A New Testament midrash is a Jewish explanation, teaching, interpretation, or application of an Old Testament text. When Jesus talks about how He will be lifted just as the serpent in the wilderness was lifted up (John 3:13-17), I consider His words a midrash on Numbers 21:8-10. My book, The Midrash Key, demonstrates how we can better understand New Testament texts when we couple them with their Old Testament source texts. I could only include a few of Jesus’ many midrashim (plural) in a single book, so I have decided to supplement my book with brief articles—like this one.
Sometimes a midrash is not merely a midrash on a single Old Testament text, but, rather, on a series of scattered verses. Such is the case with John’s assertion about the pre-existence of the Messiah as the Eternal Word of God and as God Himself.
Note the background to the Concept of God’s Creative Word in John 1:1-3. The NIV reads,
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.
We can see that the Word was always with God (1). This takes us back to Genesis 1, where we repeatedly read, “And God said…” Most readers with any fluency in the Old Testament would make this connection.