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In the gospel of Luke at Chapter 11:50-51 (NIV), Jesus refers to Abel as a "prophet." I am not aware of any scripture spoken by Abel, which would prove that he is a prophet,but the words of Jesus clearly say,Abel is a prophet,as written in the gospel of Luke,

Luke 11:50-51.

50 Therefore this generation will be held responsible for the blood of all the prophets that has been shed since the beginning of the world, 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, this generation will be held responsible for it all.

How is the reader meant to understand the reference that, "Abel is a prophet," when he has never spoken a prophetic word?

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    Define "prophet". – Cynthia Avishegnath Mar 15 '16 at 21:30
  • @BlessedGeek A " agent of God", who usually acts through speech. – Bagpipes Mar 16 '16 at 0:07
  • Logically speaking, this can easily be taken as defining a time range, not as defining a range of prophets whose blood will be avenged, Abel inclusive: 'from the time of the first ever spilling of blood right to the spilling of Zechariah's—all the prophets that appear in between.' – Sola Gratia Feb 5 '18 at 17:45
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Not all prophets have recorded prophecy

It should be noted that it is possible to a prophet and not have any of your prophetic utterances recorded in scripture, for example in 1 Kings 18:4 we read "For so it was, while Jezebel massacred the prophets of the LORD, that Obadiah had taken one hundred prophets and hidden them, fifty to a cave, and had fed them with bread and water." Scripture does not contain a single word of prophecy these men uttered, but scripture still identifies them as prophets. Just because Abel does not have any words of prophecy attributed to him that does not mean he was not a prophet.

Jesus' intention in identifying Abel

Jesus is identifying Abel as the first martyr and Zechariah as the last Old Testament martyr. In that context he identifies them both as 'prophets.'

The word "prophet"

The word prophet is προφήτης. Louw Nida has an interesting entry for this term

There is a tendency in a number of languages to translate προφήτης only in the sense of ‘one who foretells the future,’ but foretelling the future was only a relatively minor aspect of the prophet’s function, though gradually it became more important. Patristic authors defined the function of a prophet mainly in terms of foretelling the future. In New Testament times, however, the focus was upon the inspired utterance proclaimed on behalf of and on the authority of God. Accordingly, in a number of languages it is more appropriate to translate προφήτης as ‘one who speaks for God.’

Louw, J. P., & Nida, E. A. (1996). Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament: based on semantic domains (electronic ed. of the 2nd edition., Vol. 1, p. 542). New York: United Bible Societies.

In the LXX in places like Ex 7:1 this word is used in the sense of being a spokesperson, Exodus 7:1 καὶ εἶπεν κύριος πρὸς Μωυσῆν λέγων ἰδοὺ δέδωκά σε θεὸν Φαραω καὶ Ααρων ὁ ἀδελφός σου ἔσται σου προφήτης

This is a translation of Hebrew word נָבִיא which translates into English as spokesman, speaker, or prophet (see Brown Driver Briggs) and it is a term used of man like Abraham (Gen 20:7) as well as men like Nathan (1 Kings 1:8).

Neither Abraham or Aaron are presented in scripture as 'prophets' in the specific sense we usually think of, i.e. one who foretells and 'forthtells' God's word yet they are both God's spokesman in that they both has a testimony to the world around them.

The testimony of Abel

Abel did have a testimony before men. He had a testimony through his sacrifice that was accepted by God, Gen 4:4 which ultimately led to his death at the hands of his brother (Gen 4:8).

That testimony persisted long after his death, and continues today through the record of scripture.

Hebrews 11:4 "By faith Abel offered to God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and through it he being dead still speaks."

It is through God's acceptance of Abel's sacrifice that he continues to speak to every generation of those who read God's word.

Conclusion

Abel may or may not have spoken words of prophecy that were given him by direct revelation from God, but even after death his testimony still speaks to people. In that sense he is God's spokesperson and the words נָבִיא and προφήτης as they are used in scripture are elastic enough in their meanings to be used to describe that type of person.

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Abel performed a prophetic act by bringing a lamb to offer to God centuries before God gave the Law that required it. Abel knew the promise to his parents, of a Savior coming, would require that His sinless God would have to come as a Lamb, long before the prophets who prophesied it more clearly with words and metaphors. Abel was a forerunner as were all the saints before the Law was given, who understood sacrifice before it was ever law. Abel was the first recorded to offer a lamb, and by it he prophesied the coming mission of Jesus Messiah. Many future prophets would perform prophetic acts in keeping with the plans of God, such as one described in Ezekiel 4 by that prophet, foretelling both soon and far-future events and missions in God's strategies for Israel and mankind. Or Isaiah 20:3 when God refers to his walking naked and barefoot three years for a sign and a wonder. It is a sign and a wonder to me that Abel knew so clearly, that the prophesy of a Lamb, a firstling of the flock, was the perfect and only suitable offering. That it was the perfect living metaphor that would be used for all the thousands of years thereafter as the picture of Jesus. As a prophet, he understood what the future held and he was looking forward to the Promise. And His blood still cries out the injustice of his premature death by the murder of a brother jealous over the favor upon Abel for his insight, that could only have come from an intimacy with God that exceeded Cains. And that pattern continues in the Church and religion today: the jealous and the presumptuous persecuting those who are evidencing the favor of God in countless and glorious ways.

  • (+1) can you please expand on the prophetic meaning of Isaiah 20:3. Very interesting. – diego b Feb 2 '18 at 19:20
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Strong's defines prophet:

A prophet (4396 προφήτης/prophḗtēs) declares the mind (message) of God, which sometimes predicts the future (foretelling) – and more commonly, speaks forth His message for a particular situation.

Note: prophecy doesn't only mean predicting the future.

In general, a prophet is a messenger of God. None of Abels' words were recorded, but if we consider that God had more direct dealings with people during Abel's life (e.g. Ge 4:6, 9) and that Abel was righteous (considering the "quality" of his offering, also Heb 11:4, 1 Jo 3:12), it isn't too much of a stretch to think that he could have been a prophet.

If God spoke to unrighteous Cain, he almost certainly talked with Abel, and if God loved Cain, it doesn't seem difficult to accept that God would have sent Abel to him with a message or a mission to call people to repentance.


References

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I would add that the Greek thinking is prophecy is seen as statement and fulfillment while the Hebrew emphasizes prophecy in pattern. So Jacob (the younger) steals Esau's blessing; then he is tricked into getting Leah (the elder); finally he purposely gives Ephraim (the younger) Manasseh's blessing.

The pattern of the younger being preferred over the elder had its beginning with Abel:

...And Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: But unto Cain and to his offering he had not respect. And Cain was very wroth, and his countenance fell. (Genesis 4:2-5 KJV)

Abel (the younger) brought an offering that the LORD had respect. The exact nature of Abel's offering is never described, only that he brought "of the firstlings" of the his flock (of sheep). Firstlings is מִבְּכֹר֥וֹת which is often translated "birthright."

Abel's position as the younger and his offering like that of the birthright is a prophetic pattern. The pattern and it's related forms are a central and reoccurring theme throughout the rest of the Bible.

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A prophet is one who is given a revelation by God or speaks on behalf of God. Able was given a revelation of how sacrifices are to be offered. It was to him that was revealed the type of sacrifice that was acceptable to God. Cain however disregarded this prophecy and hence his sacrifice was rejected. It is for this reason that Able was a prophet.

  • Hi Stephen, welcome tot he BH site. It is interesting what you are saying, however on this site we are looking for more elaborate answers. Can you please have a look over here and see what a good answer is expected to be. For instance, can you please tell us more about when Abel received a revelation related to how sacrifices should be? Can you quote a source for this? Thank you. – Constantin Jinga Aug 14 '18 at 19:57
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His prophecy is clearly found in the first chapter of the book of Jasher. Jasher 1:21-23

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