Does the New Testament Interpret the Old?

William Arnold III


It is said that the New Testement must interpret the Old. What supports this? Should or can the Old Testement be viewed as a foundation that we must build on (which can imply the OT interprets the NT)


The idea that the New Testament interprets the Old is based on the concept of progressive revelation. As God tells us more and more about a topic, it becomes increasingly clearer. One such example is the Great Tribulation. Daniel told us some things about it (chapters 7, 9, 11-12), Jesus then added some details in Matt. 24, but then in the book of Revelation we get the most comprehensive treatment on this subject. Since Revelation was written later, we must interpret Daniel's statments in light of what John said. In addition, New Testament authors will often make comments on Old Testament passages. Since they are writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit as well, then their "interpretation" is inspired and is therefore correct. In other words, the New Testament is the best commentary on the Old Testament that we have. Paul said the the Jews had a veil over their eyes when reading the Old Testament, but that veil is removed with Christ (2 Cor. 3:14). His point is that we only understand the Old Testament properly by looking at it with knowledge of Jesus Christ. Therefore, the New Testament authors were in a better position to understand the Hebrew scriptures than were even the Jewish rabbis.

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