Transitioning to the New Testament
By Don Ruhl
What is the Bible for? We do not read it for pure enjoyment, although we do enjoy reading it. We do not read it for its interesting content, although its content is extremely interesting. We read it to live. Either way we do read it.
We have noted the Bible as literature and the Bible in literature, but we need to know what kind of literature it is and how people use the Bible. Keep these things in mind:
- Both the Jews and Christians teach the Scriptures.
- The Hebrew Scriptures form the foundation of the New Testament (Matt 5.17, 18; Luke 24.44).
- Genesis through Malachi show God’s view of the world and the New Testament shows that Jesus is the fulfillment of those first thirty-nine books (Rom 10.4; Gal 3.24).
- The Hebrew Scriptures taught that someone was coming. (While the Jews still wait for the Messiah to come the first time—one of the reasons they pray at the wailing wall—Christians believe He already came and will come a second time.)
- The Four Gospels teach that He came.
- The remainder of the New Testament teaches that He is coming again.
- Testament is another word for covenant, with some variations. A testament describes what one wishes after his death. A covenant is an agreement between two parties.
- Christ is not the last name of Jesus, but His title.
- Christ is the New Testament or Greek equivalent of Messiah in the Hebrew Scriptures.
- Christ and Messiah mean “anointed one.”
- Thus, Christians are anointed ones.
First there was Judaism, then Christianity. The first disciples were Jews. In the Gospels, any reference to Scripture means the Old Testament. However, the Hebrew Scriptures spoke of a new set of Scripture coming (Jer 31.31, 32).
Paul explained that Jesus was the One who brought in that New Covenant (1Co 11.25, 26).
Jesus taught that love was the basis of the Law and Paul taught that love still stands for Christians (Matt 22.37–40; Gal 5.14).
Yet, sadly, most of the Jews have rejected Jesus as the Messiah and even persecuted the early Christians for that belief. The Book of Acts shows a continuation of the conflict that arose between Jesus and the Jews.
While the Old Testament was written in classic Hebrew, the New Testament was written in koine Greek, which was the common language or street language of the people.
The Old Testament took over a thousand years to write. The New Testament was written in about fifty years.
The New is much smaller than the Old and the New focuses upon One Man.
Passages from both the Old and New Testaments comprise the text of Messiah. Charles Jennens arranged the passages and Handel wrote the music in 24 days! Messiah is in three parts:
- The promise and birth of the Messiah
- The suffering, death, and rising of the Messiah
- The defeat of death
Therefore, Messiah parallels the story of the Bible. As an interesting note, Handel used text painting, which uses the melody to mimic the lyrics. If the lyrics speak of mountains, then the music forms a mountain, etc.