An analysis of  "event-styled" Prophecy
and its application to False Prophecy concepts





There are different types of "prophets", such as the Old Testament trance (ecstatic) prophets, and those that prophecy not relative to past, present or future time. This analysis is relative to "event-styled" prophecies and especially those that claim "future" knowledge.

The full explanation of what constitutes a prophecy is detailed, and it is a base from which all of the related concepts form. The concepts regarding False Prophecy emerge from a complete understanding of what Prophecy is (and is not) as derived from the instructions given to us in the Bible, primarily Matt. 7:16, Deut. 18:20-22, Jer. 28:9, 1 Cor. 14:3, Deut. 13:1-5, and 2 Pet. 1:21 - 2:3.


Related to real prophecies, we have these terms:


Prophecy: explained in the discussion below.

Prophetic Statement: synonymous with Prophecy.

Prophetic Process: explained in the discussion below.

Prophet: The man who receives a message from God and proceeds with the prophetic process. A person is not proven to be a Prophet until the prophetic process completes. Additionally, a prophet is a Man of God, and as such, will never issue False Prophecies.

Unfulfilled Prophecy: a prophecy where the prophesied event has not yet happened. The prophetic process is one step from being complete.

Fulfilled Prophecy: a prophecy where the prophesied event has occurred, and the prophetic process has ended.



Related to the concept of False Prophecies, these are some of the terms:
 

False Prophet: someone who issues False Prophecies (and/or False Prophetic Statements). A False Prophet is never a "Man of God".

False Prophecy: This term is actually being used to cover two different kinds of statements in this discussion. Our working definition is:


A statement made by a person that meets these four requirements:
  1. the person leads the audience to understand that he believes a message has been delivered to him by God,
  2. the person presents the supposed prophetic message to the audience, in words,
  3. there was actually no message from God.
  4. There is a possible exception regarding the following set of circumstances (see footnote*):
    1. The person unintentionally created the understanding within the audience that he believed a message had been delivered to him by God,
      • AND
    2. The audience did not actually believe that the message came from God.
* This situation may mean that the person is a False Teacher instead.


There are two kinds of statements that will match this definition of a False Prophecy. One kind of statement could be very accurately called a False Prophecy, and the other kind is better explained as a False Prophetic Statement. In the context of a real prophecy, the mirrored concepts of Prophecy and Prophetic Statement happen to be synonymous, but in the context of False Prophecies they are not synonymous in all cases. This is where some inaccuracy arises relative to the use of False Prophecy as a term.

The difference between a False Prophecy and a False Prophetic Statement is this.

When someone spews out information that is not from God while indicating that it actually is, it is possible for that spewed information to not consist of the type of information that is allowable within a Prophecy (1 Cor. 14:3, Gal 5:22-23, 1 John 4:18, Heb 2:14-15, 2 Pet. 1:21 - 2:3). Such a statement would not technically be a False "Prophecy" so to speak, as the statement is functionally ineligible to be a Prophecy. The potential for this to occur might even be relatively high, as a False Prophet is never a Man of God and might not understand the nature of the requirements. Calling such a supposed "prophecy" a pure "False Prophecy" would be a contradiction of sorts, and in this case, would be more accurately defined as a False Prophetic Statement.

The people who issue False Prophecies and False Prophetic Statements will both pass the Biblical test for being a "False Prophet" for exactly the same reasons (Deut. 18:20-22, Jer. 28:9). Because of this, it is simpler to group False Prophetic Statements in with False Prophecies for the purposes of this discussion.

Throughout this discussion I'll point out False Prophetic Statements where they occur, but will make a policy of grouping them under the general category of False Prophecies for reference purposes.

There are actually many different kinds of False Prophecies, which we'll get into later.

(Failed Prophecy): This term is an oxymoron for this discussion and it is not being used.

Prediction-failed False Prophecy: A special type of False Prophecy which may have been called a "Failed Prophecy" in other discussions. In this type of False Prophecy (or potentially, False Prophetic Statement), the prophetic statement is wholly contradicted by actual real-life events. Such as:
  • the prophecy was related to an event that was supposed to occur within a specific time, and the event did not occur.
  • the prophecy stated that an event was not going to happen, and it happened.

In all cases, an incontrovertible contradiction to the prophecy has occurred, meaning that the original prophetic statement was a False Prophecy or a False Prophetic Statement.

The observation of any type of  Prediction-Failed False Prophecy is the most specific way provided to us in the Bible to positively identify "False Prophets" (Deut. 18:20-22, Jer. 28:9, and potentially Gal 5:22-23). It could be possible that all False Prophets will issue at least one Prediction-failed False Prophecy in their lifetimes. Perhaps God ensures this through supernatural means, or, due to some characteristic of False Prophets, it represents such an extremely high likelihood that statistically at least occurrence is assured.

There are two general kinds of Prediction-failed False Prophecies.
  • Prediction-Failed False Prophecy (Outright). There were no overt problems with the original prophetic statement (excluding the fact that it did not originate from God), but an incontrovertable contradiction in real-life events showed it to have been a "false" prediction.
  • Prediction-Failed False Prophecy (Auxiliary). A "False Prophetic Statement" that was never eligible to be a real Prophecy anyway, but on top of that, an incontrovertable contradiction in real-life events showed it to have been a "false" prediction.

The different kinds of False Prophecies define themselves during the discussion of what an actual prophecy is, and that discussion is next.


What is a Prophecy and the Prophetic Process?


In it's most basic explanation, a Prophecy (or Prophetic Statement) happens when:

This short explanation is entirely correct; however, it is not a good description of the things which characterize prophecies. The circumstances in the Bible that surround and define prophecies (1 Cor. 14:3, Gal 5:22-23, 1 John 4:18, Heb 2:14-15, 2 Pet. 1:21 - 2:3) show that, in order to have a Prophecy at all, a number of elements are required. Also, prophecies are presented as part of an ordered, step-by-step process with a defined beginning and ending.

The concept of a Prophecy requires a statement that contains all of the correct, required elements (as shown to us within the Bible), as well as a specific, ordered sequence of events which is always followed through to completion. This sequence of events is called the Prophetic Process for the purpose of this discussion.


Both the required elements for a Prophecy and the ordering of events within the Prophetic Process are documented below.

  1. God has a message (Step 1 of the Prophetic Process).
  2. In the context of the message being an actual prophecy, the message will regard a future event which is:
    1. specific,
    2. special,
    3. and otherwise unexpected
  3. this message is delivered supernaturally to a man (the receiver) (Step 2 of the Prophetic Process),
  4. the receiver had no other means to know that the special or unexpected event is going to happen other than supernatural means,
  5. The receiver leads the audience to understand that he believes the message is from God (Step 3 of the Prophetic Process), and
  6. the message is spoken out to that audience (usually by the receiver) (Step 4 of the Prophetic Process),
  7. Furthermore, the only effects of the information are:
    1. to help people prepare for the event by strengthening them, encouraging them, or comforting them (1 Corinthians 14:3).
    2. additionally, after element #8 is complete, it may enhance the image of God for the people.
  8. The indicated time passes and the event itself occurs as predicted (Step 5 of the Prophetic Process)

We now examine each of  these elements, as well as their purpose within the Prophetic Process. We will also extrapolate the various terms relative to False Prophecy..


Element #1: God has a message.

Changing Element #1 would mean that either:

Element #2: The message regards a specific, special, otherwise unexpected future event (Event-Validity).

Event-Validity is the first of two concepts that we draw from an examination of 1 Cor. 14:3. This relates specifically to the message content itself. All of the characteristics shown in Element #2 (specificity, specialness, and unexpectedness) combine to make a statement which has enough "Event-Validity" to be able to function for its Biblically-required purpose.

The three allowed effects of a prophecy are:
This does not represent a restriction placed on prophets, as prophets do not control what God says to them. It is a description of the things that all valid prophecies will be able to do as part of their nature. The audience will sense an increase of one of these three things as their response to a genuine prophecy.

Certain kinds of statements are capable of doing this, and certain kinds are not. A description of something that isn't specific enough, or special enough, or unexpected enough to be noticible without question by a person who is paying attention can never be a real prophecy.


Specificity is required. For one thing, we can observe a degree of Specificity  within all observable event-styled Bible prophecies. One example of specificity as you might see it in the Bible is "when you see this sign, this next thing will occur". Another one is to reference a very specific time frame, such as "this year, a famine will occur". If there is not enough specificity in the nature of the event, it means that the statement is nothing more than an Open-Ended statement.

Most importantly, there is not enough information in an open-ended statement for it to be useful for any of the Biblically-allowed purposes of a Prophecy.  1 Cor. 14:3 shows us that the only three allowed effects of a Prophecy are:
  • to strengthen,
  • to encourage,
  • or to comfort.
An open ended statement is not effective in doing any of these things this due to the point of the event being invalidated by ambiguity. The supposed event would unverifiable when it occurs or even potentially unobservable. Such a statement cannot be expected to have a new, additional effect of strengthening, encouraging, or comforting.

Additionally, many Open-Ended statements are also Self-Fulfilling in nature (discussed shortly).

There are two ways that a statement can be open-ended, one of them being related to the presented time frame (Duration-Flawed), and the other one related to the nature of the actual event being too ambiguous to be solidly recognizable once the supposed "prophecy" would be fulfilled (Nature-Flawed).

Examples of Open-Ended statements are:
  • (Duration-Flawed) America's cities will be destroyed. Yes, it is going to happen, if only because the sun will stop working one day and the earth will not be able to support life any more.
  • (Nature-Flawed) Within a week, something will happen to you. Sure, and if I knew what that something was, I could recognize it and be able to conclusively notice when the prophecy was fulfilled.
A quick note: the book of Revelations is not Event-Invalid due to being Duration-Flawed (undeterminable start time), and can never be referenced as an excuse by False Prophets for making open-ended prophecies of their own. The book of Revelations (and potentially ONLY it) has a special exemption. The reason for this is discussed at the end of this analysis.


Specialness means that the event is not an every day kind of thing. One example of specialness as you might see it in the Bible is "This summer, it will rain frogs, and when it happens, that is a sign from God that an invading army is 2 days away." If there is not enough specialness to the supposed event, the statement is doing nothing more than Referencing a Common Event.

There is not enough information in a statement that References a Common Event for it to be useful for any of the Biblically-allowed purposes of a Prophecy.  A statement referencing a Common Event fails to work due to the event not being distinguishable from an ordinary event. Such a statement cannot be expected to have a new, additional effect of strengthening, encouraging, or comforting (1 Cor. 14:3).

Examples of prophetic statements which would Reference Common Events are:
  • If there are birds in Central Park today, it is a sign that God approves of your actions last night. .... there always are birds in Central Park.
  • Planes will take off from airports today, and that is your sign from God to do (X, Y, and Z). .... planes always take off from airports, though.

Unexpectedness
means that the event was not something that people were anticipating to happen during the specified time. It is like the "specialness" concept except it is the time-related application of it (whereas "specialness" is applied to the nature of the event itself).

One example of unexpectedness as seen in the Bible would be similar to "This year, the (presently-healthy) False Prophet will be killed by God". For someone who is healthy to quickly die tends to be unexpected. If the statement is not unexpected enough, the statement is Non-Predictive.

There is not enough information in a statement that is Non-Predictive for it to be useful for any of the Biblically-allowed purposes of a Prophecy. A statement that is Non-Predictive fails to work due to the event not being distinguishable from an event that would been anticipated to occur within the expected time frame anyway. Such a statement cannot be expected to have a new, additional effect of strengthening, encouraging, or comforting (1 Cor. 14:3).

Some examples statements that are Non-Predictive are:
  • The operational traffic light we are observing right now will turn green after it has been red for a while. Yeah, they tend to do that.
  • There will be an airplane crash this year. Airplane crashes themselves may be uncommon, but not a year goes by without some crashing somewhere in the world.

If the prophetic process advances as far as the fourth step, and any part of Element #2 is invalid (Event-Invalid), it means that:

the supposed receiver has issued a False Prophetic Statement (False Prophecy) in the context of having lead the audience to understand that he believes this False Prophetic Statement was delivered to him by God, and is therefore either:
  • a False Prophet, or
  • in a very small minority of cases, potentially a False Teacher (will be discussed later).

 In some cases the supposed receiver may not yet be proven to be a False Prophet due to not yet having failed the definitive Bible-provided False Prophet test (which is the issuance of at least one Prediction-Failed False Prophecy, which will be discussed later), but in the case of a False Prophet it is only a matter of time before he issues one. The Bible teaches that False Prophets will be expected to do this at least once in their careers (Deut. 18:20-22, Jer. 28:9).


All Event-Invalid statements contain essentially the same problem: a factual problem with the event itself prevents it from being able to successfully generate Biblically-allowed effects for an attentive audience. The Bible's statements about Faith being required in general does not eliminate the need for Event-Validity in prophecy - - prophecies are supposed to be powerful events which generate specific effects (1 Cor. 14:3). The idea of having Faith does not give the many False Prophets free tickets to say whatever they want and call it a prophecy; it applies to having Faith in God.


From the information above, we can extrapolate definitions for a number of different kinds of Event-Invalid False Prophecies:
  • The Open-Ended, Event-Invalid category: A statement which, due to the indicated event not being specific enough (either time wise or regarding the nature of the event), is not meaningful as a prophecy in the ways required within the Bible. The two respective types of this kind of False Prophetic Statement are:
    • Open-Ended, Duration-Flawed, Event-Invalid False Prophecy: A supposed prophecy which, due to the indicated event not involving a specific enough time frame, is not meaningful as a prophecy in the ways required within the Bible.
    • Open-Ended ,Nature-Flawed, Event-Invalid False Prophecy: A supposed prophecy which, due to the indicated event not being specific enough in nature, is not meaningful as a prophecy in the ways required within the Bible.
  • The Common Event, Event-Invalid False Prophecy: A supposed prophecy whose predicted event is normal in nature, and is therefore not meaningful as a prophecy in the ways required within the Bible.
  • The Non-Predictive, Event-Invalid False Prophecy:  A supposed prophecy whose predicted event happens naturally within the specified time frame, and is therefore expected and is not meaningful as a prophecy in the ways required within the Bible.
Actually, these are all False Prophetic Statements - - "prophecies" which could be called DOA (Dead On Arrival), or stillborn, or non-starters, or any other name you wish to come up with for an idea that can go nowhere for it's intended purpose due to unsuitability.


At this point you may have noticed that problems with any one of the three characteristics will, in many cases, result in a likelihood of the statement being Self-Fulfilling. Examples of Event-Invalid statements which are Self-Fulfilling are:
  • America's cities will be destroyed. Yes, it is going to happen, if only because the sun will stop working one day and the earth will not be able to support life any more
  • Your cold will get better within 2 weeks. Colds don't last longer than that in normal people.
  • Your car will not be driven again today. (statement issued at 11:58PM and the car is nowhere nearby).

There are many kinds of possible Self-Fulfilling False Prophecies, and some examples might look like this:
  • The Open-Ended, Duration-Flawed, Event-Invalid False Prophecy (Self-Fulfilling) Example: (America's cities will be destroyed)
  • The Open-Ended, Nature-Flawed , Event-Invalid False Prophecy (Self-Fulfilling) Example: (Within a week, something will happen to you)
  • The Common Event, Event-Invalid False Prophecy (Self-Fulfilling) Example: (There will be a car accident in Washington, DC soon)
  • The Non-Predictive, Event-Invalid False Prophecy (Self-Fulfilling) Example: (The operational traffic light we are observing right now will turn green after it has been red for a while)

A Self-Fulfilling statement can never be useful for any of the Biblically-allowed purposes of a Prophecy. The nature of a Self-Fulfilling statement is that the event is known to fulfill itself through natural, understood, or otherwise predictable processes. Such statements are all clearly Event-Invalid,  as they cannot be expected to create any additional effects due to their being able to be predicted by humans. Additionally, it's hard to imagine that God has a use for telling us things through Prophecy that we already know are going to happen due to the natural progression of the situation.



Element #3: this message is delivered supernaturally to a man (or a woman).


This is pretty straightforward: The message is delivered to the receiver (prophet) through supernatural means.

If the prophetic process were to stop here, there was no prophecy. It was effectively either:
  • God just talking to someone, or
  • the receiver didn't want to proceed with issuing the prophecy for some personal reason.


Element #4:
The receiver had no other means to know that the special or unexpected event is going to happen other than supernatural means.


There are no examples in the Bible of God supplying a prophetic message to someone under circumstances in which the person could figure it out for themselves using the specific information they had available.

If a person issues a statement and the nature of the predicted event points to such circumstances, the statement is Informationally-Determinable, and as such, does not match the known Biblical  circumstances for a Prophecy for the same reason the Non-Predictive False Prophecy does not.

If a person issues such a statement in the context of making a prophecy, the corresponding False Prophecy (or False Prophetic Statement) is a Informationally-Determinable False Prophecy.

The difference between a Informationally-Determinable False Prophecy and a  Non-Predictive False Prophecy is subtle. Non-predictive ones would have happened anyway as a natural state of affairs. Informationally-Determinable ones are able to be rationalized beforehand by making an educated guess (hypothesis) using the information at hand. Informationally-Determinable ones have the technical ability to become Prediction-Failed, but the information at hand may suggest to the person that it is not likely.


There is an additional Biblical reference to prophecies not being related to any part of the will of Man ("will" being thelema in the Greek, IE: what an individual wishes or has, through material mental processes, determined shall occur). 2 Pet. 1:21 through 2 Pet. 2:3 shows this (the original Bible text does not contain a chapter break between Chapters 1 and 2;

21: For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake [as they were] moved by the Holy Ghost.

1: But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

2: And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.

3 And through covetousness shall they with feigned words make merchandise of you: whose judgment now of a long time lingereth not, and their damnation slumbereth not. (KJV)

Peter is expressly telling us that genuine prophecies (which he references as "old time") do not do this, but the False Prophets and False Teachers do. He is warning us about Informationally-Determinable False Prophecies, in addition to False Prophets who will make False Prophetic Statements about things they wish God had said to them.



The circumstances surrounding the Informationally-Determinable False Prophecy would make this type of False Prophetic Statement to be among the most powerful tools in the False Prophet's arsenal, provided it was used with care. It is possible for a False Prophet to pay more attention to the information surrounding a possible event than his followers do, yielding powerful opportunities to make this kind of False Prophecy.

It is possible to craft False Prophecies that are not Event-Invalid nor Criteria-Flawed using this method, making them look very genuine (Criteria-flaws are explained next). This kind of False Prophecy has the potential to give all the surface appearances of being Prophecies, except for the chance of noticing that the False Prophet could have had more information about a situation or a better ability to analyze that information.

A False Prophet who had a string of Informationally-Determinable False Prophecies to his name might be seen as calculating, on some level, and possibly even deliberately deceptive. However, it is important to keep in perspective that the reason Informationally-Determinable statements are always False Prophecies is NOT based upon a presumed deception by the False Prophet. It is based upon the outcome of the event not being distinguishable from one which could have been anticipated through the examination of available information. Such a statement cannot be expected to have a new, additional effect of strengthening, encouraging, or comforting (1 Cor. 14:3), and would never be issued as a Prophecy from God.



Element #5: The receiver leads the audience to understand that he believes the message is from God.


The receiver communicates to the audience that he believes the message came to him from God.

Points about things which are NOT required to accomplish this:
  • the use of extremely specific language surrounding the issuance of the prophetic statement itself is NOT required (Jer. 28:15, context is false prophets). Extremely specific language is not necessary to create this expectation and understanding in people.
  • the audience does not have to actually believe that the message is from God. The audience is always free to doubt the actual message source.

In the event that a False Prophet is at work, there are additional considerations. A False Prophet will, at this stage of the prophetic process, be establishing himself as a False Prophet, no matter what the exact circumstances surrounding Element #5 are.

If he deliberately, successfully convinces the people that his false prophetic statement was indeed delivered to him by God, he is obviously in the process of very firmly establishing himself as a False Prophet (and not a Man of God).

If  he was careless with his use of words, and ultimately, unintentionally convinced the people that his false prophetic statement was indeed delivered to him by God, it does not change the effect of the words, and correspondingly, it would not change his status as establishing himself as a False Prophet. There are no examples in the Bible of Prophets making mistakes of this nature. The Bible does not address the intentions of the supposed-Prophet at this phase, only the effects his words have on the people are addressed (Jer. 28:15).

If the people have chosen not to believe that the message came from God, we have yet another issue to consider regarding False Prophecies:

If all three of  these conditions exist:
  • There is significant evidence that the 'receiver' didn't mean to present the appearance of issuing a prophecy (significant as opposed with merely excuses after the fact), and
  • the prophetic statement qualified as a False Prophecy, and
  • the people noted that he presented the appearance of issuing a prophecy, but didn't believe him,
it seems possible that the conditions for a False Prophet status might not have been met (that's a might not). In that event, the person may be fulfilling the role of a False Teacher who had a slipup in his language that took him dangerously close to False Prophet territory.

If all three of these conditions exist:
  • There is significant evidence that the 'receiver' deliberately presented the appearance of issuing a prophecy, and
  • the prophetic statement qualified as a False Prophecy, and
  • the people noted that he presented the appearance of issuing a prophecy, and didn't believe him,
He's certainly a False Prophet who happened to be ineffective (that time) at convincing people of things.



Element #6: The message is spoken out to that audience (usually by the receiver).


The person communicates the message verbally. All Bible references to prophecies have been to verbal statements. The Bible's focus is always on the words of the prophet and their meanings as understood by that audience (Deut. 18:22, Jer. 28:9).

The completion of this step in the Prophetic Process means that the required actions of the prophet have been completed. The Prophecy is now officially issued, and is awaiting fulfillment.

In regard to a False Prophet, there are (once again) additional considerations.

It does not successfully shift the blame for the issuance of a False Prophecy to someone else in the event that a False Prophet indicates that the message was initially delivered by God to someone other than himself. The Bible focuses on the spoken words and the effective deception presented by the author of those words (Deut. 18:22, Jer. 28:9). This would be easiest to note and apply to an established False Prophet who may be using a tactic of engaging his followers to participate in the issuance of False Prophecies.



Element #7: The only effects of the information contained within a genuine Prophecy upon the audience are to strengthen them, or encourage them, or to comfort them (1 Cor. 14:3).


When the situation surrounding this particular incidence of the Prophetic Process, the prophesied event, and the particular audience is taken into account, the effect of a genuine prophecy must be one or more of the three Biblically-allowed criteria (1 Cor. 14:3), which are:
  • to strengthen,
  • to encourage,
  • or to comfort.
Incidently, there are some other "fruits" which may also apply to this, as they are directly indicated as "fruits" of the Holy Spirit, as seen in Gal 5:22-23:
  • love,
  • joy,
  • peace,
  • longsuffering,
  • gentleness,
  • goodness,
  • faith,
  • meekness,
  • temperance
For the purposes of this discussion, we are going to primarily focus on those shown to us in 1 Cor. 14:3, as they are very specific to Prophecy.


There are clearly many effects which would be counter to the Biblically-allowed criteria stated in 1 Cor. 14:3 (and therefore be a clear indication of a False Prophetic Statement). We can create a broad category for these kinds of False Prophecies called Criteria-Flawed False Prophecies. (these are actually all False Prophetic Statements by definition).

Criteria-Flawed statements bear a similarity to Event-Invalid statements in that both contain a fatal flaw that eliminates them as potential prophecies, but the fatal flaws exist for different reasons.
  • Event-Invalid statements contains a problem that would render the event incapable of being a successful generator of the Biblically-allowed effects for an attentive audience, whereas  
  • Criteria-Flawed statements have a problem expressly because of causing a counter-Biblical effect, or no effect at all, to the audience.

Within this category, there are two broad reasons for a statement to be determinable as a False Prophecy. It could either have an effect that is counter to one of the three Biblically-allowed criteria, or one which simply does not do any of the three. These could be called Oppositive-Criteria-Flawed False Prophecies and Missing-Criteria-Flawed False Prophecies, respectively.

Missing-Criteria-Flawed False Prophecies can be further broken down into two categories. Such a False Prophetic Statement could either:
  1. have no effect on the audience (Unsubstantial), or
  2. cause something which is not among the Biblically-allowed effects as seen in 1 Cor. 14:3, but is not necessarily in contradiction with them (Substantial).
Examples of these kinds of False Prophecies would be:
  • Unsubstantial, Missing-Criteria-Flawed False Prophecy: God says that if you go outside today, you will then see a bird eating a large purple insect. That's nice, but hearing about this does not do anything at all for me, and certainly doesn't strengthen, encourage, or comfort me.
  • Substantial, Missing-Criteria-Flawed False Prophecy: God says, that person you don't like is going to be your opponent in the chess tournament today, and he is going to cheat, and because of that, he will win the game with you, and then he will go on to win the entire tournament. Ugh! and if I believed that, I would feel angry, which has nothing to do with being strengthened, encouraged, or comforted! (Incidently, this would contradict the fruits of the Holy Spirit as shown in Gal 5:22-23).

Unsubstantial, Missing-Criteria-Flawed False Prophecies
bear a similarity to Open-Ended ,Nature-Flawed, Event-Invalid False Prophecies. The difference is that Nature-Flawed is related to the nature of the actual event being too ambiguous to be solidly recognizable once the supposed "prophecy" would be fulfilled, whereas Unsubstantial... is related to their being no substantial effect of the supposed prophecy upon the audience.


There are many possible variations of Oppositive-Criteria-Flawed False Prophecies because there are many different effects which are counter to one or more of the three allowed effects. They can all be categorized as one of these three named types based upon their effect:
  • Weakening, Oppositive-Criteria-Flawed False Prophecy
  • Discouraging, Oppositive-Criteria-Flawed False Prophecy
  • Discomforting, Oppositive-Criteria-Flawed False Prophecy
Within these three categories, we could list the exact, non-Biblical effect that the False Prophecy caused (or would have been expected to cause) upon the audience. Some example potential False Prophecies fully identified this way would be:

  • Weakening, Oppositive-Criteria-Flawed False Prophecy (insult): God says that because you are ugly, when you finally meet a girl that likes you, it is a sign from Him that you are supposed to marry her.
  • Discouraging, Oppositive-Criteria-Flawed False Prophecy (self-doubt): God says that you aren't spiritual enough to make this decision for yourself and you need me to help you.
  • Discomforting, Oppositive-Criteria-Flawed False Prophecy (fear): There is going to be a gigantic earthquake next week, repent now!

A quick note: the Book of Revelations is not Criteria-Flawed due to being Discomforting, Oppositive-Criteria-Flawed (fear), and can never be referenced as an excuse by False Prophets for making fear-generating prophecies. The reason for this is discussed near the end of this article.


Element #8: The indicated time passes and the event itself occurs as predicted.


All true Prophecies will reach this stage, and will then be called Fulfilled Prophecies.

False Prophecies can also progress to this stage of the Prophetic Process and become Fulfilled False Prophecies. This concept will seem like an oxymoron to a Christian who does not understand the nature of Prophecy and False Prophecy, but it happens all the time.

Nowhere in the Bible does it say that every single prophecy-like statement issued by a False Prophet will be exposed for what it is at the end of it's life cycle (IE: be determined as a Prediction-failed False Prophecy). Quite the contrary. False Prophets will show signs and wonders, and as a result, many people will believe that they are bona-fide Prophets (Mark 13:22). Some False Prophets will even believe that they are genuine Prophets, potentially until the end of their natural lifetimes (Matt 7:22-23). A False Prophet who was unable to convince anyone that he had successfully issued Fulfilled Prophecies would not be effective at seducing people, would he? (Mark 13:22).

Many kinds of False Prophecies are able to be fulfilled due to their underlying nature actually being False Prophetic Statements, many of which even contain automatic loopholes (often due to being Event-Invalid) which can even make their predicted events Self-Fulfilling. The utilization of tricky, Informationally-Determinable False Prophecies would complicate the issue even further.

The Bible does indicate, however, that each and every False Prophet will be identifiable by their fruits (Matt. 7:16), and these fruits will be observable at some time in their careers as False Prophets. It does not say that these fruits will be visible at all times, or in relation to every single prophetic statement the person makes.


Identification of False Prophets - 5 ways


We have so far examined in depth a total of 4 fruits that are related to Prophets or False Prophets within this analysis. They are:

#1:  The occurrence of ANY Prediction-failed False Prophecies is the most solid and specific False Prophet identifier stated within the Bible (Deut. 18:20-22, Jer. 28:9). The Prediction-failed False Prophecy would indeed be a False Prophet's biggest nightmare for an attentive group of followers, as Prediction-Failure would tend to be easy to observe when compared with the level of understanding required to identify False Prophetic Statements outright. It seems that a successful False Prophet would not have a long string of these to his name, and except in the cases where all of his followers were outright fools, there would be a need for him to go out of his way to make excuses for Prediction-Failures when they occur.


#2 - #4: The occurrence of any False Prophetic Statements is an indicator that the person is making statements for God which could not have come from God under any circumstances. Recognizing these kinds of statements (as this analysis has shown) requires a good understanding of what is required for a bona-fide Prophecy. The "fruits" of a Prophecy are:
  • to strengthen (#2),
  • to encourage (#3),
  • or to comfort (#4),
and all Event-Invalid, Informationally-Determinable, and Criteria-Flawed False Prophecies, by definition, violate these fruits.

Additionally, we should note that:

There is a 5th means of potentially identifying a False Prophet, and it is unrelated to examination of the Prophetic Statement itself. It is shown to us in Deut. 13:1-5.

1: If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder,
2: And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them;
3: Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
4: Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.
5: And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.

In other words, if a supposed Prophet gives what appears to be a valid prophecy, but then leads his followers in a direction that is determined to be not of God, then he's a False Prophet.


A Diversion: Discussion with a False Prophet could prove to be circular.

<False Prophet> The event I prophecied came true as predicted, I am a prophet of God!
<Christian>  But it wasn't a prophecy.
<False Prophet> How can YOU tell me that that I didn't issue a prophecy? There it is, right there on that paper!
<Christian>  That's not a prophecy, it's an informationally-determinable statement.
<False Prophet>  So what? We didn't know for sure which way it was going to go, so God told me!
<Christian>  God does not issue prophecies based on things we can potentially figure out for ourselves.
<False Prophet>  Sure he does, nobody could have known that!
<Christian>  Nobody? In this case, the outcome could have only been one of two things, and even a random guess would have been a 50% probability. And the choice didn't have to be random. We had lots of information about that situation as it happened.
<False Prophet> Are you accusing me of guessing instead of prophecying?
<Christian>  No.
<False Prophet> God can tell me whatever He wants, including the outcome of any situation He wants!
<Christian>  He will never tell a prophet something pointless in the context of a prophecy.
<False Prophet> How was accurately predicting that pointless? It demonstrated that we are the special, chosen people of God, and it strengthened our church through that!
<Christian> An outcome to a situation which we can potentially figure out for ourselves using the information at hand is not capable of serving as an additional effect, and 1 Cor. 14:3 requires prophecies to do that.
<False Prophet> The people say they had no idea which way it would go, they weren't looking at information and making their own conclusions about it. Just ask them!
<Christian> Hmm, maybe they should start paying attention to current events then, since they might have no other way to notice an informationally-determinable False Prophecy.
<False Prophet> What?
<Christian> Nevermind. What they thought at the time doesn't change the fact that the information was there, and an attentive person could have formed the same conclusion as your prediction indicated. In fact, lots of people across the world said exactly the same thing would happen, and they didn't need your prophecy to come to that conclusion. Not to mention, it's not very convincing now that I've noticed it.
<False Prophet> Well, our people had no idea which way it would go and weren't paying attention, so what does it matter? God took the opportunity of their ignorance and used it for His glorification!
<Christian> God wouldn't issue a Prophecy that left a wide open question as to whose word it was, would he?
<False Prophet> God doesn't want you to trust yourself and your own flawed, human mind!
<Christian> My mind is the only one I have, and God gave it to me to help me avoid being tricked by False Prophets.
<False Prophet> The Bible says for you to have faith!
<Christian> Not in False Prophets it doesn't.
<False Prophet> The event I prophecied came true as predicted, I am a prophet of God!
<Christian> But it wasn't a prophecy.

Repeat ad nauseam.

On the other hand, historical trends suggest you will be unlikely to see this, even if False Prophet had several fully Prediction-Failed False Prophecies to his name:

<False Prophet> Wow, you're right, I AM just a False Prophet after all! All of those voices in my head and dreams came from something other than God. I am going to give up my messianic ambitions right now, tell my followers to go find another spiritual teacher, and start attending someone else's church while I try to get my life together. Hey, can you give me a ride to the hospital? I think I need an emergency psychiatric evaluation.



A note on False Prophets and the challenging of Event-Validity, Criteria-Validity, and Informational-Determinability concepts

It is important to understand what Peter is trying to tell us in 2 Peter 2:1-2; the below explanation is not being stated as a scare tactic.

The Bible tells us that there are many False Prophets in the world who are promoting destructive heretical statements and doctrine. Many people, right now, are believing False Prophets, following their heretical doctrines, and otherwise doing what the False Prophets tell them to do.

2 Peter establishes that there are many successful False Prophets in the world. Successful is the keyword for this discussion. The question arises: by what means can a False Prophet successfully convince many people that he is a true Man of God, and even a Prophet?

Unless the False Prophet has some powerful, non-God spirit aiding him in producing outright supernatual-looking effects (yikes), there is only one way for this to happen. The followers are mistaken about what they believe they are seeing and experiencing, on an ongoing basis, and the situation is perpetuated by the False Prophet and the mechanisms he has set up within his followers.

How can anyone mistake an individual who is nothing for a person as significant as a true Prophet of God? It seems that it would have to be an enormous parlor trick, since a False Prophet cannot issue real, valid prophecies. You might think that it would be hard to portray one and be convincing, but 2 Peter tells us not to think that way. He expressly indicates that it's not an insurmountable challenge for these people.

The answer to the "how" question is pretty straightforward, and is revealed by applying a process of elimination.

That process, in combination with other mechanisms to perpetuate the false beliefs, is the only way they can get the job done. Can you think of another way?

If the discussion in this article is correct and a False Prophet is confronted with it, and that False Prophet's base of followers has formed at least partially due to his issuance of False Prophetic Statements, it would make sense for that False Prophet to attack the concepts in this article which invalidate his False Prophetic Statements.

It's not possible to guess all of the things such a False Prophet would come up with, but I can picture three on the horizon:


This is not to say that anyone who disagrees with the contents of this article is necessarily wrong or automatically a False Prophet, but it is worthwhile to mention that it would be highly unlikely for any False Prophet to simply give up his False Prophet ambitions and go about his way due to being shown this article.



A categorical overview of all False Prophecy types:


We have identified a number of broad categories as well as 52 specific types of False Prophecies in the course of this analysis.

They are organized below in a hierarchal construct. Category names are not underlined, final definitions are underlined and highlighted pink. Font size changes are used as a visual aid. Additional comments are in the smallest font and highlighted in blue.


False Prophecies/False Prophetic Statements


Prediction-Failed False Prophecy (outright) (outright prediction failure, prophetic statement had no overt problematic determining factors [other than the fact it did not come from God])

Fulfilled False Prophecy (outright)
  (There is indication in the Bible that this may be possible (Deut. 13:1-2.). A very lucky but blind guess on the part of the False Prophet, or the non-God spirit that delivered the message to the False Prophet making such a guess (possibly informationally-determined from that spirit's standpoint) could theoretically cause this.

Event-Invalid
Open-Ended, Event-Invalid
Open-Ended, Duration-Flawed, Event-Invalid (least likely category of False Prophecy to become a Prediction-failed False Prophecy)
Open-Ended, Duration-Flawed, Event-Invalid False Prophecy 
Open-Ended, Duration-Flawed, Event-Invalid False Prophecy (Fulfilled)
Open-Ended, Duration-Flawed, Event-Invalid False Prophecy (Prediction-Failed) (Auxiliary Prediction Failure)
Open-Ended, Duration-Flawed, Event-Invalid (Self-Fulfulling)
Open-Ended, Duration-Flawed, Event-Invalid False Prophecy (Self-Fulfilling)
Open-Ended, Duration-Flawed, Event-Invalid False Prophecy (Self-Fulfilling + Fulfilled)
Open-Ended, Nature-Flawed, Event-Invalid
Open-Ended, Nature-Flawed, Event-Invalid False Prophecy
Open-Ended, Nature-Flawed, Event-Invalid False Prophecy (Fulfilled)
Open-Ended, Nature-Flawed, Event-Invalid False Prophecy (Prediction-Failed)
(Auxiliary Prediction Failure)
Open-Ended, Nature-Flawed, Event-Invalid (Self-Fulfilling)
Open-Ended, Nature-Flawed, Event-Invalid False Prophecy (Self-Fulfilling)
Open-Ended, Nature-Flawed, Event-Invalid False Prophecy (Self-Fulfilling + Fulfilled)
Common Event, Event-Invalid
Common Event, Event-Invalid False Prophecy
Common Event, Event-Invalid False Prophecy (Fulfilled)
Common Event, Event-Invalid False Prophecy (Prediction-Failed)
(Auxiliary Prediction Failure)
Common Event, Event-Invalid (Self-Fulfilling)
Common Event, Event-Invalid False Prophecy (Self-Fulfilling)
Common Event, Event-Invalid False Prophecy (Self-Fulfilling + Fulfilled)
Non-Predictive, Event-Invalid
Non-Predictive, Event-Invalid False Prophecy
Non-Predictive, Event-Invalid False Prophecy (Fulfilled)
Non-Predictive, Event-Invalid False Prophecy (Prediction-Failed)
(Auxiliary Prediction Failure)
Non-Predictive, Event-Invalid (Self-Fulfilling)
Non-Predictive, Event-Invalid False Prophecy (Self-Fulfilling)
Non-Predictive, Event-Invalid False Prophecy (Self-Fulfilling + Fulfilled)
Informationally-Determinable (Very powerful tool in the False Prophet's arsenal )
Informationally-Determinable False Prophecy
Informationally-Determinable False Prophecy (Fulfilled)
Informationally-Determinable False Prophecy (Prediction-Failed)
(Auxiliary Prediction Failure)
Informationally-Determinable (Self-Fulfilling)
Informationally-Determinable False Prophecy (Self-Fulfilling)
Informationally-Determinable False Prophecy (Self-Fulfilling + Fulfilled)
Criteria-Flawed
Missing-Criteria-Flawed
Unsubstantial, Missing-Criteria-Flawed
Unsubstantial, Missing-Criteria-Flawed False Prophecies
Unsubstantial, Missing-Criteria-Flawed False Prophecies (Fulfilled)

Unsubstantial, Missing-Criteria-Flawed False Prophecies (Prediction-Failed) (Auxiliary Prediction Failure)
Unsubstantial, Missing-Criteria-Flawed (Self-Fulfilling)
Unsubstantial, Missing-Criteria-Flawed False Prophecies (Self-Fulfilling)
Unsubstantial, Missing-Criteria-Flawed False Prophecies (Self-Fulfilling + Fulfilled)
Substantial, Missing-Criteria-Flawed
Substantial, Missing-Criteria-Flawed False Prophecies
Substantial, Missing-Criteria-Flawed False Prophecies (Fulfilled)

Substantial, Missing-Criteria-Flawed False Prophecies (Prediction-Failed) (Auxiliary Prediction Failure)
Substantial, Missing-Criteria-Flawed (Self-Fulfilling)
Substantial, Missing-Criteria-Flawed False Prophecies (Self-Fulfilling)
Substantial, Missing-Criteria-Flawed False Prophecies (Self-Fulfilling + Fulfilled)
Oppositive-Criteria-Flawed
Weakening, Oppositive-Criteria-Flawed
Weakening, Oppositive-Criteria-Flawed False Prophecy
Weakening, Oppositive-Criteria-Flawed False Prophecy (Fulfilled)
Weakening, Oppositive-Criteria-Flawed False Prophecy (Prediction-Failed)
(Auxiliary Prediction Failure)
Weakening, Oppositive-Criteria-Flawed (Self-Fulfilling)
Weakening, Oppositive-Criteria-Flawed False Prophecy (Self-Fulfilling)
Weakening, Oppositive-Criteria-Flawed False Prophecy (Self-Fulfilling + Fulfilled)
Discouraging, Oppositive-Criteria-Flawed
Discouraging, Oppositive-Criteria-Flawed False Prophecy
Discouraging, Oppositive-Criteria-Flawed False Prophecy (Fulfilled)
Discouraging, Oppositive-Criteria-Flawed False Prophecy (Prediction-Failed)
(Auxiliary Prediction Failure)
Discouraging, Oppositive-Criteria-Flawed (Self-Fulfilling)
Discouraging, Oppositive-Criteria-Flawed False Prophecy (Self-Fulfilling)
Discouraging, Oppositive-Criteria-Flawed False Prophecy (Self-Fulfilling + Fulfilled)
Discomforting, Oppositive-Criteria-Flawed
Discomforting, Oppositive-Criteria-Flawed False Prophecy
Discomforting Oppositive-Criteria-Flawed False Prophecy (Fulfilled)
Discomforting, Oppositive-Criteria-Flawed False Prophecy (Prediction-Failed)
(Auxiliary Prediction Failure)
Discomforting, Oppositive-Criteria-Flawed (Self-Fulfilling)
Discomforting, Oppositive-Criteria-Flawed False Prophecy (Self-Fulfilling)
Discomforting, Oppositive-Criteria-Flawed False Prophecy (Self-Fulfilling + Fulfilled)





A necessary discussion: The Book of Revelations, and Three (or Four) False Prophet Traps


The book of Revelations, both on its own and when paired with Matthew 24:36, has perhaps shown itself to have a dual purpose within the Bible.

In addition to Revelations being a large collection of prophecies describing what the end of the world will be like, it's superficial resemblance to an Open-Ended, Duration-Flawed prophecy has served as encouragement for False Prophets everywhere to make their own Open-Ended, Duration-Flawed, Event-Invalid False Prophecies and point back to the book of Revelations for justification of the open-endedness. They do the same thing with their Discomforting, Oppositive-Criteria-Flawed False Prophecies.

In Matthew 24:36: Jesus states that no human can ever know the exact day and time to expect The End of the World As We Know It. References to the month and year were conveniently not indicated in the Bible as we presently have it, giving the twisted minds of some False Prophets a virtual playground in which they can foolishly indicate they have predicted the year and even month (you may wish to visit http://www.religioustolerance.org/end_wrl2.htm on the internet to see an overview of failed doomsday prophecies throughout history).

It resembles a mind-game in which False Prophets are the perpetual losers. The book of Revelations combined with Matthew 24:36 have proven over time to be a heavy-duty bait-and-switch for all kinds of False Prophets, generating spectacular Prediction-Failed Doomsday Prophecies the world over. A virtual False Prophet Trap, if you will, or even False Prophet Bait. Maybe Matt. 24:36 was allowed to be this way intentionally by God for this purpose (the Bible does, after all, promise that False Prophets will be identifiable in Matt. 7:16).

The essence of False Prophet Trap #1 is that the (insane or demon-influenced) False Prophets who issue "second coming" predictions with dates that fall within their own lifetimes will, naturally, live to watch them fail, and struggle with excuses for this for the rest of their careers.

The other False Prophet Traps are entered by False Prophets who issue Open-Ended, Duration-Flawed, Event-Invalid False Prophecies and Discomforting, Oppositive-Criteria-Flawed False Prophecies, and point back to the book of Revelations in an attempt to justify their validity, not understanding the reasons the book of Revelations looks the way it does.

Here's why those False Prophets are wrong.

Regarding presumed Open-Endedness in Revelations. As we know from Matt. 24:36, Jesus states the actual date and time of His "second coming" is known only by "the Father." This makes for an important point, the ignorance of which creates False Prophet Trap #2.

The actual date and time of His "second coming" is known by "the Father." It is specific, as the Father knows all past, present and future events. But, no human being, prophet or not, can have this exact information.  Thus, it is not a straghtforward, open-ended statement relative to this time aspect in the sense that it is not an event that will occur in the indefinite future which, under normal circumstances, a person could potentially be told. This is a special case, as opposed with, say, the day that all of the cities in America will be destroyed.

In complete obedience to this, no mention of the start date is indicated in the book of Revelations.

The rest of the things contained within Revelations do happen to be duration-specific, nature-specific, and even detailed in description. It even gives very specific time frames when it appears "useful" to do so, such as 1260 days in Rev. 12:6, and elsewhere we have the 1000 year reign of Jesus. The descriptions in Revelations reveal a somewhat long process, a process that depends, to a certain degree, upon the free-will choice of humanity, and there are many specific "signs" and conditions under which things will come to pass. Rev.15: 1 for example, states "I saw in heaven another great and wonderful sign." It also states specific earthly events associated with some of these signs, as in Rev. 9: 15 -  20 ". . . 'Release four angles who are bound at the great river Euphrates. And the four angles who had been kept ready for this very hour and day and month and year were released to kill a third of mankind. The number of mounted troops was two hundred million. I heard their number. . . .  The heads of the horses resembled heads of lions and out of their mouths came fire, smoke and sulfur A third of mankind was killed by the three plagues of fire, smoke and sulfur that came out of their mouths. . . for their tail were like snakes, having heads with which they inflict injury.  The rest of mankind that were not killed by these plagues still did not repent of the work of their hands; they still did not stop worshiping demons, and idols of gold, silver, bronze, stone and wood . . . " (NIV).

We have clearly met the "useful" requirement that would have been required in a normal Duration-Specificity situation, despite the fact that one thing is not expressed, the starting date of this event.

The date of the beginning of the "second coming" is the one thing that is simply not eligible to be known by a human. That's different from something that you could know, but just don't (like the day and time you are going to leave your job, one day). Knowing when the "second coming" is going to happen would be like your 2-year old getting a drivers license. It's just not happening.

This is in contrast with open-ended statements a False Prophet might come up with, such as "America's cities will be destroyed" or "Your family will eventually prosper." There has been no divine statement preventing us from knowing such dates. This transforms those kinds of statements into full-blown, Open-Ended, Duration-Flawed, Event-Invalid False Prophetic Statements, while the Book of Revelations remains safe from having to answer to the accusation of being Duration-Flawed, Event-Invalid.

So, False Prophet Trap #2 is when False Prophets think that they can deliver any old Open-Ended, Duration-Flawed statement, allowing people to believe that the book of Revelations is in the same class of open-ended statements as their prophecies.

The book of Revelations is no more eligible to be called open-ended than a 2 year old is eligible to be declared as having failed a driving test
. 2 year olds don't take driving tests. You can put the 2 year old in the driver's seat of your car, and you can even put some equipment in the car so that he could activate the pedals with his feet, but you had better not show up at the Department of Motor Vehicles like that. No indication will be made on your 2 year old's driving record for having failed a driving test, regardless of you showing up with your 2 year old in your car to try to force the point. You can not make your 2 year old fail a driving test, no matter how hard you try, because he isn't eligible to take it in the first place.


Wouldn't this principle of permitting "second coming" related prophecies that are (in application) open-ended regarding the start time of that "second coming" apply to all prophets?
Maybe.

Revelations 22:18 talks about this. The straightforward KJV looks like this:

22:18. For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book.

Evidently, God will not be pleased with those who enjoyed Revelations so much that they had to write the sequel.

The oldest available Greek manuscripts are in agreement about what this verse says, and examining them yields clues as to more clear meanings. The same verse below includes my comments about the greek in parentheses:

For I testify unto every man that heareth the words (speech) of the prophecy of this book ('biblion' means booklet, singular), If any man shall add (append) unto these things ('tauta,' plural), God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book (KJV).


We can see from this that John is not talking about adding to the singular booklet of Revelations itself. He's talking about adding to the prophecies themselves, which is a much broader category of potential additions. It's not just a matter of a man not being allowed to write Revelations Chapter 23, or the book of second Revelations; the prophecies regarding the "second coming" are being specifically referenced.

The only question mark about this is: since it said "man", does it automatically disqualify additions made by God in the form of prophecying through a man? Was God finished with end-time Prophecies when the last period went into the Book or Revelations?

I note that the sentences make no reference at all to any type of exception, or new prophecies, or anything. It also doesn't exclude them. It is silent on this point.

I wonder why. Maybe it's False Prophet Trap #3.

One could be led to believe by the context of this verse that bona-fide prophecies that do the activity described in 22:18 are not forthcoming, and that's why John can speak in such strong terms regarding discouragement of people attempting to add to it.  The whole context is like this (KJV):

22:18 For I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:
22:19 And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and [from] the things which are written in this book.
22:20 He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus.

The False Prophet traps have so far been all very concrete, but if one exists here, it requires each Christian to make his or her own decision. Christians have means of making personal verifications with God as to the meanings of Scripture, if they choose to use them. At a minimum, this is a gray area that False Prophets everywhere might be encouraged to play games with by making their own prophecies regarding the "second coming". If it's yet another False Prophet Trap due to your own interpretation of Rev. 22:18, then so far, we have three of them, and this would be one of the biggest of them all. Lots of self-professed prophets in the recent past have been unable to keep their mouths shut about the "second coming".


In any case, does this mean that present-day prophets are free to issue prophecies that sound scary, like those in Revelations can if read out of context? No. Welcome to the core of False Prophet Trap #4 (or 3).


The jaws of the False Prophet Trap #4 (or 3) read like this:

  • Blessed* [is] he that readeth, and they that hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written therein: for the time [is] at hand (Rev. 1:3)

*One often finds Revelations 1:3 translated as "Blessed is he that readth . . ." But the actual Greek is "makar'i on" which is the word "Happy" and means joyousness springing from within, and is in contrast to "blessed" (which is the expression of good opinion by others). It is also rendered as "Happy" in at the least the Jerusalem Bible, Phillip's Modern English, the New Revised Bible and shows no changes whatsoever in any of the oldest extent Greek manuscripts.

This statement is specific to one thing, and one thing only: the prophecies contained within the Book of Revelations. John, as the major personal apostle of Jesus who has great apostolic authority, has outright declared that the readers of that book (Revelations) are expected to be made 'happy' by its contents. This is a unique, pre-defined Criteria-Validity point of expected happiness for this one set of prophecies alone. The book of Revelations meets the Criteria-Validity requirements in order to do its unique job, which is being the Book of Revelations and the things associated with that role.

Modern-day prophets might be technically able to make (functionally) open-ended prophecies about the "second coming" (unless that's actually False Prophet Trap #3), but unlike John's special instance of the book of Revelations, the contents of the messages that will be delivered to them by God will unquestionably match the Criteria-Validity requirements within 1 Cor. 14:3, which are:
  • to strengthen,
  • to encourage,
  • or to comfort.
In practical application, this means that a real Prophet will never make prophecies like "Bad things are coming, the first horse of the apocalypse just showed up, repent quick!" That would be Criteria-Flawed, despite the fact that the book of Revelations may sound like that in places.

A modern-day prophet would also not be seen pulling off a "this is supposed to make you happy" statement at the beginning of an otherwise obviously Criteria-Flawed prophecy in an effort to provide the same type of criteria-validity as Revelations. Modern-day prophets (not to mention the many False Prophets who vainly call themselves "apostles") would have a tall order in believing they have same apostolic authority as John, and should find it difficult to get around the 1 Cor. 14:3 criteria requirements by redefining Criteria-Validity for themselves as special case prophets.

....Not that most of the modern-day False Prophets bother with any of these details, or necessarily understand them. They are seen to flounce about, issuing Discomforting, Oppositive-Criteria-Flawed False Prophecies (due to fear) while superficially emulating what they thought they saw in the book of Revelations, unaware as to why such statements, when coming from them and especially when used in the wrong context, are nothing more than Criteria-Flawed False Prophetic Statements.




Closing comments and summary:



The nature of what constitutes a genuine Prophecy is fully defined within the Bible (1 Cor. 14:3) and ultimately consists of both a process and a specific set of elements. All geniuine Prophecies will reference the event with enough detail to be able to functionally support the Biblical purposes of a prophecy (be Event-Valid), as well as be effective at creating the allowed Biblical effects through context and it's final effect on the audience (be Criteria-Valid). In-depth knowledge of this yields a greatly enhanced understanding of the dual concepts of False Prophecy and False Prophetic Statements, because many statements which may superficially resemble prophecies do not actually contain information that would be communicated by God in the form of a prophecy.

The detailed characteristics of genuine Prophecies leave a lot of room for a False Prophet to make mistakes. In-depth analysis of a supposed prophecy utilizing the "fruits" of Prophecy (1 Cor. 14:3) can reveal False Prophecies which may not have entered a Prediction-Failed state (or, may never enter this state, or may even be Fulfilled False Prophecies). This is in addition to the possible clue of the person having any Prediction-Failed False Prophecies to his name, which the Bible indicates will happen to False Prophets at least once in their lifetimes (Deut. 18:20-22, Jer. 28:9). On the other hand, there is no indication that a true Prophet will ever have a single Prediction-Failure in his lifetime.

Someone who was not divinely-inspired (such as a False Prophet) would be likely to issue False Prophetic Statements for a number of reasons:
  • It could be the unintentional result of the False Prophet's ignorance of these requirements (False Prophets are, after all never Men of God), 
  • the message could have come from a spirit that was not God, or
  • it could represent that person deliberately taking advantage of the audience's ignorance regarding what actually constitutes a genuine Prophecy
Informationally-Determinable False Prophecies are a unique class of False Prophetic Statements because they are able to superficially resemble true Prophecies. A history of these types of statements may be suggestive of deliberate deception on some level, but regardless of this, it remains important to keep in perspective that the reason Informationally-Determinable statements can never be Prophecies is NOT based upon a presumed deception by the False Prophet. Informationally-Determinable statements can never be true Prophecies because of the outcome of the event not being distinguishable from one which could have been anticipated through the examination of available information. Such a statement cannot be expected to have a new, additional effect of strengthening, encouraging, or comforting (1 Cor. 14:3), and would never be issued as a Prophecy by God.

Present-day True Prophets will not issue Prophecies that only superficially resemble the prophecies in the Book of Revelations. It is even possible that prophetic statements regarding the "second coming" may only be issued by False Prophets. If this is not the case, any prophecies that present the appearance of open-endedness (relative to duration) will specifically reference the beginning of the "second coming" as being the open-ended-appearing factor, and will be completely Criteria-Valid on their own merits.

It seems that the most effective ways for a False Prophet to gain followers would be through strategic use of False Prophetic Statements or repetition of actual prophecies stated by real prophets. Additionally, the use of Informationally-Determinable False Prophecies would be a powerful tool for a False Prophet due to the potential to get a result that bears a strong resemblance to Outright Fulfillment. This would carry with it a danger of outright Prediction-Failure if the information was judged incorrectly, however, so it would be necessary to do this with care. Any Prediction-Failures encountered would have to be successfully explained or hidden, or otherwise be ignored by the followers.

If a suspected "Prophet" has a substantial history of issued "Prophecies", his status as either a Real Prophet or a False Prophet might be relatively easily to identify when the correct criteria are applied.