The New is in the Old Contained: (Chapter 1 Verses 3-12)
There are two great thoughts here concerning those prophets of old (vv11-12). The first is the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in these old saints, and that even then he was testifying to what God would do in Christ. And that these men studied those utterances and writings to discover what was being said. It points clearly to the inspiration of the Scriptures, and the plain statement of Paul’s that “all Scripture is God-breathed” (2Tim.3.16), yes the Old Testament too (2Peter 2.21). The longing for Messiah’s day runs through the whole of the Old Testament. Their searching was rewarded (v12a). Not only that but their message was taken up and preached by the Apostles (v12). The Holy Spirit revealing to them that they were in fact ministering to a future generation, even to us. How? Because we are yet blessed by the things they wrote under inspiration. Oh that didn’t mean the word they received wasn’t for them, of course it was, it had its then and now application. But like most of Old Testament prophecy it had greater and further implications.
What was revealed to them as they searched those prophetic utterances? Well, that following Jesus’ humiliation and his exaltation, there would be a world-wide proclamation of the saving gospel, and there would be a massive in-gathering of souls. In other words Peter says to his readers, ‘they ministered to you’ by the gospel preacher who came to them with the gospel. Because Paul and his companions, Peter and James and all the other early Christian gospel preachers used the Old Testament prophecies, expounded them in the synagogues and elsewhere, demonstrating clearly that Christ was there in them. The New Testament gospel rests upon the Holy Spirit’s Old Testament testimony. Cancel that? And you remove the very foundation of the gospel, its bedrock. And you know of course if the foundation is removed then the whole super-structure collapses, you are left with a heap of rubble. So you see Peter’s praise, his glorying is somewhat justified, isn’t it? As he considers the grounds, the means of our salvation and the hope of rejoicing, it is well grounded, right back through the centuries into the Old Testament and preached with all its fullness by the Spirit-filled apostles. The New is in the Old contained and the Old is by the New explained. All this acts like a ship’s stabilisers, taking us through the storms of suffering, with hope.
(© James R Hamilton, written May, 1998)