The New Testament opens with the description of the genealogy and birth of the ultimate Prophet predicted by Moses in Deuteronomy 18:15, Jesus Christ. This is followed in Matthew 3 by the description of the preparatory mission of the prophet John the Baptist. John baptizes multitudes in the Jordan River, where he eventually reveals Jesus Christ as the Messiah. We learn in 4:18-22 that Jesus begins to call “disciples,” beginning with two sets of fisherman brothers, Simon Peter and Andrew, then James and John.
We discover in John’s account (John 1:35-42) that Simon Peter and Andrew had already been “disciples” of John the Baptist. They immediately move from being disciples of John to being disciples of Jesus. In John 4:1-2 Jesus begins to have a large following, making and baptizing more disciples than John (though He delegates the baptizing to His disciples).
So what do Jesus and John do with their disciples? They teach them to understand the meaning of the Scriptures. For instance, Philip tells Nathanael, “We have found him of whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” He presumably would have learned this at the feet of John. Jesus’ “sermon on the mount” begins as a lesson for His disciples, though it turns into an address as a crowd gathers. Even so, the disciples come to him after public addresses to learn secrets hidden from the crowd, such as in Matthew 13:1-30.
They train them. Jesus’ disciples were already baptizing people by John 4:1-2. In Luke 9 and 10 Jesus sends out teams on missions to preach, heal and cast out demons. Preaching and healing are things that notable Old Testament prophets did, though healing and miracle-working were not very common prophetic ministries.
By these things we must suspect that the discipling ministries of John and Jesus are New Testament examples of schools of prophets, since large-scale prophetic ministries result from them.
The testimony of the Book of Acts bear this out, from Peter’s sermons and their aftermath in Acts 2 and 10 to Paul’s ministries in Antioch and Ephesus in Acts 13 and 19. Paul must even literally rent a school in Ephesus to make room for all the disciples. Their ministries always led to the formation of communities – not unlike the “schools of the prophets” taught up by Samuel and Elisha.
In other words, the house churches addressed in the Epistles of Paul were, in fact, schools of prophetic ministry.
Next time we revisit this series, we will take a look at the “curriculum” of a school of prophetic ministry.