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Q326 : Are some Prophecies Fulfilled Twice?

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Q326 : Are some Prophecies Fulfilled Twice?

Hello Tony,

I was recently asked by a friend whether I believe that a prophecy of Scripture can have multiple fulfilment. What’s your take on this issue? It sometimes appears that way, particularly in prophecies relating to Antiochus Epiphanes in Daniel 8. I wonder if this does not make God appear duplicitous. I’d really appreciate whatever insight you may have on the subject.

A326 : by Tony Garland

There appear to be definite examples where a single prophetic passage has two different situations in view (Isa. 61:1-2 cf. Luke 4:20 and 2Th. 1:7-8). Rather than describing this phenomenon as double fulfillment, I prefer the terminology of double reference which clarifies that two different prophecies are actually mixed together—each with its own historical fulfillment separated from the other in time.

Concerning Isaiah 7:13-14, Fruchtenbaum writes:

Since Isaiah 7:13–14 requires an immediate sign to King Ahaz, many Evangelicals have taken this verse to be an example of “double fulfillment.” This principle states that a prophecy may have more than one fulfillment. This verse may, accordingly, be both a sign for King Ahaz and the sign in Matthew 1:22–23 for the birth of Jesus. This author does not accept the principle of double fulfillment either here or in any other place in the Bible. If this principle were true, there would be no real need for the virgin birth at all. There is another, better principle of biblical interpretation which is “double reference.” This principle states that one block of Scripture dealing with one person, one event, one time, may be followed by another block of Scripture dealing with a different person, place and time, without making any clear distinction between the two blocks or indicating that there is a gap of time between the two blocks. The fact of a gap of time is known only from other Scriptures. There are, therefore, two separate prophecies side-by-side each having their own fulfillment, but with only one fulfillment per prophecy. “Double Fulfillment” states that one prophecy can have two fulfillments. “Double Reference” states that the one piece of Scripture actually contains two prophecies, each having its own fulfillment. As will be explained later, Isaiah 7:13–17 contains two quite separate prophecies with different purposes, and having different fulfillments at different times.1

There is also the matter of typology where an earlier event or personality (type) in history points toward a very similar event or personality that will appear later (antitype). In some cases, these references may be subtle and not as specific as prophecies containing two referents. In the case of Daniel 8, interpreters are divided as to whether Antiochus is explicitly in view or whether the passage relates exclusively to Antichrist.

The little horns of chapters 7 and 8 exhibit multiple commonalities. Both individuals share the same symbol—a horn (7:8; 8:9). Both live after the height of Grecian rule and during the end time (7:25; 8:17). Both begin small and become great (7:8, 20; 8:9). Both possess the power of perception (7:8; 8:23). Both exude hubris and blasphemy (7:8, 11, 20, 25; 8:11, 25). Both conquer and destroy (7:8, 20–21, 24; 8:9, 24–25). Both persecute the saints (7:21, 25; 8:24). Both suffer a supernatural demise as expressed grammatically by divine passives (7:26; 8:25). Both receive the most attention in their respective visions. Both appear as the final malevolent power in the literary structure of the visions. The extensive overlap suggests that chapters 7 and 8 describe the same ruler.2

Those interpreters who await a future Antichrist recognize that many aspects of the life of Antiochus IV Epiphanes seem to typify the final Gentile ruler who reigns at the time of Christ's Second Coming.

I have yet to reach chapter 8 in my ongoing work on a commentary on Daniela, but will be discussing this aspect in greater depth once I do.


Endnotes:

1.Ref-0011, 33
2.Ref-0164, Mark A. Hassler, “The Identity of the Little Horn in Dan. 8: Antiochus IV Epiphanes, Rome, or the Antichrist?,” Volume 27 Num. 1, Spring 2016, 33-44, 41


Sources:

Ref-0011Arnold Fruchtenbaum, Messianic Christology (Tustin, CA: Ariel Ministries, 1998).
Ref-0164Richard L. Mayhue, ed., The Master's Seminary Journal (Sun Valley, CA: Master's Seminary). [www.mastersem.edu].


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