Jesus and the Prophetic

“Prophets are the human beings who speak to their fellow humans from the perspective of God and, by so speaking, enable others to envision a way of being human more in conformity with God’s own vision for the world.”   Luke Timothy Johnson

Jesus grew up in Nazareth, a town situated  20 miles west of the Mediterranean Sea with the sea of Galilee about 15 miles to the east.  The fertile Nazareth means “branch or root” fulfilling Isaiah 11:1.  The entire town consisted of only 60 acres.   In Luke 4, Jesus attended the small building used for worship (i.e. Synagogue) and recited the Shema and the 18 blessings.   Then one passage was read from the Pentateuch and another from the Prophets.  After this, the President of the Synagogue invites someone who is knowledgeable in the Scriptures to instruct the people.   Since the President was aware of the news about Jesus’ power (cf. Luke 4:14), he invited Jesus to speak.

After reading Isaiah 61, Jesus informs the congregation,  “Today this reading is fulfilled in your hearing…  I am the prophetic fulfillment of all the Old Testament.”

Dr. Luke’s Gospel and Acts both feature the Holy Spirit.

Before the Holy Spirit baptized the Church (cf. Acts 2), Jesus experienced the Holy Spirit.

Because the world is headed toward death, prophetic words reverse the natural trajectory of mankind.   When Jesus prophesies, “The blessed poor will rule the world” (cf. Luke 6:29), He is overturning the world’s economy.   The highlighting of Anna, Mary, Elizabeth, the widows and the women at the cross, announce the role of women in God’s kingdom.

Jesus’ prophetic life forecasts the prophetic ministry in the  Church

Jesus’ prophetic life forecasts the prophetic ministry in the  Church:

The prophet Joel predicts the day when women will prophecy (cf. Joel 2) and Luke records its fulfillment in Acts 2.    Remarkably, Luke includes the prophetic gifting of the daughters of Deacon Philip (cf. I Cor. 11:5; Rev. 2:20; and Simon prophecy vs. Anna’s unstated prophecy).  While we do not know the content of the daughter’s prophecy, Eusebius describes them as a role model for future prophets: “Montanus and his women” they had not accompanied their prophesying with “insolence and reckless boldness” (cf. Eusebius of Caesarea, History of the Church, III, 37, 1; III, 39, 9; v, 16.22; v, 17, 2-3 (

Jesus’ statement, “People honor the prophet everywhere (except in their native town)” suggest prophetic utterances. If Paul’s words in I Cor. 14 are taken at face value, there are plenty of people who are sensitive to the Living Word with the gift of prophecy.   Since it is the people’s gift, it makes perfect sense that people welcome and honor the prophet.  What happened to it?

We do not see much of a shift by the time the church manual, “The Didache” was formed (Cir 90 AD). In fact, parishioners were instructed to give a share of their income to the prophets.  When you compare the Didache with that of the writings of Ignatius–there is no mention of the prophetic.  All I can conclude is that Bishop Ignatius did not allow prophetic utterances.   If my reading of Church History is correct, the bishop assumed the role of the prophetic.

What happened to the gift Jesus gave the Church?



Luke Timothy Johnson. Prophetic Jesus, Prophetic Church: The Challenge of Luke-Acts to Contemporary Christians (Kindle Locations 11-12). Kindle Edition.

Saint Luke’s Gospel. (2005). (p. 61). Dublin; New York: Four Courts Press; Scepter Publishers.

Author: gbradepp

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