New Testament Prophecy
While the Old Testament describes a collective history of the Jewish people that spans thousands of years, the New Testament covers a much shorter period of time. As a result, while there are a number of prophetic declarations in the New Testament, the 65 years (or so) of recorded Biblical New Testament history don’t give us much opportunity to see these prophecies fulfilled and recorded on the pages of scripture. But make no mistake about it, the New Testament is an incredible demonstration of the power of prophecy and confirmation that the Bible is divinely inspired!
The New Testament contains prophecy about the days that are still ahead of us, but perhaps even more powerful than this, it contains the FULFILLED prophecy of the Messiah; predicted over and over again in the Old Testament, realized and recognized in New Testament times in the person of Jesus Christ! These fulfilled Messianic Prophecies are perhaps the most powerful and amazing prophetic evidence in the scriptures, but before we take a hard look at some of them, let’s check out some other fulfilled prophecies that are recorded in the pages of the New Testament.
During Jesus’ life, He made several predictions in the presence of the disciples. At the time of these prophetic statements, His followers were often more than skeptical and less than understanding! But as the years passed, they saw the realization of Jesus’ words, and these fulfilled prophecies only served to strengthen their faith. Let’s take a look at a few of them:
Jesus Told Peter That He Would Deny Him Three Times
Peter had a hard time hearing this prediction. After all, Jesus told Peter that he would deny even knowing Jesus and he gave Peter a time frame in which this denial would occur!
But he (Peter) replied, ‘Lord, I am ready to go with you to prison and to death.’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, Peter, before the rooster crows today, you will deny three times that you know me.’
A brutal prediction to hear, and knowing Peter’s personality, I’ll bet he continued to deny the possibility right up until the time that he found himself doing exactly what Jesus had predicted! But alas, Jesus, being God Himself, knew the end from the beginning and accurately predicted Peter’s denials. In fact, when Peter found himself doing just what he least wanted to do, he too thought back and realized that Jesus always predicted the future accurately. As Luke 22:60-62, reminds us, just as Peter uttered the final denial, “the rooster crowed. The Lord turned and looked straight at Peter. Then Peter remembered the word the Lord had spoken to him: ‘Before the rooster crows today, you will disown me three times.’ And he went outside and wept bitterly.”
Jesus Said That Jerusalem and the Temple Would Be Destroyed
When Jesus first predicted that Jerusalem and the famous Jewish temple would soon be destroyed, He caused quite a stir with both his own disciples and those non-believers who happened to overhear:
There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. 24 They will fall by the sword and will be taken as prisoners to all the nations. Jerusalem will be trampled on by the Gentiles until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled.
Jesus left the temple and was walking away when his disciples came up to him to call his attention to its buildings. ‘Do you see all these things?’ he asked. ‘I tell you the truth, not one stone here will be left on another; every one will be thrown down.’
Jesus told His followers that Jerusalem and the Temple would be destroyed, and in fact, the Temple was destroyed about 40 years after Jesus was crucified by the Romans. In 70 AD, the Romans destroyed Jerusalem and killed an estimated 1.1 million Jews. During the destruction, fire was set to the Temple, but the fire alone would not displace the stones as Jesus had predicted. True to the prediction, however, the fire caused the gold-leaf ornamentation on the Temple ceiling to melt. The melting gold flowed down the walls and settled into crevices within the stones, and the Romans in an effort to recover the gold, pried apart the stones to remove it. This fulfilled Jesus’ prophecy that not one stone would be left standing on another.
Jesus Said the Church Would Survive and Grow!
Take a look at the words that Jesus spoke to the apostle Peter. Remember, that Jesus said these words long before there was ever a Christian “Church”. In fact, Jesus’ prediction must have sounded incredible when the disciples looked around and saw themselves as a little outcast group of believers, far in the minority, scoffed at by the Jewish leaders around them, having no place to sleep, barely enough to eat, and dependent on the generosity of others for their housing and food:
Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’ Jesus replied, ‘Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by man, but by my Father in heaven. And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.
Jesus told Peter (Simon) that he would be the rock or foundation on which Jesus would build His Church, and that the Church would not be conquered or wiped out by non-believers (as expressed in the phrase ‘gates of hell’ or ‘gates of Hades’). Within a few decades after the crucifixion of Jesus, Peter was able to see firsthand that the early Christians would endure tremendous persecution. I’m sure there were many times when Peter felt like the end of Christianity was near! After all, the Church did endure intense persecution by the Roman Empire for about three centuries! But, the Church survived and thrived during that time, even though the Roman Empire itself disintegrated. Although the majority of the first century world’s religions died out, Christianity flourished and became the first religion to have worldwide impact. Even today, in the midst of fierce persecution in many areas of the world, Christianity continues to thrive in spite of the hardship.
Jesus Said the Gospel Would Be Preached to the Entire World
Even in Biblical times, the first hearers of this prophecy understood how grand this claim truly was. They knew that the world was a big place, especially considering all the visitors they often had in the Holy City of Jerusalem.
And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
Jesus said that the Gospel would be preached throughout the world. He also said that after this happens, the end times will come. As we now know, the Bible has been preached throughout the world for a long time. But now, with the increasing worldwide availability of television and the Internet, there is greater potential for the Gospel to be preached to everyone, everywhere. There can be no doubt that this prophecy is well on its way to being fulfilled, and with it, the end of time and life as we know it, with the dawn of a wonderful new era and the return of Jesus.
Jesus Said His Words Would Never Be Forgotten
I can’t help but wonder if the first hearers of this prophecy thought it was a rather bold and prideful statement. After all, the Emperor himself couldn’t have hoped for this kind of global, everlasting impact on the world. How could a simple peasant within the kingdom ever hope for this kind of impact?
Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.
Jesus said that regardless of what happens to the world, His words will never be forgotten, and here we are 2000 years later with the words of Jesus all around us. Christianity has spread to people around the world and the Bible is the world’s most circulated book. Of all the people who have ever lived, can you think of a single person who could have made this claim (that His words would never be forgotten) more effectively than Jesus? No one has had an impact on the world as has Jesus Christ. His words continue to change lives.
Prophecy Fulfilled By Jesus Himself
But in addition to these accurate and fulfilled prophecies that came straight from the lips of Jesus Himself, The New Testament also contains a remarkable number of fulfilled prophecies from the Old Testament! These fulfilled prophecies all have to do with the person and identity of Jesus Christ! Now there are literally dozens and dozens of prophecies that were made by Old Testament prophets concerning the coming of a Savior (a Messiah who would save the Jewish people and indeed the entire world from their sin). These prophecies were made at different times and uttered by different men throughout the history of the Jewish people. Some of these prophecies probably seemed farfetched when they were first spoken, but as it turned out, all of them were accurate and fulfilled in the person of Jesus Christ. Now it would be impossible to cover all of these prophecies in this article, but let’s take a look at some of the “biggies”:
The Messiah Would Come from the Tribe of Judah
Jacob made this prophetic prediction right around 1400 BC. It was not fulfilled for another 1400 years.
The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his.
Jacob is blessing his twelve sons here, and this blessing was also a prophecy. Jacob told his son Judah that his descendants would be rulers and that one of his descendants would be an ultimate ruler. Christians believe that this is a reference to Jesus Christ who will establish an everlasting kingdom in the future. Jesus was born about 2000 years after Jacob died, and His ancestry is traced back to Jacob’s son, Judah, in Luke 3:23-34 and in Matthew 1:1-16.
The Messiah Will Appear After the Jews Return to Israel
Jeremiah uttered this prophecy sometime between 626 BC and 586 BC. It was first fulfilled in Jesus’ earthly ministry and will be fulfilled again in the end times.
‘I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture, where they will be fruitful and increase in number. I will place shepherds over them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing,’ declares the LORD. ‘The days are coming,’ declares the LORD, ‘when I will raise up to David a righteous Branch, a King who will reign wisely and do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah will be saved and Israel will live in safety. This is the name by which he will be called: The LORD Our Righteousness.”
More than 2500 years ago, the Assyrians and Babylonians forced the people of Israel out of their homeland. Many returned during the centuries that followed and then Jesus appeared, about 2000 years ago, and announced that He was the Messiah. Later, the people of Israel were again forced out of their land (by the Romans in 135 AD) and scattered to countries throughout the world. But, during the past few centuries, millions of exiled Jews around the world have returned to their ancient homeland. This is one of the reasons why Christians say that the world is being prepared for the return of Jesus Christ. As Jeremiah prophesied long ago, the Messiah is to appear after the people of Israel return to their land.
The Messiah Would Be Born in Bethlehem
The prophet Micah predicted this sometime between 750 BC and 686 BC. It was fulfilled, of course, with the birth of Jesus.
‘But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.’
In this Bible passage, Micah said that a great ruler would be born in Bethlehem, a small town in southern Israel. Jesus was born in Bethlehem, as recorded in Matthew 2:1, about 2000 years ago. Now there is disagreement regarding the translation of Micah 5:2. Some people say that the reference to ‘Bethlehem’ is simply a reference to the bloodline of King David. Other people say that it is a reference to the town of Bethlehem. However, as explained in the book of Matthew, Jesus meets both criteria – He is a descendant of King David and He was born in Bethlehem.
The Messiah Would Be Preceded By a Messenger
Isaiah predicted that there would be a messenger who would precede the Messiah and proclaim His coming. Isaiah made the prophecy between 701 BC and 681 BC. It was fulfilled around 30 AD.
A voice of one calling: ‘In the desert prepare the way for the LORD ; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God.”
Christians have historically believed that this passage foreshadowed the life of John the Baptist, who played an important role in preparing the groundwork for the ministry of Jesus Christ. Jesus was born shortly after John the Baptist, just as recorded in the book of Matthew. In Matthew 3:1-2, it says: ‘In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea, and saying, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.’ John became the very person predicted by Isaiah!
The Messiah Would Enter Jerusalem While Riding on a Donkey
Zechariah made this unusual prediction between 520 BC and 518 BC. Jesus ultimately fulfilled it around 33 AD.
Rejoice greatly, O Daughter of Zion! Shout, Daughter of Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and having salvation, gentle and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.
Zechariah 9:9 speaks of a future king presenting Himself to Jerusalem while riding on a humble donkey! It must have sounded crazy to people for many years. But the prophecy actually foreshadowed something that happened about 500 years later: As explained in Luke 19:35-37, Jesus rode into Jerusalem on a donkey and presented Himself as the Messiah, the King.
The Messiah Would Suffer and Be Rejected
Isaiah made this prediction as well, and he prophesied it between 701 BC and 681 BC. Once again, it was fulfilled by Jesus…
He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
The prophet foreshadowed the life and mission of Jesus, who was born about 700 years later. Sadly, Isaiah predicted that the Messiah would suffer, and to some who first heard this prophecy, it must have seemed like an impossibility. After all, the Messiah was supposed to come to save, and this implied that he would be someone of power, not of suffering! But Isaiah said that the servant of God would be rejected and despised.
Some scholars have claimed that Isaiah was actually referring to Israel as a nation in this passage and not to an individual Messiah. But, at least some of the ancient Rabbis believed that this passage from Isaiah is indeed about an individual Messiah. Rabbi Moshe Alshekh, one of the great seventeenth-century expositors from Safed, Israel, said ‘Our Rabbis with one voice accept and affirm the opinion that the prophet is speaking of the King Messiah, and we shall ourselves also adhere to the same view.” Of course, Jesus was indeed rejected by many people living in the land of Israel, and He was later crucified by the Romans.
The Messiah Would Be Betrayed for 30 Pieces of Silver
Zechariah foreshadowed the betrayal of Jesus between 520 BC and 518 BC. Judas later fulfilled the prophesy around 30 AD
I told them, ‘If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.’ So they paid me thirty pieces of silver. And the LORD said to me, ‘Throw it to the potter’–the handsome price at which they priced me! So I took the thirty pieces of silver and threw them into the house of the LORD to the potter.
The prophet spoke of a person being paid 30 pieces of silver to betray someone. This foreshadowed something that happened to Jesus about 500 years later. As explained in Matthew 26:15, Judas was paid 30 silver coins for his betrayal of Jesus. Judas told the Romans when and where they could arrest Jesus without being surrounded by a large crowd of Jesus’ followers. But, as explained in Matthew 27:5-7, Judas later tossed the money into the Temple (the house of the Lord) and the money was used to buy a potter’s field as a burial place for foreigners.
The Messiah Would Be Silent Before His Accusers
Isaiah predicted this between 701 BC and 681 BC. Jesus once again fulfilled it around 33 AD:
He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.
In the book of Isaiah, chapter 53, Isaiah the prophet wrote about a “servant of God”. Many people believe this was a prophecy about the life of Jesus Christ, who lived about 700 years later.
In this prophecy, the prophet said that the servant would be afflicted and accused, but like a lamb being led to slaughter, he would remain silent. As explained in Matthew 27:12-14, which was recorded about 700 years after the time of Isaiah, this is what happened to Jesus. He was falsely accused but remained silent and did not protest the accusations. Jesus was crucified by the Romans a short time later.
The Messiah Would Be Wounded, Whipped and Crucified
The most horrifying of truths about the Messiah was prophesied by Isaiah between 701 BC and 681 BC. Sadly, it was, of course, fulfilled by Jesus through the cross.
But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed.
The prophet described a servant as being punished for the sins of others, and that others would be healed by the wounds of this person. As explained in the Gospels – the four New Testament books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John – Jesus was crucified for our sins, even though He was sinless.
We believe that this ultimate sacrifice redeemed us all from sin in the same way that lambs were once sacrificed as a symbolic way of cleansing people from sin. As a result, all of us can be accepted into the Kingdom of God, as though we were sinless, if we accept Jesus as our Savior. We are healed through the wounds that Jesus suffered.
The Messiah Would Suffer at the Crucifixion
The Psalmist, King David writes in Psalm 22 and repeatedly predicted the events on the cross that would not happen for hundreds of years! Take a look at just a few examples:
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from the words of my groaning?
All who see me mock me; they hurl insults, shaking their heads:
‘He trusts in the LORD ; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.’
Dogs have surrounded me; a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet.
I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me.
They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.
People are sometimes curious when they read Matthew 27:46 or Mark 15:34. Why did Jesus, while dying on the cross, say ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’ Those words are actually the first line of Psalm 22, which according to Jewish tradition was written by King David about 1,000 years before Jesus was crucified. In addition to this, there are many parallels between the details in Psalm 22 and the details written in the New Testament about Jesus’ crucifixion. In Psalm 22:7, it speaks of a man surrounded by others who scorn and despise him. This is what happened to Jesus in Matthew 27:39 and Mark 15:29. In Psalm 22:7, it speaks of a man being mocked, which is similar to the descriptions of Jesus’ crucifixion given in Matthew 27:31, Mark 15:20 and Luke 22:63; 23:36. In Psalm 22:8, it says, ‘He trusts in the LORD; let the LORD rescue him. Let him deliver him, since he delights in him.’ In Matthew 27:43, Jesus’ enemies taunted him by saying, ‘He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him.’ In Psalm 22:16, it speaks of a man who was numbered with the transgressors, meaning an innocent man being regarded as a criminal. Jesus too was numbered with the transgressors when He was crucified next to two criminals, as described in Matthew 27:38, Mark 15:27, Luke 23:32 and John 19:18. In Psalm 22:16, it speaks of a man whose hands and feet are either “pierced”, (or “mauled”, or “disfigured”, depending on which is truly the best English translation of the original verse). In John 19:23,34,37 – Jesus’ hands and feet were pierced with nails during the crucifixion process. In Psalm 22:17, it speaks of a man who would be surrounded by others who stared and gloated at him. This too was the situation for Jesus during the crucifixion, according to Matthew 27:36 and Luke 23:35. In Psalm 22:18, onlookers gamble for pieces of clothing that belonged to the person being persecuted. As explained in Matthew 27:35, Roman soldiers gambled (“cast lots”) for articles of Jesus’ clothing while He was being crucified.
The Messiah Would Be Crucified With Criminals
Isaiah also uttered this prophecy between 701 BC and 681 BC, regarding the specific circumstances of the crucifixion of the Messiah, and these details were fulfilled by Jesus in 33 AD.
Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
The prophet wrote about a servant who would bear the sins of many people and be punished side-by-side with criminals. Isaiah’s description of this servant was a prophecy that was fulfilled during the life of Jesus Christ. As explained in the book of Matthew, Jesus, though sinless, was ‘numbered with the transgressors’ and crucified along with two criminals.
The Messiah Would Be Buried in a Rich Man’s Tomb
In yet another prophecy of Isaiah, made again between 701 BC and 681 BC, the prophet predicts the burial of the Messiah. This prophecy was ultimately fulfilled in approximately 33AD.
He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.
Here, the prophet wrote about a sinless servant being put to death with the wicked and buried with the rich. About 700 years after this was believed to have been written, Jesus was put to death along with two criminals and was buried in a tomb owned by a wealthy man, as explained in the New Testament. The New Testament says that Jesus was resurrected three days later and ascended into Heaven.
What Are the Odds?
Is it possible that Jesus could actually fulfill all these Old Testament prophecies (and many, many more) by coincidence? Peter Stoner wrote a book called “Science Speaks” (Moody Press, 1963) to show that coincidence is ruled out by the science of probability. Stoner said that by using the modern science of probability in reference to eight prophecies, ‘we find that the chance that any man might have lived down to the present time and fulfilled all eight prophecies is 1 in 10 to the 17th power.’ That would be 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000. In order to help us comprehend this unbelievable improbability, Stoner uses the following illustration. Imagine that ‘we take 100,000,000,000,000,000 silver dollars and lay them on the face of Texas. They will cover all of the state two feet deep. Now mark one of these silver dollars and stir the whole mass thoroughly, all over the state. Blindfold a man and tell him that he can travel as far as he wishes, but he must pick up one silver dollar and say that this is the right one. What chance would he have of getting the right one? Just the same chance that the prophets would have had of writing these eight prophecies and having them all come true in any one man.’
But, of course, there were more than 8 prophecies written about Jesus. Stoner took a look at 48 fulfilled prophecies and did the math once again. He said, ‘we find the chance that any one man fulfilled all 48 prophecies to be 1 in 10 to the 157th power, or
The estimated number of electrons in the universe is around 10 to the 79th power. It should be quite evident that Jesus did not fulfill the prophecies by accident.’
While statistical probability cannot always be used to prove something to be true or false, it does give us a clearer understanding of the remarkable and incredible nature of the New Testament events and their fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. This book we call the Bible is not the work of men. It is divinely inspired. Only God knows the end from the beginning. The Bible is his love letter to us, proven over and over again by the power of fulfilled prophecy.Click here
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