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In religion, a false prophet is one who falsely claims the gift of prophecy or divine inspiration, or who uses that gift for evil ends. Often, someone who is considered a "true prophet" by some people is simultaneously considered a "false prophet" by others, even within the same religion as the "prophet" in question. The term is sometimes applied outside religion to describe someone who fervently promotes a theory that the speaker thinks is false.
The Books of Kings records a story where, under duress from Ahab, the prophet Micaiah depicts God as requesting information from his heavenly counsel as to what he should do with a court of false prophets. This depiction is recorded in 1 Kings 22:19–23:
It is possible that Micaiah meant to depict the false prophets as a test from YHWH. It is also possible that it was meant as a slur on Ahab's prophets, such as Zedekiah, the son of Chenaanah.
In summary, the biblical standards for a false prophet, it is forbidden to speak in the name of a god other than YHWH. Likewise, if a prophet makes a prophecy in the name of YHWH that does not come to pass, that is another sign that he is not commissioned of YHWH and that the people need not fear the false prophet. (Deuteronomy 18:22)
The Jewish Koine Greek term pseuoprophetes occurs in the Septuagint Jeremiah 6:13, 33:8,11 34:7, 36:1,8, Zechariah 13:2, Josephus' Antiquities 8-13-1,10-7-3, War of the Jews 6-5-2, and Philo Specific Laws 3:8. Classical pagan writers use the term pseudomantis.
Throughout the New Testament, there are warnings of both false prophets and false Messiahs, and believers are adjured to be vigilant. The following verses (Matthew 7:15–23) are from the Sermon on the Mount:
The New Testament addresses the same point of a false prophet predicting correctly and Jesus predicted the future appearance of false Christs and false prophets, affirming that they can perform great signs and miracles. The following verses (;24) are from the Olivet Discourse:
In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus brought out an ethical application for his disciples using the analogy of false prophets in the Old Testament:
This particular story likewise best matches the model found in Deuteronomy. The claim here is that Elymas is trying to turn Sergius Paulus from the true faith, just like the false prophet described in the preceding verses. In these verses, we do not see Elymas prophesying as the term is popularly understood, so the model seems to fit this scenario best.
The Second Epistle of Peter makes a comparison between false teachers and false prophets and how the former will bring in false teachings, just like the false prophets of old:
The First Epistle of John warns those of the Christian faith to test every spirit because of these false prophets:
One popular New Testament false prophet is the false prophet mentioned in the Book of Revelation. The Apocalypse's false prophet is the agent of the Beast, and he is ultimately cast with it into the lake of "fire and brimstone" (Revelation KJV). He is also called the Beast from the earth and is an infiltrated agent of the Antichrist within the Church, sent to destroy and deceive the Christian faith.
According to the Quran, Muhammad is the Seal of the Prophets, which is often understood to mean that anyone who will emerge to be a new prophet after Muhammad is a false prophet. All mainstream Muslim scholars' perspectives from both Sunni and Shia sects do not see the second coming of the Messiah as the coming of a new prophet, as the Islamic Messiah Jesus had already been an existing prophet, and will rule by the Qur'an and Sunnah of Muhammad, bring no new revelation or prophecy.
At odds with this, the Ahmadiyya Muslim movement, which is largely seen as heretical amongst mainstream Muslims, believes that any kind of prophethood which is independent of Muhammad has closed, and thus the coming of Jesus of two thousand years ago allegedly violates the principle that Muhammad is the final prophet, as he was a prophet independently of Muhammad.
Thawban ibn Kaidad narrated that Muhammad said;
"There will be 30 dajjals among my Ummah. Each one will claim that he is a prophet; but I am the last of the Prophets (Seal of the Prophets), and there will be no Prophet after me."—Related by Ahmad ibn Hanbal as a sound hâdith.
Abu Hurairah narrated Muhammad said;
"The Hour will not be established until two big groups fight each other whereupon there will be a great number of casualties on both sides and they will be following one and the same religious doctrine, until about 30 dajjals appear, and each of them will claim that he is Allah's Apostle..."
Samra ibn Jundab reported once Muhammad (while delivering a ceremonial speech at an occasion of a solar eclipse) said;
"Verily by Allah, the Last Hour will not come until 30 dajjals will appear and the final one will be the One-eyed False Messiah."
Anas ibn Malik narrated that Muhammad said;
"There is never a prophet who has not warned the Ummah of that one-eyed liar; behold he is one-eyed and your Lord is not one-eyed. Dajjal is blind of one eye On his forehead are the letters k. f. r. (Kafir) between the eyes of the Dajjal which every Muslim would be able to read."—Sahih Muslim, Book 41: The Book Pertaining to the Turmoil and Portents of the Last Hour, Chapter 7: The Turmoil Would Go Like The Mounting Waves of the Ocean, Ahâdith 7007-7009.
Imam Mahdi the redeemer of Islam will appear on Earth before the Day of Judgment. After the Second Coming of Christ, the Prophet 'Isa (Jesus Christ son of Mary) will kill al-Masih ad-Dajjal. Both Jesus and Mahdi will rid the world of wrongdoing, injustice and tyranny ensuring peace and tranquility.
The term false prophet is sometimes applied outside religion, to describe promoters of scientific, medical, or political theories which the author of the phrase thinks are false. Paul Offit's 2008 book Autism's False Prophets applied the phrase to promoters of unproven theories and therapies such as the thiomersal controversy and chelation therapy. Ronald Bailey's 1993 book Ecoscam: The False Prophets of Ecological Apocalypse applied the phrase to promoters of the global warming hypothesis; however, by 2005 Bailey had changed his mind, writing "Anyone still holding onto the idea that there is no global warming ought to hang it up."