What are the differences and similarities between the Old and New Testaments?

Why are there two testaments?

Firstly, why is the bible split into two parts, the Old Testament (OT) and the New Testament (NT)? The word 'testament' comes from the Greek word diatheke and can also be translated as a contract (as in a will) or a covenant. Under the first or old covenant God's people were required to obey the law of Moses, and when they failed to obey the law forgiveness was obtained by shedding the blood of an animal (Hebrews 8-9) i.e. the animal was sacrificed. In the second or new covenant forgiveness was achieved through the shed blood of Jesus when he died on the cross (Matthew 26:28, Hebrews 9:15). The new covenant is spoken of by the prophet Jeremiah (Jeremiah 31:31-34) "I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people". In 2 Corinthians 3:6 Paul contrasts the old covenant of the letter of the law, which kills, with the new covenant of the spirit, which gives life. God's revelation to mankind is progressive, part 1 followed by part 2, and much of what is hidden in the OT is revealed in the NT.

In order to fully understand the NT it is important to

Similarities and differences:

Old Testament

New Testament

Covenant of the Law

Covenant of Grace

Letter of the law kills

Spirit, gives life (the new heart)

Sacrificed animals because of sin

Jesus was sacrificed for our sin

High priest sacrificed an animal

Jesus is our high priest

Looks forward to the coming of the Messiah

Looks forward to the Second coming of the Messiah Jesus Christ

History of God’s dealing with his people the Jews, God saves a people for himself.

History of Christ and of the church (Jews and Gentiles), God saves the church for himself.

Depicts the creation of the world (Genesis)

Depicts the end of the world (Revelation)

Describes the line of people that the Messiah would come from

Describes the people who would come from the Messiah (spiritually) the Church

Shows how God’s people failed to keep the Law.

Shows a saviour who kept the law and paid the price for our sins.

Salvation comes to the Jews

Salvation comes to the world (Jews + Gentiles)

Destruction of the earth by water

Destruction by fire

Depicts miracles

Depicts miracles

Twelve tribes

Twelve apostles

Israel in the desert forty years

Jesus in the desert forty days

Written in Hebrew over a long time 1500-400 BC

Written in Greek over a short time 40-95 AD

Prophecies made about Jesus

Jesus fulfils OT prophecies

Inspired by God

Inspired by God (God breathed) 2 Timothy 3:16

Jews circumcised

Christians baptised

Large book

Small book

Mystery hidden

Mystery revealed