The Value of the Old Testament, Part 3

Mar 27, 2023 | Articles, by Luke Walker, Marrow Ministries Free Content

The Value of the Old Testament, Part 1

The Value of the Old Testament, Part 2

The preceding objections, and many more which are constantly spewing forth, as it were, from the pits of Orthanc, must be dispatched with so that the exquisite beauty of the Old Testament may stand forth to Christians. Its writings are exceedingly valuable to the faith of Christians. We know Him through this Book. What reason can there possibly be for neglecting the paths upon which God has bidden us to tread? For the One we encounter in the pages of the Old Testament is our triune God. Let us consider how the value of the Old Testament appears to Christians in the following observations.

The New and Old Testaments are the same message from the same God. However, they help to interpret one another more clearly. We have seen how the Old Testament helps us interpret the New by familiarizing us with the ideas and things which fill the pages of the New Testament. But the New then proceeds to interpret to us the Old. We read the Old Testament with opened eyes and with truly enlightened guides, the apostolic writings. In view of the guided access to the Old Testament that the New Testament provides, only madness would choose not to explore the wonders of God found therein. Taking the New Testament as seriously as possible will never cause Christians to devalue the Old Testament but rather to turn to it eagerly as unto a shining lamp wherein their beautiful Lord appears to them even now.

It provides Christians with immensely rich devotional material. The Psalms teach us how to pray and worship.[1] The Proverbs teach us how to think with God. The Canticles teach us to rejoice in His undying love for us. What would Christians be without these?[2] For example, the richly devotional nature of the writings of the Church Fathers and the Puritans exhibit the fruit of taking the Old Testament seriously as Christians.[3] Taking our New Testaments as seriously as possible will never cause us to devalue the Old Testament but rather to turn to it eagerly as unto a shining lamp wherein our beautiful Lord appears to us even now.

The ideas that fill the New Testament pages come from the Old Testament. Just as the waters teemed with living things on the fifth day of creation, so the minds of the New Testament writers were teeming with Old Testament quotations,… Click To Tweet

The ideas that fill the New Testament pages come from the Old Testament. Just as the waters teemed with living things on the fifth day of creation, so the minds of the New Testament writers were teeming with Old Testament quotations, echoes, and allusions. The New Testament is woven with the fabric of the Old. Separated from the Old Testament from which it sprang forth, the New loses intelligibility. “Our understanding the full significance of many New Testament statements requires that we know also the Old Testament type.”[4] Therefore, the Old Testament equips the New Testament Church to interpret the New Testament.

It is valuable to our ability to disciple others. We are equipped through the Old Testament. It furnishes us with knowledge that is not found in the New. It speaks more plainly about the beginning of time and space, who we are and why we are here, and who made us than the New. Its characters and stories share in what C.S. Lewis (and J.R.R. Tolkien) would call True Myth. These figures and events form the storyline of the Bible, which helps us teach it to others, like our children and the unchurched.

When we drag the belief that the New Testament is superior to the Old out from its nebulous haunts in the presuppositions of our confused hearts and show it openly to the world, a note of such harshness is struck that it not only freezes the hearts of hobbits but can shatter, like glass, one’s confidence in a pulpit. Out with it, then. This teaches that the average Christian should only ever interact with the New Testament. To them, the Old Testament is a curiosity, a sort of second-tier Scripture, or deuterocanonical nicety. Why spend any time in the Old Testament at all? Should we not rather focus entirely on the New Testament?

It seems this is exactly what we have done. Our pulpits stay there. Our Christians are not familiar with entire genres of their Bibles. Is this not evident fruit of an unspeakable prejudice against God-breathed documents? It is, in the end, to deny the unity of the Holy Scriptures. But I say, along with the history of the Church, away with this New Testament Onlyism. Give us the whole Christ from the whole Bible. Christian preachers must be unleashed anew upon the Old Testament. It is a multiverse full of Christ for ordinary Christians today. As Scripture, it was designed to be preached. The Old Testament’s epic tales and sweeping themes must be preached by God’s men in God’s pulpits, for we are the lore masters.


[1] Consider, for instance, Charles Spurgeon’s moving exposition of the Psalms. Charles Spurgeon, The Treasury of David, Vol. I–VII (Pasadena, TX: Pilgrim Publications, 1983).

[2] Actually, one of these seems to be disappearing as a foundation of Christian devotion, namely, the Song of Solomon. Modern grammatical-historical hermeneutics cannot reach the mystical nature of the union presented in that ancient poem (whether taken allegorically or typologically).

[3] For the Fathers, see Christopher Hall, Reading Scripture with the Church Fathers (Downer’s Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1998).

[4] Michael P.V. Barrett, Beginning At Moses: A Guide to Christ in the Old Testament (Greenville, SC: Ambassador International, 2010), 255.

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