Topic of the Month

Christ in the Old Testament

Is Jesus in the Old Testament?

We often read our Bibles as if Jesus made his first appearance in this world as a baby in the New Testament. Our story as Christians, we think, starts with the book of Matthew.

But the Bible’s witness to Jesus did not begin there. A common thread runs throughout the pages of our Bibles from the beginning of Genesis to the last page of Revelation: Christ.

Consider this. After Jesus’ resurrection, he joined two downcast men walking the long, dusty road to Emmaus. The man they hoped was their long-awaited Messiah had been crucified, and now his body was missing from the grave, they told him. They did not recognize it was Jesus walking with them. Luke writes: “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets [the Hebrew Scriptures] he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself” (Luke 24:25), and later, “This is what I told you while I was still with you: Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms" (Luke 24:44).

At that time, there was no New Testament . . . it had not yet been penned. Jesus went right to what we call today the Old Testament and showed those two men everything their Hebrew Scriptures said about him.

At the inspiration of the Spirit, every story, event, and character in the Bible is knitted together to reveal Jesus. Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament helps us understand his redemptive work in the New. In Augustine’s words, “The New Testament is the Old concealed; the Old Testament is in the New revealed.” God’s plan never changed.

And one way to begin to recognize where Jesus shows in the Old Testament is through typology.

What is typology?

Typology is the study of Old Testament people, events, and institutions that parallel or correspond with a person, event, or institution in the New Testament. Related words include “picture” or “shadow.”

Though the word “typology” is not in the Bible, the idea is clear. Old Testament characters (like Isaac, Moses, and Joseph) are “types” of Christ—meaning, some of their behavior corresponds to Jesus’ character or actions in the New Testament. Events (the Red Sea crossing) and covenants (like the Abrahamic, Mosaic, and Noahic covenants) also foreshadow Christ. Even God’s feasts, listed in Leviticus 23 (like Passover, see Exod 12), prefigure the person and work of Christ (cf. 1 Cor 5:7).

The book of Hebrews says these “types” are a mere shadow of the “good things to come” (Heb 10:1) but not the reality itself. That reality “is found in Christ” (Col 2:17 NIV).

The substance of a tree is not in its shadow but the actual tree. The shadow only provides an idea of the real tree, an imperfect revelation of that object. So, too, is Jesus the substance or perfect revelation of every shadow, type, or picture in the Old Testament.

How Logos can help you learn more about Christ in the Old Testament

The Bible is our source for learning about Jesus and God’s purpose and plan throughout the Old and New Testaments. Because Logos is a tool designed to help you study God’s Word deeper, it’s a good addition to studying the Bible:

  • Read about Jesus in the Old Testament in digital books
  • Study the Bible with step-by-step guidance
  • Learn more about typology in commentaries, dictionaries, and study Bibles
  • Track what you learn with a built-in notes app created for Bible study

Courses


Mobile Ed: BI314 Matthew’s Use of the Old Testament: Kingdom and Christology (4 hour course)

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Mobile Ed: OT291 The Jewish Trinity: How the Old Testament Reveals the Christian Godhead (4 hour course)

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Mobile Ed: BI111 Typological Hermeneutics: Finding Christ in the Whole Bible (4 hour course)

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Resources


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