On Interpreting the OT with the NT

One of the primary differences between Christians who adhere more to dispensational distinctives and those who may adhere to covenant Reformed distinctives is how the two groups use the NT to understand the OT.

Those of the Reformed view (and those of the NCT perspective, see #2) tend to read the NT back onto the OT allowing it to re-interpret at times passages in the OT, especially those passages that have prophetic, eschatological significance. They argue that the NT is the pentacle of God’s revelation, because it reveals Jesus Christ, who is the focus and fulfillment of God’s redemptive purposes. Thus, OT prophetic passages that speak of God promise being fulfilled need to be interpreted with the NT as the starting point, and our understanding of the OT passages directing us to Jesus.

Paul Henebury provides us with 40 reasons why this hermeneutic is problematic and can make for some seriously bad Bible study. They are presented in two articles:


Forty Reasons for Not Reinterpreting the Old Testament by the New: The First Twenty

Forty Reasons for Not Reinterpreting the Old Testament by the New: The Last Twenty

By the way. This is the stuff I want to see Jamin Hubner and his young buddies genuinely interact with. Not those tomato can “dispensational” theologians like Joel Rosenberg and John Hagee they always beat on.
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6 thoughts on “On Interpreting the OT with the NT

  1. For me personally, I appreciate Rosenberg, but his primary work is with novels and journalism. I don't appeal to him as a studied theologian on the subject of eschatology, particularly the dispensational sort that Jamin uses as the reason why "dispensationalism" is heresy.

  2. Of course, we must also avoid the reverse error; that of forcing the New Testament into Old Testament categories in such a way as to deny any progression in God's self-revelation. I mention this because I have met antitrinitarians and physicalists who reinterpret the New Testament by the old and say "Well, if God is not revealed as Trinity in the Old Testament, that means the Trinity must be heretical. I can't name names because these were street-preaching encounters.So there must be a sense in which we read the Old Testament as Christians; we cannot avoid doing so. But we must be careful not to force the Old Testament to say what we want it to say rather than what a serious consideration of the text leads us to. We cannot shut out the light of Christ, nor should we want to, but at the same time we test our theology by the Bible, not the other way around.Which, incidentally, is why I do not find the fall of Satan in Isaiah 14. That involves reinterpreting Isaiah's Old Testament text by Jesus' New Testament teaching. The text is clearly a poetical description of the fall of the King of Tyre.

  3. I just read it, and Paul Martin Henebury's material is clearly meant for his own side, as Jamin Hubner's is meant for his, which explains the liberal use of language that can only be intended to create or encourage antipathy to the 'other side'. This means that it is as useless as Gary DeMar's stuff at convincing the 'other side', because what good argument there may be is effectively concealed by fighting language. I do wish that there would be a total end to all the throwing of epithets and burning of straw men, and that there would be a conference at which you would all sit down and talk like Christian brethren.This is why more and more I avoid the discussion of eschatology like the plague. It creates a great deal of heat and precious little light, and as long as people write only for their own side I see no hope.As the Scots Bard put it: 'O that some higher power would gie us/ Tae see ourselves as others see us.' (from memory, sorry).

  4. Finally; no covenant theologian is likely to read this and be convinced. The hostile rhetoric effectively neutralises the argument where they are concerned. I'd like to see Jamin Hubner interact with it as well, but I hope you don't think this is the best you have, because I don't, I'm sure there is better.

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