Bible Dictionary definition: A prophet was a spokesman for God; he spoke in God’s name and by his authority, as Aaron was to Moses (Exodus 7:1). He is the mouth by which God speaks to men (Jeremiah 1:9 ; Isaiah 51:16), and hence what the prophet says is not of man but of God (2 Peter 1:20-21). Prophets were the immediate organs of God for the communication of his mind and will to men (Deuteronomy 18:18-19). Amos 3:7 describes the prophet as a receiver of the secret counsel of God, before God acts.
In New Testament times the prophetic office was continued. Our Lord is frequently spoken of as a prophet (Luke 13:33 ; 24:19). He was and is the great Prophet of the Church, the Prophet like unto Moses who had been foretold. There was also in the Church a distinct order of prophets (1 Corinthians 12:28 ; Ephesians 4:11), who made new revelations from God. They differed from the “teacher,” whose office it was to impart truths already revealed.
Prophets may see through the eyes of God and then call things that are not as though they are. Oftentimes, God calls the prophets to shape the future, co-creating with God through prophetic declarations. This could concern individuals or the church.
Most people do not realize the nature of the relationship God has with His prophets . Because God reveals mysteries to his prophets, it stands to reason that they should ask His permission to share the things He reveals. Maybe some mysteries are only to be dealt with in prayer. The delivery of the prophecy (received word) is dependent on God’s direction and timing. Not all prophetic words are for sharing and declaring at that moment. The prophet has to be mindful to speak out only the received word and not add one’s own interpretations to it, we need the purity of the word.
The office of prophet is different from the prophetic giftings spoken of in 1 Cor 12:10, where the gift of prophecy is mentioned as a part of the variety of gifts distributed by the same spirit for the common good. For the building up, encouragement and comfort, not only for the individual but also for the body (the church). The individual prophecies spoken out over a person in a line up during meetings might give some direction and encouragement to that individual only, and not to the congregation as a whole. Often these prophecies are a confirmation of what the Lord already spoke to them about, or are words of knowledge.