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The Gospel in the Old Testament

Apollos, an often overlooked contemporary of the Apostle Paul, was a great help to the early church. Using facts, logic, and the art of persuasion Apollos proved from the Old Testament that Yeshua (Jesus) is the Messiah. In addition, he powerfully refuted any and all counterarguments of unbelievers. But where is Yeshua (Jesus) in the Old Testament?

by William L. Nowell

Apollos - A Defender of the Faith

Apologetics is all about crafting rational arguments in defense of a topic; oftentimes a religious topic. Hence, Christian apologetics focuses on defending the Christian faith. So, a Christian apologist is one who speaks or writes in defense of Christian beliefs and practices.

One of the earliest Christian apologists was a man named Apollos. He was a staunch defender of the faith and a great help to the early church. We first read about Apollos in Acts 18:24-19:1. We also find mention of him in 1 Corinthians 1:12, 3:4-6, 22, 4:6, 16:12 and Titus 3:13. He was a well-educated man, a gifted orator, and had a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures. In public debate, Apollos vigorously refuted arguments of non-believers and proved from the Scriptures that Yeshua (Jesus) is the promised Messiah. Keep in mind that Apollos lived before there was a written New Testament. Consequently, the only Scriptures he had were the Hebrew Scriptures; i.e. the Old Testament.

And so realizing that Apollos used only Old Testament Scriptures to prove that Yeshua (Jesus) was the Messiah led me to ask if I could do likewise. Unfortunately, my answer was an emphatic NO! And that is why I began my search for Old Testament Scriptures that Apollos possibly used to build his case for Yeshua (Jesus) as the Messiah. In this article, I list 25 pairs of Scriptures that show the gospel of the Lord Yeshua (Jesus) cleverly concealed in the Old Testament. Though not an exhaustive list, it most likely includes several of the Messianic Scriptures Apollos used as part of his arsenal.

Fulfilled Prophecies

  • The gospel in the Old Testament:
    • Old Testament prophecy: Genesis 12:1-3; 22:18;
    • New Testament fulfillment: Galatians 3:8; Romans 1:1-4;
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  • The Messiah would come from the line of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Judah, Jesse and King David:
    • Old Testament prophecy: Genesis 12:1-3; 49:10; Isaiah 11:1-2; 1 Sam. 16:11-13
    • New Testament fulfillment: Matthew 1:1-2, 6, 16-17; Acts 3:24-26
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  • The Messiah would be born of a woman and have victory over Satan:
    • Old Testament prophecy: Genesis 3:8-15
    • New Testament fulfillment: Matthew 1:18; Galatians 4:4; 1 John 3:8; Hebrews 2:14
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  • The Messiah would be born of a virgin and would be God with us:
    • Old Testament prophecy: Isaiah 7:14; Isaiah 9:6-7
    • New Testament fulfillment: Matthew 1:18-23; John 1:1-4, 14; 8:58, 10:30
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  • A star would lead wise men to the Messiah:
    • Old Testament prophecy: Numbers 24:17
    • New Testament fulfillment: Matthew 2:1-2
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  • The Messiah would be born in Bethlehem:
    • Old Testament prophecy: Micah 5:2
    • New Testament fulfillment: Matthew 2:1-6; Luke 2:1-6
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  • The Messiah would flee to Egypt:
    • Old Testament prophecy: Hosea 11:1
    • New Testament fulfillment: Matthew 2:13-15
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  • Massacre of the Innocents:
    • Old Testament prophecy: Jeremiah 31:15
    • New Testament fulfillment: Matthew 2:16-28
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Baptism of Yeshua (Jesus)

Baptism of Yeshua
Source: Steve Miller Animation, Illustration & Design
  • A prophet would announce the arrival of the Messiah:
    • Old Testament prophecy: Isaiah 40:3
    • New Testament fulfillment: Matthew 3:1-3; Mark 1:1-5; Luke 1:76-77; John 1:19-23
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  • The Messiah would be preceded by the prophet Elijah:
    • Old Testament prophecy: Malachi 4:5?6
    • New Testament fulfillment: Luke 1:13?17; Matthew 17:9?13
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  • The Messiah would be called the Son of God:
    • Old Testament prophecy: Psalm 2:7; Isaiah 42:1
    • New Testament fulfillment: Luke 3:21-22; Luke 9:32-36
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  • The Messiah would have a miraculous healing ministry:
    • Old Testament prophecy: Isaiah 35:5-6, 61:1
    • New Testament fulfillment: Matthew 11:2-5; Luke 7:20-22
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  • The Messiah would bring freedom:
    • Old Testament prophecy: Isaiah 61:1
    • New Testament fulfillment: Luke 4:17-21
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  • The Messiah would speak in parables:
    • Old Testament prophecy: Psalm 78:2
    • New Testament fulfillment: Matthew 13:34-35
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  • The Messiah would come riding on a donkey:
    • Old Testament prophecy: Zechariah 9:9
    • New Testament fulfillment: Matthew 21:1-7
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  • The Messiah would be the cornerstone that the builders rejected:
    • Old Testament prophecy: Psalm 118:22-23
    • New Testament fulfillment: Matthew 21:33-44; Acts 4:9-12; Ephesians 2:19-22; 1 Peter 2:6-8
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John 5:39
  • The Messiah would come according to a precise timetable:
    • Old Testament prophecy: Daniel 9:24-26
    • New Testament fulfillment: Galatians 4:4-5
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  • The Messiah would be betrayed for thirty pieces of silver:
    • Old Testament prophecy: Zechariah 11:12-13
    • New Testament fulfillment: Matthew 26:14-15; Matthew 27:3-10
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  • The Messiah would make a new covenant:
    • Old Testament prophecy: Jeremiah 31:31-34
    • New Testament fulfillment: Luke 22:20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-25; Hebrews 8:7-12; Hebrews 10:16-18
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  • The Messiah would be a prophet like Moses:
    • Old Testament prophecy: Deuteronomy 18:15?19
    • New Testament fulfillment: John 6:12-14; Acts 3:18-23
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  • The Messiah would be despised, rejected, condemned and killed:
    • Old Testament prophecy: Isaiah 53:3; Isaiah 53:7-8;
    • New Testament fulfillment: Mark 8:31; John 1:11; Matthew 27:12-14; Matthew 27:27-31
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  • The Messiah would be numbered with the transgressors:
    • Old Testament prophecy: Isaiah 53:12
    • New Testament fulfillment: Mark 10:45; Luke 22:37
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  • Soldiers would gamble for His clothes by casting lots:
    • Old Testament prophecy: Psalm 22:18
    • New Testament fulfillment: John 19:23-24; (cf. Matthew 27:35; Mark 15:24)
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  • None of the Messiah's bones would be broken, but His side would be pierced:
    • Old Testament prophecy: Psalm 34:20; Zechariah 12:10
    • New Testament fulfillment: John 19:31-37;
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  • The Messiah would be resurrected:
    • Old Testament prophecy: Psalm 16:8-11; Isaiah 53:10-11
    • New Testament fulfillment: Mark 10:32-34; Luke 24:6-8; Acts 2:22-32; Acts 13:35-37
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An Oversight

After researching the Scriptures for this article, I realized something about 1 Corinthians15:1, 3-4 that I'd completely overlooked.

“Now brothers, I want to clarify for you the gospel I proclaimed to you; you received it and have taken your stand on it... For I passed on to you as most important what I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures.” (1 Corinthians15:1, 3-4)

What I now realize is that the Scriptures Paul cites are NOT the Gospels, the Book of Acts, Romans or any other New Testament book. Instead, Like Apollos, he too alluded only to Old Testament Scriptures. No doubt, Paul's original audience clearly understood what he meant by the “Scriptures.” This is because what we call the “Old Testament” or “Hebrew” Scriptures were the only Scriptures in existence at that time. Hence, the Scriptures Paul references here are cannot be the Gospels or the Book of Acts or Romans. But nearly 2000 years later, some of us miss what was obvious to the original audience. (Compare 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 to Isaiah 53:8-10; Psalm 16:10-11; and Psalm 22:15-16.)

Though I've read 1 Corinthians 15:1, 3-4 hundreds of times and committed it to memory, I now realize that Paul was talking about the Old Testament Scriptures. The first takeaway from this oversight is that we should always keep in mind how the original audience would have interpreted the passage. In addition, we ought to always pay close attention to the details of the passages we read. This is because it's easy to focus on parts of a passage that we see as important while glossing over seemingly trivial details. Clearly, the fact that Christ died for our sins, and that He rose from the grave is vitally important. Though the phrase “according to the Scriptures” may sound unimportant, it's actually telling us that the Gospel of Christ is in the Old Testament. Details matter!

Conclusion

We ought to always remember that the Bible is one continuous story. From the first verse to the last (Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21), the Bible is the story of Yeshua (Jesus).

In Genesis 1:1 we read, “In the beginning God (Elohim) created the heavens and the earth.” The Hebrew word “Elohim” translated as God in our English Bibles is plural. Thus, it opens the door for the doctrine of the Trinity (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit). Much later, in John 1:1 we read, “In the beginning was the Word (Yeshua), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The Greek word “Logos”, translated simply as “Word”, is a title for Yeshua (Jesus) as the revealer of God the Father. Furthermore, Revelation 19:13 clearly tells us that "His (Yeshua's) name is the Word of God." Finally, in Revelation 22:21, the last verse in the Bible, we read, "The grace of the Lord Yeshua (Jesus) be with all the saints. Amen."

Throughout the Bible, from the first verse to the last, allusions to Yeshua (Jesus) are everywhere. If we just keep our eyes open, we will find Yeshua (Jesus) and His gospel message, even in the Old Testament.

Three Crosses