A Brief Biblical Theology of the Transfiguration

The transfiguration story begins where all stories do: with Adam and Eve in the garden. Adam and Eve are made in God’s image and likeness on God’s mountain (Gen. 1:28). They are icons, or idols, of God. Though we typically view idols negatively, the sense from Genesis is that humanity has the Spirit of God breathed into it, indicating its participation in the divine. Adam and Eve’s vocation is to mirror and represent Yahweh. This is why Jewish literature outside of the Bible speaks of Adam and Eve having glory in the garden and why Paul speaks of sin as having “exchanged the glory of . . . God” (Rom. 1:23). The fall was therefore a descent from glory. Paul speaks of it in terms of having fallen “short of the glory of God” (3:23). Darkness ensues as humanity flees from its purpose.

Moses’s story previews the restoration of this “image.” He ascends the mountain of God, enters the glory cloud, and peers into heaven, seeing that the garden was a copy of the heavens. Moses is instructed to build another copy on the earth so that others might enter God’s presence. The result of him being with God is that his face now shines (Exod. 34:29).

In 2 Corinthians, Paul employs Moses as a prototype. Paul was not shy about using the verb metamorphoō to describe our spiritual pilgrimage to glory (Rom. 12:2; 2 Cor. 3:18). Gregory of Nyssa mimics Paul and presents Moses as an example of seeking after God in his book Life of Moses. Moses is an archetype for those who seek God’s face. His life represents spiritual stages as he seeks God’s glory.

Moses first pursues solitude in the desert, where he sees divine light in the burning bush. Next comes Moses’s renunciation (purgation) of his past and his seeking of a new life in the wilderness. Moses then communes with God in fire and a cloud of darkness on Mount Sinai. He is illumined. His face shines as he comes down the mountain, demonstrating the weight of this moment. Moses is still not satisfied. The greater degree of glory awakens him. He wants more. He desires union. This union is not satisfied until he sees Jesus.

Israel’s priests reenact Moses’s ascent up Sinai as they meet with God in the temple and then come out of God’s dwelling on earth, blessing God’s people with the shining presence of God’s face (Num. 6:24–26). However, Israel is not able to live up to their vocation of being God’s light to the nations. Therefore, God sends his only begotten Son as the light of the world ( John 1). The Spirit rests on him, and he acts in the way that God has purposed for humanity all along. Yahweh will fix what has gone wrong. The disciples get a preview of this restoration on Mount Tabor. Jesus ascends the mountain, his face shines, his clothes turn dazzlingly white, and the glory cloud appears. Jesus is the true image of God (Col. 1:18).

The promise for the redeemed is that those who participate in Christ will also be changed. As Ephrem the Syrian said, “Christ came to find Adam who had gone astray. He came to return him to Eden in the garment of light. . . . Blessed is He who had pity on Adam’s leaves and sent a robe of glory to cover his naked state.” Paul says that we all now have unveiled faces like Moses and are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory (2 Cor. 3:18). However, that transformation will only occur in full on the last day. At that time, our earthly bodies will be made new and become heavenly bodies. We will be raised in glory (1 Cor. 15:40–43).

This glory is explicated in the rest of the New Testament. Paul says that God will transform our lowly bodies to be like his glorious body (Phil. 3:20–21). He asserts that when Christ appears, we will also appear with him in glory (Col. 3:4). John says that when Jesus appears, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is (1 John 3:2). And Peter confirms that he will be a partaker of the glory to be revealed (1 Pet. 5:1).

Yet this will take place only through suffering. The transfiguration’s larger context is the looming cross. In Romans 8:18–25, Paul follows this “suffering then glory” pattern when he speaks of how the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing to the glory that is to come. As Desmond Tutu writes, “The principle of transfiguration says nothing, no one and no situation, is ‘untransfigurable,’ that the whole of creation, nature, waits expectantly for its transfiguration, when it will be released from its bondage and share in the glorious liberty of the children of God, when it will not be just dry inert matter but will be translucent with divine glory.” When the Lord returns, we will wear a crown of righteousness (2 Tim. 4:8). The shining mountain is not only an event to study; it transfigures us as we behold the glorious Son and wait for his return.

Even all of creation waits for the revealing of the children of God when they will obtain the “the glorious freedom of God’s children” (Rom. 8:21). We groan while we wait for the redemption of our bodies (8:23; 2 Cor. 4:17). In the new heavens and new earth, God’s presence in the Son and through the Spirit will dwell with us on his mountain. Jesus’s divine rays will suffuse all creation. His transfiguration is not only about his transformation; it is about our transformation and the transfiguration of the cosmos. The earth will have no need for the sun or moon to shine, for the glory of God and the lamp of the Lamb will be its light. We will shine as the stars in the sky (Dan. 12:3; Matt. 13:43). At that time, the nations will walk by his light, and the kings will bring their glory to God’s city (Rev. 21:23–24). We still await that day, but we wait for it with hope.

Content taken from The Transfiguration of Christ by Patrick Schreiner, ©2024. Used by permission of Baker Academic.

Conclusion: Tips for Delighting in the Old Testament

“Sweeter … Than Honey” (Ps 19:10)

This blog series has invited you to a feast of rich food and a treasure of incomparable value. The OT was Jesus’s only Bible, and in it you can discover a perfect law that revives the soul, right precepts that rejoice the heart, and true rules that are altogether righteous (Ps 19:7–9). “More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and dripping of the honeycomb” (19:10).

Through his Son’s life, death, and resurrection, the reigning God saves and satisfies sinners who believe and enables them to celebrate his Son’s greatness through all of Scripture. And “beholding the glory of the Lord,” we are “being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another” (2 Cor 3:18). As a conclusion to this study, here are seven tips to those aspiring, as God intended, to delight in the OT through Christ and for Christ.

1. Remember That the Old Testament Is Christian Scripture

What we call the OT was the only Scripture Jesus had, and the apostles stressed that the prophets wrote God’s Word to instruct Christians. Paul says, for example, that God’s guidance of Israel through the wilderness was “written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come” (1 Cor 10:11; cf. Rom 15:4). Similarly, Peter emphasized that “it was revealed to them [i.e., the OT prophets] that they were serving not themselves but you”—the church (1 Pet 1:12).

When Moses and the prophets wrote, they were writing for Christians (Deut 30:8; Isa 29:18; 30:8; Jer 30:1–2, 24; 31:33; Dan 12:5–10). In short, the OT is Christian Scripture that God wrote to instruct us. As Paul tells Timothy, these “sacred writings … are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus,” and it is this “Scripture” that is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Tim 3:16). Old in OT does not mean unimportant, and we should approach the text accordingly.

2. Interpret the Old Testament with the Same Care
You Would the New Testament

To give the same care to the OT as to the NT means that we treat it as the very Word of God (Mark 7:13; 12:36), which Jesus considered authoritative (Matt 4:3–4, 7, 10; 23:1–3), believed could not be broken (John 10:35), and called people to know so as to guard against doctrinal error and hell (Mark 12:24; Luke 16:28–31; 24:25; John 5:46–47). Methodologically, caring for the OT means that we establish the text, make careful observations, consider the context, determine the meaning, and make relevant applications. We consider genre, literary boundaries, grammar, translation, structure, argument flow, key words and concepts, historical and literary contexts, and biblical, systematic, and practical theology. We study each passage within its given book, within salvation history, and in relationship to Christ.

So many Christians will give years to understanding Mark and Romans and only weeks to Genesis, Psalms, and Isaiah, while rarely even touching the other books. When others take account of your life and ministry, may such realities not be said of you. We must consider how Scripture points to Christ (Luke 24:25–26, 45–47) and faithfully proclaim “the whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27), ever doing so as those rightly handling “the word of truth” (2 Tim 2:15).

3. Treat Properly the Covenantal Nature of the Old Testament

The two parts of the Bible are called the Old and New Testaments because they each principally address the old and new covenants, respectively. We call Jesus’s Bible a testament because of its covenantal quality (testamentum is Latin for “covenant”). The OT addresses how God establishes and enforces his Mosaic covenant. And unlike the NT, which addresses a multinational church and was written in the common language of Greek, the OT was written to Hebrews in Hebrew.

The OT bears a historical particularity that requires us to observe, understand, and evaluate carefully before application. To engage the OT as a testament requires that we recognize the distinct covenantal elements in the text and then consider how Christ’s coming influences our understanding of every passage.

4. Remember Why the Old Testament Is Called Old

Building on the previous point, the OT details a covenant of which Christians are not a part and that has been superseded by the new. This fact requires that Christians carefully consider how Christ fulfills every OT story, promise, and law before establishing its relevance. While Moses’s instructions still have value for Christians, they do so only through Christ (Deut 30:8; Matt 5:17–19). Similarly, while every promise is yes for Christians, it is so only in Jesus (2 Cor 1:20).

As Christians, we must interpret the OT in light of Jesus’s coming. His person and work realize what the OT anticipates (Matt 5:17–18; Luke 24:44; Acts 3:18), he stands as the substance of all OT shadows (Col 2:16–17), and he embodies every ethical ideal found in both the law and wisdom (Rom 5:18–19). We need to recognize that one of the OT’s fundamental purposes is to help us celebrate Christ and all God would accomplish through him.

5. Read the Old Testament through the Light and Lens of Christ

Jesus supplies both the light and lens for reading the OT rightly. “Light” indicates that interpreting the OT properly is possible only for those who have seen “the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ” (2 Cor 3:4). “Lens” stresses that Jesus’s life, death, and resurrection disclose truths in the OT that were always there but not yet clear (Rom 16:25–26; 1 Cor 3:14). Christians must recognize that there are significant continuities between the Testaments, such that many righteous people saw Christ from a distance (Matt 13:17; Luke 10:24; John 8:56; 1 Pet 1:10–12). On the other hand, there are also significant discontinuities, in that the rebel population was not given a heart to understand (Deut 29:4; Isa 6:9–10), nor did God disclose the mystery of the kingdom until Christ came (Dan 12:8–10; Mark 4:11–12).

The NT provides both the answer key and the algorithm for reading the OT in its fullness. By elevating Christ’s person and work, the NT signals the substance of all previous shadows, realizes the hopes of all previous anticipations, and clarifies how the various OT patterns and trajectories find their resolve. Through Jesus, God enables and empowers us to read the OT as he intended. Jesus is both our light and lens.

6. Consider How Faithfully to See and Celebrate
Christ in the Old Testament

Christians must seek to analyze and synthesize how the whole Bible progresses, integrates, and climaxes in Christ. Following the lead of Scripture itself, we can see and celebrate Christ from the OT in numerous ways.

    1. Consider how Christ stands as the climax of the redemptive story.
    2. Identify how Christ fulfills messianic predictions.
    3. Recognize how Christ’s coming creates numerous similarities and contrasts between the old and new ages, creations, and covenants.
    4. Determine how Christ is the antitype to OT types.
    5. Reflect on how Yahweh’s person and work anticipates Christ.
    6. Contemplate how Christ embodies every ethical ideal from OT law and wisdom.
    7. Instruct from the OT through Christ’s mediation—both through the pardon he supplies, which secures both promises and power, and the pattern of godliness that he sets.

7. Assess How the New Testament Authors
Are Using the Old Testament

The early church devoted itself to the apostles’ teaching (Acts 2:42), and the whole church is built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Jesus as the cornerstone (Eph 2:20). Yet what Bible were the apostles using? They were using the OT, and they were making much of Christ from it. The NT is loaded with quotations of and allusions to the OT, and we should note the significance of these citations.

When Paul asserted to the Corinthians, “I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified” (1 Cor 2:2), he did so as an OT preacher. And when he claimed that “all Scripture … is profitable” (2 Tim 3:16), the “Scripture” he principally had in mind was the OT. You will help yourself and your people to cherish the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27) and to appreciate the whole Bible when you take the time to wrestle with the NT’s citations of the Old.


The OT is Christian Scripture, and we can enjoy it best when we approach it through Christ and for Christ. The OT magnifies Jesus in numerous ways, and his person and work clarify how to rightly discern the continuities and discontinuities of salvation history. Through the light and lens that Christ supplies, Christians can enjoy in the same God and the same good news in both Testaments. We can also embrace all God’s promises and rightly apply Moses’s law as revelation, prophecy, and wisdom. Start delighting in the OT through Christ and for Christ!

¹For each of these steps, see Jason S. DeRouchie, How to Understand and Apply the Old Testament: Twelve Steps from Exegesis to Theology (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R, 2017).

This blog series summarizes Jason S. DeRouchie’s forthcoming book, Delighting in the Old Testament: Through Christ and for Christ (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2024). You can pre-order your copy here.

Stay Awake! The Role of Keeping Alert

Many of us can’t focus for 5 minutes. The technological resources available to us opportune new pursuits without end. We can go in 1,000 directions and nowhere at the same time. This is a spiritual danger. The Bright Shiny Object fabricates a tale of fulfillment but lures us from reality. It promises what it cannot deliver, and we are susceptible if we are not paying attention to our spiritual lives. Challenging life situations, relational strife, and boredom—these and so many other circumstances can be a greenhouse of distraction from God.

John’s audience in Revelation was tempted by the Bright Sinny Object of safety and security, getting by and fitting in to get along and stay alive. Tempted to live for the here and now, to live as earth-dwellers instead of citizens of the soon-to-be-revealed heavenly city, John’s audience, too, was vulnerable to Satan’s lies.

Blessed Are the Alert

What is required of God’s people in this atmosphere of spiritual warfare? In Rev 3:3, Jesus urges the church in Sardis to keep alert since his coming is like a thief. In the sixth bowl judgment (Rev 16:1216), John records the only speech report attributed to Jesus in any of the seal, trumpet, or bowl judgments. Jesus said, “Look, I am coming like a thief. Blessed is the one who is alert and remains clothed, so that he may not go around naked and people see his shame” (Rev 16:15, CSB). John ties together the role of keeping alert with the role of keeping one’s clothes. It is as if, in John’s mind, the level of the believer’s alertness is visible to the believer and the watching world.

We should understand the broader context of Jesus’s statement during the sixth bowl judgment recorded in Rev 16:1216. John notes that unclean spirits that perform signs proceed from the mouths of the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet. The events detailed in the sixth bowl judgment assume that readers have fresh in their minds, among other passages, Revelation 1213. The three-person demonic force described in Revelation 1213 is here in Revelation 16:1216, said to come upon the kings of the earth. Under demonic influence from the dragon, the beast, and the false prophet, the kings of the earth prepare for battle—anticipating the military imagery in Revelation 1920. When the devil is the subject of signs in Revelation, those signs are always false but yet persuasive. The devil and his forces mimic and mock God and tempt believers to act in accord with the devil’s earthly program (Rev 13:1314; 19:20). The devil uses schemes to distract us from God, warm us to the world, and orient our hearts to an earthly identity of sight rather than a heavenly identity of faith.

Motivations for Staying Alert

John would have his readers embrace the role of alert allegiance to God amid demonic temptation to live like earth-dwellers. In the sixth bowl judgment, John offers three ideas that compel us to embrace the role of keeping alert. First, as we stay alert and maintain allegiance to Jesus, we are protected from Satan’s traps and the spiritual deflation that they bring. Jesus’s promise of blessing those who embrace the role of staying alert rests on God’s justice to reward the faithful. Will not God be alert to those who are alert to him? Second, we should remember that God’s intervention to help us during trials and temptation can come at an unexpected time—like a thief’s arrival to seize property at the least expected moment (see Matt 24:4344; Lk 12:3940; 1 Thess 5:28; 2 Pet 3:10). The arrival of the thief in the night is our hope! God sends his aid in the darkest and most difficult seasons, so look for it when you feel weak, afraid, and vulnerable. Third, we need to be watchful so that the patterns of our lives, here represented as elsewhere in Revelation by the imagery of clothing (Rev 6:11; 7:9, 13; 19:8, 14), resemble enduring obedience to God. 


So, how can you resist the devil’s distractions and embrace the role of one who remains alert? First, meditate on John’s motivations in the sixth bow judgment; cling to God’s justice as you watchfully wait for the thief in the night. Second, meditate on these motivations amid God’s people. John wrote Revelation to the seven churches as groups, and elsewhere, the author of Hebrews highlights the critical nature of life in community (see Heb 3:12–15; 10:19–25); remaining alert is not a solo role. Third, engage the mission Jesus gave to his church (Matt 28:18–20); a soldier engaged in active warfare is not easily distracted (2 Tim 2:1–7). Fourth, trust that God will enable you to stand firm and remain alert (2 Cor 3:4–6; Col 1:11–14; Eph 6:10–11;2 Pet 1:3).

¹ This is the fourth entry in a series of FTC blog posts noting how John uses a particular grammatical form, the articular substantival participle, for specific words in Revelation that resemble a playwright’s roles in a script.

² Brian J. Tabb notes that Jesus’s words resemble an interruption of the sequence of events that John records in the sixth bowl judgment (All Things New: Revelation as Canonical Capstone, NSBT 48 [Downers Grove: IVP Academic, 2019], 52).  

³ Rev 16:15 is one of seven beatitudes John writes in Revelation, the others are in Rev 1:3; 14:13; 19:9; 20:6; 22:7; 22:14.

γρηγορέω in Rev 16:15.

G.K. Beale notes that keeping one’s garments implies refusing to commit idolatry and worship the beast (The Book of Revelation: A Commentary on the Greek Text, NIGTC [Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999], 837).

We must not allow ourselves to be lulled into spiritual sleep by the demonically inspired seductions of the surrounding world or to be cowed into complacency through fear of persecution” (Alexander E. Stewart, Reading the Book of Revelation: Five Principles for Interpretation [Bellingham: Lexham, 2021], 150). 

13: How Jesus Transforms or Annuls
Some Old Testament Law

“The Coastlands Wait for His Law” (Isa 42:4)

The previous post provided two examples of how Moses’s law can apply to new-covenant members through Christ and for Christ. There, we saw that Christ’s work can maintain the law with or without extension. This post considers how Christ’s coming transforms or annuls old-covenant instruction.

Case Study #3: The Law Transformed

Considering the Sabbath command in Deuteronomy 5:12–15 will show us how important it is to consider Christ’s fulfillment, which in this instance fully transforms the law and guides those strong in faith in the path of love.

Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as the Lord your God commanded you. Six days you shall labor but the seventh days is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant, or your ox or your donkey or any of your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates, that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day..

Table 1. Deuteronomy 5:12–15

1. Establish the Original Meaning and Application of Deuteronomy 5:12–15

In Deuteronomy’s version of the Ten Commandments (or Ten Words), discourse features create five groupings of long and short commands that highlight the centrality of the Sabbath within the old covenant:

Word 1 Have no other gods Deut 5:5-10 Commanding Grouping #1: Long
Word 2 Bear Yahweh’s name Deut 5:11 Commanding Grouping #2: Short
Word 3 Observe the Sabbath Deut 5:12-15 Commanding Grouping #3: Long
Word 4 Honor parents Deut 5:16 Commanding Grouping #4: Short
Word 5 Love neighbor Deut 5:17-21 Commanding Grouping #5: Long

Table 2. The Centrality of the Sabbath in the Decalogue

At the center of Israel’s identity was the Sabbath, which stood as the old covenant’s “sign” (Exod 31:13, 17). Michael Fox notes three functions of OT signs:

  1. Proof signs demonstrated the truth of something.
  2. Symbol signs represented a future reality by virtue of resemblance or association.
  3. Cognition signs aroused knowledge of something by identifying or reminding.

The Sabbath served first as a cognition sign and then as a symbol sign, symbolically identifying Israel and reminding it of its calling as the agent through whom God’s sovereignty would be celebrated on a global scale (ultimately through its Messiah).

The entirety of the old covenant was symbolized in the Sabbath, and its importance is highlighted by the fact that breaking it was a criminal offense (Num 15:32–36). While Sabbath was part of criminal law, its symbolism (like that of the dietary laws addressed in the next case study) suggests that it was also ceremonial law.

2. Determine the Theological Importance of Deuteronomy 5:12–15

The Sabbath command teaches us many things about God: (1) Yahweh shows no partiality. (2) Yahweh gives his people opportunities to test their trust and to develop their dependence. (3) Yahweh is passionate to display right order in his world, wherein he is exalted as Sovereign over all things.

Considering how Christ fulfills the Sabbath, we recall that Jesus saw himself as the source of ultimate rest: “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matt 11:28). Directly after this assertion, Jesus allows his disciples to pluck grain on the Sabbath and then declares himself “lord of the Sabbath” (12:8). Jesus’s redeeming work fulfilled Israel’s global Sabbath mission and inaugurated the end-times Sabbath rest for the world.

The love principle standing behind Deuteronomy 5:12–15 is this: Loving God and neighbor required carrying out the 6 + 1 pattern of life as a witness to the kingdom hope of ultimate rest.

3. Summarize the Lasting Significance of Deuteronomy 5:12–15

Until the final judgment, God will retain his commitment to his people, even those the world considers “least.” As we look out for the marginalized among his people, we serve King Jesus (Matt 25:31–40). Furthermore, the Sabbath command reminds us of our own need to rest, by which God graciously counters workaholism and nurtures deeper levels of trust in him (Ps 127:2).

Additionally, we must maintain a pattern of corporate worship (Heb 10:25), and Sunday is a natural time for this (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor 16:2) due to its end-times significance as the day on which God ignited his new creation (Rom 6:4; 1 Cor 15:20; Rev 14:4). But corporate worship on another day of the week is not sin, nor is it wrong to weed your garden, study for an exam, or engage in sports on a Sunday—so long as you don’t replace grace (1 Cor 15:10; Phil 2:12–13; Col 3:17, 23). Through Christ, God has transformed the Sabbath in a way that believers now enjoy his sovereign rest seven days a week.

Case Study #4: The Law Annulled

This final illustration of applying OT law to Christians addresses a command that Christ’s coming annuls—yet in such a way that we can still benefit from it.

You shall therefore separate the clean beast from the unclean, and the unclean bird from the clean. You shall not make yourselves detestable by beast or by bird or by anything with which the ground crawls, which I have set apart for you to hold unclean. You shall be holdy to me, for I the Lord am holy and have separated you from the peoples, that you should be mine.

Table 3. Leviticus 20:25–26

1. Establish the Original Meaning and Application of Leviticus 20:25–26

Pre-fall, God’s prohibition of eating from a certain tree supplied a context for humankind to mature in wisdom (Gen 2:17; cf. 3:5). The first couple disobeyed, and the result was that God cursed the world and marked certain creatures as unclean (7:2–3). Originally, the clean-unclean distinction appears to have only guided sacrifices (8:20; 9:3–4). However, it eventually served to distinguish God’s people from the nations (Lev 20:25–26). Either way, it was vital within Israel’s religious life (10:10).

Unclean creatures shared some commonality with the serpent’s curse or death-causing activities. Because Israel’s neighbors were the serpent’s offspring (see Gen 3:15), the meaning Israel associated with unclean animals paralleled God’s perspective of the nations. Accordingly, Yahweh’s prohibition against eating unclean animals symbolically distinguished Israel from its neighbors. It also allowed Israel to point the world to Yahweh as the only Savior who could overcome curse with blessing (Gen 12:3; 22:18).

2. Determine the Theological Importance of Leviticus 20:25–26

God is holy, and all should see and celebrate this. John Hartley notes that, within the old covenant, dietary restrictions “made the Israelites conscious at every meal that they were to order their lives to honor the holy God with whom they were in covenant.” So, for example, the prohibition against eating pork served to heighten the Israelites’ awe of Yahweh and to distinguish them from those outside the covenant.

With the progression of salvation history, however, Jesus has declared “all foods clean” (Mark 7:19). Accordingly, it is not what goes into peoples’ mouths but what comes out of their hearts that defiles them (7:18–23). Similarly, the Lord gave Peter a vision of unclean animals, commanded him to “kill and eat,” and then asserted, “What God has made clean, do not call common” (Acts 10:10–15). This instruction proved to Peter that God was now welcoming any from the nations who would fear and obey him (10:34–35).

Within the original OT context, then, loving one’s neighbor by not eating unclean food means that Israel was to display God’s holy animosity toward sin and the curse even in their diet.

3. Summarize the Lasting Significance of Leviticus 20:25–26

When considering how eating today relates to loving our neighbors, we must view it from two angles. First, love of neighbor means that those who are strong in faith and who feel free to eat anything must be careful not to cause those who are weaker in faith and who choose to abstain from certain foods to stumble. As Paul writes, “Food will not commend us to God. We are no worse off if we do not eat, and no better off if we do. But take care that this right of yours does not somehow become a stumbling block to the weak” (1 Cor 8:8–9; cf. Rom 14:2, 13–15).

Second, love of neighbor means that we will not stop proclaiming that Christ has triumphed on our behalf, opening the door for all peoples to stand reconciled to him. One way we can do this is by eating creatures God once prohibited. Whereas old-covenant believers abstained from these foods to proclaim and mirror God’s holiness, new-covenant believers today can partake of them for the same purposes (1 Cor 10:31). Within this framework, bacon is victory food!

A Note on the Hebrew Roots Movement

For centuries, many Jewish followers of Christ have chosen to follow Jewish customs like eating kosher food, worshiping on Saturday, and welcoming the Sabbath with a traditional ceremony and meal. They recognize this as a free choice, not as an obligation to Moses’s law or rabbinic tradition. And Paul would bless this practice, especially if the intent is to see more Jews saved (see 1 Cor 9:20).

However, there is a growing “Hebrew Roots” movement whose primarily Gentile devotees claim Jesus’s followers need to return to their Messiah’s roots by keeping as much of the OT law as possible without the temple. While they verbally affirm that justification before God is by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus alone, they teach that all believers are still bound to keep the Mosaic law.

Reflecting on this movement in light of Scripture, we can say that Hebrew Roots advocates are, at best, passing undue judgment on fellow believers (Rom 14:3) and, at worst, failing to appreciate the changes that Christ brought in salvation history (Gal 3:1–5). Whether dealing with food (2:11–14), holy days (4:10), or circumcision (5:2), all who require obedience to the law as if Christ has not come are seeking to “submit again to a yoke of slavery” (5:1). We cannot keep the whole law (5:3), so we must trust Christ, who has fulfilled the law for and through his elect as we live lives of love by the Spirit (Rom 5:18; 8:3–4; 13:8–10).


¹Michael V. Fox, “The Sign of the Covenant: Circumcision in the Light of Priestly ’ôt Etiologies, Revue biblique 81 (1974): 562–63.

²J. E. Hartley, “Holy and Holiness, Clean and Unclean,” in Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch, ed. T. Desmond Alexander and David W. Baker (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 2003), 429.

This blog series summarizes Jason S. DeRouchie’s forthcoming book, Delighting in the Old Testament: Through Christ and for Christ (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2024). You can pre-order your copy here.

12: How Jesus Maintains Some Old Testament Laws

“Keep All His Commandments” (Deut 30:8)

Having evaluated how the Bible relates OT law to Christians and having considered some of the errors and dangers in alternative approaches, the discussion below overviews a three-step process for applying OT law today. It then supplies two case studies on commands that Christ’s new-covenant law maintains with extension and without extension.

A Method for Applying OT Law

The following three-step process will help believers faithfully assess through Christ and for Christ the lasting significance of Moses’s law today.

1. Establish the Law’s Original Meaning and Application

a. Categorize the Type of Law:

What type or kind of command are you assessing—criminal, civil, family, cultic/ceremonial, or compassion law? At stake here is the law’s content, not form (e.g., apodictic vs. casuistic).

Criminal Laws Laws governing offenses that put the welfare of the whole community at risk (i.e., crimes); the offended party is the state or national community, and the punishment therefore, is on behalf of the whole community in the name of the highest state authority, which in Israel meant Yahweh.
Examples: Kidnapping, homicide, false prophecy, witchcraft, adultery, and rape.
Civil Laws Laws governing private disputes between citizens or organizations in which the public authorities are appealed to for judgment or called upon to intervene the offended party is not the state or national community.
Examples: Accidental death and assault, theft, destruction of property, limited family issues like premarital unchastity, post-divorce situations, and the mistreatment of slaves.
Family Laws Non-civil, domestic laws governing the Israelite household.
Examples: Marriage, inheritance, the redemption of land and persons, family discipleship, and the care of slaves.
Cultic/Ceremonial Laws Laws governing the visible forms and rituals of Israel’s household.
Examples: The sacred sacrifice, the sacred calendar, and various sacred symbols like the tabernacle, priesthood, and ritual purity that distinguished Israel from the nations and provided parables of more fundamental truths about God and relating to him.
Compassion Laws “Laws” dealing with charity, justice, and mercy toward others; these laws cannot be brought to court, but God knows the heart.
Examples: Protection and justice for the weak, impartiality, generosity, and respect for persons and property.

Table 1. Types of Laws by Content

b. Establish the Law’s Original Meaning and Significance:

Assess the makeup of the law in its original context. Clarify its social function and relative status. Is it central or peripheral to the dominant themes and objectives we find in the rest of the material? Is it a primary expression of Yahweh’s values and priorities, or is it more secondary, reinforcing and supplying an example of a more primary law?

c. Consider the Law’s Original Purpose:

What role did Yahweh intend the law to have in Israelite society? Ask the following: Who? What? When? Where? Why? How? How often? To what extent?

2. Determine the Law’s Theological Importance

a. Clarify What the Law Tells Us about God:

What does the law disclose about Yahweh’s character, desires, values, concerns, or standards? We learn about the unchanging God through his law, and meditating on Moses’s law should move us to worship the Lord and to recognize and grieve over lawlessness as a direct affront to his person. It should also move us to celebrate his provision of Christ as the perfect law keeper and righteousness supplier.

b. Evaluate How Christ Fulfills the Law and Consider Its Impact on Application:

Christ’s person, teaching, and work display the call to love God and neighbor, and Jesus fulfills the law not only in the way he perfectly obeyed it but also in the way that he is the substance of all old-covenant shadows (Col 2:16–17). As we consider how Moses’s law informs the law of Christ, some new-covenant instructions look identical to Moses’s teaching, whereas others are maintained with extension, transformed, or annulled. Because the various types of laws are mixed in the Torah, we must deal with each law on its own.

c. State the Love Principle behind the Law:

If indeed love is what God called the people to do and all the other commandments clarify how to do it (Matt 7:12; 22:37–40; Rom 13:8, 10; Gal 5:14), we should be able to boil down every law into a principle of love. In detail, complete the following statement for every law: The call to love God/neighbor means/implies/impacts/necessitates _______________.

3. Summarize the Law’s Lasting Significance

Here we preserve both the portrait of God and the love principle behind the law but change the context, all in view of Christ’s work. God’s nature is unchanging, but his purposes progress over time. Furthermore, a proper approach to OT law must account for the pattern Christ set for believers and the power he supplies through his victory and his Spirit.

Case Study #1: The Law Maintained with Extension

Our first example of applying Moses’s law is a “slow-pitch, easy-hitter.” It illustrates how some laws get extended into new spheres as times and cultures change.

When you build a new house, you shall make a parapet for your roof, that you may not bring the guilt of blood upon your house, if anyone should fall from it.

Table 3. Deuteronomy 22:8

1. Establish the Original Meaning and Application of Deuteronomy 22:8

Flat roofs are common throughout the Middle East, as the roof supplies an extra living space. A parapet is the low wall that surrounds the roof and that protects people from falling off. Hence, a homeowner needs to build his house with a parapet to guard against another’s death. The law’s conditional nature suggests it stands as a secondary application of the more fundamental principle of compassion. Its main purpose was to prevent domestic casualties brought about by mishap or negligence.

2. Determine the Theological Importance of Deuteronomy 22:8

God treasures when humans display his image, and he calls his people to value those made in his image. In Deuteronomy 22:8, Yahweh graciously warns against dangers that could result in injury to others. Similarly, the “golden rule” that Christ advocated (Matt 7:12) is evident in our passage, and it requires that Christ’s followers today love others in the most practical of ways, including how we ready our living space for guests. Hence, the call to love others means we will remove potential dangers and make our living environment safe.

3. Summarize the Lasting Significance of Deuteronomy 22:8

All homeowners bear the responsibility to care for their guests’ well-being. While many societies do not have houses with parapets, Deuteronomy 22:8 is naturally extended to include, say, building a fence around a pool, placing a protective gate above a stairwell, or salting a sidewalk after an ice storm. Love for neighbor is to impact even the littlest details of daily life.

Case Study #2: The Law Maintained without Extension

Much of the world is amid a gender-identity crisis, and the brokenness it is causing is tragic. When read through the lens of Jesus, Deuteronomy 22:5 speaks to this issue.

A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s cloak, for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God.

Table 4. Deuteronomy 22:5

1. Establish the Original Meaning and Application of Deuteronomy 22:5

We should note three features about this prohibition. First, given its use of géber (“man”) rather than ’îš (“man, husband”), the prohibition is not restricted to husbands and wives but includes the broader society. Second, certain articles of clothing, such as a man’s “garment” (e) and a woman’s “cloak” (śimlâ), distinguished men and women in Israelite culture. And third, the fact that cross-dressing is an “abomination” highlights the gravity of the offense and associates it with idolatry (Deut 13:14; 17:4), witchcraft (18:12), and dishonest gain (25:16), which could relate to criminal, civil, or family law.

In this light, Deuteronomy 22:5 appears less a core principle and more a secondary application of more fundamental truths—that there are two biological sexes (male and female) and that one’s biological sex should govern one’s gender identity and expression. As for the purpose of the law, it appears to maintain divinely created gender distinctions.

2. Determine the Theological Importance of Deuteronomy 22:5

Yahweh is passionate about displaying right order in his world. This is the essence of his righteousness, and maintaining gender distinctions is an important part of this order. Moreover, Christ and his apostles continued to distinguish men from women. Indeed, Jesus perfectly exemplified maleness in the way he deeply respected femaleness (see, e.g., Matt 5:27–32; Mark 5:25–43; Luke 7:36–8:3; John 7:53–8:11). In addition, gender distinctions will continue at least until the consummation (Eph 5:22–33; 1 Tim 3:4–5), and even if earthly marriage will end (Matt 22:30), there is no reason to think that gender distinctions will alter in the new heavens and new earth (cf. Rev 21:24).

According to Deuteronomy 22:5, then, loving others and God means that people will maintain a gender identity that aligns with their biological sex and that they will express their gender in a way that never leads to confusion.

3. Summarize the Lasting Significance of Deuteronomy 22:5

Deuteronomy 22:5 helps us recognize the appropriate path for gender expression and the sinfulness of gender confusion, which includes cross-dressing and transgender practice. Western culture still distinguishes men’s and women’s clothing, even if women can at times wear slacks, collars, and ties with no one questioning their femaleness. What was at stake in Moses’s law was gender confusion, and it is from this perspective that our outward apparel matters.

Because Deuteronomy 22:5 focuses on adults and addresses gender confusion, it would not directly dissuade a girl from sporting a mustache in a play or a boy putting on a girl’s dress at home. No viewer of this “child’s play” would be confused regarding the child’s gender. Nevertheless, we must be cautious, because we are always shaping our children, and we live in a society that acts as though gender is a matter of choice rather than providence. This perspective is abominable, and Deuteronomy 22:5 speaks directly against it.

In closing, I call the church to care deeply for the violators and the violated in the present gender-identity crisis. We need to help those struggling with identity to find a new identity in Christ, and we need to help those who have been hurt to find the healing that only Jesus brings. He alone is Savior. He alone is Healer.

¹What follows is abridged from Jason S. DeRouchie, “Confronting the Transgender Storm: New Covenant Reflections on Deuteronomy 22:5,” Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood 21, no. 1 (2016): 58–69.

This blog series summarizes Jason S. DeRouchie’s forthcoming book, Delighting in the Old Testament: Through Christ and for Christ (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2024). You can pre-order your copy here.

11: Other Views on the Christian and
Old Testament Law

“We Uphold the Law” (Rom 3:31)

This post considers alternative proposals to how Moses’s law relates to Christians. It first tackles the common distinction between moral, civil, and ceremonial law, and then it confronts three dangerous approaches to the law that followers of Christ must avoid.

Assessing the Threefold Division of the Law

Historically, many evangelicals have identified three theological categories of laws when considering the contemporary importance of Moses’s instruction:

  • Moral laws—ethical principles that are eternally applicable, regardless of covenant
  • Civil laws—applications of the moral law to Israel’s political and social structures
  • Ceremonial laws—symbolic requirements related to religious rituals and cult worship

Many covenant theologians believe that the moral laws remain binding on Christians today, whereas the civil and ceremonial laws are no longer applicable. In contrast, Christian reconstructionists assert that, because civil laws apply moral laws situationally, they too carry over through Christ and are to guide all nations and states (not just the church).

While these approaches helpfully celebrate Christ as the substance of all OT shadows (Col 2:16–17; Heb 8:5–7) and that his coming alters some laws more than others, neither model satisfies the biblical testimony concerning Moses’s law. Against both approaches, the previous post argued that none of the Mosaic covenant is directly binding on Christians today (Rom 10:4; 1 Cor 9:20–21; Gal 3:24–25) but that all of it is still significant as revelation, prophecy, and wisdom when mediated through Christ (Matt 5:17–19). Furthermore, Scripture views all the law as a single entity, all the law to be moral in nature, and all the law to have devotional benefit for believers.

The Law as a Singular Entity

The OT identifies types of laws based on content, but it never distinguishes laws in the way the threefold division proposes. Leviticus 19, for example, shows little distinction between laws, mixing calls to love one’s neighbor (vv. 11–12, 17–18) with various commands related to family (vv. 3a, 29), worship (vv. 3b–8, 26–28, 30–31), business (vv. 9–10, 13b, 19a, 23–25, 34b–36), care (vv. 9–10, 13–14, 33–34), disputes (vv. 15–16, 35a), and rituals (v. 19b).

Furthermore, the NT regularly speaks of the law as a unit. In Romans 13:9, for instance, the call to love one’s neighbor synthesizes not just a group of moral laws but every commandment, including the proposed civil and ceremonial legislation. Jesus and James, too, spoke broadly of the law (Matt 5:19; Jas 2:10). Paul stressed that the law brought curse to all (Gal 3:10), that we are no longer under the law-covenant in Christ (3:24–25), and that “every man who accepts circumcision … is obligated to keep the whole law” (5:3). 

The “Moral” Nature of All Laws

Christian reconstructionists are correct to note that the “civil” laws illustrate moral principles worked out in Israelite culture. To this we can add that the “ceremonial” laws demonstrate moral elements through symbolism and that even the Ten Commandments, often deemed the premier example of moral law, contain many culturally bound features:

  • The prologue identifies Israel as a people redeemed from Egyptian slavery (Deut 5:6).
  • The idolatry command assumes a religious system including carved images (5:8).
  • The Sabbath command presumes ancient Near Eastern bond service, geographically limited animals, and cities with gates (5:14).

This list should caution those who want to distinguish civil or ceremonial laws from moral because of their temporal boundedness.

The Benefit of All OT Law

Most theologians espousing the threefold division of the law affirm the lasting value of all Scripture. However, this division has led many to see the Book of the Covenant (Exod 21–23) and Leviticus as having little lasting relevance. Yet Jesus and Paul affirmed Exodus’s prohibitions against reviling parents (Matt 15:4) and leaders (Acts 23:5), Paul drew pastoral insight from Leviticus’s instructions on temple service (1 Cor 9:13–14), and Peter called believers to holiness because God called for it in Leviticus (1 Pet 1:15–17). “All Scripture … is profitable” for Christians (2 Tim 3:16), and we align most closely with the Bible when we emphasize how the entire law still matters for Christians, though not all in the same way.

Dangerous Applications of OT Law

Before learning how to apply Moses’s law through Jesus and supplying some extended case studies (in future posts), we must consider three destructive approaches to OT law: (1) legalism, (2) antinomianism, and (3) anti-OT thought.


Legalism is operative when people trust in their own doing to enjoy right standing with God (Luke 18:9; Gal 3:3). Foundational to the very nature of the old-covenant law was Yahweh’s claim, “If a person does them [i.e., my statutes and rules], he shall live by them” (Lev 18:5). Because God gave the law to a mostly unregenerate people, their pursuit of righteousness by works and not by faith resulted in their ruin (Rom 7:10; 9:30–32).

Foundational to all Reformation doctrine is that justification before God comes by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. And we become legalists if we ever ground our justification in anything other than Christ’s perfect obedience alone. “Therefore, as one trespass led to condemnation for all men, so one act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all men. For as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous” (5:18–19).


In the NT, nomos is the Greek term for “law,” so antinomian means “no law.” Antinomians, then, are those who claim that God’s rules need not influence Christians’ daily ethics. In contrast, Paul stressed that he was not “outside the law of God but under the law of Christ” (1 Cor 9:21) and that what counts is neither circumcision nor uncircumcision but “keeping the commandments of God” (7:19).

Long ago, the Westminster theologians highlighted, “Faith, thus receiving and resting on Christ and his righteousness, is the alone instrument of justification: yet it is not alone in the person justified, but is ever accompanied with all other saving graces, is no dead faith, but worketh by love.” It is from this framework that, after forgiving the sin of the woman caught in adultery, Jesus commanded, “Go, and from now on sin no more” (John 8:11). Similarly, Peter urged, “As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’” (1 Pet 1:14–16). Clearly, antinomianism is not an option for Christians.

Anti-OT Thought

In his book Irresistible, Andy Stanley claims that one of the church’s greatest problems today is “our incessant habit of reaching back into the old covenant concepts, teachings, sayings, and narratives.” He stresses that we should call the OT the “Hebrew Bible” and the NT the “Christian Bible,” even warning against too quickly finding Christ in the OT, lest we be among those who have “hijacked” the Jewish Scriptures by “ignoring the original context” and by “retrofitting them as Christian Scripture.” Stanley also assumes that none of Moses’s law matters today: “Thou shalt not obey the Ten Commandments,” he says.

Stanley rightly affirms that Christians are part of the new covenant, not the old, and that Christ stands as the end of old-covenant worship laws. Nevertheless, he overlooks the fact that Jesus maintains some laws and transforms others. Stanley also overlooks the facts that Jesus and Paul’s only Bible was what we call the OT, that they saw it pointing to the Messiah and his work (Luke 24:44–47; Acts 26:22–23), and that they recognized the whole OT to be Christian Scripture (Rom 15:4; 1 Cor 10:11; 1 Pet 1:12). Stanley treats the OT as if Jesus came to “abolish” rather than “fulfill” it (Matt 5:17), and he fails to help people understand how the initial three-fourths of Christian Scripture is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Tim 3:16).


Many Christians distinguish between moral, civil, and ceremonial laws and then view only the moral or only the moral and civil as applying to Christians. Both approaches miss that no old-covenant legislation directly binds believers today, that all of Moses’s law still serves Christians through Jesus, but only in so far as he maintains, transforms, or annuls the various laws. While principles of love and justice in Moses’s law also carry over into governments today, Christ’s law binds the church and not the state. Finally, legalism, antinomianism, and the view that the OT no longer applies to Christians are all dangerous teachings, for they compromise Christ’s saving work.


¹David A. Dorsey, “The Law of Moses and the Christian: A Compromise,” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 34 (1991): 330.

²Westminster Confession of Faith 11.2.

Andy Stanley, Irresistible: Reclaiming the New That Jesus Unleashed for the World (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2018), 90.

Stanley, Irresistible, 280.

Stanley, Irresistible, 156.

Stanley, Irresistible, 136.



This blog series summarizes Jason S. DeRouchie’s forthcoming book, Delighting in the Old Testament: Through Christ and for Christ (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2024). You can pre-order your copy here.

10: The Christians’ Connection to Moses’s Law

“Not under Law” (Rom 6:14):

How does the OT law apply to Christians when so much has changed with Christ’s coming, not least of which is that we are part of the new covenant and not the old? With a simple alliteration, Brian Rosner has captured well three principles that clarify the Christian’s relationship to the Mosaic law. The biblical authors repudiate the old Mosaic law-covenant, replace Moses’s law with the law of Christ, and then reappropriate the law of Moses through Christ.

1. Biblical Authors Repudiate the Mosaic Law-Covenant

By God’s purposes, the Mosaic law multiplied transgression (Rom 5:20; Gal 3:19), exposed sin (Rom 3:20), and brought wrath (4:15) to show that “one is justified by faith apart from works of the law” (3:28). Christians repudiate the Mosaic law-covenant, “for Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes” (10:4). “The law was our guardian until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith. But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a guardian” (Gal 3:24–25). Thus, as the author of Hebrews declared: “In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away” (Heb 8:13). “The law made nothing perfect” (7:19), but in Christ we find a “better hope” (7:19), a “better covenant” (7:22), “better promises” (8:6), “better sacrifices” (9:23), “better possession” (10:34), a “better country” (11:16), a “better life” (11:35), and a “better word” (12:24).

2. Biblical Authors Replace Moses’s Law with the Law of Christ

Moses knew that Israel’s system of worship was merely symbolic, suggesting that it would become obsolete when shadow moved to substance (Exod 25:9, 40; Zech 3:8–9; 6:12–13). Moses also affirmed the need for a better covenant––one in which Yahweh would accomplish for Israel what he did not accomplish with Moses (Deut 29:4; 30:6, 8). Furthermore, the prophets longed for the day when God would teach every member of the blood-bought community (Isa 54:13), write his law on their hearts (Jer 31:33), and cause them to walk in his statutes (Ezek 36:27). All these hopes have been realized through Christ’s person and work (John 6:44–45; Rom 2:14–15; 8:3–4; Col 2:16–17).

As Christians, our “release from the law” (Rom 7:6; cf. 6:14) in part means that the Mosaic law is no longer the direct authority and immediate judge of the conduct of God’s people. The age of the Mosaic law-covenant has come to an end in Christ (10:4), so the law itself has ceased from having a central and determinative role among God’s people (2 Cor 3:4–18; Gal 3:15–4:7). As a written legal code, not one of the 613 stipulations in the Mosaic law-covenant is directly binding on Christians. Instead, we are bound by the law of Christ (1 Cor 9:20–21; Gal 6:2), which is summarized in the call to love our neighbor and which James refers to as the perfect law (Jas 1:25).

3. Biblical Authors Reappropriate Moses’s Law through Christ

While the NT authors highlight the Mosaic law’s condemning nature and stress that believers are now under the law of Christ, they also apply OT laws to Christians based on Christ’s justifying and sanctifying work (e.g., Eph 6:2–3; 1 Tim 5:17–18; 1 Pet 1:15–16). As an illustration, in Romans 13:8–10, Paul urges believers, in view of God’s mercies shown in Christ (Rom 12:1; cf. chaps. 1–11), to fulfill the law by loving others. In this passage, Paul cites four commands associated with the Ten Commandments that focus directly on valuing God’s image in others. Yet by adding “any other commandment,” he shows that love fulfills all Moses’s directives, even those beyond the Decalogue.

Although Moses’s law does not directly bind Christians legally, we do not throw out the law itself. As Moses himself foresaw, God’s people would turn and “obey the voice of the Lord and keep all his commandments” in the day of heart circumcision (Deut 30:8). Along with repudiating the old covenant and replacing its law with the law of Christ, then, Christians must reappropriate Moses’s instruction (1) as a testimony to God’s character and values, (2) as prophecy that anticipates the gospel of Jesus, and (3) as wisdom intended to guide new-covenant saints in our pursuit of God.

Moses’s Law Reveals God’s Character and Values

The Mosaic law expresses God’s character. Yahweh asserted, “You shall … be holy, for I am holy” (Lev 19:2), and the way Israel would fulfill this charge was by heeding God’s words (Exod 19:5–6; Num 15:40). Paul stressed that the law is “the embodiment of knowledge and truth” (Rom 2:20) and that “the commandment is holy, righteous, and good” (7:12). Peter, too, asserted, “As he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, ‘You shall be holy, for I am holy’” (1 Pet 1:15–16). Moses’s law signals what Yahweh values and hates, what he delights in and detests. Christians learn about the character of God through Moses’s law, and this in turn can clarify what it means to image him faithfully (Gen 1:26–28).

Moses’s Law Anticipates the Gospel concerning Christ

Jesus stressed that he came not “to abolish the Law and the Prophets” but “to fulfill them” (Matt 5:17). By “fulfill,” he meant in part that he supplies the end-times actualization of all the OT predicted. Thus, “all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John” (Matt 11:13), and the very “gospel of God … concerning his Son” was “promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy Scriptures” (Rom 1:1–3). Jesus stood as the goal and end of the OT’s hopes, pictures, and patterns.

As the last Adam (1 Cor 15:45), the representative of Israel (Isa 49:1–6; Matt 21:9; Luke 1:32–33), the true Passover lamb (John 1:29; 1 Cor 5:7), and the true temple (John 2:21), Christ is the substance of all old-covenant shadows (Col 1:16–17; Heb 8:5; 10:1). His role as teacher and covenant mediator also fulfills Moses’s own hopes for a covenant-mediating “prophet” like him––one who would know God face to face, who would perform great wonders, and to whom people would listen (Deut 18:15–19; 34:10–12; cf. Luke 7:16; Acts 3:22–26).

Moses’s Law Guides Christians in Love and Wise Living

The “law of Christ” that we live out (Isa 42:4; 1 Cor 9:21) is the law of love as fulfilled and taught by Jesus, which is the end-times realization of Moses’s law. Jesus said that “all the Law and the Prophets” depend on the commands to love God and neighbor (Matt 22:37–40). Paul added that “the whole law is fulfilled in one word: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself’” (Gal 5:14). Significantly, every commandment, not just a “moral” subset of the law, is fulfilled in the call to love (Rom 13:8–10).

In both the old and new covenants, then, love is what God’s people are to do. All the other commandments simply clarify how to do it. From this perspective, while the Mosaic law does not directly or immediately guide Christians, it does show us how deeply and pervasively we should love God and neighbor.

Four Ways Christ Fulfills Moses’s Law

As discussed in the previous post, Jesus is the lens that clarifies how to rightly appropriate the law of Moses, and he alone supplies the power to obey it. When Moses’s instruction is viewed through this lens (see fig. 1), some laws appear unchanged, whereas others hit the lens and get “bent” in various ways. Jesus’s coming maintains (with and without extension), transforms, and annuls various laws.


Figure 1. The Law’s Fulfillment through the Lens of Christ

Another way to grasp how Christians should relate to OT law is to visualize two riverbanks separated at varying distances by water (see fig. 2). The two sides symbolize the old- and new-covenant laws, and Jesus is the “bridge” over which we must move from one side to the other. Our distance from the Mosaic legislation changes depending on the nature of the law in question. Thus, some laws (e.g., prohibitions against murder and adultery) are so similar that the distance seems almost nonexistent, but other laws (e.g., relating to food laws and the Sabbath) disclose substantial distance.


Figure 2. The Law’s Fulfillment over the Bridge of Christ


Jesus and the NT authors repudiate the Mosaic law-covenant, replace Moses’s law with the law of Christ, and reappropriate Moses’s law through Christ. They do this to give us glimpses of God’s character and to guide believers in wisdom and love. None of Moses’s law is directly binding on God’s people today in a legal or regulatory way (Rom 7:4; Gal 3:24–25), but it continues to impact us through Christ in both revelatory and pedagogical ways. Christ is like a lens, and through him (and his NT revelation) we can discern whether he maintains, transforms, or annuls any given law.


 ¹Brian S. Rosner, Paul and the Law: Keeping the Commandments of God, NSBT 31 (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2013), 208–9, 217–22.

 ²Tom Wells and Fred G. Zaspel, New Covenant Theology: Description, Definition, Defense (Frederick, MD: New Covenant Media, 2002), 115. 

This blog series summarizes Jason S. DeRouchie’s forthcoming book, Delighting in the Old Testament: Through Christ and for Christ (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2024). You can pre-order your copy here.

09: How to Hope in Old Testament Promises through Christ

“The Promises … Yes in Him” (2 Cor 1:20)

Yahweh’s promises (old and new) are vital for Christians. If we fail to trustingly embrace OT promises, we will lose three-fourths of the life-giving words of truth that our trustworthy God has given us. Yet we must appropriate them through Christ.

“This Will Turn Out for My Deliverance”

Consider how Paul lived in hope by claiming promises that encouraged Job. The apostle opens his Philippian letter noting that he was in prison for Christ (Phil 1:7) and that his imprisonment had itself advanced the gospel’s spread (1:12–13). He then asserts: “Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance” (1:18–19, italics added).

With the italicized words in verse 19, Paul alludes to the Greek translation of Job 13:16, the only other place in Scripture where the clause occurs (see the NIV). Thus, just as Job anticipated that even death would not keep him from being saved, so Paul declared that his imprisonment would “turn out for [his] deliverance, … whether by life or by death” (Phil 1:19–20). Like Job, Paul was convinced that he would be delivered, but this salvation could even come “by death.”

Paul’s sole hope for attaining Job’s resurrection hope (3:11) was that he be found in Christ (3:9). The apostle, therefore, claims Job’s promise through Jesus, whose own resurrection power (3:10) made both Job and Paul’s hope possible. The very promises that kept Job fearing God were Paul’s in Christ. And today they belong to all who are in Jesus.

Four Ways Jesus Makes Every Promise “Yes”

Truly, every promise in Scripture is “yes” in Christ (2 Cor 1:20). Yet Jesus fulfills the OT’s promises in more than one way, and this means Christians cannot approach all OT promises in the same manner. Believers must claim Scripture’s promises using a salvation-historical framework that has Jesus at the center. Christ is the lens that clarifies and focuses the lasting significance of all God’s promises for us (see fig. 1).

Figure 1. The Fulfillment of OT Promises through the Lens of Christ

1. Christ Maintains Some OT Promises with No Extension

Christ maintains certain promises without adding any further beneficiaries. For example, Daniel 12:2 envisioned a resurrection of some to everlasting life and of others to eternal contempt. Alluding to this passage, Jesus associated this same resurrection with his second coming: “An hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear [the Son of Man’s] voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment” (John 5:28–29).

Christians should claim Daniel 12:2’s promise of resurrection as our own. We do so, however, recognizing that we will only rise because Christ was first raised. “Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep…. Christ the firstfruits, then at his coming those who belong to Christ” (1 Cor 15:20, 23). This resurrection has an “already and not yet” dimension, as the redeemed saints from both the OT and NT epochs benefit from it. Jesus maintains the OT promise without altering those profiting from it.

2. Christ Maintains Some OT Promises with Extension

When Christ fulfills some OT promises, he extends the parties related to the promise. For instance, consider how Moses and Yahweh’s promises to Joshua extend to Christians. Speaking to Joshua, Moses declared: “It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you” (Deut 31:8). Later, Yahweh said to Joshua, “Just as I was with Moses, so I will be with you. I will not leave you or forsake you” (Josh 1:5). And it is on this basis that the author of Hebrews writes: “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you’” (Heb 13:5, italics added).

In Hebrews, the OT’s wilderness and conquest narratives play an important role in magnifying Christ and the new covenant. Moses was faithful to God “as a servant,” whereas Christ was faithful “as a son” (3:5). Some, like Joshua, believed that God was able to secure rest, but all others died because of unbelief (4:2). Later, Joshua led Israel into the promised land, but the rest he secured was only predictive of the greater rest that the more supreme Joshua (i.e., Jesus) would secure for all in him (4:8).

So, if the Lord was with the first Joshua and all who followed him, how much more can we be assured that he will be with those identify with the greater Joshua! The original promise God gave to one man bore implications for the whole community (Deut 31:6), and now in the new covenant the same promise expands to all who are in Christ. We already share in Christ Jesus (Heb 3:14) but do not yet fully enjoy all that God promised (6:12). But because God has pledged, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” (13:5), Christians can rest secure knowing that we will one day fully enjoy the inheritance.

God promises to be with Joshua as he leads God’s people into the promised land.
All those following Joshua would also enjoy God’s presence.
Joshua’s name and role points ahead to Jesus, the greater Joshua.
Jesus is “God with us” and is leading God’s people into a greater promised land.
All those following Jesus also enjoy God’s presence.

Figure 2. God Maintains the Promise of His Presence While Extending It to All in Christ

3. Christ Himself Completes or Uniquely Realizes Some OT Promises

Some OT promises Christ has already completed or realized. For example, the prophet Micah predicted that a ruler in Israel would arise from Bethlehem (Mic. 5:2), and Christ exclusively fulfilled that promise at his birth (Matt 2:6). Nevertheless, his birth was to spark a global return of “his brothers,” and as king he would “shepherd his flock in the strength of the Lord,” thus establishing lasting peace and enjoying a great name (Mic. 5:3–5). All these added promises continue to give Christians comfort and hope, and Christ’s birth in Bethlehem validates for us the certainty of his permanent and global exaltation.

Another example is Yahweh’s promise to Solomon that, because he asked for wisdom rather than long life, riches, or punishment on his enemies, God would give him wisdom, riches, and honor (1 Kgs 3:11–13). This promise is “yes” in Christ in that on the cross Jesus purchased every divine bestowal of kindness, forbearance, and patience experienced in the realm of common grace (Gen 8:20–21; Rom 2:4; 3:25–26). Nevertheless, because the promise was contingent on one man’s request and was related to his specific reign, the promise’s specificity indicates that this is not a promise that every believer always enjoys. Instead, it was unique to Solomon himself, with others benefiting only from the wisdom, riches, and honor he himself enjoyed.

4. Christ Transforms Some OT Promises

At times, Jesus develops an OT promise’s makeup and audience. The land that Yahweh promised to Abraham and his offspring is of this kind (Gen 13:15; 17:8; 48:4; Exod 32:13). The patriarch would serve as a father of a single nation who would dwell in the land of Canaan (Gen 17:8) and oversee an even broader geopolitical sphere (15:18). These realities are initially fulfilled in the Mosaic covenant (Exod 2:24; 6:8; Deut 1:8; 6:10; 9:5; 30:20; 34:4) and realized in the days of Joshua (Josh 11:23; 21:43) and Solomon (1 Kgs 4:20–21). Nevertheless, Genesis already foresees Abraham becoming the father of not just one nation but nations (Gen 17:4–6) and anticipates his influence reaching beyond the land (singular) to lands (plural) (26:3–4). This would happen when the royal offspring possesses the gate of his enemies and all nations count themselves blessed in him (22:17b–18; 24:60).

In the new covenant, Christ transforms the type into the antitype by fulfilling the original land promise in himself and by extending it to the whole world through his people. In Paul’s words, God promised “Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world” (Rom 4:13); at the consummation, the new earth will fully realize the antitype. While Christ maintains (without extension) Genesis’s promises of the antitypical lands (plural), he does this by transforming the promises to Israel of the land (singular) as an “everlasting possession” (Gen 17:8; 48:4). The nature of his fulfillment indicates that the land (singular) was but a type, which he transforms into the antitype, just as God had already foretold to the patriarchs.


God’s promises are often associated with life or death and conditioned on whether his covenant partner obeys. Whereas the old Mosaic covenant was conditional and revocable (and thus temporary considering Israel’s disobedience), the Abrahamic covenant was conditional and irrevocable. This means that God would indeed realize all the promises but would do so only through an obedient Son. Representing Abraham and Israel, Jesus actively obeys and secures OT promises for all who are in him. Christ maintains some promises without extension, maintains others with extension, completes some, and transforms others.

 ¹William L. Lane, Hebrews 9–13, WBC 47B (Dallas: Word, 1991), 520.


This blog series summarizes Jason S. DeRouchie’s forthcoming book, Delighting in the Old Testament: Through Christ and for Christ (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2024). You can pre-order your copy here.

The Purpose of Worship

Most Christians will admit there are Sunday mornings when they awaken and wonder whether it’s even worth getting out of bed. Surely God doesn’t need our worship? We’re not serving on the set up team this week. No one will notice if we’re not there. We can perhaps read the Bible ourselves a bit later, pray from the comfort of the couch, pop on some Christian music over coffee. So why bother with corporate worship?

The answer is found not so much by searching the Scriptures for commands to gather—though those commands are certainly there. Rather, we need to look at the God who calls us to worship. I didn’t marry my wife because someone explained the duties and responsibilities of a husband—though those responsibilities are clearly presented in the Bible. No, I met, got to know, and fell in love with Georgina. So we’ll focus on just two truths about God that help us to understand why we worship and what blessings come as a result.

The God Who Deserves Everything

Creatures are made to worship their Creator. When anyone, be they human or angel, turns to think about who God is and what he’s done, the right response is worship.

Unlike bleary- eyed Christians on a Sunday morning, those already in heaven see God clearly and react instinctively to encountering him. To give just one example, in Revelation 4 we meet four strange creatures who live before the throne of God. What do they spend their lives doing? “Day and night they never cease to say, ‘Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to come!’” (Rev. 4:8). These heavenly beings spend every moment in worship: it’s as if it never occurs to them to do anything else. Here they praise God for who he is. He is holy, he is all-powerful, he is eternal. Seeing God’s character and attributes leads to an outburst of praise.

It’s the same when the twenty-four elders, perhaps symbolic of the redeemed people of God, respond to the creatures’ song: “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created” (Rev. 4:11). This time the focus is not so much on who God is but on what he has done: he has created all things and sustains them moment by moment. Regularly in Scripture, worship emerges from a worshipper’s reflections on the wonderful deeds of God. The Psalms are full of this pattern. Take Psalm 147, which begins with the classic exhortation “Praise the Lord!” The whole psalm then piles up reasons to praise him.

The Lord builds up Jerusalem;

he gathers the outcasts of Israel.

He heals the brokenhearted

and binds up their wounds.

He determines the number of the stars;

he gives to all of them their names. (Ps. 147:2–4)

As the psalmist reflects on God’s kindness to his people—his building of the church and his willingness to deal tenderly with the brokenhearted, even as he is also the one who flung stars into space—he can’t help but worship.

In the New Testament era, it’s no different. As we return to the heavenly throne room, we meet the elders and creatures who are combining their voices to praise Jesus for all he’s done: “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!” (Rev. 5:12).

We could multiply examples almost endlessly. Worship ultimately is what we do when we draw near to God. It is his due. Everything we are and have comes from him, so it’s right that we respond in humble thanks and praise.

The Joy of Worship

But we mustn’t think this is mere duty, the kind of reverence shown by terrified citizens who are called to bow before the image of a despotic dictator. Rather, to worship God is our greatest privilege and joy. Perhaps the most famous lines ever to come from a Presbyterian pen are the question and answer that open the Westminster Shorter Catechism: “What is the chief end of man? Man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy him forever.” Glorifying God is not a separate activity from enjoying him forever. Notice the question isn’t “What are the two chief ends of man?” but what is our one, singular “end” or purpose. Incredible though it may seem, God has created us for joy—to share with us the greatest gift he could give: himself. And the way we experience that delight is by worshipping him. This is why the Psalms are so full of joy.

In your presence there is fullness of joy;

at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

(Ps. 16:11)

Then I will go to the altar of God,

to God my exceeding joy,

and I will praise you with the lyre,

O God, my God. (Ps. 43:4)

With joy and gladness they are led along

as they enter the palace of the king. (Ps. 45:15)

Worship is not just a duty but a delight. We are built to worship, to give ourselves in wonder to something—or rather Someone—who is awesome and worthy. In fact, in the Bible’s understanding everyone is a worshipper. The question isn’t whether we’ll worship but who we’ll worship. In Romans 1, Paul’s critique of humanity isn’t that they stopped worshipping but rather that “they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator” (Rom. 1:25). Stop worshipping God and we’ll start worshipping something else. To put it another way, every human being on earth will be worshipping next Sunday morning. The only question is who or what they’ll worship: the triune God or Allah, Baal, comfort, golf, family, or any of the thousands of other idols we give ourselves to. And from what we’ve seen already, this switch is not just evil but foolish. It’s to swap pure spring water for filthy sewage, a king’s banquet for rat poison and arsenic.

God deserves everything; he deserves all our worship.


Editor’s Note: Excerpt taken from Jonty Rhodes, “Chapter 2: The Purpose of Worship,” Reformed Worship.

What is the Soul?

Editor’s Note: The Theology in the Everyday series seeks to introduce and explain theological concepts in 500 words or less, with a 200-word section helping explain the doctrine to kids. At For The Church, we believe that theology should not be designated to the academy alone but lived out by faith in everyday life. We hope this series will present theology in such a way as to make it enjoyable, connecting theological ideas to everyday experience and encouraging believers to study theology for the glory of God and the good of the Church. This week, the soul.

Have you ever considered what you are made of? Answering this question, a person might speak of all the inner workings of our bodies: our brains and nervous system, our blood and veins, our organs and their functions, our bones, ligaments, and joints. Truly, every eighth-grade biology student would tend to know these facts. Indeed, the Scriptures speak to the fact that humans “have been remarkably and wondrously made” (Psalm 139:14, CSB). However, if we stop at being made as “functional bodies” alone, we fall short of the full Biblical picture of our being. We as humans are bodies and souls.

Concerning the soul, the great confessions of the Protestant Faith usually state something like what we see in the Second London Confession: “After God had made all other creatures, He created man, male and female, with reasonable and immortal souls.”[1] Notice, reasonable and immortal souls. Of course, it is not true that all we are is our soul, either. God created us as both body and soul. But what exactly is the soul? The Old Testament most often uses the Hebrew word nephesh to describe the soul, and this word is closely associated with the life that God breathes into Adam in Gen 2:7 where Moses writes that after God breathed the breath of life in Adam, he “became a living being.” So, we could say that the soul is the immaterial “life” that is part and parcel of the wholeness of being a human. Just as we need our heart to pump and our brain to function, we need our soul to live. Though we know that the other creatures that God created have life—thus some kind of “soul”—we are certain that mankind’s soul is set apart due to mankind being made in God’s image and likeness (Gen 1:27). This, the confession speaks of, as mankind’s soul being reasonable and immortal. Let us look more carefully at these two ideas.

The idea of reasonable

When God created mankind in His image and likeness, He created them as creatures of reason. Far above the rest of creation, God instills in mankind a knowledge of nature and Himself. For instance, after God creates Adam, He gives Him dominion over the earth and charges him with the naming of the animals (Gen 2:19). The animals do not name themselves, but God instructs Adam to, with the reason and authority God gives him (a reflection of God’s authority and reason), name the animals. As Adam is naming the animals, he reasons that though there are male and female companions amongst the animals, there is not one found who befits him (Gen 2:20). Furthermore, it seems that reason given to mankind by God is expressed in the law written on their hearts by which God also commands them to obey (Rom 2:15; Gen 2:15-17).

The idea of immortal

God also creates mankind after His likeness. Just as His Spirit is eternal, so too is mankind’s soul (though created and thus having a beginning) is eternal. Scripture teaches us that when mankind dies, though his body returns to dust, his spirit (or soul) is with the Lord (Gen 3:19; 2 Cor 5:8). When the believer is resurrected their transformed and glorified body will reunite with their soul, but whereas their body died and needed resurrection their soul has lived on, because it is immortal (1 Thes 4:13-18). Paul speaks of the decay of the outer man (which needs resurrection) but of the renewal of the inner man, the soul, which lives on.

Eternal Souls Do Not Equal Eternal Life

Though the soul is immortal, just as the body needs a resurrection, the soul needs regeneration. Humanity is born “dead in our trespasses and sins” (Eph 2:1). However, God does not leave us without hope. Jesus, though eternally God, as the eternal Son, put on humanity—He is truly God and truly man—lived a perfect life we could not live, died a death on the cross we deserved, received the judgment of God we deserved, was buried, and three days later rose again. He did this so that all who would believe in him might be reconciled to Him, the Father, and the Spirit. When a person trusts in Him, they are regenerated, and to the point of our current study, their souls are made new (John 3:1-21).


To summarize, the soul is the life-giving immaterial part of the human being which God created without which mankind would not be whole; he is body and soul. God created mankind in His image, breathing life into him, part and parcel of which is this life-giving reality known as the soul. The soul needs to be regenerated which is what happens when one places their trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, His perfect life, death, and resurrection as the only means to be reconciled to a Holy Triune God.

For the Kids:

When my kids were little, we taught them Biblical truths with questions and answers. One of those questions was: “Who made you?” If your parents are teaching you in the same way, you may know the answer to this: “God made me!” This truth is very important for you to know. It is also important for you to know that God made you as one who not only has a body, but also a soul. The soul is part of who you are, that part of you that you can’t see. Just like it is necessary for your heart to beat, your soul is also necessary for you to live. Though our bodies get hurt and will eventually die (and need to be raised to new life), our souls live on forever. Just because our souls live forever, doesn’t mean that we will live forever with God. Every part of us, even our souls, are sinful, so we need Jesus to make our souls new. He lived without sin, died for sinners, and rose again, so that if we trust in Him, our souls will be made new (and one day our bodies too), and we will live with God forever!

[1] The Second London Confession, 4.2.