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For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John (KJV, Matthew 11:13)

It looks like the phrase "until John" marks a special watermark here as if either there would be no more prophesies after John or at least their nature would be different from John the Baptist's time on. Does the original text have any of these connotations?

  • Another Good Question...I'm looking forward to the answer... – Tau Feb 23 '16 at 12:29
  • It has to do with authority of the prophecy , not prophecy in general , Jesus and then apostles assumed next level of revelation , ( as in our foundation is in Law , prophets, apostles) – user8377 Feb 24 '16 at 14:24
  • Please see my answer to this related question: hermeneutics.stackexchange.com/questions/8171/… – Ruminator Oct 27 '17 at 23:03
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The verse does not say that no one prophesied after John, but rather that "the prophets" (οι προφηται) only prophesied up to (εως) John. By including the reference to "the Law" (ο νομος) as well, He is clearly referring to the Old Testament "Prophets" (majuscule). We find the same reference to "the Law and the Prophets" in Luke (16:16):

The Law and the Prophets were until John: since that time the Kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.

Justin Martyr, a 2nd century Christian apologist (100-165 AD), interpreted this verse as also meaning that there would no longer be any sort of prophets among non-believing Jews:

If the prophets had not ceased, so that there were no more in your nation, Trypho, after this John, it is evident that what I say in reference to Jesus Christ might be regarded perhaps as ambiguous. But if John came first calling on men to repent, and Christ, while [John] still sat by the river Jordan, having come, put an end to his prophesying and baptizing, and preached also Himself, saying that the kingdom of heaven is at hand, and that He must suffer many things from the Scribes and Pharisees, and be crucified, and on the third day rise again, and would appear again in Jerusalem, and would again eat and drink with His disciples; and foretold that in the interval between His [first and second] advent, as I previously said, priests and false prophets would arise in His name, which things do actually appear; then how can they be ambiguous, when you may be persuaded by the facts? Moreover, He referred to the fact that there would be no longer in your nation any prophet, and to the fact that men recognised how that the New Testament, which God formerly announced [His intention of] promulgating, was then present, i.e., Christ Himself; and in the following terms: ‘The law and the prophets were until John the Baptist'

Dialog with Trypho the Jew, Chapter LI

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The verse is simply saying the law (meaning the Torah, the first 5 books of the OT where prophecies of Christ can be found) as well as the prophets (meaning the prophets of OT where prophecies of Christ can also be found) foretold of a day when the Messiah would arrive.

"until John" The ministry of the law & prophets foretelling a Messiah who was to come ceased with John. John announced, not a Messiah that was to come, but a Messiah that had come.

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The verse does not prohibit more prophesy after John the Immersor, but says that all the previous OT prophets spoke of the days of John.

"for all the prophets and the law till John did prophesy," (YLT)

"All" is Strong's Greek 3956 - πάντες (pantes), defined as all, every.

From Thayer's Greek Lexicon: 2 with a plural - all (the totality of the persons or things designated by the noun)

"All" meant the entirety, the whole of the prophets and the whole of the law.

"Until John" or "till John" marked the time that "all" or the whole of the prophets had prophesied. Christ was speaking of the OT prophets who prophesied of His coming.

The prophets had foretold of the latter days of the coming of the Messiah. That they were until John marked John's generation as the latter days and the fulfillment of those OT prophesies in his generation - the first century A.D.

Ellicott's Commentary on Matt. 11:13,

"(13) All the prophets and the law.—The usual order is inverted, because stress is laid on the prophetic rather than the legislative aspect of previous revelation. They did their work pointing to the kingdom of heaven in the far-off future of the latter days, but John saw it close at hand, and proclaimed its actual appearance." Source: Biblehub

Gill's Exposition on same:

"For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. These words are to be considered in connection with Matthew 11:11 and are a further proof of John's being greater than any of the prophets; because all the inspired writers and prophets, who were before him, prophesied of the Messiah as to come; and either spoke of him in obscure terms, or represented him under dark shadows and figures: whereas John spake of him as already come, and in plain terms, and directed to his very person; and since his time, there have been no prophecies concerning the Messiah and his kingdom; vision and prophecy are now sealed up; all which are acknowledged by the Jews themselves, who (b) say, , "all the prophets did not prophesy but to, or of the days of the Messiah". This was the subject, and these the limits of their prophecies; for they own (c), that "from the day that the temple was destroyed, , "prophecy was taken away from the prophets".''

"Since that time, they confess they have had no prophet (d), and that they are not able to observe their signs.

"(b) T. Bab. Beracot, fol. 34. 2. Sabbat, fol. 63. 1. Sanhedrim, fol. 99. 1.((c) T. Bava Bathra, fol. 12. 1.((d) Abarbinel in Dan. fol. 63. 4. " Source: Ibid.

Matt. 11:13 is a time marker, a time text; and defines that generation in which Christ was manifested (1 Pet. 1:20; Heb. 1:1-3) as the generation that saw the fulfillment of all the OT prophets and of all the old covenant law. Christ fulfilled them all. He did not leave anything unfinished.

That generation of the first century A.D. was that generation that saw Christ walk on this earth, that saw Him crucified, that saw Him ascend into heaven. Christ did not fail in any of the prophesies.

All of the apostles continued to prophesy of the last and final event, namely the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, at which time His spiritual kingdom, the "promised land" (2 Pet. 3:13) was fully established.

The beloved apostle John was given the last prophesy of that destruction and told he would prophesy again (Rev. 10:11) before many peoples. The word "again" means that the apostle John had already spent much of his time prophesying during the 40 year preaching of the gospel after the crucifixion.

The latter days were finished when the temple was destroyed in A.D. 70, at which time the law was completely fulfilled. That was the end of the latter days, and the end of the prophesies as Gabriel foretold Daniel that his holy people would be scattered (Dan. 12:7)

We are not living in the latter, or last days. That is why all prophesy is now sealed, and has been sealed since A.D. 70.

See the evidences from the scriptures that I have presented at my blog https://shreddingtheveil.org. The series "It's Not The End of The World: Parts I - X" begin at the bottom margin and lay out the sequence.

John the Immersor (baptist) was not the last prophet; the beloved apostle John was the last prophet.

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The Prophets, as predictors and hopers of the advent of Christ (John 5:39) have ceased, because Christ has come and how can one prophesy about the fait accompli? And what is the meaning of this accomplished fact? Nothing else, but that the consequences of Adam's sin, that tormented mankind, got cured through Christ - "the Second Adam from Heaven" (1 Cor. 15:45), and the enmity of mankind with God was abolished through the Incarnation of His only-begotten Son and His co-creator of the universe (John 1:1-3), and now through human co-action with His Graceful presence in human hearts, human is able to overcome the power of sin that blocked his way to the Kingdom of Heaven. This co-action with Grace in fight against sins is exactly the beatifying "violence" through which the Kingdom of Heaven is "conquered" through Christ by His followers, which was coveted by the Old Testament prophets, desired by them and dreamed about by them, but they had not it (Luke 10:24). Thus, with the advent of Christ this category of prophets became obsolete.

However, the Holy Spirit, who is also the Spirit of Prophecy (Rev. 19:10) of course does not cease to work in Christians and teach them, so that also among Christians there are specially gifted with this respect, who are not on the same level as apostles, but are second highest as prophets (1 Cor. 12:28). We see one of such even warned through Holy Spirit the Apostle Paul not to go to Jerusalem for he would be caught there (Acts 21:11), but Paul still went there, without violating God's commandment, for the same Spirit gave him a deeper insight than to the prophet who warned him, for Paul knew through the same Spirit that this prophesy was not to deter him from going to Jerusalem, but to make revealed for the Christians around him and this prophet himself the degree of love and devotion he had in his heart to Christ and his apostolic mission.

Thus, prophets exist also after the advent of Christ. Yet, their character is different, even if the name is the same.

Just to give a clarifying analogy: say, a man was taken by waves after a shipwreck to some remote island of the Pacific Ocean. This man teaches some of the most gifted aborigines to write and scratch letters on stones. Those aborigines are called henceforth "writers". This guy is, say, a technician, who is far from fiction-writing to say nothing about poetry, but knows that there exists this great world of literature, that expresses human psychology in a different, more refined and elevated way and he tells the aboriginal writers: "some day another man will come here who will teach you not only how to write simple ideas, but will give you insight and skill to write stories and novels, plays and verses!". Thus, the aboriginal writers know that their writing is just a preparatory for some greater tidings. And then, after hundred years, a real teacher of literature, of creative writing arrives to them and teaches them to write stories, novels, poems etc. The gifted aborigines of the island will become poets and novelists and will be still called "writers" but with quite a different significance and semantics, for now they are graced by the skills of rhetorics. Similarly, Christian prophets are still called "prophets", but with an exceedingly different semantics, for they do not prophesize about the Advent of Christ any more, but about deeper and deeper mysteries of the Kingdom of Heaven, that is already open for humanity through this Advent.

  • "This co-action with Grace in fight against sins is exactly the beatifying "violence" through which the Kingdom of Heaven is "conquered" through Christ by His followers, which was coveted by the Old Testament prophets" - Jesus said that the kingdom is taken by violence "from the days of John the Baptist". So, are you saying that that "beatifying violence" did not exist before John the Baptist? And why is it "from the days of John the Baptist" if John himself that the kingdom had just drawn near, that is, the kingdom was not there yet? – brilliant Jun 29 '18 at 10:46
  • A good question! The "days of Baptist" means when John started to teach people that he is not the messiah, but just gives a preparatory baptism in order to lead to Him who will baptise by Holy Spirit, and John is glad when his disciples leave him to join Jesus, for that was his mission. Now, with aid of Jesus it is already possible to "conquer the Kingdom", that is to say, to inherit it, through the "violence" i.e. valiant fight against sins in us. Jesus speaks about the process that has started, that was not before, but is initiated by His Advent witnessed and signalled by John's preaching. – Levan Gigineishvili Jun 29 '18 at 11:09
  • "Now, with aid of Jesus it is already possible to "conquer the Kingdom", that is to say, to inherit it, through the "violence" i.e. valiant fight against sins in us" - Following this logic, then none of the old testament patriarchs and prophets don't get to inherit the kingdom. However, Luke 13:28 says that Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets will be in the kingdom. – brilliant Jun 29 '18 at 14:52
  • They all inherit the Kingdom but only after and through the Incarnation of Word, for Jesus, the Word Incarnate is necessary for salvation of all, either living or dead (for with Him all are alive /cf. Matt 12:27/). To say that Abraham, Isaac et al had a special entry to the Kingdom without the Incarnate Word would 1) invest them with a theologically unsound privilege over the rest of humans and 2) reveal the historical Incarnation of Word unnecessary for the redemption of all mankind. Resurrected Lord enabled also the saints of the Old Testament participate in His victory over sin and death. – Levan Gigineishvili Jun 29 '18 at 15:12
  • (1) "To say that Abraham, Isaac et al had a special entry to the Kingdom without the Incarnate Word would invest them with a theologically unsound privilege over the rest of humans " - I didn't say that they enter the kingdom without the Incarnate Word; however, if we follow your logic of "beautifying violence", we inevitably place them into a category of those who entered the kingdom without resorting to that "beautifying violence", since Jesus said that the "beautifying violence for the kingdom" had started only at the days of John. If so, then it already amounts to a kind of privilege or – brilliant Jun 29 '18 at 15:33
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I believe that the background of the end of the Torah and the prophets is vividly described in the prophets themselves as what God himself will do at the advent of the messianic age. Note that the first verse refers to John's mikveh (IE: "baptism"):

[Zec 13:1-6 NET] 1 "In that day [IE: In the time of the messiah] there will be a fountain [IE: "living water" or rather "flowing water"] opened up for the dynasty of David [John baptized Jesus in water to fulfill this prophecy] and the people of Jerusalem to cleanse them from sin and impurity. 2 And also on that day," says the LORD who rules over all, "I will remove the names of the idols from the land and they will never again be remembered. Moreover, I will remove the prophets and the unclean spirit from the land. 3 Then, if anyone prophesies in spite of this, his father and mother to whom he was born will say to him, 'You cannot live, for you lie in the name of the LORD.' Then his father and mother to whom he was born will run him through with a sword when he prophesies. 4 "Therefore, on that day each prophet will be ashamed of his vision when he prophesies and will no longer wear the hairy garment of a prophet to deceive the people. 5 Instead he will say, 'I am no prophet - indeed, I am a farmer, for a man has made me his indentured servant since my youth.' 6 Then someone will ask him, 'What are these wounds on your chest?' and he will answer, 'Some that I received in the house of my friends.'

[Dan 9:24 KJV] 24 Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people and upon thy holy city, to finish the transgression, and to make an end of sins, and to make reconciliation for iniquity, and to bring in everlasting righteousness, and to seal up the vision and prophecy, and to anoint the most Holy.

[Heb 1:1-2 KJV] 1 God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by [his] Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;

The reason that prophets ceased is that the king had arrived. The time of shadows was over.

Instead, during the last days of the Jewish covenants God would pour out his spirit upon all flesh and they would prophesy:

[Act 2:16-21 KJV] 16 But this is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel; 17 And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams: 18 And on my servants and on my handmaidens I will pour out in those days of my Spirit; and they shall prophesy: 19 And I will shew wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: 20 The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: 21 And it shall come to pass, [that] whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

  • "Seventy weeks are determined upon thy people to finish the transgression ... and the prophesy" - Are you trying to say that those 70 weeks have already passed? – brilliant Dec 4 '18 at 10:47
  • To be honest, I never speak about Daniel because I have not personally meditated thru the passage for myself, so if you are particularly concerned about a passage of Daniel, post it and I'll search it out. But I presume so because all the prophets spoke of Peter's day: [Act 3:24 KJV] 24 Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days. – Ruminator Dec 4 '18 at 11:53
  • However, this guy has written a couple of books on Daniel from this viewpoint and he has produced many relevant videos which are available free here: donkpreston.com/about/prestons-videos-by-category The view is called "preterism" in case you want to research it. – Ruminator Dec 4 '18 at 11:59
  • Also, Gina who is a member here has tons of stuff on her excellent site: shreddingtheveil.org – Ruminator Dec 4 '18 at 12:20
  • @brilliant Ah, here is the best link: youtube.com/… – Ruminator Dec 4 '18 at 22:16
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For an in-depth analysis of this question, I suggest watching this video. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o6I8jKIKUdY&feature=share

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