Jonathan Welton: Daniel’s 70 Weeks Prophecy Is About Jesus, Not An Antichrist


(Note: This post includes a full-scale teaching illustration below the following introduction.)

The last quarter of the 20th century featured many prophecy charts, based on dispensationalism, depicting a future “Rapture,” 7-year tribulation, Antichrist, series of seal/trumpet/bowl judgments, Battle of Armageddon, etc. When I was younger, I saw a few of these charts in person, and a number of others when I watched “A Thief In the Night” (1972), “A Distant Thunder” (1977) and “Image of the Beast” (1981); all available here.

Charts and illustrations can be good teaching aids. Based on my study of church history, however, the vast majority of respected leaders in the first 1800 (or so) years after Christ would have been horrified to see a lot of these (dispensationalist-based) charts. As my personal journey has taken me away from the pre-trib Rapture/premillennialist view I grew up with, and toward fulfilled eschatology, I’m glad to see that new charts, illustrations, and similar tools are being created which are a lot more sound and Biblical (in my opinion). In a couple of previous posts, I’ve highlighted two such illustrations by author Jonathan Welton, one on Daniel 2 and the kingdom of God and another on John’s use of “ge” (land) versus “kosmos” (world) in the book of Revelation.

Welton’s newest illustration concerns the 70 Weeks prophecy in Daniel 9. Seeing this prophecy differently was a major turning point in my own journey. Previously I was led to believe that Daniel saw a future Antichrist who would make a 7-year political covenant with Israel, then break it 3.5 years later, before presiding over another 3.5 years of planet-wide turmoil and catastrophes. This was to be the 7-year tribulation period. The text (Daniel 9:24-27) says none of these things. I can’t forget how stunned I was when it was pointed out to me, online, that the covenant of Daniel 9:27 is parallel to Jesus’ words on the night He was betrayed by Judas:

Then he shall confirm a covenant with many for one week; But in the middle of the week he shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering…” (Daniel 9:27).

For this is My blood of the new covenant, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:28).

Each “week” in Daniel’s prophecy represents a period of seven years. We also know that Jesus laid down His life as a sacrifice after 3.5 years of ministry (“…in the middle of the week…”), and that His sacrifice brought an end to the sacrifices and offerings under the old covenant. There went the idea that sacrifices must be restored in a rebuilt temple in Jerusalem in our future. There also went the only Scriptural basis (so I thought) for a 7-year tribulation period. Jonathan Welton does a great job bringing this and more out in his latest illustration:

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13 thoughts on “Jonathan Welton: Daniel’s 70 Weeks Prophecy Is About Jesus, Not An Antichrist

      • I see where you’re going with that, and it’s a great observation. You’re right – 70 x 7, the number of times Jesus told Peter to forgive his offenders, parallels the 70 weeks of seven years in Daniel’s vision.

        So, to follow this through a bit more, one of the purposes for Daniel’s 490 years’ vision was to “atone for wickedness,” and it would also involve the making of a covenant with many. Jesus clarified that His “blood of the new covenant” was to be shed for many for the remission of sins.” And, during this same time period (Daniel’s 70th week), Jesus tells Peter to forgive those who sin against him “until seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:21-22). Jesus was indicating that Daniel’s prophecy was being fulfilled, and soon coming to a close, in His ministry and through His work of atonement which brings forgiveness.

        Would you add anything to that, or change anything about that explanation?

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      • No, I don’t think I would.

        I’m sure that most preachers/teachers who teach on the 70×7 and relate it to forgiveness do so with a good heart and intentions. Grace is, after all, a huge theme that over-archs (is that even a word?) practically everything in the Old & New Testaments.

        I’m thankful for learning what I am now, I just wish more teachers/preachers/pastors would link these two together more, but I think that would take an entire shifting of their eschatology and, more than likely, parts of their own theology. But, reflecting on my own journey the last three years, I am hopeful for the Body in many ways.

        Anyways, thanks for replying, Adam. Greatly appreciate it!

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  1. Glad that those who understand are finally making it known, but you need to get this information out into the general population of Christians. There are still too many eschatological ‘rapture 2-yr olds’ out there. You should hear them when people tell them ‘No’. The whining, squealing and foot-stomping is just like a little brat throwing a tantrum when it can’t have candy.

    I’ve to a slightly different understanding of anointing the Most Holy: I believe that refers to the Baptism of Christ and the descent of the Holy Spirit on Him rather than the Church, but it’s still better than most of the eschatological junk food out there. Keep up the good work!

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    • Thanks, Ed. I’ve seen that explanation as well, that the anointing of the Most Holy refers to Jesus’ baptism by John the Baptist and the Holy Spirit descending upon Him. It may very well be.

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  2. Thanks for this post. I agree with your understanding of the seventy weeks. I also grew up being taught the pre-millennial view and even taught it myself. Gradually, over time I began to change my view to the preterist position.

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    • You’re welcome, DCorpus, and thank you for your comment. The preterist community does seem to be growing. Do you still have fellowship with the people to whom you previously taught the premillennial view? I’m just wondering if they are aware of your new views, and if you’ve been able to have any profitable discussions with them about the subject.

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      • I have a few brothers and sisters that I still talk with. They are undecided I think at this point. Most of who I discuss my view with are the friends I have made at the current church that I attend. I grew up going to a Pentecostal church and now go to a non denominational church. The Pentecostal church I went to was very dispensational and premillennial. The friends that I have met at the current church I go to have actually never heard of the view that hold. In fact the bible study group that my wife and I fellowship with has never heard of my view. We recently went through the book of Revelation about six months ago. I guess I would say it got sort of heated. Not to the point where we were yelling at each other or even befriending one another but definitely much disagreement. Most of them I think only knew the premillennial view. It was interesting though.

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  3. This interpretation sounds plausible until you get to 30 AD. Finishing off the last week in 33 AD with the stoning of Stephen, conversion of Cornelius, and the ministry of Paul to the Gentiles I think is weak and a case of shoehorning something that just doesn’t fit. This interpretation would only get you to 33 AD, 37 years short of the destruction of Jerusalem, which is clearly a major part of this prophecy.

    I think this interpretation goes wrong here: “Then during the last seven years of the 490 years of mercy, the Messiah would end animal sacrifice, and He would also be put to death.” This is assumed, but the text doesn’t actually say this. The text says the Messiah would die AFTER the sixty-two weeks. He is assuming the final “week” follows immediately after the sixty-two. But notice it does not say the Messiah is cut off in the middle of the week.

    I think a better interpretation is that the final week represents seven years that comes after the “sixty-two weeks,” but doesn’t come immediately after. I base this upon what is supposed to happen in the final week.

    In the last “week,” sacrifices come to an end in the middle of the week (3 & 1/2 years) as Jerusalem and the Temple are destroyed (from the time Vespasion arrived in the Holy Land until Jerusalem was taken was 3 & 1/2 years). 3 & 1/2 years after Jerusalem falls, the last Jewish hold out is taken (Masada), bringing an end to the Jewish war and the ancient Jewish nation. Thus fulfilling the time remaining not only for “your holy city,” but also for “your people” (Dan. 9:24) in the final week/seven year period.

    “And he (the Messiah) will make a firm covenant with the many (the Gentiles, the Romans) for one week (seven years).” The “covenant” Jesus makes is with the Romans, when He makes a contract with the Romans for seven years, to trample the Jewish nation until the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled (Luke 21:24; Rom. 11:25; Rev. 11:2). The 70 weeks prophecy ends with a “complete destruction, one that is decreed,” poured out on the one being made desolate (the ancient Jewish nation).

    This interpretation not only gets you to 70 AD, but also to the complete destruction of ancient Israel in 73 AD. As far as the last week not immediately following the sixty-two weeks, the seven and the sixty-two are linked together (Dan. 9:25), and the last week is kept separate. So the text separates them, too.

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    • Hi Steve

      Like you I am uncomfortable with the fact that most or all interpretations of Daniel’s 70 week’s prophecy require “shoehorning” to make it fit, but I don’t believe that answer is to insert a timespan between the 69 weeks and the last week either because the text doesn’t support it. If we consider the facts that we know and avoid adding assumptions that are not present I believe we will get the best understanding, although no answer is 100% complete with respect to the interpretation of Daniel’s 70 weeks.

      Fact #1 – Daniel’s prophecies were end time prophecies that were sealed until the “end of the age” Dan 12: 9 & 13. The word “end” [gets] is also found in Dan 8:17 & 19, Dan 9:26, Dan 11: 6, 13, 27, 35, 40 & 45, Dan 12: 4, 6, 9, 13 supporting the fact that the book of Daniel contains some of the most detailed end time prophecies found in the Old Testament. In the seventy week’s prophecy in Daniel 9: 24 to 27 it speaks about the destruction of the city and the sanctuary which aligns with the prophecies in Matthew 24, Mark 13, Luke 21 for the end of the age which was the apostle’s generation (70 years Psalm 90:10) where all things would be fulfilled Matthew 24:34 & Luke 21:32.

      Fact #2 – While no interpretation of the “weeks” in Daniel 9: 24 to 27 has completely satisfied my desire to fully understand the meaning, there are major components that tie fulfilment to Christ, and the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple which occurred in 70 AD. I am not comfortable separating the last week in verse 27 for future fulfilment because it clearly refers to stopping sacrifice and grain offering and a complete destruction as decreed which were fulfilled the Apostles generation.

      I believe the danger of separating the last week is it requires a new temple in Jerusalem and a return to sacrifice and grain offering which contradicts other “end of the age” prophecies in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21. This leads to support for modern day Israel who are in violation of God’s commandment to love our neighbor as ourselves, and by their fruit we can see they are not God’s people.

      After Satan is destroyed and the final judgment is complete Rev 20: 7 to 15 the holy city Jerusalem comes down out of heaven Rev 21:10, with 12 gates having the names of the twelve sons of Israel v12, and 12 foundation stones with the names of the Apostles of the Lamb v14. The Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple v22.

      I believe the last prophecies to be fulfilled are contained in Rev 20: 7 through Rev 21 and Ezek 38 & 39. I believe that the chaotic state the entire world is in reflects that Satan has been released from his prison and is deceiving the nations to lead them to battle against God’s people (the spiritual nation of Israel). It’s critical to our salvation that we understand scripture and what is going on in the world around us so we don’t end up on the broad road to destruction.

      God bless!

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  4. Hi Adam,

    Found your blog today and embarrassingly I can’t remember the rabbit trail that led me here. I enjoyed reading several of you articles on Daniel 9 and your courteous replies to those who have commented. Thought I agree with you (in part) regarding Yeshua’s fulfillment of the 70th week I still hold that the 2nd coming is a yet future event.

    I wanted to comment on Mr. Welton’s illustration. There are several assumptions he makes which I believe undermine the credibility of his argument. Here a few that stand out to me:

    1. The 457 BC date for “Artaxerxes” edict is not given in the text of Ezra 7. This must be assumed based upon the statement that Ezra went up to Jerusalem in the 7th year of Artaxerxes. It seems unreasonable (to me) to assume that this most important prophecy begins with a decree which cannot be conclusively dated.
    2. The Biblical calendar from the time of Moses up through the 2nd temple era and to the time of Yeshua was based upon a lunar/solar reckoning of time. If this was a prophecy given to “Daniel’s people” it surely would have been based upon a reckoning of time they would have understood. The Biblical calendar is based upon 12 or 13 months of 29.53 days each. If the prophecy was to be understood in terms of a “year” then it should be interpreted accordingly.
    3. The 457 BC date also assumes that Ezra and Nehemiah were contemporaries of “Artaxerxes” Longimanus. This assumption is not supported by the Biblical 2nd temple chronology. Ezra’s father died in the 19th year of Nebuchadnezzar. Many of the priests and Levites of Neh. 12 were still alive in Neh. 10. This places Nehemiah and Ezra as contemporaries of Darius Hystaspes (“the Great” Artaxerxes) circa 521-586 BC.

    Thought I don’t hold your view of eschatology I appreciate the tone of your articles and the discussion. Learned a thing or two as well. Thanks you!

    Warm regards,
    William Struse

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