Category Archives: OT in NT

Can one really read EVERY OT passage in light of the NT?

Under a previous post, a reader asked the following question:

I’ve a question about connecting the OT to the NT. Although I do agree that the OT is connected to Christ, for instance, the institution of the sacrifices in Israel’s worship; is it possible to interpret every single passage in the OT as pointing towards Christ? For example, how is it possible to interpret the deep friendship between Jonathan and David in the light of Christ?

So, good readers, is it in fact possible to interpret every OT passage as pointing forward to Christ? If so, how? And what about the example of David and Jonathan’s friendship?

Luke’s Use of Isaiah 49:6

According to Luke 2:32, Simeon refers to Christ as “a light of revelation to the Gentiles,” which is almost certainly an allusion to Isa 49:6 (“I will also make You a light of the nations”).

According to Acts 13:47, Paul responds to Jewish opposition to his gospel message by claiming that the Lord commanded he and Barnabas, followed by a citation from Isa 49:6 (“I have placed you as a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the ends of the earth”).

So in Luke 2:32, Luke seems to indicate that Christ is the fulfillment of Servant in Isa 49:6, while in Acts 13:47 he seems to present Paul and Barnabas as the fulfillment of that same Servant passage. On what basis, then, does Luke assert that both are true? In other words, what is the underlying theological logic that allows Luke to make such claims?

The Resurrection & Reading the OT

According to Luke, one of the things Jesus stressed to his disciples immediately after his resurrection was how to read the OT:

“Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.” (Luke 24:27)

“Now He said to them, ‘These are My words which I spoke to you while I was still with you, that all things which are written about Me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.’ 45 Then He opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and He said to them, ‘Thus it is written, that the Christ would suffer and rise again from the dead the third day, 47 and that repentance for forgiveness of sins would be proclaimed in His name to all the nations, beginning from Jerusalem. 48 You are witnesses of these things.'” (Luke 24:44-48)

In these two passages, Jesus makes it clear that if his disciples are to read the OT correctly, they must read it with a view to his suffering/resurrection and the proclamation of that message to the ends of the earth. In other words, if we read the OT without attempting to understand how that particular passage in some fashion points forward to Christ and the gospel, we are not reading the OT in the way that Jesus commands us to. I would call this a “gospel-centered hermeneutic.” Only in the light of Jesus’ death/resurrection and the proclamation of that event do we have the hermeneutical key for reading the OT in all its fullness.

OT in NT: 1 Peter 2:9-10

“But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 for you once were NOT A PEOPLE, but now you are THE PEOPLE OF GOD; you had NOT RECEIVED MERCY, but now you have RECEIVED MERCY.”
(1 Peter 2:9-10, NAS1995)

The phrases in all caps are identified by the NAS as OT citations/allusions. Here is the breakdown:

Chosen race – Isa 43:20
Royal priesthood – Exod 19:6
Holy nation – Exod 19:6
People for God’s own possession – Exod 19:5
Not a people – Hos 1:10; 2:23
People of God – Hos 2:23
Not received mercy – Hos 1:6; 2:23
Received mercy – Hos 2:23

I would add the following additional allusions/echoes:

proclaim the excellencies – Isa 43:21
the one who called you from darkness to light – Isa 42:6-7, 16

So here is the two-part $64,000 question:

1. What are we to make of language describing Israel in the OT applied to the church?

2. How should these OT citations/allusions/echoes influence our interpretation of 1 Pet 2:9-10?