How the New Testament uses the Old Testament
As promised, the next two blogs with attempt to deal with the question: How does the New Testament use the Old Testament? This question is not related to the biblical message of the entire Bible. Essentially, the message of the Old and New Testaments is the same. But the WAY the New Testament uses the Old Testament is a unique question BECAUSE Jesus, Paul, Peter and all the inspired speakers and composers and writers in New Testament used the Old Testament in a WAY VERY DIFFERENT from the way modern people think and use earlier texts.
For over forty years, I have taught and written about the issue of How the New Testament uses the Old Testament. What appears in the next two blogs is a very brief summary of what I try to do over a rather long period of time. I hope this brief study will be useful and helpful.
In order to understand the question of HOW the New Testament uses the Old Testament, FIRST it is essential to address the PROBLEM. Thus, in this first blog, we will sketch the problem. As we examine different biblical texts, I am counting on YOU to read each text carefully. Below I am using CHARTS to emphasize the PROBLEM. The PROBLEM essentially is this: THERE ARE FOUR TYPES OF PASSAGES IN THE OLD TESTAMENT WHICH ARE QUOTED IN THE NEW TESTAMENT AND APPLIED TO CHRIST OR THE CHURCH. Here we will look briefly at each of these four types of passages.
1. Passages in which the Old Testament context refers to PAST TIME [NOT a prediction of the future at all, much less the New Testament]. One example is Hosea 11:1, which Matthew 2:15 quotes and applies to Christ. The chart below emphasizes that the specific person or event under consideration differs in these two texts.
In Hosea 11:1 In Matthew 2:15
Event---Exodus from Egypt Jesus' return from Egypt after Herod's death
2. Passages in which the Old Testament context refers to PRESENT TIME [NOT a prediction of the future at all, much less the New Testament]. One example is Isaiah 8:18, which Hebrews 2:13 quotes and applies to Christ.
In Isaiah 8:18 In Hebrews 2:13
The "children"--Shear-jashub, Christians
Meaning---------Isaiah's children ARE (in Jesus and Christians are "brothers
Isaiah's day) "signs and and sisters"
portents" in Israel that
Isaiah's predictions will
3. Passages which are GENUINE PREDICTIONS in the Old Testament context, but are ALREADY FULFILLED or ACCOMPLISHED in Old Testament times. One example is 2 Samuel 7:14, which Hebrews 1:5 quotes and applies to Christ.
In 2 Samuel 7:14 In Hebrews 1:5
Son---------Solomon, as proved by Jesus
1 Chronicles 22:6-10; 28:3-6
Meaning-----The Davidic dynasty will Jesus took the heavenly throne after he
continue even when Solomon sins ascended into heaven
4. Old Testament passages which are quoted and applied to MORE THAN ONE NEW TESTAMENT SITUATION. One example is Isaiah 6:9-10.
Situation #1: Matthew 13:13-15 uses Isaiah 6:9-10 to explain why Jesus spoke in
Situation #2: John 12:40 uses Isaiah 6:9-10 to explain why the Jews did not
believe in Jesus
Situation #3: Acts 28:26-27 uses Isaiah 6;9-10 to rebuke the Jews who heard Paul
preach Christ in Rome for not accepting Jesus as Christ
Obviously, New Testament composers, speakers, writers used the Old Testament in a wide variety of ways. For many people, this is a very disturbing set of issues when one seriously compares each of these texts. In the next blog as we work through the study of the Book of Jeremiah, we will briefly discuss various explanations of HOW the New Testament uses the Old Testament.
Share YOUR thoughts and insights with others. Let me hear from YOU.