Fulfil (usually מַלֵּא, mille', πληρόω), to fill up), generally used with reference to the accomplishment of prophecy. It is used in the O.T. with respect to various kinds of prophecies, such as are imminent (e.g. the death of Jeroboam's child, 1Ki 14:17), or distant (e.g. that referring to the rebuilding of Jericho, 1Ki 16:34); those that are accomplished in a near as well as in a remote event, SEE DOUBLE SENSE, those that relate to some similar typical occurrence class, or character, SEE TYPE, proverbial expressions, SEE PROVERB, and especially predictions relating to the Messiah. Several distinguished scholars consider that some texts in the N.T. containing references to the O.T., and introduced by the formulas, "All this was done that it might befulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet (Mt 1:22; Mt 2:15); "For thus it is written by the prophet" (Mt 2:5); "Then was fulfilled that which was spoken" (Mt 2:17), may be mere allegations, without its being intended to declare that the literal fulfillment took place on the occasion described. Even if those passages could not be applied to certain events, otherwise than by accommodation or illustration, the phrases which introduce them will easily bend to that explanation; for it may be shown, by examples from the Rabbins and from the earliest Syriac writers, that in the East similar modes of speech have always been in use. SEE ACCOMMODATION. It is to be observed, however, concerning the formulas "that it might befulfilled," "then was fulfilled," etc., when used with reference to the fulfilnent of prophecy in the New Testament, the events are not to be understood as happening merely for the purpose of making good the predictions, but rather that in or by this event was fulfilled the prophecy. The ambiguity in the understanding of the first of these formulas arises from what are technically called the telic and the ecbatic uses of the Greek particle ἵνα. It is also to be noted that the individuals or nations actually engaged in fulfilling prophecy often had no such intention, or even any knowledge that they were doing so. See Stuart, in Biblical Repos. 1835, page 86; Woods, Lectures on Inspiration, page 26; Pye Smith, Principles of Prophetic Interpretation, page 51, and others. Some, however (e.g. Davidson, Sacred Hermeneutics, page 471 sq.), contend that the phrase ἵνα πληρωθῇ, "that it might be fulfilled," and similar expressions in both the Heb. and Gr. Scriptures, always designate an intentional and definite fulfillment of an express prediction (Meth. Quar. Rev. April 1867, page 194). SEE PROPHECY.

Definition of fulfill

See also the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia.

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