The Biblical Significance Of The Old Testament In New Testament Times

"All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." 2 Timothy 3:16-17

Brittany and Denise are arm-in-arm with the leaders of the Washington Elementary School in
Compton with whom MERCYworldwide partnered to launch the school’s
Community Awareness Day!Brittany and Denise are arm-in-arm with the leaders of the Washington Elementary School in Compton with whom MERCYworldwide partnered to launch the school’s Community Awareness Day!

The word "Bible" is derived from the word "byblos," the Egyptian word for parchment. The Greeks assimilated the word "byblos" and it became "biblios," which means "the books" or "the scrolls." Later the Latin phrase "ta Biblia" would likewise mean "the books." Hence the name of the Bible in English literally means "the books." The Bible is divided into two testaments, two covenants - the Old Testament and the New Testament. Yet many in Christendom have been led astray by those who preach that today only the New Testament has the authority of God.

Two groups that hold this position are the Mainline Church of Christ and the "reformed" (since 2002) International Church of Christ (ICOC). Wikipedia says this about the Mainline Church of Christ: "In keeping with their history, Churches of Christ claim the New Testament as their sole rule of faith and practice in deciding matters of doctrine and ecclesiastical structure. They view the Old Testament as divinely inspired and historically accurate, but they do not see its laws as binding under the New Covenant in Christ (unless they are repeated in the New Testament)." Wikipedia makes a very similar statement concerning the ICOC: "The Churches emphasize the use of the New Testament to find doctrine, ecclesiastical structure, and moral beliefs, while maintaining that the Old Testament... is also the Word of God, is historically accurate, and that its principles remain true and beneficial, but that its laws are not binding under the new covenant in Christ unless otherwise taught in the New Testament." Since many of us derive our spiritual roots from these two groups, it is essential that we allow the Word of God to end the confusion - and confusion is of Satan (John 8:43-45) - so that we "correctly handle the word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15)

The disciples - MERCYworldwide ambassadors - serve at the
Community Awareness Day at Washington Elementary School located in the heart of South Central LA!The disciples - MERCYworldwide ambassadors - serve at the Community Awareness Day at Washington Elementary School located in the heart of South Central LA!

The word "Scriptures" comes from the Latin word for "writings." Therefore the term "Holy Scriptures" literally mean "the set apart" or "sacred writings" - God's divine revelation to man. In society today, "Bible" (the Old Testament and the New Testament combined) and "Scriptures" are used interchangeably. I too believe that this is applicable, because the early church "devoted themselves to the apostles' teachings" and later Peter equates Paul's writings with "the other Scriptures." (Acts 2:42; 2 Peter 3:15-16) Yet, the word "Scripture" appears 54 times in the New Testament and in each and every instance it refers to only the Old Testament!

When Jesus used the word "Scripture," He meant only the Old Testament, and that the Old Testament even in His day had ongoing authority. Jesus told the Sadducees, "You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God." (Matthew 22:29) Paul likewise asserts the authority, the necessity and the use of the Old Testament when he writes in 66AD, "All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness." In other words, the Old Testament is to be applied to our lives.

The AMS sisters are fired-up after Lexi’s baptism!The AMS sisters are fired-up after Lexi’s baptism!

It is true that the Law, "the written code with its regulations... [Jesus] took away nailing it to the cross." However, the Old Testament's teachings, principles and examples are still binding for discipling - "teaching, rebuking, correcting and training..." If both Jesus and Paul used the Old Testament Scriptures in their teaching and preaching, then to exclude their use is a very, very serious departure from the truth. Jesus rebuked the wicked "leaders of the people of God," "Because you do not know [or teach] the Scriptures... you are in error." So likewise, we need to take a stand and rebuke the false teachers of today, who do not preach from the Old Testament as well as the New Testament, as they are leading God's people astray. After all, the Old Testament was the "Bible" of the followers of Christ in the first century.

Eileen is surrounded by the IE sisters who led her to Christ!Eileen is surrounded by the IE sisters who led her to Christ!

The Old Testament is essential to the modern church because it produces faith - faith in God, faith in Jesus as the Christ, and faith to live the Christian life. After all, God's qualities and His divine nature are the same "yesterday and today and forever." (Hebrews 13:8) Our God today is the same all-powerful God who created "the heavens and the earth." (Genesis 1:1) He gave Abraham a son at a hundred years old. (Genesis 21:5) He allowed David to slay Goliath. (1 Samuel 17:51) The message is clear from the Old Testament: through our faith God will do the impossible! More than this, when we come to really believe such accounts, then we have the same faith to do the impossible!

Giving the first century Christians, as well as twenty-first century disciples faith in Christ is the over 400 Old Testament prophesies that are fulfilled in the New Testament. The apostles cited Old Testament Scriptures in each of their sermons throughout the book of Acts, because they understood that it gave authority to their teaching and it built the faith of those who listened. Their followers likewise used the Old Testament Scriptures in those New Testament times. For example, Philip referenced Isaiah 53:7-8 to give the Ethiopian eunuch faith in Christ. (Acts 8:32-38) Also, the Bereans were commended as having a noble character "for they received the [gospel] message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures everyday to see if what Paul said was true." (Acts 17:11)

The South Region welcomes Phil from our sister church in London!The South Region welcomes Phil from our sister church in London!

The Old Testament Scriptures and their accounts were cited by Paul "as examples to keep us from setting our hearts on the evil things they did." (1 Corinthians 10:6) Paul warns his readers of the consequences of idolatry, immorality and grumbling through specific references of Old Testament events. (1 Corinthians 10:7-11) In Romans 15:4, Paul writes, "For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope."

To fully grasp the heart of God, the Old Testament's physical realities foreshadow the New Testament's spiritual truths. For example, the Hebrews' slavery in Egypt parallels our "old life." Crossing the Red Sea is equated to baptism - being born again to begin a new life. (1 Corinthians 10:2) Wandering the desert for 40 years is compared to our Christian lives. As is referenced in many Christian hymns, crossing the Jordan River corresponds to death. And of course entering the Promised Land is analogous to entering Heaven! Other parallels exist such as Paul's reference to a "circumcision done by Christ" is the putting off of our sinful nature in the waters of baptism. (Colossians 2:11-12) Another often used comparison in the New Testament is that of the temple in Jerusalem during the Old Testament days. Jesus parallels Herod's Temple to His body (John 2:21); Paul parallels the temple to each Christian's physical body (1 Corinthians 6:19), as well as paralleling the temple to the church. (Ephesians 2:19-21)

The South Region rejoices after Jess is baptized!The South Region rejoices after Jess is baptized!

Though the concepts of "calling-out the remnant," "dating and marrying only disciples," and "a central leader and leadership for each of God's movements" are in the New Testament, the Old Testament is much richer in its depth on these vital truths. It is my conviction that the New Testament lacks detail on these truths, not because as some infer that they are of little or no importance, but because the Spirit speaking through the Old Testament has already been quite thorough in His teachings. The Scriptures in the Old Testament teach leaders in detail on how to lead thousands of people through the "Jethro Principle" of Exodus 18, as well as to have the heart for God and His precious people, as recorded in the history of David's life in 1 & 2 Samuel, 1 Chronicles, and through David's own writings in the Psalms!

Also requiring a working knowledge of the Old Testament is the study of the book of Revelation. Of its 404 verses, seemingly 278 make some sort of allusion to 24 of the 39 Old Testament books. For example, before studying John's apocalyptic vision of the seven golden lampstands in Revelation 1, a disciple should realize that such language had been used when Zechariah had a similar vision in chapter four of his book. In addition to being inspired by John's vision of a "new heaven" and "new earth," true students of the Word should read Isaiah 65 and 66 to better understand Heaven. (Revelation 21:1)

To fully grasp such Spirit-filled wisdom as Jesus being the "triumphant Lamb of God" and the "Lion of the Tribe of Judah," as well as Rome being encryptically paralleled to "Babylon" require previous study of the Old Testament. Even the vision of the 24 elders bowing down before the throne of God make the reader recall the 12 sons of Jacob and the 12 apostles. Also, the number of people saved is "144,000" which denotes 12 X 12 X 10 X 10 X 10. (Revelation 14:1) The 10 X 10 X 10 in Revelation numerology is equated to perfection which symbolizes salvation. The 12 X 12 represents again the 12 tribal leaders of the Old Testament and the 12 apostles of the New Testament - which ultimately encompasses the faithful Jews and the faithful Christians - all the faithful people of God throughout all time.

At Harding Graduate School I was required to take the course, The Survey of the Old Testament. It was at this point that I first began to comprehend the power and the essentiality of the Old Testament. As of today, my passion for the Old Testament is equal to my passion for the New Testament. Yet, in my fortieth year as a disciple, I realize that I have not even come close to understanding all of God's wisdom in His Old Testament Scriptures. Do not let the size or the length of the Old Testament names discourage you from a lifelong study of the very words of God. And to God be the glory!

Kip McKean
Kip McKean