have to be determined from the context." (p40)

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