Claims of Jesus 

Jesus declares: the Old Testament (Hebrew Bible) testifies of him. This settles the matter. Anyone claiming otherwise is mistaken.

We should, therefore, be able to discern two aspects of the Old Testament...

  1. It will highlight there will be a Messiah bringing eternal life.
  2. It will provide information matching the person of Jesus in his incarnation.

Jesus is in the Old Testament, and by extension, so is the Church, the body of Christ.

Critics object, citing revisionism. The original writers of key Old Testament passages had no concept of the way these would be used by the apostles in the New Testament and by Christians throughout history. (They had no concept of Typology, for example.) And so in this article I include testimony of Rabbis regarding passages referencing the Messiah.

Claims of the Apostles

The New Testament clearly teaches the Old Testament testifies of Jesus.

The apostles attribute to Jesus the many characteristics of the Messiah found in the Old Testament...

  1. Descendant of David and receiver of promises
  2. Descendant of Abraham and receiver of promises
  3. Resurrection
  4. Born of a virgin
  5. Old Testament ordinances
  6. High priest
  7. Better covenant, new covenant
  8. Details of the life of Jesus
  9. Lamb of God
  10. King of Israel
  11. John the Baptist as forerunner

What did the Rabbis think?

Jews reject the Christian claim that Jesus Christ appears in the Hebrew Bible (because they reject him as Messiah). But the 70–7's of Daniel chapter 9 is unmistakable — they should have been counting down the days and, therefore, expecting the Messiah to appear at the time Jesus appeared.

Three perspectives...

  1. Modern Jews
  2. Rabbis from past eras
  3. Jews at the time of Jesus

I should note: I am not denigrating Jews in any way.

Modern Jews

Jews of today emphasize the yet-future appearance of a Messiah having these characteristics...

  1. A man chosen by God
  2. Will put an end to all evil in the world (how can a mere man do this?)
  3. Will rebuild the temple
  4. Will bring the exiles back to Israel (this is not the modern nation of Israel)
  5. Will usher in the world to come (how can a mere man do this?)

Jews of today deny Jesus is the Messiah because he didn't match these characteristics.

Rabbis from past eras

From centuries after Christ until centuries before our day, rabbis have taught the following (but they don't all agree)...

  1. Isaiah 53 is Messianic. As part of his preparation, the Messiah will be exiled and will suffer. But this passage says he will first die so it doesn't match the Jewish Messiah after all.
  2. The Servant is the Messiah.
  3. The suffering of the Messiah will have a redemptive value.
  4. The Messiah would come from Bethlehem. (Why did the Rabbis not bother to find out where Jesus was born?)

Jews at the time of Jesus

The people at large were expecting a Messiah.

Even the Samaritans were expecting a Messiah having special knowledge of spiritual matters and with cultural and political influence, a man who would teach them about true worship of God.

The Greek word "Christ" is a translation of the Hebrew/Aramaic word "Messiah".

The Messianic hope of the Jews at the time of Jesus gives insight into their view of the Messiah. This was before the destruction of the temple and of Jerusalem in 70 A.D. Many of the Jewish revolutionaries of that time claimed to be the Messiah who would deliver them from Roman rule and establish a Messianic Jewish state. The people and leaders allowed this, even letting them use the temple as a military base.

The Messiah could not come from Galilee nor from Nazareth.

Road to Emmaus

On the road to Emmaus Jesus explained to the two disciples the things concerning himself in the Old Testament. We should wish the story in Luke listed all these references but, alas, we have to find them ourselves.

Here are passages Jesus likely referred to (in addition to others mentioned elsewhere in this article)...

Characteristics of Jesus from the Old Testament (each of these is referred to by Jesus or the apostles)...

  1. Descendant of David, the Branch
  2. Descendant of Abraham and receiver of promises
  3. Branch
  4. Kingdom will last forever
  5. Better covenant, new covenant
  6. High priest
  7. Suffered on the cross and during trial
  8. Resurrection
  9. Promised Messiah
  10. Details of the life of Jesus
  11. Born of a virgin
  12. King riding on a donkey
  13. Scepter from Judah
  14. John the Baptist as forerunner
  15. Second coming of Christ
  16. New Heavens and New Earth

Christians don't have to prove to skeptics each of these indeed refers to Jesus. Both Jesus and the apostles established Jesus is in the Old Testament, highlighting the passages — this is all the proof we need. But we should avoid finding Jesus in every verse of the Old Testament; doing so results in wild allegory and the most ridiculous of teachings which has led the culture at large to mock Christianity.

Regarding the Angel of the Lord: I do not wish to defend the notion that references in the Old Testament to the Angel of the Lord refer to the preincarnate Christ. Perhaps they are communications to people via angels having no physical humanlike bodily manifestation at all; apparitions, dreams, visions. But certainly some of these references are mysterious regarding what the witnesses actually experienced. Some seem to be a visible manifestation in human form (but these could be apparitions). In the New Testament the Angel of the Lord is present even after Jesus was born — that's awkward!

Regarding the Word of God: Jesus is the Word, but I doubt it's helpful to refer to every Old Testament reference of "Word of God" or "Word of the Lord" as being Jesus. Certainly the Word of God originates from the Trinity, often passed along through spiritual beings and even humans.

Other sources for Jesus in the Old Testament: Types (I reject Typology but I don't reject the Old Testament passages) and, the names of Jesus (23 in the Old Testament).

In this article I exclude quotes regarding End Time Prophecy but I include those of the New Heavens and New Earth.