The Lord willing, the undersigned will be the contributor to this rubric for the next six months. May the little that is here contributed be of blessing to both writer and readers. The rich treasure of God’s Gospel is contained in an earthen vessel and not the least in this column. Of this truth the writer is painfully aware. Still, it is exactly in this acknowledgement that there is also a great measure of comfort. Now the exceeding greatness of the power may be and is not of us but of God. And no labor spent is vain in the Lord.
A few remarks as to the nature of this rubric, as understood by the undersigned, as well as to the material that we hope to offer in these columns, may not be counted out of place. This rubric is captioned: “From Holy Writ”. This offers the writer a broad field. In a sense possibly too wide a field. (However, we hope to limit ourselves. It certainly is not the intention that this department write meditations, although that would be from Holy Writ. That would be infringing on the territory of the Editor. Nor must these articles be on the Psalms. That also would be from Holy Writ. Of this the writer of “Sion’s Zangen” offers excellent contributions. Neither must these articles treat of what falls under the caption “The Day Of Shadows”, for this is the rightful domain of that department. And, again, even though one may not write on Holy Writ in the abstract, as though all Scripture were not also “for correction”, yet this department must not intrude on the field of the contributor to “In His Fear”. And finally, these articles should not be doctrine in the limited sense of the term, for that is offered us by and large in “The Triple Knowledge.”
Since all these departments also fall under “From Holy Writ” in a general sense, it would seem that there should be a sense in which this department treats this subject in distinction from the others. We believe, that, first of all, this department should have a subject not treated by the others. This may be a Bible- book, or some aspect of the Word of God. Secondly, this column should be of an exegetical, an expository nature. And lastly, but not least, it should be as much as possible of a popular nature. We repeat: as much as possible. This latter is no little task. We are conscious of our limitations on this score.
The material that we wish to offer the reader during the next six months is that which falls under the heading “O. T. Quotations In The N. T.”
Just a word of explanation about these quotations.
Biblical scholars, who have made the count, inform us, that there are not less than 300 direct quotations in the New Testament writings from the Old Testament Scriptures.
That these quotations are so numerous should not surprise us. Upon a little reflection on the relationship of the Old Dispensation to the New Dispensation, we discover that we would exactly expect this situation. For is not Christ the end of the law? And does this not mean that the Old Testament has come to its termination in His appearance in the fullness of times, in His death, resurrection and glorification at the right hand of the Father? He it is Who has sent His Spirit into the Church, Who leads her through this selfsame Spirit into all truth. And because of His being the fulfilment of the Promise of God He died according to the Scriptures and rose again on the third day according to the Scriptures. In (Him the Old and the New Testaments are one. And, therefore, it is nothing strange, but wholly natural that the number of quotations should be legion.
And thus our first observation is that the possibility and necessity of quotations in the New Testament Scriptures from the Old Testament writings must be sought in the unity of the two in the person of Christ. It is of paramount importance that this be remembered.
Another element in these quotations, that strikes our attention, is the fact that the writers of the New Testament Scriptures all proceed from the fundamental principle, that the Old Testament Scriptures are the Word of God. They are authoritative. They are the last Word in any dispute concerning faith and life of God’s people in this world. And, being authoritative, they are the clinching argument in the New Testament. Thus it was with Jesus. Often He says: It is written. Or again: Have ye never read in the Scriptures. Over against unbelief He says: Ye ere not knowing the Scriptures, neither the power of God. Thus the Scriptures are for Christ Himself. And as they are for Him so they are also for the Apostles and prophets, Evangelists, Shepherds and Teachers. Legion are the points on which reference is made in the New Testament to the Old Testament. And the circumstances in which this becomes necessary is nearly time without number. Small wonder that there are as many as 300 direct quotations, not counting indirect allusions to Scripture passages, in the New Testament
Finally, it may not pass unnoticed, that there is still the element of what may be called the progressiveness of the New Testament over the Old Testament.
And what may this progressiveness be?
To us the implication of progressiveness in this connection must mean that the New Testament gives us a more clear and a richer revelation of the salvation of God in Jesus Christ than does the Old Testament.
The truth of what we have just stated is so evident to the student of Holy Writ as to hardly need any proof.
We have but to refer our attention to the fact that in the fullness of time the Son of God came into the flesh; that His glory was seen as the glory of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth and at once we also see that this implies a richer revelation. The Old Testament revelation has very little glory when compared with the glory of the New Testament.
It is very evident, that Jesus had this in mind when He told the people that the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than John the Baptist. Now John was, indeed, the greatest of all the prophets. All the prophets prophesied until John. But John exceeds them all. He stands on the shoulders of all the prophets. Is his not the privilege to point out the Christ to the people and to say: “Behold, the Lamb of God that taketh away the sin of the world!” And, again, does not Jesus tell His disciples upon occasion of the speaking of parables to the multitude, that their eyes are blessed indeed, as are also their ears. Had not many prophets desired to see the things that they see, but it had not been granted them in the Old Testament revelation ? And did not the very dimness of the Old Testament revelation forbid prophets to hear the things that the ears of the disciples might hear? And were not these very prophets conscious of the fact that in their intense searching out of what time, and the manner of the time of the suffering that should come upon Jesus and the glory that would follow, that they were not going to enter into the fruit of these labors themselves, but that they were performing these labors for us, the children of the New Covenant?
To ask these questions is to answer them.
But, what does this latter imply when viewed in relation to the problem of the quotation of various Old Testament passages in the New Testament?
Or, to state the question somewhat differently, is it evident in some of these direct quotations from the O. T. in the N. T. that the sense they had in their Old Testament setting is superseded in the New Testament setting?
If so, then there should be various texts in the New Testament, which, as quotations from the Old Testament, may seem to have acquired a different meaning.
Of course, these passages cannot have acquired an altogether different meaning. The sense of the Author in the Old Testament is no different from that of the Author in the New Testament. What seems to be a different meaning is but the same truth of the Word of God in the Old Testament now within the light of its fulfilment in the death, resurrection and glorification of Christ.
The implication of this just enunciated principle is that, had we only the Old Testament, had Christ not come as yet, the sense of a given passage in the Old Testament as intended by the (Holy Spirit, the Primary Author, would very really be that given in the New context in the New Testament writings. But the point is, that we would not be able to grasp this enriched meaning. Fact is, were it told us, we would not be able to understand it.
But enough of this. This introduction has become a bit longer than we anticipated. However, I am certain, the reader will understand that an explicit statement of the principles that will govern us in these studies is necessary for both the writer of these lines and for those who follow them.
Finally, just a word about the material that we hope to offer in this rubric.
Since there are 300 quotations of the Old Testament in the New Testament, we will have to choose a group of quotations which have a common characteristic. Choosing such a group will enable us to study the quotations from a single viewpoint. Thus there should be unity in the discussion and also continuity.
Tentatively our plan is to discuss the following passages in the New Testament which are quotations from the Old Testament.; ; ; and .
What is peculiar about all of these quotations is that there seems to be a different sense given to these passages in the New Testament than in the Old Testament.
Another matter worthy of consideration here is that in these passages a great deal of light is shed on the practical application of the threefold principles earlier delineated upon in this essay, to wit: 1. The unity of the two dispensations; 2. The authoritative nature of the Old Testament Scriptures; 3; The progressive character of the New Testament Scriptures.
D. V. we will begin our discussion in the next issue.