Argument # 3: The Fulfilled Prophecies Argument.
Stated as: “Fulfilled prophecies in the Bible prove its authority as the word of God.”
One of the favorite arguments that Christians use to support their argument that the Bible is God’s word and not man’s word, is the argument of fulfilled prophecies in the Bible. However, these Christians never acknowledge, take into account, or were never told, that many of the alleged fulfilled prophecies were not even prophecies in the first place, and that there is a long list of failed prophecies in both the Old and New Testaments. Let’s list all the factors that they never consider here.
1) First of all,
we have no basis to assume that
all the events described in the Bible ever occurred in actual
Therefore we have no reason to just take it for granted, as Christians
like us to, that they all took place. No historian who is
unbiased takes the whole Bible as a book of historical facts.
they generally state that the Bible, especially the Four Gospels, were
written with an agenda to preach or convert masses, and
not as an accurate historical account. Even though the Bible
some real life historical events and places, we must remember that a
fiction can contain historical places and events without its story
true. For example, the story of the Wizard
of Oz begins in the
2) Second, anyone
can just write a prediction in
one book, and that same person or another can just write the
fulfillment of the
prediction in another book, without the prophesied event actually
place. All you need is pen and paper. For example,
I could write in
one part of a book, "Chapter One: The pig will jump over the
one day.” And then later write, “Chapter
Two: And then the pig jumped
over the horse, as was prophesied back in Chapter One." See
that is? You could do that if you wanted to. For
example, I could
find instances of prophecy fulfillment in Tolkien’s Lord
of the Rings book
series. There are also prophecy fulfillment examples in
Homer’s work The
Iliad (e.g. the prophecy that
the first soldier from the Greek invasion
fleet to set afoot on
Imaginary messianic prophecies
3) Third, what Christian ministers and preachers NEVER tell you is that most of the Old Testament prophecies claimed by New Testament writers to be prophecies of Jesus, were not even meant as messianic prophecies in the first place! For example, in Matthew 27:35, it says "And they crucified him, and parted his garments, casting lots: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, 'They parted my garments among them, and upon my vesture did they cast lots.'" which is referring to Psalm . However, just one look at Psalm 22:18 by anybody will show that the writer, David, was merely singing a psalm as a plea of help from God for injustices done to him (David) and not predicting what would happen to the future messiah! That’s a huge discrepancy!
Likewise, in The Fabulous Prophecies Of The Messiah Jim Lippard points out:
“There are several verses taken to refer to crucifixion: Psalms 22:16, Zechariah 12:10, and Zechariah 13:6 are typical examples. Psalms reads, "For dogs have surrounded me; a band of evildoers has encompassed me; they pierced my hands and my feet." This is a psalm of David which gives no indication of being prophetic and which describes the speaker being hunted down and killed rather than being crucified. Gerald Sigal (1981, p. 98) argues that the Hebrew word translated here as "pierced" is "ariy," which means "lion," and so a more accurate translation would be "like a lion [they are gnawing at] my hands and feet." Gleason Archer (1982, p. 37), however, argues that "they pierced" is correct, based on the Septuagint's translation and other considerations.
says "they will
look on me whom they have pierced; and they will mourn for him, as one
for an only son ...." The gospel of John ()
takes this as prophecy fulfilled by Jesus'
crucifixion, but there is no indication that this speaks of
Further, the "him" being mourned for is not the "me" that
is being pierced. The Jewish interpretation of this verse is that God
speaking of the people of
Concerning a famous claimed prophecy of Jesus’ birth, Mr. Lippard also points out:
“There are a number of alleged messianic prophecies about Jesus' birth: prophecies about the location, manner, and time of his birth, about his genealogy, and about events which were to occur at the time of his birth. Probably the most famous of these prophecies is the prophecy that Jesus would be born of a virgin. The gospels of Matthew (1:18-25) and Luke (1:26-35) both claim that Jesus was born of a virgin, but only Matthew (1:23) appeals to the Hebrew scriptures as an explanation for why this should be the case. The verse appealed to is Isaiah 7:14, which reads: "Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: Behold, a virgin will be with child and bear a son, and she will call his name Immanuel."
There are a number of difficulties with this passage. As many have noted, the Hebrew word translated as "virgin" in this verse is "almah," which is more accurately translated simply as "young woman." The Hebrew word "bethulah" means "virgin." In the book of Isaiah, "bethulah" appears four times (, 37:22, 47:1, 62:5), so its author was aware of the word. In the New American Standard translation of the Bible, all other appearances of "almah" are translated simply as "girl," "maid," or "maiden" (viz: Genesis 24:43, Exodus 2:8, Psalms 68:25, Proverbs 30:19, Song of Solomon 1:3, 6:8). Thus the claimed fulfillment adds a biologically impossible condition which is not even present in the original prophecy.
Another problem is that nowhere in the New Testament does Mary, Jesus' mother, refer to him as "Immanuel." Thus we have no evidence that one of the conditions of the prophecy was ever fulfilled.
But the most serious problem with this alleged messianic prophecy is that it has been taken out of context. Looking at the entire seventh chapter of Isaiah, it becomes clear that the child in question is to be born as a sign to Ahaz, King of Judah, that he will not be defeated in battle by Rezin, King of Syria, and Pekah, son of the King of Israel. Jesus' birth was some seven centuries late to be such a sign. In Isaiah 8:3-4, a prophetess gives birth to a son--Maher-shalal-hash-baz--who is clearly described as the fulfillment of the prophecy in Isaiah 7:14.”
Also, Christians seem to like to tout Genesis 3:15 “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel.” as prophecy for the coming of Jesus. However, no one who looks at that verse without being told that it is a prophecy would presume that it is a prophecy. It simply says that since snakes and serpents can bite humans’ feet while humans can stomp on them. To read more into it than that is total conjecture without basis, and especially to claim it as messianic prophecy.
These are just some of many examples of false and imaginary messianic prophecies. For more examples and details, see:
Examination Of The Prophecies by Thomas Paine
4) Fourth, some of the prophecies claimed to be fulfilled in the New Testament don't even exist in the Old Testament!
For example, in Luke 24:46, Jesus said:
"Thus it is written and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day."
However, nowhere in the Old Testament does it predict or say that! Also, in John Jesus said,
"He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of
If Jesus was right in saying that scripture prophesied this, where is it then? No such statement in the Old Testament scriptures has ever been located, yet "the scripture" Jesus referred to would certainly have been in the Old Testament. How could there be a fulfillment of a prophecy that was never even made?
In another example, Jesus claimed another fulfillment of nonprophecy in Luke 24:46.
"Thus it is written and thus it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead the third day."
Paul also claimed that Christ's resurrection on the third day was also predicted by scriptures. He said in 1 Corinthians 15:3-4
"For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the scriptures."
However, Christian apologists cannot produce a single Old Testament passage that made this alleged third day prediction! It simply doesn't exist! Likewise in John 20:9
"For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead."
How could they not know the scripture, since the scripture prophesying that doesn't even exist? No such scripture has ever been found. Jesus also said in Mark 1:2
"It is written in Isaiah the prophet: 'I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way'"
Yet no statement like that appears in the book of Isaiah! That is a clear error there, without a doubt. In Acts it says
"In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: `It is more blessed to give than to receive.'"
Yet no such words of Jesus are found in the Bible! Later on, James said in James 4:5
"Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely?"
Again, no such words are found in scripture!
In another indisputable example, Matthew said that Judas' purchase of the potter's field
with the thirty pieces of silver cast back to the chief priests and elders fulfilled a prophecy made by Jeremiah:
"Then was fulfilled that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet, saying, And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of him that was priced, whom certain of the children of Israel did price; and they gave them for the potter's field as the Lord appointed me." (Matthew 27:9-10)
The only problem here is that Jeremiah NEVER wrote anything remotely similar to this! So how could this be a fulfillment of "that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet"? There is a passage in Zechariah that this might refer to though, however, if the Bible is the inerrant word of God, then how could it make mistakes like this?!
Joseph took his family to
"...that it might be fulfilled which was spoken through the prophets, that he should be called a Nazarene." (Matthew 2:23)
Bible scholars have never been unable to find any statement from any
that this could be referring to! As a matter of fact, neither
How can an inerrant Bible contain huge mistakes like this? Is it any wonder why Christians never refer to these verses as fulfillment of prophecy? These critical errors clearly render the fulfillment of prophecy argument inept.
Failed, expired, and unfulfilled prophecies
5) Fifth, and perhaps most damaging, there are many prophecies in the Bible which never came true or went unfulfilled, expiring beyond their predicted time.
For instance, here are 16 obvious failed prophecies in regard to the Second Coming of Christ and the end of the world, which was supposed to take place in the First Century Apostles’ lifetime!
Below Jesus clearly predicts that his Second Coming will be during the lifetimes of the First Century Christians who lived in their time.
"Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom." (Matthew 16:28)
I tell you of a truth, there be some standing here, which shall not
death, till they see the
Jesus clearly predicted in those two verses above that the apostles standing with him would see his second coming in their lifetimes. It's clear and simple, nothing allegorical or symbolical.
These following verses also indicate that Paul expected that he and the Christians of his time would see the Second Coming of Christ.
"But this I say, brethren, the time is short: it remaineth, that both they that have wives be as though they had none;" (1 Corinthians )
"For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep. For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven... Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds..." (1 Thessalonians 4:15-17)
"God...Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son..." (Hebrews 1:1-2)
2000 years ago it was the "last days"!? More similar verses below.
"For yet a little while, and he that shall come will come, and will not tarry."
"But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer."
(1 Peter 4:7)
"Christ...was manifest in these last times for you,..." (1 Peter 1:19-20)
"Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord... stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh...behold, the judge standeth before the door." (James 5:7-9)
"The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass;..." (Revelation 1:1)
"Behold, I come quickly." (Revelation 3:11)
"And he said unto me, Seal not the sayings of the prophecy of this book: for the time is at hand... He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus." (Revelation 22:10, 20)
when they persecute you in this city, flee ye into another: for verily
unto you, Ye shall not have gone over the cities of
said there that his second coming would occur WHILE his apostles were
in the cities of
In the following three verses, Jesus says that the generation living at the time would experience his second coming.
"So ye in like manner, when ye shall see these things come to pass, know that it is nigh, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, that this generation shall not pass, till all these things be done." (Mark 13:29-30)
likewise ye, when ye see these things come to pass, know ye that the
"So likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled." (Matthew 24:33-34)
Obviously, that generation that Jesus was speaking to has long since passed! What an impressive assortment of failed prophecies! Is this convincing to you of the divine infallible inspiration of the Bible?
Also, in the Old Testament, the Bible made many prophecies which never came true. Here are some examples.
In the book of Deuteronomy and Exodus, God promised Moses and the Israelites that he would deliver them to a promised land. (Deuteronomy 7:17-24, 4:33-39, 7:1-2, 31:1-8, Exodus 23:20-33) However, rather than sending them directly to this “promised land”, instead they were dragged through the hot desert for 40 years, hungry and miserable, and expected to not complain about it! (Hmmmm, I heard that patience is a virtue, but is that fair?) To read the details of this, see Farrell Till’s Yahweh's Failed Land Promise.
Also, a number of prophecies in Ezekiel, Isaiah and other books also failed. Farrell Till lists some in The Prophecy Farce:
even more effective-- counterargument to use against those who claim
prophecy fulfillment proves the inspiration of the Bible requires
of the Bible to show that many Old Testament prophecies obviously
Anyone who is willing to put the time into learning just a few of those
failures will have no problems rebutting the prophecy-fulfillment
claims of any
biblicists he/she may encounter. The prophetic tirades of Isaiah
Ezekiel (24-32) against the nations surrounding
also prophesied that Nebuchadnezzar would destroy
noted in my exchanges with Matthew Hogan on Ezekiel's tirade against
(September/October 1997; November/December 1997), Ezekiel clearly
that Tyre would be destroyed, become a bare rock and a place for
nets, and would be built no more forever
(26:7-14, 21; 27:28; 28:19). As
Ezekiel did, Isaiah in his prophecies of destruction against the
at the land of the Chaldeans! This is the people; it was not
Ezekiel predicted a permanent destruction of
as you can see, not only did both Isaiah and Ezekiel’s
the city of
Tobin also showed the
made a prophecy that, at the time he wrote, seems most likely to be
The prophet was writing, in 587BC, at the time when Nebuchadnezzar was
whole passage clearly prophesied the sack and complete destruction of
amazing that despite these disconfirming evidence some apologists
to salvage that prophecy. One example is Josh McDowell in his Evidence
Demand a Verdict. In it
he claims that the prophecy
was actually fulfilled. We will look at two of his specific arguments
the prophecy. First this is what McDowell writes about the
the gates down he found the city almost empty. The majority of the
people had moved by ship to an island about one half mile off the coast
and fortified the city there. The mainland city was destroyed in 573,
but the city of
implication of this paragraph is clear: that Nebuchadnezzar destroyed a
tried to twist history to show that
Having failed in one prophecy did not make Ezekiel shy about making more:
This passage must take the cake for the most prophecies proven wrong!
Men and people have always walked through it.
There has never been a
single moment (let alone forty
Its cities has never been desolated for any period of time
and finally there was no Egyptian diaspora.
Ezekiel tried his luck with another prophecy regarding Nebuchadnezzar:
here too he failed! For Nebuchadnezzar never conquered
(End of excerpt)
More examples of failed prophecies can be found at:
For more reading on the subject of debunking Bible prophecies, check out this list of books:
Finally, perhaps the following amusing story best illustrates what Christians do when they cite instances of fulfilled prophecy in the Bible.
“While traveling through a forest, a person noticed a circle marked on a tree with an arrow shot perfectly into the center. A few yards away he noticed several more targets, each with arrows in the center. Later, he met the talented archer and he asked him, "How did you become such an expert that you always get your arrows into the center of the bull's-eye?" "It's not difficult," responded the archer, "First I shoot the arrow and then I draw the circle."”