The photo captures a worn, ancient scroll placed delicately on a wooden table, illuminated by a soft beam of light. The words "Adam, the first prophet" are visible, inviting contemplation and curiosity.

Who Is The First Prophet In The Bible?

Since ancient times, prophets have played a vital role in many religions around the world. They act as messengers from God, conveying divine revelations and calling people to righteousness. In Judaism and Christianity, prophets hold an exalted position as the mouthpieces of the divine.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer to your question: According to the Bible, the first recognized prophet is Abraham. God establishes a covenant with Abraham and promises to make him the father of a great nation.

As such, Abraham is considered the patriarch of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

In this comprehensive guide, we will examine the concept of prophets in the Bible and explore the figures regarded as the earliest prophets. We will look at key details on the life of Abraham and his designation as the original biblical prophet.

We will also overview some scholars’ perspectives on identifying the first prophet.

Understanding Biblical Prophets and Their Role

The meaning and function of a prophet

In the Bible, a prophet is someone who speaks on God’s behalf and conveys His messages to people. The English word “prophet” comes from the Greek word “prophetes”, which means “one who speaks out” or “advocate”.

Biblical prophets acted as God’s representatives, appointed to communicate His word, will, purposes, judgments, and direction. They called people to repentance, warned them of dangers, and gave them hope concerning the future.

The primary role of biblical prophets was to focus people’s attention on God and affirm their covenant loyalty to Him. They conveyed divine visions, performed signs, and predicted future events related to God’s plan.

Their messages reminded people of God’s promises, called them back to faithfulness when they wandered, and assured them of God’s sovereignty in both blessings and judgments.

Key traits and responsibilities of biblical prophets

Biblical prophets were known for their moral integrity, faithfulness to God’s word, courage in the face of opposition, and willingness to endure hardship. Many faced rejection, ridicule, hostility, and even martyrdom. They had profound spiritual insight into religious decline and social injustice.

Their pure motives and intimate communion with God enabled them to intercede effectively in prayer.

Major responsibilities of biblical prophets included boldly correcting sin and compromise, warning of divine judgment for unrepentance, announcing coming destruction or exile, calling for justice and compassion, and foretelling restoration, hope, or future blessing.

Though often unpopular, they acted as God’s conscience to keep leaders and nations aligned to righteousness and accountability before Him.

How prophets delivered God’s messages

Biblical prophets received God’s messages through divinely inspired words, visions, dreams, parables, signs, and symbols. They would then deliver them with authority through spoken announcements, songs, laments, or dramatic performances.

Many prophets used vivid imagery involving word pictures, object lessons, agricultural scenes, and descriptions of nature to convey spiritual truths. The prevailed upon listeners by saturating their messages with divine intensity and passion regarding sins and misplaced priorities needing realignment with God.

By creatively leveraging prose, poetry, miracles, symbolism, applied metaphors, and even sarcasm, biblical prophets delivered God’s messages in compelling fashion for maximum impact. This moved recipients toward repentance and revival at critical spiritual crossroads.

The striking delivery of messages enabled people to feel as though God Himself was speaking to them concerning their lives and times.

Abraham as the First Recognized Prophet

God’s covenant and promises with Abraham

Abraham is considered the first recognized prophet in the Bible because God made a covenant with him and gave him promises that were foundational to Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. According to the book of Genesis, God called Abram (later renamed Abraham) to leave his home and travel to a new land that God would give him and his descendants.

God made a covenant with Abraham, promising to bless him with land, descendants, and to make him the father of a great nation through whom all the families of the earth would be blessed (Gen 12:1-3). This covenant established Abraham’s special relationship with God as the patriarch of God’s chosen people.

God reiterated his covenant promises to Abraham multiple times, even changing his name from Abram (“exalted father”) to Abraham (“father of many”) as a symbol of the promise that he would become the father of many nations (Gen 17:5).

God promised to give Abraham’s descendants the land of Canaan as their inheritance and swore by himself that he would fulfill this covenant (Gen 15:18, 17:8). This covenant was monumental in establishing Abraham as a leader and prophet for God’s people.

Abraham as the father of three major religions

Abraham is considered the father of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. In Judaism, Abraham is seen as the first Jew, the founder of the Jewish people through his son Isaac. God’s promises to Abraham defined the Jewish ethnic identity and laid the groundwork for the later Mosaic covenant at Mount Sinai that officially established the nation of Israel.

In Christianity, Abraham is seen as a model of faith. God’s promise to bless all nations through Abraham was understood as a prophecy about Jesus Christ bringing salvation to the world. In Islam, Abraham is considered an important prophet who submitted to the one true God.

Muslims see themselves as the inheritors of the faith of Abraham through his son Ishmael.

So while each religion interprets Abraham’s legacy differently, all three faiths look to him as a central figure. The shared reverence for Abraham as a chosen prophet of God constitutes an important commonality between Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.

Details on Abraham’s designation as a prophet

There are several details in the biblical account of Abraham’s life that support his designation as the first recognized prophet of God:

  • God spoke directly to Abraham on several occasions, revealing his divine will and plan for Abraham’s life and future generations (Gen 12:1-3, 15:1-6, 17:1-22).
  • Abraham responded in faith and obedience to these divine revelations, leaving his homeland and traveling to Canaan as God instructed (Gen 12:4-9).
  • Abraham interceded for others through prophetic intercessions, such as pleading for Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 18:16-33).
  • Abraham is described as a man of faith who believed God’s promises and teachings (Gen 15:6, Rom 4:3). This faith was foundational for Abraham’s special status.
  • The covenant God made with Abraham was prophetic, promising blessings that would come true for his descendants in the future.
  • Abraham’s wife Sarah gave birth to their son Isaac in their old age, fulfilling God’s promise to give Abraham descendants (Gen 21:1-7).
  • Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac demonstrated his absolute faith in obeying God’s commands (Gen 22).

In these incidents, Abraham stands out as a prophet who heard directly from God, trusted in God’s revelations, and set the stage for God’s future plans to raise up the nation of Israel as his chosen people.

Examining Other Potential Early Prophets

There has been some debate among biblical scholars over who exactly was the first prophet mentioned in the Bible. While many believe Moses was the original prophet, there are arguments for a few other biblical figures as potentially being the first to receive and speak God’s revelations.

Arguments for Adam, Enoch or Moses as the first prophet

Some claim that Adam could be considered the first prophet, as he spoke directly with God in the Garden of Eden. Others argue for Enoch, as the Bible says “Enoch walked with God” (Genesis 5:22). Enoch is interestingly described as only person other than Elijah who ascended into heaven without dying.

However, Moses has the strongest case for being the first official prophet. He directly spoke with God, passed on revelations and warnings, and interceded between God and the Israelites. Moses is specifically called a prophet in Deuteronomy 34:10.

The role of prophet was clearly defined and established through Moses, making him a strong contender for the original biblical prophet.

Looking at the biblical evidence for these figures

When examining the biblical accounts, there are a few details that support Moses as the first prophet:

  • The first use of the Hebrew term for prophet, “nabi”, occurs when God tells Moses that Aaron will speak for him as a prophet (Exodus 7:1). This establishes the term’s meaning.
  • Moses spoke authoritatively from God to the people in a way not seen with previous figures like Adam or Enoch.
  • The Bible highlights Moses’ role in founding Israel’s system of prophets (Deuteronomy 18:15-18).
  • The Exodus story details Moses’ call to be God’s spokesman in leading the Israelites out of Egypt.

So the biblical evidence points to Moses as the first to clearly exemplify the prophets that followed him. Other figures like Adam and Enoch give clues to proto-prophetic behavior, but Moses fits the mold of a prophet in the fullest sense.

Scholarly debate over the identity of the original prophet

While Moses seems to be the biblical frontrunner, some scholars still debate whether he should conclusively be considered the first prophet. Rabbinic tradition in Judaism actually attributes the role of first prophet to Adam.

And in Christianity, some view Enoch as the earliest prophet since he prophesied judgment against the ungodly prior to the flood (Jude 1:14-15). There is evidence that prophecy may have originated earlier, but was not fully realized until Moses.

So while there is strong evidence for Moses being the seminal prophet in the Bible, there is still lively scholarly discussion. Determining the identity of the original prophet may come down to how one defines the role.

But regardless, Moses represents a pivotal development in the biblical tradition of prophecy that deeply influenced later prophets like Isaiah, Jeremiah and Ezekiel.

The Legacy and Influence of Biblical Prophets

Impact of prophets on biblical thought and theology

The prophets of the Hebrew Bible had an immense influence on the development of Jewish and Christian theology. As God’s spokespeople, they relayed divine revelations about ethics, social justice, worship, and the coming of the Messiah. Their words were recorded as scripture and studied for centuries.

Some of the most impactful prophets include Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel in the Old Testament. Isaiah spoke extensively about justice, righteousness, and the coming Messiah. Jeremiah issued warnings to the people of Judah about their idolatry and unfaithfulness.

Ezekiel conveyed messages of judgment and restoration for Israel. Daniel received apocalyptic visions about the end times.

The prophets’ teachings established monotheistic belief in one true God and condemned idolatry. They set a high ethical standard focused on justice, care for the poor and oppressed. They revealed God’s desire for wholehearted love and obedience, not just external ritual worship.

And they foretold the new covenant that would come through the Messiah.

In the New Testament, John the Baptist came in the spirit of Elijah to prepare the way for Jesus. References to prophets underscored Jesus’ messianic role. The early church recognized Jesus as the fulfillment of all the prophets had spoken about the Messiah and God’s new covenant with humanity.

Continued reverence for prophets in Judaism and Christianity

In present day Judaism, the Nevi’im or Books of the Prophets are revered as part of the Tanakh (Hebrew Bible). Synagogues read from the Nevi’im during services, following the Torah portion. The prophets’ bold calls for social justice and morality continue to motivate modern Jewish social activism.

Christians also esteem the biblical prophets as part of the Old Testament canon. Their prophecies point ahead to Jesus Christ and the New Covenant. Some Christian denominations – like Baptists and Pentecostals – place special emphasis on the ongoing gift of prophecy through the Holy Spirit.

Over two billion Christians worldwide look to the prophets for divine wisdom and guidance still today.

Applying the teachings of the prophets today

The ancient prophets spoke God’s word into their historical situation, but their messages contain timeless principles. Here are some ways we can apply their teachings in the modern world:

  • Pursue social justice and defend the rights of the poor and marginalized (Isaiah 58:6-7)
  • Promote peace and reconciliation rather than violence (Jeremiah 29:7)
  • Speak out against corruption and greed in society (Ezekiel 22:27)
  • Uphold ethical business practices and honesty (Daniel 6:4-5)
  • Care for refugees, immigrants, and those in need (Zechariah 7:9-10)
  • Repent from idolatry and turn wholeheartedly to God (Hosea 14:1-2)
  • As we meditate on the prophets’ calls for justice, faithfulness and morality, we allow their inspired voices to shape our lives and our society for the better.


    In the Bible, prophets act as pivotal figures, conveying God’s revelations and calling the people towards morality. By exploring the concept of prophets and analyzing key biblical figures, we gain insight into this special religious role.

    While there is some debate, most biblical scholars widely regard Abraham as the first recognized prophet. God singles out Abraham, establishes a covenant with him and promises to make him the progenitor of a mighty nation.

    As the founding father of the Jewish people, and a revered patriarch in Christianity and Islam, Abraham’s influence as a prophet still resonates strongly today. His story provides timeless guidance on faith, obedience and the blessings of righteous living.

    Similar Posts