Reading the Old Testament Christologically (in light of the coming of Jesus Christ)

We need to work hard on how the acorn becomes the oak tree.

This was a simple word of exhortation from one of my professors recently concerning how one is to come to Christ from any given Old Testament passage.  For those unfamiliar with the terminology, the “acorn-oak tree” dynamic is a way of speaking about the relationship between the revelation found in the Old Testament with that in the New Testament, particularly in the Son of God, Jesus Christ.  When we properly observe an acorn, we realize that we hold an immature oak tree in our hands.  All of the potential for an oak tree exists within that seed.  It would be foolish to look at the acorn and deny the reality of its maturity, a reality that bears upon the seed itself.  So the Old Testament is the acorn, and the New Testament the oak tree.  The Old is the New concealed, and the New is the Old revealed (most fully).  The fullness of God’s revelation is the Son, and thus, all that God revealed of Himself in the OT is interpreted most properly in light of Jesus Christ.  Examples would be innumerable.  Here are a few: Jesus is the Second Adam; the serpent crushing seed of Abraham; the offspring of Abraham through whom the nations are and will be blessed; He is David’s greater son according to the flesh; He is the King of God’s sending who lives perfectly according to God’s law, disseminating His Word to His subjects; He is the true Israel, God’s Son; He is, as He would say, the One to whom all of the OT points and is fulfilled (Luke 24).

The quote from above makes an important point, however.  It is easy to be overzealous in our attempts to get straight to Christ from any obscure OT passage.  There is no doubt in my opinion that this is what we ought to do, that is, get to Christ, to think and teach Christianly.  But we need not press what is not there, or what is not necessarily clear.  We need to think long and hard about the cleanest and most natural way of coming to Christ in the text.  We need to think long and hard about how the acorn blossoms into the mighty oak tree.  This exhortation was a good and humble word to me, and I hope that it will be an encouragement to you also.  Christ is certainly involved in the text, but we must understand that text in its various facets before we can observe most fluidly the glory of Christ in it.  Let us engage such a task with humility and joy.

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