Jesus referred to the prophet’s reward at the end of His instructions to the Twelve as He sent them off to preach the gospel to “the lost sheep of Israel” (Matthew 10:6). His instructions included warnings that they would be arrested and flogged (verses 17–18) and hated and persecuted (verses 22–23). There would be those, however, who would receive them as prophets, and those godly people would receive a prophet’s reward.
A “prophet” in this context is not one who foretells the future. Rather, he is a preacher of the gospel, the good news of Christ’s atoning sacrifice on the cross for sin. To receive such a prophet means not only to embrace his doctrine but to entertain and welcome him, treating him with kindness and respect because he is a prophet (Matthew 10:41). In other words, the prophet is to be received because he is a faithful minister of the gospel and because he preaches and teaches truth. Those who treat a prophet in this way are entitled to the same prophet’s reward as the prophet himself.
What exactly is the prophet’s reward? The Bible doesn’t tell us, but it may be a reward from the prophet himself in that he interprets the Scriptures, preaches the true gospel, and leads the hearer into a fuller understanding of the truth. Those who receive the prophet receive from him a clearer sense of the truths of Scripture and a deeper understanding of spiritual things. This is a great blessing, indeed, both for the prophet, whose joy lies in teaching and preaching, and for the hearer, who is edified by that teaching. Each one shares in the prophet’s reward—one in the giving and the other in the receiving.
The prophet’s reward may also refer to that which the prophets themselves receive—the reward of the kingdom prepared for believers from the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:11–14). Those who preach the gospel and those who receive it with joy are promised the inheritance as their reward, as both serve the Lord Jesus Christ (Colossians 3:23–24).
Jesus also warned the disciples that not everyone would receive them or their message. In fact, some would “exclude you and insult you and reject your name as evil, because of the Son of Man” (Luke 6:22). But the disciples were to “rejoice in that day and leap for joy, because great is your reward in heaven” (verse 23; cf. 2 Timothy 4:8).
How can we be sure that we will receive the prophet’s reward? We do as Jesus instructed. We receive a prophet “in the name of a prophet.” We receive faithful teachers and preachers of the Word of God with open hearts and teachable spirits. In addition, we reject those who speak their own words and those who misinterpret the Scriptures. Paul warned the Corinthians against accepting “a Jesus other than the Jesus we preached,” a different spirit, or a different gospel (2 Corinthians 11:4). Only those who teach according to the Bible can be called true prophets of God, and those who assist and follow them will receive the same prophet’s reward.