Are Old Testament sins acknowledged in the New?

I notice in Romans 4:19-21 that Abraham is represented as not staggering in unbelief at the announcement that Sara will bear a child - but we’ve read the Old Testament - we know perfectly well that he actually laughed at it.

I notice in Hebrews 11:11 that Sara is represented as having conceived when she was past age in faith because she judged him faithful that had promised - but again, we know she laughed and lied about laughing.

I read a commentator’s explanation that once the blood of Christ was shed for those sins, they were no longer brought up in the New Testament. It seemed an intriguing explanation. It occurred to me that David’s sin with Bathsheba is never brought up in the New Testament - nor Lot’s (of all people) - nor Noah’s drunkenness. In fact, I’m having a hard time thinking of any OT believer whose sin is mentioned after the shedding of Christ’s blood - which is giving a rising credence in my mind to this theory. But I want to be careful before I commit to it - so I thought I would ask if any of you can think of an OT believer whose sins are mentioned after the gospels.

Thank you in advance for your help!


@jlyons Great question :slight_smile: In approaching this issue, I think there are a few things we need to keep in mind:

  • Even if no sins of OT believers are mentioned, there could be more than one possible explanation, so the lack of such an instance does not prove this particular theory
  • The NT mentions the sins of NT believers even after they were filled with the Spirit - we have sins from Peter both before the Pentecost (denying Jesus) and after the Pentecost (refusing to eat with the Gentiles). This fact tends to go against the aforementioned theory that it is because of the blood of Christ that these sins are not mentioned.
  • The NT writers had a specific purpose when they mentioned the OT believers—they were holding their lives up as an example of faith and pointing to the fulfillment of all that God had promised through His people in the past; not giving a record of their whole lives. It has been said that faith is a long obedience in the same direction. Yes, Abraham and Sarah and Moses and all OT believers had their shortcomings, but in spite of their doubts and fears and foibles they still repented and continued walking on the right path towards God. Faith is not the absence of doubt or sins; it isn’t perfection. It is that long obedience in the same direction; the consistent choice to look to God rather than to ourselves or the world. In that sense, the NT writers were justified in holding up these people as examples of faith.

Do you find any of those points particularly relevant as you consider this topic?


Yes, the point about NT failures being mentioned after Calvary is very relevant.

And I agree that faith is a lifestyle. I have sometimes described salvation as the first step on a journey of eternal worship - I think your description of it as a long obedience in the same direction is consistent with that.

Thank you - that is very helpful @SeanO!


James, Here are a few that come to mind…I don’t know if this is what you meant.

Sign of Jonah - Matthew 12:38-42,Mark 8:12

Way of Cain and Balaam Error Jude 1: 11

While they are not individuals, there are many references in the NT regarding whole cities that were sinful… like Sodom and Gomorrah

Hebrews 12:16 mentioning Esau was godless for trading his inheritance for a single meal

In Hebrews 4:3&6 quoting the old testament regarding the sinfulness, disobedience of the Israelites not going into the promise land by faith…

I don’t know if any of these are helpful… but I think Sean nailed it with a great answer.

God bless

Thank you, @RichChatfield. I should clarify that I was able to think of many lost OT characters whose sins are mentioned - it was the absence of the sins of believers that I couldn’t find any examples of.

I agree that @SeanO gave an excellent answer. The sins of believers do seem irrelevant when they’re being used as examples of faith. Their lives were not characterized by their failures, but by their faith. And if God only used perfect people to illustrate the lessons of faith, how many illustrations would that leave Him!?

And how many of us would be able to relate to them!?