The Bible contains numerous prophecies about how Jesus, the Son of God, would come, what He would do when he came, and how He would be a Savior for sinful mankind. These prophecies were not written by one person at one time, but by different people over the course of the 1500 years before Christ came. The authors of the Old Testament were Jewish, and it was through them that God communicated the promise of a Savior. The Jews carefully passed down the prophecies about this Messiah who was to come. Like the early Christians with the New Testament, the Jewish scribes were meticulous in transmitting the Old Testament scriptures that contained these precious promises. As they transcribed them, they counted every word and every letter in every word to ensure that any changes or errors were caught. In these Old Testament scriptures there are over three hundred prophecies about the Messiah that were fulfilled in the details of the life of Jesus. Consider the following fifteen instances of Old Testament prophecies and their fulfillment:
The Messiah would be the seed of a woman. Prophecy: “I will put enmity between you and the woman, And between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, And you shall bruise His heel.” (Genesis 3:15).
Fulfillment by Jesus: “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman” (Galatians 4:4).
The Messiah would be a descendant of the Old Testament patriarch Abraham. Prophecy: “In you [Abraham] all the families of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 12:3).
Fulfillment by Jesus: “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ…the Son of Abraham” (Matthew 1:1).
The Messiah would be from the tribe of Judah (one of the twelve tribes of Israel). Prophecy: “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh comes; and to Him shall be the obedience of the people” (Genesis 49:10).
Fulfillment by Jesus: “Now Jesus Himself began His ministry at about thirty years of age, being (as was supposed) the son of Joseph, the son of Heli” (Luke 3:23). “For it is evident that our Lord arose from Judah, of which tribe Moses spoke nothing concerning priesthood” (Hebrews 7:14).
The Messiah would be a descendant of King David. Prophecy: “When your days [David’s] are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will set up your seed after you, who will come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom” (2 Samuel 7:12). “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord, “That I will raise to David a Branch of righteousness; A King shall reign and prosper, And execute judgment and righteousness in the earth” (Jeremiah 23:5).
Fulfillment by Jesus: “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David…” (Matthew 1:1).
The Messiah would be born to a virgin. Prophecy: “Therefore the Lord Himself will give you a sign: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a Son” (Isaiah 7:14).
Fulfillment by Jesus: “Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 1:18). “Then Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I do not know a man?” (Luke 1:34).
The Messiah would be born in Bethlehem. Prophecy: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, Though you are little among the thousands of Judah, Yet out of you shall come forth to Me The One to be Ruler in Israel” (Micah 5:2).
Fulfillment by Jesus: “Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, behold, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem” (Matthew 2:1). “Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife,who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son” (Luke 2:4-7).
The Messiah would perform great miracles. Prophecy: “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then the lame shall leap like a deer, and the tongue of the dumb sing” (Isaiah 35:5-6).
Fulfillment by Jesus: “Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people” (Matthew 4:23).
The Messiah would be rejected by his own people. Prophecy: “He is despised and rejected by men, A Man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him” (Isaiah 53:3).
Fulfillment by Jesus: “He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him” (John 1:10-11). “For even His brothers did not believe in Him” (John 7:5). “Have any of the rulers or the Pharisees believed in Him?” (John 7:48).
The Messiah would be betrayed by a close friend. Prophecy: “Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, who ate my bread, has lifted up his heel against me” (Psalm 41:9).
Fulfillment by Jesus: Jesus said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, one of you will betray Me” (John 13:21).
The Messiah would be betrayed for thirty pieces of silver. Prophecy: “So they weighed out for my wages thirty pieces of silver” (Zechariah 11:12).
Fulfillment by Jesus: They asked Judas, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?” And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver” (Matthew 26:15).
The Messiah’s hands and feet would be pierced. Prophecy: “…They pierced My hands and My feet” (Psalm 22:16). “Then they will look on Me whom they pierced” (Zechariah 12:10).
Fulfillment by Jesus: “And when they had come to the place called Calvary, there they crucified Him” (Luke 23:33).
The Messiah would be crucified with thieves. Prophecy: “And He was numbered with the transgressors” (Isaiah 53:12).
Fulfillment by Jesus: “With Him they also crucified two robbers, one on His right and the other on His left. So the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “And He was numbered with the transgressors.” (Mark 15:27-28).
The Messiah’s clothes would be gambled for. Prophecy: “They divide My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots” (Psalm 22:18).
Fulfillment by Jesus: “Then the soldiers, when they had crucified Jesus, took His garments and made four parts, to each soldier a part, and also the tunic. Now the tunic was without seam, woven from the top in one piece. They said therefore among themselves, ‘Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be,’ that the Scripture might be fulfilled which says: ‘They divided My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots.’ Therefore the soldiers did these things” (John 19:23-24).
The Messiah would be buried in a rich man’s tomb. Prophecy: “And they made His grave with the wicked, But with the rich at His death” (Isaiah 53:9).
Fulfillment by Jesus: “Now when evening had come, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate commanded the body to be given to him. When Joseph had taken the body, he wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his new tomb which he had hewn out of the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the door of the tomb, and departed” (Matthew 27:57-60).
The Messiah would rise from the dead. Prophecy: “For You will not leave my soul in Sheol, nor will You allow Your Holy One to see corruption” (Psalm 16:10).
Fulfillment by Jesus: “He, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption” (Acts 2:31). “But he said to them, ‘Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him’” (Mark 16:6).
While it might seem that a person could fulfill prophecy by accident, the probability that a person could coincidentally fulfill this number of prophecies is nearly impossible. It has been calculated that the mathematical chances of a man fulfilling just eight of these prophecies would be 1 in 100,000,000,000,000,000. This number only exponentially increases with every additional prophecy fulfilled. Peter Stoner, a scientist and mathematician, calculated that the probability of a person fulfilling forty-eight of the Old Testament prophecies about the Messiah would be one chance in a trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion, trillion. Such a number is basically incomprehensible. As big as this number is, consider that Jesus didn’t complete just forty-eight prophecies—his life fulfilled three hundred prophetic details from the Old Testament.
The New Testament shows that Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the Old Testament prophecies. The internal consistency is so improbable that it serves as proof of the divine origins of the book. The miraculous fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies by Jesus convinced many Jews to join the early church. The clear evidence that he did so continues to convince people that Jesus is the Messiah and Son of God and leads them to put their hope and trust in him.
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About the Author: Dr. Daniel King is a missionary evangelist who has traveled to over seventy nations in his quest for souls. His goal is to lead 1,000,000 people to Jesus every year through massive Gospel Festivals, distribution of literature, and leadership training. Because of his experience and research on evangelism, he is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading experts in mass evangelism. As an evangelist, he has a deep interest in using apologetics to convince skeptics that God is real.