2014 Summer Reading

This summer I’m planning to continue or finish reading a few books I started earlier in the year. I’d also like to work my way through a few additional titles.

The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien

I never tire of The Lord of the Rings. I began reading through it again at the beginning of the year and have made it to The Two Towers. I don’t intend to finish the entire series this summer. I’m enjoying Tolkien’s writing too much to plow through it quickly. I enjoy getting lost in the world he created.

Mornings on Horseback: The Story of an Extraordinary Family, a Vanished Way of Life and the Unique Child Who Became Theodore Roosevelt, David McCullough

This is another one that I began to read earlier in the year. I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read by David McCullough, and Mornings on Horseback is no exception. In this biography, McCullough takes a look at the young Theodore Roosevelt and the family that played such a big role in shaping his character and identity.

The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge, David McCullough

Yes, another McCullough book. This one was given to me as a Father’s Day present. My wife and children know me very well. In fact, they know me so well that they bought me the 40th anniversary hardback edition instead of the paperback.

In addition to the titles above I’m eyeing Clouds of Glory: The Life and Legend of Robert E. Lee by Michael Korda. I’m also in the mood for something by Wendell Berry. I’ve read Hannah Coulter, Jayber Crow, and A Place on Earth. Any recommendations?

What are you planning to read this summer?

Preaching Christ from the Old Testament

Today’s post is the fifth and final entry in a series on finding and preaching Christ in the Old Testament. See part 1, part 2, part 3, and part 4.

The preacher who seeks to proclaim Christ from the OT has a rewarding, but challenging task. He will be helped in his efforts to proclaim Christ in all the Scriptures by keeping in mind the following important guidelines.

Four Practical Guidelines

1. Identifying OT types is not a matter of speculation or imagination, but rather biblical-theological exegesis and reflection. Goldsworthy has helpfully summarized the four primary characteristics of a type identified by John Currid. Remembering these characteristics will help preachers avoid speculation and allegorical interpretations in their attempts to find Christ in the OT.

First, it must be grounded in history; both type and antitype must be actual historical events, persons, or institutions. Second, there must be both a historical and theological correspondence between type and antitype. Third, there must be an intensification of the antitype from the type. Fourth, some evidence that the type is ordained by God to foreshadow the antitype must be present.1

2. Later biblical revelation, particularly the NT, ought to be consulted when studying an OT passage. The preacher must work at understanding an OT passage in its original context through an analysis of the text’s grammar, literary features, and historical situation. However, after exegeting the text in its original context, the preacher ought to allow the rest of the canon to illuminate the ways in which the passage bears witness to the person and work of Christ.

Graeme Goldsworthy writes,

Progressive revelation requires that we must always allow God’s later and fuller words to interpret the meaning of the earlier and less explicit words…Again I must stress that while earlier expressions help us understand the later, it is the later fulfillment which must interpret the real significance of the earlier expressions. This means, of course, that the earlier expressions point to things beyond themselves that are greater than the meaning that would have been perceived by those receiving these earlier expressions.2

Questions such as, “Does the NT quote or allude to the passage under consideration?” and “Are there themes in the passage that are prominent in the NT or elsewhere in the OT?” should be considered.

3. Jesus is the hero of the story. Often preachers focus on how an OT character provides an example for the congregation to follow. For example, a sermon on David’s defeat of Goliath in 1 Samuel 17 may exhort the congregation to be like David by facing the giants in their lives. However, the primary application of this OT text is that the congregation, like the fearful army of Israel, needs a champion who will fight their battle and gain the victory for them. The congregation needs to hear that just as “David won the victory over Goliath without the help of Israel’s fearful army, so Jesus Christ went to the cross alone and defeated Satan, sin, and death” for them.3

4. The goal of preaching Christ-centered OT sermons is to edify rather than mesmerize the congregation. The preacher who has discovered Christ in the OT will be tempted to craft a sermon that is a redemptive-historical masterpiece. In his attempts to highlight the patterns of redemption in an OT text he may inadvertently obscure the Redeemer to whom the text points.4 This can be avoided by not only making the connections between the text and Christ, but also demonstrating how the aspects of the person and work of Christ found in the text apply to the hearers.


The OT is a book about Jesus Christ. From the opening chapters of Genesis to the end of Malachi, the OT bears witness to the person and work of Christ through typology and promise. Prophets, priests, and kings were designed by God to foreshadow the greater Prophet, Priest, and King to come. The OT’s animal sacrifices pointed forward to the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world” (John 1:29, ESV). The promises of a coming Savior are fulfilled in “Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham” (Matt. 1:1, ESV). Through Jesus’ life, death, resurrection, and ascension God has accomplished the great salvation that his ancient promises announced (Acts 13:33). Finally, Christian preachers today have the great privilege and responsibility of proclaiming Christ in all the Scriptures (Luke 24:27).

  1. Graeme Goldsworthy, Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture: The Application of Biblical Theology to Expository Preaching (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000), 111, citing John Currid, “Recognition and Use of Typology in Preaching,” Reformed Theological Review 53, no. 3 (1994): 121. [↩]
  2. Graeme Goldsworthy, According to Plan: The Unfolding Revelation of God in the Bible (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2002), 123. [↩]
  3. Jim Newheiser, Opening Up 1 Samuel (Leominster, England: Day One, 2011), 102. [↩]
  4. Dennis E. Johnson, Him We Proclaim: Preaching Christ from All the Scriptures (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2007), 17. [↩]

Finding and Preaching Christ in the Old Testament: Promise

In the previous post we began to examine the nature of the Old Testament’s witness to Christ by considering the Bible’s use of typology.

Promise in the Old Testament

A second key way in which the OT bears witness to the person and work of Christ is through promises of a coming Savior and salvation. God’s promises directed the hopes of his people toward a time when his redemptive purposes would be fulfilled (Heb. 10:39-40). Although there were immediate and partial fulfillments of many of the promises in OT times, the OT ends as an incomplete story.1 The promise of a glorious day of salvation had yet to be fulfilled. The good news proclaimed by the NT is that God’s promises have been fulfilled in Jesus Christ (Rom. 15:8; 2 Cor. 1:20).

Jesus Fulfills God’s Promises

Jesus is the ultimate fulfillment of God’s promises to Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3, 7; 15; 17). He is the promised offspring (Gal. 3:16). Through faith in Christ, both Jews and Gentiles become true children of Abraham thus fulfilling God’s promises to him of innumerable descendants and worldwide blessing (Gal. 3:14, 29).

God’s promises to David are also fulfilled in Christ. He is the son of David (Matt. 1:1; 9:27; Rom. 1:3; 2 Tim. 2:8) whose kingdom is everlasting (2 Sam. 7:12-13; Luke 1:32-33). As God’s Son (Matt. 3:17; 11:25-27), Jesus enjoys the unique relationship with the Father promised to David’s heir (2 Sam. 7:14; Ps. 2:7; Heb. 1:5). He is the promised Davidic Messiah (Isa. 7:14; 9:1-7; Jer. 23:5-6; Matt. 1:22-23; 4:15-16) who sits at God’s right hand (Ps. 110:1; Heb. 1:3, 13) and faithfully shepherds God’s people (2 Sam. 5:2; Ezek. 34:11-24; 37:15-28; Mic. 5:2; cf. Matt. 2:5-6; John 10:1-18). Yet, as the Servant of the Lord who gives his life as an atonement for the sins of the people (Isa. 42:1-7; 49:1-6; 50:4-11; 52:13-53:12; Acts 8:29-35; 1 Pet. 2:24-25), Jesus fulfilled these promises in a way that surprised his disciples (Matt. 16:21-23) and his opponents (Matt. 27:39-44).2

Finally, as Dennis Johnson has insightfully observed, Jesus fulfills the OT promises of a future “superior redemptive arrangement.”3 He is the Melchizedekan priest whose priesthood “surpasses Aaron’s in its permanence, grounded in [Jesus’] eternal life and the Father’s unbreakable oath” (Ps. 110:4; Heb. 6:20; 7:11-28).4 In contrast to the Aaronic priests who repeatedly offered sacrifices for the sins of the people, Jesus, as the great high priest, offered a single sacrifice that has secured eternal redemption for his people (Heb. 7:27; 9:11-14, 24-28; 10:1-18). He is mediator of the promised new covenant, a covenant “characterized by internalization of God’s law, expansion of intimate knowledge of God, and forgiveness of sins.”5

God’s ancient promises pointed forward to and have been fulfilled in Jesus Christ.

  1. For discussions of the concept of multiple levels of fulfillment of OT promises, see David L. Baker. Two Testaments, One Bible: The Theological Relationship Between the Old and New Testaments (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2010), 208-217; Christopher J.H. Wright, Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1995), 70-77. [↩]
  2. Bruce K. Waltke and Charles Yu, An Old Testament Theology: An Exegetical, Canonical, and Thematic Approach (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2007), 888-889; Thomas R. Schreiner, New Testament Theology: Magnifying God in Christ (Grank Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008), 205-232. [↩]
  3. Dennis E. Johnson, Him We Proclaim: Preaching Christ from All the Scriptures (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2007), 180. [↩]
  4. Ibid., 179. [↩]
  5. Ibid., 182. [↩]

Finding and Preaching Christ in the Old Testament: Typology

Today’s post is the third in a series where we’re looking at finding and preaching Christ in the Old Testament. In a previous post we saw that according to the New Testament the Old Testament bears witness to Jesus Christ. Today we will begin to examine the nature of the Old Testament’s witness.

The Old Testament’s witness to Christ is not as clear or detailed as the New Testament’s, yet it is an essential component of the Bible’s presentation of who Jesus is and the salvation he accomplished. One key way in which the Old Testament bears witness to the person and work of Christ is through the use of typology.

What is Typology?

Typology is concerned with the relationship between types and antitypes. A type prefigures or foreshadows a person, event, or institution. An antitype fulfills or completes the type. As it relates to the OT’s witness to the person and work of Christ, typology involves the idea that God designed certain people, events, offices, and institutions in the OT to prefigure or foreshadow Christ and his redemptive work.1 Dennis Johnson writes,

The God who creates, reigns, redeems, and judges in history, and who speaks in Scripture, abounds in surprising ingenuity, but is also a wise planner who works by pattern and gives human beings, created in his image and recreated in the image of the Son, glimpses into the patterns of his planning. Long before he sent his Son to bring rescue in the “fullness of time” (Gal. 4:4), he sovereignly designed events, institutions, and individual leaders to provide foretastes of the feast, whetting Israel’s appetite for the coming Savior and salvation.2

Typology in the New Testament

Both the New and Old Testaments are replete with typology. Johnson has identified five categories of typological interpretation in the NT, three of which are highlighted below.3

First, there are instances where the NT explicitly refers to an OT person or event as typological of Christ or an aspect of his redemptive work. Included in this category are Adam (Rom. 5:14; cf. 1 Cor. 15), Israel in the wilderness (1 Cor. 10:6, 11), the flood (1 Pet. 3:21), and the OT sacrificial system (Heb. 10:1).4

Second, the NT declares various OT passages to be fulfilled by Christ.5 Matthew records five events from Jesus’ conception, birth, and early childhood that fulfill the OT (1:22-23, citing Isa. 7:14; 2:5-6, citing Mic. 5:2; 2:15, citing Hos. 11:1; 2:17-18, citing Jer. 31:15; 2:23, possibly alluding to several OT passages).6 Throughout the rest of his Gospel, Matthew highlights a number of events in Jesus’ life and ministry that fulfill OT passages. For example, Jesus fulfilled the OT by taking up residence in Capernaum (4:13-16, citing Isa. 9:1-2), by casting out demons and healing the sick (8:17, citing Isa. 53:4; 12:17-21, citing Isa. 42:1-3), by speaking in parables (13:14-15, citing Isa. 6:9,10; 13:35, citing Ps. 78:2), and by entering Jerusalem on a colt (21:4, citing Zech. 9:9).

Third, there are instances of unmistakable allusions to the OT that are applied to Christ. Johnson writes that in this category “belong Old Testament events, persons, or individuals identified as typological of Christ and his church not by means of a direct citation but through unmistakable and undeniable allusions.” Examples that belong to this category include Jesus’ comparison of his crucifixion to the lifting up of the bronze serpent (John 3:14-15, cf. Num. 21:4-9) and Luke’s allusions to the prophetic ministries of Elijah and Elisha (see Luke 7-9).7

Typology in the Old Testament

David L. Baker has noted that the Old Testament also employs typology. Earlier individuals and events are presented as patterns or types of God’s future redemptive actions. Moses is a type of the great prophet whom God will send to his people (Deut. 18:15, 18). David is a type of the king whom God will raise up (Isa. 11:1; 55:3-4; Jer. 23:5; Ezek. 34:23-24; Amos 9:11), and Isaiah anticipates a new exodus that is patterned after and supersedes the exodus from Egypt (Isa. 43:16-21; 48:20-21; 51:9-11; 52:11-12).8 Thus, there are OT precedents for the NT’s typological interpretation of OT individuals, events, offices, and institutions.9

Clearing Up Some Confusion

Typology must not be confused with allegory. Typology is concerned with historical people, events, and institutions not words. Allegory, on the other hand, is largely unconcerned with the historical events themselves, and instead searches for the deeper spiritual meaning behind the events. Also, typology implies a real theological or historical correspondence between the typological person, event, or institution and its antitype.10 This correspondence between a type and antitype is rooted in God’s sovereign ordering of history and the divine inspiration of Scripture.

An Example of the Old Testament’s Typological Witness to Jesus Christ

In order to illustrate how OT types point to Christ, the example of Moses will be considered in more detail. As has already been observed, the OT interprets Moses as a type of the prophet whom God will send to his people: “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen” (Deut. 18:15, ESV). The NT identifies Jesus of Nazareth as the fulfillment of this OT type (Acts 3:22-24). Like Moses, Jesus was appointed by God to speak to the people what God had commanded him (John 12:49; cf. Deut. 18:18).11 Yet, Jesus is superior to Moses. He does not merely speak God’s words, he is the Word of God, God’s fullest and final revelation (John 1:1-3, 14, 18; Rev. 19:13; Heb. 1:1-2).

The correspondence between Moses and Christ is more extensive than merely Jesus’ fulfillment of the Deuteronomy passage. There are thematic and theological parallels between the two that reveal the richness of Moses’ typological witness to the person and work of Christ.

  • Moses delivered the people of God from bondage to an oppressive ruler (Ex. 3:7-10). Jesus has delivered his people from bondage to sin, death, and the Devil (Rom. 6:6; Heb. 2:14-15).
  • Moses was the mediator of the old covenant—a covenant ratified with the blood of animals (Ex. 24:8). Jesus is the mediator of a better covenant—a covenant ratified with his own blood (Heb. 8:6; 9:15; Mark 14:24).12
  • Under the covenant that Moses mediated, God’s law was written on tablets of stone (Ex. 24:12). Under the covenant that Jesus mediates, God’s law is written on human hearts (Jer. 31:33; Ezek. 11:19-20).
  • The covenant Moses mediated was weak, ineffective, and temporary (Heb. 7:18-19; 8:13; 10:1). The covenant Jesus mediates is enacted on superior promises and results in eternal salvation (Heb. 8:6, 8-12; 9:11-2, 15).

There is much more that could be said concerning the typological relationship between Moses and Christ.13 However, the preceding example demonstrates clearly enough how God designed OT people, events, offices, and institutions to both provide a context for understanding the person and work of Christ and to point forward to him.

  1. G. R. Osborne, “Type; Typology,” in ISBE, ed. Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1988), 4:930; Goldsworthy, Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture, 77. []
  2. Dennis E. Johnson, Him We Proclaim: Preaching Christ from All the Scriptures (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2007), 198-1999. [↩]
  3. Ibid., 199. The two categories not discussed here are 1) subtle and debatable allusions to OT events, persons, and institutions and 2) general OT patterns fulfilled in Christ and his work. Johnson considers these two categories of typology to be valid, but less obvious than the others discussed above. [↩]
  4. Ibid., 200-206. [↩]
  5. Ibid., 207-209. [↩]
  6. For a helpful discussion of how these events fulfill OT passages, see Christopher J.H. Wright, Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1995), 55-64. [↩]
  7. Johnson, 209-211. [↩]
  8. David L. Baker. Two Testaments, One Bible: The Theological Relationship Between the Old and New Testaments (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Academic, 2010), 171. [↩]
  9. Johnson, 219. [↩]
  10. Baker, 179-180; Goldsworthy, Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture, 77. [↩]
  11. Philip Edgcumbe Hughes, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977), 135-136; Andreas J. Köstenberger, “John,” in Commentary on the New Testament Use of the Old Testament, ed. G. K. Beale and D. A. Carson (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2007), 483. [↩]
  12. Richard D. Phillips, Hebrews (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2006), 315–317. [↩]
  13. For more parallels between Moses and Christ, see Hebrews 3:1-4:13 and 12:18-29. [↩]

Finding and Preaching Christ in the Old Testament: The Old Testament Bears Witness to Christ

In the previous post in this series we considered the challenge of preaching Christ-centered sermons from the Old Testament. In a future post we will examine how the OT bears witness to the person and work of Christ. However, before exploring the how we must first establish the fact that the OT does bear witness to Christ. First, the teaching of Jesus, Paul, and Peter will be considered. Second, the NT’s presentation of the storyline of the OT will be examined. Third, the way in which progressive revelation affects the OT’s witness to Christ will be explored.

The Teaching of Jesus and the Apostles

Jesus declared to his opponents among the Jewish religious leaders that the OT Scriptures, in particular the books of Moses, bear witness about him (John 5:39-40, 46-47). After his resurrection, Jesus instructed his disciples that the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms bear witness to his suffering, death, and resurrection.

And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself (Luke 24:25-27, ESV).

Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem (Luke 24:44-47, ESV).

In the epistles to the Galatians and the Romans, Paul wrote that Genesis and the prophetic writings bear witness about the gospel of Jesus Christ (Gal. 3:8; Rom. 1:2-3). Similarly, Peter wrote that the OT prophets foretold Christ’s sufferings and glorification (1 Pet. 1:10-12). According to Jesus and the Apostles, the OT Scriptures bear witness to the person and work of Christ.

The Storyline of the Old Testament

The OT witness about Christ is not limited to a handful of texts scattered throughout the OT. It is at the heart of the OT storyline itself. The OT anticipates and progresses toward Christ, and ultimately is fulfilled and completed by him.1 This can be seen in the ways in which the NT structures its presentation of the OT story and Jesus’ relationship to it. For example, each of the Synoptic Gospels begins by placing Jesus’ birth and ministry in the context of the OT. Matthew presents Jesus as the long awaited son of Abraham and son of David (Matt. 1:1-17). Mark records Jesus’ declaration at the onset of his public ministry that the promised kingdom of God had arrived in him (Mark 1:14-15). Luke records the angel’s announcement to Mary of the birth of Christ, in whom the promises to David are fulfilled (Luke 1:31-33).

The sermons and discourses in Acts reinforce the idea that the trajectory of the OT storyline is directed toward Christ. Peter’s sermon at Pentecost dwells on the prophetic ministry of David that pointed forward to the resurrection of Christ (Acts 2:22-36). Stephen’s defense in Acts 7 is a recital of God’s redemptive activity in the OT. It begins with God’s promise to Abraham, moves on to Moses and the exodus from Egypt, proceeds to David and Solomon, and then reaches its climax in Jesus Christ. Similarly, Paul preaches the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ as the culmination of the story begun in the OT (Acts 13:16-41).

Lastly, it should be noted that Hebrews provides the most extensive exposition in the NT concerning how the OT storyline points forward to Christ. It connects Jesus and his redemptive work to OT people (e.g. Moses and Aaron), offices (e.g. prophet, priest, and king), and institutions (e.g. sacrificial system), demonstrating that the storyline of the OT progresses toward Jesus Christ in the NT.

The Old Testament and Progressive Revelation

The fact that the OT bears witness to the person and work of Christ does not mean that its witness is as clear or detailed as the NT’s witness to Christ. The OT prophets foretold Christ’s sufferings, but they did not have absolute clarity concerning when or in whom their prophecies would be fulfilled (1 Pet. 1:10-12). The various witnesses to the person and work of Christ in the OT functioned as “shadows” of what was to come (Heb. 10:1). The nature of redemptive revelation is such that it unfolded with greater degrees of clarity and detail as God directed history toward its climax in the incarnation, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Luke 10:23-24; Rom. 16:25-26).2

Looking Ahead

In the next post in this series we will begin to examine two key ways the Old Testament bears witness to the person and work of Jesus Christ.

  1. Christopher J. H. Wright, Knowing Jesus Through the Old Testament (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 1995), 56. []
  2. Graeme Goldsworthy, Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture: The Application of Biblical Theology to Expository Preaching (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2000), 72-80. []