The Gospels: New Testament or Old?
Q: I heard a pastor claim that the Gospels are actually Old Testament books because Hebrews 9:16-17 states that “where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive.” The point made was that until Christ actually died on the cross everything up to then thus is Old Testament. This doesn’t sound right to me. I’d appreciate your comments.
A: Does this pastor have too much time on his hands? While the New Testament wasn’t in force until Christ’s death, the Gospels don’t provide a clear break. Even before Jesus’ death, God was busy “updating” the Old Testament through His Son. The angel’s announcements touched on the Old while proclaiming the New. Jesus’ preaching, teaching, and miracles regularly grew out of narratives and actions in the Hebrew Scriptures.
Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John all include times before and after Good Friday. The Holy Spirit didn’t see fit to divide them — should we? Also we received the manuscripts in Greek, just like the rest of the New Testament, rather than in Hebrew. Finally, since they were written within a hundred years of the other twenty-three books, it makes sense to keep them where they are. Just like the life of a Christian, aren’t we more concerned where the books end up than where they begin?
Scripture quoted from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version™, © 2001 by Crossway Bibles.
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Walter Snyder is a Lutheran pastor, conference speaker, author of the book What Do Lutherans Believe, and writer of numerous published devotions, prayers, and sermons.
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Newspaper column #574:3