What is a Prophet?

Judges 4:5 – She used to sit under the palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the people of Israel came up to her for judgment.

Deborah is called a “prophetess”, which is a rare thing for a woman in the Bible. Only five women in the Old Testament are referred to as a female prophet. Miriam is called a “prophetess” (Exodus 15:20), and it says of her and Aaron, “the Lord….has…spoken through us.” (Numbers 12:1-2) 

Deborah is called a “prophetess”, and we are told, “She used to sit under the palm of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the hill country of Ephraim, and the people of Israel came up to her for judgment.” (Judges 4:4-5) Huldah (2 Kings 22:14; 2 Chronicles 34:22) and Noadiah (Nehemiah 6:14) are also called “prophetess” along with an unnamed woman referred to as “the prophetess” (Isaiah 8:3). 

In the New Testament days of Jesus, Anna is a Spirit-filled “prophetess” known for “worshipping with fasting and prayer night and day” (Luke 2:36-38). In Peter’s sermon at Pentecost, he quotes Joel saying, “And in the last days it shall be, God declares, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy…” (Acts 2:17) Later in Acts, we meet “Philip the evangelist…He had four unmarried daughters, who prophesied.” (Acts 21:8-9) Regarding a church meeting, we also read of those women in church “who prays or prophecies” (1 Corinthians 11:5). 

Throughout the New Testament, there are times when God the Holy Spirit gives a prophetic word to a godly woman, and she then brings that word to male senior leadership in the church to verify its accuracy and, if approved, that word is shared with the church (Acts 2:11, 2:17; 1 Corinthians 11:5, 14:26). Meanwhile, the male pastor would be leading the service and teaching the Scriptures week in and week out as the shepherd over the flock. 

Lastly, in addition to a handful of female prophets, the Bible also warns us about female false prophets who have the demonic Jezebel spirit. Jesus speaks clearly about a leader in the church at Thyatira saying, “I have this against you, that you tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess and is teaching and seducing my servants to practice sexual immorality and to eat food sacrificed to idols.” (Revelation 2:20)

Read the stories of some of the other female prophetesses throughout Scripture including Huldah (2 Kings 22:14; 2 Chronicles 34:22), Noadiah (Nehemiah 6:14), and Anna (Luke 2:36-38.

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