Was Paul a prophet

Was Paul a Prophet?

It’s no question that Paul has had one of the greatest impacts on Christianity. Just a few years after his radical encounter with Jesus, Paul became an early builder of the Church. Paul would travel around to many different cities teaching the Gospel, starting churches, and making disciples. Paul wrote numerous letters to churches, which would become a significant part of the New Testament. 

Today, I saw someone ask this question: Was Paul a prophet?

We know Paul was a great teacher and apostle, but was he a prophet? This isn’t a simple yes or no answer. Based on the scriptures, the short answer is that Paul prophesied, but he was not a prophet.

You don’t become a prophet just because you want to, or because you prophesy. Being a prophet is a calling from God.

The difference between someone who prophesies and a prophet deals with that person’s calling. Paul was called and commissioned by God to preach the Gospel and build the church. He was not called to the office of a prophet. Think of this like someone who cooks versus a professional chef.

In Romans 1:1, Paul says that God called him to be an apostle. 

“Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God.”
Romans 1:1 NIV

Paul repeats this greeting in most of his letters to churches: 

“Paul, called to be an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and our brother Sosthenes.”
1 Corinthians 1:1 NIV
“Paul, an apostle—sent not from men nor by a man, but by Jesus Christ and God the Father, who raised him from the dead.”
Galatians 1:1 NIV
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To God’s holy people in Ephesus, the faithful in Christ Jesus.”
Ephesians 1:1 NIV
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother.” 
Colossians 1:1 NIV 
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the command of God our Savior and of Christ Jesus our hope.” 
1 Timothy 1:1 NIV
“Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ to further the faith of God’s elect and their knowledge of the truth that leads to godliness” 
Titus 1:1 NIV

If Paul was called to be a prophet, he surely would’ve included that in at least one of his letters. Instead, he only proclaims that he is a servant of Jesus and an apostle.

People who prophesy aren’t necessarily prophets 

We see many Bible verses that tell us that we should all prophesy. 

“And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days.” 
Joel 2:28-29 NIV (also in Acts 2:17-18).
“I wish you all spoke with tongues, but even more that you prophesied; for he who prophesies is greater than he who speaks with tongues, unless indeed he interprets, that the church may receive edification.”
1 Corinthians 14:5 NKJV

We read about other people who are called prophets—meaning their primary occupation is to prophesy the Word of God. Throughout the book of Acts, we read about different people who are called prophets.

“During this time some prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. One of them, named Agabus, stood up and through the Spirit predicted that a severe famine would spread over the entire Roman world. (This happened during the reign of Claudius.)” 
Acts 11:27-28 NIV
“Judas and Silas, who themselves were prophets, said much to encourage and strengthen the believers.” 
Acts 15:32 NIV
After we had been there a number of days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. Coming over to us, he took Paul’s belt, tied his own hands and feet with it and said, “The Holy Spirit says, ‘In this way the Jewish leaders in Jerusalem will bind the owner of this belt and will hand him over to the Gentiles.’”
Acts 21:10-11 NIV

We also read about women prophets, specifically Anna in the New Testament:

“There was also a prophet, Anna, the daughter of Penuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage.”
Luke 2:36 NIV

There were other women who prophesied in the New Testament, but similarly to Paul, they aren’t specially called prophets. 

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