Do you prefer the Old Testament or the New Testament? While one is full of stories of hatred, murder, and jealousy, the other teaches love, mercy and kindness. So what’s the deal? Why does it seem that the Bible is divided into two completely different messages?
Looking deeper, you’ll realize there are more similarities between the Old Testament and New Testament than differences. Even though they are different in focus, they tell the same story.
I like how theologian Geerhardus Vos describes the similarities between the Old Testament and New Testament so perfectly in his book, Biblical Theology, “Like a play with many acts, the unity of the Bible is a drama that unfolds over time, forming a living and organic unity.”
The Bible serves the purpose of not only teaching us about God and humanity, but it also serves to restore us back to our Creator and His image by means of the promised Savior (Jesus). The similarities between the Old and New Testament are unified through the continuity of the story of Jesus throughout the scriptures.
The story of Jesus actually starts in Genesis, and is woven throughout the Old Testament, which was written hundreds of years before Jesus was born. How is it that the birth of Jesus could be predicted when the world was barely beginning? It is because God is the same, yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8), and the Bible, God’s Word, attests to that, through the unity of the Old and New Testament.
When sin entered into the world, God knew that the world was in trouble and needed a Savior. The stories of the Old Testament, of humanity’s complete and utter rebellion, hardened hearts, and disobedience, display a total desperation for a Savior and continuously point to Jesus. The New Testament fulfills that need with the arrival of Jesus, and is a continuation of the story that began in Genesis.
Jesus Has Been Here Since The Beginning
The phrase “In the beginning” appears twice in the Bible. The first time we see this phrase is in Genesis 1:1, when God created the world and everything in it, including mankind.
Then in John 1:1, as John the Baptist announces the arrival of Jesus, we read, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” And in verse 3, John further connects Jesus to creation, “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”
The parallels between Genesis 1 and John 1 cannot be overlooked. It is clear that even though Jesus didn’t walk the earth until a couple thousand years later, he was actually with God when He created the world.
The Plan For Jesus’ Coming Was Revealed In the Old Testament
Sin entered into the world when the enemy, in the form of a serpent, tempted Adam and Eve into eating the forbidden fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (Genesis 3:1-6). This was a direct act of disobedience to God, and in that moment, immediately following their sinful act, they knew they had messed up.
“Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they realized they were naked.” Genesis 3:7
Though sad, God wasn’t surprised. He had already set his plan in motion, as revealed in Genesis 3:15, “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel.” The one who would defeat the enemy would be born to a woman.
Throughout the Old Testament, the plan for Jesus’s coming, and the details of how he would come and what he would do are recorded:
- He would be born to a woman (Genesis 3:15, Micah 5:2-5)
- He would be a descendent of Abraham and all nations would be blessed (Genesis 12:1-3)
- He would be from the lineage of King David and his royal throne would reign forever (2 Samuel 7:8-16; Isaiah 9:6-7)
- He would come to Jeruslaem riding on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9-10)
- He would be crucified for our sins (Isaiah 53:5)
In time, God will restore the world to His perfect, original design “as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.” Ephesians 1:10
God’s Chosen People Continued to Rebel
With all these references of the coming Messiah, it’s plain to see that God wanted to give his chosen people every opportunity to recognize the Savior when he arrived. With all these prophecies, they didn’t have any excuses.
However, God predicted that they would do just that (Isaiah 53):
- He was despised and rejected by mankind (v. 3)
- He was oppressed and afflicted (v. 7)
Their rejection of Jesus as the Messiah fulfills the prophecies laid out in the Old Testament (Acts 3:13-15).
“He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.” John 1:10-11
One day, during Jesus’ ministry, as he was preparing his followers to go out and preach the gospel, he advised them that anyone who rejects their teaching rejects him, and anyone who rejects him also rejects God (Luke 10:16). Even to this day, we continue to reject God and Jesus, but God loves us so much that he gives us countless chances to turn back to him.
Everything Happened How It Was Prophesied
“Everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Luke 24:44
Notice that Jesus says everything written about him must be fulfilled. The fulfillment of prophecy is not an option, it’s a requirement, to ensure the continuity and unity of the entire Bible. What was prophesied in the Old Testament must come to complete fruition in the New Testament in order to fully restore mankind back to God.
“The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, the chief priests and the teachers of the law, and he must be killed and on the third day be raised to life.” Luke 9:22
Even in Jesus’ time, anyone who studied the scriptures should have been able to easily recognize that Jesus was the one prophesied about, unless their hearts were hardened as is the case with the Pharisees (Mark 3:5-6).
In John 1, the first followers of Jesus knew immediately that he was the anticipated Messiah:
- “We have found the Messiah.” John 1:39-41
- “We have found him of whom Moses in the Law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.” John 1:45
Countless prophecies were fulfilled by the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Numerous passages can be found in the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John regarding the life of Jesus, and even after his death and resurrection in Acts, Romans and the many letters written by the apostles.
“Now, fellow Israelites, I know that you acted in ignorance, as did your leaders. But this is how God fulfilled what he had foretold through all the prophets, saying that his Messiah would suffer. Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, and that he may send the Messiah, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus.” -Acts 3:17-20
The similarities between the Old and New Testament are uncanny, no doubt. An epic story like this, written across thousands of years by different authors in different locations, is only possible through divine authorship.
2 Timothy 3:16 says, “All Scripture is God-breathed.” Even though penned by men, all scripture is the inspired, written word of God.
“Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.” 2 Peter 1:20-21
God gave us the Bible so we could learn about Him, understand the fall of man and our need to be rescued, and realize God’s plan to restore us back to Him and our created purpose through the culmination of prophecies fulfilled in the past, the present, and continuing into the future.
Just as God’s people awaited the arrival of their Savior, today’s Christians await the return of Jesus Christ to bring about full and complete restoration for mankind.
This article first released on iBelieve.com on March 3, 2022. Check it out here: https://www.ibelieve.com/faith/the-similarities-between-the-old-testament-and-new-testament.html
See related article: The Old and New Testament: Differences