“Does the term prophet mean the same as it did to the people of the Old Testament?” Ensign, Aug. 1974, 86–87
You refer often in your church to the term prophet. Does it mean the same as it did to the people of the Old Testament?
Richard Bushman, President, Boston Massachusetts Stake: The Hebrew word for prophet comes from a verb that means to announce or pour forth. The Greek base of the English word prophet is prophetes—one who speaks for another. Only after the Bible was complete did the modern sense of “one who predicts” attach itself to the word. The essential Biblical meaning of the term prophesy is to speak for God, to announce his purposes.
Prophet-seers know “of things which are past, and also of things which are to come, and by them shall … secret things be made manifest. …” (Mosiah 8:17.) That is as true now as ever.
The basic message, the predominant theme occupying more prophetic pages than any other, has always been to “keep the commandments.” The prophet’s assignment is to call men back to the Lord when they wander.
The source of prophetic power was explained to John the Beloved near the end of his Patmos revelation. The guiding angel, who revealed himself as a fellow prophet, stated that “the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.” (Rev. 19:10.) Whatever the time or place, looking forward to the Messiah or back to the resurrection, prophets have always borne, with certitude, the testimony “That he lives!” (D&C 76:22.)