Once again, we come to a passage in the Bible that might cause some to practice what the Bible is not teaching. There are many who believe that prophets still exist. Those who believe this practice “prophetic speaking”. If you know me, you will be aware that I do not support that way of thinking because I believe the Bible does not teach us to practice those things.
Let me remind you of previous Notes. I am aware that this conversation will arise again too. In the Old Testament there were prophets who heard messages from God in various ways and prophesied or foretold what would come to pass according to what God had told them. We see this repeatedly in the Old Testament. In the New Testament, Jesus chose twelve apostles, who replaced the prophets by doing something very similar. As God used many Old Testament prophets to do the miraculous, He used the apostles in a similar manner.
The Book of Acts encompasses the period of the inspired Books written by Peter, Paul, John and Jude. Acts is as inspired as all the other Books in the Bible … but generally it is a history book. In it, Luke provides us with a credible account of how the Church started, progressed amongst the Jews, burst into the Gentile world and through Paul and his missionary associates, spread like world fire throughout most of the then known world. The Book of Acts’ intention is not to teach doctrine although doctrine is found here, but mainly it is Early Church history. Now we come to the ending of Acts chapter 11:
Ac 11:27 During this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius.) 29 The disciples, each according to his ability, decided to provide help for the brothers living in Judea. 30 This they did, sending their gift to the elders by Barnabas and Saul.
1) Prophets from Jerusalem. In the early days of the Christian Church there seems to have been a recognized order known as “prophets”. This we find from the following passages …
Ac 2:17 ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams. 18 Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days, and they will prophesy.’
Ac 13:1 In the church at Antioch there were prophets and teachers: Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen (who had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch) and Saul.
Ac 21:8 Leaving the next day, we reached Caesarea and stayed at the house of Philip the evangelist, one of the Seven. 9 He had four unmarried daughters who prophesied. 10 After we had been there a number of days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea.
1 Cor 12:28 And in the church God has appointed first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers
Eph 4:11 It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers
Ac 15:32 Judas and Silas, who themselves were prophets, said much to encourage and strengthen the brothers.
In Acts 2:17-18 we have a reference to the Book of Joel 2:28-29. This seems to indicate speaking about the new life in the Lord Jesus Christ and not so much the office of prophet. In Acts 13:1 we find amongst the names mentioned, Barnabas who was one of the first deacons and Saul who becomes an apostle. It seems as though this was the office. In Acts 21:8-10 Philips’ unmarried daughters prophesied … this seems to be a general description of speaking the Gospel whilst Agabus held the office. In Acts 15:32, 1 Corinthians 12 and Ephesians 4 the office is spoken of.
Every other time the word “prophet” or “prophets” is used, it refers to the Old Testament or to what has been mentioned earlier in the Book of Acts. The office itself was withdrawn by the Holy Spirit as soon as the Church had matured sufficiently. Today we do not have the office of either prophet or apostle. Today we have the Bible and everything we need for life, living, salvation and heaven in the Bible.
Beloved, be very careful of anyone coming to you saying they are a prophet or they want to speak a prophetic word over you. That does not exist. Be warned and be cautious. What we do have today is when one studies the Scripture passage diligently, digging into the original language and then prayerfully crafts a sermon once understanding what God is saying … that preacher brings a prophetic word … saying … “Thus says the Lord” because the interpretation and exposition provides the Word of God.
2) The prophet Agabus. Remember, the New Testament Scriptures did not exist other than a few Books such as Mark and Luke, amongst others. The Spirit used men to speak for God … Agabus was one of them.
Ac 11:28 One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius.)
Not only did he predict a famine covering the whole Roman Empire … it happened and is recorded by Luke and secular history. It came in the fourth year of the reign of Claudius Caesar, 44 AD and lasted until 48 AD. Allow me to stop and be repetitive.
The test for a prophet is not whether he gets your name correct because some usher spoke to you at the door and obtained your name and sent a note to the preacher on the platform. The test for a prophet is not that you have a backache and are wearing a garment that is blue … because any amount of people in a large Church will be wearing blue.
The test for a prophet is considering what Agabus predicted and it came true. The Holy Spirit gave him the words which he spoke to the Church for a special reason which we will come to tomorrow. For today though, we find that what Agabus predicted came true. It was not some fanciful “idea story” … it was a famine throughout the whole known world. This is a huge thing … and could only be measured as true or false when it happened … and it did. Beloved, listen to the Bible. God gave you His Word. Listen to it.
Father, thank You for the Bible. Please speak to me through it. Amen.