The Gift of PROPHECY
Priscilla Van Sutphin

In Revelation 19:10 it says,  And I fell at his 
feet to worship him, but he said to me, 
“See that you do not do that!  I am your 
fellow servant, and of your brethren who 
have the testimony of Jesus.  Worship God!  
For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of 

The nature of prophecy is that it turns people to Christ JESUS, reflects His character, His nature, His emotions.  He is HOLY so what is written in the way of comfort, edification, encouragement, direction, etc should lead us towards increased intimacy with Jesus Christ.  It is the job of the prophet to help bring the Bride to maturity in HIM.  It never draws one to the person, though human nature will do this, the prophet leads the believing and unbeliever to Christ Jesus.  Can you imagine John the Baptist drawing men to himself or making a name for himself ?  He said, “He must increase and I must decrease.”  John 3:30.  He had just said to his own disciples: “ He who has the bride is the Bridegroom, but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears Him, rejoices greatly because of the Bridegroom’s voice.  Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled.”  

The prophet gets JOY in seeing the person turn to Christ and hear for himself His voice.  Like John the Baptist, we should point to the Bridegroom. We are but servants and His friends. We are conduits of His love, His power, His wisdom and grace.
Anything we are that is good is because of Him working it into us or giving us His gifts, and not anything we could accomplish on our own.  False prophets (diviners) are infamous for demanding money for their services, and wanting to see their names elevated in the eyes of others.

What are the purposes of prophecy some may ask.  This is often a challenge from religious people who adhere to following the law, but are short on grace and love.
When I made a commitment to Christ Jesus, the gift I seemed to receive first, aside from salvation, was prophecy and not tongues.  I had started to receive it during times of worship after the initial experience of baptism in the Spirit, which came a year and one half after salvation.  There were times when the Lord would just come over me in worship and I’d hear “ I love you!” and I would weep and weep. This was precious to me as I'd never felt loved.  Sometimes only a single word would come, then as I stepped out in faith to say it, I would get more, gradually after some time.
I remember the time that I was asking the Lord what the big deal was about raising our hands, as having been Catholic, I was a bit fearful of overt expressions of faith.
And immediately the Lord answered, “SURRENDER”.  And I shot my hands up in the air so fast !  LOL !

The experience of speaking out prophecy for me came first with pounding heart and with what I would describe as a compelling feeling to speak it out !  I grew up Catholic since 7 yrs old, so I had NO CLUE to what the gifts of the Spirit were.  What I found is that gift of hearing drew me to want to know HIM more deeply and to hear His voice again and again.  It increased my desire for intimacy with God.  This alone would be enough for me, but gradually this grew till in 1989, Larry Randolph came to our Tustin Vineyard and he or his cohorts visited all the home groups and released prophetic gifting.  I remember that the night I went to the home group, everyone but Carol and I got words from the associate prophet Larry sent to that group.  I was in tongues, praying through the whole thing, compelled by Holy Spirit to pray.  I remember that night I went home and I thought, “What am I, chopped liver Lord ? Why didn’t he get a word for me ?”  The response from Holy Spirit was expedient.
He said “ I already talk to you, so why do you need a word ?”  Without saying it, He was pointing out the need for attention and approval of man that came from all the rejection in my life.  THAT is His kindness and grace.

He could have said, “ You’re a self centered, selfish brat !” but that is not the Way of the Father.  Jesus said, “ If you have seen Me, you’ve seen the Father.” Early on I was encouraged to be in the WORD, always, and I found a relationship existed between being in the Word, and prophecy. Also there is a relationship between prayer, praise, worship and the prophetic also.  I’d get general kinds of words for the church or myself at first, usually full of scripture.  But if I prayed more specifically for people, then I’d get specific words for them. Not all the time, but sometimes.  Sometimes later, these words would come totally unsolicited, just out of times of worship or reading the Word, and not from any energy spent for them in prayer.

I found prayer easiest when I started with singing to the Lord and praising.  All my prayers usually came from time in worship or the Word and grew till I began through various books I read to see all occasions as opportunities for prayer – especially once I received tongues a short time later.  I would use the news, or passing an accident on the road, or a cop car pulling someone over as an opportunity for prayer.  My tongues sounded like ancient Hebrew according to one man we invited in once who was from Egypt originally.  I watched him praying as the news was on the TV.  

Doing the laundry, as a mom of three boys, at the time, I’d have to go out to the apartment laundry room, so I’d bring my boombox with me and play worship there.  This helped me immensely to stay “in the spirit” and to keep from depression during my early years with the Lord.  Suddenly the Lord would speak to me there, and give me songs in rhyme !

It was the desire of my heart to write worship songs with my exhusband who played guitar.  I remember one time where I was  praying in tongues, and the Lord urged me into my bedroom, to be alone with Him, and I knelt down, and suddenly the praying became singing in tongues with a tune in my head , HE put there, and then Holy Spirit led me to psalm 107, and the words lept off the page, that just fit perfectly the music He’d given me !  So then I went and plucked it out on my keyboard one handed to figure out the notes.  My husband then put in the guitar chords.  Was this encouraging to me ?  Of course it was !  The God of the whole universe does something amazing in you, showing you His love, and it thrills our hearts.  He gives gifts to men out of sheer LOVE for us !  Is that edifying ? encouraging ? comforting ?
Absolutely !
I remember another time when John was in grief over his ex wife.  There was a woman at his work on the marine base whose voice was IDENTICAL to his ex wife’s and it was provoking emotions the Lord wanted to heal and I suddenly received words that He later turned into a song where the Lord was comforting him – saying, “ I’m there for you.  In the lone, cold night, at any time, I’m here for you My son !”  This is the work of a loving Father who gives good gifts to His children.

Let’s look at some of the purposes of prophecy:

1.  Edification – “to build up”   1 Cor. 14:3  But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men.

2.  Exhortation – “ To call near, cry out, employ”  1 Cor 14:3

3.  Comfort – “to encourage, console”  1 Cor 14:3

4.  Convict -  1 Cor. 14:24-5  But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an uniformed person comes in, he is convinced by all, he is convicted by all.  And thus the secrets of his heart are revealed; and so falling down on his face, he will worship God and report that GOD is truly among you.

5.  Impartation – 1 Timothy 4:14  Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you BY PROPHECY with the laying on of the hands of the eldership.

6. Warfare – 1 Timothy 1:18  This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare.

7Direction/Warnings – Paul told NOT to go to Jerusalem – Acts 21: 7-14, and in other times told to go to Asia, and Rome, etc.  Joseph told in dreams to marry Mary, and warned to flee to Egypt when Herod wanted to kill Jesus.

8.  Foretell future – Luke 1:66-80 NKJV, Book of Revelation.

9.  Praise – prophetic song/declaration – Luke 1:46-55 – Mary’s proclamation
              Songs of David, ( Psalms)
              Song of Moses,   ( Exodus 15)
              Song of Miriam   ( Exodus 15)
              Song of Deborah  (Judges 5)
10.  Judgments – Acts 5:1-11  Ananias and Sapphira,  Book of Revelation. 

Edification, Comfort and Exhortation

1 Cor 14:2-4 NKJV    For he who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries. 3 But he who prophesies speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men. 4 He who speaks in a tongue edifies himself, but he who prophesies edifies the church.


A. Noun.
oikodome NT:3619 denotes (a) "the act of building" (oikos, "a home," and demo, "to build"); this is used only figuratively in the NT, in the sense of edification, the promotion of spiritual growth (lit., "the things of building up"), Rom 14:19; 15:2; 1 Cor 14:3,5,12,26, e. g.; (b) "a building, edifice," whether material, Matt 24:1, e. g., or figurative, of the future body of the believer, 2 Cor 5:1, or of a local church, 1 Cor 3:9, or the whole church, "the body of Christ, Eph 2:21. See BUILDING.

B. Verb.
oikodomeo   NT:3618, lit., "to build a house" (see above), 
(a)usually signifies "to build," whether literally, or figuratively; the present participle, lit., "the (ones) building," is used as a noun, "the builders," in Matt 21:42; Mark 12:10; Luke 20:17; Acts 4:11 (in some mss.; the most authentic have the noun oikodomos; 1 Peter 2:7; 
(b) is used metaphorically, in the sense of "edifying," promoting the spiritual growth and development of character of believers, by teaching or by example, suggesting such spintual progress as the result of patient labor. It is said 
(1)of the effect of this upon local churches, Acts 9:31; 1 Cor 14:4; 
(2)of the individual action of believers towards each other, 1 Cor 8:1; 10:23; 14:17; 1 Thess 5:11; 
(3)of an individual in regard to himself, 1 Cor 14:4. In 1 Cor 8:10, where it is translated "emboldened," the apostle uses it with pathetic irony, of the action of a brother in "building up" his brother who had a weak conscience, causing him to compromise his scruples; "strengthened," or "confirmed," would be suitable renderings. See BUILD, EMBOLDEN.
(from Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright (c)1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers)

Rom 14:19-20 NKJV    Therefore let us pursue the things which make for peace and the things by which one may edify another. 20 Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed are pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense.

1 Cor 10:23-24 NKJV              All to the Glory of God                  (cf. Ps 24:1)
All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify . 24 Let no one seek his own, but each one the other's well-being.  
1 Thess 5:11 NKJV   Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing. 
Rom 15:2-3 NKJV   Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification . 3 For even Christ did not please Himself; but as it is written, "The reproaches of those who reproached You fell on Me." 
1 Cor 14:12 NKJV   Even so you, since you are zealous for spiritual gifts, let it be for the edification of the church that you seek to excel. 

1 Cor 14:26 NKJV                Order in Church Meetings 
How is it then, brethren? Whenever you come together, each of you has a psalm, has a teaching, has a tongue, has a revelation, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification .

2 Cor 10:8 NKJV   For even if I should boast somewhat more about our authority, which the Lord gave us for edification and not for your destruction, I shall not be ashamed —

2 Cor 13:10 NKJV   Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the authority which the Lord has given me for edification and not for destruction. 

Eph 4:28-29 NKJV   Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification , that it may impart grace to the hearers.

1 Tim 1:4-5 NKJV nor give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which cause disputes rather than godly edification which is in faith. 


A. Nouns.
1. paraklesis NT:3874, means "a calling to one's side" (para, "beside," kaleo, "to call"); hence, either "an exhortation, or consolation, comfort," e. g., Luke 2:25 (here "looking for the consolation of Israel" is equivalent to waiting for the coming of the Messiah); 6:24; 9:31; 15:4,5; 14:3, "exhortation"; 2 Cor 1:3,4-7; 7:4,7,13; 2 Thess 2:16; Philem 7. In 2 Thess 2:16 it combines encouragement with alleviation of grief. The RV changes "consolation" into "comfort," except in Luke 2:25; 6:24; Acts 15:31; in Heb 6:18, "encouragement"; in Acts 4:36, "exhortation." RV (KJV, consolation"). See CONSOLATION, ENCOURAGEMENT, EXHORTATION, INTREATY.

2. paramuthia NT:3889, primarily "a speaking closely to anyone" (para, "near," muthos, "speech"), hence denotes "consolation, comfort," with a greater degree of tenderness than No. 1, 1 Cor 14:3.

3. paramuthion NT:3890 has the same meaning as No. 2, the difference being that paramuthia stresses the process or progress of the act, paramuthion the instrument as used by the agent, Phil 2:1.

4. paregoria NT:3931, primarily "an addressing, address," hence denotes "a soothing, solace," Col 4:11. A verbal form of the word signifies medicines which allay irritation (Eng., "paregoric").

5. parakletos NT:3875, lit., "called to one's side," i. e., to one's aid, is primarily a verbal adjective, and suggests the capability or adaptability for giving aid. It was used in a court of justice to denote a legal assistant, counsel for the defense, an advocate; then, generally, one who pleads another's cause, an intercessor, advocate, as in 1 John 2:1, of the Lord Jesus. In the widest sense, it signifies a "succorer, comforter." Christ was this to His disciples, by the implication of His word "another (allos, "another of the same sort," not heteros, "different")   Comforter," when speaking of the Holy Spirit, John 14:16. In 14:26; 15:26; 16:7  He calls Him "the Comforter." "Comforter" or "Consoler" corresponds to the name "Menahem," given by the Hebrews to the Messiah.


1. parakaleo NT:3870 has the same variety of meanings as Noun, No. 1, above, e. g., Matt 2:18; 1 Thess 3:2,7; 4:18. In 2 Cor 13:11, it signifies "to be comforted" (so the RV). See BESEECH.

2. sumparakaleo NT:4837, sun, "with," and No. 1, signifies "to comfort together," Rom 1:12.
3. paramutheomai NT:3888, akin to Noun No. 2, "to soothe, console, encourage," is translated, in John 11:31, "comforted", in v. 19, RV, "console." In 1 Thess 2:11 and 5:14, RV, "encourage," as the sense there is that of stimulating to the earnest discharge of duties. See CONSOLE, ENCOURAGE.

4. eupsucheo NT:2174 signifies "to be of good comfort" (eu, "well," psuche, "the soul"), Phil 2:19.

Notes: (1) For the verb tharseo, "be of good comfort, see CHEER, No. 2.

Phil 2:1-4    NKJV           Unity Through Humility 
Therefore if there is any consolation in Christ, if any comfort of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any affection and mercy, 2  fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind. 3  Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4  Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. 

1 Thess 4:16-18 NKJV   For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words. 

1 Thess 5:11 NKJV  Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing. 

1 Thess 5:14-15 NKJV   Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all. 15   See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all. 

2 Thess 2:16-17 NKJV   Now may our Lord Jesus Christ Himself, and our God and Father, who has loved us and given us everlasting consolation and good hope by grace, 17 comfort your hearts and establish you in every good word and work. 


Strongs:  NT:3869   parakaleo (par-ak-al-eh'-o); from NT:3844 and NT:2564; to call near, i.e. invite, invoke (by imploration, exhortation or consolation):  KJV - beseech, call for, (be of good) comfort, desire, (give) exhort (-ation), intreat, pray.

Vines Expository Dictionary 
A. Verbs.
1. parakaleo NT:3870, primarily, "to call to a person" (para, "to the side," kaleo, "to call"), denotes (a) "to call on, entreat"; see BESEECH; (b) to admonish, exhort, to urge one to pursue some course of conduct (always prospective, looking to the future, in contrast to the meaning to comfort, which is retrospective, having to do with trial experienced), translated "exhort" in the RV of Phil 4:2; 1 Thess 4:10; Heb 13:19,22, for KJV, "beseech"; in 1 Tim 5:1, for KJV, "intreat"; in 1 Thess 5:11, for KJV, "comfort"; "exhorted" in 2 Cor 8:6 and 12:18, for KJV, "desired"; in 1 Tim 1:3, for KJV, "besought. See BESEECH.

2. paraineo NT:3867, primarily, "to speak of near" (para, "near," and aineo, "to tell of, speak of," then, "to recommend"), hence, "to advise, exhort, warn," is used in Acts 27:9, "admonished," and v. 22, "I exhort." See ADMONISH.

3. protrepo NT:4389, lit., "to turn forward, propel" (pro, "before," trepo, "to turn"); hence, "to impel morally, to urge forward, encourage," is used in Acts 18:27, RV, "encouraged him" (Apollos), with reference to his going into Achaia; KJV, "exhorting the disciples"; while the encouragement was given to Apollos, a letter was written to the disciples in Achaia to receive him.

B. Noun.
paraklesis NT:3874, akin to A, No. 1, primarily "a calling to one's side," and so "to one's aid," hence denotes (a) an appeal, "entreaty," 2 Cor 8:4; (b) encouragement, "exhortation," e. g., Rom 12:8; in Acts 4:36, RV, "exhortation," for KJV, "consolation"; (c) "consolation and comfort," e. g., Rom 15:4.   See COMFORT.   Cf. parakletos,   "an advocate, comforter."


Titus 2:15 KJV    These things speak, and exhort , and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.

Heb 3:13 KJV But exhort one another daily, while it is called Today; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.

Titus 1:9 KJV Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.

2 Tim 4:2 KJV   Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

1 Tim 6:2 KJV And they that have believing masters, let them not despise them, because they are brethren; but rather do them service, because they are faithful and beloved, partakers of the benefit. These things teach and exhort .

1 Tim 2:1 KJV I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;

1 Thess 5:14 KJV   Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men.


Acts 2:17-21 AMP
17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, God declares, that I will pour out of My Spirit upon all mankind, and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy [telling forth the divine counsels] and your young men shall see visions ( divinely granted appearances), and your old men shall dream [divinely suggested] dreams.
18 Yes, and on My menservants also and on My maidservants in those days I will pour out of My Spirit, and they shall prophesy [telling forth the divine counsels and predicting future events pertaining especially to God's kingdom].
19 And I will show wonders in the sky above and signs on the earth beneath, blood and fire and smoking vapor;
20 The sun shall be turned into darkness and the moon into blood before the obvious day of the Lord comes--that great and notable and conspicuous and renowned [day].  21 And it shall be that whoever shall call upon the name of the Lord [invoking, adoring, and worshiping the Lord--Christ] shall be saved. [Joel 2:28-32.]

OT:5012  naba' (naw-baw'); a primitive root; to prophesy, i.e. speak (or sing) by inspiration (in prediction or simple discourse):  KJV - prophesy (-ing), makeself a prophet. [ Strongs ]

naba'    OT:5012, "to prophesy." This word appears in all periods of the Hebrew language. It seems to be related to the ancient Akkadian word nabu, which in its passive form means "to be called." The word is found in the biblical Hebrew text about 115 times. Its first appearance is in 1 Sam 10:6, where Saul is told by Samuel that when he meets a certain band of ecstatic prophets, he too will "prophesy with them, and... be turned into another man." This incident points up the fact that there is a certain amount of ambiguity in the biblical use of both the verb and the noun forms, just as there is in the English "to prophesy" and "prophet." Thus, there is a wide range of meanings reflected in the term in the Old Testament.

Most frequently naba' is used to describe the function of the true prophet as he speaks God's message to the people, under the influence of the divine spirit 
1 Kings 22:8 NKJV     So the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, "There is still one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may inquire of the LORD; but I hate him, because he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil."  And Jehoshaphat said, "Let not the king say such things!

Jer 29:27 NKJV    Now therefore, why have you not rebuked Jeremiah of Anathoth who makes himself a prophet to you?

Ezek 37:10 NKJV  So I prophesied as He commanded me, and breath came into them, and they lived, and stood upon their feet, an exceedingly great army. 

"To prophesy" was a task that the prophet could not avoid: "The Lord God hath spoken, who can but prophesy?" Amos 3:8; 
cf. Jer 20:7, where Jeremiah says that he was both attracted to and forced into being a prophet. 
Jer 20:7 NKJV           Jeremiah's Unpopular Ministry 
O LORD, You induced me, and I was persuaded; You are stronger than I, and have prevailed. I am in derision daily; Everyone mocks me.  

While the formula "The word of the Lord came [to the prophet]" is used literally hundreds of times in the Old Testament, there is no real indication as to the manner in which it came-- whether it came through the thought-processes, through a vision, or in some other way. Sometimes, especially in the earlier prophets, it seems that some kind of ecstatic experience may have been involved, as in 1 Sam 10:6,11; 19:20. 
1 Sam 10:6-13 NKJV
6 Then the Spirit of the LORD will come upon you, and you will prophesy with them and be turned into another man. 7 And let it be, when these signs come to you, that you do as the occasion demands; for God is with you. 8 You shall go down before me to Gilgal; and surely I will come down to you to offer burnt offerings and make sacrifices of peace offerings. Seven days you shall wait, till I come to you and show you what you should do." 

9 So it was, when he had turned his back to go from Samuel, that God gave him another heart; and all those signs came to pass that day. 10 When they came there to the hill, there was a group of prophets to meet him; then the Spirit of God came upon him, and he prophesied among them. 
11 And it happened, when all who knew him formerly saw that he indeed prophesied among the prophets, that the people said to one another, "What is this that has come upon the son of Kish? Is Saul also among the prophets?" 12 Then a man from there answered and said, "But who is their father?" Therefore it became a proverb: "Is Saul also among the prophets?" 13 And when he had finished prophesying, he went to the high place. 

1 Sam 19:20-24 NKJV
20 Then Saul sent messengers to take David. And when they saw the group of prophets prophesying, and Samuel standing as leader over them, the Spirit of God came upon the messengers of Saul, and they also prophesied. 21 And when Saul was told, he sent other messengers, and they prophesied likewise. Then Saul sent messengers again the third time, and they prophesied also. 22 Then he also went to Ramah, and came to the great well that is at Sechu. So he asked, and said, "Where are Samuel and David?"
And someone said, "Indeed they are at Naioth in Ramah." 23 So he went there to Naioth in Ramah. Then the Spirit of God was upon him also, and he went on and prophesied until he came to Naioth in Ramah. 24 And he also stripped off his clothes and prophesied before Samuel in like manner, and lay down naked all that day and all that night. Therefore they say, "Is Saul also among the prophets?"   

Music is sometimes spoken of as a means of prophesying, as in 
1 Chron 25:1-3 NKJV.

Moreover David and the captains of the army separated for the service some of the sons of Asaph, of Heman, and of Jeduthun, who should prophesy with harps, stringed instruments, and cymbals. And the number of the skilled men performing their service was: 2 Of the sons of Asaph: Zaccur, Joseph, Nethaniah, and Asharelah; the sons of Asaph were under the direction of Asaph, who prophesied according to the order of the king. 3 Of Jeduthun, the sons of Jeduthun: Gedaliah, Zeri, Jeshaiah, Shimei, Hashabiah, and Mattithiah, six, under the direction of their father Jeduthun, who prophesied with a harp to give thanks and to praise the LORD.

Jeduthun:  OT:3038  Yeduwthuwn (yed-oo-thoon'); or Yeduthuwn (yed-oo-thoon'); or Yediythuwn (yed-ee-thoon'); probably from OT:3034; laudatory; Jeduthun, an Israelite:  KJV - Jeduthun.
yadah (yaw-daw'); a primitive root; used only as denominative from OT:3027; literally, to use (i.e. hold out) the hand; physically, to throw (a stone, an arrow) at or away; especially to revere or worship (with extended hands); intensively, to bemoan (by wringing the hands):  KJV - cast (out), (make) confess (-ion), praise, shoot, (give) thank (-ful, -s, -sgiving).

The false prophets, although not empowered by the divine spirit, are spoken of as prophesying also: "...I have not spoken to them, yet they prophesied" Jer 23:21. The false prophet is roundly condemned because he speaks a non-authentic word: 

"...prophesy against the prophets of Israel that prophesy, and say thou unto them that prophesy out of their own hearts, Hear ye the word of the Lord;... Woe unto the foolish prophets, that follow their own spirit, and have seen nothing!" Ezek 13:2-3. 

The false prophet especially is subject to frenzied states of mind which give rise to his prophesying, although the content of such activity is not clearly spelled out 1 Kings 22:10. The point is that in the biblical context "to prophesy" can refer to anything from the frenzied ecstaticism of a false prophet to the cold sober proclamation of God's judgment by an Amos or an Isaiah.

"To prophesy" is much more than the prediction of future events. Indeed, the first concern of the prophet is to speak God's word to the people of his own time, calling them to covenant faithfulness. 
The prophet's message is conditional, dependent upon the response of the people. Thus, by their response to this word, the people determine in large part what the future holds, as is well illustrated by the response of the Ninevites to Jonah's preaching. 

Of course, prediction does enter the picture at times, such as in Nahum's prediction of the fall of Nineveh Nah 2:13 and in the various messianic passages Isa 9:1-6; 11:1-9; 52:13-53:12
(from Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words, Copyright (c)1985, Thomas Nelson Publishers)

B. Noun.
nabi' OT:5030, "prophet." The word has a possible cognate in Akkadian. It occurs about 309 times in biblical Hebrew and in all periods.

OT:5030  nabiy' (naw-bee'); from OT:5012; a prophet or (generally) inspired man:  KJV - prophecy, that prophesy, prophet.  (Strong's)

Nabi' represents "prophet," whether a true or false prophet (cf. Deut 13:1-5). True prophets were mouthpieces of the true God. In 1 Chron 29:29 three words are used for "prophet": "Now the acts of David the king, first and last, behold, they are written in the Book of Samuel the Seer [ro'eh] and in the Book of Nathan the Prophet [nabi'], and in the Book of Gad the Seer [chozeh]." The words translated "seer" emphasize the means by which the "prophet" communicated with God but do not identify the men as anything different from prophets (cf. 1 Sam 9:9). The first occurrence of nabi' does not help to clearly define it either: "Now therefore restore the man [Abraham] his wife; for he is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live..." Gen 20:7.

The second occurrence of nabi' establishes its meaning: "And the Lord said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet" Ex 7:1. The background of this statement is Ex 4:10-16, where Moses argued his inability to speak clearly. Hence, he could not go before Pharaoh as God's spokesman. God conceded to appoint Aaron (Moses' brother) to be the speaker: "And he shall be thy spokesman unto the people: and he shall be, even he shall be to thee instead of a mouth, and thou shalt be to him instead of God" Ex 4:16. Ex 7:1 expresses the same idea in different words. It is clear that the word "prophet" is equal to one who speaks for another, or his mouth.

This basic meaning of nabi' is supported by other passages. In the classical passage Deut 18:14-22, God promised to raise up another "prophet" like Moses who would be God's spokesman v. 18. They were held responsible for what he told them and were admonished to obey him Deut 18:19. However, if what the "prophet" said proved to be wrong, he was to be killed Deut 18:20. Immediately, this constitutes a promise and definition of the long succession of Israel's prophets. Ultimately, it is a promise of the Great Prophet, Jesus Christ (cf. Acts 3:22-23).   The "prophet" or dreamer of dreams might perform miracles to demonstrate that he was God's man, but the people were to look to the message rather than the miracle before they heeded his message Deut 13:1-5


In the plural nabi' is used of some who do not function as God's mouthpieces. In the time of Samuel there were men who followed him. They went about praising God (frequently with song) and trying to stir the people to return to God 1 Sam 10:5,10; 19:20. Followers of Elijah and Elisha formed into groups to assist and or to learn from these masters. They were called sons of the prophets 1 Kings 20:35. Used in this sense, the word nabi' means a companion and or follower of a prophet.

The word is also used of "heathen prophets": "Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel's table" 1 Kings 18:19.

This word has a feminine form, "prophetess" (nebi'ah), which appears 6 times. In Ex 15:20 Miriam is called a "prophetess." Isaiah's wife, too, is called a "prophetess" Isa 8:3 

Judg 4:4-5  Now Deborah, a prophetess, the wife of Lapidoth, was judging Israel at that time. 5 And she would sit under the palm tree of Deborah between Ramah and Bethel in the mountains of Ephraim. And the children of Israel came up to her for judgment. NKJV

Prophetess  OT:5031  nebiy'ah (neb-ee-yaw'); feminine of OT:5030; a prophetess or (generally) inspired woman; by implication, a poetess; by association a prophet's wife:  KJV - prophetess.
[ OT:5030  nabiy' (naw-bee'); from OT:5012; a prophet or (generally) inspired man:  KJV - prophecy, that prophesy, prophet.]

judged  OT:8199
shaphat (shaw-fat'); a primitive root; to judge, i.e. pronounce sentence (for or against); by implication, to vindicate or punish; by extenssion, to govern; passively, to litigate (literally or figuratively):  KJV -  avenge, that condemn, contend, defend, execute (judgment), (be a) judge (-ment), needs, plead, reason, rule.

1 Sam 9:9 NKJV  (Formerly in Israel, when a man went to inquire of God, he spoke thus: "Come, let us go to the seer"; for he who is now called a prophet was formerly called a seer.) 

OT:7203   ro'eh (ro-eh'); active participle of OT:7200; a seer (as often rendered); but also (abstractly) a vision:  KJV - vision.

OT:2374  chozeh (kho-zeh'); active participle of OT:2372; a beholder in vision; also a compact (as looked upon with approval):  KJV - agreement, prophet, see that, seer, [star-] gazer.   Chazah'el. See OT:2371.
        OT:2372   chazah (khaw-zaw'); a primitive root; to gaze at; mentally, to perceive, contemplate (with pleasure); specifically, to have a vision of: -behold, look, prophesy, provide, see.

OT:2371  Chaza'el (khaz-aw-ale'); or Chazah'el (khaz-aw-ale'); from OT:2372 and OT:410; God has seen; Chazael, a king of Syria:  KJV - Hazael.
OT:410   ‘el   (ale); shortened from OT:352; strength; as adjective, mighty; especially the Almighty (but used also of any deity):  KJV - God (god), goodly, great, idol, might (-y one), power, strong. Compare names in "-el."
OT:352  'ayil (ah'-yil); from the same as OT:193; properly, strength; hence, anything strong; specifically a chief (politically); also a ram (from his strength); a pilaster (as a strong support); an oak or other strong tree: KJV - mighty (man), lintel, oak, post, ram, tree.

OT:7200  ra'ah (raw-aw'); a primitive root; to see, literally or figuratively (in numerous applications, direct and implied, transitive, intransitive and causative):   KJV – advise self, appear, approve, behold, certainly, consider, discern, (make to) enjoy, have experience, gaze, take heed, indeed, joyfully, lo, look (on, one another, one on another, one upon another, out, up, upon), mark, meet, be near, perceive, present, provide, regard, (have) respect, (fore-, cause to, let) see (-r, -m, one another), shew (self), sight of others, (e-) spy, stare, surely, think, view, visions.


NT:4396  prophetes (prof-ay'-tace); from a compound of NT:4253 and NT:5346; a foreteller ("prophet"); by analogy, an inspired speaker; by extension, a poet: KJV - prophet.

pseudoprophetes (psyoo-dop-rof-ay'-tace); from NT:5571 and NT:4396; a spurious prophet, i.e. pretended foreteller or religious impostor:  KJV - false prophet.
             NT:5571  pseudes (psyoo-dace'); from NT:5574; untrue, i.e. 
                             erroneous, deceitful, wicked:  KJV - false, liar.

NT:4395  propheteuo (prof-ate-yoo'-o); from NT:4396; to foretell events, divine, speak under inspiration, exercise the prophetic office: KJV - prophesy.

1 Cor 14:1 AMP
EAGERLY PURSUE and seek to acquire [this] love [make it your aim, your great quest]; and earnestly desire and cultivate the spiritual endowments (gifts), especially that you may prophesy ( interpret the divine will and purpose in inspired preaching and teaching).

Acts 21:8-9 KJV  And the next day we that were of Paul's company departed, and came unto Caesarea: and we entered into the house of Philip the evangelist, which was one of the seven; and abode with him.  9 And the same man had four daughters, virgins, which did prophesy.

Re: false prophets
2 Peter 2:15-16 AMP   Forsaking the straight road they have gone astray; they have followed the way of Balaam [the son] of Beor, who loved the reward of wickedness. [Num 22:5,7.]
16 But he was rebuked for his own transgression when a dumb beast of burden spoke with human voice and checked the prophet's madness. [Num 22:21-31.]

From VINES Expository Dictionary of Bible Words:


A. Noun.
propheteia NT:4394 signifies "the speaking forth of the mind and counsel of God" (pro, "forth," phemi, "to speak": see PROPHET); in the NT it is used (a) of the gift, e. g., Rom 12:6; 1 Cor 12:10; 13:2; (b) either of the exercise of the gift or of that which is "prophesied," e. g., Matt 13:14; 1 Cor 13:8; 14:6,22 and 1 Thess 5:20, "prophesying (s)"; 1 Tim 1:18; 4:14; 2 Peter 1:20,21; Rev 1:3; 11:6; 19:10; 22:7,10,18,19.

"Though much of OT prophecy was purely predictive, see Mic 5:2, e. g., and cf. John 11:51, prophecy is not necessarily, nor even primarily, fore-telling. It is the declaration of that which cannot be known by natural means, Matt 26:68, it is the forth-telling of the will of God, whether with reference to the past, the present, or the future, see Gen 20:7; Deut 18:18; Rev 10:11; 11:3....

"In such passages as 1 Cor 12:28; Eph 2:20, the 'prophets' are placed after the 'Apostles,' since not the prophets of Israel are intended, but the 'gifts' of the ascended Lord, Eph 4:8,11; cf. Acts 13:1;  the purpose of their ministry was to edify, to comfort, and to encourage the believers, 1 Cor 14:3, while its effect upon unbelievers was to show that the secrets of a man's heart are known to God, to convict of sin, and to constrain to worship, vv. 24,25.

1 Cor 14:3 AMP   But [on the other hand], the one who prophesies [who interprets the divine will and purpose in inspired preaching and teaching] speaks to men for their upbuilding and constructive spiritual progress and encouragement and consolation.

1 Cor 14:24-25 AMP   But if all prophesy [giving inspired testimony and interpreting the divine will and purpose] and an unbeliever or untaught outsider comes in, he is told of his sin and reproved and convicted and convinced by all, and his defects and needs are examined (estimated, determined) and he is called to account by all,
25 The secrets of his heart are laid bare; and so, falling on [his] face, he will worship God, declaring that God is among you in very truth.

Acts 11:27-30 AMP
27 And during these days prophets (inspired teachers and interpreters of the divine will and purpose) came down from Jerusalem to Antioch.  28 And one of them named Agabus stood up and prophesied through the [Holy] Spirit that a great and severe famine would come upon the whole world. And this did occur during the reign of Claudius.  29 So the disciples resolved to send relief, each according to his individual ability [in proportion as he had prospered], to the brethren who lived in Judea.  30 And so they did, sending [their contributions] to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul.

Acts 21:10-14 AMP
10 While we were remaining there for some time, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea.  11 And coming to [see] us, he took Paul's belt and with it bound his own feet and hands and said, Thus says the Holy Spirit: The Jews at Jerusalem shall bind like this the man who owns this belt, and they shall deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles (heathen).
12 When we heard this, both we and the residents of that place pleaded with him not to go up to Jerusalem. 13 Then Paul replied, What do you mean by weeping and breaking my heart like this? For I hold myself in readiness not only to be arrested and bound and imprisoned at Jerusalem, but also [even] to die for the name of the Lord Jesus.  14 And when he would not yield to [our] persuading, we stopped [urging and imploring him], saying, The Lord's will be done!

Num 11:29 NKJV   Then Moses said to him, "Are you zealous for my sake? Oh, that all the LORD's people were prophets and that the LORD would put His Spirit upon them!"

[ Still in process of writing on this ]