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Studying Jesus' References to the Old Testament

by Wayne Childress  
10/15/2013 / Bible Studies

When we looked at the lists of commands and of parables of Jesus, I indicated that the lists varied depending on who compiled the lists and what their criteria were. So it is with trying to create a list of Jesus' references to the Old Testament. There is a downloadable PDF compilation of Jesus' references to the Old Testament on the Free Downloads page of my website titled - Jesus' References to the Old Testament. I have found that my list includes a lot more references than many other lists. I base my list, not on superior knowledge, but on the resources I accessed using e-sword and many of its accompanying modules. E-sword has been a tremendous blessing to my studies and I highly recommend it as a study aid - it is free (as are many modules) and you can find it at
Searching the New Testament we find that Jesus referenced about twenty-four different Old Testament books (see Note2). Sometimes His comments were not specified as a reference. He often said something like "have you not read" or "spoken of in". When He did specify He usually just said "it is written" (over a dozen times); but, He sometimes referred to the "law and the prophets" - i.e. Matthew 5:17 and 11:13, Luke 16:16, and John 1:45. He rarely cited a particular book; and, the Old Testament didn't have chapters and verses like we have today. He once said:
And he said to them, the words which I spoke to you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses and the prophets and the psalms, concerning me.
(Luke 24:44)
An interesting bit of information for the reader is that Jesus is recorded (in John 19:34) as referring to a psalm as being written in the law (Psalm 82:6). Perhaps that is because He so often referred to the law and the prophets. This variation in His method of referencing the Old Testament is one reason why there can be variances in listing His references to the Old Testament. Another reason is the definition of the Old Testament - as well as the language version used (i.e. Hebrew or Greek). Here we will try to see the Old Testament much as Jesus did - essentially broken down into three collections of writings - the Law (Torah), the Prophets (Neviim), and the Writings (Kethubim).
As with the commands and parables of Jesus, trying to learn the what, where, how and why of His references requires more than casual reading - if you are a truly sincere follower of Jesus and consider Him your Lord. You cannot learn the Gospel Jesus taught by reading and studying the writings of Paul - they are not the same. You must read and study Jesus' own words. This will take effort on your part; but, the blessings are innumerable.
I have tried to provide the reader with a good base from which to begin studying Jesus' references to the Old Testament; but, nothing will replace prayer and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. When studying His references always try to keep in mind that for Jesus, the Apostles, and for all of Jesus' early followers, the Old Testament was all the "Scripture" they had. The Old Testament and Jesus' words were all that was needed for His followers to understand and believe in Him. ALL of the Apostles and ALL of Jesus' followers, for decades after His death, relied on only three things - The Old Testament, what they knew of Jesus' words, and the guidance of the Holy Spirit. No one had a "New Testament" for hundreds of years. Paul's writings were not, and are not, part of the Gospel Jesus taught. As I have shown in other articles - and you can verify for yourself - Paul often misquoted or misapplied the Old Testament.
Jesus made it very clear who was to be sent to us so that we would have help knowing the truth - the Holy Spirit.
And I will pray to the Father and he shall give you another Comforter that he may abide with you forever.
(John 14:16)
But the Comforter, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things and bring all things to your remembrance - whatever I have said to you.
(John 14:26)
But when the Comforter comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, which proceeds from the Father, he shall testify of me.
(John 15:26)
Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is better for you that I go away. For, if I go not away, the Comforter will not come to you; but, if I depart, I will send him to you.
(John 16:7)
That seems pretty clear doesn't it? The first verse says the Comforter will be with us forever, the second says the Comforter will teach us ALL things, the third says the Comforter is the spirit of truth, and the fourth says, in essence, that Jesus will send the Comforter to take His place. Sadly, Satan never takes a day off. Paul, the popes, and Joseph Smith, have done more damage than Buddha ever could. Just as with the Garden of Eden and with Judas, the evil is from within. I am sure most of you have heard the old saying that the greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world he didn't exist. If that is true, then his second greatest trick is convincing people that Jesus sending us the Comforter wasn't good enough - that we needed the help of Paul, or the popes, or Joseph Smith, for us to understand The Gospel.
As you get more in-depth in the study of Jesus' references to the Old Testament you will begin to see a few themes emerging. Three of these are vital to see: 1) His emphasis on the Law, 2) His emphasis on love, and 3) His emphasis on forgiveness/mercy. These themes emerge in multiple patterns. One pattern is the citing of multiple verses with the same subject, another pattern is the repetition of the particular verse being referenced. Please note that, as with His parables and His commands, you will find no emphasis on grace or faith.
For an enlightening reference, that can be applied to Saul of Tarsus, check out Jesus' reference to Balaam in Revelation 2:14. For those that hold to the error of being under a different dispensation (i.e. under the words of Paul not Jesus) notice that this is Jesus speaking after He was resurrected and was in Heaven!

In Brotherly Love,

NOTE1 - I do not find it surprising that there are so many versions of the "Bible" - I do find it unconscionable that people have been led to believe in a desecrated Old Testament where a pope has decided he is fit to rewrite the words God himself wrote as the Ten Commandments - again, Satan never takes a day off, or misses an opportunity to hinder the spread of the true Gospel!

Copyright 2013

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