Why Does the Bible Have Two Testaments?

Our word testament comes from the Greek diaqhkh, meaning “will, testament, or covenant.” The best translation, Biblically speaking, is covenant, as the Old and New Testaments are God’s covenants (or agreements) with humanity. 

The Old Testament deals primarily with the Mosaic Covenant, or the agreement God made with the Jews, in giving his law on Mount Sinai. The New Testament, on the other hand, refers to his new agreement, offering eternal salvation to people from all nations, through faith in Jesus Christ.

The Testaments are intrinsically linked

The Old sets the foundation for the new

The Old Testament is important because it sets the foundation for the New.

The Old Testament

Centers on the nation of history, recording their history.

Shows God’s anger and hatred toward sin, and man’s need of salvation.

Deals with God’s unreachable standard of holiness: the Law.

Establishes principles of physical blessing through keeping the Law.

Prophesied of the advent (or coming of) a Savior.

Foretells the establishment of the Messiah’s kingdom.

The New Testament

Focuses on Jesus Christ, his person, his life, his work.

Reveals God’s grace, in granting salvation to repentant sinners.

Reveals God’s grace in granting salvation to repentant sinners.

Illustrates spiritual blessings granted through salvation.

Records the coming of the Savior who gave himself for the remission of sin.

Records the establishment of Christ’s kingdom in repentant hearts, and foretells his eternal heavenly kingdom.

Why two testaments? Because the Old laid the foundation for the New – always leading up to the culmination of his plan for humanity’s salvation through Christ.

Study of the New Testament is powerful

Study of the New Testament is a powerful and life-changing endeavor.

Through it, we can find not only the path to salvation, but also learn solid principles for walking in newness of life with Christ. It is the Good News of God at work in human history — in the past, in the present, and in the future through his promises.

But the Old Testament is also rewarding

The Old Testament is also essential, in that it sets the stage for the New, and is intrinsically essential for understanding it. It is also a spiritually enriching experience.

The Old Testament is sometimes referred to as the First Testament, and rightly so. For it is not old, in the sense of being out-dated or irrelevant. Christ himself, in speaking of the Old Testament, said:

You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me, yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life.

John 5:39-40 ESV

Both testaments are essential

They shed light and understanding on each other. And Christ can be found throughout all Scripture, and that alone should be enough to convince us that the First (or Old) Testament is not out of date, and is still relevant to our Christian walk. It speaks of Christ, the Lord and Savior we long to know better!

God’s Word is his primary way of revealing himself, and is fundamental to our understanding of God, and his purposes for the world and for us.

We cannot hope to know him or his will without spending time in his book!

Images: Bibles stacked on table by Tim Wildsmith | Cross on Bible by congerdesign.

7 thoughts on “Why Does the Bible Have Two Testaments?

  1. Thank you Sheila. I love your new blog!. I look forward to reading your posts and learning with you.
    Blessings dear, Cristina


    1. Thank you Cristina. And you said it perfectly…learning along WITH me! I still have so much to learn too! Be blessed.


    1. Thanks Bruce! I’m really enjoying my new blog. It’s just what I’VE been needing. There is still so much of the Word, and about the Word, that I don’t know! I’m ashamed of my negligence, but thankful for the Lord’s help! Be blessed.


      1. Well Sheila, you’ve got lots of company, myself included. My part time job allows me to study God’s Word for about 5 hours, for 5 days every two weeks, so that in itself is a blessing. I am so grateful for the increase in faith it brings! My blog is the result of that study. The equation is simple – the more you study God’s Word, the more you are blessed. Can’t lose on that one! Blessings!


        1. So true Bruce, and you see it through what you write! I’ve also learned that the more we read and spend time in God’s Word, the more our hunger for it grows! My prayer has become, “Lord make me more and more hungry!” God’s blessings to you. Be blessed.


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