How Relevant is the Old Testament to Christians Today?


Christians tend to focus most strongly on the New Testament, especially the teachings of Christ in the four Gospels, leading many to question whether the Old Testament is even relevant to Christians today… Here’s the answer.

Is the Old Testament still relevant for Christians today?

“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,”

2 Timothy 3:16

Much of the Old Testament is focused on the Jewish people and the nation of Israel. Some view the Old Testament as being an old covenant, with the New Testament as a new covenant for Christians. But the Bible makes no such distinction between the two.

Another important thing to remember is that the Old Testament is the Scripture Jesus studied, quoted, taught, and preached from. The Old Testament makes up three-quarters of the Bible.

The late Reverend Billy Graham wrote: “The Old Testament is still relevant and has much to teach us about the holiness of God and the seriousness of sin. The study of the Old Testament is critical to the full story of Jesus Christ.”

Graham adds about the Old Testament: “This is where we learn how God dealt with His people in times past and how He deals with us today.”

The following paragraphs will show how, not only is the Old Testament still relevant for Christians today – it’s absolutely essential.

The Old Testament prophecies prove the Bible’s veracity

Prophecy is God’s way of proving his word is true. It points to future events that help to identify and support the Bible’s veracity.

The Bible gives a simple test for determining a true prophet. If the prophecy from a prophet fails to come true, that person is not a profit. The penalty for false prophecy is death.

“But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.”

Deuteronomy 18:20

Depending on your source, some scholars say that one-third of the Bible is dedicated to prophecy come up much of which comes from the Old Testament. Some scholars put the number slightly lower.

One of the most complete references on the subject is in the Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy: The Complete Guide to Scriptural Predictions and Their Fulfillment by J. Barton Payne.

According to the books notes, it looks at, 1,817 entries covering all the Biblical predictions in both the Old and New Testaments, and contains a complete discussion of all 8,352 predictive verses in the Bible. A book reviewer wrote that “there are 1,239 prophecies in the Old Testament and 578 prophecies in the New Testament for a total of 1,817.”

The Old Testament points to Christ as the Messiah

Another thing that makes the Old Testament essential for Christians and relevant for all time is that its prophecies point to the coming of the Messiah, Jesus Christ.

Depending on your source, most agree there are over 300 prophecies of Christ in the Old Testament, although some scholars put the number much higher.

Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., PhD, President Emeritus of Gordon Conwell Theological Seminary writes in an article entitled Jesus in the Old Testament: “In addition to the real presence of Jesus as the Angel of the Lord/God, J. Barton Payne listed some 574 verses in the Old Testament.” Kaiser adds: “Alfred Edersheim, who noted that in some 558 rabbinic writings in pre-Christian times, there were some 456 separate Old Testament/Tanak passages used to refer to the Messiah or to messianic times!”

Author Paul Humber, believes there are 414 passages in the Old Testament that point to Jesus the Messiah. He profiles them in his book “400 Prophecies, Appearances or Foreshadowings of Christ in the Tanakh (Old Testament).”