What did Jesus teach about the Old Testament?

Many people today do not believe in the authority of the Old Testament as Scripture. However, Jesus had some quite different things to say regarding the Old Testament. Here is a brief list of some of what Jesus taught about the Old Testament:

  1. Source of Authority
    1. When confronted by Satan, Jesus appealed to the Old Testament as a source of authority by stating, "It is written," (Matt. 4:4, 7, 10).
  2. Imperishability
    1. "For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished," (NASB, Matt. 5:18).
  3. Unbreakability
    1. "The Scripture cannot be broken," (NASB, Jn. 10:35).
  4. Source of Doctrinal Authority
    1. Jesus appealed to Scripture when correcting false doctrine stating, "You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God," (NASB, Matt. 22:29).
  5. Truthfulness
    1. "Your word is truth," (NASB, Jn. 17:17).
  6. Historical Reliability
    1. Jesus affirmed the historical existence of Jonah (Matt. 12:40), Noah (Matt. 24:37-38), and Adam and Eve (Matt. 19:4-6).
  7. Scientific Reliability
    1. Jesus affirmed that God created the world (Mk. 13:19; cf. Matt. 19:4).
  8. Old Testament Canonicity1
    1. Jesus made reference to the Law and Prophets as a unit, "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill," (Matt. 5:17).
    2. Jesus explained the Scriptures, "Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures," (NASB, Luke 24:27).
    3. Jesus referred to the entire Canon by mentioning all the prophets from Abel (from Genesis, the first book, and first martyr) to Zechariah (Chronicles, the last book, and the last martyr) (Matt. 23:35).2

What does this mean?

Since Jesus is God in flesh, performed a life of miraculous healings, died and the cross, and was miraculously resurrected three days later, what He taught on issues of doctrine is vastly important. Since He was God in flesh, whatever He taught is true. This means that we can trust the accuracy of the Old Testament Scriptures on issues of history, science, and moral instruction.

  • 1. The word "canon" means basically "rule, standard, or norm." In this context, it refers to the accepted books that were in the Jewish Scriptures. These books were the standard by which the Jews taught and lived.
  • 2. In the Jewish Canon of Scripture, there were 24 books. They are exactly equivalent to the Protestant 39 books of the Old Testament, but they were just arranged differently. In the Jewish arrangement, the first book was Genesis and the last book was Chronicles.