Q. The name Jesus is not found in the Old Testament even once. Then, how could Jesus’ disciples recognize Him as Christ and believe Him?
A. In the Old Testament, there is no word “Jesus,” the name of the Christ who is to come in the New Testament. Even if the name “Jesus” were prophesied, we would not be convinced that a man is Christ just because his name is Jesus; it is because the name “Jesus” was common among the Jews (Col 4:11).
Therefore, the name Jesus is not absolute evidence through which we can believe that Jesus is Christ. The most convincing evidence is the work which Jesus fulfilled according to the prophecies of the Old Testament about Christ. For this, Jesus said that it is the “Bible [Scriptures]” that testifies about Him as Christ.
Jn 5:39 “You diligently study the Scriptures because you think that by them you possess eternal life. These are the Scriptures that testify about me . . .”
Jesus proved that He is Christ, with the testimonies of the Bible. When John the Baptist sent his disciples to ask Jesus, “Are you the one [Christ] who was to come?” Jesus told them that the prophecies of the Bible, which Christ would fulfill, were being fulfilled (Mt 11:1–5). When Jesus read the prophecies about Christ to the Jews who gathered in the synagogue on the Sabbath day, He stated that the prophecies had already been fulfilled (Lk 4:16–21).
After Jesus was resurrected, He appeared before His two disciples going to Emmaus. At that time, He quoted what was written in the Bible [Scriptures]. As Jesus let them realize through the Bible that the sacrifice on the cross and resurrection were the prophecies to be fulfilled by the Christ, the weak faith of the disciples turned to burning conviction.
Lk 24:25–32 He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Christ have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself . . . They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”
Besides these, there is much evidence proving that Jesus is the Savior. So the apostles who were taught by Jesus preached that Jesus is Christ with the prophecies of the Old Testament, which Jesus accomplished. This shows that the apostles believed the words of the Bible more than anything else, and were convinced that Jesus is Christ.
The apostles testified with the Bible that Jesus is the “Messiah ”
The purpose that Matthew, one of the twelve disciples of Jesus, wrote the Gospel of Matthew is of course to testify that Jesus is Christ. Matthew testified that Jesus is the Christ who was prophesied in the Bible, by connecting all Jesus’ work―His birth, death and resurrection―to the prophecies of the Old Testament.
Mt 1:18–23 This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit . . . All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel”―which means, “God with us.”
Jesus’ being born through a virgin was the fulfillment of the prophecy which God gave to the prophet Isaiah 700 years before (Isa 7:14). Jesus’ being born in Bethlehem was also done as prophesied in the book of Micah of the Old Testament (Mic 5:2).
Mt 2:1–6 After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod . . . When he had called together all the people’s chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ was to be born. “In Bethlehem in Judea,” they replied, “for this is what the prophet has written: “ ‘But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for out of you will come a ruler who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.’ ”
Matthew recorded how Jesus fulfilled the prophecies of the Old Testament in many ways: the appearance of the prophet who would prepare for the way before Jesus’ starting His public life as Christ, and the shining of the light of the gospel from the town of Nazareth in Galilee and so on (Mt 3:3; Isa 40:3–9; Mt 4:12–17; Isa 9:1–2).
Peter the best disciple of Jesus, too, testified that Jesus is the Savior, with the prophecies of the Bible. On the day of Pentecost, Peter explained to the Jews, who came from every nation, about the coming of fire of the Holy Spirit from heaven with the prophecy of Joel chapter 2, and testified to the resurrection of Jesus with the prophecy of Psalm chapter 16. By this, about 3,000 people repented and were baptized on that day.
Ac 2:14–36 Then Peter stood up with the Eleven, raised his voice . . . this is what was spoken by the prophet Joel: “ ‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people . . .’ ” . . . “God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ.”
When Peter preached about Jesus before many people who had gathered in Solomon’s Colonnade, he testified that the one who came according to the prophecy of the Bible was Jesus (Ac 3:11–26). Like this, the reason the Apostle Peter testified to Christ with the prophecies of the Bible was because Jesus’ fulfilling the prophecies of the Old Testament was the most convincing evidence he could show. For that reason, Peter said that the word of the prophets is like a light shining in a dark place, and asked us to pay attention to it.
2 Pe 1:19 And we have the word of the prophets made more certain, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts.
It is only the Bible with which we can recognize the divine nature and power of God who appeared in the flesh. That is why the apostles of the early Church preached that Jesus is Christ, with the Bible. The case of Philip was the same. With the prophecy of Isaiah 53, Philip proved to the Ethiopian eunuch in charge of all the treasury of Ethiopia that the one who suffered because of our sins is Jesus and that He is Christ.
Ac 8:26–35 . . . on his way he met an Ethiopian eunuch, an important official in charge of all the treasury of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians. This man had gone to Jerusalem to worship, and on his way home was sitting in his chariot reading the book of Isaiah the prophet . . . Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture and told him the good news about Jesus.
In the days of the early Church, the Apostle Paul too, who preached more fervently than anyone else, going around the gentile regions, used the Bible to testify that Jesus is Christ.
Ac 17:2–3 As his custom was, Paul went into the synagogue, and on three Sabbath days he reasoned with them from the Scriptures, explaining and proving that the Christ had to suffer and rise from the dead. “This Jesus I am proclaiming to you is the Christ,” he said.
Ac 28:23 They arranged to meet Paul on a certain day, and came in even larger numbers to the place where he was staying. From morning till evening he explained and declared to them the kingdom of God and tried to convince them about Jesus from the Law of Moses and from the Prophets.
To the Apostle Paul who entered the Church of God after Jesus was crucified, the Bible was the convincing evidence that enabled him to realize Jesus as Christ.
Our attitude toward the Bible
As we have studied so far, the evidence through which the apostles of the early Church believed Jesus as Christ and preached Him was not just the name “Jesus,” but His fulfillment of the prophecies of the Bible. 2,000 years ago, the apostles were convinced that Jesus is the Christ through the prophecies of the Bible, and proclaimed the name to the whole world even though the name Jesus itself was not written in the Old Testament. It is not different in this age.
It is prophesied in the Bible that Christ will appear a second time on the earth to save His chosen people (Heb 9:28). The Bible is the only evidence through which we can recognize Jesus, who comes to this faithless world a second time right before the Last Judgment Day and restores the truth of life that was established at His first coming, according to the prophecy of the Bible (Lk 18:8; Lk 21:27–28). What we have to do is just to check who has actually fulfilled the Bible prophecies about the Second Coming Christ. Even though the name is not recorded in the Bible, we can recognize who the Savior of this age is through the works that he fulfills according to the prophecies of the Bible. Let us study the prophecies of the Bible deeply, and receive the Savior of the age of the Holy Spirit, and display His glory as the apostles of this age.