Christians and the Old Testament

How should Christians relate to the Old Testament? Jesus said he did not come to abolish the law but to fulfill it (Matthew 5:17). Later, Paul says that in Christ we are no longer under the rules and regulations of the law (Romans 6:14; Ephesians 2:15). So how should Christians understand the commandments of the Mosaic Law such as prohibitions against eating shell fish (Leviticus 18), or the command to observe the Sabbath (Exodus 20:8)?

In this video interview, Dr. Bill Arnold and Dr. Ben Witherington instruct us to retain the Old Testament as God’s word for us, albeit interpreting it through the ethical lens of the New Testament. In the process, they cast doubt on the helpfulness of categories such as ceremonial, moral, and civic laws for appropriating the Old Testament.

If you want to learn more about where Jesus can be found in the Old Testament, get The Fulfillment: Jesus and the Old Testament by Timothy Tennent from our store. By focusing on well known characters such as Adam, Abraham, Moses, and David, he shows how God used their stories to anticipate the coming of Jesus Christ. If you’re interested in an Bible study that helps Christians enter into the Old Testament story, Epic of Eden: Understanding the Old Testament by Sandy Richter has been well received by small groups and churches.

View the rest of the videos in this series:
What Bible Did Jesus Use?
The Divine-Human Authorship of Scripture
The Bible Must Be Read in Context
Is the Bible Still Relevant?
Where Is Jesus in the Old Testament?

Find all of our resources on Scripture here. Read articles from Dr. Bill Arnold here. Watch more videos from Dr. Ben Witherington here. Explore our OneBook Bible Study resources here.

View all of our video interviews here.


Bill Arnold is professor of Old Testament Interpretation at Asbury Theological Seminary. He is a "cradle Methodist," having been raised in a Methodist parsonage. When not traveling, he teaches an adult Sunday School class at First United Methodist Church, Lexington, KY. He enjoys Kentucky basketball and Cincinnati baseball, although his wife finds something else to do when games are too intense. He and Susan are survivors of three sons, who are now beginning to provide grandchildren in order to atone for all their offenses against their parents.