NT Use of OT

From the Archives – Psalm 8 In the New Testament

Written by David, Psalm 8 extols the majesty of the Lord and reaffirms that man is expected to rule over God’s creation.

The first and last verse of the psalm both declare the greatness of God—“O Lord, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth!” (Ps. 8:1, 9). So God’s glory is at the forefront. But this psalm also declares the exalted position mankind has in God’s purposes concerning the earth. Psalm 8:4-8 states:

What is man that You take thought of him,
And the son of man that You care for him?
5 Yet You have made him a little lower than God,
And You crown him with glory and majesty!
6 You make him to rule over the works of Your hands;
You have put all things under his feet,
7 All sheep and oxen,
And also the beasts of the field,
8 The birds of the heavens and the fish of the sea,
Whatever passes through the paths of the seas.

Psalm 8 draws upon the truth of Genesis 1:26-28 that God created man to “rule” and “subdue” the world. In fact Psalm 8 functions much like a commentary on Genesis 1:26-28. Even in a fallen world man’s right to rule over creation has not been revoked, even though man in his sinful state is not able to fulfill it as he should (see Genesis 3).

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New Release: the Old in the New by Michael J. Vlach

I am excited to announce the release of my new book, The Old in the New: Understanding How the New Testament Authors Quoted the Old Testament. The book is published by Kress Biblical Resources with an imprint from The Master’s Seminary. I have been working on this book since 2011. It was formed through years of teaching a Th.M. seminar at The Master’s Seminary called, “New Testament Use of the Old Testament.”

Trying to understand NT quotations of the OT is a huge topic for any one person but I have tried my best to address most NT uses of the OT in this book. This includes the “harder” cases like Matthew 2:15’s use of Hosea 11:1, and Paul’s use of “seed” in Galatians 3:16. In his endorsement of this book, Walter Kaiser states, “He [Vlach] has also taken up a wide sample of most, if not all, of the passages usually raised on this subject and has given a reasonable solution in Scripture text after Scripture text—in a succinct, but credible manner. I cannot endorse Vlach’s work too highly, for I found that he had hit the nail on the head in case after case.” 

I also address the various ways the NT authors quoted and used the OT. In addition, I also evaluate the seven different approaches to this topic. And I lay out the perspective that I think is accurate.

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Paul's Use of Isaiah 59:20-21 in Romans 11:26-27

One example where a New Testament writer views an Old Testament prophetic passage as needing to be fulfilled literally in the future is Paul’s use of Isaiah 59:20-21 in Romans 11:26-27:

and so all Israel will be saved; just as it is written,

“The Deliverer will come from Zion,
He will remove ungodliness from Jacob.”
27 “This is My covenant with them,
When I take away their sins.”

This statement by Paul comes in the context of his discussion concerning why God’s Word has not failed concerning Israel in Romans 9-11. In showing how Paul uses this passage I start with explaining Isaiah 59:20-21 in its original context.

Isaiah 59:20-21 in Context

Isaiah 59:20-21 reads:

“A Redeemer will come to Zion,
And to those who turn from transgression in Jacob,” declares the Lord.

21 “As for Me, this is My covenant with them,” says the Lord: “My Spirit which is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth shall not depart from your mouth, nor from the mouth of your offspring, nor from the mouth of your offspring’s offspring,” says the Lord, “from now and forever.”

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How Jesus Used the Old Testament in Matthew 5:21-48 (Part 2)

Read Part 1.

Fulfillment of the Law and the Prophets includes the prediction that the New Covenant would replace the older Mosaic Covenant.

This does not mean Jesus’ New Covenant instruction is contrary to what Moses said. While God’s moral standards existed before the Mosaic Law was given in Exodus 20, the Mosaic Law represented God’s moral standards for the era between Moses and Jesus. And we should expect continuity of God’s moral standards across human history. This is true for both the Law of Moses and the Law of Christ. But a new era arrived in Jesus and with it a New Covenant and it requirements. Just as Jesus’ superior priesthood has superseded the Aaronic priesthood (see Hebrews 7-8), so too Jesus and the New Covenant supersede Moses and the Law of Moses. 

In sum, with Matthew 5:21-48 Jesus is the ultimate Prophet and Lawgiver who now declares a transition from Moses and the Mosaic Covenant to Himself and the New Covenant. An epochal transition has occurred (see 2 Cor. 3:6-11). This development was not unforeseen. Moses himself predicted a coming Prophet to whom the people would listen (see Deut. 18:15, 18), and that prophet arrived with Jesus (see Acts 3:22-23).

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How Jesus Used the Old Testament in Matthew 5:21-48 (Part 1)

With Matthew 5:21-48 Jesus quoted the OT seven times. Six of these involve an OT command from the Law of Moses followed by the statement “But I say to you .  .  .” A seventh concerns a statement that Jerusalem is “the city of the great King,” a reference to Psalm 48:2 in Matthew 5:35. This latter example, from Psalm 48:2, is a contextual affirmation of the significance of Jerusalem. Our attention, though, focuses on the other six uses of the OT. These reveal how Jesus viewed himself in relation to the Law of Moses. These six uses of the OT by Jesus are:

You have heard … “‘You shall not commit murder’ and ‘Whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.’ … But I say to you … .” (NASB, Matt. 5:21-22; quotation of Exodus 20:13).

You have heard that it was said, “‘You shall not commit adultery’; but I say to you… .” (Matt. 5:27-28; quotation of Exodus 20:14).

“It was said, “‘Whoever sends his wife away, let him give her a certificate of divorce’; but I say to you… .” (Matt. 5:31-32; quotation of Deut. 24:1).

Again, you have heard … “‘You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord.’ But I say to you… .” (Matt. 5:33-34; allusion to Lev. 19:12; Deut. 23:21).

You have heard that it was said, “‘An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you… .” (Matt. 5:38-39; quotation of Exod. 21:24).

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Colossians 2:11-12 and the Circumcision-Infant Baptism Analogy, Part 2

From Faith Pulpit, Winter 2018, with permission. Read Part 1.

The New Testament Understanding of Baptism

Therefore, there is a precedent in the Bible (both OT & NT) for a spiritual understanding of circumcision. These passages speak of dedication, repentance, and purity. Col. 2:11–12 fits into this description of circumcision when we examine it closely. The text mentions “putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ” (v. 11). Then comes the connection to baptism. The words of Col. 2:12 echo those in Rom. 6:4.

Christian baptism is an identification with Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. Rom. 6 is in a context of why believers should not continue in sin though grace abounds (6:1–2). Part of the answer to that question is a discussion on the meaning of baptism. Because we have pledged ourselves to follow Christ and identify with His death, burial, and resurrection, it should make a difference in our lives. Our pledge is not for salvation, but rather it is a commitment made before witnesses (note the examples of many baptisms in the book of Acts) that we intend to live for Him. If we have believingly done that, we should no longer continue in sin. We should forsake it and live in newness of life—a life of dedication.

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Colossians 2:11-12 and the Circumcision-Infant Baptism Analogy, Part 1

From Faith Pulpit, Winter 2018, with permission.

Most Baptists have heard of Reformed and Presbyterian churches who baptize babies, because “the practice of circumcision in the Old Testament (OT) is replaced by infant baptism in the New.” Verses cited in support of this analogy include Gen. 17:7–8; Gal. 3:9, 14; Col. 2:11–12; Acts 2:38–39; Rom. 4:11–12; 1 Cor. 7:14; Matt. 28:19; Mark 10:13–16; and Luke 18:15.1 The challenge for those who use this analogy is that these passages either mention circumcision (Gen. 17:7–8; Rom. 4:11–12) or baptism (Acts 2:38–39; Matt. 28:19) or neither circumcision nor baptism (Gal. 3:9, 14; 1 Cor. 7:14; Mark 10:13–16; and Luke 18:15). What is required for this analogy to work is a link between circumcision and baptism.

There is only one text in the Bible that mentions both. That passage is Col. 2:11–12. Is this the missing link that connects circumcision to baptism and therefore justifies infant baptism? Before addressing this, it remains of vital importance to understand that the analogy has always been and can only be between physical circumcision (involving a literal cutting of the flesh) and water baptism. Those who use this analogy connect it to Abraham’s participation in God’s covenant with physical circumcision as the sign of this covenant (Gen. 17:1–16).

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Forty Reasons for Not Reinterpreting the OT by the NT: The Last Twenty

Read the first twenty.

21. Saying the NT must reinterpret the OT also devalues the OT as its own witness to God and His Plans. For example, if the promises given to ethnic Israel of land, throne, temple, etc. are somehow “fulfilled” in Jesus and the Church, what was the point of speaking about them so pointedly? Cramming everything into Christ not only destroys the clarity and unity of Scripture in the ways already mentioned, it reduces the biblical covenants d own to the debated promise of Genesis 3:15. The [true] expansion seen in the covenants (with all their categorical statements) is deflated into a single sound-bite of “the Promised Seed-Redeemer has now come and all is fulfilled in Him.” This casts aspersions on God as a communicator and as a covenant-Maker, since there was absolutely no need for God to say many of the things He said in the OT, let alone bind himself by oaths to fulfill them (a la Jer. 31 & 33. Four covenants are cited in Jer. 33; three in Ezek. 37).

22. It forces one to adopt a “promise – fulfillment” scheme between the Testaments, ignoring the fact that the OT possesses no such promise scheme, but rather a more relational “covenant – blessing” scheme.

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