Skip Navigation Links

The Gospel — In the Old Testament

What has the Old Testament to do with the Gospel?
Why is it even included in the Bible? How did Jesus, Peter and Paul preach the Gospel?


JESUS CHRIST never read the New Testament! Yet He preached the Gospel. He quoted from Scripture!

John the Baptist preached the Gospel of the Kingdom of God. The Apostle Peter on the day of Pentecost in 31 A.D. preached a sermon of salvation that brought three thousand people to repentance — he quoted many scriptures, yet not one was from the New Testament. After his conversion, the Apostle Paul preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ — yet through most of his ministry he did not have access to any of what we recognize as the New Testament today — in fact, he himself was responsible for writing fourteen books of it!

The only Bible that Jesus and Peter and Paul were conversant with and preached from was what we regard today as the Old Testament!


Old Testament Useless?

The Bible is a consistent best seller year after year! It has been translated into nearly every language and dialect used by mankind! Yet this most translated and consistent best seller is the least read and studied of any of the best sellers! And even those who do read and study the Bible consistently ignore the largest part of it — the Old Testament.

Somehow the term "Old" Testament as opposed to the "New" Testament has made most people feel that it is not necessary to read the Old — almost as if it had nothing to do with the New, or as if it were a completely useless part of the Bible. Yet, consistently, millions upon millions of copies of the Bible, including the Old Testament, are reproduced and sold.

The Bible has 66 books in the King James Version. Comparing it to a novel or a textbook, if each of these books were just a long chapter — wouldn't it seem strange to begin reading a book at chapter 40? There are 39 books in the Old Testament and the book of Matthew beginning the New Testament is the 40th book of the Bible — comparable to the 40th chapter of a textbook or novel!

Are those first 39 chapters of God's book unnecessary — or did God have a reason for inspiring them?


How Did the Apostles Preach the Gospel?

How did Jesus Christ preach the Gospel? To what authority did He appeal? Where did He get His ideas of love and grace — of forgiveness and salvation — of the message of the Kingdom of God? When Peter preached about grace and salvation, upon what authority did he base his statements? When the Apostle Paul expounded and proclaimed to the Gentiles about the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, from what books did he preach?


New Testament Answers!

Certainly the "Golden Rule" is accepted as summing up the basic teachings of Jesus Christ — of New Testament theology. "Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them" (Matt. 7:12). But how many of you read the last part, of this verse — or heard the last part of this verse explained and expounded — the last part of this verse which, in the words of Jesus Christ, explains where He got the idea of the Golden Rule? The LAST PART of this verse reads, "for THIS [the Golden Rule] IS THE LAW AND THE PROPHETS!" (Matt. 7:12).

Jesus Christ was NOT doing away with the Old Testament! His very life and Gospel message was an explanation of the Old Testament — a clarification, a magnification. When the Pharisees and Sadducees would ask Him a trick question, He would consistently ask them, "Have you not read . . .?" (Matt. 12:3, 5, etc) He was more conversant with the Old Testament than the ablest of scribes!

Yes, the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a Gospel of love — but what kind or love? Let Jesus Christ Himself explain this to you — when a hypocritical lawyer of the Pharisees asked Him a question to tempt Him, asking which was the greatest commandment, Jesus Christ answered him saying, "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul and with all thy might . . . Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thy self [this is the great commandment of love that Jesus Christ gave — the "new" commandment, see I John 2:7-8]. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets" (Matt. 22:37-40). And Jesus quoted His answer from Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19: 18! When Christ was tempted by Satan the Devil, He pointed out the over-all precept, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matt. 4:4 — also Luke 4:4). But this was not an idea that Jesus Christ thought up independent of the Old Testament — this was not changed, New Testament theology. This tool that Jesus Christ used to resist Satan the Devil was taken directly from the pen of Moses and is quoted from Deuteronomy 8:3!


Peter's Theology

The Apostle Peter plainly showed that the whole purpose of the writing of the prophets of the Old Testament was for the use of those who are called to the Gospel of Jesus Christ! (I Pet. 1:10-12). In closing off his second epistle he warned all those who were followers of Jesus Christ that they should watch out for individuals who twisted the meaning of the epistles of Paul — but comparing this deceitful use of Paul's epistles to the practice of those who also deceitfully use the other scriptures, the Old Testament! (II Pet. 3:1516). The very authority of Paul's writings, Peter showed, rested on the Old Testament!

The source of the Gospel that Paul preached, is recorded for us in the book of Acts! "And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he [Paul] expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, [the Gospel] both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening" (Acts 28:23). This historic statement regarding the teaching of the Apostle Paul was recorded at the very end of his ministry — long after he had turned from the Jews and begun to concentrate on the Gentiles.


Paul Commanded Old Testament Preaching

Paul was the apostle in charge of carrying the Gospel to the Gentiles. As an apostle he held a very high office and was also responsible for the training of many men under him. These evangelists and elders were responsible for carrying the same Gospel message to the local churches that Paul raised up, after his departure. Paul's personal instruction to the Evangelist Timothy is preserved for us to this day so that we will be able to tell how the Apostle Paul instructed the Evangelist Timothy, and all of those elders under him, to conduct their preaching, and from whence to get their information.

Using all of the power of his office, Paul said, "I charge ye therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; PREACH THE WORD"! (II Tim. 4:1-2) The expression "the word" is the common reference to the Old Testament — The Holy Scriptures. Just a few verses before this Paul had instructed Timothy, "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (II Tim. 2:15). Urging and ex-honing Timothy to study the Old Testament in order to preach Christ! Is this the kind of instruction being given in the theological seminaries today?

Or has the prophecy of Paul which he gave to Timothy in this same book already come to pass — "For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; and they shall turn away their ears from the truth ["Thy word is truth" — John 17: 17], and shall be turned [from the Gospel truths of the Old Testament] unto fables [the teaching of men having turned a deaf ear to the Word of God and thought up their own theology!] (II Tim. 4:3-4).

No, Paul did not think up a new "Pauline theology" — he didn't disagree with Moses, or any of the prophets, or Jesus Christ — his instruction was, again to Timothy, "And that from a child you have known the holy scriptures which ARE ABLE TO MAKE THEE WISE UNTO SALVATION THROUGH FAITH which is in Christ Jesus. ALL SCRIPTURE [all of the Bible that today's Christians regard as the Old Testament] is given by inspiration of God [not the ideas of men about God, but the writings of holy men inspired by the Holy Spirit prior to the time of Jesus Christ, see II Peter 1:21] and IS PROFITABLE [Paul under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit and using the full authority of his apostleship states in a letter of instruction to a fellow minister, in the fulfillment of his duty in the ministry that the Old Testament IS PROFITABLE] for DOCTRINE [the doctrines of the Apostle Paul were not "Pauline theology" at all, but the same basic truths that were preached by Noah, a preacher of righteousness, by Abraham, by Moses, by Elijah, by John the Baptist, and by Jesus Christ — and their source was the Old Testament!], for REPROOF, for CORRECTION, for INSTRUCTION IN RIGHTEOUSNESS [there is a way to be righteous, and that way is described in the Old Testament]" (II Tim. 3:15-16).

And this quote, you will notice, is just directly prior to the first verse of chapter four in which Paul tells Timothy what to preach!


Lay Members Urged to Read Old Testament

The Apostle Paul had, no doctrines contrary to any single verse written from Genesis to Malachi. He never urged any — even of his Gentile converts — to ignore the Old Testament. In fact the historic record of his preaching to Gentiles at Berea, tells us that he was highly pleased by those citizens of Berea who checked up by daily Old Testament Bible reading on the things that he proclaimed to them — the Gospel of Jesus Christ! "These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and SEARCHED THE SCRIPTURES DAILY, whether those things were so" (Acts 17:11).

There is one reference in the New Testament of Paul in his preaching referring to one of the poets. You know how common it is for ministers to quote from Shakespeare, Tennyson, Shelley and Keats. When Paul was speaking to the Athenians on Mars Hill he said, "For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said" (Acts 17:28). But his use of poets' clever sayings is nil in comparison to the dozens and dozens of times, in the book of Acts, and in the many epistles which he wrote, in which he quoted word for word and used as his authority the Old Testament scriptures.

In his letter to the Gentile Corinthians the Apostle Paul commanded that church to be familiar with the Old Testament — "Now all these things happened unto them for ensamples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come" (I Cor. 10:11).


Shall We Desert the New Testament?

Since the examples of Jesus Christ, the Apostle Peter and the Apostle Paul show that their theology, ministry and Gospel were derived directly from the Old Testament, shall we assume that we should do away with the New Testament and not read it?

God forbid!

No, since the New Testament is just as much a part of God's Word as the Old (II Pet. 3:15-16) then we should read and study it with equal diligence.

Once we understand that the New Testament is Holy Scripture just as much as the Old Testament is, then we must apply the very statement that Jesus Christ made to Satan the Devil when He was resisting him in the temptation on the Mount, and agree that we must live by EVERY WORD OF GOD — both the Old and the New Testaments.

It is only by the Spirit of God that any man is able to understand either the Old or the New Testament. There were preachers in Jesus Christ's day — the Sadducees and Pharisees, and many other splits and denominations, but they did not understand the scriptures of the Old Testament — any more than most of the ministers of today understand the New! When Paul instructed Timothy to study the Old Testament, the Holy Scriptures, he explained to him that these Holy Scriptures contained the wisdom that would bring him to salvation, but only through the FAITH OF JESUS CHRIST! (II Tim. 3:15).


New Testament Example

Is there then an example in the New Testament of an individual,' ordained by God to preach the Gospel of the Kingdom of God, who used as the sole basis for his preaching the Old Testament?


The eighth chapter of the book of Acts, beginning verse 26, portrays the history of how Philip brought the Gospel of God to an Ethiopian eunuch. In verse 28 it is explained that the eunuch was reading out of the book of Isaiah. "And the eunuch answered Philip, and said, I pray thee, of whom speaketh the prophet this? Of himself, or of some other man? Then Philip opened his mouth, and began at the same scripture, and PREACHED UNTO HIM JESUS!" Acts 8:34-35).

Surely God was working with this Ethiopian eunuch, and causing him to read in this particular verse in Isaiah. However there are more than three hundred specific prophecies regarding Jesus Christ recorded in the Old Testament — both concerning His first coming, as the humble carpenter of Nazareth to be sacrificed for the sins of the world, and regarding His second coming to be King of kings and Lord of lords ruling over the entire earth in the Kingdom of God — soon to come!