Is God the Same in the Old Testament and the New Testament? - Hope 103.2

Is God the Same in the Old Testament and the New Testament?

Read the Old Testament closely and God steadily is on view as gracious, compassionate, long-suffering, loyal, holy, just and righteous.

By Ben McEachenFriday 24 May 2024Hope MorningsFaithReading Time: 3 minutes

If you have not asked this question yourself, you have heard someone ask it.
Key points
  • Kit believes that God is the same in the Old and New Testament.
  • “[Many] people who have engaged with the Old Testament at some level have found it really confronting – or really irrelevant,” Kit said.
  • Read the Old Testament closely and God steadily is on view as gracious, compassionate, long-suffering, loyal, holy, just and righteous.

“Is God in the Old Testament the same as the God in the New Testament?”

There are differences between the content, tone and focal points in the two major sections of the Bible.

But does that extend to God changing from one Testament to the next?

With Jesus’ life, death and resurrection defining the New Testament, is the Old Testament on about a totally different God?

Kit Barker is a lecturer in Old Testament, and Director of Teaching and Learning, at Sydney Missionary and Bible College (SMBC).

He told Hope Mornings’ Ben McEachen that this important question is common, including among Bible College students and churchgoers.

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Short answer: Yes

Kit believes that God is the same in the Old and New Testament.

“I’m convinced of that.”

“The more time you spend immersed in the Old Testament and the New Testament, the greater appreciation for the continuity of God’s character in both.”

Kit offered the example of the book of Judges.

Kit believes that God is the same in the Old and New Testament.

On the one hand, it is “full of violence and God’s people doing horrific things to each other and the nations around them”.

On the other, “it is highlighting God’s character as gracious, merciful, patient and kind”.

Some Bible readers only associate these attributes with Jesus in the New Testament, yet they are prominently displayed in the Old Testament.

Still, the Old Testament can be confusing and confronting.

Before returning to Jesus’ significance for answering the “same or different God” question, Kit acknowledged the challenges we can face with the Old Testament.

“[Many] people who have engaged with the Old Testament at some level have found it really confronting – or really irrelevant,” Kit said.

“What does this have to do with my connection with God?” can be a strong response to The Old Testament’s account of “laws, ceremonies and ancient life in Israel”.

“[Many] people who have engaged with the Old Testament at some level have found it really confronting – or really irrelevant,” Kit said.

Along with an apparent disconnect with how we worship God now, Kit also highlighted how descriptions of God in the Old Testament can confuse or repel.

“There is a portrait of God in the Old Testament that is quite confronting.”

“We see detailed descriptions of violence and judgment against God’s own people, the nations around them and the world as a whole.

“These are hard for people to integrate with their picture of who Jesus is and how the Gospels are presented.”

Reconsider Jesus as God

As we weigh up whether God is the same in both Testaments, Kit points to a simple litmus test.

“One of the great claims of the New Testament is Jesus is Lord – Jesus is God,” Kit said.

“Often people think that Jesus isn’t ‘in’ the Old Testament, or we try to find him in quite obscure places.

“But really, whenever we see God acting in the Old Testament, we are seeing the character of Jesus present.

For Kit, the New Testament is revealing more about the God of the Old Testament.

Read the Old Testament closely and God steadily is on view as gracious, compassionate, long-suffering, loyal, holy, just and righteous.

The largest section of the Bible, the Old Testament recounts centuries of God’s interactions with his people and planet.

Providing records and reasons for what God does and why, including the events which unfold after Jesus’ birth.

Read the Old Testament closely and God steadily is on view as gracious, compassionate, long-suffering, loyal, holy, just and righteous.

“These are all things the New Testament claim of God and Jesus,” Kit said.

“And yet they are there from the beginning.”

Listen to the full interview with Kit Barker in the player above.


Feature image: Photo by CanvaPro