Two Types Of New Testament References To Old Testament Texts

There are at least two types of New Testament (NT) references to Old Testament (OT) texts …

One type is like Gen 12:3b (“in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed”). Such promises and prophecies about future events are intended by the OT text to be fulfilled by an event described in the NT (in this case see Acts 3:24-26).

Another type is where the OT text is not intended to refer to an NT event, but the NT writer borrows the wording from the OT in order to make his point. This is not to say that God didn’t know from the beginning these OT texts would be used in such way. Here are some classic examples of that type:

· I doubt Psalms 109 is referring the replacing of Judas as an apostle when it says “let another take his office” in verse 8, but the wording fit so well Luke’s description of the choosing of Mathias as a replacement apostle, he used the wording to make his point in Acts 1:20.

· I am thinking Hosea 11:1 was talking about Israel as a nation coming out of Egyptian slavery, but the words “Out of Egypt have I called my son” fits Jesus coming out of Egypt so well that God used the words to describe such in Matt 2:15.

· Sarah used the words “Cast out this bondwoman and her son: for the son of this bondwoman shall not be heir with my son, even with Isaac” to refer to Hagar and Ishmael in Gen 21:10, but Paul saw fit to use the words in Gal 4:30 to talk about the OT becoming obsolete.

We don’t study the OT law because any of it is still binding today (Heb 7:12, Gal 5:3-4), but we study it because the NT constantly refers to it – so studying the OT will help us understand (Rom 15:4) the NT, which is our law for today.

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