False Prophets and the Deceiving Spirit -- By: Richard L. Mayhue

Journal: Masters Seminary Journal
Volume: TMSJ 04:2 (Fall 1993)
Article: False Prophets and the Deceiving Spirit
Author: Richard L. Mayhue


False Prophets and the Deceiving Spirit

Richard L. Mayhue

Vice-President and Dean
Professor of Pastoral Ministries

First Kings 22:19–23 occasions the herculean challenge of identifyingthe spirit in a way that best accounts for the reality of false prophecy in 1 Kgs 22:6. From six suggested possibilities, a personified spirit of prophecy, a demon, and Satan are initially deemed the most reasonable identifications and thus merit further inquiry. Considering the philological, hermeneutical, and theological factors of the three interpretations, Satan best fitsthe spirit in 1 Kgs 22:21. Demonic activity, initiated and superintended by Satan, is the most probable and immediate dynamic responsible for the false prophecy in 1 Kgs 22:6 and explained by 1 Kgs 22:19–23. Finally, God did not ordain this event; however, He did permit it.

* * * * *

R. A. Torrey realistically recognized that one of the most puzzling passages in the Bible is 1 Kings 22 and its parallel account in 2 Chronicles 18.1 Nearly everyone acknowledges that no conclusive agreement regarding the meaning of “the spirit” in 1 Kgs 22:21 has surfaced. The interpretation of this passage is tantalizing for students of Scripture.

Even scholars of the same tradition differ over solutions to this enigma of how a holy God apparently collaborates with deceiving spirits. The central question is how to harmonize “the spirit” in 1 Kgs 22:21 with the false prophecy of 1 Kgs 22:6. How can the immediate text, the holiness of God, and the inerrancy of Scripture yield a satisfactory identification of “the spirit”?

The dilemma is how a holy and true God can associate Himself with the apparent instigation of lies among false prophets? A proposed

solution to this ultimate conundrum will address three significant questions.

1. Does 1 Kgs 22:1–40 represent sane factual history, or is it fictionalized drama with a spiritual message?

2. Is Micaiah’s vision in 22:19–23<...

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