The Old Testament often speaks of itself in terms that are both truthfully authoritative and practically helpful. These self-revealing statements are incredibly important because if the Old Testament itself does not say that it is true or helpful, then we have no grounds to claim such things ourselves. The Old Testament does indeed have much to say about itself: it is a perfect guide for our life,27 altogether pure,28 true,29 flawless,30 perfect,31 wise and practical counsel,32 effective for God’s purposes,33 precious,34 and sufficient so that nothing should be taken from or added to it.35
The Old Testament also provides richly revealing poetic images that further illuminate its characteristics. God invites our creative imaginations to not merely believe that Scripture is true, but to also meditate on the images through which the Holy Spirit will reveal to us a deeper appreciation for his Word. God does so because he is not only Creator, but also creative, and he created us to appreciate such things as poetry, symbolism, and analogy. The Old Testament is painted as sweetly satisfying like honey,36 a lamp to guide us along life’s often dark path,37 food that nourishes our soul,38 and a fire that purifies us and hammer that breaks us so that we can be remade to be increasingly more like Jesus.39
Lastly, the Old Testament authors appeal to one another’s writings as sacred Scripture. For example, Joshua 1:8 refers to the Pentateuch; Daniel 9:2 refers to Jeremiah; and Ezekiel 14:14 speaks of Noah, Daniel, and Job. Having established what the Old Testament says about itself, we can now add what the New Testament teaches about the Old Testament.
As mentioned earlier, because the New Testament has roughly three hundred explicit Old Testament quotations, as well as upwards of four thousand Old Testament allusions, it is not surprising to find that the New Testament also has much to say about the Old Testament. These statements can be grouped into three general categories.
First, the New Testament clearly, repeatedly, and emphatically declares that the Old Testament is divinely inspired, sacred Scripture and the very words of God. An entire book could and perhaps should be written on this point, but for the sake of brevity I will simply list many of these instances in a note.40
Second, the New Testament makes many statements about the truthfulness and usefulness of the Old Testament. For example, the Old Testament comes with God’s power,41 was written by God’s inspiration,42 is sufficient for all that we truly need to know about God,43 is true and the source of truth,44 is for all people regardless of their culture or nation,45 is necessary to raise children,46 and ultimately is to be obeyed so that it is not merely a source of information but rather a means of transformation.47
Third, like the Old Testament itself, the New Testament uses poetic images to reveal to us how we are to receive the Old Testament. The Old Testament is a sword for battle against Satan, sin, and demons,48 a seed that God plants in us that grows up as a life of fruitfully faithful living,49 and milk that nourishes us for life and growth not unlike the feeding of a newborn baby.50 Having studied what the Old and New Testaments say about the Old Testament, we will examine what Jesus himself said about it in our next post.
27 Prov. 6:23.
28 Ps. 12:6; 119:140.
29 Ps. 119:160.
30 Prov. 30:5–6.
31 Ps. 19:7.
32 Prov. 1:1–7; 2:1–22.
33 Isa. 55:11.
34 Ps. 19:10.
35 Deut. 4:2; 12:32.
36 Ps. 119:103.
37 Ps. 119:105.
38 Jer. 15:16.
39 Jer. 23:29.
40 Matt. 21:42; 22:29; 26:54, 56; Luke 24:25–32, 44–45; John 5:39; 10:35; Acts 17:2, 11; 18:28;
Rom. 1:2; 4:3; 9:17; 10:11; 11:2; 15:4; 16:26; 1 Cor. 15:3–4; Gal. 3:8, 22; 4:30; 1 Tim. 5:18;
2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Pet. 1:20–21; 3:15–16.
The content for this post was originally published in the book “On the Old Testament” that is out of print until it is revised and rereleased.