Sunday, March 6, 2011

NT Use of OT Part 10: Affirmation of an Old Testament Prophetic Text Whose Fulfillment Is Still Future

On several occasions Jesus quoted Old Testament texts that predicted future events and affirmed that these events would take place in the future. John the apostle also does this in Rev 1:7. This is true for events such as the reward for the righteous, the abomination of desolation, cosmic signs, the Messiah’s coming on the clouds, and the Messiah’s rule over the earth and consequent reign of His saints. We call this category of NT usage of the OT—"Affirmation of OT Prophetic Text Whose Fulfillment Is Still Future." This occurs when a NT writer or person quotes an OT passage that is still viewed as future from the standpoint of the writer or person. It should be noted that such usages reveal a strong continuity between the contextual meaning of OT eschatological passages and the expectation of the NT writers and persons. In other words, what the OT prophets predicted, the NT persons saw as needing to be accomplished in the future if the fulfillment had not happened already.

Matt 13:41-43 / Dan 13:3"The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness, and will throw them into the furnace of fire; in that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then THE RIGHTEOUS WILL SHINE FORTH AS THE SUN in the kingdom of their Father He who has ears, let him hear." Jesus is discussing the eschatological harvest that will take place at the end of the age. When Jesus comes again He will cast out the wicked and then reward the righteous who will shine in the kingdom. The OT quote here appears to be a reference to Dan 12:3 which is an eschatological passage about what takes place in the context of God’s coming judgment.

Matt 24:15 / Dan 9:27"Therefore when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION which was spoken of through Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place let the reader understand)."Jesus refers to Dan 9:27, an eschatological passage that speaks of a coming abomination that will be done to the Jewish temple. Jesus refers to Daniel 9:27 when He is speaking of future events.

Mark 13:14 / Dan 9:27"But when you see the ABOMINATION OF DESOLATION standing where it should not be (let the reader understand), then those who are in Judea must flee to the mountains." With Mark’s parallel to Matt 24:15 (see above) Jesus quotes Dan 9:27 to speak of a coming abomination that will happen to the temple.

Matt 24:29 / Isa 13:10; Isa 34:4"But immediately after the tribulation of those days THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED, AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT, AND THE STARS WILL FALL from the sky, and the powers of the heavens will be shaken."Jesus refers to Isa 13:10 and Isa 34:4, passages that speak of cosmic signs associated with God’s coming judgment of the nations of the earth. This is a case where Jesus asserts that eschatological events of the OT are still future from His standpoint.

Mark 13:24-26 / Isa 13:10; Isa 34:4; Dan 7:13"But in those days, after that tribulation, THE SUN WILL BE DARKENED AND THE MOON WILL NOT GIVE ITS LIGHT,  AND THE STARS WILL BE FALLING from heaven, and the powers that are in the heavens will be shaken. Then they will see THE SON OF MAN COMING IN CLOUDS with great power and glory." A parallel to Matt 24:29 above, this section of Mark quotes Jesus in reference to Isa 13:10; Isa 34:4; and Dan 7:13. Jesus viewed the literal fulfillment of these OT passages as future from His standpoint.

Matt 24:30 / Dan 7:13"And then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the SON OF MAN COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF THE SKY with power and great glory." Jesus refers to Dan 7:13, a passage that discusses the Son of Man coming before the Ancient of Days within the context of the clouds of heaven. Jesus links this passage with His second coming to earth.

Matt 26:64 / Psalm 110:1; Dan 7:13"Jesus said to him, ‘You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, and COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN.'" Jesus appears to refer to Psalm 110:1 and Dan 7:13, both messianic passages that speak of the Messiah’s coming rule. Jesus tells Caiaphas that He is the Christ, the Son of God and that in the future Caiaphas will see Jesus coming in power on the clouds of heaven.

Rev 1:7 / Dan 7:13; Zech 12:10"BEHOLD, HE IS COMING WITH THE CLOUDS, and every eye will see Him, even those who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him. So it is to be. Amen."The apostle John quotes Dan 7:13 for the coming in the clouds reference and Zech 12:10 for the piercing and mourning reference. Both OT passages together have significance for the Messiah’s coming, the salvation of Israel, and the mourning that will take place when the Messiah comes again. What is significant here is that John, the writer of Revelation viewed these eschatological passages of the OT as being fulfilled in the future from his standpoint.

Rev 2:26-27 / Psalm 2:8-9"He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, TO HIM I WILL GIVE AUTHORITY OVER THE NATIONS; AND HE SHALL RULE THEM WITH A ROD OF IRON, AS THE VESSELS OF THE POTTER ARE BROKEN TO PIECES, as I also have received authority from My Father."With His instruction to the church at Thyatira, Jesus promises the overcomer that he will participate in Jesus’ future reign upon the earth. Jesus quotes the messianic Psalm 2:8-9 (and perhaps Isa 30:14) which speaks of God’s King ruling over the nations. Psalm 2 specifically refers to the King’s authority but Jesus states that He will delegate positions of authority under Him when His reign over the earth takes place. The reign of Messiah is closely linked with the rule of His saints (see Dan 7:27). Thus, when Jesus exercises His reign over the earth, His saints will participate in it.

This category of NT usage of the OT—Affirmation of an OT Prophetic Text Whose Fulfillment Is Still Future, indicates that the NT writers and persons viewed unfulfilled OT prophetic texts as still needing to be fulfilled in the future. This should be a corrective to any claims that the NT entirely transcends the OT eschatological expectations.


  1. Been enjoying these posts! Unless I might've overlooked it somewhere, I was wondering if you were going to comment on the controversial passage in Matthew, I forget the exact reference, where it is unclear whether he is intending to quote Jeremiah or Zechariah? I'd say from the consensus of most present-day scholarship it's an 'easy' quotation. But it is curious to me how early church history didn't exactly share the same consensus.

  2. Hi Kent, I will get to that one and the "harder" ones as well. I'm purposely working on the vast majority of contextual references to set a base for dealing with the harder passages. The fun stuff is still to come.