Why Bother With the Old Testament?

There are a number of questions people ask when they find out you are a member of the church of Christ.  The questions about music or weekly observance are almost always near the top of the list.  Another charge I sometimes hear is that we do not believe in the Old Testament.  While it is true that we do not believe that Old Covenant is still binding (Col 2:14), that does not mean we completely disregard the Old Testament.  Here are just a few reasons why that is the case.

First, we believe that just like the New Testament, the Old Testament is inspired of God.  Paul wrote that ALL Scripture is God-breathed in 2 Tim. 3:16, and Peter, speaking specifically of the prophecies of the Old Testament, says in 2 Peter 1:21 that “no prophecy of Scripture was every produced by the will of men, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”

A second reason that we believe the Old Testament is still worth our study is because Jesus himself taught from it.  In Luke 4, after reading from the book of Isaiah in the synagogue, Jesus took the opportunity in verse 21 to teach the people that “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”  In a number of places he refers to the Old Testament in his teaching, such as making references to the “sign of Jonah” in predicting his resurrection from the dead (Mt. 12:38-42) and references to Daniel’s prophecy when standing trial before the Council (Mk. 14:62 cf. Dan. 7:13-14).

A third reason that we do not ignore the Old Testament is because the other New Testament writers taught from it as well. Paul quoted from and made references the Old Testament in his letters (Rom 3:10-18, 9:6-33; Gal. 3). One might say that the key to understanding the book of Hebrews lies in understanding the Old Testament, especially the books of Moses.  Additionally, we could consider examples of Peter and other writers making reference to Old Testament passages (James 2:23-26; 1 Pet. 2:6-8)

Finally, the express words of Paul in Romans 15:4 give us a good reason to not neglect our study of the Old Testament.  He wrote, “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction…” In my opinion, this was easily seen in our recent Wednesday night series covering the book of Ruth.  There was much we could learn from what we usually thought of as simply a beautiful love story.

There is considerable benefit in studying God’s first 39 books of revelation in addition to continuing to deeply study the 27 books given specifically to the church in the New Testament. Let’s not neglect more than half of God’s inspired word just because we are no longer bound by it’s laws.  Study the Old Testament.  All of God’s people would be better for it.

 

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