Q: 1Tim 4:13 Paul admonishes Timothy to give himself to reading. NLT says “scriptures”. My question is, what were they reading? Were the scriptures written at that time? If yes, wasn’t it the old testament?
A: You are right on both counts. They had the law and the prophets. Of course they also had the historical books. What’s your point?
Q: No point! Just asking to know. I was just pondering what Paul wanted him to read. If that admonition was given today, we all will assume the “bible”. So, it got me thinking on what he was to read.
A: Ok. Well, it’s common to throw punches at the old testament these days in the name of new testament Christianity. Whereas, when we say old or new testament, we often refer to a different thing from Apostle Paul. Some think old testament means Genesis to Malachi and New testament means Matthew to Revelation. Whereas, not everything in the “old testament” is old testament and not everything in the “new testament” is new testament. Testament means Covenant. It also means document. So, there was an old covenant in the old document but not all of the document is “old” as in outdated, some components of the old document are everlasting. Same applies to the new document. Not all the contents are “new covenant.”
Q: OK. Can you cite examples?
A: Clear examples abound.
The Law, as it came through Moses is what in actual fact is “Old Covenant” as Apostle Paul says again and again in his inspired writings. Whereas, the covenant God made with Abraham is still standing, “through you all nations of the earth shall be blessed and to your seed shall I give to inherit this promise”, the seed being Jesus. And by faith, we are partakers of the blessing of Abraham Galatians 3 is replete with this thought. Walking by Faith which we claim is new testament, started before the old testament. Abraham walked by faith and was justified by faith in God just as we are justified by walking by faith in God who presented himself to us in the person of Jesus Christ. Romans 4.
Q: Are there examples in the new book that don’t belong to the new covenant?
A: Well, in a way. Jesus’ entire life and ministry was based on the good old covenant promises. I meant on the same old covenant promises. Not on the law but the covenant that predates the law. That’s why he always seemed to ignore the law without consequences, and was never found guilty, not even by the devil. He did what the law required but not as serving the law but as serving the God of the law who predates and obviously postdates the law. He established a new covenant with the father, in his blood, but this new covenant was to connect us to the covenant/blessing of Abraham’s eternal covenant which began before the old covenant based on the law.
Q: In essence, read the whole book but replacing the “new covenant in Christ” with the “law by Moses”.
A: You are very sharp. The law was a task master that kept Israel intact till the promise made to Abraham to save the whole world was fulfilled in Jesus. God had to use the law as favour to Abraham so that Israel would not be lost before the promise of salvation arrived. Once it did, the law was retired and the covenant of faith continued. Balaam was a prophet of God, Jethro was a priest of God, but neither of them had a lasting dynasty of relationship with God cos nothing was there to restrain their generations after them till the promise was fulfilled. Had God not done Abraham this favour, Israel too would have been a lost dynasty. And Jesus’ chances of being born through a virgin seriously compromised.
Q: Hmm……wow! I knew Jesus opened the scroll and read Is 61 and said “today is this scripture fulfilled”. So, yes the old testament wasn’t entirely irrelevant but I never though deeply about it. Now, it makes sense Thanks! Now I know why I have to study the whole book