Chapter Four: Is the Bible an adequate Revelation of Christ ...?

“Christ in the Old Testament is concealed, but in the New Testament He is revealed.”

Old Testament
Deuteronomy 4:2 “Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it ...”

New Testament
Revelation 22:18-19 “If any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book:

And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy God shall take away his part out of the book of life, and out of the holy city, and from the things which are written in this book.”

Or Do We Need Pictures?

“We think in pictures, therefore it is necessary to have a picture of Christ in order to have a concept of Christ,” seems to be a common belief in the church today.

This raises the question: Is the Bible’s revelation of Christ so inadequate that we need pictures added in order to have a concept of Christ?

The Bible is Written to Give the Full Knowledge of Christ

All the Bible is written that we might know Christ. The purpose of the Old Testament was to lay a foundation for Christ to be known. “Study diligently the Scriptures,” Jesus told the Jews, “...These are the Scriptures that testify about me...” (John 5:39) The law was a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. (Gal. 3:24). (But today we substitute artists’ so-called “Christ” pictures to be the modern schoolmasters to lead people to “Christ.”)

The purpose of the New Testament, likewise, is to make Christ known. The Gospels, the Acts, the Epistles, and the Revelation: all focus on the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Since God wants us to fully know Christ and since the Bible is written that we might be able to fully know him, we can be assured that, if there is no description in the Bible of what he looked like, there is a reason why there is no description. It is no oversight.

Old Testament Types Match the New Testament Fulfillment Facts, Like Two Halves of a Symbol that must fit perfectly together

The OT provides the description by which Jesus was recognized as the Messiah. This legitimate frame of reference for Christ provides the legitimate “picture” of Christ. The purpose of the Old Testament was to provide the true picture of Christ (and get rid of the false pictures).

For instance, Philip told Nathaniel that Jesus was the person of whom Moses and the prophets wrote.
We have found the one Moses wrote about in
the Law, and about whom the prophets also
wrote: Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph. (John 1:45)
The Law and the Prophets described the Messiah in such a way that Jesus of Nazareth could be recognized.

After his resurrection, Jesus walked with two disciples on the Emmaus road. He opened their minds to see that the Scriptures spoke of him.
And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he
explained to them what was said in all the
Scriptures concerning himself. (Luke 24:27)
Thus Jesus concluded his earthly ministry by opening the minds of his disciples to see that the OT described the Christ, and that Jesus himself matched this description.

Both testaments focus on Christ. The perfect matching of the two covenants would not be possible if the Old Testament had promised something different, or if the New Testament had provided a different revelation of Jesus.

Both testaments are finished. Each testament, in the sense that it perfectly matches the other testament, cannot be added to, subtracted from, or changed. Any change would ruin its perfect Christological purpose.

Neither testament provides the artist any specific visual form of a man to copy.

The Bible (OT & NT) is a completed book. Nothing can be added to the Bible. It is a finished revelation of Christ. Unless further writings by an apostle should be found, no addition to the Bible is possible. Nothing can be added from later times.

The OT provides the “picture;” the NT provides the person pictured by the OT. Jesus of Nazareth corresponds to the picture. Jesus fulfilled the Law—he “filled-full” the shadowy outline pictured by the Law. For instance, the moral Law pictures Jesus, and the typology of the Law pictures Jesus—but the Law does not picture anybody else! The Old Testament provides the one true picture of Jesus.

Any addition to either the OT or the NT destroys the perfection of the match between picture and person, type and antitype, Law and the Person-who-fulfilled-the-Law. Adding anything to either side of the equation destroys the equation.

The Old and New Testaments complement each other. The true picture, and the person who is pictured, are both needed. Both sides of the equation are needed. Neither one is complete without the other. Neither one makes sense without the other. Each validates the other.

The Old Testament is not complete without the New Testament. The OT promised a Christ it did not give. It raised great hopes but did not fulfill those hopes. The OT, in itself, is an incomplete book. It is only one-half of the coin. It is not complete without the NT.

The Old Testament promised the Christ. It had to wait for the New Testament to reveal Him in the flesh.

The New Testament is not complete without the Old Testament. As the other half of the coin, the other half of the equation, its words become uncertain symbols without the OT background. The New Testament by itself cannot stand alone any more than the OT can. The Old Testament gives the authorized frame of reference for the NT terms. Without the OT frame of reference, New Testament interpretation degenerates into subjectivism and naturalism.

The New Testament, no more than the Old, can stand alone. If it is not a completion and fulfillment of the faith of Israel, then it will be a fulfillment of that which we ourselves provide—the idealism of a natural religion. (Wright, 112)

How then did the OT say the New Testament Christ could be recognized when he would appear?

If we were to find any physical picture or image in the New Testament of Jesus of Nazareth, we would know from the OT Law that He could not be the unpictureable Yahweh God of the Old Testament. A mismatch between OT and NT would prove Jesus is not the true Christ.

Summary and Conclusion

We begin this book with the premise that the Bible does give an adequate revelation of Christ, and that the Old Testament provides the “picture” of him while the New Testament reveals the person who perfectly matches that “picture.”

Later studies in this book will show that if the New Testament had provided a physical description of Jesus adequate for an artist to make a likeness, Jesus could not be the unpictureable Yahweh, the Christ promised by the Old Testament.

The OT and the NT are final and complete, and each half corresponds perfectly to the other half.

The Old and New Testaments are the two matching halves of the same symbol. Matching them together, it will be seen that the Old Testament provides the authorized picture of Christ and the New Testament provides Jesus of Nazareth to correspond to the Old Testament picture.

What further need is there for a picture of Christ? To substitute a manmade picture of “Christ” is to say that the Old Testament picture is not valid (because, as will be seen, the Old Testament revelation of Christ varies so diametrically from the manmade picture).

Bibliographic References

Baxter, J. Sidlow. The Master Theme of the Bible, Part 1: The Doctrine of the Lamb (Wheaton: Tyndale House, 1985).

McGee, J. Vernon. The Tabernacle: God’s Portrait of Christ (Wheaton: VanKampen Press, n.d.).

Miskotte, Kornelis H. When the Gods Are Silent (London: Collins, 1967), p. 159 ff, etc. The Old Testament promised more than it delivered.

Smeaton, George. “Christ Consciously Fulfilling All that Was Written in the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms Concerning Himself,” in The Doctrine of the Atonement as Taught By Christ Himself (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1953 ed.), pp. 79-92.

G. Ernest Wright, The Old Testament Against Its Environment, (London, SCM Press, 1950). The theology of Israel’s neighbors didn’t produce the Old Testament! And if Christians don’t allow the Old Testament to define New Testament terms, then we will sink back into naturalistic definitions of theological language—like the theological corruptions held by Israel’s neighbors.