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The Unity of the Old Testament and the New Testament

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The Unity of the Old Testament and the New Testament

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The Unity of the Old Testament and the New Testament

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The revelation of God's will for humanity is found in the written word of God... the ideas expressed and the words used in the original writings and languages are inspired by God and without error... the old testament and the new testament are the final authority in all things pertaining to faith and in life... they are the foundation of all truth.

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The Word of God

We believe and teach that the revelation of God's will for humanity is found in the written word of God... the ideas expressed and the words used in the original writings and languages are inspired by God and without error... they are the final authority in all things pertaining to faith and in life... they are the foundation of all truth.

2 Timothy 3:16 2 Timothy 3:16All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
American King James Version×
 God breathed - inspired by H.S. and provide necessary instruction for matters of faith and conduct. [specifically referring to "the writings" graphe]

John 10:35 John 10:35If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came, and the scripture cannot be broken;
American King James Version×
 does not contradict itself [specifically referring to "the writings" graphe, meaning ink on paper, parchment or other materials]

John 17:17 John 17:17Sanctify them through your truth: your word is truth.
American King James Version×
 the foundation of truth [uses logos... the knowledge contained within the writings is truth from God]

When Jesus and the apostles made statements such as these they were referring to the old testament. Many relegate the old testament to secondary status or sometimes viewing it as irrelevant in matters of faith, salvation and conduct. This is serious error which leads people into much false teaching.

Unity of the Old and New Testaments

The old and new testament are to be read together for a unified in explanation of  God's plan of salvation.  Together they record important milestones in the working out of that plan in human history... through the historical nation of Israel... the spiritual body which is the Church... and the person of Jesus Christ.  

Unified as a Literary Document

Scripture consists of various books compiled over the course of about 1,500 years. The individual books/scrolls reflect the author's own personality, style, and vocabulary. They are still unified even though stylistically unique. We see this unity of the writings in various ways, such as; consistency in the typology or symbolism, or through the declaration of a prophecy and then the recording of its fulfillment.

In spite of having multiple authors the bible is a unified and coherent document, because when writing, the servants of God did so as they were moved by the holy spirit. In this way God directed the actions and thoughts of His servants yet allowed them free expression as they wrote the books known as the bible.

2 Peter 1:2 2 Peter 1:2Grace and peace be multiplied to you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,
American King James Version×
0-21 directly referencing the OT writings... principle applies to NT  [graphe]

Jesus Was a Teacher of Scripture

Jesus set the example of following the scriptures as the ultimate authoritative text for life:

  • In personal spiritual matters, such as, successfully combating temptation from Satan He called upon scripture: Matthew 4:4 Matthew 4:4But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.
    American King James Version×
     is a quotation of Deuteronomy 8:3 Deuteronomy 8:3And he humbled you, and suffered you to hunger, and fed you with manna, which you knew not, neither did your fathers know; that he might make you know that man does not live by bread only, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD does man live.
    American King James Version×
    . Jesus used His knowledge of scripture to address the other temptations of Satan Matthew 4:7 Matthew 4:7Jesus said to him, It is written again, You shall not tempt the Lord your God.
    American King James Version×
    , 10. Notice how each time He says "it is written" [graphos].
  •  Luke 4:16-21 Luke 4:16-21 [16] And he came to Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and, as his custom was, he went into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up for to read. [17] And there was delivered to him the book of the prophet Esaias. And when he had opened the book, he found the place where it was written, [18] The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he has sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty them that are bruised, [19] To preach the acceptable year of the Lord. [20] And he closed the book, and he gave it again to the minister, and sat down. And the eyes of all them that were in the synagogue were fastened on him. [21] And he began to say to them, This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears.
    American King James Version×
     Jesus announced His earthly ministry with the reading of scripture, declaring "today this scripture [graphe] has been fulfilled in your hearing".
  • John 7:14-15 John 7:14-15 [14] Now about the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple, and taught. [15] And the Jews marveled, saying, How knows this man letters, having never learned?
    American King James Version×
    , 38 when Jesus got up to teach at the feast of tabernacles He was teaching from the written scriptures... this is why the Jews marveled... how does this country bumpkin now the scriptures so well? He answered by saying “my teaching is not my own, its the teaching of the one who sent me… implicitly He’s saying “I’m teaching you from scripture”.
  • There is a popular notion out there that Jesus primarily went about telling thought provoking stories and parables to illustrate greater truths… which He certainly did. But, Jesus is well recorded as being a teacher of the written word.  The sermon on the mount is an exposition of old testament scripture.
  • Jesus retained his personal focus on scripture even while gong through the intense emotional and physical distress of betrayal and death;
    • John 13:18 John 13:18I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eats bread with me has lifted up his heel against me.
      American King James Version×
      , 17:12, John 19:28 John 19:28After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the scripture might be fulfilled, said, I thirst.
      American King James Version×
      ... “that scripture might be fulfilled
    • Jesus final words in the flesh are quotations of scripture: Matthew 27:46 Matthew 27:46And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
      American King James Version×
      [quotation of Psalms 22:1 Psalms 22:1My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? why are you so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring?
      American King James Version×
      ]... Luke 23:46 Luke 23:46And when Jesus had cried with a loud voice, he said, Father, into your hands I commend my spirit: and having said thus, he gave up the ghost.
      American King James Version×
      [quotation of Psalms 31:5 Psalms 31:5Into your hand I commit my spirit: you have redeemed me, O LORD God of truth.
      American King James Version×
      ]
  • Luke 24:32 Luke 24:32And they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?
    American King James Version×
    , 44-45
     the resurrected Christ resumed His personal instruction of the disciples through providing understanding of the written word [graphe]

The Old Testament Is Valid for Non-Jews

A false idea behind giving a subordinate status to the old testament is that it was only written for the Jews and therefore has little value for the modern believer. This is a serious error that leads to much false teaching.

The 1st century Church of God conducted its outreach to the non-Jewish world through the OT writings.

Acts 8:26-35 Acts 8:26-35 [26] And the angel of the Lord spoke to Philip, saying, Arise, and go toward the south to the way that goes down from Jerusalem to Gaza, which is desert. [27] And he arose and went: and, behold, a man of Ethiopia, an eunuch of great authority under Candace queen of the Ethiopians, who had the charge of all her treasure, and had come to Jerusalem for to worship, [28] Was returning, and sitting in his chariot read Esaias the prophet. [29] Then the Spirit said to Philip, Go near, and join yourself to this chariot. [30] And Philip ran thither to him, and heard him read the prophet Esaias, and said, Understand you what you read? [31] And he said, How can I, except some man should guide me? And he desired Philip that he would come up and sit with him. [32] The place of the scripture which he read was this, He was led as a sheep to the slaughter; and like a lamb dumb before his shearer, so opened he not his mouth: [33] In his humiliation his judgment was taken away: and who shall declare his generation? for his life is taken from the earth. [34] And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray you, of whom speaks the prophet this? of himself, or of some other man? [35] Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and preached to him Jesus.
American King James Version×
 Phillip taught this man about Christ from the OT scriptures. Now, this man was obviously already acquainted with OT writings. But others were not… some came to the church directly from pagan backgrounds with no familiarity with the OT.

Paul, was appointed by God to teach non-Jews about Christ and salvation. To such people [former pagans] Paul repeatedly appealed to the authority of the written word [OT] by asking the rhetorical questions like: "what does the scripture say"... Romans 4:3 Romans 4:3For what said the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness.
American King James Version×
, 11:2; Galatians 4:30 Galatians 4:30Nevertheless what said the scripture? Cast out the female slave and her son: for the son of the female slave shall not be heir with the son of the free woman.
American King James Version×
.

At other times Paul might confirm his position on some matter by saying "for the scripture says" or some similar phrase Romans 10:11 Romans 10:11For the scripture said, Whoever believes on him shall not be ashamed.
American King James Version×
; Galatians 3:8 Galatians 3:8And the scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel to Abraham, saying, In you shall all nations be blessed.
American King James Version×
, 22; 1 Timothy 5:18 1 Timothy 5:18For the scripture said, You shall not muzzle the ox that treads out the corn. And, The laborer is worthy of his reward.
American King James Version×
.

There is continuity between the old and new testaments. The NT builds upon and expands our understanding of the old. Without the foundation of the OT, the NT does not make a lot of sense.

Were The Old Testament Scriptures Accurately Preserved?

Within the bible there are references to other books such as the Annals of the Kings of Israel, or a prophecy from Enoch [as mentioned by Jude]. Sometimes people get caught up in a quest to find those books and discover some new truth from them. Youtube is full of sensationalist material claiming to have uncovered some ancient documents you need to know about to really understand God’s will… STAY AWAY from that kind of stuff.

This is a serious error which leads to much false teaching.

We believe that the OT writings we have in bible translations such as the KJV, ESV, NIV are the complete canon of the old testament.

The OT writings are written down and preserved for us through the Jewish people Romans 3:1-4 Romans 3:1-4 [1] What advantage then has the Jew? or what profit is there of circumcision? [2] Much every way: chiefly, because that to them were committed the oracles of God. [3] For what if some did not believe? shall their unbelief make the faith of God without effect? [4] God forbid: yes, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That you might be justified in your sayings, and might overcome when you are judged.
American King James Version×
.

Historically, the Jews have divided the OT writings into three groupings" the law, the prophets, and the writings which contain 22 scrolls.

  1. Note: up until around the time of Jesus there were only 2 divisions “the law and the prophets” … then the scribes began separating the prophets from the writings thus creating a third division. Either way, its referring to the same 22 scrolls.
  2. Note: the English translations we use today have 39 separate books. The difference is that the Jews group them differently that we do today, for example, the minor prophets are considered one book or scroll etc. but the content is the same.

This collection of material was the accepted canon during the time of Jesus as recorded in historical accounts such as Josephus who refers to the 22 books.

The law and the prophets was a common way of referring to the complete canon of OT writings maintained by the Jews.  Jesus uses this same phrase in Matthew 5:17 Matthew 5:17Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfill.
American King James Version×
when He says no jot or tittle of scripture will be done away. Clearly He is using this phrase to refer to the entirety of scripture. He also uses a similar phrase again in Luke 24:44-45 Luke 24:44-45 [44] And he said to them, These are the words which I spoke to you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. [45] Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures,
American King James Version×
“the law, the prophets, and the Psalms”.

People would have understood Jesus as referring to the established Jewish canon. That is how we should understand it as well. That same collection of books/scrolls has been carefully preserved and passed down to us today.  Nothing has been added or taken away.

Preservation of the Content

The Jews established strict rules about how the manuscripts could be copied to avoid any deviation from the original. Here are some of the rules they followed:

  1. A synagogue roll had to be written on the skins of clean animals, the length of each column must not be less than 48 or more than 80 lines, the width must consist of 30 letters, no word or letter [not even a yod was to be written from memory
  2. The Masorites built what they called a” fence” around the scriptures by locking all the words and letters in place using a technique similar to check sums [a method we use in credit card processing]. It recorded a) the number of the several letters of the bible occur b) the number of words including the middle word c) the number of verses d) the middle verse.
  3. They calculated and checked each copy made regarding the number of letters, the middle letter, the middle verse, and the number of words…  of each book, as well as the OT as a whole.

If anything didn’t match up the transcription would have to be destroyed. Those texts were used to create the English translations we now use.

Prophecy is a Proof of Divine Inspiration

The OT writings contain multiple prophecies. Many have been fulfilled… many have not. A prophecy might be proclaimed in the writings of one author [Jeremiah] and the fulfillment recorded in the writings of another [Haggai].  Also, there are many OT prophecies about the first coming of the Messiah, and their fulfillment is recorded in the NT writings. This contributes to, and demonstrates:

  • the unity of scripture across time and across the ever changing roster of the servants God uses to commit His truth to writing.
  • the divine origin of the writings Isaiah 41:21-23 Isaiah 41:21-23 [21] Produce your cause, said the LORD; bring forth your strong reasons, said the King of Jacob. [22] Let them bring them forth, and show us what shall happen: let them show the former things, what they be, that we may consider them, and know the latter end of them; or declare us things for to come. [23] Show the things that are to come hereafter, that we may know that you are gods: yes, do good, or do evil, that we may be dismayed, and behold it together.
    American King James Version×
    ; 46:9-10

The cycle of prophecy and fulfillment is like the check sums of the Masorites. A proof contained within the writings to validate their accuracy and truth. Further weight is added to the prophetic cycle when it is confirmed in the writings of human history: the records of Assyrian, Persian, and Babylonian kings, the historic records produced by secular Romans and Greeks, and the findings of archaeology.

We Understand the OT Through The NT

Daniel 12:8-9 Daniel 12:8-9 [8] And I heard, but I understood not: then said I, O my Lord, what shall be the end of these things? [9] And he said, Go your way, Daniel: for the words are closed up and sealed till the time of the end.
American King James Version×
 Daniel did not understand all the words he was tasked with writing down. He was told they were closed off to him. But, understanding of these same scriptures would be made available to future generations... at the appointed time... the time of God's choosing. This applies to prophecy but to other elements of the OT as well.

The people of Israel understood much of what they had, but not all. They knew what they needed to know. But some things could not be known until they came to pass.

1 Peter 1:10-13 1 Peter 1:10-13 [10] Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come to you: [11] Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. [12] To whom it was revealed, that not to themselves, but to us they did minister the things, which are now reported to you by them that have preached the gospel to you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into. [13] Why gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;
American King James Version×
 a significant "opening up" of understanding of the OT writings is opened up to us now through hindsight and spiritual guidance:

1) Hindsight we understand many aspects of the OT better now through seeing them in the rear view mirror of history. For example we understand many things by relating them to the coming of the Christ, such as the separation of His coming into a first coming, followed by a second coming… the same can be said of symbolism and typology. Much was not understood until it came to pass. We now have that perspective which helps us better understand the OT writings.

2) Instruction we understand many aspects of the OT better now through the direct teachings of the Messiah Himself, who taught the disciples from scripture... these same understandings have been passed along to us through the teachers within Church of God.

3) Spiritual we understand more fully now through the direct intervention and insight provided by the holy spirit within us. However, this direct access to the holy spirit does not over-ride, or contradict the written word, or the teaching of the truth you receive from the Church of God.  

2 Peter 1:19-21 2 Peter 1:19-21 [19] We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto you do well that you take heed, as to a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts: [20] Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation. [21] For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.
American King James Version×

The Role of God's Word

Reading, hearing, and doing God's word are key characteristics of God's people… our faith is not based on emotion… or spiritual feelings! We are to be people of the book... and we do not set aside the OT writings as obsolete. We use them together with the NT writings to get a full and complete understanding of God's will for us... and for all humanity.

The word of God builds faith in a person's life and He expects His people to diligently study His word regularly for understanding, for personal edification, and to guard themself in a ungodly society. Internalizing God's word enables us to defend our faith, and make us "wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus".