Vol. 8, No. 6
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Jesus Christ is the Lawgiver of the New Testament, whereas Moses was the lawgiver of the Old Testament (John 1:17; 7:19). Jesus Christ is the Great Prophet of the New Testament, whereas Moses was the great prophet of the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 18:15, 18; John 1:45; Acts 3:22; 7:37). The various biblical names, titles and functions ascribed to Jesus Christ commingle into one grand, divine character, including Lawgiver and Prophet. "As in Judaism, messianic titles and functions merge into one another. Thus Jesus is the kingly as well as the prophetic Messiah in Jn. 6:14-15; Mt. 21:9ff. He is Christ as well as prophet in Acts 3: 18ff" (Kittel and Friedrich). "Moses was ruler, lawgiver, deliverer, and prophet; Christ was all this to the people, but they rejected him" (Boles). On this occasion, we want to invite you to "Come Meet Jesus as Lawgiver and Prophet."
Whereas Moses was the lawgiver of the Old Testament, Jesus Christ is the Lawgiver of the New Testament. What does the Bible mean by the use of the word "lawgiver"? The English word "lawgiver" appears only six times in both testaments combined: five in the Old Testament and once in the New Testament. However, the Hebrew word sometimes translated "lawgiver" appears 19 times. It pertains to making laws. Ultimately, Jehovah is the Lawgiver, the One from whom all divine law comes (Isaiah 33:22 and James 4:12). However, God appointed Moses as lawgiver of the Old Testament and Jesus Christ as Lawgiver of the New Testament.
Moses occupied a special position as lawgiver of the Old Testament. Moses was more than a prophet, a lawgiver with whom God communicated directly instead of through visions and dreams (Numbers 12:6-7; cf. Deuteronomy 34:10). The apostle John wrote that Moses gave the Law (Old Testament), whereas Jesus Christ personally brought the Gospel (New Testament) (John 1:17; 7:19). Moses did not author the Law or Old Testament, but he was the one who inaugurated it for God among men. Likewise, Jesus Christ inaugurated the Old Testament's replacement, the New Testament, for God among men.
Jesus Christ as antitype to Moses, is the Lawgiver of the New Testament. The Transfiguration of Jesus Christ definitively transfers the responsibility as God's lawgiver from Moses to Jesus Christ (Matthew 17:5; cf. Matthew 3:17; John 12:28; 2 Peter 1:17-18). Commenting on Matthew 17:5, one commentator wrote:
In the presence of Moses the lawgiver and Elijah the head of the prophets, God pointed out Jesus and declared that he was his Son and that he now should be heard. The withdrawal of Moses and Elijah was suggestive; a greater than both of these remained. ...Moses and Elijah had disappeared as suddenly as they had appeared; they had withdrawn from the scene and left only Jesus to occupy the field as a lawgiver and prophet. (Boles)
Whereas Moses was the great prophet of the Old Testament, Jesus Christ is the Great Prophet of the New Testament. What does the Bible mean by the use of the word "prophet" respecting either Moses or Jesus Christ? Prophets of God sometimes were both foretellers and forthtellers, more often the latter.
The ordinary Hebrew word for prophet is nabi, derived from a verb signifying "to bubble forth" like a fountain; hence the word means one who announces or pours forth the declarations of God. The English word comes from the Greek prophetes which signifies in classical Greek one who speaks for another, especially one who speaks for a god, and so interprets his will to man; hence its essential meaning is "an interpreter." The use of the word in its modern sense as "one who predicts" is post-classical. (Smith)
There were many Old Testament prophets and New Testament prophets as well besides the special references to Moses and Jesus Christ (Ephesians 4:11).
The first person whom the Bible calls a prophet (Heb. nabi) was Abraham (Gn. 20:7; cf. Ps. 105:15), but OT prophecy received its normative form in the life and person of Moses, who constituted a standard of comparison for all future prophets (Dt. 18:15-19; 34:10; Messiah). Every feature which characterized the true prophet of Yahweh in the classical tradition of OT prophecy was first found in Moses. (New Bible Dictionary)
Moses occupied a special position as the great prophet of the Old Testament. The relationship that Moses sustained with God as his special prophet exceeded that of any other prophets, until Jesus Christ came into the world (Deuteronomy 34:10; cf. Numbers 12:6-7). Moses was the great Old Testament prophet who foreshadowed the great New Testament prophet (Deuteronomy 18:15, 18; Acts 3:22-23; 7:37). There was no prophet of the same caliber and function of Moses until Jesus Christ.
Jesus Christ as antitype to Moses, is the Great Prophet of the New Testament. Jesus was recognized as a prophet of God by the common people in first century Israel (Matthew 21:11; Luke 7:16). Because of his miracles and teaching (validated by his miracles), Jesus was viewed by people of his generation as the Prophet of whom Moses prophesied (John 6:14; 7:40). Philip declared to his brother Nathaniel that Jesus is the Prophet of whom Moses prophesied (John 1:45). The Samaritans believed that Jesus Christ was the Messiah or Prophet of whom Moses wrote (they only revered the first five books of the Old Testament) (John 4:25-26, 42). "But to be a Prophet meant to a Samaritan that He was the Messiah, since they acknowledged none other after Moses" (Edersheim). Jesus Christ himself applied Deuteronomy 18:15, 18 to himself, and he declared that had the Jews believed the prophesies of Moses, they would have recognized that him as the Prophet of whom Moses wrote (John 5:46). Jesus claimed to be the Prophet of which the Old Testament prophesied (Luke 4:16-21; 13:33; John 4:26) (Messiah or Prophet to the Samaritans). God the Father declared that Jesus was the one, superceding Moses, to whom mankind should hearken (Matthew 17:5). Commenting on Matthew 17:5, one commentator wrote, "Jesus is the prophet and the lawgiver now. He is the one who speaks from heaven, and the mediator of the new covenant. (Heb. 12:22-25.)" (Dorris).
Prophet Jesus is superior to the prophet Moses, and the New Testament institution is superior to the Old Testament institution (Hebrews 3:2-6). Moses as prophet and lawgiver administered God's law while on earth. Jesus Christ as the Great Prophet and Lawgiver administers God's law (Gospel or New Testament) from heaven.
That Deuteronomy 18:15, 18 has specific reference to Jesus Christ as the great New Testament Prophet cannot be discounted since inspired writers apply it to our Lord (John 1:45; Acts 3:22-23; 7:37). "Deut 18:15 It is, however, to be observed, that while Moses introduced the Old dispensation, Christ brought in the New, of which the former was a type as it is written" (Jamieson, Fausset and Brown). Several of the names, titles and functions ascribed in Scripture to Jesus merge, including Lawgiver and Prophet. "The Mediator is not only the arch Prophet and High Priest, but He is also the King of kings..." (Pink).
The Messiah is the same person as "the seed of the woman" (Gen. 3:15), "the seed of Abraham" (Gen. 22:18), the "Prophet like unto Moses" (Deut. 18:15), "the priest after the order of Melchizedek" (Ps. 110:4), "the rod out of the stem of Jesse" (Isa. 11:1, 10), the "Immanuel," the virgin's son (Isa. 7:14), "the branch of Jehovah" (Isa. 4:2), and "the messenger of the covenant" (Mal. 3:1). This is he "of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write." The Old Testament Scripture is full of prophetic declarations regarding the Great Deliverer and the work he was to accomplish. Jesus the Christ is Jesus the Great Deliverer, the Anointed One, the Saviour of men. (Easton)
Jesus Christ as the Great Prophet and Lawgiver was authorized to replace the Old Testament with the New Testament (Matthew 28:18 ASV; Ephesians 2:15; Colossians 2:14; Hebrews 8:6).
Moses, in God's name, told them that, in the fulness of time, they should have a prophet raised up among them, one of their own nation, that should be like unto him (Deut. xviii. 15, 18),--a ruler and a deliverer, a judge and a lawgiver, like him,--who should therefore have authority to change the customs that he had delivered, and to bring in a better hope, as the Mediator of a better testament. (Henry)
As the Great Lawgiver and Prophet, we today must hearken to Jesus Christ (Matthew 17:5; John 5:24; 12:48). Jesus said to believe and be baptized to be saved (Mark 16:16). After baptism, Jesus expects Christians to remain faithful, but there is a remedy for the sins of Christians, too (Revelation 2:10; Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:9).
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- - -. A Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles. Gospel Advocate Commentaries. Nashville: Gospel Advocate, 1989. CD-ROM. Austin: Wordsearch, 2005.
Dorris, C.E.W. A Commentary on the Gospel According to Mark. Gospel Advocate Commentaries. Nashville: Gospel Advocate, 1992. CD-ROM. Austin: Wordsearch, 2005.
Easton, M.G. Easton's Bible Dictionary. CD-ROM. n.p.: n.p., n.d.
Edersheim, Alfred. The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah. CD-ROM. Escondido: Ephesians Four Group, n.d.
Henry, Matthew. Matthew Henry's Complete Commentary in Six Volumes. CD-ROM. Escondido: Ephesians Four Group, n.d.
Jamieson, Fausset and Brown Commentary. CD-ROM. Seattle: Biblesoft, 1997.
Kittel, Gerhard, and Gerhard Friedrich, eds. The Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Abridged in One Volume. CD-ROM. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1985.
New Bible Dictionary. CD-ROM. Wheaton: Tyndale, 1962.
Pink, Arthur W. The Life of David. CD-ROM. Escondido: Ephesians Four Group, n.d.
Smith, William. Smith's Bible Dictionary. CD-ROM. Austin: Wordsearch, 2003.