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Luke 16:16

Mormons believe that prophets are called to preach the gospel in this day just as they were from the beginning, with Adam. Mormon prophets are called of God just as Moses called Aaron to the priesthood. The Mormon Church is led by men sustained as prophets, seers, and revelators. Those seeking to discredit the Mormons contend that this belief contradicts the Bible because of Luke 16:16. The law and the prophets [were] until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it. The interpretation being that the purpose of the Law of Moses and the existence of prophets was to prepare for the coming of the Lord. After John baptized Jesus and His ministry began, according to Luke 16:16, the law and prophets were done away with. Mormon critics appeal to this scripture as evidence that a church claiming prophets is not in accordance with the Bible. It is a simple misinterpretation or a purposeful deception that leads to this conclusion.

Mormons believe that in Luke 16:16 the "law and the prophets were until John" means John was the last prophet to precede the coming of Christ, the last prophet of the old covenant. In this passage Jesus is saying that there is a new covenant, but in the following verse he reinforces the importance of the law of God. Jesus came to fulfill the law, not to have it done away with. "The law and the prophets" is a phrase used several times in the Bible. In each usage, the term is synonymous with "the scriptures." The modern concept of bound books may be skewing the understanding of what scriptures were anciently. There was not a "Bible" for the people of God during the time of Jesus. The sacred writings were contained on several scrolls. Collectively they were called "the law and the prophets." "The Law" was the five books of the Old Testament which contained the law of ordinances and obedience given to Moses on Sinai. "The Prophets" was the many writings concerning the history of the kingdom of Israel and prophecies of its future. Most of the writings used are the books contained in the Old Testament, from Joshua to Malachi.

Much of the debate over the interpretation of Luke 16:16 may be in the definition of a prophet. The writings of "the prophets" were looking forward to the coming of the Messiah. The association between future telling and Biblical prophets has stuck. Although prophets are able to see things or the past, present, and future, it is the substance of what they see that is of importance. Paul described the mortal state as "seeing through a glass darkly." A prophet's role is to see truth (whether past, present, or future) clearly. Prophecy is concerned with people's salvation and is not a magic show to impress an audience. Certainly Jesus is the greatest prophet of all. He foretold of great things to come, but also quoted existing scripture and used "the law and the prophets" to explain and establish the new covenant.

Now that believers have seen Christ come as fulfillment of prophecy, and it is part of history, people now think the prophets are unnecessary. And if their only duty is to tell the future, that would be true. But one only need observe the contention and strife between religions and among sect of the same faith to see the necessity of the clarifying role of a prophet. With the same passage of scripture interpreted so many ways, and lesser points of doctrine exaggerated to become the foundation of belief, a living prophet is essential to know exactly what the will of God is. In Luke 16 Jesus is rebuking the Pharisees for denying what would have been to them modern revelation. They could not accept the words of a living prophet and preferred to cling to Moses and Abraham. It is ironic that Luke 16:16 is used to deny modern prophets and uphold longstanding tradition when the parables of Jesus in this chapter are warning of such action.

Mormons believe in the same organization set up by Jesus during His ministry to administer the gospel. The Mormon Church is led by a Quorum of Twelve Apostles. These men are sustained as "prophets, seers, and revelators." The Lord led His church with prophets since the world began. To the Mormons it is common sense, and a conviction, that prophets still lead the people of God. 

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