How Do We Count the Number of Fulfilled Biblical Prophecy?


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How many biblical prophecies have been fulfilled? Do we have an exact count?

In this post Matt Tingblad gives a brief overview of the two types of prophecies, answering the question of whether the Bible continues to prove itself reliable. Read on!



Prophecy: Several Factors to Consider

Calculating the number of fulfilled prophecies in the Bible is difficult for two reasons. Here’s what I mean:

1. Not all prophecy is the same.

When most people think of prophecy, they think of predictive prophecy. That is, they think of prophecy that foretells the future. The prophecy predicts what will happen. Another kind of prophecy is called forthtelling prophecy. Forthtelling prophecy is when God speaks a word concerning the present hour.1See Playing with Fire by Dr. Walt Russell, Chapter 9

When we talk about the number of prophecies fulfilled, we are interested in predictive prophecies — prophecies that will be fulfilled in God’s timing.

Yet predictive prophecy is not always easy to identify. For instance, in Psalm 22:1 David writes, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken me?” This doesn’t initially sound like predictive prophecy, but we see Jesus alluding to its fulfillment when He cried these same words from the cross (Matthew 27:46).

Prophecy shows us that God has a plan for this world. By the foretelling of persons, places, and events — even hundreds of years before they are fulfilled — Scripture gives a strong testimony to its own inspiration.

2. Not all fulfillments are the same.

Some predictive prophecies concerning Jesus can be easily understood. But many predictive prophecies about events after Jesus are difficult to understand. So scholars continue to debate whether these prophecies were fulfilled in the events of the late first century, are progressively being fulfilled across history, or are yet to be fulfilled in a cataclysmic event immediately preceding the return of Christ.

Regardless, we can say that a lot of prophecies in the Bible have been fulfilled, with some of the clearest ones about the life and ministry of Jesus. The number of fulfilled messianic (Jesus-related) prophecies is over 300. This is truly remarkable, as Josh McDowell demonstrates in this video. Christians, as far back as the Bible authors themselves, have rightfully stressed these fulfilled prophecies to show Jesus to be the Messiah.

In addition to messianic prophecies, the Old Testament continually prophesies about events that have happened: Israel’s future into exile, nations that will be destroyed, Israel’s kingdom being restored, etc. These predictions further demonstrate that we can trust the Bible as truly inspired by God. 

The Bible itself gives the purpose of prophecy: “Remember the former things long past, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things which have not been done… ” (Isaiah 46:9-10, NASB).


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Matthew Tingblad is a communicator at Josh McDowell Ministry with a seminary education from Talbot School of Theology.

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5 Responses to “How Do We Count the Number of Fulfilled Biblical Prophecy?”

  1. Takeo Yamamoto

    Josh and Sean MacDowell spoke at a large gathering in Cottonwood, California Nov.2-3, 2017. Before the end of Nov. 3 (noon), Josh asked for Questions. I asked his future predictions as to national / global trends. Josh reply: He had FIVE. #1 was CHAOS. But before he finished answering, he stopped. Sean needed to rush back to the airport and get back home to Orange County for an evening family gathering. Hence, I have never found the remaining four of five answers. My brother is Charlotte Day’s dentist. I even ask him to ask through Charlotte, but NO ANSWERS. She subsequent went back home to Africa.
    What are the five future predictions in Josh’s view? Thank ahead of time. Takeo Yamamoto .

    Reply
    • Matthew Tingblad

      Hi Takeo,

      That’s interesting. Whatever Josh had in mind back in 2017, some of his predictions have probably changed or been modified. I’d be curious to hear from Josh on that as well. Thing is, we take a conservative approach to the kinds of things we ask him, lest we slow him down from the most pressing conversations he is faced with on a day to day basis. As far as your question is concerned, Josh’s foresight in culture has simply been a result of him following the trends. He will tell you that. Barna research, for instance, does repeated studies which are very useful in that regard. You might be able to glean some wisdom yourself if you spend the time digging into the trends.

      Best,
      Matthew

      Reply
      • Takeo Yamamoto

        Thanks. Now that you mentioned it, Josh did mention Barna Research in his talk. I’ll go there.

        Reply
  2. Catherine Humberg

    Interesting ARTICLE !!! Thankx. Please, might I ENLIST PRAYER, please, as I stand in need in need of it. HEALING AND HEALTH FOR MYSELF, AND I ALREADY HAVE CONFIRMATION THAT IT HAS HAPPENED, IN JESUS NAME. THANK YOU. C.

    Reply
    • Matthew Tingblad

      Hi Catherine, thank you for sending us your prayer request. We have a prayer team that meets every week. We would be happy to pray for God’s healing in your life. Peace, Matthew.

      Reply

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