We began our study journey to learn more about our spiritual journey through time, space and eternity in May 2018. The journey is really God’s Journey, but He has graciously invited us to journey with Him.
In the last part of our series we learned that Jesus Christ is the central Figure of the Old and New Testaments. In reality, the Bible is one Story – one Great Reveal from God. The Old Testament looks forward to the New and the New looks forward to the End and the New Beginning.
The word Scripture is found many times in the Bible. The Hebrew word is כָּתָב (kethab) and the Greek word is γραφή (graphé). Both words translate as “a writing.” The context points to which writing.
When we see the word Scripture in the New Testament it usually points to the Hebrew Bible – what Christians call the Old Testament. I say “usually points to” because the Apostle Peter used the word Scripture when writing about the epistles (letters) of the Apostle Paul –
… and consider that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation—as also our beloved brother Paul, according to the wisdom given to him, has written to you, as also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things, in which are some things hard to understand, which untaught and unstable people twist to their own destruction, as they do also the rest of the Scriptures.2 Peter 3:15-16
Notice that Peter wrote “in all his epistles.” Most of Paul’s letters were written to Gentile Christians, so that is notable for Peter to refer to those epistles as Scripture.
- Paul used the word Scripture 15 times in his letters.
- Peter and James used the word three times each in their letters.
- Luke mentioned the word seven times in Acts and four times in his Gospel (Luke).
- Matthew and Mark used the word Scripture four times in each of their Gospel accounts.
- John used the word 12 times in his Gospel account.
In addition to using the word Scripture, the writers of the New Testament quoted from and alluded to the Hebrew Bible hundreds of times. Why did Jesus Christ and the writers of the New Testament quote from the Hebrew Bible? Because it is the inspired Word of God –
But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them, and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.2 Timothy 3:14-17
For we did not follow cunningly devised fables when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of His majesty. For He received from God the Father honor and glory when such a voice came to Him from the Excellent Glory: ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’ And we heard this voice which came from heaven when we were with Him on the holy mountain. And so we have the prophetic word confirmed, which you do well to heed as a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts; knowing this first, that no prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation, for prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit.2 Peter 1:16-21
Several important things to notice in these well-known sections of the New Testament –
- God inspired (noun – θεόπνευστος – theopneustos .. God-breathed) the writing of Scriptures (Hebrew Bible in this context)
- The Scripture God inspired to be written “is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”
- No prophecy of Scripture is of any private interpretation (ἰδίας ἐπιλύσεως – idias epiluseōs .. private, personal release, interpretation)
- Prophecy never came by the will of man, but holy men of God spoke as they were moved (φερόμενοι – pheromenoi .. carried along, lead, brought along) by the Holy Spirit
- The Old Testament prophecies concerning the “power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” were confirmed (βεβαιότερον – bebaioteron .. firm, secure, certain, firm, unshakeable) by the apostles who were eyewitnesses (ἐπόπται – epoptai .. spectator, looker on, eyewitness) of the Lord’s power and coming
Many of the Old Testament Scriptures quoted in the New Testament are prophetic (προφητικός – prophétikos .. words spoken by prophet) in nature. A prophet in the Old Testament was a person who spoke the words of God, often about future events. The word for prophet (προφήτης – prophétés) comes from the Greek words πρό (before) and φημί (declare, say).
Notice the focus of some of the verses from the four Gospels that mention the Hebrew Scriptures –
Jesus said to them, ‘Have you never read in the Scriptures: ‘The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief cornerstone. This was the Lord’s doing, And it is marvelous in our eyes’?Matthew 21:42
But Jesus said to him, ‘Put your sword in its place, for all who take the sword will perish by the sword. Or do you think that I cannot now pray to My Father, and He will provide Me with more than twelve legions of angels? How then could the Scriptures be fulfilled, that it must happen thus? In that hour Jesus said to the multitudes, ‘Have you come out, as against a robber, with swords and clubs to take Me? I sat daily with you, teaching in the temple, and you did not seize Me. But all this was done that the Scriptures of the prophets might be fulfilled.Matthew 26:52-56
With Him they also crucified two robbers, one on His right and the other on His left. So the Scripture was fulfilled which says, ‘And He was numbered with the transgressors.Mark 15:27-28
And He was handed the book of the prophet Isaiah. And when He had opened the book, He found the place where it was written: ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.’ Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. And He began to say to them, ‘Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.Luke 4:17-21
And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.Luke 24:27
And they said to one another, ‘Did not our heart burn within us while He talked with us on the road, and while He opened the Scriptures to us?Luke 24:32
Therefore, when He had risen from the dead, His disciples remembered that He had said this to them; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had said.John 2:22
You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me.John 5:39
On the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried out, saying, ‘If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’ But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive; for the Holy Spirit was not yet given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.John 7:37-39
I do not speak concerning all of you. I know whom I have chosen; but that the Scripture may be fulfilled, ‘He who eats bread with Me has lifted up his heel against Me.John 13:18
While I was with them in the world, I kept them in Your name. Those whom You gave Me I have kept; and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.John 17:12
They said therefore among themselves, ‘Let us not tear it, but cast lots for it, whose it shall be,’ that the Scripture might be fulfilled which says: ‘They divided My garments among them, And for My clothing they cast lots.John 19:24
After this, Jesus, knowing that all things were now accomplished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, said, ‘I thirst!John 19:28
For these things were done that the Scripture should be fulfilled, ‘Not one of His bones shall be broken. And again another Scripture says, ‘They shall look on Him whom they pierced.John 19:36-37
Then the other disciple, who came to the tomb first, went in also; and he saw and believed. For as yet they did not know the Scripture, that He must rise again from the dead.John 20:8-9
Jesus Christ is the focus of the Hebrew Scriptures. It is about the power and coming in power of the Lord Jesus Christ, as Peter wrote in 2 Peter 1. Peter was an eyewitness of Christ’s Majesty.
Peter used his knowledge of Hebrew Scripture when he addressed the disciples following the ascension of Jesus Christ back to Heaven.
And in those days Peter stood up in the midst of the disciples (altogether the number of names was about a hundred and twenty), and said, ‘Men and brethren, this Scripture had to be fulfilled, which the Holy Spirit spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who became a guide to those who arrested Jesus; for he was numbered with us and obtained a part in this ministry.Acts 1:15-17
Peter also used the Hebrew Scriptures and his experience as an eyewitness of the power and coming of the Lord Jesus during his first sermon on Pentecost –
But Peter, standing up with the eleven, raised his voice and said to them, ‘Men of Judea and all who dwell in Jerusalem, let this be known to you, and heed my words. For these are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel … Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a Man attested by God to you by miracles, wonders, and signs which God did through Him in your midst, as you yourselves also know— Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death; whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it. For David says concerning Him … Therefore, being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that of the fruit of his body, according to the flesh, He would raise up the Christ to sit on his throne, he, foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption. This Jesus God has raised up, of which we are all witnesses. Therefore being exalted to the right hand of God, and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, He poured out this which you now see and hear.Acts 2:14-6, 22-25, 30-33
Jesus fulfilling ‘Old Testament’ Scriptures was foremost in the preaching, teaching and writings of the apostles. We’ll look closely at that when our series on The Great Reveal continues.
[You can read more about the story of the Branch of David in our book A History of Man’s Quest for Immorality.]
Scripture taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
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