This essay analyzes one anecdotal example from the New Testament in which Christ is said to be the fulfillment of the Old Testament.
The Book of Acts is chocked full of examples of redemptive-historical sermons and biblical theology that culminate in Jesus the Christ. Acts 13 contains one such example, where Paul and Barnabas preach the gospel to Jews on the Sabbath in the synagogue at Antioch of Pisidia. After rehearsing the story of Israel, from the days of Moses up until the coming of John the Baptist, Paul introduced the message that Jesus of Nazareth is the fulfillment of all the promises and hopes of Israel. In Acts 13:26-41 Paul testifies that this same Jesus was killed by those in Jerusalem and their rulers, but was then raised from the dead by God himself. Paul then proceeds to explain that this good news is the fulfillment of what God promised to the fathers (Acts 13:32-33) by quoting four OT texts.
First, Psalm 2:7 is cited to prove that Jesus is the true and faithful Israelite whom all the Jews were looking for—the Anointed One, the Messiah, the Seed of Abraham. The resurrection of Jesus proves that he is God’s Son (cf. Exod 4:23; Hos 11:1; Matt 2:15), and at the resurrection he is “begotten” as God’s Son, the True Israel.
Second, Paul alludes to Isaiah 55:3 to prove that the resurrection of Jesus means that he is the son of David and the recipient of all the covenant promises God gave to King David. Jesus’ dead body did not see corruption or decay since God raised him on the third day after he died, and he will never see the corruption of death again since he now lives forever. This descendant of David’s royal lineage is the True Son of David, the anointed king who will reign on the throne of David forever (cf. 2 Sam 7; 1 Chr 17; Ps 132:11; Mark 12:35-37).
Third, Paul reinforces his previous point that the Scriptures predicted that the Holy One would not see corruption by quoting Psalm 16:10, and reasons that this must mean that the Holy One would live eternally. He notes that David died, was laid with his fathers, and his body saw corruption. But not Jesus, the Son of David! He lives today and forevermore.
Fourth, the implication of Jesus being the True Israel and Son of God, the True King and Son of David, and the True Holy One are the facts of the gospel message. “Let it be known to you therefore, brothers, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him everyone who believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses” (Acts 13:38-39). But this good news does not come without an obligation to believe it. Paul again quotes the OT, this time from the Prophets (v. 41), showing this gospel will be scoffed at and derided (Hab 1:5; cf. Isa 29:14), and he warns them to not fall into this trap.
Throughout the NT, Jesus of Nazareth is consistently set forth in these terms. He is not sent by God to be a completely new plan of salvation. No, the NT shows him to be the fulfillment of the OT promises given to Adam, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, David, and Israel. He is the fulfillment of those promises in his person and work as the Christ (Messiah, Anointed One, Holy One), the True Offspring (Seed) of the Woman, the True Ark of Salvation, the True Son of Abraham, the True Prophet Like Moses to Come, the True Son of David, and the True Israel (Son of God). Jesus was right. All of Moses, the Prophets, and the Psalms must be fulfilled in him (Luke 24:26-27, 44-47).
In the Spring 2008 issue of Ministry & Leadership (pp. 6-7), my friend and former professor Dr. John J. Yeo wrote an brief 2-page devotional explaining how Jesus Christ is the key to understanding the Old Testament.