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UCGia Bible Insights Thursday, April 20 2023

The New Testament in the Old Testament

Some have unwittingly turned a blind eye to much of God's revelation by rejecting what is called the Old Testament. They believe the Old Testament was valid until Christ came, but at that time became old and outdated.

by Scott Ashley

The terms Old Testament and New Testament are found in a few places in some Bible translations, but the word translated "testament" is actually the word for "covenant." If the Apostles John, Peter or Paul had been asked about the "Old Testament" or the "New Testament," they would have had no idea what was meant. The first use of the term New Testament is found in the writings of the theologian Tertullian (ca. A.D. 155-220), a century or more after their deaths.

The writers of the New Testament relied on and frequently referenced the Old Testament. An index in the Jewish New Testament catalogs 695 separate quotations from the books of the Old Testament in the New (Jewish New Testament Publications, Jerusalem, 1989). There are also many other passages referring to the Old Testament. Depending on which scholar's work you examine, the number of quotations and references in the New Testament to the Old may be as high as 4,105 (Roger Nicole, The Expositor's Bible Commentary, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, 1979, Vol. I, p. 617).

Of the 27 books and letters forming the New Testament, 21 quote the Old. The only New Testament books that don't directly quote the Old Testament are the six shortest –-Titus, Philemon, 1, 2 and 3 John, and Jude. However, Titus, 1 John, 3 John and Jude allude to Old Testament personalities or passages.

Some assume the five books of Moses are obsolete, as they focus on laws supposedly annulled by Jesus Christ. However, Paul who, some believe, taught the law contained in these five books is done away, quoted from those books between 70 and 110 times, which is more than any other New Testament figure. Jesus Christ quoted from these same books about 60 times.

Paul made his view of the Old Testament clear when he wrote to Timothy: "...from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus" (2 Timothy 3:15). At that time, about A.D. 66, there was no "New Testament." Paul was referring to the Old Testament.

Paul goes on to say that, as some translations put it, "all Scripture is God-breathed," using the term theopneustos. The first part of this word, Theo, means "God" and pneustos means "breathed” Paul is saying the Hebrew Scriptures, or Old Testament, came directly from the very breath and Spirit of God. The second book to Timothy was written about a year before Paul was executed, and in it he states the Old Testament Scriptures, rather than being obsolete, are inspired by God and "profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness," that we may be "complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work" (verses 16-17).

Acts 28 describes Paul's arrival in Rome and his imprisonment, where he “…solemnly testified of the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus from both the Law of Moses and the Prophets…" (Acts 28:23). Paul did not tell them they no longer needed to heed the Hebrew Scriptures, but rather taught Jesus Christ and the Kingdom of God from them.

Peter's second epistle is his last surviving letter, written in prison shortly before his death. In it he instructs, "…no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit" (II Peter 1: 20-21). Peter is here referring to the prophecies speaking of the coming Messiah. The prophets were "holy men of God" who spoke and wrote God's words in the Old Testament under the inspiration of God's Spirit.

Luke 24 describes events following Christ’s resurrection, when His followers did not recognize Him. His reaction to this was: “ 'O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken! … And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself" (verses 25-27).

Later He appeared to the 11 disciples and other followers and proclaimed: "... all things must be fulfilled which were written in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms concerning Me.' And He opened their understanding, that they might comprehend the Scriptures" (verses 44-45). One function of the Old Testament Scriptures was to correctly identify the Messiah, and later Paul wrote that these same Old Testament Scriptures were also "profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness" (2 Timothy 3:16)..

When Christ was being tempted in the wilderness by the Devil He quoted the Old Testament in response: 'It is written, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God"'" (Matthew 4:4), which is a quote from Deuteronomy 8:3. In the "Sermon on the Mount" Christ announced: "Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets [the Old Testament]. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill" (Matthew 5:17).

Jesus fulfilled the Law in the sense that He showed its spiritual intent, and how we should live, adding: "For assuredly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle will by no means pass from the law till all is fulfilled. Whoever therefore breaks one of the least of these commandments, and teaches men so, shall be called least in the kingdom of heaven; but whoever does and teaches them, he shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven" (Matthew 5:18-19).

When we examine the words and actions of Jesus Christ and the apostles, we can only conclude with them that the Old Testament is the inspired Word of God. The writers of the New Testament gave no clue it was abolished or annulled by Jesus Christ.