Exposing False Prophets by Using Scripture

by Jack Wellman · Print Print · Email Email

Here’s an easy way to expose the false prophets and apostles that are increasing and growing in popularity.

The Age of Prophets

Scripture makes it easy to see who truly has the gift of prophecy or and someone who is a self-proclaimed prophet. There are countless times people have had a “word of faith” from God, but it turned out to be wrong, so for the prophet that actually comes from God, can they be wrong? The Bible proves that the age of the prophets, as with the canon of Scripture, is closed. We have no need of any new revelation today. We already have the sufficiency the Bible, where it says, “Thus says the Lord.” Don’t we believe that what we have today in the Bible is enough? Why do humans insist on adding too or taking away from the Word of God by declaring their own “prophecy,” most of which utterly fail? Every word in the accounts in the Bible, when they spoke, they spoke for God and the word of God. To add to Scripture is very dangerous ground (Deut 4:2; Prov 30:6; Rev 22:18-29).

Horace Vernet, Jeremiah on the ruins of Jerusalem (1844).

False Prophets

A true prophet of God has a narrowly defined office, but most prophets resisted the calling by God, knowing their unworthiness, but when these prophets of old spoke, they spoke the words of God, coming directly from God. The prophets of old were always Jewish and scorned and often abused (some killed), but today’s “prophets” are highly sought after and write best-selling books, being accepted by most. But notice that today’s false prophets encourage a selective lifestyle…and the ability to adapt to the cultural changes. The Word of God changes not, yet they add to God’s word, trying to change it. I recall a young woman’s church accepting her as a “prophetess,” enjoying popular support, even from the community (unsaved). In time, this false prophet’s prophecies failed to live up to what she had predicted.

In Ancient Israel

From the times of the wilderness to the last days of Israel and Judah before captivity, the false prophets enjoyed a large base of support from the majority of the people, but it seems in Scripture, the majority is often wrong. The preaching of the Word is neglected for “prophecies.” This is Satan’s own sinister ministers as he has his own churches in the world. This particular church is deceived because it will not look at the criteria for a prophet, and so they lose the help they need in discerning the true from the false. In the Bible, the true prophet’s messages were always rejected and met with hostility, however, the false prophets then and today, are always widely accepted. However, this is not baseball where you’re allowed three strikes. It’s, miss one and you’re done!

Human Counsel

Notice that false prophets do not see the application of God’s warnings, judgments, and conditions to the people of God to live a sanctified, holy life. Instead they want you to rely on human power. Rather than teaching on our need to strive for holiness, false prophets “undermine the purposes of God” (87)! These prophets teach a human-centered ethic as interpreted by popular conceptions with no mention of repentance and sanctification. And just as it was in the Old Testament, false prophets base their words on “pleasing humans.” The true prophets God usually gave foreboding prophecies that were soundly rejected.

A Word from God

Concerning anyone’s authenticity for being a prophet, Deuteronomy 18:22 has a “word from God” for them: “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” (or her). God does not send prophets who get 9 out of 10 prophecies right. They are always right because it is always from God, and God cannot be wrong. God has the power to bring to bring things to pass; a human does not. Jeremiah’s test for prophecy is “when the word of that prophet comes to pass, then it will be known that the LORD has truly sent the prophet” (Jer 28:9). If not, they’re not a prophet…except for a false prophet!

Closed Canon

To establish the fact that the Bible or canon of Scripture is complete, and thus is closed, the Author of Hebrews wrote, “Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world” (1:1-2). In the Greek, this is past tense as having already occurred. It cannot mean that God is still speaking today by the prophets. As Jude sees it, it is “the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints” (Jude 1:3). Again, this is past tense; it’s already been delivered and God’s not making deliveries anymore.

The Sufficiency of Scripture

We have all we need and more in Scripture. Jesus has been building His church for over 2,000 years now, and the Apostle Paul says the church is “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone” (Eph 2:19). Why, after 2,000 years, would we want to put another foundation on an already ancient structure? Would such a structure be stable putting a foundation on top of what’s already been built? In fact, the foundation has been laid by the Apostles and Prophets; the Chief Cornerstone has been placed; and now all that remains is the continual building up of the church. Today, only God is still speaking through His Son (Heb 1:2).

God’s Prophet or Man’s

Deuteronomy 18:22 and Jeremiah 28:9 has affixed certain conditions as to whether someone is a true prophet of God or a false prophet. There is only one of two options; one is true and one is false. Moses wrote that “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” (Deut 18:22). In Jeremiah’s case, a false prophet was uttering all sorts of good things to come for the nation, but “Jeremiah the prophet said to the prophet Hananiah, “Listen, Hananiah, the Lord has not sent you, and you have made this people trust in a lie. Therefore thus says the Lord: ‘Behold, I will remove you from the face of the earth. This year you shall die, because you have uttered rebellion against the Lord” (Jer 28:15-16). Hananiah died that same year; ignoring the warning of pretending to be a prophet of God. The Word declares that “The prophets who preceded you and me from ancient times prophesied war, famine, and pestilence against many countries and great kingdoms” (Jer 28:8), but today prophets prophecy that your mortgage will be paid off.

Thus Says Man

There are hundreds of “thus says the Lord’s” in the Bible, and many of these were given to the Old Testament prophets, but there is never once any human authority ever attached to these words of God. This is directly opposed to today’s prophets who say they speak for God. They’ve got it backwards; God spoke to men of old (times); it’s not that we speak for Him (today)! It’s easy to verify whether someone has spoken “in the name of the LORD” or not. If they’re wrong, even once, they’re not from God. Period! Whether they’re wrong once or a hundred times, it doesn’t matter…true prophets never missed. A person who came out of this deception, a former self-proclaimed prophet, told me that these “prophecies” come from the human imagination that stems from pride and popular acceptance. We know that the Scriptures are now closed (Duet 4:2; Prov 30:6; Heb 1:1-2; Jude 1:3; Rev 22:18-19), so any so-called “prophet” (or apostle) cannot be speaking for God.


The Bible itself gives evidence of whether a prophet is actually speaking the words of God and if the words are from God, and several descriptive Bible verses reveal that we have no need for further or newer revelation because we already have all the revelation necessary in the written Word of God. Don’t we think that’s enough? Do we really need more revelation from God outside of Scripture? Do we think, “Lord, I love the Bible, but it’s not enough?” That’s a dangerous game because there’s another god in this world too; one who likes to imitate God and His prophets (2 Cor 4:3-4). I am certain that God will not use humans to give us a “new Word for God.” He will not use human imaginations, human divination, nor will He use man-centered ethics, popular interpretative conceptions, human schemes, counsel or plans. Let us learn the lesson of Aaron’s sons who brought strange fire (new beliefs) before the Lord and both perished (Lev 10:1-3).

Here is some related reading for you: Biblical Evidence That Modern Day Prophets are False Prophets

Resource – Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), Crossway Bibles. (2007). ESV: Study Bible: English standard version. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway Bibles. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Vangemeren, A. William. Prophets, the Freedom of God, and Hermeneutics. Westminster Theological Journal, 52.1 (Spring 1990): 79-99.

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