Did Jesus Believe the Old Testament?
Good News Magazine
March 1974
Volume: Vol XXIII, No. 3
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Did Jesus Believe the Old Testament?

Many modern theologians believe that the Hebraic Scriptures are merely a collection of mythical stories. And even many Christians suppose they have little relevance to Christianity today. But what did Jesus believe?

   WAS JESUS a creationist? A believer in evolution? Did He think that God created Adam and Eve? Did He believe in the historicity of our first parents?
   What about Abel? Did Christ acknowledge that he actually walked this earth? What of the Noachian Deluge? The existence of Abraham and Lot? Sodom and Gomorrah? Moses? David? Solomon? The prophets?
   Did Jesus believe that all these ancient peoples and events were actually historical?
   There's only one reliable source from which to seek the answers. And that is the New Testament Scriptures where we find Jesus' own words!

Jesus a Creationist? *

   Did Jesus agree with the very first sentence in the Old Testament — "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth" (Gen. 1:1)?
   Yes, He did.
   Here are personal accounts penned by John Mark and the Apostle John:
   "For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto
* The term "creationist" as used here refers to belief in the original creation described in Genesis 1:1. The six twenty-four hour days refer to a renewing or recreation of the surface of the earth (Psalm 104:30). We offer biblical proof for this in our free article "How Long Were the Days of Creation?"
this time, neither shall be" (Mark 13:19). And "... These things saith the Amen [Jesus Christ], the faithful and true witness, the beginning [beginner — Fenton translation] of the creation of God" (Rev. 3:14).
   Mark's Gospel and the book of Revelation make Jesus' belief in creation plain with no less than a first-person affirmation in both scriptures.
   But, what about man in particular? Did Christ believe in the actual creation of our first parents?

Adam and Abel

   For the answer, let's begin where mankind began — with Adam and Eve. Matthew's biography records Jesus' testimony.
   Certain "men of the cloth" asked Christ: "Is it lawful for a man to put away [divorce] his wife for every cause? And he answered... Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female?" (Matt. 19:3, 4.)
   Jesus referred these religious leaders to the Hebrew Scriptures. He spoke of God creating people — man and woman. What people? Who were the first man and woman?
   Compare with the Genesis story. Notice chapter five: "This is the book of the generations of Adam. In the day that God created man, in the likeness of God made he him; male and female created he them; and blessed them, and called their name Adam [the family name], in the day when they were created" (verse 1).
   An honest comparison of Matthew's account and the Genesis record clearly shows that Jesus was talking about Adam and Eve.
   But, even if those two biblical scriptures don't convince you, the next surely will. Again we pick up an account where Jesus is indicting certain religionists of His day. He told them: "That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias son of Barachias [Greek spelling], whom ye slew between the temple and the altar" (Matt. 23:35).
   Here Jesus not only said Abel existed, but also referred to his righteousness. Incidentally, the murder of Zachariah is mentioned in the same verse. And it is certain that this Zacharias is one and the same as the Prophet Zachariah — an Old Testament prophet.
   The proof? His father's name is the same. Notice it: "In the eighth month, in the second year of Darius, came the word of the Lord unto Zechariah, the son of Berechiah" (Zech. 1:1). The slight differences in spelling exist because the names in the New Testament are transliterated from Greek, those in the Old Testament from Hebrew.

The Noachian Deluge

   Is Jesus part and parcel with some of today's pragmatic theologians? Was He ignorant of the Flood of Noah's time?
   Here is His personal testimony. "And as it was in the days of Noe [Noah], so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man [the coming world crisis at the close of man's age]. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noe [Noah] entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all" (Luke 17:26-27).
   Jesus corroborated the historicity of the Genesis Flood, alluded to its causes, and reiterated the universal death of that unregenerate world.

Sodom and Gomorrah

   Luke continues with Jesus' account of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. "Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; but the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven and destroyed them all" (verses 28 and 29). Compare with Genesis 19:24-25. Note Jesus' historical accuracy.
   Now, read down to Luke 17:32. Jesus said, "Remember Lot's wife" — asking His listeners to recall what happened to her when she looked back at and longed to return to Sodom (see Genesis 19:26). Here Jesus used an historical happening as an analogy to illustrate a vital spiritual principle. These scriptures also nail down Jesus' belief in the historicity of Lot.

Abraham and Moses

   But, what about Lot's famous uncle — Abraham? Did Jesus know of him? Notice just one of several of Jesus' references to Abraham.
   Again Jesus was grappling with certain of the clergy. He stated, "I know that ye are Abraham's seed [children]; but ye seek to kill me, because my word hath no place in you" (John 8:37).
   Jesus acknowledged that these people were the physical descendants of Abraham — a national hero to the Jewish nation. Jesus also recognized the existence of Abraham's son and grandson — Isaac and Jacob (Matt. 8:11).
   Moses descended from Abraham through Jacob's son Levi. Moses was a Levite (Ex. 2:1-2, 10). Did Jesus make any references to this great leader?
   Several. Read just one. Once again, a famous national hero is the center of a heated discussion. Jesus indicts: "For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me: for he wrote [prophesied] of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?" (John 5:46, 47.)
   Here Jesus not only refers to Moses, but also his writings. And what were Moses' writings? Check the titles of the first five books of the Bible in the King James Version. They are named the First Book of Moses, the Second Book of Moses, etc., etc.

David and Solomon

   Continue chronologically with two more Jewish national heroes. A few generations after Moses, David ruled Israel as her second king.
   In yet another verbal confrontation with the religious set, Christ reminded them: "... Have ye not read what David did, when he was an hungred, and they that were with him...?" (Matt. 12:3.)
   Later in the same chapter, Jesus spoke of Solomon: "The queen of the south shall rise up in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here" (verse 42).

Isaiah and the Prophets

   Skipping over a couple of chapters to Matthew 15, we find the following conversation between Christ and some of the scribes and Pharisees. Focus on verse 7. Jesus said, "Ye hypocrites, well did Esaias [Greek for Isaiah] prophesy of you...."
   Notice carefully. Here is Jesus' own testimony not only of Isaiah's existence, but also of his office — that of a prophet.
   Jesus Himself was the subject of many Hebraic prophecies. He once admonished His disciples, "0 fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken.... And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself' (Luke 24:25, 27).
   Later, Luke records Jesus' acknowledgement that the Jewish people had the proper canon of the Old Testament Scriptures.
   "And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things [the Old Testament prophecies] must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms [a representative book of the writings] concerning me" (verse 44).
   Now notice an interesting quotation from the book The King James Version Defended! by Edward F. Hills, Th.D.: "... But the doctrine of the providential preservation of [Old Testament] Scripture is not merely a seventeenth century doctrine. It is the doctrine of the Scriptures [both Old and New Testament] .... Our Lord evidently believed that the Old Testament had thus been preserved. There are two passages especially which clearly indicate this. The first is Matthew 5:18, Till heaven and earth pass away, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, until all be fulfilled. And the second is Luke 16:17, It is easier for heaven and earth to pass away, than one tittle of the law to fail. Here Jesus attributes greater stability to the text of the Old Testament than to the heavens and the earth..." (Des Moines: The Christian Research Press, 1956, p.24).
   So, Jesus accepted the testimony of the Old Testament record as absolutely authoritative. And He had good reason. For biblical revelation represents Christ Himself as living in ancient times as an eyewitness. The One who became Christ was the One who created Adam and Eve (Eph. 3:9), walked and talked with Enoch and Abraham, wrestled with Jacob, was a personal friend of Moses, inspired Ezekiel, answered Elijah's prayers.

God of the Old Testament

   Jesus was the God of the Old Testament. Numerous New Testament scriptures prove this biblical fact. I will quote one: "Moreover, brethren, I would not that ye should be ignorant, how that all our fathers were under the cloud, and all passed through the sea; and were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea; and did all eat the same spiritual meat; and did all drink the same spiritual drink; for they drank of that spiritual Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ" (I Cor. 10:1-4).
   See also John 1:1-4, 14 and Colossians 1:16. Please read "Is Jesus God?" — a free theological article giving many more scriptural proofs.

Why Study the Old Testament?

   We have proved from the Bible that Jesus acknowledged the authenticity of the Old Testament. But what of it? What, if anything, does this have to do with you and your life in the here and now? Would Jesus actually want you to read and study these ancient writings — knowing you had to cope with the unprecedented complexities of a space-age society?
   Believe it or not, He would! Its wisdom is timeless.
   Jesus Himself was an Old Testament scholar. His knowledge of its wisdom-filled pages stood Him in good stead in an excruciating mental battle with Satan the devil. He quoted the Old Testament three times in resisting three strong temptations from the Tempter (see Matt. 4:1-10).
   You can't afford to be without its unique wisdom. Paul wrote: "Now all these things [events in ancient biblical times] happened unto them for ensamples [examples]: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come" (I Cor. 10:11). And again: "For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the [Hebraic] scriptures might have hope" (Rom. 15:4).
   And Jesus Himself said: "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me" (John 5:39). The only Scriptures extant when Jesus spoke these words were the Hebrew Scriptures.

Free Publications

   You need to read and study the Old Testament. And why not begin with the beginning? With the book of Genesis. Genesis is a book of origins. It shows the beginnings of mankind and how the earth was overspread. Genesis also contains the commencement of spiritual promises — promises of eternal life to Abraham and his descendants.
   If you need help and encouragement to really get started, read our free publication titled Read the Book. This attractively printed booklet tells:
    Why you should read the Bible
    How to read it
    How men died to bring you the Bible
    Surprising things the Bible really says
    Surprising things the Bible is commonly believed to say — but nowhere does.
   Also read another booklet titled Answers From Genesis. It clarifies many common misconceptions about the first six chapters of Genesis.

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Good News MagazineMarch 1974Vol XXIII, No. 3