At times, Christians speak as though New Testament teachings cancel Old Testament teachings. This is an error in understanding. Salvation by grace through faith has ever been God’s only path to restored fellowship with the Trinity God. Christians must learn to see balance throughout the entirety of Holy Scripture. Any other application results in error. NT doctrine does not null and void OT doctrine; it merely shines light on a sometimes hidden mystery – the mystery of grace as declared by the apostle Paul, “prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles,” in the third chapter of Ephesians.
Herein then do I provide six reasons New Testament saints quote text from Old Testament teachings?
A) Men speak of what they know
Speaking from memory comes naturally. We go to school. We learn from our parents. We accumulate knowledge from daily life. And it is only natural that our conversation reflect the things we know and have come to believe as so.
B) Old Testament text provides evidence of revealed and fulfilled prophecy
According to J. Barton Payne’s Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy, the Old Testament includes 1,239 prophecies some already fulfilled and some yet to be fulfilled. Likewise, Payne counts 578 prophecies in the New Testament. These prophecies, totaling 1,817, comprise the contents of 8,352 bible verses. Modern bible scholars define fulfilled prophecy as a primary evidence that Old Testament scripture is factual, accurate, and proof that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is the one and only true God. Examples of New Testament quotes abound. Here are two:
- Mark 2:17,18 Murder of Children
- Luke 4:17-22 Jesus quoting from Isaiah
C) OT text confirms declared NT truths
Concerning persuasion, men must be given evidence they can trust. In Acts 18:4 we read these words:
“And he reasoned in the synagogue every sabbath, and persuaded the Jews and the Greeks.”
Can you see the apostle Paul presenting his arguments of persuasion? Can you hear him quoting Old Testament text from Genesis, Isaiah, and Malachi? His choices for scripture pertaining to Christ and salvation to both Jew and Gentile abound throughout the entirety of Holy Scripture. Thus he surely reasoned from trusted text.
Sometimes Old Testament scripture is directly quoted. Other times the speaker merely declares the confirmed thoughts, intents and purposes of God. Examples:
- Romans 4:6-8 – Paul speaks of justification by faith
- Matt. 24:37-39 – Jesus uses the “Days of Noah” as an example of coming judgment.
D) When contrasting or confirming the nature of the two covenants
Someone once said to me, “The God of the OT was a god of wrath but the God of the NT is a god of love.” Any complete and balanced reading of Holy Scripture will reveal the error of this statement. Understand, dear brother and sister, the New Testament Covenant does not null and void every aspect of the Old Testament Covenant. The New Covenant never reflects a change in the character, personality, and expectations of God. Thus even though Hebrews 8:8-12 defines distinctions between the New and the Old, remember that Romans 11 declares the eternal existence of “election according to grace.”
“But what saith the answer of God unto him? I have reserved to myself seven thousand men, who have not bowed the knee to the image of Baal. Even so then at this present time also there is a remnant according to the election of grace,” (Romans 11:4,5).
E) OT quotes as examples of right living
As stated earlier, some OT text recorded in the NT as a direct quote. At other times, OT Scripture is stated in a manner that merely reflects the thoughts, intends and purposes of God. In 1-Cor. 10, the apostle Paul uses various condensed versions of Old Testament Scripture as a means of relaying and confirming that Scripture is written so that we might learn not to sin. Yet we also see many examples wherein they apply direct quotes from Old Testament text. Consider the nature of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, who routinely uses direct quotes among his method for teaching the meaning of righteous living.
Furthermore, New Testament quotes of Old Testament text are more a paraphrase than an exact quote. Consider 1-Peter 4:18: In context, the apostle Peter speaks of judgment in the house of God. His usage of the text is as follows:
“And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear?”
The quote is attributed to come from Proverbs 11:31, “If the righteous receive their due on earth, how much more the ungodly and the sinner!” Although Peter uses a liberal application of the text, be not confused – The thoughts, intents and purposes of God are fully identical between the two texts.
F) Old Testament text defines the person of Christ
To close, we must include the most important purpose of Old Testament Scripture. Christ. He is the glory of God, the center focus of all Scripture, the evidence of revealed truth. Examples of New Testament text that uses Old Testament quotes as evidence of his being, his coming and his purpose are abundant. Here are to examples:
- Acts 8:32-35 Phil and Eunuch
- Luke 24:27 Jesus on road to Emmaus
More Reasons For Quoting Old Testament Text
Here you have six reasons for why New Testament authors quote Old Testament Scripture. Perhaps you can think of other reasons. I would like to hear them. Perhaps they fit somewhere within these six categories. Perhaps not. I look forward to reading your comments.