Bible students often wonder about the Old Testament vs. the New Testament. It may stem from just a basic lack of differences between the Old Testament vs. the New Testament. But more often it seems to be rooted in questioning whether any application exists for today’s Christian in the Old Testament vs. the New Testament. From the “Top List” series, here are our top reasons why it shouldn’t be about Old Testament vs. New Testament, but rather Old Testament equals New Testament.

How Scripture answers "Top 3: Why ‘Old Testament vs. New Testament’ isn’t the best approach?"

Our top three reasons why Christian’s should approach the Bible acknowledging that the Old Testament equals New Testament, instead of Old Testament vs. New Testament:

  1. Old Testament doesn’t equal ‘Old Covenant’ and New Testament doesn’t equal ‘New Covenant’.1,2 This a critical fact to remember and what many discussions about ‘Old Testament vs. New Testament’ confuse. The Old Covenant (the Mosaic law with its Ten Commandments) described in the Old Testament was indeed replaced by Christ with the New Covenant described in the New Testament. However, the Old Covenant did not begin until approximately 2,500 years into the Old Testament1. Likewise, the New Covenant did not begin until after Jesus’ death2 which would exclude the four Gospels.
  2. It’s all from the same source (God).5,7,8,9 The Old Testament is every bit God’s word. Two immutable facts make this an undeniable reality that rejects an Old Testament vs. New Testament approach:
  3. How we see the Old Testament represented in the New Testament.
    • Jesus didn’t “oppose” them when He was asked about it4,12.
    • Inspired New Testament writers repeatedly use the Old Testament to confirm or prove their teaching5,7,8,10,11,13. Likewise, first-century Christians use it to confirm New Covenant teaching5,6.
    • It’s explicitly cited for Christians to use as an example9,13.

Answer built on scripture-blocks below

Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. And they said, All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient. And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, Behold the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.
Then he [Moses] took the Book of the Covenant and read it so that all the people heard. And they confirmed that all that it said they would do and obey. So Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, “Behold, the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”
After Moses received the Old Covenant (‘Law of Moses’ or ‘Old Law’) from God on Mt Sinai (beginning chapter 20 with the Ten Commandments), it is ceremoniously entered into between God and the people.

It’s this every scene that referenced and quoted (vs 8) in Hebrews 9:18-22, 10:11-14, and connecting to having “hearts sprinkled clean” later in 10:22.

Scripture-block application to this question

This records the very moment the children of Israel entered into the Old Covenant (Mosaic Law) with God, omitting the first approximately 2,500 years of recorded history beginning with Genesis 1.

Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant. For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive.
Therefore, He [Jesus] is the mediator of a new covenant [or will, testament], in order for those that are called to inherit the promise of eternal life because a death occurred redeeming them from sins committed under the old covenant. For where a covenant is involved, the one making it must die for it to take effect. It is not in force when the maker of it is alive.

Hebrews is a letter encouraging Jewish Christians to “hold fast” because their faith in Christ is “better” than the Mosaic law they were under in numerous ways. At this point, the writer is contrasting the tabernacle, priesthood, and sacrifices in place under the Mosaic Law and replaced with Christ and the new covenant.

Scripture-block application to this question

The New Covenant did not commence until after the death of its “mediator” – Jesus Christ.

For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed.
“I the Lord do not change,” therefore the children of Jacob are not consumed.

God speaks through Malachi, the last book of the Old Testament and last book in its historical timeline, written around 430BC. Notably, it is the last ‘voice of God’ until the first century and the birth of John the Baptist and Jesus the Christ.

Scripture-block application to this question

God doesn’t change.

Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.
Don’t think that I [Jesus] came to cancel the Mosaic Law or the Prophets since I have actually come to fulfill them. What I’m saying is true. Not before all of this world is destroyed will any part of the Law be disregarded until all is accomplished.

After beginning His ‘Sermon on the Mount’ by describing the characteristics of a [new] kingdom citizen (vss 2-14), Jesus clarifies that His coming fulfills the Old Law and does not replace it.  He continues to give specific examples of how their behavior would need to exceed that of the religious leaders of their day (vs 20 “scribes and Pharisees”).

Scripture-block application to this question

Jesus wasn’t canceling or abolishing the Mosaic Law and God’s prophets that preached it (the majority of our Old Testaments). He was fulfilling or building on it.

But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

You, however, should continue in what you learned and confidently believed, having been instructed from childhood with the Scriptures, which give you the wisdom leading toward salvation through belief in Jesus Christ.

Paul is writing to the younger Timothy and giving general advice about his work in preaching the Gospel. Paul has repeated contrasted those that are teaching false doctrine and their motives for doing so against how Timothy should conduct himself, which leads to this opening transition of “But as for you…”.

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
All Scripture is spoken by God and necessary for teaching, for rebuke, for correction and training in righteousness so that a man of God would be spiritually equipped and ready for any good work.

Paul is writing to the younger Timothy and giving general advice about his work in preaching the Gospel. Paul has repeated contrasted those that are teaching false doctrine and their motives for doing so against how Timothy should conduct himself.

Scripture-block application to this question

Paul tells Timothy not “un”learn the “sacred writings” (e.g. Old Testament) since they will provide the necessary wisdom to be saved. Note: It doesn’t say that it saves him (that’s “through faith” in Jesus), but it is necessary for his further sanctification in Christ (e.g. “that the man of God may be complete”).

The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. These Jews were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they eagerly received the message, examining the scriptures carefully every day to see if these things were so.

The brethren quickly got Paul and Silas out of town when it was dark, heading to Berea. When they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now the Jewish Bereans were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, since they eagerly heard the gospel message and examined the scriptures carefully every day to see if what they were taught was from God.

Paul is on his second missionary journey with Silas. They had to flee Thessalonica for fear of being killed by those jealous (vs 5) of them preaching the gospel. These same Jews actually followed them there to disrupt their cause (vs 13).

Scripture-block application to this question

After hearing Paul’s preaching on the New Covenant, the Bereans ‘tested’ his words against the Old Testament (their “scriptures”).

Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, In you shall all the nations be blessed. So then, those who are of faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith.

As a result, understand that all those of faith [in Jesus] are sons of Abraham. And the Jewish holy scriptures, foreseeing that the Gentiles would be justified by this same faith, preached the gospel to Abraham when it said, ‘In you shall all the nations be blessed.’ And so, the blessing to Abraham, the man of faith, extends to all those of faith.

Paul’s letter to the churches of Galatia (a region).  Chapter 3 specifically argues the Christian’s justification through the [New] law of Christ, not the [Old] law of Moses, while at the same time, drawing strong parallels between the two.

Scripture-block application to this question

Paul goes all the way back to Abraham (Genesis 11 – pre-Mosaic Law) to relate and explain what the faith of the New Covenant was all about, and what Christians share with Abraham.

Is the law then contrary to the promises of God? Certainly not! For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law. But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.
Is the [Old] Law contrary to God’s promises? Absolutely not! If a [New] Law was not given leading to life, then yes, righteousness would only come through the [Old] Law. But Scripture [Old Law] shut up everyone in sin, in order that those who now believe can receive the promise given by faith in Jesus Christ.

Paul’s letter to the churches of Galatia (a region).  Chapter 3 specifically argues the Christian’s justification through the [New] law of Christ, not the [Old] law of Moses, while at the same time, drawing strong parallels between the two.

Scripture-block application to this question

The Old Law is not contrary to the New Law.

!! scripture-block context extra important here !!

Paul goes on to point out that the Old Law was a tutor to lead us to Christ (vs 24).

Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did.

These things happened to be an example for us [Christians] so that we might not desire [to do] evil as they did.

Paul, in a letter to the young church in Corinth addressing divisions and several serious matters including sin and arrogance, reminds them about those that came before, that “God was not pleased” (vs 5) with them.

Paul’s reference here is going back specifically to the children of Israel’s exodus from Egypt, when Moses led them in a “pillar of cloud” by day and fire by night and through the Red Sea  (Exodus 13-14) and their subsequent idolatry (vs 7), sexual immorality (vs 8), putting “Christ to the test” (vs 9), and grumbling (vs 10).

Scripture-block application to this question

Christians are to use what is read in the Old Testament as an example in order to not fall from grace as some of them did.

!! scripture-block context extra important here !!

For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly.
[Scoffers in the last days] will intentionally overlook the fact that the heavens existed long ago, and that the earth that was formed out of and through water by God’s word perished by these same things.  It will be by the same word, this time with fire, that the heavens and earth will be consumed on the day of judgment along with the destruction of the ungodly.

As in his first letter, Peter is still warning of false teachers in his second letter.  In this context not only does he remind them their presence is evidence that they are in the “last days”, but he encourages them of what comes next — the “day of the Lord” (vs 10).

Scripture-block application to this question

Peter points all the way back to the Creation (Genesis 1) and Noah (Genesis 11) to make a point about awaiting Jesus’ return.

Owe no one anything, except to love one another, for the one who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not covet,” (and if there is any other commandment) are summed up in this, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Don’t be selfish, but rather love others, since the one that loves his neighbor has kept God’s law. For the [ten] commandments, “Do not commit adultery, do not murder, do not steal, do not covet, etc” could be summarized as, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love is the fulfillment of the [Old] law since love doesn’t wrong anyone.

Paul is offering encouragement to the Christians in Rome. He has given some specific, practical instructions for daily life in the previous chapter (including to love one another – 12:10). In this chapter Paul turns to how a Christian should submit to and live under “governing authorities” (vs 1) before coming back to the subject of loving each other.

Paul cites a portion of the Ten Commandments from Exodus 20:13-17 and relates them to Leviticus 19:18 just as the lawyer did in Luke 10:27 which Jesus approved.

Scripture-block application to this question

Paul quotes from portions of the Old Testament and relates them to how Christians should love one another and thus fulfill God’s commands.

You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.

You know that the Scriptures teach about obtaining eternal life and so you study them, but they also testify about Me – the One you refuse to obey in order to obtain it.

Jesus is in Jerusalem and healing on the Sabbath day and stating that He was the son of God. “This was why the Jews were seeking all the more to kill him, because not only was he breaking the Sabbath, but he was even calling God his own Father, making himself equal with God.” (vs 18)

Jesus has just said that the dead “will hear the voice of the Son of God” and live (vs 25) and that “the Father who sent me has himself borne witness about me” (vs 37).

Scripture-block application to this question

Jesus points to the Old Testament as a witness to Him and who He is.

Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, to build him up. For Christ did not please himself, but as it is written, ‘The reproaches of those who reproached you fell on me.’ For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope.

Let each one of us seek to please his neighbor to encourage him. After all, Christ did not seek to please Himself just as the Psalmist wrote of Him that the insults from those insulting others fell on him. Anything written beforehand is for our instruction, so we have our hope through endurance and encouragement in the Scriptures.

Paul has made the case that the gospel is for all – Jew and Gentile – and that all are in Christ through the “obedience of faith,” a phrase that bookends his letter (1:5, 16:26).  Their “obedience of faith” here relates to those that are weaker in the faith and the responsibility one has toward them, not doing “anything that causes your brother to stumble” (14:21).

Here, Paul is quoting Psalm 69:9 to make his point. Originally, David is writing about insults aimed at God that have fallen on him.

Scripture-block application to this question

Paul, through inspiration, proves a New Covenant principle by citing a verse from a Psalm in the Old Testament and goes on to make the general point that the Old Testament is for the New Testament Christian’s instruction.

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