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Are Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John Old Testament Books?

By Justin Johnson

Most every casual Bible student would know that the New Testament section of the Bible begins with the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. We may also know that the origin of this division comes from the different languages from which they were translated.

However, naming the Greek portion of Scripture as the New Testament could possibly be the origin of many problems people have in understanding Jesus’ earthly ministry. For according to the Scripture, the majority of these four narratives of the life of our Lord Jesus are indeed Old Testament.

Hebrews 9:15-17 says:

“And for this cause he is the mediator of the New Testament that BY MEANS OF DEATH, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. For where a testament is, there must also OF NECESSITY BE THE DEATH OF THE TESTATOR. For A TESTAMENT IS OF FORCE AFTER MEN ARE DEAD: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth.”

Hebrews 9:15-17 explains that it was after Jesus’ death that the New Testament took force. Galatians 4:4 explains:

“…when the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth his Son, made of a woman, MADE UNDER THE LAW,…”

The Mosaic Law was the order of the Old Covenant. According to Galatians 4:4, Jesus was born and lived under the Old Covenant. It was not until his death that the New Testament could be made available. Since the large majority of each book and Jesus’ entire earthly ministry occurred before his death then it should be considered that these four books are still in the context of the Old Covenant.

This would explain why Paul wrote that Jesus ‘was a minister of the circumcision to confirm the promises made unto the Fathers’ (Romans 15:8).

This would also explain why Jesus operated according to the Old Testament:

  • Was circumcised (Luke 2:27)
  • Water Baptized (Matt 3:15)
  • Taught Conditional forgiveness (Matt 6:14)
  • Taught Levitical Sacrifice for Healing (Matt 8:4)
  • “Follow the commandments” (Mark 10:17-19)
  • “Obey the Pharisees” (Matt 23:2-3)
  • Observed feast days (Matt 26:17)

In order to better understand the Scriptures we need to understand the context of the passages we read. Therefore it is important to realize that the events leading up to the cross in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John are under the Old Testament.

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Published: June 18, 2005
Last Modified: August 9, 2012
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