Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Preaching Christ from the Old Testament

One easy way to get from the Old Testament passage to Christ is to find New Testament quotations or references to your Old Testament passage. Often, the New Testament passage will show you the fulfillment, or will even explain the divine intention of the Old Testament passage.

[I'm always amazed how many pastors will quote an Old Testament reference while preaching in the New Testament but question the wisdom of referencing New Testament usage of an Old Testament passage they are preaching from the Old. Seems odd, huh?]

But how do we know if an Old Testament passage is quoted in the New Testament? Do I have memorize the New Testament first, before I read the Old Testament? Must I read the entire New Testament every time I'm going to preach from the Old, scanning for a possible quote?

I once sat in a Meeting House and heard a man rant, "Study Bibles will lead your from the blood of Jesus Christ!" Perhaps the Study Bibles he had seen, but actually a couple others will do just the opposite. The ESV Study Bible (probably the best study Bible ever made) and the Reformation Study Bible both direct you to New Testament usage within the Old Testament. (see picture below for an example from this week's sermon)

Commentaries can hurt or help the preacher. A commentary should never be used to by-pass personal study and simply regurgitate someone else's work. However, I typically have about a half-dozen commentaries per book I am preaching (which I use to varying degrees). Perhaps their greatest aid is scanning each passage for cross references listed. A decent commentary from the Old Testament should at least mention if a verse is quoted in the New.

At this point, you may then determine if/how the New Testament passage contributes. (For instance, Hebrews 4 serves as the "divine commentary" for Joshua 1, while Leviticus 12 helps explain what was happening in Luke 2).

It's not a guarantee to get you to Christ (Leviticus 11:45/1 Peter 1:16 doesn't directly speak of Christ, but the surrounding context certainly helps you see what holiness is under the New Covenant), but if you don't know the text is even there, it sure is a whole lot harder to preach.


Darby Livingston said...

And there's also that wonderful gem by Greg Beale and D.A. Carson, "Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament."

danny2 said...

i've heard it's good. i don't have it yet.