The Unity of the Old Testament and the New Testament
The Unity of the Old Testament and the New Testament
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.
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 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 does not contradict itself [specifically referring to "the writings" graphe, meaning ink on paper, parchment or other materials]
John 17:17 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 1:20-21 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 is a quotation of Deuteronomy 8:3. Jesus used His knowledge of scripture to address the other temptations of Satan Matthew 4:7, 10. Notice how each time He says "it is written" [graphos].
- Luke 4:16-21 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, 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, 17:12, John 19:28... “that scripture might be fulfilled”
- Jesus final words in the flesh are quotations of scripture: Matthew 27:46 [quotation of Psalm 22:1]... Luke 23:46 [quotation of Psalm 31:5]
- Luke 24:32, 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 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, 11:2; Galatians 4:30.
At other times Paul might confirm his position on some matter by saying "for the scripture says" or some similar phrase Romans 10:11; Galatians 3:8, 22; 1 Timothy 5:18.
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.
Historically, the Jews have divided the OT writings into three groupings" the law, the prophets, and the writings which contain 22 scrolls.
- 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.
- 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 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 “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:
- 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
- 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.
- 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; 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 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 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
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".