â€œBeloved, believe not every spirit, but try the spirits whether they are of God: because many false prophets are gone out into the world.â€ Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â Â (1 John 4:1)
There is an unusual emphasis in the New Testament about false prophets. The Greek wordÂ pseudoprophetesÂ appears 11 times and has no corresponding word in the Old Testament.
Of the 298 usages of â€œprophetâ€ in the Hebrew Scriptures, eight of them are connected to â€œfalseâ€ prophets, and only in relation to visions and dreams. In the New Testament, theÂ pseudoprophetesÂ are workers of â€œmiraclesâ€ and â€œsigns and wonders.â€
John gives the warning to â€œtry the spiritsâ€ because many false prophets are now here. Prior to Christâ€™s coming, the false â€œdreamerâ€ (Deuteronomy 13:1-5) would readily be exposed when his prophecy did not come about. Such a false prophet was to be executed!
Hereâ€™s the problem: They come from among Christians! Peter warns us in 2 Peter 2:1-3 in five ways:
- They come from a â€œChristianâ€ background.
- They deny the biblical Lord Jesus in some way.
- They will become very popular, especially with emotionally motivated people.
- They will degrade doctrines of the Bible.
- They will stimulate greed to attract followers.
We are warned to test every one of them, and when they do not abide in the doctrine of Christ, we are to reject their teaching and not have any fellowship with them (2 John 9-11). They are dangerous (Matthew 7:15)! HMM III