Let us now take a brief glance at the books of the New Testament, and ascertain what testimony there is to the inspiration of the Old Testament. We shall only take a few examples out of many.
In Matthew 1:2, we read, "Now all this was done, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of Jehovah, by the prophet." Observe, it is not merely that the prophet's saying was "fulfilled," thus to show how divinely true it was, but that it was "spoken of Jehovah." Is it possible that anything can show more clearly that the prophet Isaiah uttered it by inspiration? In the next chapter we find the same expression (ver. 15); "that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of Jehovah by the prophet" ― the prophet Hosea. In chapter 5, our Lord so authenticated the testimony of the Old Testament that He said, "Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law till all be fulfilled." "The law" is sometimes used to include all the ancient scriptures.
Mark's gospel begins with quotations from the prophets Malachi and Isaiah, and in chapter 7, our Lord said to the Pharisees, "Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with their lips, but their heart is far from me," and charges them with rejecting "the commandment of God," as in Exodus and Leviticus, and setting up instead, "commandments of men." "Thus," added our Lord, "making the word of God of none effect through your tradition." Here our Lord calls the writings of Moses the word of God. (Vers. 6-13.) In chapter 12 our Lord declares that David wrote Psalm 110 (Ver. 36.) Again, we ask, Is it possible to have clearer proofs of divine inspiration?
In Luke 1, we see a man full of the Holy Ghost; his testimony, therefore, must be very important; we find him saying that "He [the Lord God of Israel] spake by the mouth of his holy prophets which have been since the world began." (Ver. 70.) In chapter 3, we have the testimony of one who was full of the Holy Ghost from his birth, of whom our Lord said, "Among them that are born of women, there has not risen a greater than John the Baptist." Well, what about him? We read that at a certain time "the word of God came unto John." What word of God? "As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet," etc. (Vers. 2, 4.) In Luke 4, the Lord reads in the synagogue part of Isaiah 61, and stops in the middle of a sentence, and closed the book and sat down, saying, "This day is this scripture fulfilled in your ears." What scripture? "The acceptable year of the Lord." How? Because He came to call sinners to repentance. (Vers. 18-21.)
In chapter 16, the Lord again most authoritatively enforces the authenticity of the writings of Moses and the prophets. He says, "They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them . . . . If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead." (Vers. 29-31.) Is it possible that such language could be applied to any writings that were not given by God?
In John's gospel it is recorded that our Lord recognised certain writings which He called "scriptures," which testified of Himself. He also especially taught that Moses wrote of Him. But more than that; He so recognised that Moses wrote them not by his own will, but by the Holy Ghost, that He ranked Moses' writings as of equal authority with His own words, when He said, "If ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?" In chapter 10, our Lord declared that "the scripture cannot be broken" (ver. 35), as He also said elsewhere "the scripture must be fulfilled."
In Acts 1, the apostles are in a different state as to the truth, because our Lord after His resurrection had "opened their understanding that they might understand the scriptures." Many men in our day think themselves quite competent to understand scripture by natural ability aided by education; but it is a great mistake, for "the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned." (1 Cor. 2:14.) Did people believe this, how anxious they would be that God would reveal His truth to them by the Holy Spirit's power!
Well, Peter, the apostle, in Acts 1, gathered from Psalms 41 and 109, that another should be chosen ('ordained' is not in the Greek) to take the place of Judas the betrayer. His words show that he regarded the Psalms as inspired. He said to the others, "This scripture must needs have been fulfilled which the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David, spake before concerning Judas." (Ver. 16.) It was Peter who after this wrote, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy, whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place . . . . for the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man; but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." (2 Peter 1:19-21.)
In Acts 2, Peter and the others have very much advanced spiritually. Why is this? The Holy Spirit had come down and taken up His abode in them, so that they were "filled" with the Holy Spirit, and had a power in ministry, and received gifts which were never known before. Peter stands up to preach! Now, what is it about? He first quotes from the prophet Joel, to explain that it was the coming of the Holy Spirit which had produced all this joy and power in them. He then goes to Psalm 16, 132, and 110, to show that the death, resurrection, ascension, and glorification of Christ was a fulfilment of what had been written concerning Him many hundreds of years before; and we know what vast blessing accompanied this ministry. Observe here, that these Old Testament writings were given by the Holy Spirit, and expounded by one full of the Holy Spirit.
In Acts 3, Peter declares to the Jews that even then if they repent, turn to God, and have forgiveness of sins, Jesus will be sent down from heaven, and bring in millennial blessing as their true Messiah ― "the restitution of all things which God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets since the world began." Here, again, it is "God hath spoken by the mouth of all his holy prophets." What could more plainly show us that these men were inspired by God to write? (Vers. 19-22.)
In chapter 4:24, 25, "God" is said to utter the second psalm by the mouth of His servant David.
In Peter's sermon at Caesarea, when speaking of the Lord coming to judge, he says, "To him give all the prophets witness, that, through his name, whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins." Observe, here, he includes all the prophets. We would only add as to Peter's testimony that in his first epistle, he refers to the scriptures of the Old Testament as final and conclusive. With him, "it is written," was enough, and he quotes from, or refers to Exodus, Genesis, Isaiah, Psalms, Hosea, and other Old Testament writings. He enjoins his readers to be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets. (2 Peter 3:2.)
Now let us hear Paul's testimony. In his first memorable sermon at Antioch, he begins by running through the ways of God with the people of Israel, from Egypt to that day, and thus authenticates the books of Moses, Joshua, Judges, Samuel on to David, from whom he traces the Saviour Jesus. He further refers to Old Testament scriptures as to His death on the cross, in the brief statement, when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree and laid him in a sepulchre: but God raised him from among the dead "He then goes to Psalm 2, which shows that God sent and gave His only begotten, whom men rejected, and he quotes Psalm 16 to show that He saw no corruption. Paul's ministry here was founded on the divine authority of Old Testament scriptures. It is well to observe that in those days preaching was giving out, not human ideas and eloquence, but "the word of God." Hence, we read, "almost the whole city came together to hear the word of God." "And the word of the Lord was published," and in the next chapter, "God gave testimony to the word of his grace."
In Acts 17 we find Paul preaching at Thessalonica in a Jewish synagogue, and according to his manner, he "reasoned with them out of the scriptures." What scriptures? The Old Testament; from which he shows that "Christ must needs have suffered and risen again from among the dead; and that this Jesus which I preach unto you is Christ." The result was that many believed. Now if we turn to the 1st epistle to the Thessalonian believers, we find Paul by the Holy Spirit writing to them, that he "thanked God without ceasing, because when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh in them that believe." (Chap. 2:13.) Can any testimony more fully prove the divine inspiration of the Old Testament scriptures? for the apostle began his ministry to them from those writings, and now as the Lord's servant commends them for receiving the testimony as "the word of God."
Paul then carries the gospel to Berea; and we are told that the Bereans were more noble than those in Thessalonica; and why? Because they held that the scriptures (then the Old Testament) were the only balance God had given to test everything by; so "they searched the scriptures daily whether those things were so." Yes, and they were commended for testing even the ministry of an inspired apostle by the scriptures. Oh that people would do the same in our day! We should not then hear such words of unbelief, alas! so common, as expressing opinions on this and that scripture, and asking others what their opinions are. The fact is, the opinions of men are often useless, and savour strongly of infidelity, because God has given us His own word. This, faith rejoices in. Never, then, let us forget this divine commendation of the Berean believers.
Passing over much of Paul's testimony, we find him at length before king Agrippa. There he declares that he said "none other things than those which the prophets and Moses did say should come; that Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should rise from among the dead, and should show light unto the people and to the Gentiles." (Chap. 26:22, 23.) In the conclusion of the Acts, we find him at Rome "persuading [the Jews] concerning Jesus both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets from morning till evening;" and ended by giving another testimony to the Old Testament scriptures having been divinely inspired. "Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers." (Acts 28:23, 25.)
Looking as briefly as possible into the epistles, we find the appeal to scripture always final and decisive. In Romans 3, man's utter ruin, all having "sinned," "all guilty," and "all under sin," proved by quotations from the Old Testament scriptures. In chapter 4, when the question is raised as to whether a man is "justified by works," scripture is at once appealed to ― "What saith the scripture?" And the writing of Moses, that "Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness" decides it. But lest any should suppose there was a difference as to this, in those who lived under the law, David is referred to, to show that even such as lived under law had no righteousness before God, but that which is of faith. "Even as David describeth the blessedness of the man unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin." (Ps. 32.) In other parts of the epistle references are made to the prophet Habakkuk, Isaiah, and other prophets, besides the books of Moses and the Psalms, as bearing divine and unquestionable testimony.
In the epistles to the Corinthians we see the same appeal to scripture. Who would have thought that when Jehovah wrote by Moses, "Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn," it had any reference to the saints now in ministering to those who preach the gospel? But, saith the inspired apostle, "Doth God take care for oxen? Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes no doubt this is written that he that ploweth should plow in hope, and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope. If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it a great thing if we shall reap your carnal things?" (1 Cor. 9:9-11.)
In Galatians when false teachers had been seeking to undermine the gospel by mixing law with it, Genesis is again quoted to show that Abraham had righteousness only on the principle of faith; and to prove that now, those who "be of faith are blessed with faithful Abraham," it is most authoritatively added, that "the scripture foreseeing that God would justify the heathen through faith, preached before the gospel unto Abraham, saying, In thee shall all nations be blessed." Habakkuk also is referred to, and tells us that the just shall live by faith;" Deuteronomy, that Christ has been made a curse for us, "As it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree," and has thus redeemed us from the curse of the law; and the inspired apostle further sets the Old Testament before us in its divine and infinite authority, by saying, "The scripture hath concluded all under sin, that the promise by faith of Jesus Christ might be given to them that believe." (Chap. 3:6-22.)
We cannot conclude our brief view of the apostle Paul's testimony to the sacred writings of the Old Testament, without referring to the epistle to the Hebrews. There in the first verse, he disperses all question on the subject, if any yet existed. "God," he tells us, has spoken "unto the fathers by the prophets." Nothing can be more conclusive and incontestable, for it is "God" who "hath spoken." Let not the reader fail to notice also, that in chapters 3 and 10, the writer quotes from the book of Psalms and Jeremiah, and speaks of them as what the Holy Spirit saith. It need scarcely be added that a great deal of this epistle is a divine commentary on sacrifice, priesthood, approach to God, worship and communion as taught by types of the tabernacle, priesthood, and sacrifices offered according to the law. Chapter 11 also authenticates a great deal of scripture from Genesis to the book of Daniel.
James appeals to scripture as conclusive. He also brings the prophets before us without one exception who have spoken in the name of Jehovah; and quotes from Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Joshua, and first book of Kings.
John, in his first epistle, gives us as a test to distinguish truth and error, the hearing of the apostles, "We are of God; he that knoweth God, heareth us: he that is not of God, heareth not us. Hereby know we the spirit of truth and the spirit of error." He authenticates the books of Moses by quoting from them. Jude also, in referring to Enoch and other parts of scripture, gives these writings unquestionable authority.
Thus we have looked briefly at a few of the testimonies which the New Testament writers and speakers give as to the validity and authenticity of the inspiration of the Old Testament scriptures. It is well not to overlook the fact, that the disciples were unintelligent as to the resurrection of our Lord, because "they knew not the scripture that he must rise again from the dead:" that is, the Old Testament scriptures which "were written for our learning." Our Lord also told His two loved disciples going to Emmaus that they were in error because they did not believe the scripture, "fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory?"
Before we turn back to examine the ancient writings as a whole, it will help us to remember how our Lord set them as such before His disciples after He was risen from among the dead. Not only, as before observed, did He open their understandings that they might understand the scriptures; but we are told that "beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself." What a marvellous exposition it must have been! Is it surprising that they said one to another, "Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?" Yes, when He applies scripture to our hearts and consciences it brings its own evidence of its divinity. When our Lord spoke to the woman of Samaria, she felt at once it was in a divine way, so that her conscience being reached she said, "Sir, I perceive that thou art a prophet;" and on learning that He was the Messiah, she left all to go into the city and say, "Come see a man that told me all things that ever I did, is not this the Christ?" Our Lord in life said the scripture cannot be broken; in death He consciously fulfilled scripture and spoke of it; in resurrection, as we have seen, He brought scripture to His disciples. Again, having eaten before them to show He was not a spirit but a body of flesh and bones, He said, "These are the words which I spake unto you while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms concerning me." "Thus it is written, and thus it behoved Christ to suffer, and to rise from the dead the third day." Our Lord not only testified to His having fulfilled the Old Testament scriptures in His death and resurrection, but He authenticated the entire body of writings in all their divisions of books of Moses, prophets, and Psalms; much as we still, through God's great mercy and guardian care, have them.
In looking into the books of Moses, we find that our Lord recognised their divine authority, and referred to each of them as such. We hear Him saying on one occasion, "Have ye not read he which made them at the beginning made them male and female?" (Gen. 1:27.) And again He quotes from Genesis 2:24, "For this cause shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife; and they shall be one flesh." He was Himself, as the woman's Seed, to be the fulfiller of the bruising of Satan's head, after He Himself had suffered from him. This we find in Genesis 3; as also in the typical clothing of man's nakedness through the death of Another; the result of the death of the cross. Our Lord also spoke of the death of "righteous Abel," as recorded in Genesis 4; endorsed the doctrine of man's utter ruin of Genesis 6, when He said, "the flesh profiteth nothing," and "out of the heart of men proceed evil thoughts," etc.; and largely dwelt on the details of the days of Noah and the flood as typical of the sad state He will find the world in when He comes from heaven to judge. (Matt. 24:37- 41.) Our Lord also referred to Abraham, saying, he "rejoiced to see my day . .. . and was glad," but asserted the divine glory of His Person, when He said, "Before Abraham was, I AM."
Our Saviour also quoted the words of Jehovah, "I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; God is not the God of the dead, but of the living," to show they were still spiritually alive and to prove the reality of the resurrection of the body, and thus refute the false doctrine of the Sadducees; and this scripture also authenticated their patriarchal history as detailed in Genesis. (Matt. 22:32.) The tabernacle, with its priesthood and sacrifices, gave much typical instruction as to our Lord's death and High Priestly office for us.
The Lord's death was the fulfilment of the typical sacrifices of Leviticus, and He often quoted from it; and from Numbers also, for most will remember that He used the lifting up of the brazen serpent in the wilderness as a simple illustration of faith, and the effectual and everlasting blessing those have who in their need and danger look simply to Him as the Object of faith. From Deuteronomy our Lord took words, and used them with "It is written," to overcome the devil in his temptations. Thus the Lord practically authenticated all the books of Moses as God's words, and repeated that we should live "by every word which proceedeth out of the mouth of God."
We have lingered over the writings of Moses because of the bold attacks that have been made on them by learned sceptics. It is asserted by some of them, that it is only the first five books of scripture to which they object; but as the writings of Moses are quoted as having divine authority throughout the Old and New Testament, to disallow them as not divinely inspired, is not merely to lose them, but to deprive us of all the scriptures. This, no doubt, was anticipated by our Lord who knew all things, so that He said, "If ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words?" It is most interesting, however, to know that Joshua is not only told to obey Moses's writings, but at the end of his course as Jehovah's servant, he records the history of the children of Israel from the call of Abraham to that time. (Chap. 24.) About a thousand years after that, Nehemiah also recorded their history from the call of Abraham, traces them out of Egypt across the Red Sea, through the wilderness under God's care and goodness for forty years, their ways of disobedience in the land, and God's deliverances; and adds that, "God testified against them by his Spirit in the prophets." Thus He authenticated not only all the books of Moses and Joshua, but all the prophets before His time. (Neh. 9.) Nor should it be forgotten, that the facts in the history of the children of Israel, recorded in the books of Moses, right on to their captivity, are taken up in detail in the Psalms 78, 105, and 106, thus endorsing many of the books of the Old Testament as divinely authenticated. In the divisional part of the Old Testament called "the Psalms" are included the book of Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Song of Solomon, Ruth, Lamentations of Jeremiah, Ecclesiastes, Esther, Daniel, Ezra, Nehemiah, and 1 & 2 Chronicles.
In reference to the book of Psalms, our Lord quoted from Psalm 110, and said David wrote it by the Holy Ghost. (Mark 12:26.) He said to His hearers who refused Him, "Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner?" (Ps. 118:22.) And when under, as it were, the shadow of the cross, He said, "Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels? But how then shall the scriptures be fulfilled that thus it must be?" (Matt. 26:53, 54.) What scriptures? No doubt largely Moses and the prophets, but also the Psalms, which not only spoke of His death and sufferings as crucified, but also of His resurrection, glorification, and sitting at God's right hand, and coming reign.
It would be interesting in looking into the prophets, to trace the variety of instruments God was pleased to use in this blessed service, but that would far exceed our proposed limits. It is well, however, to observe how careful each was to impress those they addressed with the fact, that they came forth on their service with divine authority. They also knew little of each other; and their ministry, from Moses to Christ, occupied about 500 years. A brief quotation or two from each may suffice for our present purpose.
Isaiah begins by asserting that what he saw was concerning Judah and Jerusalem. He says, "Hear . . . . for Jehovah hath spoken." "The word which Isaiah the son of Amos saw concerning Judah and Jerusalem." (Isa. 1:1, 2; Isa. 2:1.) Jeremiah has, "The word of Jehovah came unto me," or, "The word which came to Jeremiah from Jehovah." In Ezekiel it says, "The word of Jehovah came expressly unto Ezekiel," or, "He said unto me;" or, "Again the word of Jehovah came unto me," and such like expressions occur many times. He also was commanded to write. Jehovah said unto him, "Thou shalt speak my words unto them;" and in a vision he saw "a roll . . . . written within and without." So assured was he that what he declared was the word of God, that he said, "The word that I speak shall come to pass, and the word that I have spoken shall be done . . . . Thus saith the Lord God." (Chaps. 1:3; 2:7-10; 7:1; 12:25, 28; 16:1.)
No one can have carefully considered The Book of the Psalms without seeing the value and authority of the written word frequently set forth. It opens by marking one point in the righteous man, being that he meditates in the law of Jehovah day and night; and in Psalm 119, almost every verse speaks of the word, statutes, commandments, or law of Jehovah. Not only does this book extol the purity of the word itself, like silver purified seven times, but also of its cleansing virtue. The authenticity, too, of the scriptures is so regarded that the writer says, "The law of thy mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver;" and "I love thy commandments above gold, yea above fine gold." (Ps. 1; Ps. 119:9, 72, 127.) David was one of those holy men of old of whom Peter speaks, who was "moved by the Holy Spirit" to give unto us the "sure word of prophecy." (2 Peter 1:19-21.)
In Proverbs also we are told that "every word of God is pure . . . . add thou not unto his words." (Prov. 30:5, 6.) And again, "Have not I written to thee excellent things in counsels and knowledge; that I might make thee know the certainty of the words of truth, that thou mightest answer the words of truth to them that send unto thee?" (Chap. 22, 20, 21.)
Daniel, though he prophesied by the same Spirit, is somewhat different, for his line was "the times of the Gentiles," as also his own people. He gives us, in the second chapter, the whole history of the Gentile nations, and their concluding judgment; he also spoke of the abomination yet to be set up in the temple, which our Lord referred to in Matthew 24:15, and is so soon to have its very solemn fulfilment. In Hosea it is, "The word of Jehovah that came to Hosea." (Chap. 1:1.) In Joel, "The word of Jehovah that came to Joel." (Chap. 1:1.) Amos said, "Thus saith Jehovah." (Chap. 1:3.) Obadiah begins, "Thus saith Jehovah concerning Edom." (Ver. 1.) In Jonah we are twice told that "The word of Jehovah came to Jonah." (Chaps. 1:1; 3:1.) Micah begins with, "The word of Jehovah that came to Micah." Nahum says, "Thus saith Jehovah." (Chap. 1:12.) Habakkuk tells us, "Jehovah answered me, and said, Write the vision, and make it plain upon tables, that he may run that readeth it." (Chap. 2:2.) Zephaniah begins with, "The word of Jehovah which came unto Zephaniah." (Chap. 1:1.)
The testimony of the prophets was nearly completed when the Jews were carried away into Babylon. We have only three post-captivity prophets Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, though some of the prophecies of Jeremiah (see Jer. 52:30) and Daniel were given after the great captivity. Haggai distinctly affirms that his word was "the word of Jehovah," and that it came to him at different times. He announced his messages authoritatively, with, "Thus saith Jehovah." (Chap. 1:1, 7; 2:1, 7, 20.) Zechariah also asserts the divine source of his most solemn and beautiful utterances, when he says, "The word of Jehovah came unto Zechariah." This he repeatedly asserted. (Chap. 1:1, 7; 7:1; 8:1.) Malachi also introduces his mournful testimony with, "The burden of the word of Jehovah to Israel by Malachi." It is well not to overlook how this prophet, like others, looks on to the Lord coming in glory to the faithful in Israel, His "jewels," as the Sun of Righteousness with healing to them and judgment on the wicked. This prophet also presses, in Jehovah's name, the divine authority of the writings of Moses, saying, "Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments." (Chap. 1:1; 4:2, 4.)
It is scarcely possible that we could have more conclusive internal evidence of the writers of the Old Testament scriptures having been inspired by God for their service. Well then has the Lord informed us by His Holy Spirit that, "Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we, through patience and comfort of the scriptures, might have hope." (Rom. 15:4.)