Who was the last prophet?
John the Baptist.
Surprised? Take a look…
Jesus said, “The Law and the Prophets were until John.” (Luke 16:16).
John the Baptist was the last prophet of the old covenant that encompasses the Law and the writings of all the prophets. Starting from Moses and ending with John the Baptist.
Here is Luke 16:16 again, this time in the contemporary New Living Translation re-iterating the same truth. “Until John the Baptist, the law of Moses and the messages of the prophets were your guides.” (Luke 16:16)
If John the Baptist was the last prophet of the old covenant, what about Jesus? Wasn’t Jesus a prophet?
Jesus was more than a prophet. He brought a new covenant. It was a new era of the kingdom of God that was based on a new covenant of grace. This new covenant had been promised by God through the very prophets of the old covenant.
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the LORD, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the LORD.
– Prophet Jeremiah (31:31-32)
And I will make a covenant of peace with them; it will be an everlasting covenant. I will establish and multiply them, and I will set My sanctuary among them forever.
– Prophet Ezekiel (37:26)
Jesus brought this new covenant. Jesus was not a prophet under the old covenant. The old covenant ended with its last prophet, John the Baptist.
“For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” (John 1:17)
Jesus represented the new covenant of grace and truth that was everlasting and unconditional. Unlike the old covenant, the new covenant cannot be broken.
But didn’t Jesus say that He came to fulfill the Law and not to abolish it?
“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:17)
And He did. Jesus fulfilled the Law. It is fulfilled! it is accomplished! It is not abolished. It is completed!
To help us understand this, let’s use this analogy. Think of the old covenant as an architectural blueprint. The blueprint carries details of a building plan. It has a specific purpose i.e. the construction of a building. Once the building is completed, the blueprint is FULFILLED! It’s purpose comes to an end. It is fulfilled, accomplished, completed, not abolished.
Similarly the old covenant is a blueprint of God’s salvation, carried by all the prophets until John the Baptist. It contained details of God’s plan for man’s redemption and salvation. (For example, the sacrificial system for atonement. Throughout Israel’s history, blood sacrifice of an animal was required to cover sins. This was under the old covenant.)
Under the new covenant, animal sacrifice is no longer required because Jesus FULFILLED the sacrifice Himself. Thus the Law is FULFILLED by Jesus, not abolished.
Jesus is the atoning “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.” (John 1:29). Quote by the last prophet of the old covenant himself, John the Baptist!
“Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist.” (Matthew 11:11)
Have you ever wondered why Jesus said this? Was John really greater than Moses, who brought the Torah? Was John really greater than Elijah who did mighty miracles of calling down fire from heaven? John did not bring any Scriptures. He did not do any miracles. So why?
It is because among all the prophets, John alone had the unique honor of closing the old and ushering the new with the coming of Jesus the Messiah and the advent of the promised new covenant.
John was greater than all the other prophets before him because he had the privilege of something they never had. “For truly I tell you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see but did not see it, and to hear what you hear but did not hear it.” (Matthew 13:17).
John understood this. He said, “He (Jesus) must increase, but I must decrease.” (John 3:30). He also said, “My joy is now FULFILLED.” That’s the same word! John recognized that his time has come to an end as the old covenant closed, having been fulfilled, accomplished, completed just as John’s joy was now complete.
John also recognized that Jesus was no ordinary man or mere prophet. Even though John the Baptist was older in age, he said of Jesus, “He is the one I told you about when I said, “Someone else will come, who is greater than I am, because he was alive before I was born.” (John 1:30, CEV)
John knew that he himself and all other prophets who had come before himself were mere men of the earth. Jesus was not. As the last prophet of the old covenant, he spoke on behalf of all the prophets when he said, “He (Jesus) has come from above and is greater than anyone else. We are of the earth, and we speak of earthly things, but he has come from heaven and is greater than anyone else.” John 3:31
In fact, all the prophets prophesied about Jesus. There are more than 300 prophecies pointing to the Messiah from the Law and the writings of the prophets. And Jesus is the one who fulfills them all! Jesus himself said, “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures point to me!” (John 5:39, NLT)
Furthermore, Jesus said to them, “These are the words I spoke to you while I was still with you: Everything must be FULFILLED that is written about Me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms.” Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.” (Luke 24:44-45)
If John the Baptist was the last prophet of the old covenant and Jesus was the prophet of the new covenant, where does that leave Muhammad, the prophet of Islam?
The same place where it leaves Joseph Smith, the prophet of Mormons, and all others who came claiming to be prophets like Baha’ullah, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad and numerous others.
Muhammad was not a prophet of the old covenant. Neither was he a prophet of the new covenant. He was a prophet of his own covenant like Joseph Smith. They created their own blueprints with elements taken from the old covenant, elements from the new covenant, elements from pagan beliefs and made up rituals for their religious system.
The blueprint of the old covenant was “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone.”
There is no room for false prophets and impostors.
Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son…(Hebrews 1:1)
Finally, let”s look at a parable Jesus told. You might recall the one about the wicked tenants. The landowner sent servant after servant to the tenants to collect the fruits from his vineyard. But his servants were refused time and time again, some were abused and killed. What did the landowner do?
“Last of all, he sent his son to them.” Matthew 21:37
In case, you missed the meaning of the parable; the landowner represents God the Father. The servants represented the prophets. The tenants were the religious and spiritual leaders. The son represents Jesus.
After all the servants had been sent, including the last one John the Baptist….“LAST OF ALL, He sent His Son to them.”
Read more about the old and new covenants and what they mean:
Is the Old Testament Abolished?