Is the New Testament looked on as the fulfillment of the Old Testament or is that anti-Semitic?

Christians do indeed see the New Testament as the fulfillment of the Old Testament and Jesus, per se, as the fulfillment of the Covenant. It is important to note that the Old Testament, in and of itself, presupposes a fulfillment that lies beyond its pages. In other words, the Old Testament is, by its very nature, incomplete or unfulfilled.

Fulfillment, however, is not to be interpreted as negation. Jesus himself said, “Think not that I have come to abolish the law and the prophets; I have come not to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:17). To refer to the first Testament as “Old” is not to suggest that it is the “obsolete” testament, but rather, that it is the first, original, and revered testament or covenant.

It is not anti-Semitic to speak of the New Testament as the fulfillment of the Old Testament as long as we make it clear that “fulfill” does not mean abolish. Rather, the terms “Old” and “New” establish continuity between the two Testaments that is essential.

We do not believe in a God of the Old Testament and a God of the New Testament, but One God, who established his covenant with the Jewish people and fulfilled it by sending his only Son Jesus. The “work” that God did in the Old Testament cannot be separated from the “work” he did in the New Testament. It is crucial for Christians to recognize that Jesus’ mission cannot be understood apart from the Old Testament. Using the phrases Old Testament and New Testament further reinforces the unique relationship that Jews and Christians share and must not only retain but also must nurture.

Joe Paprocki

Joe Paprocki, D.Min., is National Consultant for Faith Formation at Loyola Press in Chicago. He has over 30 years of experience in pastoral ministry in the Archdiocese of Chicago. Joe is the author of numerous books on pastoral ministry and catechesis, including The Bible Blueprint, Living the Mass, and bestsellers The Catechist's Toolbox and A Well-Built Faith (all from Loyola Press).


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