Also, the Bible speaks of someone's descendants as his “seed.” In some passages the word seed implies both an individual (the Messiah) and multiple descendants ( people of Israelite descent, the children of Israel ).
Such dual themes are common in Scripture. The apostle Paul, for example, wrote about “the first man Adam [becoming] a living being” and “the last Adam [becoming] a life-giving Spirit”
(1 Corinthians 15:45 1 Corinthians 15:45And so it is written, The first man Adam was made a living soul; the last Adam was made a quickening spirit.
American King James Version×). Paul noted that physical circumcision was evidence of God's covenant with Abraham's offspring, but God defined spiritual circumcision—a converted heart—as the key to a Christian's relationship with God (Romans 2:27-28 Romans 2:27-28 27 And shall not uncircumcision which is by nature, if it fulfill the law, judge you, who by the letter and circumcision do transgress the law? 28 For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh:
American King James Version×). Paul wrote of the spiritually circumcised—the Church, rather than a physical race of people—as being the “Israel of God” (Galatians 6:16 Galatians 6:16And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and on the Israel of God.
American King James Version×).
Jesus Christ specifically alluded to the dual application of some prophecies in Matthew 17:11-12 Matthew 17:11-12 11 And Jesus answered and said to them, Elias truly shall first come, and restore all things.
12 But I say to you, That Elias is come already, and they knew him not, but have done to him whatever they listed. Likewise shall also the Son of man suffer of them.
American King James Version×). Asked about the prophecy of “Elijah,” who would precede the coming of the Messiah (Malachi 4:5 Malachi 4:5Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:
American King James Version×), Christ responded: “Indeed Elijah is coming first and will restore all things. But I say to you that Elijah has come already.” The disciples understood that the prophesied “Elijah” who had come already was John the Baptist (Matthew 17:13 Matthew 17:13Then the disciples understood that he spoke to them of John the Baptist.
American King James Version×). But Christ's clear implication was that another “Elijah” would precede His second coming.
Another prophecy with dual application is Jesus' Olivet Prophecy (Matthew 24; Mark 13; Luke 21), so named because He gave it to His disciples on the Mount of Olives, overlooking Jerusalem. Many conditions described in this prophecy existed in the days leading up to the Romans' siege and destruction of Jerusalem in A.D. 70. But Christ makes it clear that similar conditions would prevail shortly before His future return to the earth.
In the Olivet Prophecy, Jesus spoke of an “abomination of desolation.” Daniel's prophecy about this abomination was fulfilled almost 200 years earlier by forces of the Greek Syrian ruler Antiochus Epiphanes, but Christ pointed out that this prophecy would have a future fulfillment (Matthew 24:15-16 Matthew 24:15-16 15 When you therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoever reads, let him understand:)
16 Then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains:
American King James Version×). For a more complete explanation of this and other fundamentals of biblical prophecy, read the Bible study aid booklet You Can Understand Bible Prophecy .