This matter of apostles and prophets is an important one to deal with. Last time Pastor Mbewe dealt with this issue at the Strange Fire Conference, he raised a lot of dust, and most sympathisers of today’s apostles and prophets were offended. This problem of the false teachers is spreading like a wild fire, and affecting many people. The Lord said if it were possible even the elect would be deceived (Mat. 24:24). Most self-acclaimed prophets and apostles of nowadays are false ministers. The title of “apostle” or “prophet” to them is more important than being called a pastor. To them, an apostle or a prophet is more spiritual and closer to God than a pastor. They claim that all who want to be blessed must go and see them. These men are deceitful minsters. Let us deal with the subject under two important headings: (1) The influx of the false teachers, and (2) the important questions about false teachers.

The influx of Apostles and Prophets

The Lord Jesus Christ made it very clear that the last days would be characterised by false prophets (Matt. 24:24). The evidence of this today is everywhere for all to see. In his prophecy (Matt. 24:24), Jesus talked about false teachers and false Christs that were going to come. In 2Pet. 2:1-3, the apostle Peter warned, “But false prophets also arose among the people just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies…and many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of the truth will be blasphemed.” The Bible presents the presence of these false men in many ways. John says that they have gone away from the true church (1John 2:19). Paul warned the Ephesian elders that these false teachers were coming in the church (Acts 20:29, 30). Surrounding the warning of Jesus Christ against false prophets in Matt. 7:15 are these sobering statements: “On that day many will say to me”; “…for the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction.” Christianity today is being attacked by false men and their hypocrisy from all corners.

The Important Questions about Apostles and Prophets

  1. Are there prophets and apostles today?

The answer is an emphatic “NO”. Some people argue that though we have false prophets and apostles we do have true ones. The biblical position is that we do not have the prophetic and apostolic ministry of receiving and declaring the word of God directly from the mouth of God. God does not inspire (breathe out) any new word from his mouth in the same way he inspired the prophets of old and the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 3:16-17; 1Pet. 1:21). In the Bible, we have everything that we need to know in order to be saved from sin and to live a godly life (2Pet. 1:3-4). And today, God has given us the preachers who confirm the same revealed word to us (1Pet. 1:12). This means that anyone who claims to have received the word of God audibly is a liar. The Bible tells us plainly that, “Long ago at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world” (Heb. 1:1-2).

  1. Is it possible for false apostles and prophets to use God’s word?

Unfortunately, yes. In Jeremiah 23:30-32, we are told of the prophets who present themselves as being sent by God. They say that God has given them the word they are uttering. It is possible for some today to carry the Bible which they do not preach from. Some quote from the Bible, but fail to preach the words they quote. Like the false prophets who used God’s name, they are many false men today who use the name of Jesus Christ. Matthew 7:21-23 is a remarkable example. The false men claim the name of Jesus for their works. The scriptural advice is appropriate, “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” (1John 4:1-2).

  1. What are some characteristics of these false apostles and prophets?

They have immoral lifestyles

They go about committing adultery in the name of the Lord. In most places in Zambia, it is common knowledge that most of these false ministers commit sexual immorality with the women who go to them for so-called deliverance. One of them was last year arrested for having carnal knowledge with an epileptic girl. In South Africa, one had carnal knowledge with sixteen young ladies at the beach. He promised them the blessing of attracting men.

They strengthen the hands of evil doers

False prophets and false apostles tolerate sin among their followers. They promise a false hope to those who oppose God’s will (Jer. 23:14, 17). Some of the people who should be disciplined for the sins they committed are told to “sow the seed” and that God would take care of their sins. They fail to rebuke and bring them to account for their sins, especially if the sinners are the so-called “big tithers.” One man when he was brought before the church to be disciplined, turned to the pastor and said, “Pastor, do not forget what I do for you. I pay for your electricity and buy food for the family. Do not let them do this to me.” The main problem is that these self-acclaimed prophets and apostles fail to rebuke offenders because they are also involved in immoral activities. They amass wealth through immoral activities. These men have destroyed many a soul who should have been rebuked and helped to walk in righteousness. They do not help their members to turn from their wicked ways (Ezek. 33:8–9).

  1. How can we identify false ministers?

Examine their doctrine (1 John 4:1–3).

Is the doctrine centred on Christ, his incarnation, deity, his work and his glory or is it centred on man? False teachers teach doctrine that is man-centred rather than glorifying to God.

Examine the focus of their ministry (Matt. 24:11, 24; Matt. 7:21–23).

Because the main thrust of their ministries is the miraculous performances, they have no interest in opening up the Word. All they do is say something about the Word of God and then jump to miracles. As Christians, we must not be blinded by these miracles because the agents of Satan can and do perform miracles too. The Bible tells us of sorcerers in Bible times that amazed people with their sorcery, like Simon in Acts 8:9–11. The magicians of Pharaoh imitated Moses and performed miracles. The apostles of the Lord were preoccupied with the preaching of the kingdom of God. And the miracles were God’s way of authenticating the ministry of his servants who brought the new word of faith and repentance.

Examine the way they treat the Word of God (Jer. 23:25—28).

False ministers do not believe in the sufficiency of the Scriptures for faith and practice. One day in Lusaka, I sat in a minibus behind two women who were chatting. One of them said to the other, “You see, I told you that the Word of God is not enough, you need the words of the prophet.” Inside my heart I shouted, “What! What an insult on God that his Word is less powerful than the word of man. Many people like these women are saying that because that is what false ministers tell them.” “Landenipo cimo mumweo wandi” [“Speak some word of prophecy into my life”] has become the slogan of every man or woman who is seeking help from these so-called men of God. False prophets and apostles mislead people into forgetting the Word of the Lord because they promote the use of dreams and visions. They masquerade as if they are promoting the words of God and yet they are doing their business under cover.


Though false prophets and apostles seem to have a lot of influence, they will not ultimately deceive genuine believers. The Lord warned that attempts to deceive them will happen, but they are protected (Matt. 24:24). The believers have received an anointing from the Holy One—the Holy Spirit. The Spirit indwelling believers is a guide into all the truth (John 16:13). The Spirit who indwells believers gives them the ability to test and distinguish between error and truth, and between false ministers and true ministers (1John 4:1–6). The Bible says that false ministers are from the world. Even their messages belong to this fallen world. No wonder all they talk about are the things of the world (1John 4:1–6). One of the true signs of those who are God’s children is that they listen to and believe the true apostles’ doctrine—the Word of God (1John 4:6; 2Tim. 1:13).


Hesselgrave, David F. (2000-05-01). Planting Churches Cross-Culturally: North America and Beyond (Kindle Locations 2131-2134). Baker Publishing Group. Kindle Edition.