Bible Study Opportunities
The Old Tutor
By Jon W. Quinn
I read it all in a book. You have probably read this book before. At least you have read in it. I read about how a great teacher was put to death. The book told how He was betrayed by a friend for thirty pieces of silver. It told of His betrayer becoming remorseful and throwing the money down in the temple. It told about how the teacher's disciples were scattered, running away from Him to save their own lives when the mob came to arrest Him. The book told about the false witnesses lying about Him and how that He did not open His mouth to make a defense even though He was guiltless. The book graphically depicted how they beat Him, spit upon Him and mocked Him. And then, how they pierced His hands and feet and put Him to death along with criminals. It told of how both enemies and friends witnessed these events and how His enemies divided His garments and gambled for His clothing. It told that they offered Him vinegar to drink as He suffered. The book told of the words He spoke including the awful cry, "My God, My God, why hats Thou forsaken Me?" The book said that even though He suffered such a death that none of His bones was broken; but His side was pierced through and that He would be buried in a place for the rich.
Though these events have been written about in many books through the centuries, the book to which I am referring is the first book to have ever mentioned them. Do you know the name of the book to which I am referring? Perhaps you are thinking "That's an easy one...you're referring to the New Testament." No, that's not the one. The New Testament was only the second book which recorded the events above. The first book to ever do so was the Old Testament!
The Death of Christ, the Old Testament, and the Skeptic
“And beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures.” (Luke 24:27; see also vss. 45,46). The Old Testament was completed about 450 B.C. All of the events we just mentioned concerning the death of Jesus in the above section were written down over four centuries before He was born! This is powerful evidence that the Bible is really the product of the mind of God and not the imagination of men. That is the reason that Jesus could quote ancient prophecies about the events of His life. They had been written for many, many years.
The skeptic is hopelessly inadequate to explain how it was that these events were predicted so precisely hundreds of years before they occurred if the Bible is not the Word of God. Some have suggested that maybe the Old Testament was really written later, after Jesus had already gone through this ordeal, and merely pretended to have been written earlier. But such is impossible! Here is why.
One way we can check on this today is through archaeological investigation. For example, Jeremiah's scribe, according to the Old Testament, was named "Baruch" (Jeremiah 32:12). Archaeologists have found the seal he would use to seal his letters. Also discovered are the seals of several other individuals named in the Bible showing that these people lived during the times that the Bible says and not later.
Also, the Septuagint proves conclusively that these prophecies were written centuries before Christ. In the several centuries before Christ, more and more Jews found themselves speaking, or at least writing, in Greek. A group of scholars got together about 250 B.C. to translate the Old Testament Scriptures from Hebrew into Greek. The fact that the Septuagint exists at all proves that the Hebrew prophecies were already in existence at least two and a half centuries before Jesus.
The discovery of the Dead Sea scrolls which included many preserved manuscripts from the times before Jesus also show that these prophecies had already been recorded.
Why The Old Testament Says So Much About Christ
One reason Jesus is so prominent in a book written before His birth is that the Old Testament was designed to lead the world to Christ. “Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, that we may be justified by faith.” (Galatians 3:24; see vss. 23-29). Paul wrote the book of Galatians to confirm that salvation is made possible through justification by forgiveness which in turn is by God's grace, and that no one has or will achieve it by living the perfect life that God's righteousness demands.
Some were saying that the new Gentile converts to Christ were obligated to keep portions of the Law of Moses to be justified. The Law did not justify sinners; it merely showed them their sin and their need for a Savior; it told them that God would one day provide such a Savior; and it helped them be pleasing to God in the meantime.
The faithful under the Old Law were “kept in custody under the Law.” (Galatians 3:23). The human race was beset by sin and in need of a Redeemer. In one sense, the Law was God's way of providing "protective custody" for sinners until Jesus came. The Law instructed, restrained, punished and guarded but it did not save. It did give promise of a coming day of release from custody and freedom.
Paul uses yet another illustration of the role the Law of Moses played in God's plan; that it functioned as a “tutor” (Galatians 3:24). The Greek term translated "tutor" or "schoolmaster" would be well known to his readers of that century. The Greek word "paidagogos" had reference to a family servant who would become a young boy's "guardian-trainer." His duty was to teach the boy good manners and even to punish him if necessary. He would walk the boy to school carrying his satchel. After school, the tutor would quiz the boy on what he had learned and have him recite his memory work and so forth. When the boy grew to be about sixteen the tutor's work would be over. Paul says that the Law of Moses had functioned as our "tutor" in this regard. It's job was to lead us to a certain point and that point had arrived. Christ had come so that we might now be justified by faith.
Since the tutor Paul has been talking about was the Law of Moses, then this means that we are no longer under that Law (Gal. 3:25). We are not obligated to keep its commandments and are not justified by doing so. However, many of its teachings have been brought over and elaborated upon in the new covenant, the "law of Christ" (GAL 6:1,2).
These are a few of the reasons why so much is said about Christ in the Old Testament, and why we can have such wonderful confidence in His identity as the Son of God.
Reprinted From the Bradley Banner Bradley Church of Christ Bradley, Illinois November 12, 2000