Why should Christians study the Old Testament?
Oftentimes, those who have just come to the faith spend a lot of time reading the New Testament. It’s a very good thing for people who are unacquainted with the Bible to begin with the New Testament. Christians who have believed for a while or been raised in the faith come to appreciate more and more the depth of meaning in the New Testament when viewed against the background of the Old Testament.
God knew what He was doing in preparing for the coming of Jesus. So much of what we know and say about Jesus really doesn’t make sense except against an Old Testament background.Jesus is the King; we know about kings because we read about kings in the Old Testament. Jesus is the Prophet; we know about prophets because we read about prophets in the Old Testament. Jesus is the Priest; we know about priests because we read about priests in the Old Testament. We know that He died on the cross as a sacrifice because we know about sacrifices in the Old Testament. So, the more we know about the Old Testament, the deeper our appreciation will be for Christ, His work, and the way in which the New Testament fulfills the Old Testament.
Some Christians have accused the Reformed of saying that the New Testament cancels out the Old Testament, or that the church replaces Israel. That’s not at all what we believe. We believe that the New Testament fulfills all that the kings, prophets, and priests of Israel look forward to. Furthermore, we believe that the different forms of those writings—the law, the history, the poetry, and the prophets—help us to see the meaning of the Old Testament more deeply.
This is a transcript of W. Robert Godfrey’s answer given during our Ask Ligonier with W. Robert Godfrey, and has been lightly edited for readability. To ask Ligonier a biblical or theological question, just visit Ask.Ligonier.org or message us on Facebook or Twitter.