Jesus in the Old Testament

By Ron Jones ©Titus Institute 2011

Outline and Scripture Verses only

For a more in-depth version of this article which contains an outline, Scripture verses, and explanation, please click here.

“These are the Scriptures that testify about me,” Jesus said in Jn.5:39.

Jesus taught that there were references to himself in the Old Testament.

In Jn.5:46, Jesus speaks specifically of Moses (the author of the first five books of the Old Testament) writing about him, “If you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about me.”

In Lu.24:13-27, Luke writes that Jesus taught the two disciples on the Emmaus road about himself from the OT. He writes in v.27, “And beginning with Moses and all the prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.”

What are the Old Testament references to Jesus, the messiah, the Son of God?

There are basically two kinds of OT references to the Son of God, the messiah.

They are the messianic prophecies and pre-incarnate appearances.

I. His Messianic Prophecies in the OT

A. OT prophecies of the messiah’s true identity

1. The messiah was called by the titles of God, Jehovah and Elohim, in the OT.

a. Jehovah

1) Jehovah says to Zechariah that in the future the Jews “will look upon me whom they have pierced.”

Zechariah 12:1-l0 In v.10 Jehovah says that they will “look upon me whom they have pierced and mourn for him as one mourns for an only son.”

This agrees with Ps.22:16 where David predicts that the messiah would be pierced when he says, “they pierced my hands and my feet.”

In Rev.1:7 John writes of Jesus, the messiah, when he says, “Behold, he comes in the clouds; and every eye shall see him, and those also who pierced him and all the tribes of the earth shall mourn because of him.”

2) Jeremiah 23:5-6 predicts that the messiah will be described by the divine name of Jehovah.

Jeremiah 23:5-6

b. Elohim

1) In Isa.9:6-7, Isaiah predicted that the messiah would be “mighty God.”

2) In Isaiah 40:3, Isaiah predicted that the messiah would be coming would be the Lord God preceded by a herald.

3) In Isaiah 7:14, it is prophesied that the messiah would be “Immanuel,” God with us.

The apostle Matthew by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit quotes this OT prophecy in Matt. 1:20-24.

4) In Ps.45:6-7, David’s declaration of the divinity of the messiah, the coming king, points to the divinity of the messiah.

This verse is quoted in Hebrews 1 in reference to Jesus Christ.

c. Jesus accepts the OT titles of Jehovah and Elohim in the NT.

1) In several psalms, David addresses the Lord as his Lord and God. He personally worships God as deity.

Ps.7:1 Ps.13:3 Ps.30:1

This personal declaration by David to his Lord and God is the same one used by the apostle Thomas to Jesus Christ.

Jn.20:26-29, Thomas calls Jesus, “My Lord and my God.”

d. Indirect references to Jesus as Jehovah and Elohim of the OT

1) There are NT passages where the author applies OT passages that are clearly referring Jehovah or Elohim to Jesus Christ.

In Heb.1:10-12 the author applies an OT passage, which teaches that God created the earth and universe to Jesus Christ. This is a quote from Ps.102:25-27 where the psalmist speaks of God’s creation of the earth and universe.

2) In Eph.4:7-10, Paul applies to Jesus Christ an OT statement by David, which was addressed to God.

Paul quotes Ps. 68:18.

3) In John 12:41 John claims that Isaiah the prophet saw Jesus in his glory as the Lord God.

In Jn.12:41, John explains why many Jews saw Jesus’ miracles, but still rejected him. He says that it was because of God’s judgment which God himself had predicted would happen.

This was prophesied by Isaiah the prophet in Isa.6:9-10.

2. The messiah was prophesied to be both David’s physical descendent and David’s spiritual Lord in the OT.

It was predicted in the OT that the messiah would be the “Son of David,” that is, a physical descendent of David who would “reign on David’s throne.”

See 2 Sam. 7:12-13, Ps. 89:3- 4, Isa.9:6-7

The Jewish leaders believed and taught this. See John 7:42

Jesus fulfilled this prophecy as he was the physical descendent of David through his mother Mary (Lu.1:27, 32) and the legal descendent of David through Joseph (Matt.1:1, 17, Lu.2:4).

Jesus accepted the title of “Son of David” which means that he accepted the people’s recognition of him being the messiah. See Matt.9:27-31; 20:29-34; 21:14-16

In Matt.22:41-46, Jesus taught that messiah was predicted not only to be a human being descended from David, but also an eternal divine being who was superior to David. Jesus quotes Ps.110:1.

3. The messiah was prophesied to be the Son of God in the OT.

a. In Heb.1:4-5, the writer applies two OT texts to Jesus that speak of the messiah’s true identity as the Son of God.

The first statement comes from Ps.2:7-12.

The second quote is from 2 Sam.7:13-14 and/or 1 Chron.17:12-13.

b. In Jn.1:49, Nathanael recognizes the supernatural knowledge that Jesus possesses and immediately calls him the “Son of God.”

c. At his trial before the leaders of Israel, the high priest asks Jesus plainly if he is claiming to be “the Son of God.” Jesus said “yes.”


In Jn.20:30, John explains that he wrote his gospel to show Jesus is the Son of God.

4. The messiah was prophesied to be the Son of Man, the king, who will come to earth in power and glory and rule over it.

a. In the book of Daniel, God gave to Daniel a revelation of the messiah and Daniel referred to him as “son of man.”


b. Jesus took upon himself this messianic title, “Son of Man” and referred to his fulfillment of this vision of messiah.


Matt. 26:63-64

5. The messiah was prophesied to be the cornerstone and foundation of Israel.

Isaiah 28:16

Paul referred to this prophesy of Jesus in two passages.

Rom. 9:31-33 Eph. 2:20


Acts 4:11

I Peter 2:6-8

B. OT prophecies of the messiah’s birth, ministry, death, resurrection, and eternal glory

1. The messiah’s birth

a. The messiah would be born in Bethlehem.

Micah 5:2


b. The messiah would be born from a virgin



2. The messiah’s ministry

a. The messiah would begin his ministry in Galilee



b. The messiah would have a ministry of preaching and miracles.

Matthew 9:35



2) Jesus also applied another passage from Isaiah to himself, which predicts his healing ministry as he answers the question of the disciples of John the Baptist.



3. The messiah’s suffering and death

a. Isaiah 53

b. Ps.22


4. The messiah’s resurrection

a. The messiah would die and rise again from the dead.

Acts 2:22-32

Peter quotes Ps.16:8-11.

In Acts 13:34-37, Paul also appeals to this psalm as a prediction that Jesus, the messiah, would be resurrected from the dead.

II. His pre-incarnate appearances in the OT

A. The Son of God was called the Angel or Messenger of the Lord when he appeared in the OT.

In the Old Testament, a being appears who is called the “Messenger of the Lord” or the “Messenger of God” and is also called “Lord” and “God.”

He is described as separate from the Lord (Jehovah) and yet is called Lord (Jehovah). He is described as separate from God (Elohim) and yet is called God (Elohim). This perfectly coincides with the how the Son of God is described in the New Testament.

The Hebrew word translated “angel” also means “messenger” (one who brings a message from another).

Although it is often translated as “Angel of the Lord.” However, he is clearly not an angelic spirit being as can be seen from context of the various passages where he appears.

The appearances of the Son of God as the “Messenger of the Lord” in the OT are given below in chronological order.

1. The Messenger of the Lord, the Son of God, appears to Hagar in Gen.16:7-14

2. The Messenger of the Lord appears to Abraham when he was about to sacrifice Isaac Gen.22:9-19

3. The Messenger of God speaks to Jacob in a dream and calls himself God in Gen.31:11-13.

4. The Messenger of the Lord appears to Moses in the burning bush in Exod.3:1-6.

5. The Angel of the Lord appears to Gideon in Jud.6:11-22.

6. Other passages where the Son of God appears as the Angel or Messenger of Jehovah are

Gen. 48:15-16 Exodus 13:21 and Exodus 14:19 Judges 2:1-5 Jud.13:1-22