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Jesus Quotes the Old Testament

Updated: Feb 10, 2022

"He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'"

John 7:38

What strikes you about this verse? What hit me was the word "Scripture" being capitalized. I checked all my Bible versions and in each one it was capitalized.

Jesus is speaking here (hence I put the words in red.) When Jesus refers to Scripture, what is He referring to? He is referring to the Jewish written Word. Our Old Testament.

Our Old Testament has the exact same text as the Hebrew manuscripts. However, the Hebrew Bible has different divisions and arrangements of the books. They organized their text differently than we did. Actually I should say we organized our text differently than the Hebrew Bible did since we get our text from them. We separated some books like I and II Kings. We separated out the prophetical books too. But our Old Testament and the Hebrew Bible have the exact same text.

Jesus frequently quotes Scripture from our Old Testament. Sometimes He is referencing or paraphrasing the concept (similar words) that is found in our Old Testament.

The four books that Jesus quoted from the most are Exodus, Deuteronomy, Isaiah, and Psalms. But Jesus quoted from many other books of our Old Testament.

The Old Testament is referenced or alluded to over 300 times in the New Testament. The most often quoted/paraphrased/alluded to Old Testament book in the New Testament is Deuteronomy.

Here's a list from Harold Willmington at Liberty University.*

"It has been estimated that over one-tenth of Jesus' recorded New Testament words were taken from the Old Testament." (from above list)

I also found this interesting.

Specifically what Old Testament Scripture was Jesus referring to in John 7:38 (the Scripture picture above)?

"He who believes in Me, as the Scripture said, 'From his innermost being will flow rivers of living water.'"

My ESV study Bible text note says, "Although there is no specific Scripture passage from the OT that matches Jesus' words here, He is apparently giving a summary of the teaching and implication of several passages that picture the inward work of God in a believer as a river of water flowing out to bring blessing to others."

References in my Bibles for John 7:38 refer to OT verses:

Proverbs 4:23 Watch over your heart with all diligence, for from it flow the springs of life.

Isaiah 44:3 For I will pour out water on the thirsty land and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring and My blessing on your descendants;

Isaiah 58:11 And the LORD will continually guide you, and satisfy your desire in scorched places, and give strength to your bones; and you will be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.

And to New Testament teachings in:

John 3:15 so that whoever believes will in Him have eternal life.

John 4:10 Jesus answered and said to her, "If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, 'Give Me a drink,' you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water."

John 4:14 "but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life."

(And those Scripture verses reference other verses with the similar concept.)

If Jesus believed our Old Testament was Scripture, shouldn't we?

The entire Bible is the Word of God.

*Updated on 2/10/22 because one of the referenced websites had been taken down.

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