Because the early book of Genesis explains to men how they came into existence and God's intended purpose for making humanity, the Old Testament serves as the cornerstone of the Christian faith. The Mosaic Law, which outlined what the God's chosen people were supposed to do in order to keep their relationship with God, served as the ancient Christians' guide. There was no place for redemption once the law was broken, according to the Old Testament mosaic law, which was highly regarded as the true will of God that people were expected to obey. Now with the introduction of the New Testament teachings and Jesus Christ who is the Messiah that was promised to the church, confusion emerged among Christians as to whether Christians are still bound by the Mosaic Law or their salvation is anchored in grace through Jesus Christ.
Most modern Christians have neglected the Old Testament scriptures and dismissed their teachings as primitive and cumbersome especially those that seem offensive to them. This, however, should not be the case because, without the Old Testament, there could be no Christian faith because the forefathers of modern Christians found in the Old Testament are the ones who started the faith of believing in God. Various theological scholars have done research and written books in an attempt to demystify the underlying mystery of how Christianity is related to the Old Testament. To clearly understand the relationship between Christianity and Old Testament, it is important to understand the concept of the grace of God through Jesus Christ and the concept of a Messiah who was promised in the Old Testament because Christ represents the exact Messiah promised in the Old Testament. Therefore, this paper sets out to analyze the relationship between Christianity and the Old Testament especially the Mosaic Law because the law forms the center of the relationship. The epistle of Paul to Romans will also be analyzed in detail.
Relationship between Christianity and Old Testament
The book of Exodus has numerous themes that resonate with modern Christianity because it forms the foundation of deliverance. Chapters 1-18, illustrates God’s salvation on Israelites after the children of Israel labored for many years in Egypt. After many years of laboring in Egypt, God saw their anguish and was moved by grace and the earlier promise he had made to the forefathers. He came down himself and sent his servant Moses to rescue the Israelites from bondage and deliver them to the promised land of Canaan. The many signs, wonders, and miracles of God demonstrated his saving hand for Israelites. The same salvation of God in the modern Christian context still exists. People may suffer for a long period to a point when they are just about to give up, but God miraculously comes in to save them. Therefore, the Christian salvation is much like God’s salvation in the Old Testament because the manner in which God saved Israelites is the same manner in which Christians are saved and furthermore the promise that God made to Israelites is still binding for Christians today.
Mosaic Law and Christianity
The law of the Lord in both testaments of the Bible are not arbitrary, but they are rather regarded as the guiding principles for Christians. It is good to understand that God does not change by saying one thing today and says a contradictory thing tomorrow. According to research by various scholars, Mosaic Law in the Old Testament existed for the sake of chosen people of Israel, but there is a clear distinction between choosing of Israelites and Christians today as demonstrated by the purpose of the law. According to Genesis 12:1-3, Israel was chosen to accomplish a specific purpose of rescuing the world. God became a man in the form of Jesus who was of Jewish decent to die on the cross for the sake of saving mankind. Scholars record that Israel was not chosen to be saved, but rather they were chosen to bring to completion God's plan of salvation for humanity. Most of the Jews took for granted the mercy offered to them by God through the plan and did contrary to the word of God.
Relating the purpose of God choosing his people to Christianity is that Christians are people who have put their trust in Jesus the savior of the world and confessed with their tongues that Jesus is Lord. In this sense, Christians are the ones who have benefited from God's plan of salvation for mankind. Therefore, Christians are the people that God intended to save through Israel in the Old Testament. Christians put their confidence in Jesus, and they are saved. The Bible narrates very well that there is the trinity that is God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Since God does not change, it means Jesus Christ also does not change because he is God. The only difference and revelation that the Bible gives are that the manner in which God deals with his people differs from one generation to another. God dealt with Adam and Eve in a direct way; He dealt with Jews via Abrahamic covenant establishing a different plan and today God deals with Christians in a different way via the new covenant brought by Jesus Christ.
God made a covenant with Israelites under the Mosaic Law and this specifically applied to the Jews at that time in the book of Deuteronomy. During this covenant, the Gentiles were not part of the law because Israel was a different state and there is no way a law from one state can be applied in another state. The new covenant that God made with Christians through his son Jesus Christ is unique and different in that it is for all the people including Gentiles. The new covenant came with different obligations. Deuteronomy 28 states clearly that the obligations of Israelites to God was to obey him and make him their sovereign Lord and by doing that GOD would protect them. He further promised them blessings if they obey and curses if they do not obey and this formed the foundation of the covenant.
It is, however, important to note that under the Mosaic Law and old covenant, there were universal moral obligations that the Israelites were supposed to obey. The universal moral obligations of the Mosaic covenants are also repeated in the New Testament. For instance, a law that requires Christians to love their God with all their hearts and further low their neighbors the same way they love themselves is found in both the old and new testament. This implies that Christians are obliged to adhere to the law even though it originated from the Mosaic Law. Jesus in the New Testament gives the parable of the Good Samaritan to emphasize on who the neighbor is because the people surrounding him wanted to justify themselves that they were more obedient to the law and therefore they were righteous.
The old covenant was based on obedience and self-justification, but in today's Christianity, the established covenant is based on God's grace for mankind which means that the laws apply differently to Christians as opposed to Old Testament where Israelites followed the law of the covenant as a means of justifying themselves. It is also important to realize that the Old Testament law was meant to separate Jews from Gentiles which is not the ultimate goal of salvation.
Analysis of the Book of Romans
According to biblical scholars, the book of Romans exposes the Old Testament from the perspective of the gospel of Christ Jesus. The New Testament Gospel explains to Christianity on how sinful people can have access to the holy place of God because of the sacrificial atonement of their sins through Christ Jesus. The patterns of the ancient sacrifices are also portrayed in Romans. Paul who is the author of the book of Romans is a Jew, and through the book of Romans, he seeks to affirm that Jesus is the Jewish Messiah who was promised in the prophetic book of Isaiah. Despite the fact that Jesus is the Messiah, some unbelieving Jews never accepted Jesus as their Messiah, and thus they were condemned to death. Paul argues that the Old Testament witnesses on how God’s righteousness in Christ is revealed to mankind (Romans 3:21). Even though Paul’s scriptures shows the fulfillment of God's promises to us and provides the correct interpretation, there are other parallel teachings from early Judaism that present another version of revealing old Testament promises. History records that Pesharim and many other Dead Scrolls indicate that some communities believed that their historical heritages and life are better placed to understand the Old Testament prophecies and God's promises to mankind. The rabbis, for instance, regarded Israel's existence as God's chosen and holy people who hold the key to the understanding of Jewish scriptures. Other groups such as Jewish apocalypticists expected that the promises of God to Israelites as recorded in the scriptures were going to be fulfilled shortly to come.
First, Paul confirms his thesis statement in Romans 1:17 with what was written in Habakkuk 2:4. The thesis of Paul is rooted in Habakkuk. Paul says that the righteous shall live by faith” (Roman 1:17). The same thesis is affirmed in Habakkuk 2:4. There is a relationship between the two scriptures because they both contain similar promises to the righteous people of God. In the Hebrew context, God promises the righteous of their survival when Babylonians attack Jerusalem, something that happened at around 600 B.C. as long as they remain faithful and trust in God. Therefore, living in this context is the physical survival of the Jews whom God considers righteous. Paul in the book of Romans uses the same words referring to the promise of salvation and eternal life that God gave both the Jews and Gentiles that accepted the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Bible scholars argue that Paul’s perspective is a representative that God’s promises in Habakkuk 2:4 had not been fulfilled yet in 600 B.C. and now they were being fulfilled in the first A.D. century because Jesus Christ became the key to fulfilling God's promises.
All mankind has sinned and fallen short of God's glory according to Paul in his epistle as from Romans 1:18-3:20. Paul demonstrates that all people including Jews and Gentiles need the revelation of the righteousness of God through Christ Jesus. Paul utilizes catena or a chain of biblical quotations where he proves that all people except Jesu Christ were dominated by sin and death. Paul presents an argument that humankind was dominated by sin and without Jesus, there could be no mankind. A series of biblical texts that are familiar with the texts found Qumran scrolls and numerous traditional Jewish texts presented by Paul in Romans chapter 3 are aimed at explaining the theme of sin dominating over humankind. In the book of Romans 3:10, Paul says that “there is no one who is righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10). This scripture resonates with the book of Ecclesiastes 7:20 in the Old Testament. Paul in this text of Romans is showing how man has fallen short of the glory of God and therefore every mankind needs the saving grace of God. Paul continued to use the catena or list of books in the Old Testament while preaching to the Gentiles and Jews to show that not even one of them could be exempted from sin. History records that the first readers of the epistle of Paul to Romans were Christian Gentiles but note even them could be exempted from sin.
In subsequent Bible quotations, Paul seeks to reaffirm how various parts of the human body have been corrupted by sin. For instance lips in Romans 3:13 and Psalms 140:4, tongues and throats Romans 3:13 and the book of Psalms 5:10, feet Romans 3:15-17 and Isaiah 59:7-8 combined with Proverbs 1:16 and lastly the lust of eyes in Romans 3:18 and Psalms 36:2.. Paul uses all the Bible quotations or the Catena to demonstrate how sin had corrupted humankind and therefore the only way that humankind could be saved was through God's righteousness in Christ. By Paul using the texts, he demonstrates higher respect for Old Testament's authority and his rhetorical skill in analyzing the Old Testament scriptures.
In Romans chapter 4, Paul appeals to what the Old Testament records about Abraham as being the father of all believers and faithful people of God. In Romans 4:3 Paul records that because of Abraham's unwavering faith in God despite his advanced age that God would make him the father of all nations, he was made righteous before God, and this verse is related to Genesis 15:6. Scholars argue Paul meant that heavenly promises are kept by faith just like Abraham did but not the works according to the law. Historically, Jews were supposed to be circumcised for them to become righteous before God according to the Jewish law. In Romans 4:9-12, Paul records that even before Paul was circumcised he was already called the righteous one of God in Genesis 15:6. Abraham only underwent circumcision 20 years later after he had been declared righteous as Genesis 17:10-27 records and this means that Abraham became justified long before circumcision. For this reason, Paul considers Abraham’s circumcision as the seal of righteousness. Historians say that "the light of the heavy" argument by Bible scholars says that God gave promises to Abraham and declared him righteous many centuries before the Moses was given the laws at Mount Sinai according to Exodus 19-24. The revelation, in this case, is that works of the law were not the way to having a good relationship with God as the case of Abraham. Scholars view that spread of good news by Christ Jesus was foreshadowed by Abraham’s call to become the father of all nations and thus became justified. Gentiles became God’s people by confessing Abraham’s faith of believing in his promises.
Adam and his Comparison to Christ Jesus in Romans 5:12-21
At the beginning of the book of Genesis, Adam features prominently because he was the progenitor of humans and the source of most problems that humans face today. Scholars record that after Adam sinned against God and mankind was banished from the Garden of Eden according to Genesis 3:3, Adam does not feature so often in the old testament but Romans 5:12-21, Paul compares Christ and Adam. Romans 5:14, Adam is described as “a type of the one who is to come. Researchers reveal that the word “type” comes from the word typology which is an Old Testament word meaning theological doctrine. Therefore, in Romans 5, Paul regards Adam as Christ because both of them were bearers of humankind fate. Jesus Christ is regarded as the second Adam but Jesus life, death, and resurrection brought positive repercussions to mankind as opposed to Adam's sin that brought shame and suffering to mankind. This typology by Paul is a twist because Paul portrays Adam like Christ who foreshadows Jesus the bearer of humankind destiny. Paul’s assessment of Adam and Christ is echoed in Second Baruch or Syriac (Jewish apocalypse) that was written in the late first century. Second Baruch 54:19 records that every human being has become his or her own Adam.
The mystery of Salvation According to Paul and How the Prophecies Were Fulfilled
In Chapter 9 through 11, Paul offers a meditation on how salvation had remained a mystery. Bible scholars such as Krister Stendhal referred to Paul’s teaching in this chapter as a Eureka moment where he brings different groups of God's people: Jewish Christians just like himself, Gentile Christians and the Jews that had never accepted Christ's gospel. In Romans 11, Paul uses an olive tree to symbolize God's chosen people and explains how the salvation of mankind for different groups of people would be. In Romans 9:25-26, Paul includes Gentiles into God's chosen people which are also quoted in Hosea 2:1, 25 which refers to ancient Israel that had rebelled against God. Romans 9:27-29, identifies some Jews who are present in the church who are also identified as remnants in Isaiah 10:22-23. Paul further uses Isaiah 1:9 to insist on the fact that God did not abandon Israel to be destroyed like Sodom and Gomorrah. This demonstrates how God's prophecy on mankind was to be fulfilled because of the few remnants of the nation of Israel.
Summary of the Torah
According to Historians, the ultimate task of early Jewish teachers was summarizing the 613 commandments contained in the Torah. The b. Sabbath 31a records that Shammai dismissed one people who asked about the summary. Hillel, on the other hand, said the "Golden rule" of Jesus Christ provides a summary of the Torah. Paul repeats to Leviticus 19:18 in Romans 13:8 when he states that "Owe no one anything except to love one another; for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law." Therefore, Paul refers to the Old Testament scripture of Leviticus 19:18(love of neighbor) and Deuteronomy 6:5 (love of God). Paul thus summarizes everything about the law of Torah in his last chapters of the epistle to Romans.
The Old Testament is the foundation of modern-day Christianity because it is through Genesis that human beings came into existence. Despite Old Testament scriptures being based on the law, they laid the basis for the New Testament scriptures upon which Christianity emanates from, and the aspect of Jesus Christ and God's grace abides. The Old Testament contains some universal moral obligations which Christians must adhere to if they have to keep their salvation.
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