We have sometimes read or heard the term “seer” in the Bible and know the more popular term “prophet.” So, what is the difference between a seer and a prophet, and are these gifts still active today?
The Easton’s Bible Dictionary describes a Seer this way: “a name sometimes applied to the prophets because of the visions granted to them. It is first found in 1 Samuel 9:9. It is afterward applied to Zadok, Gad, etc. (2 Samuel 15:27; 24:11; 1 Chronicles 9:22; 25:5; Amos 7:12; Micah 3:7).” As we read through the Old Testament, we see the term “seer” referenced many times. Whereas the New Testament does not use the term seer, we still see people who had visions. In 2 Corinthians 12:2, Paul had a vision of heaven; in Acts 7:55-56, Stephen had a vision of the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God, etc.
So a Seer was another name for a prophet because a seer was a prophet through whom God spoke with visions or pictures. The prophet and the seer are one in the same. These visions could be in the form of a dream, in the mind’s eyes, or even in the natural. The seer would receive insight from God about their meaning and what God wants to speak to the people about. In 1 Samuel 9:11, the prophet Samuel is called a seer; in 2 Samuel 24:11, the prophet Gad is called a seer, In 2 Chronicles 9:29 Iddo the seer is mentioned, and in Jeremiah 1:11-18, we see the prophet Jeremiah receiving visions and insight of those visions from God.
The Bible describes a prophet as a spokesman for God. Their task was to speak in God’s name and authority (Exodus 7:1), and whatever they said was not of man but God. 2 Peter 1:20-21 says, “knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone’s own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
Prophets would teach and reveal God’s truth about current issues and the future. For example, prophets had the crucial task of guiding Israel and establishing the church. When Israel’s priests (who had the more extensive duty to teach God’s law) became corrupt and turned away from God, prophets arose to teach God’s law to the people, kings, and judges when they failed to rule justly and follows God’s law. An example is the prophet Isaiah who preached against the evil and corruption of the day and similarly spoke of the future (Isaiah 1:4; 25:8).
So, the question is, do seers/prophets exist today in the church setting? If the primary purpose is to reveal God’s truth, then there is no longer a need for prophets because we have the complete revelation of God in the Bible. The Bible tells us that the church’s foundation was laid by the Apostles and the Prophets. Ephesians 2:20 says, “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone,” If so, then there is no prophet required in this capacity, otherwise are we still building the foundation? God has now finally spoken through His Son, and there is no more divine revelation until the return of Christ (Hebrews 1:1-2). That is why the Apostle Paul says in 2 Timothy 3:10-17 to hold fast to what has already been delivered. We now have the infallible Word and do not need prophets in this capacity because we already have the foundation.
On the other hand, God can still give a message to deliver to someone else in supernatural ways, but whatever word is spoken, it must be in total agreement with the word of God. That is why Paul says in 1 Thessalonians 5:20-21 says “Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is good.” Again in 1 John 4:1 says, “Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.”
Whatever message is spoken, we are to be discerning about any word spoken and align it with the word of God. If there is anything contrary to God’s word, then do not receive that word. If the word aligns to scripture, then seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit to apply the word to your life.
Jesus warned to watch out for false prophets. Matthew 7:15 says, “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves.” False prophets lead people astray by deceiving them, spreading false teachings and messages claiming that they are from God. Deutueronomy 13:1-3 “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, and the sign or wonder that he tells you comes to pass, and if he says, ‘Let us go after other gods,’ which you have not known, ‘and let us serve them,’ you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams.” In other words, if a self-proclaiming prophet comes to you and says anything contrary to the word of God, then do not listen to them.
Also, in Deuteronomy 18:22, it says, “when a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the LORD has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.”
There are many self-proclaimed prophets and seers today. First and foremost, God has given us all we need in the word of God, for every area in our life and for every decision. If you do hear someone speak a word to you, then test it against the infallible word of God.