Some examples are:

1) Numbers 11:23-30 (NIV):

23 The Lord answered Moses, “Is the Lord’s arm too short? Now you will see whether or not what I say will come true for you.”

24 So Moses went out and told the people what the Lord had said. He brought together seventy of their elders and had them stand around the tent. 25 Then the Lord came down in the cloud and spoke with him, and he took some of the power of the Spirit that was on him and put it on the seventy elders. When the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied—but did not do so again.

26 However, two men, whose names were Eldad and Medad, had remained in the camp. They were listed among the elders, but did not go out to the tent. Yet the Spirit also rested on them, and they prophesied in the camp. 27 A young man ran and told Moses, “Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp.

28 Joshua son of Nun, who had been Moses’ aide since youth, spoke up and said, “Moses, my lord, stop them!”

29 But Moses replied, “Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all the Lord’s people were prophets and that the Lord would put his Spirit on them!” 30 Then Moses and the elders of Israel returned to the camp.

2) 1 Kings 18:13,14 (NIV):

13 Haven’t you heard, my lord, what I did while Jezebel was killing the prophets of the Lord? I hid a hundred of the Lord’s prophets in two caves, fifty in each, and supplied them with food and water. 14 And now you tell me to go to my master and say, ‘Elijah is here.’ He will kill me!”

Given that these Old Testament prophecies were not recorded for posterity (meaning, they were not meant to become part of the Canon of Scripture), what were they for then? Did they have the same purpose as the gift of prophecy in the New Testament?

  • If the Elders were responsible for assisting Moses in the lesser judgments requested by Israelites, perhaps Eldad and Medad were exercising their ability to judge Israel’s fate by offering predictable actions prefaced as prophesies - like “Hear Israel a day is coming says the lord when I will deliver you” - Without knowing the actual prophecies of Eldad & Medad, we are left speculating what Joshua heard. Moses did not seem to mind their prophecies, so we can deduce Eldad & Medad gave inspirational speeches with phrases reminiscent of Moses’ past inspired recitations from God. Commented Jan 7, 2021 at 4:32
  • @ChurchQuestions - what about the 100 prophets hidden by Obadiah?
    – user38524
    Commented Jan 7, 2021 at 4:36
  • Btw, related: christianity.stackexchange.com/questions/80349/…
    – user38524
    Commented Jan 7, 2021 at 4:38
  • Prophetic talk could just mean to speak what is on God’s mind. Eph 1:17 speaks about a “spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him”. In the Old Testament times the Bible didn’t exist, and although some holy scriptures existed in scroll form they could not be accessed by people in general. Even then only a few people, like scribes and priests could read the scrolls. Instead the Holy Spirit used a selected group of people to speak his mind to others. Commented Jan 7, 2021 at 5:45
  • These prophecies are 'recorded for posterity'. You have referenced that record. The content is not recorded (in detail) because the author did not regard it as necessary to his purpose to do so.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jan 7, 2021 at 11:59

1 Answer 1


This is fairly uncomplicated. Prophetic utterances (= messages from God via a prophet) come in two types:

  • Messages that are appropriate for inclusion in the Canon of Scripture and have content appropriate (as God see fit) for all the people that have and will read the Bible.
  • Messages that only have relevance for the situation or person at the time and are not relevant for inclusion in the Bible.

Both types of message are equally valid and no less from God, etc. There were many prophets whose messages were important but not for the canon of Scripture. For example:

  • John the Baptist, whom Jesus declared to be the greatest prophet had almost none of his messages included in Scripture.
  • The great prophet Samuel must have delivered hundreds of divine messages and divine judgments during his lifetime, almost none of which has been recorded in the Bible
  • The prophet Agabus (Acts 11:28, 21:10, 12) had very few of his prophetic messages recorded in Scripture
  • Even King Saul prophesied at length (1 Sam 10, 19) but that was not included in the Scripture.
  • Barnabas, Simeon called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen, were all prophets (Acts 13:1) whose prophecies are not recorded but whose messages were for the encouragement and guidance of the local church.

Thus, the situation in Num 11 is far from unique; rather, it is more normal. Put the other way, most prophetic messages are NOT included in Scripture - only some faction of prophetic messages have been recorded for all time in the Bible - most have been otherwise lost.

  • Excellent answer, +1. So, would you agree that this undermines the typical cessationist interpretation of 1 Cor 13:8-10?
    – user38524
    Commented Jan 7, 2021 at 12:28
  • @SpiritRealmInvestigator I know someone who has had dreams which foretold events and I know someone who has seen an angel (in a dream). If you contact me (see profile, see website, see business email address) you may be interested. But I believe that tongues (people being, temporarily, gifted to speak a foreign language) and miracles have ceased since the days of the apostles.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jan 7, 2021 at 14:03
  • 1
    @NigelJ - thanks for the info, didn't know about that. I'm always interested in testimonies. Do you know if these individuals have published theirs somewhere? Also, I'm still having a hard time trying to understand why you believe the gift of prophecy is still in effect while the gift of tongues isn't. Is this a personal belief of yours or is it shared by believers within a particular denomination? If the latter is the case, please let me know, so I can reference it in a question on Christianity SE.
    – user38524
    Commented Jan 7, 2021 at 14:50
  • 1
    @SpiritRealmInvestigator It depends what you call 'gift of prophecy'. Prophecy is not 'prediction'. Prophets 'see' conditions. And they 'see' the consequence of those conditions. Some see dreams. But as to visions (like Ezekiel, Daniel, John) which lead to canonical scripture, I believe not. The accounts I know of are personal and not publicised. Both the OT and NT have periods wherein supernatural events herald the testaments. Thereafter we are to pay heed to the testimonies, not to expect more signs. This is sensible logic. To pant after repeated events is unspiritual and unhealthy.
    – Nigel J
    Commented Jan 7, 2021 at 15:29
  • 1
    @SpiritRealmInvestigator - 1 Cor 13:8 is not discussing the end of the canon of scripture - it is simply discussing the ending of finite prophecies like those that predicted things that have already been fulfilled. If prophecy was supposed to stop with the apostles (which this verse does not say) then so does knowledge!
    – Dottard
    Commented Jan 7, 2021 at 19:56

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.