We continue our journey to learn more about God’s Great Reveal. Everything we see around us now falls within God’s eternal plan. God is not surprised by anything because He is All-Knowing. Nothing is beyond His authority because He is also All-Powerful. He will accomplish all that He determined before the foundation of the world and time began.
We looked at the importance of the Old Testament in the last part of our series. It is the Word of God. We saw that Jesus Christ (Savior Messiah) is the central focus of the writings of the Hebrew prophets. Jesus made that abundantly clear in His teachings.
Jesus fulfilling ‘Old Testament’ Scriptures was also foremost in the preaching, teaching and writings of the New Testament apostles. That’s the focus of this part of our special series.
The Prophesied Jesus
Scores of Messianic prophesies fulfilled by Christ are mentioned in the New Testament. We looked at some of the ones mentioned in the Gospels in our previous study.
“One of the two who heard John speak, and followed Him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first found his own brother Simon, and said to him, ‘We have found the Messiah” (which is translated, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus.”John 1:40-42
As we read through the New Testament and move from the Gospels to the Book of Acts, we see the apostles referring to Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah. Here are several examples, beginning with the Apostle Peter. Keep in mind that the word Christ is the same as Messiah. Christ comes from the Greek Χριστοῦ. Messiah comes from the Hebrew מָשִׁ֣יחַ .
“Men and brethren, let me speak freely to you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his tomb is with us to this day. 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.”Acts 2:29-31
“Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”Acts 2:36
“Yet now, brethren, I know that you did it in ignorance, as did also your rulers. But those things which God foretold by the mouth of all His prophets, that the Christ would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. Repent therefore and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, so that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord, and that He may send Jesus Christ, who was preached to you before, whom heaven must receive until the times of restoration of all things, which God has spoken by the mouth of all His holy prophets since the world began. For Moses truly said to the fathers, ‘The Lord your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your brethren. Him you shall hear in all things, whatever He says to you. And it shall be that every soul who will not hear that Prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’ Yes, and all the prophets, from Samuel and those who follow, as many as have spoken, have also foretold these days. You are sons of the prophets, and of the covenant which God made with our fathers, saying to Abraham, ‘And in your seed all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’ To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities.”Acts 3:17-26
“Then Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, said to them, ‘Rulers of the people and elders of Israel: If we this day are judged for a good deed done to a helpless man, by what means he has been made well, let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”Acts 4:8-12
“So when they heard that, they raised their voice to God with one accord and said: ‘Lord, You are God, who made heaven and earth and the sea, and all that is in them, who by the mouth of Your servant David have said: ‘Why did the nations rage, And the people plot vain things? The kings of the earth took their stand, And the rulers were gathered together Against the Lord and against His Christ.’ ‘For truly against Your holy Servant Jesus, whom You anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles and the people of Israel, were gathered together to do whatever Your hand and Your purpose determined before to be done. Now, Lord, look on their threats, and grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.”Acts 4:24-30
“So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His name. And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.”Acts 5:41-42
Stephen, a member of the Seven, was able to use Hebrew Scripture to answer questions from the Sanhedrin:
“You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears! You always resist the Holy Spirit; as your fathers did, so do you. Which of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? And they killed those who foretold the coming of the Just One, of whom you now have become the betrayers and murderers, who have received the law by the direction of angels and have not kept it. When they heard these things they were cut to the heart, and they gnashed at him with their teeth. But he, being full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God, and said, ‘Look! I see the heavens opened and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God!'”Acts 7:51-56
Philip, another member of the Seven, was well-versed in Hebrew Scripture and knew what to do when asked about a prophetic passage of Scripture concerning Christ:
“And behold, a man of Ethiopia, a eunuch of great authority under Candace the queen of the Ethiopians, who had charge of all her treasury, and had come to Jerusalem to worship, was returning. And sitting in his chariot, he was reading Isaiah the prophet. Then the Spirit said to Philip, ‘Go near and overtake this chariot.’ So Philip ran to him, and heard him reading the prophet Isaiah, and said, ‘Do you understand what you are reading?’ And he said, ‘How can I, unless someone guides me? And he asked Philip to come up and sit with him. The place in the Scripture which he read was this:
‘He was led as a sheep to the slaughter;
And as a lamb before its shearer is silent,
So He opened not His mouth.
In His humiliation His justice was taken away,
And who will declare His generation?
For His life is taken from the earth.’
So the eunuch answered Philip and said, ‘I ask you, of whom does the prophet say this, of himself or of some other man?’ Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning at this Scripture, preached Jesus to him. ”Acts 8:27-35
Saul of Tarsus did not believe that Jesus was the promised Messiah and did his best to destroy the followers of Jesus and stamp out their movement. That is until he met Jesus on the road to Damascus.
Notice that Saul’s mission changed from destroying the message of Jesus as Messiah to proving that Jesus is Messiah.
“Then all who heard were amazed, and said, ‘Is this not he who destroyed those who called on this name in Jerusalem, and has come here for that purpose, so that he might bring them bound to the chief priests?’ But Saul increased all the more in strength, and confounded the Jews who dwelt in Damascus, proving that this Jesus is the Christ.”Acts 9:21-22
Saul, who became known as Paul, preached that Jesus was the Christ (Messiah) throughout a 30-year ministry, never wavering from that message. It was a message that resonated with many Jews and God-fearing Gentiles.
“Then Paul, as his custom was, went in to them, and for three Sabbaths reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and demonstrating that the Christ had to suffer and rise again from the dead, and saying, ‘This Jesus whom I preach to you is the Christ.’ And some of them were persuaded; and a great multitude of the devout Greeks, and not a few of the leading women, joined Paul and Silas.”Acts 17:2-4
“When Silas and Timothy had come from Macedonia, Paul was compelled by the Spirit, and testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ.”Acts 18:5
“And when he desired to cross to Achaia, the brethren wrote, exhorting the disciples to receive him; and when he arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace; for he vigorously refuted the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ.”Acts 18:27-28
“Therefore, having obtained help from God, to this day I stand, witnessing both to small and great, saying no other things than those which the prophets and Moses said would come— that the Christ would suffer, that He would be the first to rise from the dead, and would proclaim light to the Jewish people and to the Gentiles.”Acts 26:22-24
“Then Paul dwelt two whole years in his own rented house, and received all who came to him, preaching the kingdom of God and teaching the things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ with all confidence, no one forbidding him.”Acts 28:30-31
These chapters in Acts demonstrate that the earliest followers of Jesus Christ believed He was the promised Messiah God had sent to save Israel. The leaders of Israel rejected the Messiah and would pay dearly for their rejection. Roman legions destroyed Jerusalem and the Temple, just as Jesus prophesied, within 40 years of Peter’s preaching on Pentecost. Pharisees and Sadducees lost their power and position, along with many of their lives. The Church continued to grow across the Roman Empire, just as Jesus prophesied.
What about the apostolic letters? Did the apostles point to Hebrew Scriptures to demonstrate that Jesus fulfilled prophesy? 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.