Is the Old Testament God Different From the New Testament God?

Don Cole
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First, both the New and Old Testaments distinguish between God and gods (i.e., evil entities represented by idols and sometimes described as demons), but there is no distinction between the God of the Old Testament and the God of the New Testament. As the opening to the gospel of John declares, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. . . . The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. . . . No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God . . . has made him known” (John 1:1, 14, 18). The apostle Paul develops the same truth in all his writings. If you know Christ, you know the Father in Heaven. What He was in Paul’s time, He was in the ancient past and is forever—the unchanging God (Phil. 2:5–11; Col. 1:19; 2:9).

How then can we account for the descriptions of brutality to which you refer? We must understand that God’s character is always loving, gracious, just, and holy. God’s judgment in response to pagan sins like child sacrifice accompanied His gracious rescue of people like Rahab (see Josh. 2; 6:17). This mixture of grace and justice is most clearly seen at the cross, when Jesus was crucified as the just penalty for our sins. Yet this act of judgment was also God’s great act of love and salvation, making it possible for us to enter into fellowship with Him. The resurrection of Jesus vindicates the love and justice of God. We might not understand specific instances of how God has chosen to act. But our confidence must be in God’s unchanging character, not in our own changing notions of what love and justice mean in the world.

For Further Reading:

Do Angels Really Have Wings?

by Today in the Word

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