Generally speaking, members of the churches of Christ understand the difference between the Old and New Testaments. This difference contemplates more than narratives and historical events. The Old Testament and New Testament are distinctive in both character and content. The purpose of each is also unique. The contrasts seen in the parallels of these divisions of the Bible demonstrate the unique qualities of these two parts of the Bible, which together provide all truth revealed by God.
The Old Testament highlights man’s sin while the New emphasizes his salvation. In the Garden of Eden, man was tempted by the adversary and sinned against God (Gen. 3). From this point, man’s sin and lost state is continually underscored through sacrifices and offerings that never fully make the offerer perfect (cf. Heb. 10:1). However, the old covenant looked to the new to come when God would “no more” remember the sins of man (Jer. 31:34; cf. Heb. 8:12). With the New Testament, we find a greater emphasis on salvation from and forgiveness of sins (cf. Acts 4:12; Rom. 1:16; Eph. 1:13; 2 Tim. 2:10; et al.) by the one sacrifice of Jesus (cf. 1 Pet. 3:18). Remission, a word not found in the Old Testament, is introduced early in the New Testament text: “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Mt. 26:28). In short, the old covenant points to the new which was brought in by the Christ that man might be justified by faith (Gal. 3:22-24).
The Old Testament is filled with promises and prophecies of a Savior that was to come. In what must have seemed an enigma, God spoke of the Savior from the time of man’s fall: “And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Gen. 3:15). The words of Isaiah also escaped the understanding of the people when it was announced: “Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel” (Isa. 7:14). The Savior is also pictured in God’s promise to Abraham, “And in thy seed shall all the nations of the earth be blessed” (Gen. 22:18; cf. Gal. 3:16), and in the suffering servant of Isaiah (Isa. 52:13–53:12). The Savior of the Old Testament that was to come is revealed in the New Testament, fulfilling those things spoken centuries before:
And he said unto them, These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me. Then opened he their understanding, that they might understand the scriptures, And said unto them, Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day (Lk. 24:44-46).
The death of Jesus was a stone-bruise to the heel of the Christ (cf. Phil. 2:5-11), but His resurrection was a death blow to that old serpent called the Devil (Heb. 2:14; cf. Rom. 1:4; Acts 2:23-24). The very name of Jesus identifies His saving work (Mt. 1:21) as does His selfproclaimed purpose “to seek and to save that which was lost” (Lk. 9:10). The Savior promised in the Old Testament is seen walking among men and fulfilling His work in the New (John 1:14; 1 Jn. 1:1; 2 Pt. 1:16-18; cf. Lk. 1:2).
In addition to these, we could add the covenant of the Old Testament sealed with the blood of animals in contrast to the new covenant sealed with the blood of Jesus in the New (Ex. 24:7-8; Heb. 9:12-28), and the Levitical priesthood of the old which gave way to the priesthood of Jesus (Heb. 7:11-28). John perfectly summarized the distinction between the Old and New Testaments: “For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ” (Jn. 1:17). The fulness of God’s grace and truth, darkly seen in the Old Testament, was fully revealed (cf. Jn. 1:14) in the New by the coming of Jesus Christ.
Generally speaking, members of the churches of Christ understand the difference between the Old and New Testaments. The old points us to the Christ (Gal. 3:24), the new to salvation in the Christ. The old law, with its sacrifices, is no longer in effect but has been fulfilled in the Christ and nailed to His cross (Col. 2:14; Rom. 10:4). The religious world as a whole does not have this understanding. Let us give diligence to handle the word of truth properly (2 Tim. 2:15) and prepare ourselves to defend our hope in the Christ (1 Pt. 3:15).