-- © GodSpeak International 1998 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from <ts@godspeak.org> --
Contributing Resources: GodSpeak International http://www.godspeak.org Contributing Authors:
Teresa Seputis<ts@godspeak.org> and Mike Gerner <MGerner@aol.com>

Judging/Processing Prophecy

By Teresa Seputis
(with Appendix by Mike Gerner)

Please be aware that all prophetic words are to be prayerfully judged. If you have any questions or discomfort about judging a word, I strongly recommend you take the word to your pastor or spiritual overseer and have them pray it through and evaluate it with you. Here are some guidelines...


  1. Be sure to bounce it against scripture... Scripture is the final authority and anything that contradicts scripture must be rejected.

  2. Look for the inner witness of the Holy Spirit to your spirit. Also look for a witness of His peace with the word (Col 3:15).

  3. Pray it through. Take the word back to the Lord and discuss it with Him. Ask Him to show you if there are any conditions He wants you to meet, any changes He wants you to make in your life or thinking. Ask Him to show you if any parts of the word are not from Him and to confirm the parts that are from Him.

  4. Compare the word against other things God has spoken into your life through prior prophecies, personal devotions, pastoral counsel, etc.

  5. If you have any question/alarm/fear/discomfort about a particular word, run it by your pastor or a leader from your church.

  6. Do NOT act on any predictive, directive or calling/gifting definition words unless you get confirmation from other sources. If this is a word from God, He will be happy to confirm it to you.

  7. Do not "read into" the word what you want it to say. Here are examples of what to avoid:

    1. A woman was given a word that she would meet the man she was to marry in 5 years and he would be a musician. She was in fact engaged to another man, who was not a musician and married him a few weeks after receiving the word. She redefined the word to meet her circumstances, changing its meeting to:
      her fiance would become a musician in 5 years.
      The marriage did not go well and they separated three years later.. it was invalid to use this word as a basis for marrying this man because she twisted the meaning to fit her circumstances.

    2. A woman was given a word that had a figurative portion about her standing at a light airy window overlooking a green valley. She went home and noticed that her house did not overlook a valley and did not have any light airy windows. So she interpreted the word as "sell your house" and did so without seeking any sort of confirmation from the Lord from any other sources.

    3. A minister was involved in a building project and began to encounter financial difficulty; the money stopped coming in and they were about to default on the loan. About that time, the minister received a word that God would "protect that which was most precious to him and not allow it to be lost or destroyed." He took that to mean God would supply the needed money for the building project, since that was the circumstance that was prevelent in his mind, and since his ministry and this building project were very precious to him. However, the money did not come in and the bank forclosed on the property. He lost it all.

      He felt devistarted that God did did not keep his word and to make matters worse, his daugher ended up in a life-threatening situation, and he had to spend months nursing her back to health. Finally he confronted God as to why God had not kept His word to him regarding the property. Then God replied the word was never about the property.. it was about his daughter who had nearly died. When he got the word, the circumstance it applied to was not yet in his life, so he assumed it applied to his current circumstance.


  1. If you decide it is a valid word after juding it, then print it out and review it often and pray regarding it. Invite God to work in your life to bring it to pass and ask Him to show you any conditions in it that He wants you to meet to fulfill it.

  2. Ask the Lord to reveal any prerequisites that must be accomplished before the word can be fulfilled. For instance, if the Lord gives you a word that you will be used to bring revival to the nation of Mexico, He may require that you learn to speak Spanish first. Sometimes the prerequisites are spelled out explicitely in the prophecy. Other times they are not. Ask God to show you what (if anything) your part is and then ask Him to empower you to do it.

  3. Ask the Lord what His time frame is for the word. So often people have jumped the gun and tried to fulfill a prophecy in their own strength (or by their own resources) before it was God's timing. This often creates messes to clean up. An example of this is Sarah's attempts to have a child through her maid .. she had a true word of God (that Abraham would have a son) but she tried to fulfill it in her own time and through her own resources. It is important to know (and follow) God's time table and His strategy for fulfilling His word.

  4. Once you are sure it is a word from the Lord, stand in faith for your word to be fulfilled. This is "warring" over your word, as per 1 Tim 1:18.


Graham Cooke's book "Growing in the Prophetic" has a chapter on judging personal prophecy. Also GodSpeak has two articles on it's www site by Michael Gerner on Judging Prophecy which you might find helpful:
Enclosed is a concatenation of these two articles by Michael Gerner...

by Michael Gerner

Some brief notes on the importance of testing prophecy and guidelines on how to do it.


Before we discuss the actual tests, a little bit of background is in order.

The Need To Test Prophecy

1Thes 5:19-22 (NIV)
19. Do not put out the Spirit's fire;
20. do not treat prophecies with contempt.
21. Test everything. Hold on to the good. 22. Avoid every kind of evil.

In this passage the bible commands us to test prophecy. Indeed, it is part of the normal New Testament ministry process (1 Cor 14:29 NIV: Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said.)

Please note carefully the context of this passage in 1 Thessalonians. Firstly, don't have such a negative attitude towards the gifts and moving of the Holy Spirit (specifically prophecy) that the fire of the Spirit is quenched in your life. The Greek word sbennumi (sben'-noo-mee) means to extinguish. The picture is of a fire that has been started but is deliberately put out. How awful a thought, that one can, without proper reason, deliberately chose to put out or damp down something started by Almighty God!

Secondly, don't treat prophecies with contempt. There are two opposite dangers here.

The first and most obvious danger is that we treat prophecy as something which is not of God today. This means that one is treating a precious gift of God sent to edify the church (1 Corinthians 14:4) as a contemptible thing, at best coming from man and at worst from the devil.

The second danger is more subtle: that a prophecy is accepted as being from God yet treated casually. If you were handled an ornate gold jewelled watch worth $1,000,000 you'd be careful how you treated it, wouldn't you? Probably more careful than if you were given a cheap plastic watch worth $1. So it is with prophecy: if what is a precious gift from God is treated in an offhand, casual sort of way then there is a real danger that it will be lost or misused.

So how are we to treat prophecy carefully? The answer lies in verse 21: test it! Make sure that it's the genuine article. If it is, then we hold onto it. If it isn't genuine, then we avoid it.

The Attitude Of The Tester

An often quoted reference about testing by scripture is found in Acts 17, to do with the Jews at Berea.

Acts 17:11 Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

The argument goes that this proves the importance of examining scriptures, since the Bereans were regarded as having a more noble character for doing so. Actually, that is not the full story: I missed out a bit. Here is the full reference, with the section I deliberately omitted earlier capitalised for emphasis.

Acts 17:11 NIV:
Now the Bereans were of more noble character than the Thessalonians, for they RECEIVED THE MESSAGE WITH GREAT EAGERNESS AND examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul said was true.

Do we get the point? If we have a heart that is closed to new revelation and reluctant to acknowledge that something radical and different may be the truth, we are in trouble. It is probable that no amount of examining scripture (however commendable that is) will ever change our minds. We need both the eagerness to hear from God and the willingness to check things out by examining scriptures. Our heart must be right in this before we can test anything properly.

1 Sam 16:7 NIV
... The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.

The Importance Of Scripture

2 Tim 3:16-17 NIV
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

I'm not going to debate hermeneutics (methods of interpreting scripture) here. For various reasons, I believe the bible is the inspired word of God in accordance with its own claim outlined above. It is therefore very important to me when considering how to train myself (or others) in methods of testing prophecy that I base my approach on biblical standards. This I have tried to do.

Please understand that I do not exclude tests of prophecy which are not specifically mentioned in the Bible. But I would weigh up those tests themselves in the light of what Scripture does say!


The tests to be conducted are ranked in my personal order of priority. Your mileage may differ and you will probably think of other tests to apply as well. Please feel free to do so!

Does It Contradict Scripure?

2 Tim 3:16-17 NIV
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

If a prophecy goes against scripture it goes against what God has said. Throw it out.

But be careful: sometimes a prophecy can be against our own understanding of scripture. We need to make certain that our own understanding of scripture is not at fault here. For example, if we believe that scripture says God does not supernaturally heal today (I can't find any references for this one!) then a prophecy that somebody is going to be healed might be rejected by us even though the Lord really has spoken it.

A more subtle situation is that sometimes the prophecy can seem to contradict scripture, but in reality what the Lord is saying through it is in accordance with scripture! Peter found this out in Joppa:

Acts 10:11-16 (NIV)

He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air. Then a voice told him, "Get up, Peter. Kill and eat."

"Surely not, Lord!" Peter replied. "I have never eaten anything impure or unclean."

The voice spoke to him a second time, "Do not call anything impure that God has made clean."

This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven.

The vision was a direct contradiction of the food laws taught in the Old Testament, but the key to the interpretation is found in verse 16 where it was shown three times. Although the vision puzzled Peter, it was not long before he understood the significance of this, when three men visited him:

Acts 10:17-20 (NIV)
While Peter was wondering about the meaning of the vision, the men sent by Cornelius found out where Simon's house was and stopped at the gate. They called out, asking if Simon who was known as Peter was staying there. While Peter was still thinking about the vision, the Spirit said to him, "Simon, three men are looking for you. So get up and go downstairs. Do not hesitate to go with them, for I have sent them."

(By the way, this shows the importance of details in understanding a vision.)

Peter himself explained the vision later, when he spoke to Cornelius, the man who had sent for him, and his friends:

Acts 10:28 (NIV)
He said to them: "... God has shown me that I should not call any man impure or unclean."

In other words, Peter was given a vision which appeared to contradict scripture. But as he pondered it, the Holy Spirit and events showed him the true meaning.

Did The Prophecy Come True?

Deut 18:21-22 (NIV)
You may say to yourselves, "How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the LORD?" If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him.

If it didn't happen, then it very probably was not of God.

Why "very probably" and not "certainly"?

Because God's prophecies are not set in stone: there is an element of personal choice in their application. So sometimes a prophecy may not come to pass because the people involved changed their behaviour. A classic example of this is in Jonah:

Jonah 3:4-5,10 (NIV)

On the first day, Jonah started into the city. He proclaimed: "Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned."

The Ninevites believed God. They declared a fast, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth... When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he had compassion and did not bring upon them the destruction he had threatened.

The LORD Himself explains this principle in Jeremiah:

Jer 18:7-10 (NIV)
7. If at any time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be uprooted, torn down and destroyed,
8. and if that nation I warned repents of its evil, then I will relent and not inflict on it the disaster I had planned.
9. And if at another time I announce that a nation or kingdom is to be built up and planted,
10. and if it does evil in my sight and does not obey me, then I will reconsider the good I had intended to do for it.

A second reason why a prophecy from God may not come to pass is because of intercession:

Isa 38:1-5 (NIV)
1. In those days Hezekiah became ill and was at the point of death. The prophet Isaiah son of Amoz went to him and said, "This is what the LORD says: Put your house in order, because you are going to die; you will not recover."
2. Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD,
3. "Remember, O LORD, how I have walked before you faithfully and with wholehearted devotion and have done what is good in your eyes." And Hezekiah wept bitterly.
4. Then the word of the LORD came to Isaiah:
5. "Go and tell Hezekiah, 'This is what the LORD, the God of your father David, says: I have heard your prayer and seen your tears; I will add fifteen years to your life.

A final point. It may seem strange that this test should be applied when considering a prophecy, because surely the idea is to test the prophecy before it happens? While this is true, often when the Lord gives a prophecy He also gives an immediate lesser prophecy so that the truth of the major prophecy can be relied upon when the initial prophecy comes true. A classic example of this is found in 1 Samuel 10, where Samuel gives Saul a series of relatively minor incidents which were to follow in order to (amongst other things) confirm the truth of Saul's prophetic calling to be king.

1 Sam 10:1-7 (NIV)
1. Then Samuel took a flask of oil and poured it on Saul's head and kissed him, saying, "Has not the LORD anointed you leader over his inheritance?
2. When you leave me today, you will meet two men near Rachel's tomb, at Zelzah on the border of Benjamin. They will say to you, 'The donkeys you set out to look for have been found. And now your father has stopped thinking about them and is worried about you. He is asking, "What shall I do about my son?"'
3. "Then you will go on from there until you reach the great tree of Tabor. Three men going up to God at Bethel will meet you there. One will be carrying three young goats, another three loaves of bread, and another a skin of wine. 4. They will greet you and offer you two loaves of bread, which you will accept from them.
5. "After that you will go to Gibeah of God, where there is a Philistine outpost. As you approach the town, you will meet a procession of prophets coming down from the high place with lyres, tambourines, flutes and harps being played before them, and they will be prophesying.
6. The Spirit of the LORD will come upon you in power, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person.
7. Once these signs are fulfilled, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you.

Does The Prophecy Uplift Jesus Or Somebody Else?

Rev 19:10 (NIV)
...For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy."

If a prophecy exalts anybody else other than Jesus (especially if it flatters the prophet's reputation) be on your guard. This is one of the most difficult tests to apply if the prophecy is exalting you (the recipient) or your church! But be especially careful in such cases, as the temptation to pride is real.

The Character Of The Prophet

Matt 7:15-17 (NIV)
15. "Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.
16. By their fruit you will recognise them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles?
17. Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.

Look for the fruits of the Spirit in the prophet's life:

Gal 5:22-23 (NIV)
22. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,
23. gentleness and self-control...

Look for good fruits in the prophet's ministry (previous prophecies come true, people turned to Jesus, etc.).

By the way, one of the first tests of a prophet's character is to tell him (or her) that you are going to test the prophecy - if the prophet reacts badly then that's a pretty strong negative indicator!

An Inner Witness Of The Holy Spirit

I Jn 2:20 (NIV)
But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth.
John 16:13 (NIV)
But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come.

Be careful with this one. Because the voice of the Holy Spirit is discerned in the inner being, His voice can be confused by soulish things. For example, if manifestations offend you, it is highly probable that an inner dislike of these manifestations could come across as a "check" in the Spirit that what is happening (or being said) is not of God, while in actual fact it is of God! The same thing can happen if the mannerisms of the prophet offend you.

It is important to grow in discernment and walking with the Lord to make it easier to hear His voice on these things. Practice makes perfect - or, at least, better!

Heb 5:14 (NIV)
But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.

The above is obviously incomplete but I trust they will be helpful to us all as we learn together how best to handle this wonderful gift of the Holy Spirit.

Independent Witnesses

Deut 19:15
...A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. (NIV)

This is a fundamental scriptural principal which was obviously greatly respected in the early church (Matt 18:16, 2 Cor 13:1, 1 Tim 5:19). It is a very important test of any prophecy.

If a word of prophecy is given, especially if it is a major lifechanging one, it would seem reasonable to me to "put it on ice" until independent confirmation has been received. Such confirmation could be another prophecy, a bible reading or something similar which clearly reflects the guiding hand confirmation has been received. Such confirmation could be another prophecy, a bible reading or something similar which clearly reflects the guiding hand of God.

One thing to watch out for here is that the other witnesses must be truly independent. This is why a prophecy given by somebody who in the natural does not know anything about a given situation is so powerful.

Of course, the absence of independent witnesses does not necessarily mean that a prophecy is false. But I do feel that there are scriptural grounds for seeking independent confirmation from the LORD on such matters.

One strange thing about false prophecy is that often the devil will generally arrange for some form of seemingly independent witness to it (1 Kings 22, especially verse 22). You see, he knows that these witnesses strengthen his case. However, something about the prophecy will not "ring true" (verse 16) or a small part of the fruit will be bad - it might cause fear, for example (2 Tim 1:7). Which leads onto the next point:

The Word Sets Us Free

Remember, the LORD's will for us His disciples who hold on to His teachings is:

John 8:32
...you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." (NIV)

As we seek to obey the LORD and to hold onto His teachings then I believe that we are entitled to live in the good of that promise! At the very least, we have helped create a favourable environment in which to hear accurately from the LORD.

The Prophet Testifies That Jesus Is God In The Flesh

I Jn 4:1-3
1. Dear friends, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
2. This is how you can recognise the Spirit of God: Every spirit that acknowledges that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God,
3. but every spirit that does not acknowledge Jesus is not from God. This is the spirit of the antichrist, which you have heard is coming and even now is already in the world. (NIV)

This is the litmus test for every religion or religious group in the world: what do they say about Jesus? Do they acknowldge that He is really God incarnate, fully man and fully God? If there is any wavering on this central point of how we view the LORD, be very careful - something false has got in.

What Does Your Church Leadership Say?

Heb 13:17
Obey your leaders and submit to their authority. They keep watch over you as men who must give an account. Obey them so that their work will be a joy, not a burden, for that would be of no advantage to you. (NIV)

It is a pretty sure principle that those whom the LORD has raised into leadership in the church will have a good insight into your life and can judge a personal prophecy spoken over you. That's NOT to say they are always right (leaders are imperfect too) but a confirmation from a leader can be a pretty strong indicator that a word spoken over you is accurate.

The ideal situation here is for your church leader(s) to also minister in the prophetic, since this will further equip them to judge the prophecy.

1 Cor 14:29
Two or three prophets should speak, and the others should weigh carefully what is said. (NIV)

Even if a church leader is not a prophet, I do believe that his or her input is valuable in weighting up a prophecy since they are moving in an anointed position (if they are God appointed that is!) and that anointing from the Spirit can show them the truth in matters pertaining to their area of authority (such as their oversight for you):

I Jn 2:20
But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and all of you know the truth. (NIV)

I have often found spirit-filled leaders who are not in themselves prophets to have real words of wisdom when evaluating prophecies.

What Is The Prophet's Attitude Towards Other Brothers/Sisters?

I Jn 2:11
But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded him. (NIV)

This point is really a particular aspect of an earlier point, but it has a more detailed emphasis on the prophet's attitude towards others in the church.

It seems to me that somebody who walks around in darkness is not exactly a good person to be relied upon to give me clear guidance from the LORD!

And Finally

Please understand that the above represents the state of my knowledge on this topic as it stands at the moment. I have much more to learn on testing prophecy and my subsequent lessons may well modify what I have written here, but this is the best that I know at the moment and I trust that it will be helpful.

Eph 3:14-19
14. For this reason I kneel before the Father,
15. from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name.
16. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being,
17. so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love,
18. may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ,
19. and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-- that you may be filled to the measure of all the fulness of God. (NIV)

-- © GodSpeak International 1998 --
-- Do not republish without written permission from <ts@godspeak.org> --