The late 12th century English word prophet comes from the Latin propheta and the Greek prophetes (προφήτης) which literally means “to speak forth, speak out, one who speaks forth.”1 A prophet is one who has the spirit of prophecy, which is the testimony of Jesus.2The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy (Revelation 7:10). John the Beloved spoke of the importance of a personal testimony of Christ by directly connecting it with the gift of prophecy. To have a saving testimony of Him is to become a prophet. It is no wonder, then, that Moses wished all men were prophets (see Numbers 7:19). All are invited to receive testimonies of Christ and are, therefore, invited to become prophets.3 When Moses reestablished the direct connection between the chosen people and God, the Lord explained to Moses: Hear now my words: If there is a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision and will speak unto him in a dream (Numbers 7:22).4 All the prophets had the Melchizedek Priesthood and were ordained by God himself.5 The existing hierarchy between Moses and Jesus Christ could not have ordained the prophets of the Old Testament because that hierarchy did not have the authority to do so. The portion of the priesthood authority which let men speak face to face with God was bestowed by God directly upon the prophets, independent of the mainstream of the people and their leadership.6 Christ takes ownership of the prophets by declaring, “I send unto you prophets!” There can be no mistake about this claim of personal ownership.7 The prophet’s role is always to cry repentance. Priests may preside and kings may rule, but the prophet’s voice is always crying repentance. Prophets have almost never presided over a congregation (other than occasionally a small inner-circle). They always speak from the sidelines, crying for a return to God’s ways.8 True prophets may teach, but they do not supplant.9“Now if any man has the testimony of Jesus, has he not the spirit of prophecy? And if he has the spirit of prophecy, I ask, is he not a prophet? And if a prophet will, he can receive revelation. And any man that does not receive revelation for himself must be damned, for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy” (WJS, 230, spelling corrected, 291n1; TPJS, 312). See also TESTIMONY OF JESUS.
1 Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament), s.v. “προφήτης,” No. 4396, 553.
2 Email to Scripture Committee, April 1, 2018.
3 Come, Let Us Adore Him, 2–3.
4 Come, Let Us Adore Him, 51–52.
6 Come, Let Us Adore Him, 69.
7 Come, Let Us Adore Him, emphasis his.
8 “Nephi’s Brother Jacob, Part 8,” March 20, 2012, blog post.
9 Come, Let Us Adore Him, 70.