IDENTIFYING FALSE PROPHETS – PART ONE

Many who claim to be prophets lack the basic Biblical qualifications required to hold the office of a deacon, much less that of a prophet.

In 1 Timothy 3, the apostle Paul gives the qualifications needed to hold the office of bishop and deacon. A bishop is an overseer, which would include the responsibilities of a Pastor.

Back in the early 2000’s it became very popular among evangelical ministers to call themselves Bishop. Much like the craze over the titles apostle and prophet in recent years. bishop was the in thing to be called if you wanted to flaunt your spiritual credentials. Evangelicals tend to fawn over titles and are prone to impressive titles to make themselves appear more spiritual than they actually are,

However, true spirituality requires maturity and responsibility and this is precisely what is missing from so many who claim to be prophets. They lack maturity and fail to understand that those who minister the word of God are going to be judged more severely if they lead God’s people into error. Speaking on behalf of God, especially if you are claiming to have a direct message from God, is something that must be done with godly fear and reverence.

If Christians would simply learn the qualifications that Paul set forth for bishops and deacons, they could quickly learn to identify those who aren’t truly prophets, regardless if the predictions of “those prophets” come true or not. Correctly predicting who will win an election doesn’t make a person a prophet, especially when they have a 50/50 chance of being right.

Paul tells Timothy exactly why he gives the qualifications for bishops and deacons – that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth ~ v. 15


Accountability among Christian leaders is extremely important, because the church is the pillar and ground of truth for the Living God, but “if the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?” ~ Psalm 11:3. The errors of the Trump prophets strike at the very foundation of the witness of the church as the pillar and ground of truth. If our foundation is compromised by hypocrisy and lies, then we lose all credibility as representatives of Christ. Immediately after giving Timothy the qualifications for those in church leadership, Paul tells Timothy the following (keep in mind this is in context with qualifying leaders within the church):

Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. ~ 1 Timothy 4:1-3

Now consider the qualifications for a bishop (an overseer) given by Paul in 1 Timothy 3 (I will be citing from the Holman Christin Standard Bible):

This saying is trustworthy: “If anyone aspires to be an overseer, he desires a noble work.” An overseer, therefore, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, self-controlled, sensible, respectable, hospitable, an able teacher, not addicted to wine, not a bully but gentle, not quarrelsome, not greedy— one who manages his own household competently, having his children under control with all dignity. (If anyone does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of God’s church?) He must not be a new convert, or he might become conceited and fall into the condemnation of the Devil. Furthermore, he must have a good reputation among outsiders, so that he does not fall into disgrace and the Devil’s trap.

Notice that among other things an overseer or bishop must be above reproach, self controlled, sensible, respectable, hospitable, and have a good reputation among those outside the faith. Identifying false prophets wouldn’t take very long if Christians would just simply learn to hold ministers to these biblical standards. The truth is, many who call themselves prophets openly defy these standards

For example, I recently heard one “so-called prophet” angrily retaliate against those who believe he and others are false prophets because they were wrong about Donald Trump’s reelection. Instead of humbly admitting he was wrong, or at the very least expressing an understanding as to why people who disqualified him and others as prophets, he lashed out from his pulpit saying “God hates you!” His rationale was that his critics were bearing false witness, so he used a text from Proverbs 6 to vent his anger and tell them, “God hates you!”

Is this how any leader within Christianity should behave and respond to opposition? Does it in any way conform to the standard of behavior that Paul gives to Timothy for those in Christian leadership? In contrast to his retaliation, consider the instructions given in the New Testament regarding how we should respond when we are criticized, judged, or evil spoken of:

Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. ~ 1 Peter 3:9

Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you. ~ Luke 6:28

Bless those who persecute you. Bless and do not curse. ~ Romans 12:14

See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men. ~ 1 Thessalonians 5:13

For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: ~ 1 Thessalonians 2:19-23

If this so-called prophet thought he was being wrongfully accused, he should have responded with understanding and grace so that Christ could be glorified through him. People do have a legitimate right to question anyone claiming to have a prophetic word from God when those prophecies fail. In fact they have the responsibility to test the spirits of those claiming to be prophets (1 John 4:1-4).

Now consider Paul’s qualifications for a deacon:

Deacons, likewise, should be worthy of respect, not hypocritical, not drinking a lot of wine, not greedy for money, holding the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. And they must also be tested first; if they prove blameless, then they can serve as deacons. Wives, too, must be worthy of respect, not slanderers, self-controlled, faithful in everything. Deacons must be husbands of one wife, managing their children and their own households competently. For those who have served well as deacons acquire a good standing for themselves, and great boldness in the faith that is in Christ Jesus. ~ 1 Timothy 3:8-13

The qualifications for deacons are almost the same as those of overseers, the obvious difference being an overseer must be an able teacher, because overseers hold more of a ministering the word position. Being gifted to preach, prophesy, speak with tongues, sing, dance, or any other expression of gifts does not qualify anyone to be a prophet or leader in ministry. Those who are leaders within the Church must esteem character and represent the truth of God with godliness and integrity. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s