A seer is a person who “sees.” In the Bible, a seer is another name for a prophet (see 1 Samuel 9:9). But, more specifically, a seer was a prophet who saw visions—pictures or scenes seen in the mind’s eye, in dreams, or even with one’s natural eye. God spoke to His people through prophets in different ways, and one way was through visions. Accompanying the ability to see visions, a seer was given insight into what God was saying by these visions.
There are a few different Hebrew words translated “seer.” Roeh (1 Samuel 9:11) and chozeh (2 Samuel 24:11) are the two most common. Second Chronicles 9:29 might differentiate between prophet and seer: “Now the rest of the acts of Solomon, from first to last, are they not written in the records of Nathan the prophet, and in the prophecy of Ahijah the Shilonite, and in the visions of Iddo the seer concerning Jeroboam the son of Nebat?” The distinction is probably that Nathan was God’s spokesman in the world (whether or not he had visions), while Iddo was specifically associated with “visions.” Another prophet, Jeremiah, also operated as a seer (see Jeremiah 1:11–13). Notice that God doesn’t ask Jeremiah what he “feels” or “thinks,” but rather what he “sees.” After Jeremiah sees the vision, God gives him insight into what the vision meant (Jeremiah 1:14–18).
The term seer isn’t used in the New Testament, but there were still prophets who had visions. Paul had a vision of heaven (2 Corinthians 12:2), as did Stephen (Acts 7:55–56) and John (Revelation 1:12–16).
Seers in the Bible possessed a unique gift as God vividly communicated with and through them. Their faithfulness in writing down what they saw helped to complete the Word of God as we have it today.