Bible Prophets: Proclaiming God's Will
When most people think of a prophet, they think of a fortune teller or someone who can predict the future. While this was certainly a role the Bible prophets played, the main emphasis of the Bible prophets was actually different.
The Bible references two kinds of prophets. There were the speaking Bible prophets and the writing Bible prophets. The speaking prophets proclaimed God's will to Israel, while the writing prophets (or their followers) wrote their message down at some point. Prophets with biblical books, like Isaiah and Jeremiah, were writing prophets, while Elijah was a speaking prophet. In the Catholic Bible there are six major prophetic books and twelve minor prophetic books.
As mentioned earlier, the Bible prophets saw their main role as proclaiming the will of God to his people in the present day. "Prophet" comes from the Greek prophetes, meaning "one who speaks for another." This often had an unfulfilled future aspect since many of their statements were promises of disaster if the people refused to change their ways. These correct predictions led to their reputation as foretellers, even though their primary roles were as forthtellers.
The Old Testament Bible prophets are most known in Christianity for predicting the coming of the Messiah, which Jesus fulfilled. In this case, the words of the Bible prophets would have had an immediate fulfillment in their own day while also having a deeper symbolic meaning in what happened to Jesus.