How Many Prophecies Does The Bible Really Predict?

The words "Bible prophecy" are almost guaranteed to get a reaction. YouTube is filled with videos of armchair Bible scholars picking apart the text and trying to convince you that this world event or that world event is tied to some arcane bit of scripture that portends certain doom. And before the wide-open content library that is YouTube, there were (and still are) Bible prophecy radio shows, Bible prophecy print materials, etc. It seems that if you want to get someone's attention by teaching about the Bible, a sure-fire way to succeed is to talk about prophecy.

As it turns out, however, the entire concept of Bible prophecy is misunderstood by a lot of Christians, according to Steven McKenzie, writing for Oxford University Press. That's because a misconception exists that prophecy is all about things that are going to happen in the future. In fact, that's not entirely true of the prophecies contained in the Bible, and indeed, depending on whom you ask, probably half of all Biblical prophecies have already been fulfilled.

The Bible has about 6,000 prophecies

While it's easy to conclude, when you hear the word "prophecy," that you're about to learn about something that's going to happen in the future, the fact is that, in the Bible at least, much of the prophecy was about things that were going on at the time. For example, in 2 Samuel 12, the prophet Nathan delivers a damning prophecy to his king, David, only for the ruler to find out that the prophecy had been about him all along. Similarly, Isaiah 53 is considered a piece of "Messianic prophecy," according to Bible Project, meaning that it's about Jesus Christ, who appeared centuries after Isaiah but is not a part of our future.

That leaves prophecies that are about things that are still to happen in the future, and how many such prophecies there are is a matter of dispute. Is this bit of scripture about something that was happening at the time, something that happened after, or something that still hasn't happened? According to Facts, there are 6,000 prophecies in the Bible, about half of which haven't been fulfilled.