Jesus Quoted The Old Testament

Many people today do not believe in the authenticity and authority of the Old Testament as Scripture.

However, Jesus had some quite different things to say regarding the books of the Old Testament. Here is a brief list of some of what Jesus taught about the Old Testament:

  1. Source of Authority
    1. When confronted by Satan, Jesus appealed to the Old Testament as a source of authority by stating, “It is written,” (Matt. 4:4, 7, 10).
  2. Imperishability
    1. “For truly I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or stroke shall pass from the Law until all is accomplished,” (NASB, Matt. 5:18).
  3. Unbreakability
    1. “The Scripture cannot be broken,” (NASB, Jn. 10:35).
  4. Source of Doctrinal Authority
    1. Jesus appealed to Scripture when correcting false doctrine stating, “You are mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures nor the power of God,” (NASB, Matt. 22:29).
  5. Truthfulness
    1. “Your word is truth,” (NASB, Jn. 17:17).
  6. Historical Reliability
    1. Jesus affirmed the historical existence of Jonah (Matt. 12:40), Noah (Matt. 24:37-38), and Adam and Eve (Matt. 19:4-6).
  7. Scientific Reliability
    1. Jesus affirmed that God created the world (Mk. 13:19; cf. Matt. 19:4).
  8. Old Testament Canon
    1. Jesus made reference to the Law and Prophets as a unit, “Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill,” (Matt. 5:17).
    2. Jesus explained the Scriptures, “Then beginning with Moses and with all the prophets, He explained to them the things concerning Himself in all the Scriptures,” (NASB, Luke 24:27).
    3. Jesus referred to the entire Canon by mentioning all the prophets from Abel (from Genesis, the first book, and first martyr) to Zechariah (Chronicles, the last book, and the last martyr) (Matt. 23:35).

[The word “canon” means basically “rule, standard, or norm.” In this context, it refers to the accepted books that were in the Jewish Scriptures. These books were the standard by which the Jews taught and lived.
In the Jewish Canon of Scripture, there were 24 books. They are exactly equivalent to the Protestant 39 books of the Old Testament, but they were just arranged differently. In the Jewish arrangement, the first book was Genesis and the last book was Chronicles.]

Since Jesus is God in flesh, demonstrated a life of miraculous healings, died on the cross, and was miraculously resurrected three days later, what He taught on issues of doctrine is vastly important. Since He was God in flesh, what Jesus taught about the Old Testament (or any other subject, for that matter) is true. This means that we can trust the accuracy of the Old Testament Scriptures on issues of history, science, and moral instruction.

A number of times during His earthly ministry, Jesus responded to questions with, “It is written…”  (7 times in Matthew, 4 times in Mark, 5 times in Luke, 1 time in John).  In the Bible, we also read of many times when Jesus quoted the truths of God from the Hebrew Scriptures, including:

  • The teachers in the Temple were astounded by His understanding and answers  (Luke 2:42, 46–47).
  • Jesus used God’s Word to resist the devil (Matt 4:1–11, Luke 4:1-13) at the beginning of His ministry.
  • Jesus called upon God’s Word to respond to the Pharisees  (Matt 22:41–46 at the end of His earthly life.

The Holy Scriptures give a record of Jesus quoting from every book of the Pentateuch and eight of God’s prophets. For example, Jesus used the powerful words from Deuteronomy to silence the Devil.

The Book of Psalms.

The Book of Psalms is the most read book of the Bible and its words were quoted more often by Jesus than the words from any other book. Jesus used the psalmists’ words when…

  • He was asked for a sign to show who He is  (Ps 78:24, John 6:32-33)
  • the Jews wanted to stone Him for claiming to be God. (Ps 82:6, John 10:34).
  • He called Himself the chief cornerstone (Ps 118:22-23, Matt 21:42, John 2:10, Luke 20:17).
  • countering the Pharisees on several occasions (Ps 8:2, 110:1, Matt 21:16, 22:44, Mark 12:36, 14:62, Luke 20:42-43).
  • foretelling Jerusalem’s destruction (Ps 118:26; Matt 23:39, Luke 13:35).
  • talking about his betrayal (Ps 41:9, John 13:18).
  • telling that He would be hated without cause (Ps 35:19, 69:4, John 15:25).
  • Pilate asked if He is the son of God (Ps 110:1, Matt 22:44, Mark 12:36).
  • dying on the cross: (Ps 22:1; Matt 27:46, Mark 15:34).
  • committing his spirit to His Father (Ps 31:5, Luke 23:46).
  • speaking about those who try to work their way into the Kingdom (Ps 6:9, Matt 7:23).
  • speaking of the hate the world has for Him (Ps. 35:19; 69:4, John 15:25)
  • speaking of the sorrow of His soul (Ps 42:5,9-11, 43:5, Matt 26:38, Mark 14:34)
  • speaking of Man’s reward for his works (Ps 62:12, Matt 16:27)
  • speaking of the manna God gave to their forefathers (Ps 78:24, John 6:31)
  •  telling about the time they will see Him again (Ps 118:25-26, Matt 23:39)

Other Books

Jesus knew the Hebrew Scriptures well.  While He quoted most often from the book of Psalms, He also quoted from many other books.  Deuteronomy comes in second for the book most often quoted, with Isaiah and Exodus ranking third and fourth respectively.  Take a few minutes and review all the quotes of Jesus during the time He was preparing Israel to see Him as the Lamb of God who would take away the sins of the world.  


Jesus quoted from Genesis when speaking of God’s order and purpose in creation.  First He affirmed that God made man, both male and female (Gen 1:27, Matt 19:4; Gen 5:2, Mark 10:6) and that man and woman were to become one (Gen 2:24, Matt 19:5, Mark 10:7-8). 


Exodus ranks high on the quotes list of Jesus.  The second book of the Torah, Exodus, is a very important book about the history of God’s people and repeatedly Jesus used words from this book to remind the people of His day of God’s faithfulness, deliverance, and provision.  Jesus referenced . . . 

  • the burning bush incident when explaining the resurrection (Ex 3:6, 15, Matt 22:32, Mark 12:26, Luke 20:37).
  • the Ten Commandments (Ex 20:3, Matt 4:10; Luke 4:8; Ex 20:7, Luke 4:16, 23:55-56;  Ex 20:12, Matt 15:4-9; 19:19; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20;  Ex 20:12-16, Matt 5:21-22, 27; 19:18; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20;  Ex 20:14,  Matt 5:27-28; 19:18; Mark 10:11-12, 19; Luke 16:18; 18:20;  Ex 20:16,  Matt 19:18; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20;  Ex 20:17,  Luke 12:15; Ex 21:17, Matt 15:4, Mark 7:10)
  • the importance of keeping a vow (Ex 30:7, Matt 5:33).
  • the well-known teaching of “eye for an eye” before telling his disciples to turn the other cheek (Ex 21:24; Matt 5:38).


Leviticus is about holy living. Jesus referenced it a number of times to teach about honesty and making vows (Lev 19:12, Matt 5:33),  about the command to love thy neighbor (Lev 19:18, Matt 5:43,19:19, 22:39, Lev 19:18, Mark 12:31), and about the law of retaliation (Lev 24:20, Matt 5:38).


In speaking about keeping one’s oath Jesus quoted (Matt 5:33) from Numbers 30:2 as well as Exodus, Leviticus, and Deuteronomy.


Many are familiar with Jesus’ quotes from the book of Deuteronomy when He was tempted by Satan in the wilderness  (Deut 6:13, 16, 8:3; Matt 4:4, 7, 10; Luke 4:4, 8, 12).  He also quoted this book many other times.

  • When summing up the law and the prophets: love God, and love your neighbor as yourself (Deut 6:5; Matt 22:37; Mark 12:29-33; Luke 10:27).
  • When citing the Ten Commandments (Deut 5:7, 6:13, Matt 4:10; Luke 4:8; Deut 5:16; Matt 15:4-9; 19:19; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20; Deut 5:17;  Matt 5:21-22; 19:18; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20;  Deut 5:18;  Matt 5:27-28; 19:18; Mark 10:11-12, 19; Luke 16:18; 18:20;  Deut 5:20;  Matt 19:18; Mark 10:19; Luke 18:20;  Deut 5:21;  Luke 12:15; Deut 6:4-5, Mark 12:29-30; Deut 6:5, Matt 22:37)
  • When discussing divorce (Deut 24:1-3; Matt 5:31, 19:7; Mark 10:4).
  • When defining church discipline (Deut 19:15; Matt 18:16).
  • When telling that man is to fear God (Deut 6:13, Matt 4:10, Luke 4:8; Deut 6:16, Matt 4:7, Luke 4:12).
  • When telling that man is to live by the Word of God (Deut 8:3, Matt 4:4, Luke 4:4) and to keep his word (Deut. 19:16-19, Matt 5:33).

The Prophets

Jesus quoted from the writings of Isaiah,  Jeremiah, Daniel, Hosea, Jonah, Micah, Zechariah, and Malachi. 


Isaiah has often been called “the evangelical prophet” because he says more about the coming of the Messiah and the redemptive work of  Jesus than any other book of the Old Testament. Consequently, there are many important passages in this book, that was referenced by Jesus…

  • He explained His reason for using parables to teach (Isaiah 6:9-10; Matthew 13:14-15; Mark 4:12; Luke 8:10).
  • He rebuked the Pharisees and scribes for their lip service to God (Isaiah 29:13; Matthew 15:8-9; Mark 7:6-7).
  • He cleansed the temple by overturning the tables of the money changers  (Isaiah 56:7; Matthew 21:13; Mark 11:17; Luke 19:46).
  • He told the parable of the vineyard  (Isaiah 5:1; Matthew 21:33, Mark 12:1, Luke 20:9).
  • He told the purpose of His earthly ministry (Is 61:1-2; Matthew 11:5; Luke 4:18-19, 7:22).
  • He told of the works He was doing (Isa 35:5-6, Luke 7:22).
  • He told of the beginning of sorrows (Isa 34:4, Luke 21:26).
  • He told of cosmic changes in end times (Isa 13:10, Matt 24:29, Mark 13:24-25)
  • He told of His death (Isaiah 53:12; Luke 22:37).
  • He told that His ministry will draw people to Him (Isaiah 54:13; Jn 6:45).
  • He told that salvation had come to them ( Isa 62:11, Matt 21:5).

Jesus quotes Isaiah to highlight the disconnect between God and the people, but he also quoted Isaiah to remind people of the comfort God will bring through Him as the Lamb of God and the reigning King.  

Jeremiah: Jesus quoted the prophet Jeremiah when He spoke of the lack of understanding of the people (Jer 5:21, Mark 8:18) and the purpose of God’s house and the people’s abuse of it (Jer 7:11, Mark 11:17, Luke 19:46).

Daniel is an important book of end times prophesy and Jesus quoted from this book when speaking of judgment of the unredeemed (Dan 3:6, Matt13:42, 50), of signs that will appear before He comes again (Dan 7:13, Matt 24:30, 26:64, Mark 13:26,14:62), of the abomination of desolation when the Antichrist is revealed (Dan 9:27, Matt 24:15), and of what they should do in response (Dan 11:31, Mark 13:14).

Hosea: Jesus told that He came for sinners, not the righteous (Hos 6:6, Matt 9:13, Matt 12:7) and of calamity in the end times (Hos 10:8, Luke 23:30)

Jonah: Jesus told of the sign of His death and resurrection that would be given the people (Jonah 2:17, Matt 12:40)

Micah:  Jesus told that He would bring division (Mic 7:6, Matt 10:35-36).

Zechariah:  Jesus told that the disciples would desert Him (Zec 13:7, Matt 26:31, Mark 14:27).

Malachi:  Jesus told that John was sent to prepare His way (Mal 3:1, Matt 11:10, Luke 7:27) and that He fulfilled (in type) the work of Elijah (Mal 4:5-6, Matt 17:11).

What Did Jesus Teach About The Old Testament, Ryan Turner, CARM
Which Old Testament Book Did Jesus Quote Most Often, Shari Abbott, Reasons For Hope