December 20, 2014 at 1:43 pm #2893Mari – AdministratorKeymaster
Is the Mystery in the Old Testament?
By Pastor Ricky Kurth
No, of course not! Then why does Paul often quote the Old Testament to substantiate the Mystery (e.g., Rom. 15:9-12)? Let’s start in Acts 26:22, where Paul testifies:
“I continue unto this day…saying none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come.”
This statement seems to belie Paul’s insistence that his message was “hid from ages and from generations” (Col. 1:26). However, he explains himself in the next verse:
“That Christ should suffer, and that He should be the first that should rise from the dead, and should shew light unto the people, and to the Gentiles” (Acts 26:23).
The death and resurrection of Christ was not a mystery, nor was God’s plan to show light unto “the people” (of Israel) and “to the Gentiles.” Thus Paul is saying that while his message did not fulfill the prophets, generally speaking it did not contradict the Old Testament. We see the same thought in Acts 15, where the leaders in the church met to decide what to make of Paul’s new gospel. James concluded:
“Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for His name. And to this agree the words of the prophets…” (v. 14,15).
James didn’t say that Paul’s new message fulfilled the prophets. Rather he said it agreed with them, i.e., God always intended to visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for His name. Of course, according to Prophecy this was supposed to happen through Israel’s rise (Isa. 60:3), not through her fall (Rom. 11:11). Someday in the kingdom it will. But in the meantime, James could not deny that generally speaking Paul’s new message was in accord with the Old Testament.
When most New Testament writers quote the Old Testament, it is to show fulfillment of prophecy. However, when Paul quotes the Old Testament, it is to show harmony, not fulfillment.
Let’s close with an example. In Romans 10:19 Paul quotes Deuteronomy 32:21, where God vows to provoke Israel to jealousy by “a foolish nation.” This cannot be the Gentiles, for they are “the nations,” plural. Peter rather identifies the believing Jews to whom he wrote as the “holy nation” that God originally used to provoke the apostate nation of Israel
to jealousy (I Pet. 2:9 cf. Matt. 21:43; Luke 12:32) and fulfill Deuteronomy 32:21. But in the next chapter of Romans, Paul says,
“…I am the apostle of the Gentiles…if by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh…” (Rom. 11:13,14).
Here Paul declares that God was now using the Gentiles to provoke Israel to jealousy. Not in fulfillment of Deuteronomy 32:21, but certainly in harmony with it!
So while the Mystery is not in the Old Testament, Paul can quote it freely to show how his new message was in agreement with it.
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