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"Double-fulfillment"

Some hermeneutics hold that Biblical prophecy should be understood in terms of a "double-fulfillment". For example, many understand the following prophecy in terms of a double-fulfillment:

"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." -Isaiah 7:14

Many see "the first fulfillment" in the birth of Maher-shalal-hash-baz (8:3-4) and "the second fulfillment" in the birth of the Messiah (e.g. Matt. 1:23)

There are other versions of a "double-fulfillment" hermeneutic as well, such as Hank Hanegraaff's view that there is an immediate fulfillment and an eschatological fulfillment (although I'm not entirely sure what he means by that.)

My Question

I have heard double-fulfillment described as "mountains on the horizon" by some, as "immediate and eschatological" by others, and as "partial and full" by others still.

What I am looking for is an overview of the major views on "double-fulfillment". If possible, I would like the overview to include the following:

  • The name of the hermeneutic (or version of "double-fulfillment")

  • A brief explanation of how it works

  • An example of a prominent interpreter who uses it

One thing that has always been confusing to me about these views is whether a given prophecy has certain parts satisfied in the "first fulfillment" and only the remaining parts in the "second fulfillment", or whether the parts satisfied in the first are a subset of the parts satisfied in the second. If you could address that somewhere in your answer (or in the overviews) that would be awesome. Thanks.

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While it's just an example and not the point of your question, you might want to choose an example that doesn't rely on a mis-translation like this one does. (It's almah, not betulah.) –  Gone Quiet Dec 13 '13 at 4:33
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@GoneQuiet Since my question doesn't require a good example (as I am not presupposing that the double-fulfillment hermeneutic is correct or that Isaiah 7:14 validates it), and since Isaiah 7:14 is one of the most commonly used illustrations of the double-fulfillment hermeneutic, I think it's fine. –  Jas 3.1 Dec 13 '13 at 4:38
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While it is possible that there is controversy on almah/betulah, just FYI that source is about as credible as Chick tracts. (I assume you didn't know this.) J4J is notorious for its deceptive (arguably fraudulent) practices. –  Gone Quiet Dec 13 '13 at 4:59
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I don't think I can give an answer to this because I'm not aware of specific people now who use it a lot, but I think it's commonly done by the authors of the NT itself. Matthew frequently takes prophecies to apply them to Jesus, and many of them in their original context clearly have some other interpretation. Even many of the messianic prophecies in their original context referred first to Solomon or another descendant of David. –  curiousdannii Dec 13 '13 at 9:10
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At the very least include a footnote, as the NASB does. Also, this is not a simple Jewish/Christian split, for example the NRSV uses "young woman." –  Noah Dec 13 '13 at 21:43

1 Answer 1

Another name for Dual Fulfillment is Dual Reference:

Definition of Dual Reference

(J. Dwight Pentecost) "Two events, widely separated as to the time of their fulfillment, may be brought together into the scope of one prophecy. This was done because the prophet had a message for his own day as well as for a future time . . . It was the purpose of God to give the near and far view so that the fulfillment of the one should be the assurance of the fulfillment of the other." (J. Dwight Pentecost, Things To Come [Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1964], pp. 46,47.)

The phenomenon of double reference prophecy to reveal God's plan is common in and unique to the Bible. The Old Testament employs four

different kinds of double-reference prophecy: Type, Gap, Type-gap, and Unforeseen partial.

A link to Dual Reference can be found here:

The hyperlink goes into a lengthy explanation of each, so I'll summarize:

1) Type

The Old Testament prophet describes an event, person, or institution ("type") and later Scripture reveals the prophetic significance of this event, person, or institution ("anti-type")

Num. 21:9 is an example: Moses raises up the Bronze Serpent and the Children of Israel are healed from the poisonous bite of the serpents; in John 3:14-15 Jesus prophesies so also will the Son of man be lifted up, so that all who would believe in Him would not perish but have eternal life.

2) Gap

The prophet predicts two dissimilar events, widely separated by time, as though they were one event.

Isa. 61:1-9 fortells Christ's coming: in vss.1-2 it tells about His 1st Coming, which Jesus confirms in Lk. 4:17-21, yet in vss 3-9 fortells His 2nd Coming

3) Type-Gap

The prophet predicts two similar events or people widely separated. The first event foreshadows the later event (in most cases the later event concerns the end of the age). In this case, the prediction of the earlier event or person is typical of the later, but the description of the later event or person does not completely fit the earlier event

An example of this is when Jesus prophesies to the daughters of Jerusalem in Lk. 23:28-31, telling them not to weep for Him, but for yourselves and your children; but He also says, "If they do these things IN a green tree, what shall be done in the dry", meaning "mountains fall on us, hills cover us" refers both to the Destruction of Jerusalem in 70AD and the end of the world.

4) Unforseen Partial

The prophet predicts aspects of God's kingdom at the end of the age. (In the final kind of double reference, the prophet's focus is exclusively on the later event.) New Testament authors subsequently reveal that this prediction has been granted in a partial way to the church. (The prophets predictions will still be fulfilled at the end of the age.)

An example of this is the Joel 2:28-32 prophecy "...your sons and daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men see visions..."

Peter quotes this prophecy being fulfilled in Acts 2:16-21, yet the "sun turned to darkness and the moon to blood" is a specific reference to the last days, which have yet to be fuflfilled.

The main objection for Dual Reference(Dual Fuflfillment) come from those expousing the Covenant Theology view/hermeneutic. While Dispensationalists see a "future" fulfillment in the Restoration of Israel, and the subsequent prophesies, given from a 'literal'(plain reading) of the text, Covenant Theology 'sees' these prophecies as having already been 'fulfilled' in Christ(covenant of grace) and therefore the church(the Israel of God), has already received every benefit, not needing any other 'prophetic fulfillment'. Therefore, they 'see' Joel's prophecy as already fulfilled, Christ's prophecy concerning Jerusalem 'fulfilled' in 70AD, and any OT prophecy concerning Israel's Return(Deut. 30:1-7) as already fulfilled by the church. Since Covenant Theology is also a 'hermeneutic', one must 'translate' Israel as being "Israel of God", children of Abraham, "children of Abraham by faith", Abraham's seed 'singular' meaning "Christ". "Covenant of grace" only refers to those after 70AD to those who have made their committment to Christ, the thought that any 'grace' was left over was extinquished concerning the 'physical' nation of Israel.

Futurists and Dispensationalists contend there is a "future" fulfillment of both OT and NT prophecies concerning Christ, end times, and His Plan for the Restoration of Israel. They contend that the 'plain reading of the text', without any 'covenant' lens means that one see a "Dual Reference/Fulfillment".

Refs:

For these and such-like reasons, the scheme of attaching a double sense to the Scriptures is inadmissible. It sets afloat all the fundamental principles of interpretation by which we arrive at established conviction and certainty and casts us on the boundless ocean of imagination and conjecture without rudder or compass.'- Stuart on the Hebrews, Excurs. xx.

'First, it may be laid down that Scripture has one meaning, -the meaning which it had to the mind of the prophet or evangelist who first uttered or wrote to the hearers or readers who first received it.' ' Scripture, like other books, has one meaning, which is to be gathered from itself, without reference to the adaptations of fathers or divines, and without regard to a priori notions about its nature and origin.' ' The office of the interpreter is not to add another [interpretation], but to recover the original one : the meaning, that is, of the words as they struck on the ears or flashed before the eyes of those who first heard and read them.' - Professor Jowett, Essay on the Interpretation of Scripture, § i. 3, 4

1 Vangemeren, Willem. “Systems of Continuity.” In Continuity and Discontinuity: Perspectives on the Relationship Between the Old and New Testaments. (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1988), 37-62.

[2] Packer, JI. Gospel Pedlar. INTRODUCTION: ON COVENANT THEOLOGY. Cited 04 Feb. 2009. http://www.gospelpedlar.com/articles/Bible/cov_theo.html

[3] Currid, John. Judges through Poets [Online Lectures]. Retrieved from http://itunes.rts.edu audio lectures.

[4] Chamblin, Knox. “The Law of Moses and The Law of Christ.” In Continuity and Discontinuity: Perspectives on the Relationship Between the Old and New Testaments. (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1988), 181-202.

[5] Klooster, Fred. “The Biblical Method for Salvation: The Case for Continuity.” In Continuity and Discontinuity: Perspectives on the Relationship Between the Old and New Testaments. (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1988), 131-160.

[6] Vlach, Michael. “The Church as a Replacement of Israel: An Analysis of Supersessionism.” Ph.D. dissertation, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, 2004.

[7] Feinberg, John. “Systems of Discontinuity.” In Continuity and Discontinuity: Perspectives on the Relationship Between the Old and New Testaments. (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1988), 63-88.

[8] John S. Feinberg, “Salvation in the Old Testament” Tradition and Testament. Essays in Honor of Charles Lee Feinberg. Chicago: Moody Press, 1981. Hbk. ISBN: 0802425445. pp.39-77.

[9] Fruchtenbaum, Arnold. Pre-Trib Research Center. Premillennialism in the Old Testament. Cited 04 Feb. 2009. <>

[10] Ross, Allen. “The Biblical Method for Salvation: The Case for Discontinuity.”In Continuity and Discontinuity: Perspectives on the Relationship Between the Old and New Testaments. (Westchester, IL: Crossway Books, 1988), 161-180

[11] Brooks, Jack. EndTime.org. Progressive Dispensationalism: What is it? Cited 04 Feb. 2009.

[12] Ryrie, Charles. Biblecentre.org. What Is a Dispensation? Chapter 2 of "Dispensationalism" Cited 04 Feb. 2009. http://www.biblecentre.org/topics/ccr_2_dispensationalism.htm

[13] Socfield, CI. Biblecentre.org. THE SEVEN DISPENSATIONS. Cited 04 Feb. 2009. http://www.biblecentre.org/topics/cis_rd_2_seven_disp.htm

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