The Apostolic Teaching of Christ From the Old Testament

The Apostolic Teaching of Christ From the Old Testament

The only people who can understand the Old Testament are the people who know and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. In Christ, the veil is taken away. And when the veil from the Old Testament is removed, we immediately find out that the theme of the entire Old Testament is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. 

The Bible is the only religious book that comes in two sections, separated by centuries, and its veracity and truthfulness is demonstrated in these two parts—the Old Testament and New Testament.

In the Old Testament, you have prophecies of Christ and Christianity. In the New Testament, you have the fulfillment of all those prophecies and the full presentation of Christianity. One is predictive, the other historical. One is foundational, the other consummate. 

In fact, the Lord Jesus Christ is the theme of the whole of Scripture. If someone said to me, “Where does Christ first appear in Scripture?” I would say, “In the first verse of the first chapter of the first book, Genesis 1. “In the beginning God created.” And John 1 tells us He’s the Word and “without Him nothing was made that was made.” Colossians tells us that He is the creator of everything that exists. 

So I want to build a bridge back to the Old Testament. Now to get this bridge built from the New back to the Old, I’ve established four pillars. 

  • First, the Lord Jesus Christ declared that the Old Testament revealed Him. 
  • Second, the disciples and apostles didn’t fully believe in Him and His work, His death and His resurrection until they understood the Old Testament. 
  • Third, the apostles and prophets, who were the first generation of preachers to fulfill the Great Commission, based their preaching of Christ on the Old Testament. 
  • Fourth, the apostles and their associates who wrote the New Testament grounded their writing in the Old Testament. 

None of these should surprise you because the Old Testament presents Christ. The Old Testament was the only Bible Jesus had. It was the only Bible the disciples and the apostles had. It was Scripture, the Word of God. So the apostles were writing with reference to and familiarity with the Old Testament. 

To review the first point, the Lord Jesus Christ declared that the Old Testament revealed Him. We see this in John 5; Luke 4; Luke 16; Luke 24, and many other places where the Lord establishes His identity. Most notable is Luke 24 on the Road to Emmaus, where our Lord revisits the Old Testament Scriptures beginning with Moses and the Prophets and continuing through His suffering and resurrection. 

And then in Matthew 22:41, the Pharisees gather during the last day of Jesus’ public ministry. They ask Him questions, He asks them questions. He’s endeavoring to bring them to the true knowledge of Himself. He asks them: What do you think about the Messiah, the Christ? Whose Son is He? What is your view of the Messiah as to His human genealogy? Whose Son will He be?

He takes the text from Psalm 110:1, which says “The LORD said to my Lord, ‘Sit at My right hand, Till I make Your enemies Your footstool.’” It is His final effort to demonstrate who He is. The Jews universally accept that as a messianic psalm, so they’ve got a problem. They know it’s a messianic psalm, they affirm it’s a messianic psalm. But how can He be David’s Son and David’s Lord?

This psalm was used widely by the early church. When Jesus wanted to establish His deity, He went to the Old Testament. 

To review the second point, the disciples and apostles believed in Jesus because they understood the Old Testament. It wasn’t until the Road to Emmaus, and then when they gathered together on that same night and He explained to them His death and resurrection—from Old Testament passages—that they got it, believed in it, affirmed it, declared it, and praised and worshiped Him as the true Messiah. 

Third, the apostles and prophets, who preached the Gospel of the Lord Jesus, based their preaching on the Old Testament. The New Testament wasn’t written down yet. They began preaching, and they had to preach Scripture. They had to do more than give a personal testimony about what He said, or what they saw. 

Peter said, “We were with Him in the mountain when He was transfigured, but we have a more sure word.” What word could have been more sure than Peter’s personal experience? Peter was there. He saw Jesus, he heard Jesus. What’s more sure than that? Only Scripture, because the Spirit of God moved men to write Scripture (2 Peter 1:20). 

John tells us the disciples saw, touched and handled the Word of Life (1 John 1:1). But they preached Jesus from the Old Testament. Old Testament expositors are what they were. 

That leads to the final point. The New Testament writers based their revelation on the Old Testament. There are literally hundreds of references by the writers of the New Testament to the Old Testament. Including all the New Testament writers, there are 312 different Old Testament passages referenced specifically. Some have suggested there’s as many as 2,000 New Testament texts that allude to an Old Testament passage. There are 50 Old Testament references in Romans alone. 

Paul begins the great book of Romans with these words: “Paul, a bondservant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God which He promised before through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures.”

Then Paul preaches in 1 Corinthians 15:1-2: “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved.” Then he says, “For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (verses 3-4). All through his ministry that’s what he did. 

And you’ll find this in all the books of the New Testament record. It’s not much wonder then that this was the theme. So when we go back to the Old Testament, we’re going to find Christ.  ©2012 Grace to You


Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New King James Version. 

This article is adapted from a sermon preached March 4, 2012. Used by permission of Grace to You. 

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