I asked ChatGPT this question and received the following answer.
Question: What is a definition of a false prophet?
Answer: A false prophet is someone who claims to have divine or supernatural knowledge or powers but uses their influence to deceive or manipulate others for personal gain or to promote false teachings.
They may make predictions or prophecies that do not come true, or they may distort or misinterpret religious or spiritual texts for their own purposes.
False prophets are often seen as dangerous because they can lead people away from the truth and into harmful or destructive behaviors.
If we ask the same question to Old Testament prophets, this would be the answer.
God spoke through Jeremiah about false prophets.
But in the prophets of Jerusalem
I have seen a more shocking thing:
They commit adultery and walk in lies;
they strengthen the hands of evildoers,
so that no one turns from wickedness;
All of them have become like Sodom to me
and its inhabitants like Gomorrah. (Jeremiah 23.14)
This was God’s message to Ezekiel about false prophets.
Mortal, prophesy against the prophets of Israel who are prophesying; say to those who prophesy out of their own imaginations: “Hear the word of the Lord!
“Thus says the Lord God: Alas for the senseless prophets who follow their own spirit and have seen nothing!
“Your prophets have been like jackals among ruins, O Israel” (Ezekiel 13.2-4).
What are the key characteristics of false prophets?
(1) Their behavior demonstrates the false nature of their words.
They claim to be faithful to God, but trust idols. Idols are anyone or anything that is a substitute for God.
They consistently tell lies that strengthen the position of evildoers.
Rather than calling people to a genuine relationship with God, they turn people to wickedness.
(2) False prophets claim to have heard from God, but in actuality, their message is derived from their own intellect.
(3) They are like jackals among the ruins.
ChatGPT accurately describes the phrase “jackals among the ruins.”
“Just as jackals scavenge among the ruins of a destroyed city, seeking to feed on the remains of what was once great, false prophets prey upon vulnerable people, seeking to benefit from their misguided trust and loyalty.
“They are opportunistic and take advantage of situations of chaos and destruction.
‘They thrive in times of uncertainty and confusion, seeking to exploit the fears and doubts of those who are struggling to find meaning and hope in difficult circumstances.
“Overall, the comparison of false prophets to jackals among ruins suggests that these individuals are dangerous, deceptive, and ultimately self-serving and that they can cause great harm to those who follow their false teachings” (ChatGPT).
False Prophets Now
False prophets were a serious problem in the Old Testament times. They had to be contended with by Peter’s audience and also in today’s environment.
But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive opinions.
They will even deny the Master who bought them — bringing swift destruction on themselves (2 Peter 2.1).
False prophets may claim to speak for God, but self-sufficiency and idolatry is their primary character trait. They make a god into something they can manipulate for their own ends.
Money and power are twin idols that are revered in today’s society. False prophets will say anything, even claim their message is from God, to serve and use these false gods.
Their words are a corrupt and destructive influence. We know that wrong thinking brings wrong behavior.
Even so, many will follow their debaucheries, and because of these teachers the way of truth will be maligned (2 Peter 2.2).
From the days of the Old Testament prophets until now, teachers of the truth have had to contend with opposition that is engendered by false teachers.
Their opinions are destructive. Their activity is self-destructive. God’s destruction awaits them.
And in their greed they will exploit you with deceptive words. Their condemnation, pronounced against them long ago, has not been idle, and their destruction is not asleep (2 Peter 2.3).
False prophets have always been a problem. Their message is attractive because it speaks to our tendency toward self-centeredness.
We need to be aware. They are greedy, destructive, deceptive, and under God’s condemnation. We don’t want to follow their direction.
Prayerful Bible study is a great beginning to not being deceived.
We also need to be very wise when it comes to social media. Let’s not get trapped by clever speakers in that realm.
Rudy Ross and I continue a study on 2 Peter on YouTube today. It can be found on the Bob Spradling channel.