The New Testament Explains the Old Testament

by Mike Ratliff

44 “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. 45 “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking fine pearls, 46 and upon finding one pearl of great value, he went and sold all that he had and bought it. (Matthew 13:44-46 NASB) 
The correct way to understand Sacred Scripture is that the Old Testament contains the “old” promises of the Messiah and the fulfillment of His Kingdom while the New Testament is the “new” revelation from Jesus and His Apostles, which reveal to us how the “old” promises are fulfilled in Him. The New Testament explains the Old Testament, not the other way around.

51 “Have you understood all these things?” They *said to Him, “Yes.” 52 And Jesus said to them, “Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old.” (Matthew 13:51-52 NASB)

In this passage, our Lord asks His disciples if they understood what He has just taught them. The “all these things” is referring to Matthew 13:3-50. These verses contain the Parable of the Sower, our Lord’s purpose in using parables to teach, the Parable of the Sower explained, The Parable of the Weeds, The Parable of the Mustard Seed and the Leaven, our Lord explains that the usage of parables to teach is a fulfillment of prophecy, the explanation of the Parable of the Weeds, the Parable of the Hidden Treasure, the Parable of the Pearl of Great Value, and the Parable of the Net.

Our Lord asks them if they understood these things. They profess that they do. Genuine disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ grow in understanding through proper Biblical teaching. Those who obediently teach God’s Word, rightly dividing it, are like the man who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old. Those who rightly divide the Word of Truth teach from the Old Testament and the New Testament, revealing to their students how the Old is fulfilled in the New.

Therefore, it is proper for Christians to study the Old Testament. I have received complaints from some who insist that learning from the Old Testament is not valid. In other words, these are attempting to say that the truths in the Old Testament do not apply to Christians. I would not object to that a great deal, if they were referring to the keeping of the ceremonial Law, but these complaints had to do with salvation and the Sovereignty of God.

Those complaining about these things are the same ones who insist that the Gospel must be contextualized in order for the unchurched to understand it. If that contextualization is done the way our Lord used parables to teach the truth to His disciples then I have no problem with it. However, I do have a problem with those who want to change the Gospel to a man-friendly message of easy-believism, for example. The Gospel without sin, Hell, the cross, and the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ to reconcile people to God who repent and believe is not the Gospel at all. The genuine Gospel takes the old treasures and shows how our Lord Jesus Christ came and fulfilled them with the new treasure of His incarnation, His perfect life, His betrayal, His trial, His torture, His crucifixion, His death, His burial, His resurrection, and His ascension.

My brethren, do not neglect the Old Testament for in it we learn of the promises fulfilled in the New Testament. Also, beware of the over-contextualized gospel. Those who do this assume that the full gospel will confuse people and drive some away by offending them. Well, the Bible tells us that the cross offends those not drawn by God to the Son. Only the regenerate heart can bear the light of God’s truth, believe, and repent. Which is why we must pray that God will take His truth that we preach and teach and use it to break hearts and draw many into the light of it for salvation.

Soli Deo Gloria!

7 thoughts on “The New Testament Explains the Old Testament

  1. Amen and amen! The New sheds light on the Old – it does not add to it nor nullify it. One problem I’ve run into with some reformed folk is the tendency to add to the Decalogue with teachings from the New Testament. In fact, the more complete revelation from God shows us the true measure of His moral law which is not equivalent to the Decalogue, though much of God’s moral law is proclaimed in the Decalogue.


  2. I notice that Harry Ticks love to use the Old Testament to miss-interpret the New Testament…Just like their satanic father!


  3. Pingback: The New Testament Explains the Old Testament | GalatiaU

  4. Good timing Mike,
    I just finished reading (slowly, methodically, prayerfully) the book of Isaiah and am beginning Jeremiah. Then the rest of the prophets. The ESV is a big help in this. More and more of this Grand Jigsaw is beginning to appear. It’s awesome. The Old and the New Testaments are so interrelated. Thank you.


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