Christians and the Tanakh
Isn’t it remarkable that Christian children around the world are learning life lessons through stories from ancient Jewish literature?
They learn about courage when facing overwhelming odds as they see David defeating the giant Goliath.1 They learn about forgiveness as Joseph forgives his brothers who had sold him as a slave, and tells them “you meant it for evil, but God meant it for good and for the saving of many lives.2 They learn about allegiance to God as the three men threatened with death say “Our God is able to save us from the fiery furnace, but even if He does not, we still will not bow down and worship your idol.”3
These stories are all found in the TaNaKh, a collection of scrolls written mostly in Hebrew3-1 by multiple authors over a period of centuries, up to around 400 BCE.4 In it are found the experiences and reflections of the Jewish people, one of the groups that looks back to Abraham as founding ancestor. (The Ta stands for Torah, the first five books of the Bible; the Na stands for the prophets, and the Kh stands for the wisdom writings including the Psalms). Christians call this collection the Old Testament.
In this way the formation of Christian children overlaps with the formation of Jewish children. The Qur’an also has many references to the well-known biblical figures, mentioned in a way that makes it seem like the readers are already familiar with them. Together through these three religions the stories of Abraham and his descendants have become familiar to more than half the population of the world.5
The New Testament
The New Testament is a collection of books written in Greek in the first century CE by Jews who had become followers of Jesus (One writer, Luke, may not have been a Jew). Therefore it is not a surprise that these writers still believed and carried on the Jewish teachings in the TaNaKh about the one God as creator, preserver, forgiver, and final judge, and its descriptions of God as merciful, dependable, and forgiving.
The New Testament, the book particular to Christianity, has over 300 direct quotes from the TaNaKh.6 For the authors to be so thoroughly acquainted with its contents makes me admire the thoroughness of Jewish education in the first century. Moreover, the writers were also familiar with the Greek translation of the Old Testament, and used it for many of their quotations. Besides using direct quotes, the New Testament writers elaborate on many of the themes introduced in the Old Testament, such as salvation, redemption, and atonement.
The Bible as a Unit
Christians regard their Bible, Old and New Testaments together, as a unit, and feel that God is speaking to them through that entire unit. The word “Bible” includes some additional books for some Christians.7
Since the Bible as a whole is seen as the Word of God, Christians readily make use of the entire Bible in personal devotion and Bible study. When the New Testament author Paul writes that “all scripture is God-breathed, and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,” 8 the New Testament was not yet fully written, so the “scripture” he is referring to is the TaNaKh. Christian doctrines need to be in harmony with both Old and New Testament, with the Old being interpreted through the lens of the New.
Affirming the Old Testament
There was an attempt in the second century to convince Christians to reject the Old Testament. The instigator, Marcion, went so far as to say that the Old Testament God was different from the God of the New Testament. This idea was roundly rejected by Christians in 144 CE. Christians confess that the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob is also “God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.”9
Christians make much use of the TaNaKh in worship. The Jews who became Jesus-believers continued the elements they were accustomed to in the synagogue. The Psalms have been sung in Christian churches for the past 2000 years, and have provided a pattern for worship songs and prayers. Readings and sermons in Christian churches draw from both the Old and the New Testaments. Traditional Christian services end with the blessing that God told Moses’ brother Aaron to pronounce upon the people of Israel, that starts with “the Lord bless you and keep you.”10 In hundreds of languages used around the world, people still speak the Hebrew words “amen,” “hallelujah,” “Immanuel,” and “hosanna.” All these words have Hebrew meanings which are retained by Christians. Amen means “may it be so.” Hallelujah means “praise God.” Immanuel means “God with us.” Hosanna means “save us,” a shout used to honor a king by confessing that he has the ability to save.
Expanding on Concepts
New Testament writers often make use of Old Testament antecedents. When John writes “God is love” 11 he is in harmony with a statement God made to the Old Testament prophet Jeremiah regarding Israel: “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” 12 Paul in teaching about salvation by faith quotes from the first book of the Old Testament, Genesis, that Abraham, “believed the LORD, and He counted it to him as righteousness.”13
Some concepts are concrete in the Old Testament but become generalized or abstract in the New. For example, the term “temple” means “a place to seek God.” The first Israelite temple was built by King Solomon in the 900’s BCE, and a rebuilt version was in existence during the time of Jesus. Jesus called his own body a temple,14 and Jesus-believers are told by Paul that their bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit.15
Two Old Testament concepts are of particular interest for the New Testament writers: the concepts of covenant and of animal sacrifice.
A Covenant is like an agreement or a treaty. Several covenants are mentioned in the Bible, but the one with continued relevance for today is the one God gave to Abraham. It includes God’s promise “to be God to you and to your descendants after you.”16 It is for this reason that the Jews are called “the chosen people.” 17 The sons of Abraham passed along the special covenant promise from God when they blessed their children. The sequence went from Abraham to Isaac to Jacob, also called Israel, and then on to Jacob’s descendants. (throughout most of the TaNaKh, Abraham’s descendants are called the “people of Israel.” In the 500’s BCE when many of them were deported to Babylon from their remaining province, Judah, they began to be called “people of Judah,” or “Judaeans,” in Hebrew “Yehudi,” which in the English language was shortened to “Jew.”)
The covenant is re-affirmed and repeated several times in the TaNaKh. The prophet Jeremiah around 700 BCE speaks of a coming “new covenant.”18 It includes that statement originally made to Abraham, “I will be their God, and they shall be my people,” and it emphasizes a coming inward spirituality (I will write my law on their hearts), and adds a reaffirmation of forgiveness. New Testament writers believe that this new covenant appeared with the arrival of Jesus. In fact, the very term New Testament is a claim that Jeremiah’s new covenant has arrived.19 The last book of the New Testament includes a vision of heaven in which the promise to Abraham comes to final fulfillment for those who are there: “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.”20
Animal sacrifice was practiced by the people of Israel during the Old Testament era, and right up to the time that the Romans destroyed the temple in CE 70. The third book of the Bible explains: “If the offering is a burnt offering from the herd, he is to offer a male without defect. … He is to lay his hand on the head of the burnt offering, and it will be accepted on his behalf to make atonement for him. He is to slaughter the bull before the LORD … and the priest is to burn all of it on the altar.”21 Sheep and birds were similarly burned as offerings. The New Testament writers believe that Jesus brought the sacrificial system to an end by becoming the final sacrifice.22 The background of those many centuries of animal sacrifice made it possible to understand the meaning of the death of Jesus. When a New Testament figure called John the Baptist pointed out Jesus and said “behold the lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world”23 the hearers understood he was applying the concept of animal sacrifice to Jesus, who said of himself “the son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a sacrifice for many.”24 The Book of Hebrews summarizes the Old Testament belief that “no sins can be forgiven unless blood is offered,”25 and adds that Christ “offered himself once and for all, so he could be a sacrifice that does away with sin.” 26
The Greek Old Testament
The New Testament writers relied on the Old Testament to come up with the vocabulary for writing about Jesus in the Greek language. By 130 BCE, Jewish scholars in Alexandria, Egypt had translated the TaNaKh into Greek. They had done the hard work of finding a fitting Greek word for each term in the Hebrew vocabulary. For example, what to call God? They chose the word theos, which the Greeks used for their many gods. Though the Greek word alone did not encompass the concept of a single creator God, the use of the word to express the nature of the God of Abraham became clear through seeing the acts of God recorded in the TaNaKh. By the first century, the Greek words selected had gained specific biblical meanings within the community of Jews. That is, when a Jewish person read the word theos in the Greek translation, he did not think of the Greek Gods Zeus or Dionysius, but associated the word with the God of Abraham.(The same process has had to take place every time the Bible is translated into another language: words are selected from the new language, and when they are put in to the context of the Bible sentences, they gain the connotation needed to reproduce the biblical concepts).
This translation process implies that in order to understand a New Testament passage, it is not enough to find out how a given vocabulary word was used by classical Greek writers. The most important thing is to find out which Hebrew concept lay behind the Greek term selected by the Jewish translators. To find this out, one needs to find that word in the Old Testament Greek translation, called the Septuagint,27 and then check which Hebrew word it was translating. That is why Christian seminary students typically are required to study Hebrew.
My favorite example is atonement. This English word tells us the end result of the vocabulary word, that is, being “at one” with God, but does not translate the word itself. The Hebrew word in question is used to describe a lid which was put on a box called the covenant box (also called ark of the covenant). Once a year blood was sprinkled on this lid to effect forgiveness for the people of Israel.28 The word for the lid was also transformed into a verb which described the action that took place on the lid, that is, bringing about forgiveness through the application of blood. When the scholars selected the Greek word for the lid, they made sure to use the same word both for the lid itself, and for the action perpetrated upon the lid. The New Testament writers use this word to explain the meaning of the death of Jesus. English translators use various words to translate these this concept, including atonement, atoning sacrifice, propitiation, and expiation. For example, an important New Testament verse talks about Jesus Christ “whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood.” I feel that the Good News translation does a good job of presenting the intended meaning in its translation of that same verse, by writing “God offered Him (Jesus) so that by His blood he should become the means by which people’s sins are forgiven.” 28-1
Other Word Choices
A special translation challenge is how to express God’s name. God does tell his name to Moses. The Hebrew phrase used for God’s name has been translated as “I am who I am,”29 after that usually abbreviated to “I am.” Scholars have concluded that the name might have been pronounced like this: “Yahweh.” Though God says that He wants to be known by that name, sometime after the Old Testament was finished around 400 BCE, the Jewish people stopped pronouncing this name. The purpose is said to be to accord it special honor and to avoid desecrating it (one of the ten commandments warns not to use God’s name irreverently). So when Jews read the Old Testament aloud, and they came to the letters for God’s name, they did not pronounce it. Instead they substituted a generic word for Lord, “Adonai.” That custom of using the word “Lord” when the consonants for Yahweh appear has been continued in translations into most languages. The Septuagint (and thus the New Testament) uses the Greek word for Lord, Kyrie, the word that was used to acclaim the Emperors. In the 18th century someone in England combined the consonants for Yahweh with the vowels of Adonai and created the word “Jehovah” as another way to say God’s name.
A word choice that causes difficulty in English is the word chosen to represent Torah, which means teaching, and is also used to refer to the first five books of the Bible. The scholars chose the Greek word “nomos,” which does not mean teaching; rather it means “law,” in a wide sense, wider than the word teaching. That has led to an English translation like the following verse, which uses the word law (nomos) multiple times, each time with a different meaning. I have added those meanings in brackets. Paul writes: “Therefore no one will be declared righteous in God’s sight by the works of the law [doing good]; rather, through the law [God’s demands] we become conscious of our sin. But now apart from the law [commands] the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law [Torah] and the Prophets testify. This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe.” 30
The Jews who translated the TaNaKh into Greek also provided Greek names for each book of the Bible. For example, the first book is called Bereshit (in the beginning) in Hebrew, but the translators chose the Greek word Genesis (generations). The English names for the books are for the most part simply the Greek names written with English letters.
So when the New Testament authors wrote about Jesus in Greek, they had a ready-made vocabulary, already widely understood, and did not have to coin any new words.
Jesus’ respect for the Old Testament
The New Testament constitutes the teachings of those who believe that Jesus is God and savior.
Jesus himself is a Jew. His high regard for the TaNaKh is shown in his pronouncement about the strokes used in writing Hebrew letters that “one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled.”31 (Law in this sentence means The Torah, the first five books.) In the Gospel of Matthew he answers the question about the commandments of God by quoting the Torah “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind”, and “you shall love your neighbor as yourself.”32 When his disciples asked him to teach them to pray, his answer was a prayer that some have noted could have been acceptable to a rabbi of his time. In my paraphrase, the themes in the prayer include: “Our Father in heaven, we revere your name, we desire that all come under your kingship, we desire the implementation of your will, we acknowledge dependence on You for all we need, we implore forgiveness, and pledge to treat others with forgiveness. We ask you to keep us safe from evil.” 33
Jesus went further, though: he claimed the authority to correct or to add to teachings of the TaNaKh. He said, “you have heard that the ancients were told, “you shall not commit murder,”34 and “whoever commits murder shall be liable to the court.” But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother shall be guilty before the court.” He is quoting from the Ten Commandments. By using the phrase “but I say to you,” he means his authority is greater than those commandments. Since the commandments were handed down through Moses, Jesus means he is the successor to Moses that Moses predicted when he wrote “The LORD God shall raise up for you a prophet like me from among your brethren; to him you shall give heed in everything he says to you.”35 Peter quotes this verse and explicitly applies it to Jesus.36
A unique Christian way of using Old Testament concepts is the idea of “typology.” Various Old Testament figures are called “types” of Christ, meaning that those figures showed certain characteristics in a small way that were descriptive of what Jesus would do in a larger way. For example, Joseph endured unjust punishment yet did not stop trusting God, and in the end his difficulties resulted in saving the lives of many people. He had been made a slave, but in the end he was exalted to the position of second in command for all of Egypt. These are also characteristics of Jesus, as Paul writes “he made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness, and being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross. Therefore God exalted him to the highest place, and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow … and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”37
By giving Jesus the title “Christ,” the followers of Jesus indicate they believe that He is a figure that the Old Testament refers to as “messiah,” for Christ is the Greek translation of the Hebrew term mashiach, pronounced in English as Messiah.”38 Mashiach means “anointed one,” and anointing was associated with kingship. Around 1000 BCE David was anointed as the first in a line of kings that lasted for 500 years.
Psalm 2 is important for understanding the concept of a Messiah. Some scholars think that this Psalm might have been sung at the anointing ceremonies for the kings in the line of David. The psalm describes the rulers of the world as being in rebellion against the LORD and his anointed one (Messiah).39 The LORD in response affirms that He has set up the anointed one as a king,40 and declares that this king is chosen by him to defeat the rebellion.
The LORD calls this anointed one “my Son,” and decrees that he will become ruler over those rebellious nations, using the phraseology “rule them with an iron scepter.” Verse 14 tells those in rebellion to “kiss the son” in order to avoid destruction; the second half of the verses expresses this necessity of acceptance and submission toward the son with the words “blessed are those who take refuge in him.” Psalm 110 adds that the Messiah is at the right hand of God, and that the enemies are made a footstool. In summary, the kings in David’s line are called “anointed ones,” and the anointed king is one who triumphs over those in rebellion against God.
God made a promise to David that the line of kings descended from him will endure forever.40 When the last descendant of David was dethroned in 587 BC, it seemed that the promise of an eternal kingship had failed. The response by many was to believe that this eternal king would appear in the future. That was the beginning of the “messianic hope.” Associated with the coming of that future king was to be the defeat of Israel’s enemies, the arrival of the Kingdom of God, and an era of peace, the “messianic age.”41
That “messianic hope” was at a high pitch during the era when Jesus appeared, because the Jews were then under subjection to the Romans. A New Testament example of this hope is the description of a man named Simeon, who “was waiting for the consolation of Israel,” and “it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.”41-1 (that is, he was expecting the Messiah).
Jesus claimed to be the expected Messiah, for in John chapter 4, a woman tells Jesus she is awaiting the Messiah, and Jesus answers “I who speak to you am he.”42
The New Testament writers take pains to connect the descriptions of a Messiah to Jesus, often emphasizing that He is a descendant of David. Twice a voice from the clouds says about Jesus “you are my Son,”43 thus quoting Psalm 2. Jesus refuses an attempt to crown him by force, but the week before his death he rides into Jerusalem on a donkey and the crowd calls him “son of David,”43 thus treating him as that king expected to appear in the Davidic line. As a king, Jesus the Messiah would be expected to have a kingdom, and that makes it suitable that he would be the one who announced “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”44
Commentators have noted several reasons to consider why Jesus could not have been the awaited Messiah: He did not free the Jews from Roman oppression, and He did not usher in a Messianic age of peace. These are important points, and apparently Jesus’ followers did have the expectation that a messianic age ruled by Jesus would bring a military victory, for in Acts 1 they ask him: “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”45 (in other words, they expected him to defeat the Romans militarily). Jesus reply was “it is not for you to know the times and dates the Father has set.” Jesus then told them their role was to tell the world about him and what he had done. This verse shows me that the disciples believed Jesus was the Messiah. They then did proceed to spread the news about Jesus as he asked, even though he had not met their expectations.
It is true that Jesus did not defeat the Romans and did not impose world peace. The Book of Hebrews provides the explanation that the Messiah comes in two stages: “so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, shall appear a second time, not to bear sin, to those who eagerly await him, for salvation.” 49 The conquering of enemies and the imposition of peace will be finalized at the end of the world..47 In the last book of the Bible, picturing that second arrival of the messiah, Jesus is publicly called King of Kings, and the language of Psalm 2 is applied to him: he will rule the nations with an iron scepter.50 “Every knee will bow, and every tongue confess that Jesus the Messiah is Lord.”37
For now, the way that the messianic kingdom is present does not involve coercion, for Jesus said that his kingdom is “not of this world.”46 There is not peace everywhere yet, but the peace of Christ rules in our hearts..48
The New Testament is full of examples of how the messianic kingdom exists at present. When Jesus performed a healing or cast out a demon, it was called a sign that the kingdom of God has come. Many of the parables that Jesus told began this way: “the kingdom of God is like …” and he then proceeded to talk not about the future but how about we live in the present, often emphasizing grace and mercy in contrast with getting one’s just desserts. One parable was about a mustard seed that becomes a huge tree, and one can see this in the expansion of Jesus-believers from a few disciples to one fourth of the world’s population,88 by sharing the simple message of God’s love and His dealings with sin. In individual lives, demonic forces are being overcome, people are being set free from bondage, and people are changing their allegiance from putting self first to putting God first. In the forgiveness brought by the messiah in the present age, another promise to Abraham is taking place. God had told him: “In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed”87
So the messianic Kingdom of God envisioned in the TaNaKh is present, working in human hearts, but has not replaced outward political arrangements, because the second coming has not arrived.
Son of Man
Jesus also called himself “son of man.”51 This phrase has messianic connotations. I join others in regarding Jesus use of this title as Jesus applying to himself a vision of a “son of man” recorded in the Old Testament book of Daniel.52 That supernatural figure is described as “coming with the clouds,” having “authority over the nations,” “worshipped by people of every language,” and having an everlasting kingdom. That overlaps with the concept of Messiah. When Jesus used the title “son of man” about himself, he was claiming that he is the figure seen by Daniel and that therefore he is the expected Messiah. During his trial, he even added the phrase about “coming with the clouds.”53
The Results for non-Jews
The apostle Paul teaches Christians that “if you belong to Christ, you are now part of Abraham’s family, and you will be given what God has promised.”54 That promise is the covenant in which God said to Abraham “I will be God to you and to your descendants.”16 Jesus refers to the words of Jeremiah about a “new covenant”18 when he establishes the rite of taking bread and wine together (called the Lord’s Supper, Holy Communion, and Eucharist), by saying “this cup is the new covenant in my blood, which is shed for you.”55Paul also teaches that Jesus-believers are grafted onto the foundation of the Old Testament People of God,56 and Peter quoting from the Old Testament prophet Hosea in fact says to them “once you were no people, but now you are the people of God,”57 and in fact applies to Jesus-believers the phrase that had been used to describe the Old Testament people of God: “you are a chosen race.”58 The Greek word chosen by the Jewish scholars to represent a gathering of the people of God, ecclesia, continues to be used in the New Testament to represent the gathering of Jesus-believers; this word is customarily translated into English as “church.”
Numerous places in the New Testament say about an event “this happened to fulfil the scripture” and then quotes an Old Testament verse. This shows that the writers and their listeners looked to the Old Testament as an authority. It is intriguing to me to see the various ways these connections are made. Some are direct fulfillments of prophecy, such as the indication of Bethlehem as the place from which a ruler will come “whose origins are of old” who will “shepherd the flock,” whose greatness “will reach to the ends of the world” and who will “bring peace.”59 Jewish scholars of the first century thought of this verse when asked where the king of the Jews was to be born.60 Jesus himself speaking in a synagogue quoted a statement from the Old Testament book of Isaiah61 and then announced that it referred to himself by saying “today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”62 In other cases the New Testament writers see an action that reminds them of a line in the Old Testament. An example is the action of the Roman soldiers when after they nailed Jesus to the cross they gambled to see who could keep Jesus’ cloak.63 The New Testament writer makes the connection to Psalm 22, which says “they cast lots for my clothing,” and says that the verse was fulfilled by the soldier’s actions. I believe we should consider that in many cases it was Jesus himself who told them about connections like this. In the Gospel of Luke he is talking to two followers, and “beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the scriptures concerning himself” and that “everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses (Torah), the Prophets, and the Psalms.”64 (those 3 constitute the TaNaKh). Luke specifically says that Jesus, “opened their minds so they could understand the scriptures,”65 specifically noting how His suffering and resurrection were forecast in the Jewish scriptures. Those insights from Jesus then are the content that makes up the New Testament message. As Paul began carrying the Christian message around the Mediterranean world, it is noted that when talking in the synagogues he “reasoned with them from the scriptures” (that is, from the TaNaKh), explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead.66
Another example is found when a Jesus-believer named Philip converses with a traveler who is reading from the Old Testament book of Isaiah, “he was led like a sheep to the slaughter.” Beginning with the verse, Philip told him about Jesus.67 This passage about the suffering servant, Isaiah chapter 53, is generally taken by Jews to refer to the chosen people, and by Christians to refer to Jesus. Jesus himself encouraged the latter interpretation: “How foolish you are and how slow of heart to believe all the prophets have spoken. Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” 68
Jesus as God
It is central to Christian belief that Jesus is both God and man. One could wonder how Jesus’ first followers, who were committed monotheists, could adopt a complex concept of God that would allow for the possibility that Jesus is God, as he claimed when he said “I and the father are one.”86 I believe that it was the experience of seeing Christ raised from the dead that took away any doubts about whether the words of Jesus were true. In fact, it is hard for me to imagine that Christianity could have emerged at all without the belief in Christ’s resurrection. After the resurrection, it was natural for the New Testament writers to look back at the authority of God’s Word in the TaNaKh to find correspondences with their experience of Jesus, and some of these correspondences from the Old Testament undergird the concept that Jesus is God.
For example, Jesus does the things that only God can do: The Old Testament says God is the only savior; the New calls Jesus a savior.69 God is called judge of all; Jesus says he will judge.70 Only God can forgive, and Jesus says he has been given authority to forgive.71 God is the creator, and Jesus is called creator.72
Jesus has the characteristics of God: God cannot die, and Jesus also defeated death73 God does not change; the same is said about Jesus.74 Only God is holy; Jesus is called holy.75
The responses due to God alone are also given to Jesus. Jesus tells us to worship God only, and then accepts worship.76Every knee must bow to God; Paul writes that every knee will bow to Jesus.77 God says he will not give his glory to others; Jesus asks the Father to give him again the glory he had with God before the world was made.78 The Old Testament says to believe only in God; John writes that those who believe in the son have eternal life.79
Seeing Jesus alive with marks of his crucifixion in his hands and sides was certainly enough for his disciple Thomas to exclaim “my Lord and my God.” 80 Even the enemies of Jesus realized he was claiming to be equal with God.81
Making God Known
John wrote about Jesus, “No one has ever seen God. The only Son, who is the same as God and is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.”82 Jesus declared “anyone who has seen me has seen the father.”83 This concept that Jesus comes from the Father and communicates the father is enlarged in the book of Hebrews, writing that: “God has spoken to us in his Son, through whom he made the universe” and that Jesus is “the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being.”84 An early Christian writer explained this by comparing Jesus to a sun ray. The ray is a piece of the sun, but goes out from the sun, and without getting into our eyes, we would not know that the sun exists.
Because of the resurrection, and the correspondences with the TaNaKh, the Jewish believers, though monotheists, could accept the claims of Jesus as God, and therefore accept that the messiah could be divine. As man, Jesus could communicate with them, empathize with their weaknesses, and subject himself to death. As God, Jesus had infinite value so his one sacrifice was enough to bring about forgiveness for all.
Paul illustrates the Christian use of the TaNaKh when he describes himself as one who is set aside to share the gospel (the good news about Jesus), good news that was “promised beforehand through His prophets in the Holy Scriptures (that’s the TaNaKh), regarding His Son, who as to his human nature was a descendant of David (the promised eternal king), and who through the spirit of holiness was declared to be the Son of God by his resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.”85
Right up to today, the followers of Christ, while conceiving of One God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, have continued to reverence and use the pre-Christian revelation, the TaNaKh, as authoritative and as essential for knowing God .
The footnotes are primarily references to Bible verses. The capital letters show the Bible edition used when the verse is in quotation marks in the text above. The Bibles quoted from are:
CEV Contemporary English Version © 1995 by American Bible Society
ESV English Standard Version © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News publishers
NKJV New King James Version Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
NASB New American Standard Bible © 1963 by the Lockman Foundation
NIV New International Version © 1989 by the Zondervan Corporation
TEV, also called Good News Bible. Second Edition © 1992 by United Bible Societies
If you do not have access to a Bible, you can cut and paste a reference from the list below into the search box at biblehub.com
1 1 Samuel 17:41-50
2 Genesis 45:3-8
3 Daniel 3:14-18
3-1 Parts of Daniel and Ezra were written in Aramaic, a language related to Hebrew that had been used in commerce and diplomacy since the 800’s BCE.
4 The idea of dividing history into before and after the time of Christ was developed by Dionysius Exiguus around 500 C. I grew up accustomed to using BC (before Christ) and AD (Latin for anno domini, “the year of our Lord.” See article under his name in Oxford Concise Dictionary of the Christian Church, ed. E. A. Livingston, © 2000 by Oxford University Press, Oxford
5 Statistics of world religions found at http://www.thedailyrecords.com/2018-2019-2020-2021/world-famous-top-10-list/world/largest-religion-in-the-world-fastest-growing/20404/ show Islam at 23%, Christianity at 32%, plus Jews at 20 million.
6 These quotes are listed in an index (pages 897 to 900) in The Greek New Testament, edited by Kurt Aland et. al., © 1966 by United Bible Societies.
7 Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and others such as Ethiopian orthodox and Coptic (Egyptian) Christians have various selections of books besides the TaNaKh and the New Testament that they regard as part of their Bibles . These books were written in Greek by Jews in the centuries just before the coming of Christ. They tell details about the ninety-year independence of the Jewish people from their Greek conquerors, and include inspiring stories about faithfulness to God under pressure. These books are called “apocrypha,” which means “hidden,” because they were placed in between the books written in Hebrew. Today’s Roman Catholic church calls them “deutero-canonical,” which means “second list of authorized books.” The Protestant churches decided in the sixteenth century to regard as Bible only the Hebrew writings (the TaNaKh) plus the New Testament.
8 2 Timothy 3:16 NIV
9 1 Peter 1:3. NIV. See also the article Marcion in Oxford op. Cit.
10 Numbers 6:24-26 NIV
11 1 John 4:8 NIV
12 Jeremiah 31:3 NIV
13 Genesis 15:6 ESV. Paul quotes it in Romans 4:3.
14 John 2:19
15 I Corinthians 3:16
16 Genesis 17:7 NASB
17 Deuteronomy 7:6 “The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for His own possession” NASB
18 Jeremiah 31:31-34
19 Hebrews 8:6-13
20 Revelation 21:3 ESV
21 Leviticus 1:3, 4, 5, 9 NIV
22 Hebrews 9:24-28
23 John 1:29 ESV
24 Matthew 20:28 NIV
25 Hebrews 9:22 CEV summarizes the Old Testament concept of forgiveness as related to blood.
26 Hebrews 9:26 CEV
27 The word Septuagint means 70, and is so called because it is said to have had 70 (or 72) translators. It is abbreviated by its Roman Numerals, LXX.
28 Other English translations call that lid the “mercy seat” or the “atonement cover.” The Hebrew consonants for it are KPR. Adding vowels, the lid is called the kapporet. According to Leviticus 16:13-16, The high priest sprinkled blood on the lid once a year. The end result is called kipper, that is, by the use of blood the Holy Place is cleansed and the sins of the people are forgiven. The New Testament refers to this process in Hebrews 9:7. The same term is the name of the Jewish holy day Yom Kippur, Day of Atonement. The Greek word chosen is “hilasterion.”
28-1 Romans 3:25. The first version is ESV, the Good News version is TEV. You can compare 30 versions of any Bible verse at biblehub.com
29 Exodus 3:14 NIV. This film clip presents research showing the possibility that God’s name was pronounced “Yehowah,” and that this name was still pronounced in Jesus’ day, showing that the substitution of the word “Lord” dates from 130 CE. In most English Bibles today, when the word LORD is spelled all in caps, that indicates that it is substituting for the name of God.
30. Romans 3:20-23 NIV
31 Matthew 5:18 NKJV
32 Deuteronomy 6:15 and Leviticus 19:18, quoted in Matthew 22:38-39 NKJV
33 The Lord’s Prayer is in Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4
34 Matthew 5:21-22 NASB
35 Deuteronomy 18:15 NASB
36 Acts 3:20-23 NASB
37 Philippians 2:5-11
38 David anointed: 1 Samuel 16:13. Christ means Messiah: John 1:41. Background of choosing David: David was descended from Jacob’s son Judah. When Jacob blessed his son Judah (Genesis 49:8-12), he associated Judah with kingship by using the words “scepter” and “ruler’s staff” and said that there would be a future person who will carry out this role as ruler.39 Though the first king, Saul, was not from the tribe of Judah, the next king, David, was. In the 900’s BCE the Israelites divided into a northern and a southern kingdom. The northern kingdom selected kings from various tribes, but the kings of the southern kingdom, called Judah after its largest province, carried on the line of kingship going back to David. When Revelation 5:5 calls Jesus the lion of Judah it is underscoring this connection between Jesus and kingship.
39 the Septuagint translators use the word Christ for the anointed one in Psalm 2
40 Psalm 2 also introduced the word “begotten” into theological terminology. In the Psalm, the LORD says to his anointed one, “You are my son, today I have begotten you.” Since it would have been addressed to someone taking on the role of king on the day of his anointing, it is easy to see that begotten does not here refer to physical birth, but to the bestowal of a role. The Jewish translators of the Septuagint chose a Greek word that was used both of physical birth (Abraham begat Isaac) and of assuming a new role (Paul writes to his converts, “through Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel” (1 Corinthians 4:15 NKJV). The book of Hebrews quotes Psalm 2 in reference to Jesus (Hebrews 1:5 and 5:5). The term is used in the Nicene Creed where it is contrasted with a physical birth, to assert that the role of “son” extends back into eternity. Speaking of Jesus, the creed says “begotten of his father before all worlds … begotten, not made, being of one substance with the father.”
41 Isaiah chapter 11 is the place that talks about the wolf lying down with the lamb; this will happen because of a shoot from the stem of Jesse (that is, someone in the line of David, because Jesse was David’s father), and so it is a description of the messianic kingdom.
41-1 Luke 2:25-27 NIV
42 John 4:25-26
43 Matthew 3:17 and Matthew 17:2 NIV
44 Mark 1:15 ESV
45 Acts 1:6-8 NIV
46 John 18:36 NIV
47 Revelation 11:15
48 Philippians 4:7
49 Hebrews 9:28 NKJV
50 Revelation 19:11-16
51 Mark 2:16 and many other places
52 Daniel 7:13-14 NIV
53 Mark 14:62 ESV
54 Galatians 3:29 CEV
55 Luke 22:20 NKJV
56 Romans 11:17-21 NASB
57 1 Peter 2:10 NIV
58 1 Peter 2:9 NASB quoting Deuteronomy 10:15
59 Micah 5:2-5 NIV
60 Matthew 2:4-6
61 Isaiah 61:1-2 NASB
62 Luke 4:21 NASB
63 John 19:24 CEV, quoting from Psalm 22:18 NIV
64 Luke 24:27 and Luke 24:44-46 NIV, where Jesus says the TaNaKh foretold his suffering and resurrection.. In John 5:39 Jesus also directly affirms that the scriptures (TaNaKh) do speak about Him.
65 Luke 24.45 NIV
66 Acts 17:2-3 NIV
67 Acts 8:30-35 NIV
68 Luke 24:25-26 NIV
69 Isaiah 43:11; Luke 2:11 and Titus 1:4.
70 Hebrews 12:23, John 5:22
71 Mark 2:7, Colossians 1:14
72 Acts 4:24; John 1:3 and Colossians 1:16
73 1 Timothy 1:17 and Acts 2:24
74 Malachi 3:6; Hebrews 13:8
75 Revelation 15:4; John 6:69
76 Luke 4:8; Matthew 28:10; John 5:23
77 Isaiah 45:23; Philippians 2:10
78 Isaiah 42:8; John 14:6, John 17:5
79 Joshua 24:23-24; Psalm 146:3; John 6:46-47
80 John 20:28 NIV
81 John 5:18
82 John 1:18 TEV
83 John 14:9 NASB
84 Hebrews 1:1-3 NIV
85 Romans 1:2-4 NIV
86 John 10:30 NIV
87 Genesis 22:18 Paul in Galatians 3:16 takes note of the fact that the word seed is singular, not plural, and so he says it refers to Christ.
88 Isaiah recorded the LORD telling him that His intention was for the light not to be restricted to the descendants of Jacob but to be a “light to the nations so that My salvation may reach to the end of the earth.” Isaiah 49:6.NIV This was to be done by “God’s servant,” interpreted by Judaism as the people of Israel and by Christians as Jesus as a representative of Israel. Paul in Acts 13:47 quotes this line as his justification for telling the non-Jews about Jesus. Also see footnote 5 about world religion statistics.
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