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Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: Why Is the Bible So Special?

Don Stewart :: What Value Does the Old Testament Have?

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Question 5

What Value Does the Old Testament Have?

To many people the Old Testament is irrelevant today. They consider only the New Testament to have any real value. However, there are a number of reasons as to why the Old Testament is extremely important to study. They include the following:

  • It Was the Bible of Jesus, the Apostles and First Century Jews

    At the time of Jesus, there was no such thing as a “new” testament. The Hebrew Scriptures were the only divine writings that God had revealed to humanity. It revealed the words and the works of the one true God throughout history, as well as the response of the people to God’s revelation of Himself. God had made Himself known to humanity through His miraculous deeds which were explained and interpreted by His divinely chosen spokesmen; the prophets. They explained the meaning of the various acts of mercy and judgment. Consequently, the books of the Old Testament were the Bible for Jesus, His apostles and other first century Jews.

    Because of the importance of the Hebrew Scripture, Jesus assured His listeners that He had not come to abolish what had been written. He said:

    Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfil them. For truly, I say to you, till heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the law until all is accomplished. (Matthew 5:17-18 RSV)

    He held the Scriptures in the highest regard. On His way to Jerusalem to die for the sins of the world, Jesus said the following to His disciples about the Scriptures:

    Then He took the Twelve aside and told them, “Listen! We are going up to Jerusalem. Everything that is written through the prophets about the Son of Man will be accomplished.” (Luke 18:31 HCSB)

    Things that are important to Jesus should be important to us. Since the Old Testament was His Bible, it should cause us to have the utmost reverence and respect for it.

  • The Old Testament Was Important to Paul

    The same is true of Saul of Tarsus; the man who became the Apostle Paul. The Old Testament was important to him. He had the following to say about what had been written beforehand:

    These things happened to them as a warning to us. All this was written in the Scriptures to teach us who live in these last days. (1 Corinthians 10:11 CEV)

    Paul said that what was written in the Scripture was to teach us how to live. It is a divinely inspired document.

    There is something else. Even while the New Testament was being written and cited as authoritative Scripture, the Old Testament was still used and cited alongside it. Both testaments were considered divinely authoritative by the early Christians.

  • Many Central Truths about God Are Revealed in the Old Testament

    Without the Old Testament, the New Testament makes no sense whatsoever. Many of the major teachings of the Bible are given to us in the Old Testament. For example, from the Old Testament we learn such central truths as God exists and that He created the universe and everything in it. We also learn that human beings were originally created perfect but fell from that position because of sin. In addition, we discover that forgiveness of sin is based upon sacrifice. These are just a few of the many central truths that we learn from the Old Testament.

    1. The Old Testament Predicts the Coming of the Messiah, or the Christ into the World

      The Old Testament gives us the predictions of a Savior, the Messiah or the Christ, who will come into the world. He will be the One who will save people from their sins. Without the Old Testament, we would not know that the Messiah is coming or why He needs to come into the world. Furthermore, we would not know how to identify Him when He does arrive.

    2. It Gives the History of God’s Chosen People; Israel

      The Old Testament gives us the major events in the history of God’s chosen people; the Jews. It records their origin, history, their exile and their return. The Scripture shows their place in the overall plan of God and in His unfolding plan of redemption for the human race. It shows the nation prospered when they obeyed God.

    3. It Presents Some Details of the Future Rule of Christ That Are Not Found in the New Testament

      The Bible, in both testaments, speaks of the Kingdom of God coming to the earth. There are details in the Old Testament about this coming kingdom that are not found in the New Testament. Without the Old Testament, we would not know many of these details.

  • It Has an Enormous Amount of Material That Is Helpful for Spiritual Growth

    The Old Testament contains much devotional material that is still practical for the believer. Even today, Christians can learn valuable spiritual truths from studying its pages. These truths are everlasting.

    The list goes on and on. Therefore, far from being outdated or irrelevant, the Old Testament has tremendous value for the believer today.

Summary - Question 5
What Value Does the Old Testament Have?

Though it is often neglected in favor of the New Testament, the Old Testament is absolutely necessary for the believer to study. The Old Testament is the foundation for the New Testament. It prepared the world for the coming of Christ. In fact, without it, the New Testament makes no sense whatever.

Many reasons can be given for the importance of the Old Testament. For one thing, it was the only sacred Scripture of Jesus, His disciples and the first century Jews. The Old Testament was continually cited as authoritative while the New Testament was being written; it still had value for them.

In fact, many of the basic truths about God come from the Old Testament. Without the Old Testament, we would not know the predictions and promises God made of the coming Deliverer or Messiah. The Old Testament also chronicles the history of God’s chosen people; Israel. The Old Testament also provides details of the future reign of Christ upon the earth; details not contained in the New Testament. In short, the Old Testament is essential for study.

Why Are the Two Divisions of the Bible Called the Old and New Testament? ← Prior Section
What Value Does the New Testament Have? Next Section →
CONTENT DISCLAIMER:

The Blue Letter Bible ministry and the BLB Institute hold to the historical, conservative Christian faith, which includes a firm belief in the inerrancy of Scripture. Since the text and audio content provided by BLB represent a range of evangelical traditions, all of the ideas and principles conveyed in the resource materials are not necessarily affirmed, in total, by this ministry.


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