Why Read the Old Testament?

Pastor Kevin Pauley

Then beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He interpreted for them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself. - Luke 24:27 HCSB

The coming of the Messiah cancelled the need for ritualistic sacrifices. We no longer have to be concerned about sacrificing lambs, goats and doves. And of course, since we are Gentiles, we do not have to worry about the laws designed to identify the Jews and keep them separate as a people. But is there not yet much to learn from the Old Testament (OT)?

Apparently Jesus thought so. Luke 24:44-46 quotes Jesus as saying, “Then He told them, "These are My words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about Me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms must be fulfilled." Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures. He also said to them, "This is what is written: the Messiah would suffer and rise from the dead the third day, Then he opened their minds to understand these many Scriptures. And he said, “Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah must suffer and die and rise again from the dead on the third day.”

Jesus used the Old Testament to demonstrate that He was the Messiah and that He had fulfilled all the prophecies. In fact, the use of the OT was so important that He said, For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, because he wrote about Me. But if you don't believe his writings, how will you believe My words?"

Jesus’ lesson took root among the apostle. Paul made it his custom to visit the synagogues and “interpret the Scriptures” to the people. If you know your history, you realize that Paul was using the OT to lead people to Christ.

As we read the New Testament, we see that the New Testament (NT) writers constantly appealed to fulfilled prophecy to substantiate the claims of Jesus as the Son of God, the Savior, and the Messiah. In fact, there are so many OT quotations in the NT that it would be impossible to be a serious NT scholar and not have a profound knowledge of the OT. I have been trying to find all the direct quotations of the OT in the NT and have found 266 so far. They can be found in 18 of the 27 books of the NT. There are literally thousands of allusions. Therefore more than 10 per cent of the New Testament text is made up of citations or direct allusions to the Old Testament.

It is true that the Law of Moses cannot save us but the Master Himself said, “Therefore, whoever breaks one of the least of these commandments and teaches people to do so will be called least in the kingdom of heaven. But whoever practices and teaches these commandments will be called great in the kingdom of heaven.” Based on that advice I plan on gleaning as much as I can out of the first two-thirds of the Bible.

For a fully referenced and hyperlinked version of this article search the archives at