Early Christian Quotes on Prophecy
The Shepherd of Hermas (1st or 2nd Century), Commandment 11:
“How then, sir,” say I, “will a man know which of them is the prophet, and which the false prophet?” “I will tell you,” says he, “about both the prophets, and then you can try the true and the false prophet according to my directions. Try the man who has the Divine Spirit by his life. First, he who has the Divine Spirit proceeding from above is meek, and peaceable, and humble, and refrains from all iniquity and the vain desire of this world, and contents himself with fewer wants than those of other men, and when asked he makes no reply; nor does he speak privately, nor when man wishes the spirit to speak does the Holy Spirit speak, but it speaks only when God wishes it to speak.
Secret Book of James (Early to Mid-2nd Century):
Then I asked him, "Lord, how shall we be able to prophesy to those who request us to prophesy to them? For there are many who ask us, and look to us to hear an oracle from us."
The Lord answered and said, "Do you not know that the head of prophecy was cut off with John?"
But I said, "Lord, can it be possible to remove the head of prophecy?"
The Lord said to me, "When you come to know what 'head' means, and that prophecy issues from the head, (then) understand the meaning of 'Its head was removed.' At first I spoke to you in parables, and you did not understand; now I speak to you openly, and you (still) do not perceive. Yet, it was you who served me as a parable in parables, and as that which is open in the (words) that are open.
Justin Martyr’s Dialog with Trypho (Mid-2nd Century) Chapter 52:
there never failed to be a prophet among you [the Jewish people], who was lord, and leader, and ruler of your nation. For the Spirit which was in the prophets anointed your kings, and established them. But after the manifestation and death of our Jesus Christ in your nation, there was and is nowhere any prophet [among you]
Justin Martyr’s Dialog with Trypho (Mid-2nd Century) Chapter 68:
there were many sayings written obscurely, or parabolically, or mysteriously, and symbolical actions, which the prophets who lived after the persons who said or did them expounded. [Justin is saying that many things find their fulfillment after the time of the prophet speaking, such as Isaiah’s prophecy about a virgin giving birth.]
Justin Martyr’s Dialog with Trypho (Mid-2nd Century) Chapter 77:
the Holy Spirit oftentimes announces such events [as the birth of Christ] by parables and similitudes
Justin Martyr’s Dialog with Trypho (Mid-2nd Century) Chapter 82:
For the prophetical gifts remain with us, even to the present time. And hence you ought to understand that [the gifts] formerly among your nation [the Jews] have been transferred to us.
Justin Martyr’s Dialog with Trypho (Mid-2nd Century) Chapter 87:
The Scripture says that these enumerated powers of the Spirit have come on Him, not because He stood in need of them, but because they would rest in Him, i.e., would find their accomplishment in Him, so that there would be no more prophets in your nation after the ancient custom: and this fact you plainly perceive. For after Him no prophet has arisen among you.
Justin Martyr’s First Apology (Mid-2nd Century) Chapter 42:
But when the Spirit of prophecy speaks of things that are about to come to pass as if they had already taken place…The things which He absolutely knows will take place, He predicts as if already they had taken place.
Theophilus of Antioch’s Book 2 (Late 2nd Century) Chapter 9:
But men of God carrying in them a holy spirit and becoming prophets, being inspired and made wise by God, became God-taught, and holy, and righteous. Wherefore they were also deemed worthy of receiving this reward, that they should become instruments of God, and contain the wisdom that is from Him, through which wisdom they uttered both what regarded the creation of the world and all other things. For they predicted also pestilences, and famines, and wars. And there was not one or two, but many, at various times and seasons among the Hebrews; and also among the Greeks there was the Sibyl; and they all have spoken things consistent and harmonious with each other, both what happened before them and what happened in their own time, and what things are now being fulfilled in our own day: wherefore we are persuaded also concerning the future things that they will fall out, as also the first have been accomplished.
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Find more of what the early Christians thought on my Christian History page!