Welcome to the first of a series of posts dedicated to exploring the hermeneutics of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Today we will be focusing on the four Gospels, beginning with the Gospel of Matthew. Because there are so many parallels between the four Gospels, I will only be highlighting outliers or other points of interest in the subsequent Gospels, as most of the Old Testament references to parallel texts in any given Gospel are identical to the three other Gopsels.
According to Logos (a Bible Study software made by FaithLife), there are 2,574 instances in which the New Testament uses or refers to the Old Testament. 514 of these instances have Our Lord Jesus Christ identified as the speaker. After inspecting the list, I’m inclined to believe the list should be longer, but this ought to suffice for our purposes.
Why is this interesting? Why am I writing about this? Because in this study today, we have a unique opportunity to gain some insight into how Our Lord Jesus Christ interpreted the God’s Word in the form of the Old Testament by examining God’s Word in the form of the New Testament. I can think of no greater way for us to rightly divide the word of truth in accordance with 2 Timothy 2:15 than this.
This post won’t contain an exhaustive analysis of all of the 514 aforementioned instances, as they span the entire New Testament. I intend to cover some of these in future posts. My objective is instead to highlight what I believe are hermeneutical patterns in God’s Word where Jesus Christ is faithfully recorded as speaking. In addition, I believe there are at least a couple of easter eggs for us to find along the way. We’ll begin with one of those easter eggs that most readily comes to my mind in part because it’s at the top of our list!
While not strictly related to the hermeneutics of Jesus Christ, these verses are of great value in the life of a believer in matters pertaining to spiritual warfare. Here in Matthew 4, we have a trustworthy account of the temptation of Our Lord Jesus Christ by Satan in the wilderness, subsequent to His baptism by John the Baptist. Notice that during each of the three temptations, Our Lord Jesus Christ reproves Satan using the Holy Scriptures. If anyone were fit to reprove another based on their own authority, surely it would be Our Lord Jesus Christ. But to set an example for us and submit to God the Father during His time on Earth, He defers to God’s Word. This has tremendous application for us.
Notice here that Our Lord Jesus Christ in the Beatitudes makes many references to the Psalms as well as Isaiah, a great Prophet of the Old Testament who may have made more Messianic prophecies than any of the others. Textual criticism and the New Evangelical hermeneutic would have you believe that these verses in the Old Testament can’t possibly be interpreted as broadly as Our Lord Jesus Christ has done here in the New Testament, and yet He has, and everything all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us. (2 Corinthians 1:20). While endeavoring to rightly divide the word of truth, it is a true and faithful saying that the more verses in God’s Word we can lean on a literal interpretation and plain reading of, the more sound our doctrines will be. However, as we will see later on in this post, the Holy Scriptures can bear much weight even when fewer verses or words are available to us. Yea, even the jots and tittles can bear the weight of the whole world on their shoulders. They will never pass away.
Here we see a common theme of a single verse in the New Testament having multiple cross references and parallel verses in the Old Testament. This was not only true of Our Lord Jesus Christ, but also the other human authors of the New Testament and even Stephen. I’ve included three other examples for you below, so that you can know with confidence that this is not an exception to the rule.
These two examples (above), much like the cross references for Matthew 5:21, while they do rely on multiple cross references or parallels from the Old Testament, they all effectively say the same thing. In the following example for Matthew 11:5, notice how Our Lord Jesus Christ paints a wonderful mosaic using several passages throughout the Book of Isaiah.
Here in Matthew 18:15 we can see one of the forms of church disicpline outlined. Is it not interesting that so many false teachers would have us believe today that we are to do away with the Old Testament, or that there is not much for the Christian to draw from such a rich well? We must understand that as Christians, we would have little more than a few scraps of parchment to piece together and call a New Testament were it not for the Old Testament. Truly, as Christians we ought to be able to read the Old Testament with the veil lifted.
In Matthew 22:32, we have a precious example of just how much weight the jots and tittles of God’s Word can bear. When asked about the resurrection, Our Lord Jesus Christ’s response is preserved for us here in this verse. Notice that his argument hangs upon the tense of a verb, ‘I AM the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob’; not ‘I WAS the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob’, but ‘I AM’.
From Matthew 22 there are some very interesting cross references and parallels to be found in Matthew 24, but as this deals more with eschatology, I will reserve a deeper analysis of this for the subject of a future post.
As we move from the Gospel of Matthew and into the Gospel of Mark, one of the verses I find particularly interesting is Mark 10:30. This verse actually has no parallel in the other Gospels, nor does it reference the Old Testament. Should we therefore doubt the words of Our Lord Jesus Christ? May it never be. Our Lord Jesus Christ is the one greater than Moses, greater than Jonah, greater than Solomon. It should not seem strange to us that He should, in His wonderful grace toward us, should reveal a bit more to us, His sheep, during His earthly ministry and preserved in His Word. If we were to take any other position, then what would we make of the Book of Revelation, or even the whole of the New Testament? Come, let us reason. These small differences between the Gospels enrich the testimony therein. There is no reason for us to regard the veracity of these deltas as dubious. Similar to the Gospel of Mark, the Gospel of Luke contains at least one other verse like unto Mark 10:30 in its uniqueness, and that is Luke 19:27. This is another wonderful verse that should be an encouragement to those of us who would have Our Lord Jesus Christ reign over our lives.
In future posts we will examine more closely the New Testament’s use of the Old Testament.