Having used the term in many of my articles. I thought it was time to take this generic term and define it.

First let’s look at what is not a false prophet.  A person who ministers from a different stream of Christianity is not necessarily a false prophet.  From those within what I would call a legalistic stream such as the “Closed Brethren’ to the most liberal of the ’Pentecostal movement in itself does not make a ‘False Prophet’. It would be wrong for us to label someone who has a different expression of Christianity a false prophet.

Wikipedia tells us “a false prophet is one who falsely claims the gift of prophecy or divine inspiration, or who uses that gift for evil ends[a]” is an excellent definition as Christians our only legitimate source is the bible, God’s Word.

Baker encyclopedia of the Bible defines a false prophet as; “Spokesman, herald, or messenger falsely speaking for, or on behalf of, someone else. The false prophet was often motivated not by loyalty to God, but by a desire for popularity. This was the main difference between Jeremiah and his contemporaries. While Jeremiah was foretelling doom (Jer 4:19), the false prophets were assuring the people of peace when war was at hand (6:14; 8:11). The people preferred it that way saying, “Prophesy not to us what is right; speak to us smooth things, prophesy illusions …” (Is 30:10)”…. The message of the false prophet was usually spurred by self-interest and given to please the people. It was not necessarily his intention to speak falsely, yet when spoken with wrong motivation his message was often in error. This sometimes means that even a true prophet could become false and occasionally a false prophet could be used of God for the right purpose.[1]

Why does it matter?

After all there are so many different churches and preachers, why label someone a false prophet when you can just metaphorically ‘change the channel’, why don’t we just let them be? Because the bible commands us to.

1John 1:1 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.

Jesus warns us in the book of Matthew chapter 7

“Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’” (Matthew 7:15–23, ESV)

And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray. And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold.” (Matthew 24:11–12, ESV)

And then if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or ‘Look, there he is!’ do not believe it. For false christs and false prophets will arise and perform signs and wonders, to lead astray, if possible, the elect. But be on guard; I have told you all things beforehand.” (Mark 13:21–23, ESV)

And 2 Peter is just too good to leave out the entire chapter:

But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep. For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment; if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly; if by turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah to ashes he condemned them to extinction, making them an example of what is going to happen to the ungodly; and if he rescued righteous Lot, greatly distressed by the sensual conduct of the wicked (for as that righteous man lived among them day after day, he was tormenting his righteous soul over their lawless deeds that he saw and heard); then the Lord knows how to rescue the godly from trials, and to keep the unrighteous under punishment until the day of judgment, and especially those who indulge in the lust of defiling passion and despise authority. Bold and willful, they do not tremble as they blaspheme the glorious ones, whereas angels, though greater in might and power, do not pronounce a blasphemous judgment against them before the Lord. But these, like irrational animals, creatures of instinct, born to be caught and destroyed, blaspheming about matters of which they are ignorant, will also be destroyed in their destruction, suffering wrong as the wage for their wrongdoing. They count it pleasure to revel in the daytime. They are blots and blemishes, reveling in their deceptions, while they feast with you. They have eyes full of adultery, insatiable for sin. They entice unsteady souls. They have hearts trained in greed. Accursed children! Forsaking the right way, they have gone astray. They have followed the way of Balaam, the son of Beor, who loved gain from wrongdoing, but was rebuked for his own transgression; a speechless donkey spoke with human voice and restrained the prophet’s madness. These are waterless springs and mists driven by a storm. For them the gloom of utter darkness has been reserved. For, speaking loud boasts of folly, they entice by sensual passions of the flesh those who are barely escaping from those who live in error. They promise them freedom, but they themselves are slaves of corruption. For whatever overcomes a person, to that he is enslaved. For if, after they have escaped the defilements of the world through the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, they are again entangled in them and overcome, the last state has become worse for them than the first. For it would have been better for them never to have known the way of righteousness than after knowing it to turn back from the holy commandment delivered to them. What the true proverb says has happened to them: “The dog returns to its own vomit, and the sow, after washing herself, returns to wallow in the mire.”” (2 Peter 2:1–22, ESV)

The English Standard Version of the bible says:

Deuteronomy 18:20–22 But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.’ 21 And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the Lord has not spoken?’— 22 when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him. [2]

The bible tells us that false prophets are often associated with divination and witchcraft.

And the Lord said to me: “The prophets are prophesying lies in my name. I did not send them, nor did I command them or speak to them. They are prophesying to you a lying vision, worthless divination, and the deceit of their own minds.” (Jeremiah 14:14, ESV)

And her prophets have smeared whitewash for them, seeing false visions and divining lies for them, saying, ‘Thus says the Lord God,’ when the Lord has not spoken. The people of the land have practiced extortion and committed robbery. They have oppressed the poor and needy, and have extorted from the sojourner without justice.” (Ezekiel 22:28–29, ESV)

When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they came upon a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus. He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. But Elymas the magician (for that is the meaning of his name) opposed them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him and said, “You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.” Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand. Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord.” (Acts 13:6–12, ESV)

Conclusion:

A false prophet may look the part of a pious, selfless preacher who it seems, love flows from every word they speak but as they say ‘the proof is in the pudding” while they bolding speak of encounters with Jesus, walking in heavenly realms the facts are they are either deluded or deceitful, leaving a trail of shipwrecked lives behind them.

Let me know your thoughts on this article. If you have experienced or think you have encountered a false prophet drop me a message from the contact page. I would love to hear your story.

[1] Elwell, W.A. & Beitzel, B.J., 1988. Baker encyclopedia of the Bible, p.1780.

[2] Anon, 2016. The Holy Bible: English Standard Version, Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[a] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/False_prophet