Whatever Their Form, We Must Beware of Them

Jesus said, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but false-prophetinwardly are ravenous wolves” (Matt. 7:15). The verb, “beware” (Gk. prosecho), means, “be on one’s guard” (Gingrich); or “watch out for” (Friberg). It is both a command and a warning. We are to be on guard against false prophets. We are to watch out for false prophets.

The verb is in the present tense. Hence, we are to beware continuously of false prophets. We are to be on guard constantly against false prophets. We are to watch out continually for false prophets.

The “false prophets” are primarily preachers and teachers.[1] They are preachers who claim to speak for God. But they actually speak for themselves. They spread their own false teachings. Beware of false prophets, Jesus said.

What is the form of these false prophets? First, they come visiting. Jesus said in v. 15, they “come to you.” In Jesus’ time, there were traveling preachers going from place to place teaching people. Jesus said in Matt. 10:41, “The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward” (cf. Acts 11:27; 15:32–3; 21:10). Jesus is probably talking about receiving traveling prophets. If you receive a traveling prophet, you receive a prophet’s reward.

In 2013, I traveled to Davao City to attend the IBCP General Assembly. A dear couple received me into their home. They gave me a room, fed me, and fellowshipped with me. They received a Pastor. They shall receive a pastor’s reward.

Jesus said, “they come to you.” False prophets come to people’s houses or places of worship.

Second, they call Jesus, “Lord, Lord.” Jesus said in Matt. 7:22-23,

22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

The false prophets recognize Jesus as Lord. But Jesus does not recognize them. They have no relationship with Jesus.

[1] D. Hill, ‘Christian Prophets as Teachers or Instructors in the Church’, in Prophetic Vocation in the New Testament and Today, ed. J. Panagopoulos, NovTSup 45, Leiden, 1977, pp. 108–30.

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