Despite being the only Gentile writer in the New Testament, Luke still gives us a lot of Old Testament connections in Acts. Inspiration certainly has a lot to do with this. Along with that we remember that Luke is a physician playing the part of church historian. He is doing his best to give us an accurate representation of the events that unfolded (Luke 1:1-4). He was present for some of the events in Acts and others he had to rely on eyewitnesses of the events and diligently recorded them for us.
In recording the events one of the things that stands out is the constant connection with the Old Testament. Just like Paul, Luke makes it very clear that the New Testament is a direct continuation of the Old Testament story. There is a continuity here that must be pointed out. Luke does so masterfully.
We see it at Pentecost when Peter proves from the Old Testament that Jesus was the Messiah who was to come.
We see it in Stephen’s speech where he tells nearly the entire Old Testament story concluding with Jesus.
We see it in Paul’s missionary journeys where he teaches in the synagogues, reasoning from the scriptures about Jesus (see Acts 13:13-43).
We see it in Paul’s defense of his ministry, defending himself against the accusation that he preached against the Law of Moses and circumcision (see Acts 21:21, 26:22, and 28:23).
God is doing something new in Christ just as was promised in Jeremiah 31 but even the new thing resembled (or echoed as Richard Hays would say) the Old. Paul has no theology of an Old Testament that is nailed to the cross. Paul, Luke, Peter and the rest all see the continuity between the two testaments. What is more the only written Testament they had at this time was the Old. It was what they called “scripture” (2 Tim 3:16).
I believe part of our identity crisis in Christianity and even in Churches of Christ is not just our lack of familiarity with the New Testament but also with the Old. The basic gist of the New Testament is easily discernible on its own but there is so much we miss and lack if we do not spend time in the entire Bible.
The Old Testament gets attention in Sunday school for our children. It needs to get more attention from the adults as well. Why else would the inspired New Testament writers continue to point us back to things that are of little use to us today? They were begging their audience to listen into what the Old Testament (their Bible at the time) had to say and so should we! We should listen to Peter and Paul and Stephen and even Jesus who all pointed us there. We should go back and pay attention to what we learn about God in the Old Testament. We should see where it points us to Jesus. We should find out about the trajectory of scripture. There are so many treasures there to find if we will take the time to look for them.
If you want to get more familiar with the Old Testament and its connections with the New you will want to subscribe to Bobby Valentine’s blog where he does some fantastic work on this topic. Here is the link.