What is the difference between the Old and New Testaments?


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We don’t see a major difference in the Old and New Testament, in that they were both inspired by the Holy Spirit and thus complete each other.

The Old Testament was meant to prepare the Israelite’s for the coming Messiah.  This is a critical portion for the plan of Salvation. The Messiah would offer Himself as a sacrifice for our sin:

“And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.” (1 John 2:22)

The New Testament presents to us the life of Jesus Christ as the Messiah. It shows us how we are to respond to His gift of eternal life. It also shows us how to live our lives in gratitude to His love:

“Oh, that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul, And fills the hungry soul with goodness.” (Psalms 107:8, 9)

Old and New Testament Comparison

Old TestamentNew Testament
Number of Books3927
Number of Authors238
Language(s)Hebrew and AramaicGreek
Age1200 to 165 BC50 to 100 AD


Notable differences:

  • The Old Testament we had to sacrifice a sheep to be forgiven, but in the New Testament Christ was our ultimate sacrifice
  • Christ’s first coming was prophesied in the Old Testament, while Christ’s second coming is prophesied in the New Testament
  • The law was given in the Old Testament, but in the New Testament we see Christ expound on the law:
    “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder, and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, ‘Raca!’ shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, ‘You fool!’ shall be in danger of hell fire.” (Matthew 5:21-22)
  • The Sanctuary is on earth as part of our salvation, however, after Christ’s death our Salvation is based on the heavenly sanctuary:

Notable similarities:

  • Both the Old Testament and New Testament begin with history, followed by wisdom/doctrine, and closes in Prophecy
  • Obedience and faith is the answer to Salvation
  • The plan of Salvation was given to us in the Sanctuary

The Old Testament

The books of the Old Testament teaches that man was separated from God through sin (Genesis 3). In the New Testament we learn that man can be restored in his relationship to God (Romans 3-6). The Passover lamb in Old Testament (Ezra 6:20) becomes the Lamb of God in the New Testament (John 1:29). The book of Hebrews describes how Jesus is the true High Priest. It shows us how His one sacrifice replaces all Old Testament animal sacrifices, which were mere foreshadowings.

The New Testament

The New Testament records many of the fulfilled prophecies that were recorded hundreds of years earlier in the Old Testament. The Old Testament declares the giving of God’s Law. While the New Testament we see how Christ gives us His grace in order to keep the Law (Philippians 4:13). In the OT God’s dealings are mainly with Israel (Exodus 19:6). While, in the NT we see God’s dealings are mainly with His church – spiritual Israel (Galatians 3:29).

The Bible

Both testaments reveal the same holy, merciful, and righteous God who must condemn sin. However, in His mercy we see His forgiveness only possible through Christ’s atoning sacrifice. In both testaments, we see how God reveals Himself to us and His plan of Salvation through Jesus Christ. Therefore, through the life of Christ and Jesus death on the cross, we see the plan of Salvation fulfilled, as was prophesied in the Old Testament. Furthermore, we also find all we need for eternal life and godly living (2 Timothy 3:15-17). The Old and New Testaments are complimentary to each other as both teach that we can come to God in faith and He will redeem us (Genesis 15:6; Ephesians 2:8).

Civil Law vs. Moral Law

Some people reject the Old Testament and claim that it is done away with, but Jesus and the disciples based all their teachings on it. When Christ died on the cross, He just put an end to the civil law as stated in the law of Moses, but never dismissed the Old Testament:

  • “And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, He [Jesus] expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself” (Luke 24:27)
  • “For he [Apollos] vigorously refuted the Jews publicly, showing from the Scriptures that Jesus is the Christ” (Acts 18:28)
  • If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15)
  • “Think not that I [Jesus] am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you, till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled” (Matthew 5:17, 18)

Christians must not reject the Old Testament and focus on just the new testament, as both together form the Holy Bible, a book of prophecy, wisdom, history, moral laws, and understanding of Salvation.

“All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16).

The Bible as our Guide

The entire Bible is the information and operations manual for a human life:

  • Shew me thy ways, O LORD; teach me thy paths. (Psalm 25:4)
  • What man is he that feareth the LORD? him shall he teach in the way that he shall choose. (Psalm 25:12)
  • I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye. (Psalm 32:8)
  • I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart. (Psalm 40:8)
  • Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)
  • Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not. (Jeremiah 33:3)
  • If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him. (James 1:5)

We read how God gave us His word through the Bible, both Old and New Testament. The Bible as a whole is to act as a guide for us.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team

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