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The history of redemption according to Galatians 3:


OT law 1



OT law 2

Dave reminded me of this talk on OT law.  These diagrams may help explain it a bit.

And here's the tabernacle:


And remember:

When there is a change in the priesthood, there must also be a change of the law.  (Heb 7:12)


From an old sermon on Psalms 1 and 2.  These Psalms, as a gateway to the Psalter, introduce us to the four main players:

(1)   the LORD;

(2)   the Christ, the Blessed Man;

(3)   The Righteous who take refuge in Him; and

(4)   The Wicked who oppose Him. 

The subsequent Psalms reveal the interaction of these four groups. 

In some, like Psalm 1, the Blessed Man is shown before the LORD and then the righteous and the wicked are contrasted. 

In some, like Psalm 2, the righteous complain to the LORD about the wicked and then He reminds them about the Blessed Man, Christ. 

In some we have simply the words of Christ. 

In others we have the words of the LORD to Christ. 

In some we simply have the words of sinners like us taking refuge in Him. 

But all of the Psalms are about the inter-relation of these four groups.  And they all work together to speak to us of Christ.


Isaiah's servant songs are:

  1. Isaiah 42:1-7
  2. Isaiah 49:1-6
  3. Isaiah 50:4-9
  4. Isaiah 52:13-53:12

Now in the songs, the servant is clearly a figure who acts on behalf of the people.  He is a covenant for the people (42:6).  He will bring Jacob and Israel back to the LORD (49:5,6).  His word is the word the people should fear (50:10). He is rejected by the people yet suffers on their behalf (all of chapter 53).

Yet "servant" is also mentioned in and around these songs:

Isaiah 41:8,9 (You O Israel are my servant)

Isaiah 42:19 (Who is blind like my servant)

Isaiah 43:10  (You are my witnesses and my servant)

Isaiah 44:1,2  (Jacob my servant)

Isaiah 44:21  (My servant O Israel)

Isaiah 45:4  (Jacob my servant)

Isaiah 48:20  (His servant Jacob)

Here 'servant' refers to Israel/Jacob. 

Actually this is nothing new in Isaiah.  Jerusalem for instance can stand either for the corrupt, faithless generation under the LORD's judgement or the centre of a new heavens and new earth that lies beyond the judgement.  Jerusalem is both the problem and the hope!

In a similar way the servant of the LORD is Israel.  The people really should be the LORD's faithful witness, judge, light, salvation etc.  Yet earthly Israel is a crushing disappointment.  Nonetheless the hope is not apart from Israel.  The hope is the TRUE ISRAEL.  This Ideal Israel is what the songs set before us.  He takes a hold of old Israel and sweeps it up into His own triumphant work as Witness, Judge, Light, Salvation etc.  Servants do that - they stand for the people - see Moses or Job for instance. In fact this Ideal Servant is spoken of as the King of Isaiah 6 (cf 52:13) - High and lifted up.  The true King sums up in Himself His people and acts on their behalf.  His victory is their victory. 

And so the people may lament the servant Israel, yet at the same time they sing about THE TRUE ISRAEL, the Ideal Servant, the KING who stands in their place and acts as Israel.  He is their hope and the Light for we Gentiles.

Anyway that seems to be the sort of interpretation of 'the Servant' which takes seriously both sets of verses - the songs and the surrounding references. 

The one interpretation we should laugh off is the one that says "Foolish ancient people only understood half of these verses and so had no idea that there would be an individual Ideal Servant to stand for blind Israel.  It takes a later re-reading to understand that there is an individual Ideal Servant, Jesus".   No, no. No need for such chronological snobbery thank you very much.


By the way - has anyone read or heard anything good on the Servant Songs??  Please do let me know in the comments.


The excellent Marc Lloyd has posted the juciest quotation on Christ the Mediator of all revelation.  It's from Ronald Wallace's book Calvin's Doctrine of Word and Sacrament.  Here he is summarizing Calvin's view especially of christocentric revelation in the OT.

The Mediator of all revelation between God and man in the Old Testament is the Word of God, the second person of the Trinity, the same Christ who became incarnate in Jesus of Nazareth. Throughout the whole national history of Israel, it was always He, the Son of God, who dealt with His people in judgement and mercy, bringing them, with His Presence in their midst, light and life and salvation. Calvin asserts positively that Christ, the Word of God, who "remains with God perpetually one and the same and who is God Himself" (Inst 1:13:7), was "always the bond of connection between God and man" (Comm on Gen 48:15), and "the source of all revelations" (Inst 1:13:7), being "always present in all the oracles" (Comm on Gen 16:10). He is equally emphatic in the frequent negative assertion, "Never did God reveal Himself outside of Christ" (Comm on Jn 5:23). "Nor indeed, had any of the saints ever had communication with God except through the promised Mediator." (Comm on Ex 3:2) "God formerly manifested Himself in no other way than though Him." (Comm on Gen 48:15) God never otherwise revealed Himself to the Fathers "but in His eternal Word and only begotten Son" (Comm on Is 6:1). The whole story of the Old Testament is thus the story of how Christ, the Word of God, breaks in upon the life of those whom He has chosen to make his people, and confronts them in these veiled forms through which they can come to know His nature and have communion with Him....

The frequent appearances of the "Angel of the Lord" as the representative of God to the Old Testemant Fathers, and as a guide of the people throughout their history is a sign that Christ is always fulfilling His Mediatorial office of saviour and revealer, and uniting even then the members of His Church to Himself as the Head through whom they are joined to God Himself. Calvin, following the "orthodox doctors" (Inst 1:13:10) on this point, identifies the "chief angel" who appears among the other angelic visitors to earth with "God's only begotten Son who was afterwards manifest in the flesh" (Comm on Ex 14:19). Even then He performed in a preliminary fashion "some services introductory to His execution of the office of Mediator" (Inst 1:13:10). "There is then no wonder," says Calvin, "that the Prophet should indictriminately call Him Angel and Jehovah, He being the Mediator of the Church and also God. He is God, being of the same essence with the Father; and Mediator, having already undertaken His Mediatorial office, though not then clothed in our flesh so as to become our brother; for the Church could not exist nor be united to God without a Head" (Comm on Zech 1:18-21). "The angel who appeared at first to Moses, and was always present with the people during their journeying, is frequently called Jehovah. Let is then regard it as a settled point that the angel was Son of God, and was even then the Guide of the Church of which He was the Head" (Comm on 1 Cor 10:9).

Calvin’s Doctrine of the Word and Sacrament (Edinburgh, Scottish Academic Press, 1995) first edition 1953, pp8-10


I bang the same drum (endlessly) here.  For more quotes in support from the big guns go here.  Or read Bible Overview, especially appendix 2.



I've had the blogging equivalent of getting my face wiped with spit on a hanky.  My mother (long-time reader, first-time commenter) could keep her silence no longer when I failed to mention Old Testament incidents of turning the other cheek.  Well in keeping with my theme I graciously submit to the correction and ask that others add their own examples.

I'll just mention four.

First from the law:

"If you come across your enemy's ox or donkey wandering off, be sure to take it back to him." (Exodus 23:4)

Note that this comes in the same body of law in which 'eye for eye' is found (Ex 21:24).  Eye for eye never precluded loving your enemy. 

Second I can think of Esau meeting Jacob in Gen 33.  Jacob feared Esau and had every right to fear him!  Yet, verse 4:

"But Esau ran to meet Jacob and embraced him; he threw his arms around his neck and kissed him. And they wept."

No wonder Jesus uses these words to describe His own father-like response to sinners (Luke 15:20).  This is a paradigmatic example of turning the other cheek.  And Genesis itself has set us up for this.  Just as Jacob saw Jesus face to face (Gen 32:30) and found blessing, so he found the same grace in Esau's face:

"To see your face is like seeing the face of God, now that you have received me favourably."  (Gen 33:10)

Esau had shown grace to a scumbag just as Jesus had done the night before.  Turning the other cheek is not just an honourable human action, it is the very character of the Face-to-Face God.

Third example is David sparing Saul.  The whole Saul - David interaction parallels Adam and Christ.  The first ruler looks promising but leads the people down into shame and defeat.  The world sees Saul on the throne, but God has anointed another king.  Those in the know sing about David and follow him even though they respect Saul's outward kingship. 

During this overlap of reigns, Saul seeks to kill David and David would have every right to kill Saul.  Yet he spares Saul's life twice (1 Sam 24 & 26).   David will not bring in his kingdom that way.  When Saul realises the grace shown to him he weeps, confesses his own sin and David's righteousness.  (see 1 Sam 24:16-22 and 26:21-25).  This seems to be a model of how turning the other cheek can shame an enemy into confessing their wickedness.

That's a prominent theme in my fourth example: Proverbs 25:21-22

 21 If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink. 22 In doing this, you will heap burning coals on his head, and the LORD will reward you.  (Prov 25:21-22)

What an incredible piece of advice.  We think retaliation is the best way to show someone God's opposition to their sin ('burning coals' - Ps 11:6; 18:8; 120:4; 140:10!).   Actually kindness to enemies - that's what will really reveal the judgement of God.  

In the next post I'll think about what turning the other cheek would look like in various practical examples.


Two quotes from the blogosphere this week.  One on the Psalter, one on christology.  The common link - they both put Jesus at the centre:

From Psalterium

Psalms 1 and 2 were not read as two disparate Torah and royal psalms respectively in the final redaction of the Psalter; rather, both depict the ideal Joshua-like warrior and king who through divinely given authority vanquishes his enemies. From this eschatological perspective the Psalter opens and sets the tone for all subsequent psalms.

Cole, R. (2002) “An Integrated Reading of Psalms 1 and 2”, Journal for the Study of the Old Testament, pp. 75-88

You can read my sermon on Psalms 1 and 2 here.


From Chris Tilling

'[I]t may well be that most Christians tolerate only as much humanity as they deem consonant with their view of divinity'

(172-3 n.4, from Raymond Brown, An Introduction to New Testament Christology, 27)


Wouldn't it be radical if we actually allowed Jesus to shape our 'view of divinity'!?.

Justin Taylor points us to a very helpful book review by Andy Naselli, whose blog looks great!  What follows is taken straight from Andy's blog - do check it out for yourself.

Three views on the New Testament use of the Old Testament outlines the following three positions:

Walter Kaiser Jr: “Single Meaning, Unified Referents: Accurate and Authoritative Citations of the Old Testament by the New Testament”

Darrell L Bock: “Single Meaning, Multiple Contexts and Referents: The New Testament’s Legitimate, Accurate, and Multifaceted Use of the Old”  

Peter Enns: “Fuller Meaning, Single Goal: A Christotelic Approach to the New Testament Use of the Old in Its First-Century Interpretive Environment”  


The book orbits around five key questions:

  1. Is sensus plenior an appropriate way of explaining the NT use of the OT?
  2. How is typology best understood?
  3. Do the NT writers take into account the context of the passages they cite?
  4. Does the NT writers’ use of Jewish exegetical methods explain the NT use of the OT?
  5. Are we able to replicate the exegetical and hermeneutical approaches to the OT that we find in the writings of the NT?

And the general editor, Kenneth Berding, helpfully tabulates a summary of their answers:






Sensus plenior?


No, the prophets knew where their prophecies were heading.


Yes, but only in the limited sense of acknowledging that the OT writers could not always see fulfillments that emerge later.


Yes, because Christ-as-telos holds it all together. This, however, is not the way to resolve the “hermeneutical tension.”



Yes, but it must be seen ahead of time and possess “divine indication” that it is a type.


Yes, and fundamental for resolving difficult cases; can be either prospective or retrospective.


Yes, but again not the way to resolve the hermeneutical tension.



Yes, both the immediately literary context and the antecedent “promise-plan” context are important.


Yes, the immediate “exegetical context” is drawn upon but the “canonical context” is the key.


Sometimes yes and sometimes no.

Use of Second Temple exegetical methods?


No, such comparisons are misguided.


Sometimes yes, but constrained by the NT authors’ commitment to canonical reading.


Yes, and this is the central issue in the discussion.


Yes, because the NT authors are careful interpreters just as we should be. Yes, but particularly in terms of their overall appeal to canonical themes. Yes, but less in terms of their exegetical methods and more in terms of their “Christotelic” goal.


Though I've not read the book, the first comment on Andy's blog puts well my gut reactions to this issue:


From Tom Keiser:

One thing consistently missing, or at best, minimalized, is the question of the proper exegesis of the OT texts. Kaiser seems to best deal with this idea, although not always directly. The tendency is to see OT exegesis as primarily historical. Little consideration seems to be given to the possibility that OT writers were speaking primarily theologically, and applying theological principles to historical situations. If that is the case, than proper exegesis should be focusing on the theological ideas presented rather than simply their historical application. This perspective has profound implications when trying to ascertain the NT writers’ understanding of the OT. If they understood the OT texts as presenting primarily theological principles, then many of their applications to Christ would no longer be problematic, but rather reflect accurate “historical-grammatical” exegesis. Of course, this consideration does not resolve all issues, but does alleviate many tensions.


These are a few scattered thoughts prompted by my recent mini-series on parables.

We all know Jesus' rebuke regarding Old Testament understanding - John 5:39ff.  Yet I'm sure a rebuke remains for our appreciation of the New:

You diligently study the New Testament thinking that now you're breathing the free air of apostolic Christianity and therefore, definitionally, have life.  But the point of these Scriptures (as with all Scripture) is witness to me.  Yet you neglect to come to Me for life.

New Testament does not mean 'gospel'.  It doesn't mean 'gospel' any more than Old Testament means 'gospel'.  Rather, both are witnesses to Christ.

You see it's not the New Testament that fulfils the Old

 No.  It is not the NT that fulfils the Old. It's Jesus.  There's a difference.  It's He that stands above both Scriptures.

There's nothing inherent in the Greek Scriptures that the Hebrew Scriptures lack.  The point of both - Christ Himself - stands ever above both Old and New Testament.  Life does not exist in the Old Testament.  But life does not exist in the New Testament either.

This is one of the problems with the saying: 'The New is in the Old concealed, the Old is in the New revealed.'  It easily lends itself to the thought that the New Testament itself is the fulfilment of the Old.  But no, Christ is the fulfilment of the Old.  And He's the fulfilment of the New.  The Old is in need of fulfilment in Christ yes.  But so is the New.  To understand Old or New demands that we read them as witness to Jesus.

We've been taught to pick a Christ-less Old Testament sermon from a mile off.  Yet we put up with Christ-less New Testament study much more readily.  How can that be unless we secretly believe life really does exist in the Scriptures - we just happen to prefer the Greek ones?



In response to my Christ in the OT posts, Pete Myers posted this.  We then interacted here and here.

I then posted these ten propositions on Trinity, revelation and the Old Testament:


1.  Revelation in Christ is revelation in the distinct Person of the Divine Mediator


2. Our doctrine of God goes awry if we begin without a conscious acknowledgement of the triune interplay.  God’s attributes are a spin-off of the triune life, not the identical CV of each Person. 


3. There is no such thing as pre-supposition-less exegesis. 


4. The trinity is not a proposition to be revealed about the living God.  Trinity is not one more truth among other divine truths.  Trinity is who He is and the dynamic by which all revelation occurs.


5. In its own context and on its own terms the OT must be understood as a dynamic multi-Personal revelation.  OT saints who failed to see this did not ‘partially understand’ the revelation - they misunderstood it.


6. The Angel of the LORD is the pre-incarnate Christ.  His identity as God from God is as clear in the OT as His incarnate identity is in the New.


7.  Psalm 45 is a good example of a Scripture that assumes a multi-Personal doctrine of God even in its own context.


8. The administration of Gentile inclusion is not a ‘model’ of progressive revelation.  The administration of Gentile inclusion is the new thing.


9.  Calvin and Owen believed in divine simplicity.  (I have serious reservations about the doctrine - see here But they managed to avoid the more dangerous aspects of it because they insisted upon Christ-mediated revelation. 


10. The One is not more ultimate than the Three.  Neither is the immanent something different to what we see in the economic. 


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