The Older Testament
"And He came to Nazareth, where He had been brought up; and He went to the synagogue [the remains of the synagogue in Capernaum, which Jesus also attended, is shown in the photograph], as His custom was, on the Sabbath day. And He stood up to read; and there was given to Him the book of the prophet Isaiah. He opened the book and found the place where it was written, "The Spirit of The Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the acceptable year of The Lord." And He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, "Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing." (Luke 4:16-21 RSV)
It's quite natural for Christians to look to the New Testament for Christian teaching. But does that mean that the Old Testament should be ignored, or valued less? Is the Old Testament for Jews and the New Testament for Christians? (see Old Testament Fact File and New Testament Fact File)
What Did Jesus Christ Say About The "Old" Testament?
When Jesus Christ attended Sabbath services, the Hebrew Scriptures were all that existed - there was no "New Testament." His reading from the book of Isaiah (Isaiah 61:1-2) as quoted above makes clear however that those Scriptures were about Him. In fact, along with history and law, the Old Testament has many, many references about the Messiah, as Jesus Christ Himself plainly said:
- "Jesus said to them, "Have you never read in the Scriptures: 'The very stone which the builders rejected has become the head of the corner; this was the Lord's doing, and it is marvelous in our eyes'?" (Matthew 21:42 RSV)
- "Day after day I sat in the Temple [see Temples] teaching, and you did not seize Me. But all this has taken place, that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled." (Matthew 26:55-56 RSV)
- "Jesus said to them, "Is not this why you are wrong, that you know neither the Scriptures nor the power of God? For when they rise from the dead, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are like angels in heaven. And as for the dead being raised, have you not read in the book of Moses, in the passage about the bush, how God said to him, 'I Am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob'? He is not God of the dead, but of the living" (Mark 12:24-27 RSV)
- "Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into His glory?" And beginning with Moses [see also The Pentateuch] and all the prophets, He interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself." (Luke 24:26-27 RSV)
What Did The Christian Church Say About The "Old" Testament?
But what about after the sacrifice of Christ, what did the apostles and early church use? Again, all of their references to the "Scriptures" were the Hebrew Scriptures, the Old Testament, because the New Testament was in the process of being written. And what did the writers of the New Testament have to say about the Old Testament?
- "And Paul went in, as was his custom, and for three weeks he argued with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that it was necessary for the Christ to suffer and to rise from the dead, and saying, "This Jesus, whom I proclaim to you, is the Christ." (Acts 17:2-3 RSV) (see Paul In Athens,
Paul's First Missionary Journey,
Paul's Journey To Rome,
Paul's Second Missionary Journey,
Paul's Third Missionary Journey)
- "Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica, for they received The Word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so." (Acts 17:11 RSV)
- "Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for The Gospel of God which He promised beforehand through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, the Gospel concerning His Son, Who was descended from David according to the flesh and designated Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness by His resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord" (Romans 1:1-4 RSV)
- "For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that by steadfastness and by the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope." (Romans 15:4 RSV)
- "For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures." (1 Corinthians 15:3-4 RSV)
Fact Finder: Is all Scripture inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness?
2 Timothy 3:16