Much has been written about the way Jesus fulfilled the Messianic prophecies of the Old Testament prophets. In fact, the New Testament authors often paused to highlight the many aspects of Jesus’ life and ministry that were a direct fulfillment of ancient prophecies related to the Messiah. But while most of us are familiar with Jesus’ prophetic fulfillments, few of us stop to think about Jesus’ own prophetic statements. The ancient Christian theologian Origen (born in the 2nd Century) reported that the Greek writer, Phlegon, was aware of Jesus’ prophetic power:
“Now Phlegon, in the thirteenth or fourteenth book, I think, of his Chronicles, not only ascribed to Jesus a knowledge of future events (although falling into confusion about some things which refer to Peter, as if they referred to Jesus), but also testified that the result corresponded to his predictions.” (Origen, “Origen Against Celsus,”) While most of us are familiar with Jesus’ prophetic fulfillments, few of us stop to think about Jesus’ own prophetic statements. Click To Tweet
Most of us would have some difficulty recalling the many ways that Jesus had an accurate “knowledge of future events”, even though we may be familiar with the ways Jesus fulfilled Old Testament prophecy. So, here are a few to keep in mind:
Jesus Told Peter That He Would Deny Him Three Times
“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.’” (Luke 22:33-34)
Jesus Said That Jerusalem and the Temple Would Be Destroyed
“There will be great distress in the land and wrath against this people. 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.” (Luke 21:23-24)
“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.’” (Matthew 24:1-2)
Jesus Said the Church Would Survive and Grow
“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.” (Matthew 16:16-18)
Jesus Said the Gospel Would Be Preached to the Entire World
“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.” (Matthew 24:14)
Jesus Said His Words Would Never Be Forgotten
“Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” (Luke 21:33)
Of all these prophetic statements, the one that most impresses me is Jesus’ prediction of the Temple destruction. Jesus told His followers that the Temple would be destroyed and it didn’t happen until nearly 40 years after his crucifixion and resurrection. This fulfilled prophecy is an important piece of evidence, not only for the divine power of Jesus, but also for the early dating of the Gospels. As I illustrate in the second section of Cold Case Christianity, the absence of any New Testament description of the destruction of the Temple is best explained by the fact that the documents were written prior to this event. No author was able to demonstrate Jesus’ accuracy related to the Temple prophecy because the destruction had not yet occurred. The gospels and the Book of Acts predate this event, and this prophecy is an important piece of evidence. So while most of us, as Christian case makers, have taken the time to familiarize ourselves with the prophecies Jesus fulfilled, it’s also important for us to familiarize ourselves with the prophecies Jesus uttered.
For more information about the reliability of the New Testament gospels and the case for Christianity, please read Cold-Case Christianity: A Homicide Detective Investigates the Claims of the Gospels. This book teaches readers ten principles of cold-case investigations and applies these strategies to investigate the claims of the gospel authors. The book is accompanied by an eight-session Cold-Case Christianity DVD Set (and Participant’s Guide) to help individuals or small groups examine the evidence and make the case.
J. Warner Wallace is a Dateline featured Cold-Case Detective, Senior Fellow at the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, Adj. Professor of Christian Apologetics at Talbot School of Theology, Biola University, author of Cold-Case Christianity, God’s Crime Scene, and Forensic Faith, and creator of the Case Makers Academy for kids.
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