Should Christians study the Old Testament?

Many people think that the Old Testament is for Jewish people and the New Testament (which is all about Jesus) is for Christian people.

There are at least four reasons why the Old Testament is important for Christian people:

1. Jesus viewed the Old Testament as God’s Word

On one occasion in Matthew Ch. 22, the religious leaders were arguing with Jesus, and Jesus said to them,

“have you not read what was said to you by God…” – then he quoted from the Old Testament!

In other words, Jesus viewed what was written in the Old Testament as what God had said.  If Jesus viewed the Old Testament as God’s Word, and therefore inspired and authoritative, so should we.

2. The Old Testament points us to Jesus

The Old Testament is a Christian book, and is incomplete without the New Testament.

In the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 5, Jesus said,

“Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets (Old Testament); I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.”

We need to think carefully about how each Old Testament book points us to and prepares us for Jesus.

3. The Old Testament gives us examples and warnings as God’s people

The Apostle Paul, in 1 Corinthians 10, referring to the Old Testament, wrote:

Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did” and “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our (Christians!) instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come.”

As we see how the people of God acted in Old Testament times we should think: are these examples to follow, or examples to avoid, in our walk with the Lord?  More often than not, they are examples of things to avoid!

4. The Old Testament makes us wise to salvation and trains us in righteousness

The Apostle Paul, referring to the Old Testament, wrote these words to Timothy: 

“You have been acquainted with the sacred writings (Old Testament), which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.  All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,  that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:15-17)

The “all Scripture” of 2 Timothy 3:16 refers to the Old Testament.  The New Testament letters and gospels were still in the process of being written. 

Article 7 of the 39 Articles of Religion says, 

The Old Testament is not contrary to the New Testament. In the Old as well as in the New Testament, everlasting life is offered to mankind through Christ; for Christ, who is both God and man, is the only Mediator between God and man.

The Old Testament is part of God’s Word to us and as Christian people we think of it as just as important as the New Testament.