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Consistency of Principles Between Old and New Testaments

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We have shown in previous chapters how Bible prophecies have been fulfilled over the centuries; we have also confirmed the accuracy of the Bible’s historical accounts; and we have demonstrated ways in which biblical statements about the physical world agree with facts of science. But what about the Bible itself? Does it hold internal evidence of its own veracity?

Many are unaware that the multiple books known as The Holy Bible were written by some 40 different authors over a period of more than 1500 years. This is surely a formula for a disastrous conglomeration of disjointed and contradictory teachings. Yet when the Scriptures are closely examined, we instead see a remarkable degree of consistency and agreement as to their content and the principles they teach.

Many who accept the New Testament reject the Old Testament as no longer applicable, while many who believe the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) reject the New. Some allege that there are conflicts between the two. In this chapter we will see that the Bible is amazingly consistent in its teachings between the Old and New Testaments. While the Old Testament teaches mainly the letter of God’s laws and precepts, the New Testament raises the application of those precepts to the spiritual level.

Perhaps the most important principle taught in the entire Bible is love—love for God and love for one’s fellow human being. This principle is taught in both the Old and New Testaments as the first and second greatest commandments of all. We find the first in Deuteronomy 6: “And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might” (verse 5). We find the same command stated by Jesus in Matthew 22: “And Jesus said to him, ‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment’ ” (verses 37-38).

Right after that, Christ added, “And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets’ ” (verses 39-40). The second of these two commandments is also found in the Old Testament: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev. 19:18).

Another important principle we find in both testaments is humility before God. Isaiah 66:2 quotes God as saying, “To this one will I look, to him who is of a poor and contrite spirit, and who trembles at My Word.” When Jesus gave the “Sermon on the Mount,” He began it with, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Those with this attitude of reverent humility before God will of course be obedient to Him. Moses told the Israelites in Exodus 23:22, “But if you shall indeed obey His voice, then He will be an enemy to your enemies and a foe to your foes….” The same admonition to obey God is repeated countless times (for example, Deut. 30:2, 8, 20). In the New Testament, Jesus tells His disciples, “If you love Me, keep the commandments—namely My commandments.” He says further in verse 21, “The one who has My commandments and is keeping them, that is the one who loves Me, and the one who loves Me shall be loved by My Father, and I will love him and will manifest Myself to him.” Just as in the Old Testament, Jesus closely links love for God with obedience to Him.

Another important principle found in both testaments is revealed first in Deuteronomy 8, the teaching that “man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord does man live” (verse 3). Jesus repeated this teaching when Satan tried to get Him to turn stones into bread. “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God’ ” (Matt. 4:4). Indeed, the principle of living by all of the Bible is consistently taught throughout both testaments.

We also note that each of the Ten Commandments of Exodus 20 and Deuteronomy 5 is taught in the New Testament as well.

1) The First Commandment is to have no other gods before the true God (Ex. 20:3; Deut. 5:6-7). In the New Testament, the apostle Paul likewise emphasizes that there is only one true God. “For indeed, even if there are those which are called gods, whether in heaven or on earth, as there are many gods and many lords, still to us there is one God the Father, from Whom are all things, and we are in Him, and one Lord Jesus Christ, by Whom are all things, and we are by Him” (I Cor. 7:5-6).

2) In Exodus 20:4-6 and Deuteronomy 5:8-9, we read the command against idol worship. This command appears several times in the New Testament (I John 5:21; I Cor. 6:9-10; Rev. 21:8; etc.).

3) The commandment prohibiting using God’s name in vain occurs in Exodus 20:7 and Deuteronomy 5:11. In Matthew 6:7, Christ tells His disciples not to vainly repeat any prayer by rote. Likewise, Paul admonishes the Ephesians to avoid all corrupt communication (Eph. 4:29).

4) The seventh-day Sabbath is commanded in Exodus 20:8-11 and Deuteronomy 5:12-14. We note that Jesus kept the Sabbath as an example for His followers. We read in Luke 4:16 that keeping the Sabbath was His custom. Plus, He clearly articulated that He is “Lord” of the Sabbath day—not Sunday (Mark 2:27-28).

5) To honor one’s mother and father is the Fifth Commandment (Ex. 20:12; Deut. 5:16). In Mark 7:9-13, Christ condemned the scribes and Pharisees for nullifying this command by carnally reasoning around it.

6) Exodus 20:13 and Deuteronomy 5:17 tell us not to commit murder. In many places in the New Testament murder is condemned (I John 3:15; Rev. 21:8; 22:13; etc.).

7) We see next the command against adultery in Exodus 20:14 and Deuteronomy 5:18. Romans 13:8-9 tells us that not committing adultery is one of the ways we love our neighbor. Hebrews 13:4 tells us that God will judge adulterers.

8) The Eighth Commandment is against stealing (Ex. 20:15; Deut. 5:19). Thieves are numbered among those who will have no place in the Kingdom of God (I Cor. 6:10).

9) Bearing false witness, or lying, is prohibited in Exodus 20:16 and Deuteronomy 5:20. In Revelation 21:8, we read of liars being excluded from the Kingdom of God.

10) In Exodus 20:17 and Deuteronomy 5:21, God commands us not to covet (wrongly desire) anything that belongs to another person, including their wife or husband. Numerous New Testament passages teach that covetousness is wrong (Rom. 7:7; I Cor. 6:10; II Tim. 3:2).

God had commanded Abraham and his male descendants to be circumcised. In Paul’s time, it was a Judaic decree that a Gentile proselyte to Judaism had to be circumcised. Gentile converts to Christianity, however, were not required by either Peter or Paul to be circumcised. Why? Because as Paul clearly taught, God intended physical circumcision to be only a type of spiritual circumcision—a “circumcision” of the heart, leading to profound repentance of sin and conversion. Paul wrote: “For he is not a [spiritual] Jew who is one outwardly, neither is that circumcision which is external in the flesh; rather, he is a [spiritual] Jew who is one inwardly, and circumcision is of the heart, in the spirit and not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God” (Rom. 2:28-29).

But is there a corroboration of this principle in the Old Testament? Indeed there is, in several places. For example, God told the Israelites through Moses: “Therefore, circumcise the foreskin of your heart and be no longer stiff-necked” (Deut. 10:16). Additionally, “And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your seed to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live” (Deut. 30:6). A “circumcised heart” seems to be a metaphor in both the Old and the New Testaments for loving God and being willing to obey Him.

Some have alleged that the teachings of the apostles, especially Paul, differ from the teachings of Christ. But the following examples will show that Jesus and the apostles taught the same principles.

Christ unambiguously told His disciples that if they loved Him they would keep His commandments. John, the “disciple whom Jesus loved,” tells us in his first general epistle that the standard by which we (true Christians) know that we “know Him” is that we “keep His commandments” (I John 2:3). He goes on in the next verse to call anyone a liar who claims to know Christ but does not keep His commandments.

But what about Paul? Many have claimed that Paul taught the opposite of Christ and even said the commandments are “done away.” But in reality, such alleged conflicts are based on the misinterpretation of the biblical texts. Paul looked to Jesus as God “manifested in the flesh” (I Tim. 3:16). How then can we imagine that he would dare preach anything contrary to Christ’s teachings? Indeed, a careful reading of Paul’s writings will reveal that in no way did he preach anything that conflicts with the teachings of Jesus.

For example, Paul summarizes the Ten Commandments as the law of love: “Because it says, ‘you shall not commit adultery, you shall not commit murder, you shall not steal, you shall not bear false witness, you shall not lust,’ and if there be any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, even by this standard, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’ ” (Rom. 13:9). He clearly writes, “Circumcision [of the flesh] is nothing, and uncircumcision is nothing; rather, the keeping of God’s commandments is essential” (I Cor. 7:19). Does this at all sound like Paul considered the Ten Commandments or the Law “done away”?

Quoting all of the places Paul’s writings agree with the teachings of Christ would make this writing excessively long. If your mind is open, the above examples should suffice. If not, I challenge you to study the whole New Testament and see for yourself that there are no actual conflicts between the teachings of Paul or any of the other apostles and those of Christ. In some cases an apostolic writing may go into greater detail on an issue than did Jesus, but such amplifications in no way constitute contradiction.

For example, in his famous “love chapter” (I Cor. 13), Paul expands on Christ’s teaching about love for fellow man. Then he sums up by reinforcing Jesus’ teaching that the second of the two great commandments is love for neighbor. He says, “And now, these three remain: faith, hope and love; but the greatest of these is love” (verse 13). Isn’t that what Jesus was saying in Matthew 22:39?

Christ and Paul also taught the same thing about the true reward of the saved—that it is the future resurrection of the dead. Jesus tells us in John 5:28-29, “Do not wonder at this, for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves shall hear His voice and shall come forth; those who have practiced good unto a resurrection of life, and those who have practiced evil unto a resurrection of judgment.” (This, by the way, also agrees with Old Testament teachings in Ezekiel 37 and Job 14:13.) In Acts 24:21 and 26:8, Paul clearly says the teaching for which he was being judged by the Jews was the resurrection of the dead. In I Corinthians 15 (often called the “resurrection chapter”) and I Thessalonians 4:13-17, Paul tells in detail how those who have died in the faith will be resurrected to eternal life as Spirit-born sons and daughters of God when Jesus returns to the earth. The eschatological visions God gave John also agree with Paul’s teaching that the faithful dead will be resurrected to eternal life (Rev. 11:15; 14:14-16; 20:4-5).

Paul explains genuine godly faith in Hebrews 11, the “faith chapter.” Each example of faithfulness he cites can be found in the Old Testament—and each example of living faith links faith with obedience to God. Paul, like Christ, clearly equates godly faith with obedience.

Paul looked to Jesus as God “manifested in the flesh” (I Tim. 3:16). How then can we imagine that he would dare preach anything in conflict with Christ’s teachings?