Christ's Use of the Old Testament Term Paper

Download this Term Paper in word format (.doc)

Note: Sample below may appear distorted but all corresponding word document files contain proper formatting

Excerpt from Term Paper:

Christian religion, the Old and New Testaments form a whole upon which its belief system is based. The transition between the Old and New Testaments resides in the person of Christ, who came to earth as the fulfillment of the Old Testament Messianic prophesy.

This transition then occurs not only through the ultimate sacrifice of Christ at his death and resurrection, but also in his ministry during his lifetime. Christ uses the Old Testament in various ways in order both to establish the new order of the New Testament, but also to validate the authority of the Old.

As the son of God, Christ shows his relationship to the Father through his respect for the validity and authority of the Old Testament. He does this in various ways, of which one is his acceptance of the history of the Old Testament. Jesus refers to various persons of the Old Testament, confirming that he believes in their existence, and in the literal truth of the history as described by the Old Testament. He for example refers to persons such as Abel, Noah, Abraham and Lot in both his conversations and teachings. Christ's literal acceptance of Old Testament authority however goes deeper than only an acceptance of its historical narrative.

This becomes clear in the numerous controversies involving Jesus and the religious leaders of Israel during his time on earth. Jesus interprets the ethical and legal teachings of the Old Testament literally, like the Pharisees and Sadducees. However, conflict arises when Christ combines these teachings with a general loving humanity. In this way he demonstrates to the leaders of his community the intended meaning of the laws given by God, which is to obey and teach them with a loving spirit. Exposing the inherent love behind the laws of God is one of the functions of Christ's ministry.

In Matthew 9 and 12 for example, Jesus uses Hosea 6:6, where God says "I desire mercy and not sacrifice," to demonstrate this point. When the Pharisees condemn his affiliation with "sinners," Jesus quotes the verse from Hosea to show that he is doing exactly what God desires of him, and that they should indeed do the same if they were to obey the Father's laws as literally as they claim (Matthew 9:13). Jesus applies the words of the prophet to the commandments, showing that they should be obeyed from the viewpoint of mercy rather than sacrifice alone.

The same issue arises when the Pharisees criticize Jesus for letting the disciples pluck grain on the Sabbath, while this was against the law of rest on the Sabbath day. Jesus once again views this law as one of mercy rather than oppression. The day of rest, according to God's intention, was implemented to give the people rest after their week's work. This does not mean that all other needs should be ignored. Christ's disciples have the need for food, which takes precedence over their need for rest. The son of God however does not use his own authority to validate this position, but demonstrates the rule of mercy in times of need by using the example of David, who also breaks the law in his time of need. Jesus here shows that God loves people to the extent that he will not allow his law to lead to hardship, even if this means breaking it at times in favor of mercy. In this way, Jesus shows God to be filled with mercy rather than wrath when it comes to fulfilling ritual law. While ritual law is a way to come closer to God, it is not its intention to at the same time drive people away with a rigid and forbidding attitude towards human needs (Mark 2:23-27).

Indeed, the Sabbath is a frequent point of conflict between Christ and the religious leaders of his time. On occasion it escalates to include rather major religious issues rather than minor problems such as hunger. Jesus then also uses this as an opportunity to drive home his point about the Sabbath. The fundamental Jewish law regarding circumcision is used to further demonstrate that there are cases where it is pardonable to break the law of the Sabbath. In John 7:16-24 Jesus uses this exception to the law to justify his healing practices on the Sabbath, which once again is an extension of the ideal of mercy in favor of the letter of the law. Both the circumcision and the Sabbath were fundamental Jewish laws of the time, which defined Israel and their relationship with God. Jesus however overcomes the rigidity that tends to go with these traditions by introducing an element not so much of change as of extension and transformation. Once again, this runs parallel with his final purpose, which is to provide a transition from the Old to the New.

It is therefore interesting to note that Jesus always reverts to evidence from the Old Testament to advocate New Testament ideals. In this way he becomes the mediator that God intends him to be. In interpreting the law in such a way that mercy is part of it rather than opposed to it, Jesus shows God to be merciful as manifest in the person of his son. As such, Jesus then also validates the Old Testament by using it as an ethical guide.

As an ethical guide, the Old Testament is used as a guide for living both by means of parables and preaching. In Matthew 19:16-22 for example the rich young lawyer is used to demonstrate how no amount of earthly wealth can buy righteousness or a passage into heaven. It furthermore demonstrates that one's love for Christ should take precedence over all else, as God's love does. With this, Jesus uses Old Testament values to pave the way for the New Testament ideal of salvation through faith. The same holds true for the question of the greatest commandment (Matt. 19:16-22). By making love the summary of the entire Old Testament law, Christ once again demonstrates how the New Testament is the fulfillment of the Old, rather than a replacement for it.

This fulfillment can further be seen in the Old Testament phrases and concepts, especially from the Psalms and prophets, that Jesus used in his teaching. Certain lines from the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5), for example, stem from the Psalms. Frustrated with the blindness of those who follow the letter of the law without considering the impact of this on human lives, Christ uses an expression from Jeremiah 5:21 in Mark 8:18: "Having eyes, do you not see? And having ears do you not hear?"

Jesus further uses the Old Testament for advocating the beliefs culminating with his death and resurrection through teaching the latter. This was against the teaching of the Sadducees, who are said not to believe in the resurrection. Christ however refutes them by using God's assertions to Moses from the Old Testament (Mark 12:18-27). God's words that he is the "God of Abraham, the God of Jacob and the God of Isaac" are used to conclude that God is "not the God of the dead but the living." God's use of the present tense here is used as proof that the patriarchs are still living and therefore resurrected from the dead.

The entire corpus of Christ's ministry focuses upon his function as redeemer and eventual mediator between God and the faithful worshiping him. Therefore a large part of his preaching and conversation focuses upon this messianic function. The focus here is therefore upon himself and his person. In the first three Gospels then, Jesus emphasizes his nature as the fulfillment of the messianic promise of the Old Testament. Jesus again refers to David and to himself as the "son of David" to demonstrate this. The text to illustrate this, as well as the idea of the right hand of God, is Psalm 110:1. In this Psalm, David refers to the person at the right hand of his Lord in terms of the poet's humbleness before the glory of God. According to the interpretation of Christ then, the Messiah exists prior to David, which then again refers to the existence of God in more than one Person. This is then the first references to what is later to become the New Testament doctrine of the Trinity.

In addition to its function as establishing the identity of Christ, the Old Testament is used in the Gospels as a tool for the prediction of the suffering and resurrection of the Christ. The purpose that this serves in Christ's ministry is to validate not only the Old Testament and its laws, but also the New Testament in its integration with the Old. Some may argue that interpretations of the Old Testament in order to predict the coming of Christ are arbitrary and inconclusive. Nonetheless, the Scripture was written for a time during which such interpretations were common and generally accepted as valid. Jesus thus uses the Old Testament not only…[continue]

Cite This Term Paper:

"Christ's Use Of The Old Testament" (2005, August 19) Retrieved December 4, 2016, from http://www.paperdue.com/essay/christ-use-of-the-old-testament-68360

"Christ's Use Of The Old Testament" 19 August 2005. Web.4 December. 2016. <http://www.paperdue.com/essay/christ-use-of-the-old-testament-68360>

"Christ's Use Of The Old Testament", 19 August 2005, Accessed.4 December. 2016, http://www.paperdue.com/essay/christ-use-of-the-old-testament-68360

Other Documents Pertaining To This Topic

  • Use of the Old Testament in Romans by Paul

    Paul's Use Of The Old Testament In The Book Of Romans Paul's main intention in writing the letter to the Romans was to emphasize that it was essential for society to comprehend that Jesus was the promised Jewish Messiah. He considered that the Old Testament predicted the Messiah's coming and that he needed to relate to this document in order to provide more information concerning the importance of Jewish traditions. Much

  • Book Critique on Christopher Wright s Book Knowing Jesus Through...

    Christopher Wright's book In contemporary times, many modern and post-modern Christian churches and denominations focus almost explicitly on deconstructing passages in the New Testament to reinforce the value of Jesus and his effect on Christianity. As such, there has been a dearth of emphasis on the Old Testament and its role in not only facilitating the New Testament, but also in influencing the life and position of Jesus as the

  • Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament

    Jesus through the Old Testament Christopher J.H. Wright's Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament is a book written to connect the two halves of scripture, in a way that helps Christians better understand that "…it is Jesus that gives meaning and validity to the events of Israel's Old Testament history."[footnoteRef:0] Wright is an Old Testament scholar -- an Ulsterman whose own parents had been Presbyterian missionaries in Brazil, although he

  • Old Testament Berit Typically Translated

    Part 2- Does the Noah's Ark story need to be 100% true for it to have meaning? Hardly, and the two (science and spirituality) can certain coexist and find common ground. When one looks at creation stories from various cultures, one is amazed at the similarities one finds between cultural explanations. This is perhaps because there are certain common questions that people ask about the "big" questions in life, among which,

  • Old Testament Homosexuality in the

    The Hebrew bible also view sexual relations as highly divine (Isaak, 1998). Some suggest that Paul preferred that "Christians remain unmarried" and that sexuality and sexual activity may be akin to human weakness, even though Jesus accepted the "institution of marriage" (Isaak, 1998). The predominant theme in these texts suggest that intercourse outside of marriage is wrong, and as such homosexuality is wrong because it is not conducive to sex

  • Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament

    Jesus Through the Old Testament There is no denying the impact of Jesus on Christianity and on many of the fundamental tenets that form the core of this particular religion. However, the fulfillment of the prophecy that Jesus manifested is merely one in a long line of prophecies that stem from the Old Testament. Oftentimes, this fact is overlooked by modern evangelism and teaching about Christianity. However, this very topic

  • Jesus Through the Old Testament

    He considers that one would be an ignorant if he were to declare himself a true Christian without being acquainted with parts of the Old Testament. It would be wrong if someone were to interpret the Old Testament on the basis of the information in the New Testament. This would mean that the New Testament is the perfect interpretation of the Old Testament. However, the truth is that the more


Read Full Term Paper
Copyright 2016 . All Rights Reserved