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Don Stewart :: Do the Two Testaments Portray Different Concepts of God?

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Don Stewart

There are those who read the Bible and seem to find different concepts of God in the two testaments. They say the Old Testament portrays a God of wrath and judgment, while the New Testament pictures a God of love who will not judge humankind. These two portrayals of God are, to some people, incompatible.

There Is A Consistent Portrayal Of God

But this is not the case. The character of God as revealed in the Bible is consistent throughout. The Old Testament does not portray a primitive God of anger who delights in judging His people.

Furthermore, the New Testament does not portray a God of love who refuses to judge sin.

The Love Of God Is Found In The Old Testament

In the Old Testament God made it clear that He loved His people.

The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: 'Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love' (Jeremiah 31:3).

The Law Summed Up By Jesus

Jesus said that the Old Testament law and prophets could be summed up as follows:

'You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.' This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments hang all the Law and Prophets (Matthew 22:37-39).

Though the Old Testament contains statements of God judging sin, it certainly does not portray Him as a primitive warlike God who is mainly interested in destruction. His love is demonstrated throughout the entire Old Testament.

The New Testament emphasizes the love of God but it also speaks of God's judgment. Jesus uttered some of the harshest words of judgment that are recorded in the Bible. He said.

But woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you shut up the kingdom of heaven against men; for you neither go in yourselves, nor do you allow those who are entering to go in (Matthew 23:13).

The Apostle Paul wrote to the church at Thessalonica about the judgment of God:

When the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his power (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9).

Summary

When all the evidence is considered we find both the Old and New Testament give a consistent portrait of God. His love and compassion as well as His judgment can be found in the Old Testament, while His judgment upon sin and His compassion and love are clearly taught in the New Testament. There is no contradiction between the two testaments concerning the character of God.

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.