Can some prophecies have implicit conditions that are never explicitly stated?

High Definition Video Standard Definition Video

(Right click this link to download video.)


Biblical prophecies are often conditional, even when those conditions aren't stated. There are a number of examples of that in Scripture. For example, Elijah is told, and says to Ahab, you know, "You're in big trouble. This judgment is coming in your time." But then God later tells Elijah, "Well, Ahab has humbled himself. It's not going to come in his time. It's going to come in the time of his descendants" — 1 Kings 21. Also, the prophet Jeremiah says the Lord tells him, "If I pronounce judgment against a nation, but they turn from there wickedness, then I'll do good for them. And if I pronounce good on a people, and they turn from my way, then I'll bring judgment on them." Again, in Ezekiel 33, you have the same idea where God says he's going to bring judgment, but he doesn't really delight in the death of the one who dies. You know, if a person turns from their wickedness, then he'll bless them. You have the same thing in the book of Jonah where Jonah says, "Forty days and Nineveh will be overthrown." Nineveh repents, and Jonah is sorely disappointed.

Answer by Dr. Craig S. Keener

Dr. Craig Keener teaches New Testament studies at Asbury Theological Seminary.