Apostolic Interpretation of Prophetic Scriptures

How does one properly interpret the prophetic scriptures in the Old Testament? The same way the apostolic writers of the New Testament interpreted the prophetic scriptures in the Old Testament – recognizing God’s progressive revelation of Christ and His New Covenant.

Interpreting in Light of Jesus as Lord and Christ

Acts 2:30-36

30 So because he was a prophet and knew that God had sworn to him with an oath to seat one of his descendants on his throne, 31 he looked ahead and spoke of the resurrection of the Christ, that He was neither abandoned to Hades, nor did His flesh suffer decay. 32 It is this Jesus whom God raised up, a fact to which we are all witnesses.  33 Therefore, since He has been exalted at the right hand of God and has received the promise of the Holy Spirit from the Father, He has poured out this which you both see and hear. 34 For it was not David who ascended into ]heaven, but he himself says:

The Lord said to my Lord,
“Sit at My right hand,
35 Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.”’

36 Therefore let all the house of Israel know for certain that God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified.”

In his message on the Day of Pentecost, Peter interpreted Messianic Psalms 16:8-11 and 132:11 in light of Jesus, as Lord and Christ, which originally spoke of David’s hope that his death would not bring an end to his kingdom’s reign. In other words, it is an “everlasting kingdom” through Christ the Lord. Peter also interpreted Messianic Psalm 110:1-2 in light of Jesus, as Lord and Christ, transferring the throne of David from its earthly site in Jerusalem to Christ’s throne in “the heavenly Jerusalem”. In his letter to the Hebrews, the writer used those same verses in Psalm 110:1-2 twice to affirm Christ’s being seated at the right hand of God.[1]

Interpreting in Light of the New Covenant

Hebrews 9:15-17 and 10:8-9

15 “For this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, so that, since a death has taken place for the redemption of the violations that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance. 16 For where there is a covenant, there must of necessity be the death of the one who made it. 17 For a covenant is valid only when people are dead, for it is never in force while the one who made it lives…

After first saying, ‘Sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt offerings and offerings for sin You have not desired, nor have You taken pleasure in them’ (which are offered according to the Law), then He said, ‘Behold, I have come to do Your will.” He takes away the first in order to establish the second.’”

Like the other apostolic writers of the New Testament, as did Jesus Himself, the writer to the Hebrews interpreted scriptures relating to the Old Covenant in light of the New Covenant which Jesus established upon His death, thus making the Old Covenant obsolete.[2]

Interpreting in Light of the “True Israel”

Who is a true “Jew”?

Romans 2:28-29

28 For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh. 29 But he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that which is of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter; and his praise is not from men, but from God.

A true Jew is one who is a Jew “inwardly”. What might this mean? A “Jew” was originally an identification of one of the Tribe of Judah. Judah, the father of the tribe, was a son of Jacob and Leah. At his birth, Leah gave “praise” to God, and named her son “Judah”.[3] The Hebrew word for “praise” is yehudah[4]. In the Septuagint, the Greek word exomologeo[5] is used, which means “to acknowledge”. In other words, to praise is fundamentally to give acknowledgement. In the Old Covenant, one could receive acknowledgment from men that he was, in fact, a Jew by displaying his physical circumcision. In the New Covenant, the acknowledgment of a circumcised heart can come only from God.

Who is “true Israel”?

Romans 9:6-8

6 “But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but: “through Isaac your descendants shall be named.” That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants.”

The true Israel are “the children of the promise” – that is, those who are of the Seed (Christ) of Abraham[6] – namely, those who are “in Christ” by faith (not by birth, but by rebirth[7]). It is these who are truly “His people”, His “Beloved” – “the sons of the Living God”.[8]

Sound interpretation of the prophetic scriptures is to interpret Old Testament typology (which is constantly alluded to in John’s Revelation) in light of the New Covenant.[9] 

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“Apostolic Interpretation of Prophetic Scriptures” is an excerpt taken from the eBook: “The Gospel of The Lion & The Lamb”, pages 46-50. See the corresponding eBook on our website.

At Christ’s Table – ACTpublications © 2022

“Explaining spiritual realities with Spirit-taught words.” 1 Corinthians 2:13

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[1] Hebrews 8:1-6 and 10:11-14

[2] Hebrews 8:13. On this verse, Greek scholar, Marvin R. Vincent, comments: The whole statement indicates that the writer regarded the Sinaitic covenant, even in Jeremiah’s time, as obsolete, and that Jeremiah himself so regarded it. When God announced a new covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34), he proclaimed the insufficiency of the old, and the promise of a new covenant carried with it the promise of the abrogation of the old.”

[3] Genesis 29:35

[4] Strong’s # 3063

[5] Strong’s # 4843

[6] Galatians 3:14-18

[7] John 1:12-13

[8] Romans 2:25-26; Cf. Hosea 1:10, 2:23

[9] The reader may still be asking, “What about natural, ethnic Israel?” I address that question in more detail in another article entitled “The Israel of God”, which is freely available by emailing AtChristsTable@gmail.com


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Quo Vadis

God is always moving forward in His kingdom plans and purposes. He never moves backward. And for those who love Him, He never stops moving in our lives for His glory. But to continue moving on with God “from glory to glory” requires our living “from faith to faith”. It takes an act of faith