Is the Gift of Prophecy for Today? Part 2: The Gift of Prophecy in the Old and New Testaments -- By: F. David Farnell

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 149:596 (Oct 1992)
Article: Is the Gift of Prophecy for Today? Part 2: The Gift of Prophecy in the Old and New Testaments
Author: F. David Farnell


Is the Gift of Prophecy for Today?
Part 2:
The Gift of Prophecy in the Old and New Testaments

F. David Farnell

Chairman, Department of Ministerial Studies
Southeastern Bible College, Birmingham, Alabama

Crucial to understanding New Testament prophecy is the direct relationship this gift sustains to Old Testament prophecy.1 New Testament prophecy did not develop in isolation from the phenomenon of Old Testament prophecy. As noted in the previous article in this series, the postapostolic early church affirmed the idea of a fundamental continuity between Old and New Testament prophets. Montanism or the “New Prophecy” was labeled a heresy because of its departure from standards of prophecy reflected in the Old Testament. The church judged New Testament prophets on the basis of its understanding of Old Testament prophetic phenomena and requirements. Current novel attempts at redefining the nature of New Testament prophecy (dividing it into two contrasting forms) result from an erroneous assumption of a sharp discontinuity between New Testament and Old Testament prophecy. An examination of the relationship between the two is needed to understand properly the nature and function of prophecy in the New Testament church era.

That examination finds that the miraculous gift of prophecy operative in the Old Testament economy was the same miraculous gift

operative in the New Testament economy.2 Any differences may be measured by the manner of expression in a theocratic community (Old Testament prophecy) versus the manner of expression in the Christian community (New Testament prophecy). However, such differences do not militate in favor of the existence of any qualitative differences between Old and New Testament prophets and prophecy, especially in their accuracy and authority.3 This continuity between Old and New Testament prophecy can be demonstrated in a variety of ways in the New Testament. The following are a few examples.

The Promised Revival of the Old Testament Prophetic Gift

During the intertestamental period, Israel as a nation longed for the revival of the prophetic voice of Yahweh. Between the time of

the last canonical prophet, Malachi and the advent of the Messiah, in the period known as the “Four Hundred Silent Years,”4 prophecy ceased in Israel. Though claims to the prophetic gift may be seen in the literature of this time, the Jewish people as a ...

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