From time to time, I am asked by quite sincere Christians, “Why should I study the Old Testament when Christ gave us the New Testament?”
I’m going to break the answer down into two parts:
1. 5:17 in the King James Version translates the Hebrew to read, “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, but to fulfill.” The word “law” used in the King James Version is a mistranslation of the Hebrew word “Torah.” Torah means “Teachings,” not “Law.” So, Matthew 5:17 comes more clearly into focus. Christ was saying He had not come to misinterpret the Torah; He had come to interpret it fully and completely.All of the theology (knowledge of God) is in the Old Testament and is only referenced in the New Testament, attesting to the source for everything Christ taught. If you read Psalms 37, you will find what might have been Jesus’ inspiration for the Beatitudes and The Sermon on the Mount.Matthew 22:37-40 … “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like, unto it, thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” Jesus is quoting from the Old Testament! The Shema – the foundational commandment of Judaism – is found in Deuteronomy 6:5 … “And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.”Everything Christ taught came from “As has been written…” Without the Old Testament, the New Testament “has no legs.” It cannot stand alone.
2. The second answer to the question of does the New Testament replace the Old Testament canbe answered in this story. Imagine for a moment that you were adopted at birth. You were raised and nurtured by your adopted family with love. You know nothing about your birth parents or their family. Your adoption was a closed adoption. So, you don’t know who they are or where they are. You always wondered what the circumstances of your adoption. You cannot completely answer the questions on a medical history form. Did anyone in your birth family have red hair like you? Was either of your parents left-handed like you are? Were they allergic to peanuts like you are?Now imagine that someone approaches you one day and tells you that your birth parents have been searching for you. They love you so much, and they want to meet you. You have siblings, grandparents, and a whole family who long to know who you are and what you are like.What do you do? Do you acknowledge the love with which you were raised and believe that you have no need to know the family you came from? Or do you feel in your heart that you are incomplete without knowing about your family of origin.Clearly this story illustrates that your adopted family is the Jesus and the writers of the New Testament. Your birth family is God and his written word in the Old Testament. Can you understand that the New Testament cannot stand without the Old Testament? “New” doesn’t have to mean “Replace.” It can also mean “Addition” or “Next.”