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The Blue Letter Bible
Study Resources :: Text Commentaries :: Don Stewart :: The Case for Christianity

Don Stewart :: Jesus' View of the Old Testament

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Chapter 11 – Jesus’ View of the Old Testament

He Totally Trusted Its Contents

This chapter logically follows what we have learned so far. If Jesus is the Christ, God the Son, then He speaks authoritative on every matter. Therefore, we want to find how He viewed the Old Testament, His own teachings, and the New Testament. This chapter looks at Jesus’ view of the Old Testament.

We will find that Jesus totally trusted its contents. The people actually existed, and the stories found in the Old Testament literally occurred. This includes some of the most controversial stories recorded in the Old Testament such as Adam and Eve, Noah, and Jonah. We also find that Jesus spoke of the necessity of Old Testament prophecy being fulfilled.

These facts will lead us to conclude that Jesus totally trusted the Old Testament. To Him, it is God’s divinely inspired Word to the human race.

Now that we have seen that the evidence is sufficient for believing that Jesus is the One whom He claimed to be, we now come to the question of the divine inspiration and authority of the Bible. This chapter will deal with the Old Testament. Did the stories recorded in the Old Testament actually occur? In what sense does it speak authoritative to us? Jesus is the one who can provide us the answer.

Jesus Is the Final Authority

To find the answer we examine the view of Jesus Christ, since He has already demonstrated that He speaks with ultimate authority. Paul wrote the following to the church at Rome about Christ:

And Jesus Christ our Lord was shown to be the Son of God when God powerfully raised him from the dead by means of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 1:4 NLT)

Therefore, we go to Jesus to find the answers to questions about the Old Testament’s reliability. For the believer, Christ’s view of the Old Testament should be our view.

He Had Total Trust in the Old Testament

In examining the four gospels we have a great amount of information to work with concerning Jesus’ view of the Old Testament. His view can be simply stated in two words, “total trust.” Jesus accepted the Old Testament Scriptures as being divinely inspired—He never cast doubt on any of the accounts. Jesus assumed the people were actual people and the events literally occurred. We never find Him giving the slightest hint of anything but the complete acceptance of the Old Testament as the Word of God.

Jesus Believed the People Were Actual People

The first thing we find Jesus confirming about the Old Testament is that the people mentioned in its pages truly did exist. They were not mythical characters.

Abraham

Jesus confirmed the existence of Abraham. He said,

Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day: and he saw it, and was glad. (John 8:56 KJV)

Jesus accepted the fact that Abraham was an historical character.

Isaac and Jacob

The patriarchs, Isaac and Jacob, were real people according to Jesus. Matthew records Him saying the following:

“I tell you, many will come from east and west and will eat with Abraham and Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matthew 8:11 NRSV)

According to Jesus, Isaac and Jacob truly existed.

The Queen of Sheba

The Queen of Sheba actually came to visit Solomon. Scripture records Him saying,

“The queen of the south will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, because she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and look—something greater than Solomon is here!” (Matthew 12:42 HCSB)

Jesus accepted her existence as factual.

Solomon

Solomon himself, the great king, was an historical person. Jesus said,

“Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was adorned like one of these!” (Matthew 6:29 HCSB)

According to Jesus, Solomon did indeed exist.

Elijah

Elijah was a genuine prophet. When asked about Elijah returning to this earth, Jesus clearly said that he was returning. Matthew writes,

Jesus answered, “Elijah is coming and will put everything in order again.” (Matthew 17:11 God’s Word)

Elijah existed. Someday, he will come back to the earth.

Elisha

Jesus also confirmed the story about Elisha the prophet and Naaman the leper. Luke records Jesus saying,

“There were also many lepers in Israel in the time of the prophet Elisha, and none of them was cleansed except Naaman the Syrian.” (Luke 4:27 NRSV)

Elisha the prophet, likewise, existed.

Zechariah

Jesus also acknowledged Zechariah the prophet. He said,

“...from the murder of Abel to the murder of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, it will surely be charged against you.” (Luke 11:51 NLT)

Jesus believed that Zechariah truly lived.

Sodom and Gomorrah

Jesus believed that Sodom and Gomorrah were actual cities that were judged by God. He said,

“I can guarantee this truth: Judgment day will be better for Sodom and Gomorrah than for that city.” (Matthew 10:15 God’s Word)

Sodom and Gomorrah were actual cities. They were not mythical places.

Tyre and Sidon

The account of Tyre and Sidon, the cities that were judged in the Old Testament, was confirmed by Jesus. He said,

“Woe to you, Chorazin! Woe to you, Bethsaida! For if the deeds of power done in you had been done in Tyre and Sidon, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes. But I tell you, on the day of judgment it will be more tolerable for Tyre and Sidon than for you.” (Matthew 11:21, 22 NRSV)

According to Jesus, the cities of Tyre and Sidon were judged by the Lord just as the Old Testament said.

Jesus Believed the Stories Were Factual

As we look at the way Jesus treated the Old Testament, we discover that He assumed the various stories to be factual.

God Gave the Rite of Circumcision

Jesus stated that it was God who gave the people the rite of circumcision through Moses. John records Him saying,

“Moses gave you circumcision (it is, of course, not from Moses, but from the patriarchs), and you circumcise a man on the sabbath.” (John 7:22 NRSV)

Circumcision was a God-given rite.

God Provided the Manna in the Wilderness

The provision of the manna, given to the children of Israel while they were in the wilderness, was confirmed by the Lord Jesus. He said,

“Our fathers ate the manna in the desert; as it is written, ‘He gave them bread from heaven to eat.’” (John 6:31 NKJV)

Thus, the account of the manna, being given by God to the people, is historical.

David Eating the Bread of Presentation

The story of David and his men eating the bread of presentation was acknowledged by Jesus. Scripture says,

But He [Jesus] said to them, “Have you not read what David did when he was hungry, he and those who were with him: how he entered the house of God and ate the showbread which was not lawful for him to eat, nor for those who were with him, but only for the priests?” (Matthew 12:3, 4 NKJV)

Jesus accepted this account as historically accurate.

David Was the Writer of Certain Psalms

Jesus taught that David was the writer of certain of the Psalms. Matthew records Jesus saying,

“How is it then that David by the Spirit calls him Lord, saying...” (Matthew 22:43 NRSV)

David wrote the Psalms which were attributed to him.

Moses Wrote the Law

According to Jesus, the Law was indeed given by Moses. Jesus said the following to a man whom He healed of leprosy:

“See that you tell no one; but go your way, show yourself to the priest, and offer the gift that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them.” (Matthew 8:4 NKJV)

Moses was the writer of the books attributed to him.

The Suffering of the Prophets

The fact that the prophets suffered was used by Jesus as an example of how His disciples will suffer. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said,

“Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:12 NKJV)

The various accounts of the suffering of the Old Testament prophets are historically accurate.

The Episode with Lot’s Wife

The story of Lot’s wife, turning into a pillar of salt, was used by Jesus as an example of not looking back. Luke records Jesus saying,

Remember Lot’s wife. (Luke 17:32 KJV)

Lot’s wife actually existed.

Jesus Confirmed Some of the Most Controversial Stories Found in the Old Testament

In addition, Jesus confirmed some of the most ridiculed stories in the Old Testament. It is almost as though He went out of His way to put His stamp of approval on them.

Adam and Eve

Jesus believed in the Genesis account of creation—which includes the direct creation of Adam and Eve. Matthew records Him saying,

“Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” Jesus replied. “They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.’ And he said, ‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’” (Matthew 19:4-5 NLT)

He used Adam and Eve as an example of God’s purpose in marriage.

Cain and Abel

The account of Cain killing Abel is rejected today in many circles, but Jesus believed it occurred. We read of this in Luke’s gospel:

From the murder of Abel to the murder of Zechariah, who was killed between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, it will surely be charged against you. (Luke 11:51 NLT)

This early story, recorded in the Book of Genesis, is historically accurate.

The Flood in Noah’s Day

Was there really a Flood, in the days of Noah, which God sent to destroy the earth? Jesus assumed there was. He said,

“For the coming of the Son of Man will be just like the days of Noah. For as in those days before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, and they did not understand until the flood came and took them all away; so will the coming of the Son of Man be.” (Matthew 24:37-39 NASB)

Jesus compared the circumstances surrounding Noah’s Flood as similar to those at His Second Coming.

Jonah and the Great Sea Creature

Jesus also believed the story of Jonah and the great sea creature as having literally occurred. In fact, He used it as a sign of His resurrection:

But Jesus replied, “Only an evil, faithless generation would ask for a miraculous sign; but the only sign I will give them is the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was in the belly of the great fish for three days and three nights, so I, the Son of Man, will be in the heart of the earth for three days and three nights. The people of Nineveh will rise up against this generation on judgment day and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah. And now someone greater than Jonah is here—and you refuse to repent.” (Matthew 12:39-41 NLT)

Contrary to the view of many modern skeptics, Jonah actually existed. Jesus testified to this fact.

Daniel

Though the authorship of Daniel is often rejected today, Jesus believed that he was a true prophet. He said

Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place (whoever reads, let him understand). (Matthew 24:15 NKJV)

All of these disputed and ridiculed accounts of the Old Testament were confirmed by Jesus as actually occurring. Furthermore, He used certain of them as illustrating some of the most important events in His own ministry—including His resurrection and Second Coming. Since He demonstrated Himself to be God’s Son, His testimony settles the matter—these stories did occur.

Jesus Spoke of Prophecy Being Fulfilled

Jesus also said that certain predictions, recorded in the Old Testament, were fulfilled in His life and ministry. We read the following in the Gospel of Luke:

Then he said to them, “This passage came true today when you heard me read it.” (Luke 4:21 God’s Word)

Jesus spoke of John the Baptist as the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy. Matthew records Jesus saying,

“John is the man to whom the Scriptures refer when they say, ‘Look, I am sending my messenger before you, and he will prepare your way before you.’” (Matthew 11:10 NLT)

Jesus also said that what was written about Him must be fulfilled. Mark records Jesus saying,

“Elijah is indeed coming first to restore all things. How then is it written about the Son of Man, that he is to go through many sufferings and be treated with contempt? But I tell you that Elijah has come, and they did to him whatever they pleased, as it is written about him.” (Mark 9:12, 13 NRSV)

In another example, when predicting judgment on the city of Jerusalem, Jesus said the following:

“For those will be days of God’s vengeance, and the prophetic words of the Scriptures will be fulfilled.” (Luke 21:22 NLT)

Jesus considered the predictions of the Old Testament as being authoritative—He assumed they needed to be fulfilled.

Conclusion to Jesus’ Attitude toward the Old Testament

As we examine the attitude of the Lord Jesus toward the Old Testament we find Him viewing it as totally trustworthy. Jesus believed the people actually existed and the stories literally occurred. This includes some of the most controversial accounts such as Adam and Eve, Noah, and Jonah. He never cast doubt on any of parts of the Old Testament; on the contrary He believed all of it was equally authoritative. Consequently, Christians, to be consistent, should have the same view as Jesus.

Next we will look at Jesus’ view concerning His own teachings. How did He view them?

The Resurrection of Jesus Christ ← Prior Section
Jesus' View of His Own Teachings Next Section →
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