Some believe the God of the Old Testament differs significantly from that depicted in the New Testament; He appears harsh, violent and unforgiving while in contrast he appears kindhearted, loving and forgiving in both books.
This view is contrary to Scripture; an examination of both Testaments reveals one and the same God.
God of the Old Testament
As soon as we switch from reading the Old to reading the New Testaments, it can feel like switching books entirely. Four hundred years have passed; no longer do Jews live under Persian rule and Jesus has made His debut appearance. Some may feel this is why God must appear different in each testament – believing He was once harsh but now more loving and forgiving like in the New. Unfortunately this belief is false – neither one are true!
God is consistent across Scripture, not simply due to varying viewpoints. According to scripture, He exists as a triune Being; its three parts interrelate yet remain distinct – something made most evident by Jesus Christ being God incarnate! This unity can be found throughout Scripture but especially so through Jesus who represents it directly as his Word incarnate.
Old Testament authors commonly referred to God as Yahweh, lending this name an air of authority and majesty. But it’s important to keep in mind that “Yahweh” and “God” are synonymous terms within Scripture; when Yahweh appears in Old Testament pages it actually refers to all three divine persons or the Trinity in New Testament texts.
One of the greatest problems associated with the Old Testament God is His apparent violent side, due to how its Hebrew Bible is structured; Christian Bible uses a different system, leading to some confusion on what the Old Testament actually says about Him.
Marcion was an early church heretic who visited Rome to present his theological ideas to church authorities. His core tenet was that Jesus revealed God as being unique, while that in the Old Testament had nothing in common with Him; his views had long since been disproved as heresy.
God of the New Testament
The New Testament continues the Old Testament Jewish belief in Yahveh as the creator and covenant partner, while Jesus himself referred to this god as Father. Yet some early Christians had difficulty reconciling God’s love and compassion with the harsh, judgmental depictions found throughout Scripture – partly due to how we read our bibles but also due to misunderstandings surrounding his nature as just and his wrathful nature.
Marcion and Luther left behind an early legacie for Christianity: that the Bible contains two separate gods. As an attempt to break away from its Hebraic roots, Marcion advanced an interpretation in which there existed two distinct deities: one for judgment and one for love – but Scriptures make clear this interpretation is inaccurate – there is only one self-existent and eternal deity!
In the New Testament, two names for God are used: Theos (Heavenly Ones) and Kurios (“Lord”). According to The Bible Dictionary, Theos appears most frequently (about 1,000 times) and expresses essential Deity used both Yhvh and Adny (Adonai). By contrast, Kurios refers more closely to heathen gods and is only found around 600 times in New Testament.
God plays an integral part in human history throughout the Bible, initiating most interactions between humans and themselves. His presence can be felt and feared but never directly seen; evidenced in their fears and irrationality as well as His power over events good and bad alike. Indeed, this sense of an unpredictable and powerful God forms much of the drama within Old Testament stories, creating moments of suspense or sudden turns of fortune that propel narrative forward.
In the New Testament, God more fully reveals himself by initiating a final phase of salvation through Christ’s life and death. No new doctrine of God emerges in this work – instead it shows how the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob has now taken action to establish his final reign and covenant; his promises were fulfilled through Christ’s death and resurrection.
Many people see God of the Old Testament as an harsh judge while viewing Him differently in the New Testament; many question how both aspects can coexist within one scripture text; this idea stems from an incomplete understanding of who He really is.
Doing so would be to misrepresent both Testaments, since both reveal God as infinitely loving and just. Both Testaments tell a compelling account of how He saved humanity and established his kingdom on Earth.
Though some might see God of the Old Testament as harsh and vindictive, others point out that his justice against evil makes Him appear so. Sodom and Gomorrah in particular were destroyed as proof of this righteous anger from Him; however, as revealed in the New Testament He is kind, generous, merciful and loving towards those who repent and trust in him.
Another factor causing Old and New Testament texts to differ may be because the Bible is a book of progressive revelation. As humanity comes to understand God more and better, more information on his character becomes apparent – perhaps leading parents to allow behaviors from younger children that would no longer be permitted when their responsibility grows more mature.
The New Testament brings this understanding of God even sharper into focus and expression by showing that Jesus Christ, as Lord himself, took human form in Jesus. Through its final Acts and redemption narratives, it shows how these books of the Old Testament relate back to one another as inseparable parts – just as Jesus and Holy Spirit cannot exist apart from each other!
Some have claimed that the God of the Old Testament is harsh and unforgiving while the New Testament portrays Him as compassionate and loving – leading many people into confusion over how and what His word reveals about Him.
Reading the Old Testament may raise many difficult questions about why God allowed slavery, required animal sacrifices and exterminated entire Canaanite populations for their sins. Reconciling such accounts with Jesus’s love and compassion can be particularly difficult; but this may only be because we do not comprehend how to read the Old Testament correctly.
Reading the Bible carefully will reveal that God of both Testaments is one and the same; His character being brought more vividly into focus in the New Testament through Jesus Christ’s life on Earth as part of God revealing Himself to his children in ways best meeting their needs.
Old Testament depictions of God reveal Him as jealous and vindictive, while New Testament depictions show him to be loving Father who wants to protect His children from harm. However, New Testament makes clear that Old Testament law and God’s wrath exist solely to bring people to repentance – so all God does in both testaments is provide protection from harm while leading His people toward eternal life.
Reading the Bible from its entirety is essential, not simply select excerpts that pique our interest or seem relevant to us. Proper interpretation of the Old Testament so as to understand how it points toward Jesus and the New Testament is also key if we wish to appreciate fully how God reveals Himself and trust Him during all our trials and testing times.