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Woe if all speak well of you

 “It is a poor sermon that gives no offense; that neither makes the hearer displeased with himself nor with the preacher.” – George Whitefield (Evangelist)

“Woe to you when all men speak well of you, For so did their fathers to the false prophets.” – Jesus (Luke 6:26)

Following is a scripture list and some thoughts on what to expect from people who speak on behalf of the Lord.

False Prophets

The key character trait of a false prophet was that they prophesied what the people wanted to hear.  False prophets spoke ‘smooth’ words and refused to confront sin.  They especially wanted people to like what they had to say.

Isa 30:8-10 NKJV  Now go, write it before them on a tablet, And note it on a scroll, That it may be for time to come, Forever and ever:  (9)  That this is a rebellious people, Lying children, Children who will not hear the law of the LORD;  (10)  Who say to the seers, “Do not see,” And to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us right things; Speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits.

Jer 5:30-31 ESV  An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land:  (31)  the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule at their direction; my people love to have it so, but what will you do when the end comes?

1Ki 22:7-8 NKJV  And Jehoshaphat said, “Is there not still a prophet of the LORD here, that we may inquire of Him?”  (8)  So the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “There is still one man, Micaiah the son of Imlah, by whom we may inquire of the LORD; but I hate him, because he does not prophesy good concerning me, but evil.” And Jehoshaphat said, “Let not the king say such things!” … (13) Then the messenger who had gone to call Micaiah spoke to him, saying, “Now listen, the words of the prophets with one accord encourage the king. Please, let your word be like the word of one of them, and speak encouragement.”

God’s Prophets

The prophecies of the writing prophets of the OT may be divided into three main groups[1]:

(1) Prophecies concerning the internal destiny of Israel. These declare the judgment of God on the unbelief and iniquities of the people, but promise restoration after the testing period of the Exile.

(2) Messianic prophecies: these point to the coming Redeemer of Israel and the world. They attain an astonishing clarity and precision in the case of Micah (5:1) and especially Isaiah. The latter gives us a striking summary of the saving life and work of Christ (52:13-53).

(3) Eschatological prophecies: These refer to the last days when the kingdom of God will be set up on earth.

Of the above prophecies, the only ones that would evoke persecution are those that would “declare the judgment of God on the unbelief and iniquities of the people’.

Mat 5:11-12 NKJV  “Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake.  (12)  Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

The table[2] below summarises the main sins addressed by the prophets:

Date (B.C.) Prophet Meaning of Prophet’s Name Theme of Book in the Bible Gave Prophecies To/About Major Sins Addressed
873-853 Elijah Israel, Ahab and Jezebel Murder, idolatry
853-793 Elisha Israel
740-680 Isaiah Judah
626-605 Jeremiah Judah and neighbours
593-571 Ezekiel
605-535 Daniel
840 – 830 Obadiah Worshipper of YHVH Day of the Lord; Destruction of Edom; Israel’s restoration Against Edom Edom had continual violence toward Jacob.  Edom cheered when Judah taken captive.
830 – 750 Joel YHVH is God The Day of the Lord Israel, Northern Kingdom Adultery, drunkenness, idolatry, licentiousness.
780 – 740 Jonah Dove Sign of Commitment; Type of Jesus Christ; God’s mercy to repentant Nineveh, with implications to all peoples Cruelty of the Assyrians
765 – 725 Hosea Salvation Salvation Israel, Northern Kingdom Adultery, drunkenness, idolatry, licentiousness.
760 Amos Burden Bearer The Day of the Lord; The Eternal will roar Israel, Judah and Benjamin.

All nations

Oppression of the poor; Sexual Immorality; Wanton Luxury; Corruption of law and men
740 – 700 Micah Who is like YHVH? The Eternal is just Judge Samaria, Jerusalem and then the whole earth Lack of justice in the land, injustice, oppression
640 – 620 Nahum Consolation Judgement on Nineveh; Comfort to Israel Assyrians, primarily the city of Nineveh Cruelty of the Assyrians, overstepped boundaries
640 – 609 Zephaniah Hidden by YHVH God’s indignation on the earth; Who may be hidden?; Israel repents, God saves them Judah, Jerusalem, all Israel and all peoples, warning them of the Day of the Lord Spiritual fornication
608 – 605 Habakkuk Embrace God Embraces Judah through destroying the Chaldeans Babylon with implications for all peoples Aggression/plunder; Greed/self-assertion; Graft/violence in building; Inhumanity; Idolatry
520 Haggai Festival The restoration Temple points to the Church Zerubbabel, Joshua and the returned remnant Neglect in building God’s House. Procastrination.
520 – 480 Zechariah Remembered by YHVH The coming of God’s Kingdom preceded by building of Temple Zerubbabel, Joshua and the returned remnant Joshua had filthy garments. Lack of Judgment, mercy & peace. Living in evil ways.
420 – 400 Malachi My Messenger Be prepared for the messenger that is to come. (Elijah) Israel (twelve tribes) and Israel of God today (Church) Priests neglecting duties. People chided for divorce, adultery, robbing

We are called to be like Christ

Joh 7:7 NKJV  The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it that its works are evil.

Mat 10:7 NKJV  And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’  (8)  Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. … (24)  “A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master.  (25)  It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his household!  (26)  Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known.  (27)  “Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops.  (28)  And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Examples of confrontational speech


To the Pharisees

Mat 15:12-14 NKJV  Then His disciples came and said to Him, “Do You know that the Pharisees were offended when they heard this saying?”  (13)  But He answered and said, “Every plant which My heavenly Father has not planted will be uprooted.  (14)  Let them alone. They are blind leaders of the blind. And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch.”

Mat 12:34 NKJV  Brood of vipers! How can you, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.

Mat 12:39 NKJV  But He answered and said to them, “An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.

Joh 8:44 NKJV  You are of your father the devil, and the desires of your father you want to do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own resources, for he is a liar and the father of it.

To the crowds

Mat 17:17 NKJV  Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I bear with you? Bring him here to Me.”

Mar 8:38 NKJV  For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”

Luk 11:29 NKJV  And while the crowds were thickly gathered together, He began to say, “This is an evil generation. It seeks a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah the prophet.

Luk 9:41 NKJV  Then Jesus answered and said, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you and bear with you? Bring your son here.”

John the Baptist

Mat 3:7 NKJV  But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?


Act 7:51-58 NKJV  “You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you.  (52)  Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers,  (53)  who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it.”  (54)  When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth.  (55)  But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God,  (56)  and said, “Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!”  (57)  Then they cried out with a loud voice, stopped their ears, and ran at him with one accord;  (58)  and they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their clothes at the feet of a young man named Saul.


Act 2:36-38 NKJV  “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”  (37)  Now when they heard this, they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”  (38)  Then Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.

Act 2:40 NKJV  And with many other words he testified and exhorted them, saying, “Be saved from this perverse generation.”


Jas 4:3-4 NKJV  You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.  (4)  Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God.


Isa 57:3-5 NKJV  “But come here, You sons of the sorceress, You offspring of the adulterer and the harlot!  (4)  Whom do you ridicule? Against whom do you make a wide mouth And stick out the tongue? Are you not children of transgression, Offspring of falsehood,  (5)  Inflaming yourselves with gods under every green tree, Slaying the children in the valleys, Under the clefts of the rocks?


Mat 24:9-10 NKJV  “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and kill you, and you will be hated by all nations for My name’s sake.  (10)  And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another.

Additional References

Rom 16:18 NKJV  For those who are such do not serve our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly, and by smooth words and flattering speech deceive the hearts of the simple.

2Pe 2:17-19 NKJV  These are wells without water, clouds carried by a tempest, for whom is reserved the blackness of darkness forever.  (18)  For when they speak great swelling words of emptiness, they allure through the lusts of the flesh, through lewdness, the ones who have actually escaped from those who live in error.  (19)  While they promise them liberty, they themselves are slaves of corruption; for by whom a person is overcome, by him also he is brought into bondage.

Pro 9:7 NKJV  “He who corrects a scoffer gets shame for himself, And he who rebukes a wicked man only harms himself.

Pro 15:12 NKJV  A scoffer does not love one who corrects him, Nor will he go to the wise.



1 Comment

  1. Al DeFilippo

    Thank you for the post. For more on George Whitefield, I would like to invite you to the website for the book series, The Asbury Triptych Series. The trilogy based on the life of Francis Asbury, the young protégé of John Wesley and George Whitefield, opens with the book, Black Country. The opening novel in this three-book series details the amazing movement of Wesley and Whitefield in England and Ireland. The book also richly brings to life the life-changing effect on a Great Britain sadly in need of deliverance from addiction to gin and illiteracy. Black Country also details the Wesleyan movement’s effect on the future leader of Christianity in the American colonies, Francis Asbury. The website for the book series is Again, thank you, for the post.

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