Our word testament comes from the Greek diaqhkh, meaning “will, testament, or covenant.” The best translation, Biblically speaking, is covenant, as the Old and New Testaments are God’s covenants (or agreements) with humanity.
The Old Testament deals primarily with the Mosaic Covenant, or the agreement God made with the Jews, in giving his law on Mount Sinai. The New Testament, on the other hand, refers to his new agreement, offering eternal salvation to people from all nations, through faith in Jesus Christ.
The 2 Testaments are intrinsically linked, the Old setting the foundation for the New.
The Old Testament
Centers on the nation of history, recording their history.
Shows God’s anger and hatred toward sin, and man’s need of salvation.
Deals with God’s unreachable standard of holiness: the Law.
Establishes principles of physical blessing through keeping the Law.
Prophesied of the advent (or coming of) a Savior.
Foretells the establishment of the Messiah’s kingdom.
The New Testament
Focuses on Jesus Christ, his person, his life, his work.
Reveals God’s grace, in granting salvation to repentant sinners.
Reveals God’s grace in granting salvation to repentant sinners.
Illustrates spiritual blessings granted through salvation.
Records the coming of the Savior who gave himself for the remission of sin.
Records the establishment of Christ’s kingdom in repentant hearts, and foretells his eternal heavenly kingdom.
Study of the New Testament is a powerful and life-changing endeavor.
Through it, we can find not only the path to salvation, but also learn solid principles for walking in newness of life with Christ. It is the Good News of God at work in human history — in the past, in the present, and in the future through his promises.
But Old Testament study is also rewarding and spiritually-enriching.
The Old Testament sets the stage for the New, and is intrinsically essential for understanding it.
The Old Testament is sometimes referred to as the First Testament, and rightly so. For it is not old, in the sense of being out-dated or irrelevant. Christ himself, in speaking of the Old Testament, said:
You study the Scriptures, because you think that in them you will find eternal life. And these very Scriptures speak about me! — John 5:39.
Both testaments are essential, for each sheds light and understanding on the other.
Christ can be found throughout all Scripture, and that alone should be enough to convince us that the First (or Old) Testament is not out of date, and is still relevant to our Christian walk. It speaks of Christ, the Lord and Savior we long to know better!
God’s Word is his primary way of revealing himself, and is fundamental to our understanding of God, and his purposes for the world and for us.