Biblical Prophecy: Two Kinds: Intentional vs Coincidental

‘Biblical Prophecy: Two Kinds: “Intentional vs Coincidental” – “Telic vs Ecbatic” & Why Judas’s betray was not predicted.

It was well known in the 1800’s here in America that there were two kinds of fulfillment of Biblical Prophecy practiced within the pages of Scripture. The Apostles and Jesus can be seen to differentiate between prophecy that comes to pass *because* God said He would make it happen (to further His Redemptive Plan) and that which merely corresponds to well known Biblical events of the past. Most assume that there is only one kind and that is the former. The problems that have arisen because influential theologians either could not or would not grasp the difference has been irreparable and ongoing.

Moses Stewart in a book entitled “Hints On The Interpretation of Prophecy” (1842), made this new interpretive method known with great learning and thoroughness. The two categories are: Telic vs Ecbatic fulfillment of prophecy. Greek Grammar was shown to reflect this mode in the use of the conjunction “hina” ( ἵνα ) in purpose or final clauses. (see Dana & Mantey section 220). And often the difference is decided by context of its occurrence.

An example of first kind or the “Telic” ( or purpose ) fulfillment of prophecy is:

“This was to fulfill what had been spoken through Isaiah the prophet: “Behold, my servant whom I have chosen, my beloved in whom I delight; I shall place my spirit upon him, and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles. He will not contend or cry out, nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, a smoldering wick he will not quench, until he brings justice to victory. And in his name the Gentiles will hope.” (Mat 12:17-21)

(v 17 ἵνα πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν διὰ Ἠσαΐου τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος·)

An example of the second kind or Ecbatic ( so that ) fulfillment of prophecy is:

“And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.” (Mat 2:15 )

( ἵνα πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν ὑπὸ κυρίου διὰ τοῦ προφήτου )

Which refers to this Old Testament passage:

“When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt. (Hos 11:1 )

It can be readily seen that Hos 11:1 is not a predictive statement of prophecy. Rather the New Testament (hence the Holy Spirit’s inspiration) calls it forward and shows the kind of similarity of “Ecbatic” fulfillment. This occurred Mat. 1:15 and is very much like Hos 11:1.


‘It should be pointed out in the case’s concerning Judas that a little known aspect in the use of a certain particle ( hina ) in subjunctive clauses (expressing contingency) show that Jesus and the Apostles understood two kinds of fulfillment of prophecy. The “telic” or primarily predictive prophecy where the present even occured because it was spoken, and the “ecbatic” or coincidentally resultant correlation with a well known event of Scripture in the past.   And in the title verse the “scripture was fulfilled ” about Judas ecbatically.  Meaning he became to Jesus what Ahithophel became to David. Fulfilled incidentally, dramatically, but not as preknown actuality.

“The Words so frequently used in the Scriptures, ‘that it might be fulfilled’, very often signify that we have here only another illustration os something uttered on a different occasion; or that the language of Scripture here finds a pertinent application. ‘Everywhere through the Scriptures the catastrophes of a later date are described in symbolical languages drawn from the literal facts of earlier times’.’The phrase .. sometimes means, not that the passage was intended to apply to the particular thing or event spoken of but that the words do aptly and appropriately express the thing referred to, and may be applied to it! (Albert Barnes)

‘This Scriptural expression sometimes means that such a thing so happened that this or that passage would appear quite suitable or applicable to it’. ‘The N.T. writers often use O.T. phraseology, which originally was applied in a very difference connection. And they do this because such phraseology expresses, in an apt and forcible manner, the thought which they desired them to convey’. (Moses Stuart).

“Scholars no longer question the frequent use, in an ecbatic sense, of the particle translated that; and , therefore they very often translate the phrase under consideration ‘so was fulfilled’, or ‘thus was fulfilled’. This Greek particle often means so that or that merely ‘Something took place, not in order that a prophecy might be fulfilled, but so that it was fulfilled; not in order to make the event correspond to the prophecy, but so that the event would and did correspond to the prophecy. The phrase is ofter used to express historical and typical parallelism’. ” (From MCabe, p. 119).

ἵνα – Especially as often used in relating a N. T. event with an O. T. prophecy or writing, ( ἵνα πληρωθῇ , aor. subj. pass. of πληρoω, to make full; to bring to pass, ratify, accomplish. “A conjunction is a word that connects sentences, clauses, phrases, and words.” The translation of ἵνα may be described by two words: telic and ecbatic. The ecbatic use, “relating to an event that has happened; denoting a mere result or consequence, as distinguished from telic, which implies purpose or intention or final end. ‘ Events were arranged in order that the prophecy might be fulfilled’, is telic. (Cent. Dict.).

“Its most common occurrence is in purpose or final clauses, and it occurs regularly with the subjunctive mood ( the mood of mild contingency of probability). We find ἵνα used in result clauses,… (Dana & Mantey).

“According to the very ancient tenet of the grammarians, ..ἵνα is alleged to be used not only telikos, i.e. of design and end, but also frequently ekbatikos i.e. of the result, signifying with the issue, that; with the result, that; so that …” (Thayer’s lex.).

(I compiled these notes in 1974 from auxiliary reference material that Gordon Olson brought to his lecture series, “Sharing Your Faith.” )’

sources: W Scott Taylor, “Biblical Prophecy: Intentional vs Coincidental – Telic vs Ecbatic” & ‘“Mine Own Familiar Friend Has Lifted HIs Heel Against Me” – Meant For Judas?’ (ideoamnostoutheou).

Read also “Judas Was Not Predestined or Foreknown to Betray Christ” (by W Scott Taylor)

Read also: “Judas was Chosen” (by Gordon Olson)

A podcast on intentional and coincidental prophecy:


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