How to Preach Christ from the OT

I’m working through sections of Sidney Greidanus’ Preaching Christ from Genesis: Foundations for Expository Sermons for a sermon series coming up on Abraham’s life in Genesis 12 – 25. I’ve looked at preaching Christ from the OT before, but never explicitly from Greidanus. He presents seven means by which we can see Christ in OT passages, and I’d like to list those below. Greidanus defines preaching Christ as “preaching sermons which authentically integrate the message of the text with the climax of God’s revelation in the person, work, and/or teachings of Jesus Christ as revealed in the New Testament” (Preaching Christ from the Old Testament, 10).

Greidanus presents seven avenues to get to Christ from a text, and this is necessary if the interpreter is seeking to understand the text first, as the writer intended for Israel (or the original audience) to hear the message; and secondly, as the message is understood in light of the completed canon of the Triune God’s self-revelation to His covenant people. When both are recognized as necessary, the interpreter realizes seeing Christ in light of a passage isn’t an add on, but necessary to understanding the fullest and truest meaning of a pericope.

7 Ways of Preaching Christ

The following comes from pp. 2-6.

Redemptive Historical Progression
Scripture is a narrative that begins with a good creation, is abruptly marred by the Fall, and then traces God’s redemptive purposes in human history to bring about redemption and the New Creation. First through Abraham, and then Israel, the story of redemption climaxes and is focused in the advent of Jesus Christ. This method seeks to understand a pericope in light of this “metanarrative.”

Very straightforward, the OT contains several promises and prophecies of which Christ is the direct fulfillment. This method highlights these relationships.

OT events, persons, or institutions can function as “types” of which Christ is the antitype. Thus, for example, both Romans 5 and 1 Peter 3 point out the role typology plays in the organic unity of the Scriptures. Christ is the last/second Adam (Rom 5), and the ark which carried Noah through the flood corresponds to Christ who brings us through the waters of baptism (I Pet 3).

Quoting from Greidanus, “analogy exposes parallels between what God taught Israel and what Christ teaches the Church…” (5).

Longitudinal Themes
Similar to redemptive historical progression, longitudinal themes accentuates the development of theological ideas rather than development in redemptive history. Here, we are talking about things like “kingdom,” “covenant,” or “judgment.”

New Testament References
Obviously enough, if the New Testament goes out of its way to bring it up, the interpreter probably should too. Consider John 1:1 – “In the beginning, the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

Several of the above methods highlighted similarity, whereas often Scripture teaches through difference. The “contrast” between circumcision (Genesis 17) and baptism (Romans 4:11; Colossians 2:11-14) highlights God’s truth by exposing differences.

Hopefully these seven ideas will prove useful and illuminative for you when you study God’s Word!

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