Christian Concept of Prophecy

Definition of Prophecy

Viewing the concept of prophecy in the Bible, one can perceive the deficiency in the methodology with which Christians dealt with it. We see Christian scholars have fallen into a great contradiction in the understanding of this concept.

As a result Prophet Jesus’s prophecy was abused though it was the greatest characteristic that was given to him by his Lord Almighty. Research in this topic leads us to the inevitable result of a Christian manipulation with this accurate concept.

A. B. Abu Al-Khair, a priest of the ancient Church of Virgin Mary, Mostorod, Cairo, defines prophecy linguistically, saying:

“The word ‘prophet’ in Hebrew and the Old Testament is” Nabi “as  Arabic language; scholars and commentators are divided on its interpretation as follows:

1- The word “prophet” is derived from the words “Nun” and “Beth”. The literal meaning of the word is “to explode in”, or “flow into”. This means “the flow of the spirit into the Prophet.”

2- The word is derived from Assyrian or Akkadian verb “Nabu” meaning “to call” or “to summon.”

3- The word is derived from the Arabic verb “Naba’”which means “to announce” or “tell” , while in Hebrew it means “coming up with a prophesy”.

– There is a relation between the word “Nabi (i.e. prophet)” and the verb “bo” (i.e. to enter), as a reference that a prophet is the person who “enters into a relationship with God.”

5- There is a correlation between the words “Naba’-news” and “the word “Jehovah”, so the prophet is “the one who talks about God’s revelation”.

He also goes on to explain this term saying: “Then the Prophet is the one to whom God reveals secrets to announce to humanity. Jeremiah, the Prophet, affirms that, along with the Spirit, prophets stand in the presence of God, or in His heavenly assembly; they hear his words and divine advice that he wants to announce…According to the Old Testament, the word “Prophet” indicates that “the Prophet” is “the one on through whose mouth God speaks.”

The word “prophet” has been repeated more than 430 times in the Bible, about 290 times in the Old Testament and 140 times in the New Testament as an indication of the importance of the concept of prophecy in the Bible and being considered one of its definite doctrines.

Many Christian thinkers claim that prophecy is not confined to Jesus and other former prophets, but may extend to the apostles of Jesus and the Evangelists as well–A doctrine which does not seem to be tenable.

Was Christ a Prophet?

A. B. Abu Al-Khair  answers this question by saying: “Jesus is the image of God ”or “the image of the invisible God; the image of God should be considered a God”. “Christ took many titles, including the title of “the Prophet”, because he came in the body. He took the image of the humans, and performed countless divine works  concealing his divinity and did not refer to it except in few times, although most of his works and sayings confirm the truth of his essence being the incarnate deity. Therefore people thought him to be a prophet, “ the multitudes said, ‘This is Jesus, the prophet from Nazareth”.

 He, elsewhere, says: “Nevertheless, Christ practiced the work of the Prophet and the function of prophecy, and he performed many of the acts of the prophets, but with divine authority stemming from his being the incarnate deity and the word of God coming from heaven; so he did not say like what the prophets used to say: “Thus he (God) says,  or The Lord said so and so “,  rather he used his divine sayings, repeating the phrase “Truthfully I say to you” 62 times”.

Strangely enough Abu Al-Khair, combines several contradictions in the person of Christ; once he claimed Christ to be God. Other times, he claimed him to be “the son of man”, and that he was a “Prophet”! Since it was difficult for him to combine all these three components in the sole person of Jesus, he utilized incarnation theme to convince us of this belief, so he claimed that Christ the God was incarnated in the person of the Son of man who was the prophet at the same time!                            

However, we may ask if the prophet was the one who foretells about God, the Lord, How could Christ the god foretells about himself without a means to do so?! Either Jesus was a prophet or was a god, otherwise we would fall into confusion, because how could the Lord tell about himself and call himself a prophet?!

In fact, according to the correct belief, which Islam the religion of pure instinct upholds, was only a prophet sent from his Lord. Some Biblical texts still utter this fact, including the words of Christ:

“Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own town and in his own home.”” (Mark 6: 4, Matthew 13: 57, Luke 4:24).

“In any case, I must press on today and tomorrow and the next day–for surely no prophet can die outside Jerusalem!” (Luke 13:33).

If Christians claim that the prophecy here only refers to foretelling about future matters, the concept of prophecy would be compromised, because the Prophet is the one who informs about God, and there is no doubt that God’s sayings are related to both past and future and the unseen.

Thus, one feels the confusion  Christians made to the concept of prophecy. It seems that A. B. Abu Al-Kair is not certain whether Jesus was a prophet or not, so he claims that Christ did the actions of the prophets, and people claimed him to be a prophet. He says:

“Nevertheless, Christ practiced the work of the Prophet, the function of prophecy, and he performed many of the actions of prophets did, but with divine authority stemmed from his being the incarnate deity and the word of God coming from heaven. so he did not say like what the prophets used to say: “Thus he (God) says,  or The Lord said so and so “, but rather he used his divine sayings, repeating the phrase “Truthfully I say to you “62 times”.

Thus, Christian confused notion of prophecy contradicts what was stated in the Old Testament as regards to the prophecy of the coming of Jesus, as God says – according to the Bible -to Moses:

“The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites. You must listen to him.” (Deuteronomy 18: 15).

Would Christian understand this text to mean that God would has established a god who was at the same time  a prophet! Lord?! What about Jesus being a hypostasis among the three hypostases, so the question arises: who sent whom?!

Could Non-Prophets Be Prophets?

Many Christian thinkers claim that prophecy is not confined to Jesus and other former prophets, but may extend to the apostles of Jesus and the Evangelists. They inferred such doctrine from the texts extending prophecy to them like:

“Judas and Silas, who themselves were prophets, said much to encourage and strengthen the believers.” (Acts 15:32)

 “Now 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.” (Acts 13:1).

A. B. Abu Al-Khair says,

“The prophets of Christianity were leaders in the early church; their leadership was spiritual, educational and pastoral within the framework of the Christian community primarily. Saul, Paul the Apostle , Barnaba, Silas and Judah were among the prophets of Christianity.”

Christians claimed that prophecy means “preaching, or foretelling news about the future, or inspiration”, which should not be confined to prophets. They cite the following text to support their claim:

“For you may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted..” (1 Corinthians 14:31).

Paul says:

“But the one who prophesies speaks to people for their strengthening, encouraging and comfort. Anyone who speaks in a tongue edifies themselves, but the one who prophesies edifies the church.” (1 Corinthians 14:3)

  Strangely enough, Christians confine this concept to their saints and priests forever while preventing the prophecy of non-Christians who can undertake the same matters.

In the Gospels, we find what indicates that they (gospels) were merely a human effort and cannot denote the infallibility of its authors, or the prophecy of one of them. They were not sure of what they wrote, and inserted ridiculous phrases which indicated human intervention with the word of God. In the introduction to his Gospel, Luke says:

“Many have undertaken to draw up an account of the things that have been fulfilled among us, just as they were handed down to us by those who from the first were eyewitnesses and servants of the word. With this in mind, since I myself have carefully investigated everything from the beginning, I too decided to write an orderly account for you, most excellent Theophilus, so that you may know the certainty of the things you have been taught”. (Luke 1: 1-4).

Paul could not be one of the apostles, as well, because he was a liar and changed of the religion of Christ.

Biblical texts are full of many human phrases that have nothing to do with the divine revelation in which the human voice interjects with Divine voice! It is assumed that the Prophet carrying the prophecy transmits the words of God as it is; the Old Testament is better than the New Testament in this regard but not generally, which indicates human behavior and its writers are free of prophecy!

Among these phrases: the letters between the New Testament writers and their disciples, which indicate human intervention in the divine text. For example John says:

“The elder, To my dear friend Gaius, whom I love in the truth. Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well. It gave me great joy when some believers came and testified about your faithfulness to the truth, telling how you continue to walk in it. I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth. Dear friend, you are faithful in what you are doing for the brothers and sisters, even though they are strangers to you. They have told the church about your love. Please send them on their way in a manner that honors God. It was for the sake of the Name that they went out, receiving no help from the pagans. We ought therefore to show hospitality to such people so that we may work together for the truth. ” (3 John, 1-8).

Likewise, there are matters attributed to some of the disciples which are not worthy of the position of the prophets and messengers like Peter’s betrayal of Christ (Luke 22:34) and Christ’s condemnation of this act (Luke 9:12).

So the disciples of Jesus were not messengers or prophets in the idiomatic sense, but rather they were messengers of Christ himself communicating his vocation, and not the messengers of God receiving revelation from him. If they were prophets, why should Christ foretell  about a a comforter to be with his nation forever after his death?!


-M. Al-Saqqar, Is the New Testament the Word of God



Related Post