Two testaments – one Bible

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Last week’s article attracted overwhelming response and feedback. Thank you all for reading. I am still opening my mail and as it is my custom, I will respond to every mail.

As the column gets more engaging, my joy however is not in the following, but the reading of the Bible by the column’s readers based on the comments on the online edition.

I am encouraged so much by your Berean church attitude; “And the people of Berea were more open-minded than those in Thessalonica, and they listened eagerly to Paul’s message. They searched the Scriptures day after day to see if Paul and Silas were teaching the truth.” Acts 17:11(New Living Translation)

As I look at the New Testament (NT) today, please understand that it is just a summary or basic overview and not a comprehensive NT survey. In this realm of time, space and matter, I will not be able to accomplish such a task in a newspaper.

Though a six-figure grid reference is more precise, a four-figure grid reference will get us to the point.

Just hang with me, I will not leave you suspended, we are going somewhere. After these summaries, we will go deeper as we look at times, seasons, dispensations and the moves of God based on the experiences of the Bible.

We need to understand that the Old Testament (OT) and NT are related and linked. The OT is the introduction to the NT. An intelligent understanding of the NT depends upon a like understanding of the OT.

The opening verses of Matthew’s Gospel, in giving the covenant and the royal descent of our Lord Jesus Christ, carry us back to the OT.

A constant stream of quotations from the OT as well as allusions to it appears in the NT.

The one gives us the history of the Messianic nation, the other; the life, labour and teaching of the Messiah, who is the great central fact of the OT.

The Bible is complete comprising the OT and NT. Without the other testament, it is incomplete. Jesus says, “Do not think that I have come to do away with or undo the Law or the Prophets; I have come not to do away with or undo but to complete and fulfil them.” Matthew 5:17 (Amplified Version).

Paul says, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.” 2 Timothy 3:16-17 (King James Version). This connotes that every part of the written word in the Bible is from God and is to be respected as such.

Isaiah 28:10, (King James Version) says, “For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little.” For example, the life and death of Moses are recorded in the OT but after his death there was a quarrel concerning his body as recorded in the NT, “Yet Michael the archangel, when contending with the devil, he disputed about the body of Moses, durst not bring against him a railing accusation, but said, The Lord rebuke thee.”

While the Genesis account does not say that Noah invited people to build the ark, you can get the picture of his one hundred and twenty years of preaching in Matthew 24:38, 1 Peter 3:20, 2 Peter 2:5 etc.

There are questions that will be answered better when I will be dealing with the subject Biblical interpretation. We shall cover this topic in greater detail in the coming weeks as we now return to our subject of summarising the NT.

At the close of the OT Canon, a remnant of the Jews, chiefly of the tribe of Judah and survivors of the priests and Levites that had returned to Palestine under the leadership of Zerubbabel, and about eighty years later another company under Ezra, was established in their land with the temple rebuilt and their religious institutions organised.

The greater part of the Jewish people were scattered throughout the Persian Empire. The last three historical books of the OT, Ezra, Esther and Nehemiah give us the history of this period.

From this period to the beginning of the NT times is a period of a little more than four hundred years. During this time no inspired writer, historian or prophet appeared, and it is called the “Period of Silence”.

The NT begins with the ancestry and birth of the promised Saviour, Jesus Christ whose ministry is heralded by John the Baptist.

The story of His birth, life, death and resurrection is recorded in the Gospels; that is, Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Matthew, Mark and Luke are called Synoptic Gospels.

Luke, the writer of Acts picks up the story in Acts as he reports the ascension of Jesus and records the remarkable statement in Acts 1:11, “Which also said, Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into heaven.” (King James Version). It is true that Jesus is coming back.

The promised Holy Spirit comes upon Jesus’ disciples in the Upper Room and they begin to speak in other languages.

The book of Acts records the history of the early church through the hands of the Apostles, Peter and Paul being given much covering. This Paul who used to be called Saul is the one who used to persecute the church.

This same Paul is the one who became the writer of much of the NT in the form of letters and epistles from the book of Romans to Philemon. His writings form much of the teachings of the present church.

We then move on to the book of Hebrews which carries quite useful teachings. The authorship of Hebrews is debatable with various schools suggesting Paul, Apollos, Luke and others.

The NT then carries us through the book of James, then Peter’s two letters, John’s three letters, Jude, then the book of Revelation. The book of Revelation has so much that has been misinterpreted.

Readers have dwelt on minors as opposed to majors. The book is the revelation of Christ but scholars and theologians have put more effort in trying to find out who the Anti-Christ is and the meaning of 666. We shall cover the book more when we shall teach on Biblical interpretation. While it is good to know your enemy it is more useful to know who is backing you.

While you can calculate how much you do not have, please know how much you have and how much you can buy. Seek the face of the Lord.

While you can commit considerable time in finding out the ways of the devil, why don’t you spare time to seek the face of God?

Let me close by asking you to remember Zimbabwe in your prayers especially in this season of celebrating thirty-one years of nationhood. Speak good and positive about our dear nation. God loves us.

Pastor Erasmus Makarimayi is presiding pastor at New Gate Chapel. Feedback: pastor@newgatechapel.org