The Apostles Were Not Trying to Be Original

The apostles of Jesus Christ were not trying to be original with their teaching.  They were loyal Jews who were merely trying to relate the understanding of the Scriptures given to them by their fellow loyal Jew – Jesus – in the wake of His resurrection from the dead.

Jesus explained to His apostles that everything that happened to Him was part of a predetermined plan of God documented in what we call the Old Testament.  The documentation of this plan was “coded” to be sure – but was there, and there in abundance.  By “coded” I simply mean that prophecies about Messiah were in riddle-like fashion, only making sense once the answer was revealed.  The answer began with the resurrection of the Messiah.

Throughout the New Testament we find vocabulary drawn from the pages of the Old Testament.  This is because the apostles weren’t teaching the New Testament – they were teaching the Old Testament, just the way Jesus had taught it to them, and just the way that the Holy Spirit was further revealing it to them.

Therefore, the best way to understand the teachings of the New Testament is to look for their roots in the Old Testament.  Conversely, the worst way to attempt to understand the New Testament is to ignore the Old Testament.  Don’t look for originality in the New Testament; look for repetition and the elevation of teaching already present in the Old Testament.  (By “elevation” I mean the transition from law to grace, from flesh to spirit, from an earthly orientation to a heavenly orientation that Jesus brought.)

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. 

The Apostles Did Not Wish They Had New Testaments

The only Bible that the apostles had was what we call the Old Testament.  Nevertheless, we never see the apostles lamenting that their Scriptures were insufficient.

Of course, we need the New Testament because that’s how we hear the apostles’ testimony.  They knew their testimony, however, and did not need what we need.

The point of this is that the Old Testament contains much more meaning for us than most Christians realize.  We need to use the New Testament to view the Old Testament the way that the apostles did.  Then we will begin to see more of the treasures that are resident therein.  But remember, we will only have begun.  Keep looking for more.  For in Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3), and it is these very Scriptures that testify of Him (John 5:39).

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Isaiah 49:8 – Christ Has Brought About the Day of Salvation

Isaiah 49:8 Thus says the LORD,
“In a favorable time I have answered You,
And in a day of salvation I have helped You;
And I will keep You and give You for a covenant of the people,
To restore the land, to make them inherit the desolate heritages;

These words Isaiah wrote in prophecy of the days of Christ.  As Paul himself wrote to the church in Corinth, quoting this verse:

2 Corinthians 6:1 And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain–
2 Corinthians 6:2 for He says,
“AT THE ACCEPTABLE TIME I LISTENED TO YOU,
AND ON THE DAY OF SALVATION I HELPED YOU.” Behold, now is “THE ACCEPTABLE TIME,” behold, now is “THE DAY OF SALVATION”–

Thus Paul and the rest of the apostles are continually demonstrating their belief that what we call the Old Testament Scriptures are all about Christ.  (For more on this idea, see The Old Testament (that is, the Hebrew Bible) Is About Jesus Christ.)

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Isaiah 49:6 – Messiah Was a Light of Revelation to the Gentiles

Is 49:6 He says, “It is too small a thing that You should be My Servant
To raise up the tribes of Jacob and to restore the preserved ones of Israel;
I will also make You a light of the nations
So that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.”

Isaiah is prophesying of Jesus, as is confirmed by Luke’s quotation of this verse in his gospel when he describes Jesus being brought to the temple as an infant.  A devout elderly man named Simeon applied Isaiah’s words to Jesus, saying the child was:

Luke 2:32 A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES,
And the glory of Your people Israel.”

Paul also applies this verse to Jesus and what He was doing through the church in the New Testament when he said:

Acts 13:47 “For so the Lord has commanded us,
‘I HAVE PLACED YOU AS A LIGHT FOR THE GENTILES,
THAT YOU MAY BRING SALVATION TO THE END OF THE EARTH.'”

Thus Isaiah 49:6 testifies of Messiah, as do all the Scriptures of the prophets.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

See “Strong and Courageous” in Both Testaments

We know that the apostles taught from what we call the Old Testament.  Just how deeply the Old Testament texts permeated their common and individual consciousnesses, however, is not always plain to see.  It’s certainly plain when the apostles quote and Old Testament verses – especially when Bibles like the New American Standard Bible identify those quotations by rendering them in all capital letters.  It’s not so plain, however, when the apostles use language from the Old Testament in ways that don’t show up as direct quotations.  Let me give you an example.

The people of God were exhorted by Moses to “be strong and courageous.”  For example [emphasis added here and throughout]:

Deuteronomy 31:6 “Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble at them, for the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. He will not fail you or forsake you.”

In the New Testament, we can see the same sort of exhortation to the people of God.  Consider this from Paul:

1 Thessalonians 3:2 and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s fellow worker in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you as to your faith,

The point is not that Paul is “quoting” the verse from Deuteronomy, but that the idea of the people of God needing strength and encouragement as they prepared to enter the kingdom of God had become a part of his thinking.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Scriptures on Jesus’ Regard for the Prophets

Jesus thought highly of the prophets.  He trusted them.  He believed that they spoke for His Father.

Jesus modeled His own life after the prophets, and encouraged His disciples to do the same.

Jesus believed everything that His Father had said about Him through the prophets.  Here are some verses which make clear Jesus’ trust in the prophets [emphasis added]:  

Matthew 5:11 “Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you, and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of Me.
Matthew 5:12 “Rejoice and be glad, for your reward in heaven is great; for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

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Luke 24:25 And He said to them, “O foolish men and slow of heart to believe in all that the prophets have spoken!
Luke 24:26 “Was it not necessary for the Christ to suffer these things and to enter into His glory?”
Luke 24:27 Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.

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Luke 24:44 Now He said to them, “These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”
Luke 24:45 Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures,
Luke 24:46 and He said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day,
Luke 24:47 and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem.
Luke 24:48 “You are witnesses of these things.

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The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

The Apostolic Mind

The apostles of Jesus Christ were taught by Him to read the Scriptures in a way that none of them had ever read the Scriptures before.  In a phrase, Jesus taught them to read the Scriptures according to the spirit and not according to the flesh.

This new way of reading the Scriptures caused the apostles to understand the people of God differently.  When reading according to the flesh, the people of God were the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.  When reading according to the spirit, the people of God were those who followed Messiah.  At first, the apostles understood this to mean Jews who followed Messiah, but in time they came to see that Gentiles could follow Messiah and be included in the people of God, too. In retrospect, this was an obvious conclusion, for why would you read the Scriptures according to the spirit, but limit their application to people according to the flesh.  Old attitudes die hard in the human mind, however, and so this understanding took a little longer to change.

What distinguished old Israel (that is, the people of God according to the flesh) from new Israel (that is, the people of God according to the spirit) was, as said above, faith in Christ.  Here, therefore, we see cases where believers – rather than physical descendants of Abraham – are regarded as God’s nation:

In Matthew 19:28, Jesus says tells His apostles that they will sit on the thrones for the twelve tribes of Israel.  That is, as the physical nation had its patriarchs (Judah, Levi, Benjamin, and the rest), so spiritual Israel would have its patriarch (Peter, James, John, and the rest).

In Matthew 21:43, Jesus tells the rulers of Israel that God’s rule would be taken away from them and given to “another people.”  Who were those other people?  People who put faith in Christ.

In Luke 22:30, Jesus makes a point similar to the one He made in Matthew 19:28.

In Romans 8:28-29, Paul explicitly distinguishes Jews of the flesh (“outward Jews”) from Jews of the spirit (inward Jews).

In the third chapter of 2 Corinthians, Paul contrasts the exceeding glory of the new covenant when compared to the glory of the covenant that preceded it.  This evokes Haggai 2:9, which otherwise some might have interpreted to mean that the Messiah would have more “stuff” than Solomon, but actually meant that Messiah would have spiritual, not earthly, trappings.

In Galatians 6:16, Paul blesses “the Israel of God.”  This references those who no longer trust in circumcision, but rather in Christ Himself.

In Philippians 3, Paul uses the term “circumcision” to refer to Israel, distinguishing the “true circumcision” from the “false circumcision.”  Of course, believers constituted “the true circumcision.”  Those who gloried in the flesh were the “false circumcision” – or we could say “false Israel” or “the false people of God.”

The epistle to the Hebrews is obviously addressed to believers – not merely physical Hebrews.

In James 1:1, he addresses his letter to “the twelve tribes who are dispersed abroad” – that is, those who believe in Christ and who are spread all over the Mediterranean world.

In 1 Peter 2:9-10 Peter takes Old Testament expressions and applies them to believers:  “a chosen race,” “a royal priesthood,” “a holy nation,” “a people for God’s own possession, and “the people of God.”  In the Old Testament, these terms had been applied to the physical descendants of Abraham; here, Peter is apply to those who believe in Jesus.

In Revelation 2:9 and 3:9, the expression “those who say they are Jews and are not” is obviously an allusion to this concept of distinguishing physical Israel from spiritual Israel.

Physical Israel is an earthly and therefore temporal identity.  By contrast, spiritual Israel is a heavenly and therefore eternal identity.  (See 2 Corinthians 4:18.)  The apostles the Scriptures in the way they were ultimately intended to be read.  It took Jesus Christ Himself, however, to bring that understanding.

Related post:  Scriptures on Christ as Moses

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Scriptures on Christ as Moses

It is clear from the New Testament documents that the apostles saw Jesus as the one prophesied by Moses in this passage from the Old Testament:

Deuteronomy 18:15 “The LORD your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him.

The apostle Peter said so explicitly in this New Testament verse:

Acts 3:22 “Moses said, ‘THE LORD GOD WILL RAISE UP FOR YOU A PROPHET LIKE ME FROM YOUR BRETHREN; TO HIM YOU SHALL GIVE HEED to everything He says to you.

The martyr Stephen confirmed it:

Acts 7:37 “This is the Moses who said to the sons of Israel, ‘GOD WILL RAISE UP FOR YOU A PROPHET LIKE ME FROM YOUR BRETHREN.’

The New Testament disciples thus saw Jesus as the “new Moses” and “greater Moses,” raised up as mediator between God and His people – just as Moses had been, only far more so.

There are other places in the New Testamet where we can recognize the apostles holding this particular view of Jesus.  Here are some of them:

1 Corinthians 5:13 But those who are outside, God judges. REMOVE THE WICKED MAN FROM AMONG YOURSELVES.

The phrase in capitals appears multiple times in the book of Deuteronomy (13:5; 17:7, 12; 19:19; 21:21; 22:21), where it is an admonition from God through Moses for the people of God to keep themselves separated from sin.  That Paul quotes it as relevant to the church at Corinth indicates that the New Testament church saw itself as the new Israel and Jesus as the new Moses.

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1 Corinthians 10:1 For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were all under the cloud and all passed through the sea;
1 Corinthians 10:2 and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea;
1 Corinthians 10:3 and all ate the same spiritual food;
1 Corinthians 10:4 and all drank the same spiritual drink, for they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the rock was Christ.
1 Corinthians 10:5 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness.
1 Corinthians 10:6 Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not crave evil things as they also craved.
1 Corinthians 10:7 Do not be idolaters, as some of them were; as it is written, “THE PEOPLE SAT DOWN TO EAT AND DRINK, AND STOOD UP TO PLAY.”
1 Corinthians 10:8 Nor let us act immorally, as some of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day.
1 Corinthians 10:9 Nor let us try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the serpents.
1 Corinthians 10:10 Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the destroyer.
1 Corinthians 10:11 Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come.

It’s obvious in the passage that Paul is having his readers remember the incidents involved in Moses leading the children of Israel out of Egypy precisely because he believes they have application to their present situation.

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Titus 2:11 For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men,
Titus 2:12 instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age,
Titus 2:13 looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus,
Titus 2:14 who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

The phrase “to purify for Himself a people for His own possession” in verse 14 is an allusion to Exodus 19:5 and Deuteronomy 4:20; 7:6; and 14:2 wherein God declares His intention to establish Israel as a people for Himself and His purposes.  Thus believers in Christ were the new “nation of God’s people.”

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Hebrews 3:1 Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession;
Hebrews 3:2 He was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was in all His house.
Hebrews 3:3 For He has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses, by just so much as the builder of the house has more honor than the house.
Hebrews 3:4 For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.
Hebrews 3:5 Now Moses was faithful in all His house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken later;
Hebrews 3:6 but Christ was faithful as a Son over His house–whose house we are, if we hold fast our confidence and the boast of our hope firm until the end.

This passage makes the explicit comparison of Moses and Christ – showing the superiorities of Christ in the process.  This comparison continues throughout this chapter and into the next.

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Hebrews 12:18 For you have not come to a mountain that can be touched and to a blazing fire, and to darkness and gloom and whirlwind,
Hebrews 12:19 and to the blast of a trumpet and the sound of words which sound was such that those who heard begged that no further word be spoken to them.
Hebrews 12:20 For they could not bear the command, “IF EVEN A BEAST TOUCHES THE MOUNTAIN, IT WILL BE STONED.”
Hebrews 12:21 And so terrible was the sight, that Moses said, “I AM FULL OF FEAR and trembling.”
Hebrews 12:22 But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels,
Hebrews 12:23 to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of the righteous made perfect,
Hebrews 12:24 and to Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood, which speaks better than the blood of Abel.
Hebrews 12:25 See to it that you do not refuse Him who is speaking. For if those did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, much less will we escape who turn away from Him who warns from heaven.
Hebrews 12:26 And His voice shook the earth then, but now He has promised, saying, “YET ONCE MORE I WILL SHAKE NOT ONLY THE EARTH, BUT ALSO THE HEAVEN.”
Hebrews 12:27 This expression, “Yet once more,” denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain.
Hebrews 12:28 Therefore, since we receive a kingdom which cannot be shaken, let us show gratitude, by which we may offer to God an acceptable service with reverence and awe;
Hebrews 12:29 for our God is a consuming fire.

This passage compares and contrasts Moses at Mount Sinai with Jesus at the heavenly Mount Zion.

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1 Peter 2:9 But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;
1 Peter 2:10 for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY.

Most of the phrases in verse 9 were originally uttered by Moses to the children of Israel.  Peter is applying to those who are now following Jesus Christ – whom God has seated “in the chair of Moses” (see Matthew 23 2 and how Jesus rebuked the scribes and Pharisees for attempting to seat themselves in that place).

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Jude 1:5 Now I desire to remind you, though you know all things once for all, that the Lord, after saving a people out of the land of Egypt, subsequently destroyed those who did not believe.

This reminder would have no purpose unless, of course, the experience of Jesus and the New Testament church was to parallel the experience of Moses and the chldren of Israel.

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Related post:  The Apostolic Mind

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Apostolic Use of the Old Testament

The apostles did not preach and teach from the New Testament because it was not compiled until after they had all died.  Their authoritative text was the Old Testament.  If we don’t take this truth seriously, we will not properly understand the New Testament.

Even though the apostles preached and taught from the Old Testament, they never called it that.  The terms “Old Testament” and “New Testament” post-dated the apostles as well.  Rather, the apostles referred to “the Law of Moses.”  Or they might say simply “the Law,” or even more simply, “Moses.”  Or they might refer to “the Law and the Prophets,” or simply “the Prophets.”  They could also say “the Law and the Prophets and the Writings.”  They could say “the Scriptures” or simply “Scripture.”  They might use the name of the specific prophet they are quoting, such as Isaiah or Daniel.  Or they might simply say “it is written.”  In all these cases, however, they are referring to what we call the Old Testament.

It is critically important to recognize the Old Testament roots of New Testament teaching.  Otherwise, we might think the apostles are bringing us new ideas when they are actually explaining the ideas of the prophets before them.   As Jesus Himself said:

Matthew 5:17 “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill.

People who think that we should read only the New Testament and discard the Old Testament are like a man who keeps the key but stays away from the house that it unlocks.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Catalog of New Testament Teachings Traceable to the Old Testament

This catalog flows from the post Tracing the Old Testament Roots of New Testament Teaching.

What follows is a list of New Testament verses whose ideas can first be found in the Old Testament.  The New Testament writers were, of course, not trying to be original.  Rather, they believed that Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled all the requirements and promises of the Old Testament.  This catalog helps to show just how intertwined and mutually dependent the Old Testamnt and New Testament actually are.  The list is given in two forms: first, in New Testament order; then, all the same verses are listed in Old Testament order.

IN NEW TESTAMENT ORDER

Matthew 6:13  –  Psalm 145:11

Matthew 19:17  –  Psalm 119:68

Matthew 19:26  –  (see also Mark 10:27 and Luke 18:27) Genesis 18:14; Job 42:1-2; Jeremiah 32:17; Zechariah 8:6

Matthew 26:11  –  Deuteronomy 15:11

Mark 10:18  –  Psalm 119:68

Mark 10:27  –  (see also Matthew 19:26 and Luke 18:27) Genesis 18:14; Job 42:1-2; Jeremiah 32:17; Zechariah 8:6

Mark 12:29  –  Deuteronomy 6:4

Mark 12:30  –  Deuteronomy 6:5

Mark 12:31  –  Leviticus 19:18

Luke 11:13  –  Psalm 84:11

Luke 18:19  –  Psalm 119:68

Luke 18:27  –  (see also Matthew 19:26 and Mark 1027) Genesis 18:14; Job 42:1-2; Jeremiah 32:17; Zechariah 8:6

John 17:17  –  Psalm 119:160

IN OLD TESTAMENT ORDER

Genesis 18:14  –  (see also Job 42:1-2; Jeremiah 32:17; Zechariah 8:6)  Matthew 19:26; Mark 10:27; Luke 18:27

Leviticus 19:18  –  Mark 12:31

Deuteronomy 6:4  –  Mark 12:29

Deuteronomy 6:5  –  Mark 12:30

Deuteronomy 15:11 –  Matthew 26:11

Job 42:1-2  –  (see also Genesis 18:14; Jeremiah 32:17; Zechariah 8:6)  Matthew 19:26; Mark 10:27; Luke 18:27

Psalm 84:11  –  Luke 11:13

Psalm 119:68  –  Matthew 19:17; Mark 10:18; Luke 18:19

Psalm 119:160  –  John 17:17

Psalm 145:11  –  Matthew 6:13

Jeremiah 32:17  –  (see also Genesis 18:14; Job 42:1-2; Zechariah 8:6)  Matthew 19:26; Mark 10:27; Luke 18:27

Zechariah 8:6  –  (see also Genesis 18:14; Job 42:1-2; Jeremiah 32:17)  Matthew 19:26; Mark 10:27; Luke 18:27

This “catalog” does not even scratch the surface, for indeed the seeds of all New Testament teaching can be found in the Old Testament.  What you see here represents some of the more obvious connections (such as Mark 12:28-34 quoting Deuteronomy 6 and Leviticus 19), but also some of the less obvious ones (such as Psalm 119:160 and John 17:17).  This short list is provided just to orient you to this fact and to launch you on your own study of such connections.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)

Tracing the Old Testament Roots of New Testament Teaching

New Testament teaching is rooted in Old Testament teaching.  Jesus and His apostles trusted the Scriptures of Moses and the prophets of Israel.  This dependency is most obvious in a passage like this one:

Mark 12:28 One of the scribes came and heard them arguing, and recognizing that He had answered them well, asked Him, “What commandment is the foremost of all?”
Mark 12:29 Jesus answered, “The foremost is, ‘HEAR, O ISRAEL! THE LORD OUR GOD IS ONE LORD;
Mark 12:30 AND YOU SHALL LOVE THE LORD YOUR GOD WITH ALL YOUR HEART, AND WITH ALL YOUR SOUL, AND WITH ALL YOUR MIND, AND WITH ALL YOUR STRENGTH.’
Mark 12:31 “The second is this, ‘YOU SHALL LOVE YOUR NEIGHBOR AS YOURSELF.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Mark 12:32 The scribe said to Him, “Right, Teacher; You have truly stated that HE IS ONE, AND THERE IS NO ONE ELSE BESIDES HIM;
Mark 12:33 AND TO LOVE HIM WITH ALL THE HEART AND WITH ALL THE UNDERSTANDING AND WITH ALL THE STRENGTH, AND TO LOVE ONE’S NEIGHBOR AS HIMSELF, is much more than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”
Mark 12:34 When Jesus saw that he had answered intelligently, He said to him, “You are not far from the kingdom of God.” After that, no one would venture to ask Him any more questions.

Jesus is widely known for having preached that we should love one another.  This passage indicates that He credited the Old Testament as the source of that principle.  The phrases in all capital letters come from the following specific sources:

  • Mark 12:29 is Jesus quoting Deuteronomy 6:4
  • Mark 12:30 is Jesus quoting Deuteronomy 6:5
  • Mark 12:31 is Jesus quoting Leviticus 19:18

Putting Old Testament quotations in all capital letters is a practice of the New American Standard Bible (NASB).  It’s common for English translations, especially the more literal ones like the NASB, to highlight Old Testament quotations found in the New Testament in some easily identifiable way.  The NASB also has a cross-reference system which shows up the margins of all but the smallest print editions.  This cross-reference notation will identify the location of the quotations as I did above – for practically every verse of the Bible!  These are some of the reasons I appreciate the NASB so much.  (Here’s a post which gives more detail on that appreciation.)

By using a such a cross-reference system, you can trace the Old Testament roots of New Testament teaching from almost any place in the New Testament.  Since the cross-reference system is provided for the Old Testament, too, you can read passages there and check in the margin for which New Testament passages might refer to it.  This helps you tie together the two testaments.  They are certainly tied together in the mind of God.  “Old Testament” and “New Testament” are just terms that later generations have used to describe the Bible’s writings that came before and after Jesus of Nazareth.

Not all New Testament references are as easy to identify as the one above.  Some references are just partial quotations. Some are allusions, which are even more difficult to identify.  An example of this is Jesus’ statement, “The poor you always have with you” from  Matthew 26:11 (also found in Mark 14:7 and John 12:8).  If you read Deuteronomy 15:11, you will see a marked similarity.

Matthew 26:11 “For you always have the poor with you…

Deuteronomy 15:11 “For the poor will never cease to be in the land…

Though Jesus phrased the thought differently, it’s impossible to imagine that He or anyone listening to Him thought He was being original with the idea.

Another example of such an allusion is Jesus’ assertion that “with God all things are possible,” which He uttered in slightly different ways in three of the gospels (Matthew 19:26; Mark 10:27; Luke 18:27).  Compare this with similar thoughts found from one end of the Old Testament to the other:

Genesis 18:14 “Is anything too difficult for the LORD?…

Job 42:1 Then Job answered the LORD and said,
Job 42:2 “I know that You can do all things,
And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.

Jeremiah 32:17 ‘Ah Lord GOD! Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You,

Zechariah 8:6 “Thus says the LORD of hosts, ‘If it is too difficult in the sight of the remnant of this people in those days, will it also be too difficult in My sight?’ declares the LORD of hosts.

Once again, neither Jesus nor His countrymen – whether friend or foe – would think He was trying to introduce a new idea into Jewish thought by saying that with God all things were possible.  What Jesus was introducing, of course, was the notion that genuine and full faith in this idea would make an enormous difference in a person’s life – as it did in His.

While Bible scholars have discovered many such connections between the testaments, and lots of them show up in cross reference systems, there are yet other connections waiting to be found by those who read the Bible while trusting in the Holy Spirit for illumination…and who put into practice those things that they learn about Jesus.

For a list of more examples, see Catalog of New Testament Teachings Traceable to the Old Testament.

The purpose of this blog is to proclaim Jesus Christ in terms familiar to those who read the Bible, and to help others become more familiar with the Bible. For those unfamiliar with the Bible, see the blog A Nonchurchgoer’s Guide to Jesus and His Kingdom.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB, unless otherwise noted. (In the NASB New Testament, quotations of the Old Testament are rendered in all capital letters in order to make them easier to identify.)