What does the Bible
say about false prophets?

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QUESTION: What does the Bible say about false prophets? Is there any way to detect them?

ANSWER: The Bible lists several false prophets by name. One of the first ones was Balaam, who was hired by Moab's king to curse Israel (Numbers 22 - 24). Zedekiah lied and predicted King Ahab would be victorious in battle against the Syrians (1Kings 22:11 - 24). Hananiah tried to refute Jeremiah's 70-year prophecy (Jeremiah 28:1 - 17). Ahab and Zedekiah were liars whose death Jeremiah predicted (Jeremiah 29:21). A prophet who was false named Shemaiah taught people to rebel against God (Jeremiah 29:24 - 32).

Noadiah was one of several false prophets during Nehemiah's time (Nehemiah 6:14). In the New Testament, Elymas (also called Bar-Jesus) was a sorcerer who confronted the apostle Paul on the island of Cyprus (Acts 13:6). Jezebel was a teacher of immorality in the church at Thyatira (Revelation 2:20).

God has many things to say about prophets who teach lies, especially in his name. Jesus warned his listeners about how false teachers can come in disguise, seeming to be gentle creatures when they are, in fact, very dangerous people (Matthew 7:15). He also instructed us on how to detect lying prophets by their fruits, meaning by what they teach compared to Scripture (Matthew 7:16). True servants of the Eternal ultimately lead people to him, while those who are false lead others to THEMSELVES and to increasing their own power, glory and wealth (1Timothy 6:5, 10, 2Peter 2:3).

Who was King Ahab?
Who are the major prophets?
Timeline of the Old Testament

Those who serve God speak the complete truth and WANT people to prove the veracity of their words in Holy writ. They have no problem with those who 'test the spirits' (1John 4:1). True prophets are not concerned with what people think of them or whether others do not like to hear what God has to say. Those that are phonies and false teachers, however, are very concerned about their image and greatly desire to have the admiration and respect of the people.

With true prophets, "what you see is what you get." They do not pretend to be something they are not and do not seek to deceive people. They serve out of love. Those who are not true, however, tell a whole bunch of lies and half-truths, mixed with just enough truth to seem credible (see 2Peter 2:1). Their ultimate authority is themselves. Those who masquerade as prophets and pretend to represent God want people to believe their motives are purely altruistic (see 2Corinthians 11:12 - 14, Philippians 1:15 - 18). In their hearts, however, they pursue selfish goals and use people as if they were disposal to get what they want.

Prophets who teach false doctrines sound like their words are based on the Bible but instead they are calculated to destroy others. Those truly inspired, however, speak to build people up and to warn them so that they can repent, change, and draw closer to God. The book of Deuteronomy states how serious a matter it is for someone to be a false spokesman and how Israel was to punish such people. In the Old Testament, the punishment for those who pretended to speak for the Eternal was the death penalty (Deuteronomy 13:5 - 6).

We are warned, many times, to be wary of false prophets. They are characterized as ravenous wolves (Matthew 7:16, Acts 20:29) and foxes (Ezekiel 13:4) who are cunning, clever and always looking for new people in which to deceive and take advantage of. The apostle Paul tells us about these people and then reveals what we should do.

3. If anyone teaches any different doctrine, and does not adhere to sound words, even those of our Lord Jesus Christ . . . 4. He is proud and knows nothing. Rather, he has a morbid attraction to questions and disputes over words . . . men who believe that gain is godliness. FROM SUCH WITHDRAW YOURSELF (1Timothy 6:3 - 5, HBFV throughout)

Additional Study Materials
Do modern day false teachers exist?
Who were the MINOR prophets?
Who are the most EVIL people?

What does Bible say
about false prophets?
Bibliography

Holy Bible, a Faithful Version


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