I'm exploring the prophets and Ezra at the moment. In them, there are many prophecies that either refer to the day of The LORD. Now, the day of The LORD seems to refer in different contexts to: A) The destruction of Jerusalem B) The return to Jerusalem C) Future events not fulfilled in the OT that look like the arrival of Jesus Christ D) Future events that look like the crucifixion and resurrection E) Future events that look like the second coming,

They are often mingled together.

My question is not about what the day of The LORD means, but it is: What systematic hermeneutical principles or unbiased exegetical principles are there specific to prophecies of this sort?

In particular, is there any principle that can be relatively consistently applied to help decide which prophecies may have a double fulfilment and/or delineate one fulfilment from another?

Rules of thumb, methods,processes,useful principles, etc, are all fine.

Or do I have no more hermeneutical tools than what I have in the easier parts of the Bible, like the histories, or the Gospels or the epistles and it's just a far far more difficult balancing act of local/wider/global context, idioms, parallels, cultural knowledge, vocabulary choices, etc, etc, etc?

Would prefer answers compatible with a relatively literal, scripture is infallible, inerrant-by-default hermeneutic. I'm a generic evangelical, if it makes any difference to anyone.

Note: I am NOT looking for foundational principles for such a hermeneutic, nor do I really care if a principle/method/rule of thumb has a particularly rigorous basis. I just want to know what methods are out there. This is a distinct question from this one that is being flagged as a duplicate; the set of acceptable answers is distinct.

For example: If a rule of thumb happened to work well enough that it is popular, I'd consider it here on that basis alone. It obviously would NOT match my alleged duplicate's question!

If you were looking for methods, you'd ask my question; if you wanted to do a comparative evaluation of methods, you'd ask the other.

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  • Did you see the answer in the other question? Dual fulfilment is only possible where the text actually allows it.
    – Dottard
    Mar 10, 2023 at 10:11
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    @Dottard That other question is useful, and your answer there is somewhat useful for mine, but it's about foundational support for hermeneutic principles. I doubt there are any, but there may well be useful rules of thumb, systematic processes, maybe even full blown methods or algorithms for such things. If there was a rule of thumb that was empirically useful and seemed to give coherent answers, that'd satisfy my question. It would not have the foundations mentioned in the other question. Mar 10, 2023 at 10:14
  • Comments have been moved to chat; please do not continue the discussion here. Before posting a comment below this one, please review the purposes of comments. Comments that do not request clarification or suggest improvements usually belong as an answer, on Biblical Hermeneutics Meta, or in Biblical Hermeneutics Chat. Comments continuing discussion may be removed.
    – Steve can help
    Mar 11, 2023 at 11:47

1 Answer 1


In terms of "consistent" principles I can think of two:

  • The first is when the prophecy is general and is clearly meant to apply to various situations. Example:

2 Chronicles 7

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.

This prophecy was given to King Solomon when the Temple was dedicated, but it was given as a general guideline. And it was indeed fulfilled more than once in OT history. In fact it is still used today by preachers relating to contemporary situations facing the people of God. There are other examples as well, often marked by if-then formulations. (e.g. Jer. 18:8)

  • The second principle would be when a term in the prophecy has more than one historical referent.

The OP identifies several of these in its first paragraph. For example "Day of the Lord" or the "Latter Days" might be fulfilled at several points in history. (This, however, is subject to interpretation.)

Other cases of dual-fulfillment prophecies probably need to be handled on a case-by-case basis.

Conclusion: I see two consistent principles to identify dual-fulfillment prophecies may be recognized: 1) General prophecies with no specific referents 2) prophecies which contain referents that have more than one historical application. The first of these principles is fairly certain. The second is open to interpretation.

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