You might say that nobody likes grammar except grandpa. You probably wouldn’t.
A country music singer, he don’t pay no mind. They cayn’t. They’re after Grammy not grammar.
The 70 Weeks Prophecy in Dan. 9:20-27 foretells life-and-death end-time events just ahead of us that, amazingly, come down to … grammar!
This hugely significant prophecy
is one of more than 300 in the Old Testament that find fulfillment in Jesus Christ (Luke 24:27, 44). God also wants us, like Daniel, to “give heed to the message and gain understanding of the vision” (Dan. 9:23).
The 70 Weeks Prophecy begins with a fixed marker: “that from the going forth of the command to restore and build Jerusalem until Messiah the Prince…” (verse 25). We should note “Messiah the Prince” because later another “prince” is thrown into the mix where we will have to use grammar to “rightly divid[e] the word of truth (2 Tim. 2:15).
Out of at least four decrees possible, the correct beginning point for calculating the prophecy is the decree of Artaxerxes in 457 B.C. (Ezra 7). Applying the Bible’s day-for-a-year principle (Num. 4:34, Ezek. 4:6) gives (7 years x 7 = 49) + (62 years x 7 = 434) = 483 years.
Adding 483 years to 457 B.C. brings us to A.D. 27 [adding one for no year “0”]. This remarkable prophecy lets us calculate that
Jesus Christ was baptized and began His public ministry in the fall of A.D. 27
Subtracting backward 30 years makes Jesus born in the fall of 4 B.C.
Now what about the 70th week—the last 7 years? This is where grammar and context come into vital play!
Verse 24 gives six items that will all be accomplished by Jesus Christ, and not fully until His second coming. Why would 69 weeks be fulfilled by Christ and then the last by someone else: a desolator, the Beast ruler, the “prince that is to come” (verse 26)?
Who is the “he” of verse 27?
The “he” “shall confirm a covenant with many for one week” and “in the middle of the week” “He” “shall bring an end to sacrifice and offering …”
The controversy is whether the antecedent for the “he” is “Messiah” or “people of the prince”?
Bring on grammar! Sorry, Grammarly won’t help! “Prince” is object of the preposition, not a subject, disqualifying it to be the antecedent. That leaves the plural “people” which can’t match up with “he,” a third-person singular. “Messiah” is the nearest and most logical antecedent, and many translations recognize this and capitalize “He.” Of course, original text has no capitalization.
Jesus the Messiah is the One who confirmed a covenant—the New Covenant—with many. It’s interesting that in Heb. 9:28 Paul said “many” to refer to those affected by Christ’s sacrifice for sin. The Hebrew word for covenant (B’RITH) is used six times in the book of Daniel [9:4, 27, 11:22, 28, 30, 32], all initiated by God—not a human treaty between the “king of the north” and the Israelis.
Christ brought an end to sacrifice and offering “in the middle of the week” when He was crucified on a Wednesday (Passover A.D. 31) (Heb. 10:14-18).
Talk about end-time significance!
Those who believe the “he” is the Beast prince believe he will make a 7-year covenant of peace through sly deception with the Israelis, but allow sacrifices and guarantee Israel’s safety in the land for only 3-1/2 years, and then take away the sacrifices and move from Europe into the land of Israel for 3-1/2 years, bringing the Great Tribulation. Why is there no reference to such a treaty elsewhere in the Bible?
Instead, Jesus the Messiah was cut off in the middle of the 70th week after 3-1/2 years confirming [strengthening] the covenant during His public ministry. There are yet 3-1/2 years for Christ to fulfill, perhaps in the Place of Safety, perhaps at the start of the Millennium.
What’s at stake: The Beast and the False Prophet may well guarantee a peace pact for Jerusalem and allow sacrifices to begin, but what if there won’t be 3-1/2 years of peaceful co-existence? Let’s not be caught off guard! (Luke 21:36).
For a much more detailed discussion: “The 70 Weeks Prophecy—Prophecy Study Paper“