The NT in the OT (Murray)

The unity between the OT and NT runs very deep. This unity is more than just promise and fulfillment or similar themes in the Testaments. Here’s how John Murray describes it:

“…The realities which give character and such momentous significance to the New Testament are those [realities] that give meaning to the Old Testament. In this sense the Old Testament revelation is derived from and based upon realities that transpired in the New, realities summed up in the coming of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. The New embodies the archetypal, heavenly, transcendent realities that validate and explain the Old Testament revelation and the corresponding acts of redemptive grace. This can also be stated in reverse.”

“The events of the New Testament …not only validate and explain [the Old Testament]; they are the ground and warrant for the revelatory and redemptive events of the Old Testament period. This can be seen in the first redemptive promise (Gen. 3:15). We have a particularly striking illustration in Matthew 2:15: ‘Out of Egypt I have called my son.’ In Hosea 11:1 (cf. Num. 24:8) this refers to the emancipation of Israel from Egypt. But in Matthew 2:15 it is applied to Christ and it is easy to allege that this is an example of unwarranted application of Old Testament passages to New Testament events particularly characteristic of Matthew. But it is Matthew, as other New Testament writers, who has the perspective of organic relationship and dependence.”

“The deliverance of Israel from Egypt found its validation, basis, and reason in what was fulfilled in Christ. So the calling of Christ out of Egypt has the primacy as archetype, though not historical priority. In other words, the type is derived from the archetype or antitype. Hence not only the propriety but necessity of finding Hosea 11:1 the archetype that gave warrant to the redemption of Israel from Egypt.”

“In this perspective, therefore, we must view both Testaments. The unity is of one organic interdependence and derivation. The Old Testament has no meaning except as it is related to the realities that give character to and create the New Testament era as the fullness of time, the consummation of the ages” (p. 976-977).

To use an illustration, think of an object and the shadow it casts. The shadow is based on the object; it cannot survive without the object and it gets its shape from the object. The New Testament reality of Christ and his work is the object that casts the shadow. The shadow is the Old Testament.  See also Hebrews 8:5 and 10:1 as well as Geerhardus Vos’ The Teaching of the Epistle to the Hebrews.

Murray’s quotes are found in Thy Word Is Still Truth (ed. Lillback & Gaffin).

Shane Lems


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  1. […] Presbyterian Church and services as pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church in Hammond, Wis. This article appeared on his blog and is used with […]

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