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The Blue Letter Bible

Don Stewart :: Does the New Testament Quote the Old Testament as Authoritative Scripture?

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Don Stewart

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Yes. As we examine the evidence, we find the New Testament quoting the Old Testament writings as authoritative. There are over 250 quotations from Old Testament books that are found in the New Testament. Most of the books of the Old Testament are directly cited as Scripture in the New Testament. The evidence is as follows.


Jesus cites the creation account of humanity in Genesis (1:27) as authoritative Scripture.

And he answered and said, "Have you not read that he who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, 'For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh'" (Matthew 19:4-5).


Paul quoted the Book of Exodus (20:12).

Honor your father and mother (which is the first commandment with a promise) (Ephesians 6:2).


Jesus cited the Mosaic law for the cleansing of a leper (Leviticus 14:2-32).

And Jesus said to him, "See that you tell no one; but go, show yourself to the priest and present the offering that Moses commanded, as a testimony to them (Matthew 8:4).


The faithfulness of Moses (Numbers 12:7) is cited in the Book of Hebrews.

Now Moses was faithful in all his house as a servant, for a testimony of those things which were to be spoken late (Hebrews 3:5).


Deuteronomy is quoted a number of times. Jesus quoted Deuteronomy 6:13 when He was tempted by the Devil.

Jesus said to him, "Away from me, Satan! For it is written: 'Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only'" (Matthew 4:10).


The writer to the Hebrews quotes the Book of Joshua (1:5) as Scripture.

Make sure that your character is free from the love of money, being content with what you have; for he himself has said, "I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).


While Judges is not directly quoted as authoritative Scripture, events that are recorded in the Book of Judges are cited in the Book of Hebrews.

And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel and the prophets (Hebrews 11:32).

Gideon, Barak, Samson, and Jephthah are all featured in stories in the Book of Judges.


Jesus cited the account of David and those with him eating bread on the Sabbath (1 Samuel 21:1-6).

He answered, "Haven't you read what David did when he and his companions were hungry? He entered the house of God, and he and his companions ate the consecrated bread - which was not lawful for them to do, but only for the priests" (Matthew 12:3,4).

Citing the book of First Samuel would also include Second Samuel since they were one book in the Hebrew arrangement.


Paul cited God's reply to Elijah (1 Kings 19:18).

And what was God's answer to him? "I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal" (Romans 11:4).

First and Second Kings were one book in Hebrew. Therefore a citation from First Kings means the entire book was cited.


First and Second Chronicles is one book in Hebrew. While Chronicles is not directly cited in the New Testament Jesus attests to its authority. The death of the prophet Zechariah is listed in Chronicles.

So that upon you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar (Matthew 23:35).

This event was recorded in 2 Chronicles 24:20,21.


Paul quotes Job 5:13.

For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight. As it is written: "He catches the wise in their craftiness" (1 Corinthians 3:19).


The Psalms is one of the most often quoted Old Testament books. For example, Jesus quoted the Psalms 82:6.

If he called them gods, to whom the word of God came (and the Scripture cannot be broken) (John 10:35).


James cites Proverbs 3:34.

But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble" (James 4:6).


The Book of Isaiah is quoted often in the New Testament. Jesus read from the prophet Isaiah (61:1,2) at a synagogue in Nazareth.

The scroll of the prophet Isaiah was handed to him. Unrolling it, he found the place where it is written: "The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to release the oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favor" (Luke 4:17-19).


Matthew cites a passage from Jeremiah the prophet (31:15).

Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: "A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more" (Matthew 2:17-18).


Matthew records an allusion to the Book of Lamentations (3:30).

They spit on him, and took the staff and struck him on the head again and again (Matthew 27:30).


Ezekiel is alluded to on several occasions in the New Testament. Paul alluded to Ezekiel 37:27.

What agreement is there between the temple of God and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people" (2 Corinthians 6:16).


Jesus identifies Daniel as one of the prophets and quotes him authoritatively (Daniel 9:27; 11:31; 12:11).

So when you see standing in the holy place 'the abomination that causes desolation,' spoken of through the prophet Daniel - let the reader understand (Matthew 24:15).

The Twelve
The Twelve Minor Prophets were considered to be one book. The fact that one of them is cited authoritative testifies to the divine authority of all of them. However, nine out of the twelve are specifically cited as Scripture in the New Testament.


Matthew quotes the prophet Hosea 11:1.

Where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: "Out of Egypt I called my son" (Matthew 2:15).


On the Day of Pentecost Peter cited a passage from Joel 2:28-32.

This is what was spoken by the prophet Joel (Acts 2:16).


In Acts the Book of Amos is quoted (Amos 9:11,12).

After this I will return and rebuild David's fallen tent. Its ruins I will rebuild, and I will restore it, that the remnant of men may seek the Lord, and all the Gentiles who bear my name, says the Lord, who does these things (Acts 15:16-17).


Jesus referred to the incident of Jonah being swallowed by the large sea creature (Jonah 1).

He answered, "A wicked and adulterous generation asks for a miraculous sign! But none will be given it except the sign of the prophet Jonah. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth" (Matthew 12:39-40).


Matthew cites Micah in the place where the Christ is to be born (Micah 5:2).

And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah, are by no means least among the leaders of Judah; for out of you shall come forth a Ruler who will shepherd my people Israel (Matthew 2:6).


Paul quotes Habakkuk 2:4.

Clearly no one is justified before God by the law, because, "The righteous will live by faith." (Galatians 3:11).

The writer to the Hebrews quotes Haggai (Haggai 2:6 in the Septuagint)

And his voice shook the earth then, but now he has promised, saying, "Yet once more I will shake not only the earth, but also the heaven" (Hebrews 12:26).


The Book of Zechariah is quoted on Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem (Zechariah 9:9).
Say to the daughter of Zion, 'Behold your King is coming to you, Gentle, and mounted on a donkey, even on a colt, the foal of a beast of burden" (Matthew 21:5).


Jesus cited the necessity of the coming of Elijah (Malachi 4:5).

The disciples asked him, "Why then do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?" Jesus replied, "To be sure, Elijah comes and will restore all things" (Matthew 17:10-11).

The New Testament Cites All The Old Testament Books (With Four Exceptions)

All Old Testament books are quoted as authoritative works by the New Testament writers with four exceptions: Ezra/Nehemiah, Esther, Ecclesiastes, and the Song of Solomon. The absence of any quotations of these books does not speak against their canonicity.

While Ezra/Nehemiah, Esther, Song of Solomon, and Ecclesiastes are not directly cited in the New Testament this does not mean that they were not part of Scripture. The number of books had been long- fixed before the time of Christ. This list included these four works.


We find that most the books of the Old Testament are directly cited as Holy Scripture. The fact that these books were cited demonstrates the belief of the New Testament writers that they were quoting from God's Word. There are only four books that were not cited - Ezra/Nehemiah, Ecclesiastes, Esther, and Song of Solomon. While these other books are not directly cited in the New Testament, their inclusion in the Hebrew canon is testified to by other means.

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