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Sabbath School Lessons on The Prophetic Gift
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About the Author
Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
is the author of these Sabbath School lesson study outlines. He is the Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law at Regent University School of Law. Professor Cameron has devoted his life to promoting the Gospel and defending believers. In addition to teaching at an overtly Christian law school, he continues his 41 year practice of law which is limited to the litigation of constitutional rights and religious freedom cases for employees. He holds an undergraduate degree from Andrews University and a Doctor of Law from Emory University School of Law.
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Lesson 5: The Inspiration of the Prophets *
Introduction: We have learned in our prior lessons that being a
prophet means that you communicate God's messages to others. The
purest form of communication was when God wrote the Ten Commandments
with His own finger on stone. No chance for error in that. Next, we
learned that God spoke to Moses "face to face" (meaning Moses could
see God's form). That is obviously a very high form of
communication. How do the other prophets obtain messages from God?
How do they package them for us? How are we to understand the
messages of those who have the gift of prophecy? Let's dive into our
study of the Bible and see what we can learn!
- Sailing Prophets
- Read 2 Peter 1:16-18. Peter is telling his listeners why
his stories about Jesus should be believed. What argument
is he making? (Peter says he (and others) were eye-witnesses.)
- What other credential does Peter claim for Jesus,
other than Peter personally witnessed what Jesus did?
(God spoke in support of Jesus.)
- In this context is Peter a prophet? (Yes. He
heard the voice of God and he repeats the
- Is Peter simply reciting God's words? (God's
words would not make sense without Peter's human
experience and his observations of Jesus. Taken
together you have an example of the work of a
- Read 2 Peter 1:19. What other argument does Peter bring to
bear in favor of Jesus? (He points out that the prophets
foretold Jesus' coming.)
- What does Peter mean when he says the words of the
prophets are "made more certain?" Are some prophets'
words uncertain? (He means that they are being proven
to be true by their fulfillment in Jesus.)
- Notice all the references to light: "light shining,"
"day dawns," and "morning star rises." What does this
have to do with prophecy? (Our own understanding is
part of the total package. We have the eye-witnesses,
we have the statement from God, we have facts which
fit, and we have a desire to understand which is
aided by the Holy Spirit. These things together turn
on the "light" of understanding. We begin to see
- Read 2 Peter 1:20-21. What two things are not the source
of prophecy? (The prophet's own interpretation or will.)
- What does that mean? I thought we just decided that
the prophet's complete understanding of what God said
about Jesus required an understanding of Jesus'
works? (Understanding the prophecy may require that.
But, the point here is that the writings did not have
a human origin - they came from God. In the specific
instance we have the word coming from heaven and the
disciples heard it. It did not originate with them.)
- What mental picture do you get from this idea of the
prophet "being carried along by the Holy Spirit?"
(The Bible Knowledge Commentary tells us that Luke
uses a word referring to a sail boat carried by the
wind. It continues "[the prophets] were consciously
involved in the process; they were neither taking
dictation nor writing in a state of ecstasy.")
- Go back and look again at 2 Peter 1:21. In light of
what we have seen, what importance do you attach to
the word "origin?" (The work of the prophet is a
joint venture with God. The origin of the message,
the decision about the topic, are not the prophet's.
Instead, these things come from God. But the prophet
has a great deal to do with the message.)
- I love to think about prophecy being compared to
sailing. I'm an old sailor. The direction and power
of the wind means everything. Sure, you can sail the
boat most directions regardless of the direction of
the wind. But, that is difficult. The sailboat has
the most power, the most speed, and the most
effectiveness if the sailor allows the direction of
the wind to dictate the direction of the boat. It is
a team effort. Without the wind the boat goes
nowhere. Without the sailor and the sails, the wind
alone is ineffective.
- Visions Versus Research
- Read Luke 1:1-4. The Gospel of Luke is an important part
of the Bible. Do you think it is inspired by the Holy
- This is a rare instance in which an inspired author
tells us how he put the book together. How did he do
it? (He read the accounts of others. He talked to
first-hand witnesses. It seems that he made a
judgment about the witnesses themselves("servants of
the word"). The fact he investigated the accounts
shows he wanted to be sure they were accurate. He put
the materials in logical order. It sounds like Luke
is a reporter and a compiler!)
- Does this mean that Luke copied from the writings of
others when he wrote the book of Luke? Should he
have used footnotes?
- Read Jeremiah 23:30-32. Does this mean Luke was
stealing words from others? (Unlike Luke, the
false prophets in Jeremiah are not open about
what they are doing. More importantly, Luke's
gospel is not reckless lies designed to promote
Luke. Luke is trying to accurately reveal
- Read Daniel 10:4-7. What is the source of Daniel's
writings? (He is confronted by a heavenly being. Something
physical is happening (those who cannot see it are
terrorized), but Daniel calls it a vision.)
- Read Daniel 10:8-11. Is Daniel just seeing a picture, or
is he being told something? (He is seeing a vision of a
being speaking to him.)
- Read Daniel 10:12. How is Daniel like Luke? (Both of them
were thinking about important spiritual matters. Both were
trying to understand the matter. Daniel, we are told, was
praying for understanding.)
- How are Luke and Daniel unalike in their writings?
(Daniel has an amazing vision of a speaker with great
power and glory. That speaker gives a message to
Daniel. Luke, on the other hand, has humans speaking
- Does this background make the messages of Daniel more
reliable than those of Luke?
- If you say, "no," then how do you account for
the differences? (Let's go back to sailing. I've
had some very intense sailing experiences and
some very calm experiences. It is all sailing.
God approaches and guides human prophets in
different ways - perhaps in different degrees of
intensity. Both Luke and Daniel tell how their
writings came about. This teaches us that true
prophets can have much different experiences.)
- False Prophets
- Read 2 Peter 2:1. Are false prophets obvious? (Not at
first. Like false teachers, they "secretly introduce"
- What clue can we have to whether the prophet is true
or false? (Whether they deny Jesus.)
- What if someone attacked Luke's gospel on the basis
that he used other sources - would a proper test of
Luke be that his gospel promotes Jesus? (Yes. How a
prophet puts together the material is not a test.)
- Read 2 Peter 2:2-3. How else should we judge prophets (and
teachers)? (First, follow the money. Greed causes the
false prophets to exploit those who follow them. Second,
look at the results of the teaching and prophecy. The
ways of the false prophets are "shameful" and they bring
"the way of truth into disrepute." The promote themselves,
- Mixed Prophecies
- Read 1 Corinthians 7:10-13. All of this is in the Bible.
Yet Paul tells us some of what is written is his opinion
and some of it is God's command. Is part of the Bible more
reliable than other parts?
- I appreciate Paul noting what are God's commands and
what are his own opinion, does he always do this?
What about other prophets, do they always make the
- Read 1 Corinthians 7:25-26. Is Paul telling us that the
Holy Spirit is not inspiring him here? If so, why is this
in the Bible?
- Re-read 2 Peter 1:20. If the Bible does not come from
the prophet's own interpretation, how can we have
Paul telling us ( 1 Corinthians 7:25) what he writes
is his own judgment? (Paul appears to be answering a
series of questions posed to him by the local church.
In accord with the proper approach of a prophet, he
lets the reader know when God has not given him a
direct revelation. However, Paul calls himself
"trustworthy" - so he is claiming some spiritual
basis for his statements - without an express
- What does this teach us about the writings of
prophets? (Consider again the sailing idea. Prophecy
is a joint venture between God and humans. The mix
between God and human may vary - but for true
prophets the wind behind the statement is always the
Holy Spirit. The lesson for us is that we need to
look at the collective writings of the prophets as a
whole to discern God's will.)
- Friend, will you pray that God will give you understanding
about the gift of prophecy? Will you pray that, as
described in Joel 2, the gift of prophecy will be given to
many people? Will you pay attention to the prophets that
- Next week: Testing the Prophets.
* Copr. 2009, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.