In Acts, why do they always use the OT prophets when addressing the doubts of the Jews?

Maybe I’m stretching this but I want to ask. Reading Acts and Peter is addressing the doubters after Pentecost. (Ch 2) As I’m reading, I see they always go back to OT prophets and what was written when addressing the Jews in their doubts. Is it because the Jews would only accept OT “info” because they don’t believe Jesus has come yet or is it because the NT is so new?? Does that make sense?


They used the OT because that was all they had then. The NT wasn’t written yet as scripture so all they had to reference was what was already there which is the OT. The gospel accounts were a few decades after Christ’s Ascension and the letters to churches from Paul and other apostles a little earlier.

One thing that might interest you is reading about when the NT letters and accounts were written. It really helps put things in perspective when you know the time line.

Here some books and and a link that might help:

-Neil R. Lightfoot “How we got the Bible” Third Edition

-Bruce M. Metzger, Bart D. Ehrman “The Text of the New Testament: Its transmission, Corruption, and Restoration”. Forth Edition

-Arthur G. Patzia “The making of the New Testament”

I hope that helps answer your question

God Bless :blush:


The event of Jesus, crucifixion and resurrection and the giving of the Holy Spirit, though new and seemingly impossible are all described in the Old Testament through the messages of the prophets. These were scripture believing Jews and an appeal to scripture provided a testamony to it’s genuines that was authoritative.


Sarah, I’m wondering what the nature of your question is. If the answer is “yes,” they would only accept the OT (for whatever the reason), what is the implication you plan to draw? I ask because there is much debate these days in theological circles over the relevance of the OT. To that discussion, I will reference only 2 Tim. 3:16, that all Scripture is inspired and profitable

Are you asking whether there is a “correct” way to do evangelism? I sense this question is at least in part about textual relevance, but please tell me if I’m mistaken.

I think it should go without saying that we ought to endeavor to be relevant when presenting the gospel. In Acts 17, Paul at Mars Hill appeals to the unknown god of the Athenians as a means to explain to them the one true God. In this address, he also cites the creation of the world (v.25); he uses “the Bible” (Genesis, OT) in conjunction with this cultural appeal to present the case for Christ to pagans at that particular time and place.

I could carry this thought on further, but, I think I’ll wait for your input. Maybe you could clarify your question, if I’ve got it wrong. Or perhaps others have already answered it?

1 Like

I think that it helps to remember that the Bible is the story of Israel and their God and his promise to rescue his people and his creation (make all things right). This was a 2nd temple understanding of the story of God. What was new, or at least in the minds of some was the cross. Though the cross God demonstrated his power over death by the bodily resurrection of his Son Christ Jesus.

I think that it is also helpful to remember that Acts 2 is the beginning of what we today call the church. Prior to that date and for at least 100 years after what we call Christianity was considered a subset of Judaism. It had no scripture of its own, no theology of its own and only one doctrine ‘the bodily resurrected Jesus, Messiah’. The inspiration of the scriptures (NT) and the working out of the theology that we know today were a works in progress. By this I mean that the word of God was being fulfilled in real time in the very presents of the nations Acts 2:9-12.The Holy Spirit had come to empower the Church with the ‘go tell’ message of the Gospel of the resurrection of Messiah. I like to think of this as a retelling of story of the Tower of Babel only with a better outcome.
So, When Peter appeals to the scriptures and the prophets he is appealing to Torah, the written word of God and is reminding his now enlighten audience that this is that time that they have been waiting for and the very God of Israel the God who gave the Torah to the angel who gave it to Moses and this same God was his the witness for his Son now and before the foundation of the world and that Jesus was a witness for his Father.

I see that you have been given some recommendation on some books and links to that let me add something I read the morning it’s from a book of interviews and I think that the advice is appropriate regardless of where we are in our studies.

The best advice Packer can offer a Christian beginner who is studying the Bible is “get to know your way around Scripture as a unit. The first thing I say to you is read the four Gospels, then read all the epistles (New Testament letters), then read the four Gospels again, remembering that they were written for people who already knew most, if not all, of the doctrine taught in the epistles. Then read key books from the Old Testament: Genesis, the book of beginnings; Exodus, the book of the covenant; Isaiah, in which the prophecies deal most with the people of God in trouble because of disobedience, and with promises of a Savior—the Savior whose coming is set forth in the Gospels, with blessings for both the penitent people and believers in the Savior King whom God has sent. It is all there in the book of Isaiah. Then read, read, and read the Psalter because there you’ve got patterns of praise and prayer—they should become part of the shape of your life.”

“Most importantly, get the big picture. Don’t worry too much at first about specific sentences you don’t quite understand. The details fit when you’ve got the big picture. That is my first and fundamental exhortation with regard to Bible reading and study.”

Barry, J. D. (2014). J. I. Packer: A Balanced Bible Study Diet. In R. Van Noord, J. Strong, & J. D. Barry (Eds.), The Bible in the Real World: 31 Inspiring Interviews. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

Hope this is helpful.

The N.T. writers used the O.T. for support regarding God’s message that came through the prophets who were speaking for the same God the N. T. writers were speaking for and inspired by. The Jews recognized the Old Testament as inspired spokesmen for God and connecting the Old Testament message to the New Testament message gives the same authority of the accepted Old Testament message to the New Testament message. Many times the Old Testament messages were not completely understood until connected to Jesus in the New Testament.