use of the Old Testament in the Gospels

This is a shortened version of a paper I wrote in 2011 for Theological Study. I have recently been looking further into the fulfilment of the Old Testament by the new and edited this slighted for sharing (changed a few sentences to make it sound a little less academic). I have left the reference markers in there but removed the several pages of reference listings. Happy to share if anyone is interested, or needs an insomnia cure.

The Old Testament was the scripture of the Jewish people (1) at the time of Christ structured (unlike in the modern Christian Canon of the Old Testament) into the Law (the five books of Moses) the Prophets and the Writings. The Jewish people, as the initial emphasis of Christ’s saving mission on earth (2) were generally well versed in the scriptures and it flows logically that this common point of reference would be used heavily by Christ and his disciples as they ministered to them.

New Testament writers also follow the practice of utilising the words already penned by others in the history of the Scriptures, recognition that the Old Testament has a clarity they could not improve on. (3) This approach is continued in Orthodox tradition in the manner of referring to the Scripture and Church Fathers.

Christians often overlook the importance of these references, halting their attention at the authority of those quoting without considering the origin of the quotes. However, as these Old Testament works are are understood as the direct communication between God and his people these quotations, particularly as they relate to events show the authority of God in the New Testament, as the “New Testament writers firmly believed that what they were witnessing was exactly what the Old Testament spoke about.” (4)

This article will look at a General review of Old Testament usage in each of the Four Gospels, usage for Highlighting the fulfilment of prophecy and as a Revelation of Old Testament types.

General review of Old Testament usage in the Four Gospels

Matthew

With the Gospel of St Matthew being directed at the Jews (5) and it’s main objective being to “to prove to the Jews that Jesus Christ is precisely that Messiah Whom the Old Testament prophets had predicted”6 it is not surprising that it contains much in the way of direct scriptural reference to the Old Testament. The amount of scriptural references that a close enough for biblical commentators to consider as quotations is fifty-five, whereas the the remaining three Gospels number fifty-five.(7) These considerable links to the Old Testament help form a solid transition from the Old Testament to the New and have led to the thought that this had some bearing on it’s placement as the first of the Gospels. (8)

Even as early as St Matthew expounds his infancy narrative there are direct references to prophecies in the book of Isaiah. (9) As the Angel of the Lord explains to Joseph the circumstances of Mary’s conception the words used “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.”(10) are all taken from Isaiah “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, And shall call his name Immanuel.”(11).

Further on we come to an explicit reference (12) to the place of the Saviour’s birth, referencing the Old Testament prophecy of Micah: “But thou, Beth-lehem Ephratah,Though thou be little among the thousands of Judah,Yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; Whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”(13)

In several instances St Matthew explicitly states his quotation of the Old Testament, the first (14) of which occurs during his account of Herrod’s Massacre and his reference of the Prophet Jeremiah “Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, (18) In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.”(15)

St Matthew’s Gospel also contains one of the more interesting practices of joining the quotations of several prophets together. “Matthew 24:15–31 contains references to Dan. 11:31; 12:11; Dt. 13:1–3; Isa. 34:4; Dan. 7:13; Zech. 12:10; and Isa. 27:13.”(16) This is a long passage spoken by Christ where these prophecies are interwoven in a dialogue about his second coming referencing the scriptures they were familiar with as shown in historical writings.(17)

Mark

St Mark’s Gospel is less endowed with direct quotations from the Jewish scripture, namely as his main focus is on a “strong and clear narration of Christ’s miracles, emphasizing through them God’s heavenly greatness and omnipotence”(18). Mark does maintain the key Old Testament reference of John the Baptist as “The voice of one crying in the wilderness”(19) recalling the speech of the Prophet Isaiah.

In his response to criticism of His disciples by the Scribes and Pharisee’s Christ quotes the Prophet Isaiah also, bringing into question the amount of faith in their hearts as opposed to them “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.(20)”

In the Lord’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem prior to his passion, the people praise his arrival using the psalmody of their Jewish tradition. The praise in the verse “And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord:”(21) coming straight from the Psalms. (22)

At his trial, answering the question of the high priest, the high priest asked him, and said unto him, “Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?”(23), Christ answers directly “I am: hand ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.”, (24) using the scriptural references to both Psalms (25) and Daniel (26) to place His authority.

The final complete quotation in Mark comes in the Lord’s final moments as he cries out “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?(27)” quoting the Psalms (28). This was recognized by those around him who mocked him believing he was calling Elijah.

Luke

In the Gospel of St Luke the direct quotations are not as lengthy than in Matthew or Mark, rather a one or two verses at most are generally used in this manner. (29) While St Luke was a convert to Judaism (30) he is very familiar with much of the canon of Hebrew scripture “were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms” (31).

The majority of quotations in Luke are inclosed in the speech of others, in fact all but the first three. (32) Not surprisingly Christ quotes a significant number of these starting with his rebuke of the devil during His temptation in the wilderness. (33)

Although Luke’s direct references are shorter and less prevalent than those in the first two Gospels, there is no shortage of allusion to the Old Testament which some have listed at 449, with this allusion in a first century Jewish context being none the less important than direct reference. (34)

Luke also carries the linkage between Christ and the “Wisdom of God” (35) in the Old Testament and firmly presents that by the allusions and references that announce and witness to Christ’s arrival and mission are proof of their divine ordination.(36)

Similar to Mark there is a direct quotation in the account of Christ’s final moments where the Lord cries out “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (37) as with the former a quote from the Psalms; asserting God’s plan for salvation and the voluntary nature of Christ’s death to fulfil this plan. (38)

John

The timeline of John’s Gospel differs from the others in that it starts with the pre-eternal birth of the Son of God39. These first seven verses in John parallel the creation story in the same location in the book of Genesis but giving these concurrent ideas a more elevated purpose in the New Testament.(40)

The closer the narrative of John’s Gospel moves towards Christ’s death on the Cross the greater the emphasis of the Old Testament reference to the fulfilment of scripture and significant stress on the notion that the rejection of Christ by the Jews strongly achieves this. (41)

The entry of the Lord into Jerusalem has direct quotation in John as in other Gospels, both in the manner of His entry42 and the praises from the people.(43)

When Christ encountered criticism from the Pharisees in the temple regarding Him bearing his own witness44 both parties reference the Jewish Tradition that no person may be a witness to their own works (45). The response of Jesus to this is rejection of the Pharisees judgment of Him as an ordinary man and the reference of His Father as the witness to His authority. (46)

Highlighting the fulfilment of prophecy

Both in the narration of the Gospel authors themselves and the quotations directly from Christ’s teachings Old Testament references are used to highlight the the fulfilment of Jewish prophecy in the words or actions of Christ. From the early references around Christ’s conception, as mentioned above, where the birthplace of the Messiah is shown to be that mentioned in Isaiah, not to mention Herod’s massacre, the Gospel author’s point out how these early events fulfil the Jewish “Messianic Hope”. (47) This highlighting of prophecy serves to highlight the revealing of the Messiah to His people.

One of the earliest open displays of Christ’s succumbing to the fulfilment of scripture comes at his Baptism at the Jordan. Despite St John the Baptists initial refusal to baptize him, 48Jesus insists “And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil call righteousness. Then he suffered him.” (49) so that the essential nature of God’s determination is shown. (50)

Many examples of prophetic fulfilment have been outlined in the discussion of the Four Gospels above.

Revelation of Old Testament types

Scriptural references for the elaboration of typology are common in the Gospels (and indeed the remainder of the New Testament). In Christian theology these typological references are seen not only to maintain the original historical context but extend their significance greater than the Old Testament example alone. (51) Many of these typologies relate directly to Christ or His actions.

Christ is seen as the new Adam, with the first human being made in the image of the Word. (52) In Mark’s Gospel this is shown in the wild beasts acknowledging Christ’s sovereignty over them. (53) This typology is also alluded to by tradition by the location of the crucifixion as being that where the first human reposed (54).

In John’s Gospel the recounting of St John the Baptist’s proclamation of Christ as the “Lamb of God” links Him to the replacement of the sacrificial lamb of temple worship and the prophecy of Isaiah where the Messiah is “brought as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, So he openeth not his mouth”.(55) This rendition also types the lamb God calls Abraham to sacrifice in place of his son.(56)

There is also significant Davidic typology, particularly in the Gospel of John (57) where references to Psalms in which David is speaking are used. (58)

The revelation of the Old Testament types started in the Gospels then expands itself through the New Testament especially throughout the Pauline writings and the Apocalypse of John. (59)

Conclusion

Old Testament references occur frequently in the New Testament and particularly in the four Gospels. Even with the different objectives and audiences of the four different Gospels the use of Old Testament reference either by direct quotation or allusion is frequent whether by the recorded words and actions of Christ, the usage of the authors themselves or others with whom Christ and the Apostles interacted.

These references are critical to share in context the arrival of the Messiah with the people of the time, highlight the fulfilment of prophecy to them and to the generations to come and provides to this day a revelation of the Old Testament to the Church in light of Christ’s ministry on earth. The Church has recgnized this fullfillement with the sybolic usage of a man or angel (for Matthew), a lion (for Mark), an ox (for Luke) and an Eagle (for John) itself a reference to the “mysterious chariot seen by the prophet Ezekiel at the river Chebar”. (60)

Readings for the feast of the Annunciation

annunciation

VESPERS

A READING FROM GENESIS
Jacob went forth from the well of the oath, and departed into Haran. And he came to a certain place, and slept there, for the sun had gone down; and he took one of the stones of the place, and put it at his head, and lay down to sleep in that place, and dreamed: and behold a ladder fixed on the earth, whose top reached to heaven, and the angels of God ascended and descended on it. And the Lord stood upon it, and said: “I am the God of thy father Abraham, and the God of Isaac. Fear not; the land on which thou liest, to thee will I give it, and to thy seed. And thy seed shall be like the sand of the earth; and it shall spread abroad to the sea, and the south. and the north, and the east; and in thee and in thy seed shall all tribes of the earth be blessed. And behold I am with thee to preserve thee continually in all the way wherein thou shalt go; and I will bring thee back to this land; for I will not desert thee, until I have done all that I have said to thee.” And Jacob awaked out of his sleep, and said: “The Lord is in this place, and I knew it not.” And he was afraid, and sad: “How fearful is this place! This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate of heaven!”

A READING FROM THE PROPHECY OF EZEKIEL

Thus saith the Lord: “It shall come to pass from the eighth day and onward, that the priests shall offer your wholeburnt-offerings on the altar, and your peace offerings; and I will accept you,” saith the Lord. Then He brought me back by the way of the outer gate of the sanctuary that faceth eastward; and it was shut. And the
Lord said to me: “This gate shall be shut; it shall not be opened, and no one shall pass through it; for the Lord God of Israel shall enter by it, and it shall be shut. For the Prince, He shall sit in it, to eat bread before the Lord; He shall go in by the way of the porch of the gate, and shall go forth by the way of the same.” And He brought me in by the way of the gate that faceth northward, in front of the house: and I looked, and, behold! the house was full of the glory of the Lord.

A READING FROM PROVERBS

Wisdom hath built a house for herself and set up seven pillars. She hath killed her beasts; she hath mingled her wine in a bowl and prepared her table. She hath sent forth her servants, calling with a loud proclamation to the feast, saying: “Whoso is foolish, let him turn aside to me.” And to those who want understanding, she saith: “Come, eat of my bread, and drink wine which I have mingled for you. Leave folly, that ye may reign forever; and seek wisdom, and improve understanding by knowledge.” He that reproveth evil men shall get dishonor to himself; and he that rebuke an ungodly man shall disgrace himself. Rebuke not evil men, lest they should hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee. Give an opportunity to a wise man, and he will be wiser: instruct a just man, and he will receive more instruction. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the counsel of the law is the character of a sound mind. For in this way thou shalt live long, and years of thy life shall be added to thee.

A READING FROM EXODUS

Moses was tending the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian; and he brought the sheep nigh to the wilderness, and came to the Mount of Horeb. And an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the bush, and he saw that the bush was burning with fire, but the bush was not consumed. And Moses said: “I will go near and see this great sight, why the bush is not consumed.” And when the Lord saw that he drew nigh to see, the Lord called him out of the bush, saying: “Moses, Moses!” And he said: “What is it?” And He said: “Draw not nigh hither: loose thy sandals from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground.” And He said: “I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses turned away his face, for he was afraid to gaze at God. And the Lord said to Moses: “I have surely seen the affliction of My people that is in Egypt, and I have heard their cry caused by their taskmasters; for I know their affliction. And I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them out of that land, and to bring them into a good and wide land, into a land flowing with milk and honey.”

A READING FROM PROVERBS

The Lord hath made me the beginning of His ways for His works. He established me before time was in the beginning, before He made the earth: even before He made the depths; before the fountains of water came forth; before the mountains were settled, and all the hills, He begetteth me. The Lord made countries and deserts, and the highest inhabited parts under the heavens. When He prepared heaven, I was present with Him; and when He prepared His throne upon the winds, and when He strengthened the clouds above, and when He secured the fountains of the earth, and when He strengthened the foundations of the earth: I was by Him, arranging all things. I was that in which He took delight; and daily I rejoiced in His presence continually.

MATINS

LUKE ch 1 v 39-49, 56
And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Judah; and entered into the house of Zechariah, and saluted Elisabeth. And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: and she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For, lo! as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord. And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord, and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior. For He hath regarded the low estate of His handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For He that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is His name. And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned to her own house.

LITURGY

HEBREWS ch 2 v 11-18
Brethren: He that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause who is not ashamed to call them brethren, Saying, I will declare thy name unto my brethren, in the midst of the church will I sing praise unto thee. And again, I will put my trust in him. And again, Behold I and the children which God hath given me. For as much then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, he also himself likewise took part of the same; that through death he might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; And deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succor them that are tempted.

LUKE ch 1 v 24-38
In those days, Elizabeth, the wife of Zachariah, conceived, and hid herself five months, saying, Thus hath the Lord dealt with me in the days wherein he looked on me, to take away my reproach among men. And in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God unto a city of Galilee, named Nazareth, to a virgin espoused to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And the angel came in unto her, and said, Hail, thou that art highly favored, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women. And when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and cast in her mind what manner of salutation this should be. And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favor with God. And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a Son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto Him the throne of His father David: And He shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of His kingdom there shall be no end. Then said Mary unto the angel, How shall this be, seeing I know not a man? And the angel answered and said unto her, The Holy Spirit shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. For with God nothing shall be impossible. And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.

Sunday of the Dread Judgement (Meatfare Sunday)

The Last Judgement
When You, O God, shall come to earth with glory, All things shall tremble And the river of fire shall flow before Your judgment seat; The books shall be opened and the hidden things disclosed! Then deliver me from the unquenchable fire, And make me worthy to stand at Your right hand, righteous Judge!

(Kontakion – Tone 1)

31 When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the holy angels with him, then shall he sit upon the throne of his glory: 32 And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth his sheep from the goats: 33 And he shall set the sheep son his right hand, but the goats on the left.
 34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world: 35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. 37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.
 41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: 42 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: 43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not. 44 Then shall they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, or thirst, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister unto thee? 45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. 46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. (Mt 25:31–46, KJV)

This third Sunday of the Triodion leads us into the final pre-preparation week before the start of Great Lent. Some may think the emphasis on the Last Judgment is appropriate given it is the final day of carnivorous life before Great Lent and many plan an interesting meat poisoning event on that day. Probably wise then that the Church gave to us this pre-preparation for the Lenten season to get passions out of our system before we focus on the road to Pascha.

While the Gospel passage read on this day is the parable of the Last Judgement and begins with the separation of the sheep and the goats, dividing the faithful from those who chose their own path, it moves into a distinct explanation of this division. While terrifying for those who have ignored the Gospel, the second half of this message provides a recipe for fulfilling the second of Christ’s great commandments “And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” (MT 22:39 KJV)

Christ in this passage is making it very plain for us: feed the hungry and thirsty; take in the stranger; cloth the naked; visit the sick and imprisoned. While it is important that we worship together in church services, fast and follow the calendar of the church and focus on scripture there is nothing in this unless it takes hold of our hearts and we do what is demanded of our Saviour.

As we begin the final preparation for Great Lent, let us not only focus on what effect it will have on ourselves, how to cope without the foods we like alone, but how we can affect the lives of others even more dramatically using our talents, time and money to help those who need it most, without expectations in return.

11 Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, 12 having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation. (1 Peter 11,12 NKJV)

use of the Old Testament in the Gospels

This is a shortened version of a paper I wrote in 2011 for Theological Study. I have recently been looking further into the fulfilment of the Old Testament by the new and edited this slighted for sharing (changed a few sentences to make it sound a little less academic). I have left the reference markers in there but removed the several pages of reference listings. Happy to share if anyone is interested, or needs an insomnia cure.

The Old Testament was the scripture of the Jewish people (1) at the time of Christ structured (unlike in the modern Christian Canon of the Old Testament) into the Law (the five books of Moses) the Prophets and the Writings. The Jewish people, as the initial emphasis of Christ’s saving mission on earth (2) were generally well versed in the scriptures and it flows logically that this common point of reference would be used heavily by Christ and his disciples as they ministered to them.

New Testament writers also follow the practice of utilising the words already penned by others in the history of the Scriptures, recognition that the Old Testament has a clarity they could not improve on. (3) This approach is continued in Orthodox tradition in the manner of referring to the Scripture and Church Fathers.

Christians often overlook the importance of these references, halting their attention at the authority of those quoting without considering the origin of the quotes. However, as these Old Testament works are are understood as the direct communication between God and his people these quotations, particularly as they relate to events show the authority of God in the New Testament, as the “New Testament writers firmly believed that what they were witnessing was exactly what the Old Testament spoke about.” (4)

This article will look at a General review of Old Testament usage in each of the Four Gospels, usage for Highlighting the fulfilment of prophecy and as a Revelation of Old Testament types.

General review of Old Testament usage in the Four Gospels

Matthew

With the Gospel of St Matthew being directed at the Jews (5) and it’s main objective being to “to prove to the Jews that Jesus Christ is precisely that Messiah Whom the Old Testament prophets had predicted”6 it is not surprising that it contains much in the way of direct scriptural reference to the Old Testament. The amount of scriptural references that a close enough for biblical commentators to consider as quotations is fifty-five, whereas the the remaining three Gospels number fifty-five.(7) These considerable links to the Old Testament help form a solid transition from the Old Testament to the New and have led to the thought that this had some bearing on it’s placement as the first of the Gospels. (8)

Even as early as St Matthew expounds his infancy narrative there are direct references to prophecies in the book of Isaiah. (9) As the Angel of the Lord explains to Joseph the circumstances of Mary’s conception the words used “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.”(10) are all taken from Isaiah “Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, And shall call his name Immanuel.”(11).

Further on we come to an explicit reference (12) to the place of the Saviour’s birth, referencing the Old Testament prophecy of Micah: “But thou, Beth-lehem Ephratah,Though thou be little among the thousands of Judah,Yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; Whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”(13)

In several instances St Matthew explicitly states his quotation of the Old Testament, the first (14) of which occurs during his account of Herrod’s Massacre and his reference of the Prophet Jeremiah “Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremy the prophet, saying, (18) In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.”(15)

St Matthew’s Gospel also contains one of the more interesting practices of joining the quotations of several prophets together. “Matthew 24:15–31 contains references to Dan. 11:31; 12:11; Dt. 13:1–3; Isa. 34:4; Dan. 7:13; Zech. 12:10; and Isa. 27:13.”(16) This is a long passage spoken by Christ where these prophecies are interwoven in a dialogue about his second coming referencing the scriptures they were familiar with as shown in historical writings.(17)

Mark

St Mark’s Gospel is less endowed with direct quotations from the Jewish scripture, namely as his main focus is on a “strong and clear narration of Christ’s miracles, emphasizing through them God’s heavenly greatness and omnipotence”(18). Mark does maintain the key Old Testament reference of John the Baptist as “The voice of one crying in the wilderness”(19) recalling the speech of the Prophet Isaiah.

In his response to criticism of His disciples by the Scribes and Pharisee’s Christ quotes the Prophet Isaiah also, bringing into question the amount of faith in their hearts as opposed to them “teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.(20)”

In the Lord’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem prior to his passion, the people praise his arrival using the psalmody of their Jewish tradition. The praise in the verse “And they that went before, and they that followed, cried, saying, Hosanna; Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord:”(21) coming straight from the Psalms. (22)

At his trial, answering the question of the high priest, the high priest asked him, and said unto him, “Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed?”(23), Christ answers directly “I am: hand ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven.”, (24) using the scriptural references to both Psalms (25) and Daniel (26) to place His authority.

The final complete quotation in Mark comes in the Lord’s final moments as he cries out “Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is, being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?(27)” quoting the Psalms (28). This was recognized by those around him who mocked him believing he was calling Elijah.

Luke

In the Gospel of St Luke the direct quotations are not as lengthy than in Matthew or Mark, rather a one or two verses at most are generally used in this manner. (29) While St Luke was a convert to Judaism (30) he is very familiar with much of the canon of Hebrew scripture “were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms” (31).

The majority of quotations in Luke are inclosed in the speech of others, in fact all but the first three. (32) Not surprisingly Christ quotes a significant number of these starting with his rebuke of the devil during His temptation in the wilderness. (33)

Although Luke’s direct references are shorter and less prevalent than those in the first two Gospels, there is no shortage of allusion to the Old Testament which some have listed at 449, with this allusion in a first century Jewish context being none the less important than direct reference. (34)

Luke also carries the linkage between Christ and the “Wisdom of God” (35) in the Old Testament and firmly presents that by the allusions and references that announce and witness to Christ’s arrival and mission are proof of their divine ordination.(36)

Similar to Mark there is a direct quotation in the account of Christ’s final moments where the Lord cries out “Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit” (37) as with the former a quote from the Psalms; asserting God’s plan for salvation and the voluntary nature of Christ’s death to fulfil this plan. (38)

John

The timeline of John’s Gospel differs from the others in that it starts with the pre-eternal birth of the Son of God39. These first seven verses in John parallel the creation story in the same location in the book of Genesis but giving these concurrent ideas a more elevated purpose in the New Testament.(40)

The closer the narrative of John’s Gospel moves towards Christ’s death on the Cross the greater the emphasis of the Old Testament reference to the fulfilment of scripture and significant stress on the notion that the rejection of Christ by the Jews strongly achieves this. (41)

The entry of the Lord into Jerusalem has direct quotation in John as in other Gospels, both in the manner of His entry42 and the praises from the people.(43)

When Christ encountered criticism from the Pharisees in the temple regarding Him bearing his own witness44 both parties reference the Jewish Tradition that no person may be a witness to their own works (45). The response of Jesus to this is rejection of the Pharisees judgment of Him as an ordinary man and the reference of His Father as the witness to His authority. (46)

Highlighting the fulfilment of prophecy

Both in the narration of the Gospel authors themselves and the quotations directly from Christ’s teachings Old Testament references are used to highlight the the fulfilment of Jewish prophecy in the words or actions of Christ. From the early references around Christ’s conception, as mentioned above, where the birthplace of the Messiah is shown to be that mentioned in Isaiah, not to mention Herod’s massacre, the Gospel author’s point out how these early events fulfil the Jewish “Messianic Hope”. (47) This highlighting of prophecy serves to highlight the revealing of the Messiah to His people.

One of the earliest open displays of Christ’s succumbing to the fulfilment of scripture comes at his Baptism at the Jordan. Despite St John the Baptists initial refusal to baptize him, 48Jesus insists “And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil call righteousness. Then he suffered him.” (49) so that the essential nature of God’s determination is shown. (50)

Many examples of prophetic fulfilment have been outlined in the discussion of the Four Gospels above.

Revelation of Old Testament types

Scriptural references for the elaboration of typology are common in the Gospels (and indeed the remainder of the New Testament). In Christian theology these typological references are seen not only to maintain the original historical context but extend their significance greater than the Old Testament example alone. (51) Many of these typologies relate directly to Christ or His actions.

Christ is seen as the new Adam, with the first human being made in the image of the Word. (52) In Mark’s Gospel this is shown in the wild beasts acknowledging Christ’s sovereignty over them. (53) This typology is also alluded to by tradition by the location of the crucifixion as being that where the first human reposed (54).

In John’s Gospel the recounting of St John the Baptist’s proclamation of Christ as the “Lamb of God” links Him to the replacement of the sacrificial lamb of temple worship and the prophecy of Isaiah where the Messiah is “brought as a lamb to the slaughter, And as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, So he openeth not his mouth”.(55) This rendition also types the lamb God calls Abraham to sacrifice in place of his son.(56)

There is also significant Davidic typology, particularly in the Gospel of John (57) where references to Psalms in which David is speaking are used. (58)

The revelation of the Old Testament types started in the Gospels then expands itself through the New Testament especially throughout the Pauline writings and the Apocalypse of John. (59)

Conclusion

Old Testament references occur frequently in the New Testament and particularly in the four Gospels. Even with the different objectives and audiences of the four different Gospels the use of Old Testament reference either by direct quotation or allusion is frequent whether by the recorded words and actions of Christ, the usage of the authors themselves or others with whom Christ and the Apostles interacted.

These references are critical to share in context the arrival of the Messiah with the people of the time, highlight the fulfilment of prophecy to them and to the generations to come and provides to this day a revelation of the Old Testament to the Church in light of Christ’s ministry on earth. The Church has recgnized this fullfillement with the sybolic usage of a man or angel (for Matthew), a lion (for Mark), an ox (for Luke) and an Eagle (for John) itself a reference to the “mysterious chariot seen by the prophet Ezekiel at the river Chebar”. (60)

time to shed

This is an interesting and difficult post for me to write. For as many years as I can remember I have been heavier than I would like to be. With the exception of a health scare in 2008 I have never been able to drop weight significantly for any period of time. There were also a couple of periods in my life where, due to injury, I took a polite jump in weight due to inactivity which didn’t help much.

My job doesn’t help in this respect either. I essentially sit on my backside for more than twelve hours a day on calls, meetings, video, email etc and movement is limited. Of course, the corporation I work for isn’t sitting over my head enforcing laziness and lack of movement, to the contrary there are a myriad of health initiatives freely offered that disappear between breaks in discussions.

Late in 2013 I challenged myself to get moving more in some ways to prepare and survive the next Great Lent. Large man and prostrations do not make a great mixture and I was hoping to drop a few pounds and strengthen the legs up in preparation rather than feeling like a cripple by Pascha. Then I tweaked my knee on an overseas trip and after physiotherapy and almost getting better super-tweaked it again to the point where I could barely walk for a week.

Now I am facing the possibility of knee surgery (one of the previous incidents that packed on the pounds) and really need to look at things critically. While not moving around so much I am replacing one meal a day with one of those horrid protein shakes which is not sustainable but I needed to do something first before thinking too much.

A few weeks of pondering down the tracks I have decided to treat this condition for what I think it really is. An addiction to eating. I searched out some material and found the book Breaking the Chains by Victor Mihailoff and put myself back in a rhythm of actually looking at this spiritually and working at prayer and constant review of myself in attitude as well as on the scales. I have dragged out Rita Madden’s Food Faith & Fasting podcast to revise regularly in parallel.

This is going to be a long haul mixed with a hectic work year and possibly some surgery. With God’s help hopefully I can become a shadow of my former self and be more helpful to Him.

q

Pakistan Mission – Summer Youth Camp

The following report is from Father Anthony Shamoon, a Priest of the St Michael the Archangel Orthodox Mission in Pakistan describing a summer youth camp put on by the mission. I have had the pleasure of becoming aquainted with Father Anthony over the past months, communicating with him via the internet and feel intensively the love and passion to serve Christ in him and his Matushka, Maria. They are based in Hyderabad and alternatively serve two communities alternative weeks in opposite directions from where they live.

The mission in Pakistan is very practicle and focusing in on serving the needs of the poor and needy in the areas as we are called by Christ to do “For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.” (Matt 25:35,36 KJV)

The very thought of trying to live a Christian witness in such a hostile country fills me with fear in the relative safety of my comfortable life in Australia. Please read this report on some of the latest activities of the mission and have a look at their website for more information and instructions on how you can donate to this cause.

St. Michael the Archangel Orthodox Mission Pakistan’s partners with asister organization “Humanitarian, Educational, Anti-Violence & Environmental Nurturing” (HEAVEN). http://www.heavensworks.org is a nonprofit, non religious, non political and non government social development organization to support marginalized, poor and needy communities without any discrimination based on sex, gender, religious or ethnic background.

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HEAVEN aims to endorse culture of peace in communities and strives to see co-existence of people of different religious backgrounds and ethnicity, with special concentration to youth through anti-violence education and activities.

HEAVEN has organized a two months Christian Youth Summer Camp for St. Anthony Orthodox Parish young boys and girls. The opening ceremony was held on the 9th July Tuesday, 65 participants including Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Protestant youth members are participating in this camp.

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Main Objectives of Youth Summer Camp:

  • To provide understanding of English Language (reading, writing, listening and speaking) skill to 65 students from St. Anthony parish Hyderabad.
  • To preach Orthodox Christian faith to non Orthodox and make our presence meaningful in the Christian community in the parish.
  • To provide learning atmosphere to students and make them able to use their summer holidays effectively.
  • To provide opportunity to Christian students to be ready to face challenges in Pakistani society and be useful members of their family and society.
  • To provide awareness sessions on global warming, personality development, career guidance, comics and other disciplines of life.
  • To create environment friendly and effective learning atmosphere among youth.
  • To help youth to be self reliant, self sufficient and prosperous in practical life.

Course Component:

  • English Language Course, Learning four skills (Speaking, Reading, Writing and Listening)
  • Behavior change and Attitude Development
  • Preaching Orthodox faith
  • Personality Development
  • Weekly awareness seminars on current issues, such as global warming and environmental awareness.
  • COMICS training

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Outcomes:

  • 65 young Christian boys and girls will be able to communicate in better English and they will develop their English language skills in speaking, reading, writing and listening.
  • Non Orthodox youth will learn about Orthodoxy and will become our amassidors to preach orthodoxy to their parents and family members and this how we can be able to enter to the homes of youth.
  • They will learn behavioral change techniques.
  • Behavior and attitude will have been changed at the completion of youth summer camp
  • They will be in a better position to get job in any reputed institution at the end of the camp.
  • Christian youth will be ready to face challenges in any circumstance.
  • They will become useful members of Pakistani Society and witness Jesus Christ.
  • Parents will feel proud on the development of their offspring.
  • 65 Young Christian boys and girls will be ready to guide other youth in Issa Nagri and Christian population in Hyderabad district.

A “comic” is a series of pictures used to tell a story. Sometimes, they may be paired with words, to create dialog or explain something.

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Holy Week and Pascha: a time to share the love of Jesus Christ

As we leave Great Lent for the I would like to suggest a switch to a more external focus. Holy Week is our final leg in the voyage to the Holy Pascha of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ; but how often do we take this time to reaqlize that He came for the salvation of all.

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We tend to be worried about juggling our work and church commitments, transporting ourselves and family, perparing the final items for our Paschal Feast; what better time than the Feast of Feasts to focus on sharing the love of Jesus Christ with those who may not know Him, or know the church he established through his Apostles.

How can we do this? Should be go knocking randomly on doors and stand in the street ringing bells? Perhaps not. These are the actions that lead the Orthodox world to shy away from Evangelism. What we need is to share the love through discipleship rather than through the pen (or sword). Some may feel shy to answer questions on their faith.

Some simple suggestions for sharing the love of Christ over the coming weeks:

*Invite some of your friends to the start of the Paschal service, or the vespers Sunday night (joyous but short and sweet)
*Having a Paschal meal with friends and family, invite some non-Orthodox friends to break the fast or later on during the Paschal period. Scared about lots of questions? Ask you Priest or Deacon over for dinner as well 😉
*Many of us due to our Eastern heritage cook enough food in case the entire Mother Church is coming for dinner; take some Paschal items into the office to share with colleagues and drop an email around describing what they are and inviting people to share with you.
*Learn more about the detail of your faith or give a book to an inquiring friend (such as)
Support some local or global missions giving others the resources to spread the love of Christ (examples: ROCOR mission in Pakistan, Fund For Assistance, OCMC)

For the law is old,
but the word is new.
The type is provisional,
but grace is everlasting.
The sheep is perishable,
but the Lord,
not broken as a lamb but raised up as God,
is imperishable.
For though led to the slaughter like a sheep,
he was no sheep.
Though speechless as a lamb,
neither yet was he a lamb.
For there was once a type, but now the reality has appeared.
Melito of Sardis

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Just some short ideas to think about. May you all have a profitable Holy Week and a joyous Pascha!