Print Friendly, PDF & Email

There is a growing attitude in our world that the Old Testament may no longer be relevant. The New Testament has replaced it. Replaced by Jesus and His command to just love one another. This could hardly be further from the Truth. We will look at both Testaments and see what we can find to counter any claims of either obsolescence or oversimplification.

Humanity’s Mission, Partially Defined

(Genesis 1:26)1NIV New International Version Translations  – ”Then God said, ‘Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’”

The Old Testament contains 39 books divided into several categories: The Pentateuch (Torah) – 5 books; Historical Books – 12 books; Wisdom Books (Writings) – 5 books; Major Prophets – 5 books; and the Minor Prophets – 12 books. Some denominations include 10 extra deuterocanonical books called the “Apocrypha.” The Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew. It covers a period from the creation of the world (typically dated around 4000 BC) to around the 4th century BC. This timeline includes numerous events, and stories that include the lives of patriarchs like Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the exodus of the Israelites from Egypt, the establishment of the kingdom of Israel, the reigns of various kings, and the prophets who delivered messages from God to the people of Israel and Judah. The 27 books of the New Testament are divided into 4 sections: the Gospels – 4 books; the Acts of the Apostles – 1 book; the Epistles or Letters – 21 books; and Revelation – 1 book. The original writings of the New Testament were written in Greek. The New Testament covers about 70 years, from the birth of Christ to His death and resurrection. The last book, Revelation, foretells the eventual return and the ultimate victory of God over evil.

The word “testament” means “covenant,” so these two major biblical divisions, old and new, refer to the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. A covenant in the Bible is a “solemn agreement between two parties, in which one or both promise to perform certain actions.”  The Old Covenant refers to the agreement God made with the nation of Israel in which he promised, “I will be your God, and you will be my people” (Leviticus 26:12). God first made this covenant with Abraham, the father of the Jewish people, and reaffirmed it with his descendants (such as Jacob, Moses, and David).

God also promised in the Old Testament, that He would make a new covenant with Israel that would also extend to all of humanity (Jeremiah 31:31; Joel 2:28). This covenant was established by Jesus Christ, and the New Testament tells the story of how Jesus brought it about through His life, death, and resurrection (1 Corinthians 11:23-26).

The Old Testament remains relevant for several compelling reasons. It is a place where we first see the footprints of our Creator and begin to understand His character. We also find evil there too. It provides us with a glimpse of who our enemies are in this world. The oldest book (the first one written) in the Old Testament is a matter of debate. However, a group of scholars believe Job to be among the earliest. Although the exact date remains uncertain, strong evidence suggests that Job lived in the 2nd millennium BC. Consequently, the Book of Job was likely written around that time, making it the oldest book in the Bible. It is in the Book of Job that we first begin to see God and Satan in our world. It is how we begin to know both.

The Old Testament not only provides a foundation for knowing the God we cannot see but also lays the groundwork for the Incarnate God that the world can see, Jesus Christ. Here we find the Mosaic Law, Israel’s history, and prophecies about the Messiah. Without this context, there is no basis for understanding the New Testament. The Old Testament contains valuable teachings about God’s heart, His ways, and His wisdom. It provides us with insights into human nature, sin, redemption, and the consequences of disobedience. It offers us the first glimpse of God’s plan for humanity. The Old Testament points us to prophecies, demonstrating the continuity between the two testaments. The Old Testament points us to Jesus Himself as the promised Messiah. We also find the foundational teachings, laws, history, and prophecies of the Christian faith.

The many stories, laws, and teachings found in the Old Testament provide timeless ethical and moral principles that are still applicable today. These include principles such as love, justice, compassion, humility, and the importance of community. Jesus did not supersede these; He came to reinforce them.

(Matthew 5:17-18) – “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them. For truly I tell you, until heaven and earth disappear, not the smallest letter, not the least stroke of a pen, will by any means disappear from the Law until everything is accomplished.”

Many themes and issues addressed in the Old Testament—such as the pursuit of justice, care for the marginalized, stewardship of the environment, and the quest for meaning and purpose—remain relevant in every modern society. The Old Testament offers valuable insights and guidance on how to navigate these complex issues. It is a living document that continues to be interpreted, studied, and applied in diverse ways by religious scholars, theologians, and even ordinary people. While its teachings and messages are open to reinterpretation and application in response to changing cultural, social, and ethical contexts, God’s Truth remains steadfast. By searching for Truth in the 4,000+ years of history, the Old Testament continues to inspire, challenge, and teach individuals and communities around our world.

The authorship of both the Old Testament and New Testament is a complex and debated topic among scholars. Traditional Jewish and Christian belief attributes the authorship of various books to different individuals, including prophets, scribes, and leaders, all under divine inspiration. If one considers that the many books were composed by multiple authors or communities over an extended period, then proven by archeology, wisdom, and consistency, there is no doubt why the Bible is considered the inspired Word of God. It is the Bible’s diversity of thought and story that establishes its uniqueness. The Bible holds the distinction of being the best-selling book of all time. Estimates exceed 5 billion copies sold and distributed worldwide. The Bible has had a profound impact on history, culture, and spirituality, making it a cornerstone of human literature. As of 2020, the full Bible has been translated into 704 languages. The New Testament has been translated into 1,551 languages, and parts of the Bible have been translated into 1,160 additional languages.

The entire Bible, including the Old and New Testaments, tells the story of God’s rescue of humankind from the consequences of their free will and sin. The Old Testament tells the story of paradise lost, and in the New Testament, paradise restored.

(Revelation 21:3) – “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God.’”


Salvation by Faith: The New Testament emphasizes salvation by faith in Jesus Christ. While the Old Testament contains glimpses of this Truth, the New Testament clarifies that faith in Jesus is central to our relationship with God. Good works and obedience to the Law no longer contribute to salvation; it is through faith in Christ’s sacrifice that we are reconciled with our God.

God’s Triune Nature: The Old Testament hints at God’s Trinitarian nature (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). However, the New Testament explicitly reveals this truth:

  • Jesus, the Son, claims His divinity (John 10:33).
  • The Father is acknowledged in heaven (Matthew 6:9).
  • The Holy Spirit is recognized as God (Acts 5:3-4).

God’s Mission and Hope: The New Testament not only commands Christians to engage in God’s mission but also to tell the story of that mission. It reveals the motives and methods of the apostles, offering hope to believers as they participate in God’s redemptive work.

Jesus as the Suffering Servant: The New Testament identifies Jesus as fulfilling Old Testament prophecies. He is the suffering servant predicted by Isaiah, offering salvation to all (Matthew 12:15-21; Luke 4:16-21; Hebrews 9:11-28; 1 John 2:1-2).

In summary, the Old Testament is essential to having a true understanding of the Bible and God’s unfolding of His plan of Creation. The New Testament deepens our understanding of God’s love, grace, and redemptive plan through Jesus Christ. Together, they unveil the heart of God and invite us into a personal relationship with Him.


  • How do you spend time with the Bible?
    • Ideas to Explore: Audiobooks, reading, studying using supplemental commentary, discussion groups, listening to sermons and others speaking on God’s Word, the Internet, etc. (There is no incorrect way)
  • What are your goals when you spend time with God’s Word?
    • Ideas to Explore: Grow in faith, remove concerns, seek answers to questions you have about our world, find hope, etc.
  • Do you see the Old and New Testaments as one story?
    • Ideas to Explore: Is it one story to you?
  • How do you reconcile those parts of the story that are difficult to understand or believe?
    • Ideas to Explore: Our salvation is faith-based. Faith is believing in what we cannot see or understand. Would you expect to find every answer to every question in God’s Word?
  • If salvation is a process based on repentance and faith, where do you see the benefits of God’s entire story changing your life and giving you hope?
    • Ideas to Explore: Our time in this world constitutes a process called sanctification. That is, walking and getting to know our Savior. Like any walk, it has a destination. Where is yours?
  • 1
    NIV New International Version Translations