In Acts 26:22-23, Paul says that

I stand here...saying nothing but what the prophets and Moses said would come to pass: that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.

It seems like there are three claims which Paul says Moses and the prophets made:

  1. The Christ must suffer
  2. The Christ would be the first to rise from the dead
  3. The Christ would proclaim light both to the Jews and to the Gentiles

Furthermore, Paul claims that both Moses and the prophets made these claims. My question is: Where in the Old Testament are these claims made (explicitly)?

I have looked around and found answers such as this article from the Christianity StackExchange, but the answer of Moses' writings about Jesus are very vague and unconvincing (e.g. reading Jesus into manna or the water which sprung from a rock). Such an analysis seems to be guilty of reading meaning back into the passages after-the-fact.

I would be interested in any answers addressing my original question or my doubts about the vagueness of the references found in the article I linked. Thanks.

  • 1
    Have you ever studied the Sanctuary Service as setup at Sinai? This is exactly what it is about. Also, It says "Moses AND the Prophets"
    – Adam
    May 29 at 20:01
  • "Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead" Did Paul forget about Lazarus, here, or is he using some specialized meaning for "rise from the dead"?
    – nick012000
    May 30 at 6:14
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    @nick012000, Lazarus was raised, Jesus was the first to rise. I think that's the distinction Paul is making.
    – SimpleGeek
    May 30 at 12:31

First, "Moses and the prophets", or sometimes, "the Law of Moses and the prophets", is a common hendiadys meaning what we now call the OT Hebrew scriptures. John 1:45, Luke 16:29, 31, 24:44, Acts 13:15, 26:22, 28:23, Rom 3:21, etc.

There are many examples of where the NT writers quoted the OT to show that Jesus fulfilled OT prophecies such as: Matt 1:22, 2:6, 16, 3:15, 4:14, 8:17, 12:17-21, 13:13-15, 35, 21:4, 41, 42, 26:24, 52-56, 27:8, 9, 35, Mark 1:2, 9:13, 14:21, 49, Luke 3:4, 4:17, 12;14, 24:25-27, 44, 45, John 4:25, 26, 29, 12:38, Acts 2:29, 30, 8:31-34, 18:27, 28, Rom 1:1, 2, 1 Cor 15:3, 4, etc. (There are many more!)

When it comes to the specific predictions of Paul in Acts 26 we have:

  1. Suffering servant: Isa 53, Ps 22 (cited in Matt 27:35, 43, 46, Mark 15:24, 34, Luke 23:34, John 19:24, etc)

  2. Resurrection of Messiah is prophesied in places such as: Ps 16:10, Isa 53:3, 11, 12, Job 19:25, etc. See also 1 Cor 15:4. See also Matt 16:21, 17:23, 20:19, Mark 9:31, 10:34, Luke 18:33, 9:22, Col 1:18, etc.

  3. Light to the Jews and Gentiles: Isa 9:2, 3 (quoted by Matt 4:12-17, Mark 1:14, 15, Luke 4:14, 15); Isa 42:6, 49:6. See also Acts 13:47, Hab 2:14 and Isa 56:6, 7.

Thus, Paul's statement about Messiah's details predicted in the OT was entirely accurate.

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    Good use of hendiadys, upvoted +1 May 29 at 23:38
  • Thank you for the answer. I have a question still about claim #2. I looked at Ps 16:10, Isa 53:3, Isa 11, and Job 19:25, but none of these seem to come close to prophesying that Jesus would be the first to rise from the dead (like Paul says the OT predicts). Can you please further explain these references?
    – Tony Bai
    May 30 at 21:19
  • @TonyBai - the OT just predicts that Messiah would rise from the dead. The "firstborn" of the dead come from Col 1:18. There were others who were raised from the dead before Christ (eg, Lazarus, the widow of Nain's son etc) but Jesus was first in the sense of the most important, see 1 Cor 15:10-20.
    – Dottard
    Jun 2 at 22:21

We could render Paul's statement to mean:

  • Moses said all these things & the prophets said all these things OR
  • Between Moses & the prophets all these things were said

The former cannot be unambiguously reconstructed based on the Old Testament; the best we can do there is acknowledge that there are multiple instances in the New Testament where a prophetic/scriptural statement is cited for which we have no surviving record.

Given the extreme destruction of Jewish lands, structure, and records brought about by the Roman-Jewish war (especially the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70), it should come as no surprise that there are records they had then that we do not have now.

The latter option can be reconstructed reasonably well from the Old Testament:

  1. The Christ must suffer (Isaiah 53: 3-7)
  2. The Christ would be the first to rise from the dead (Job 19:25, Isaiah 53:10-12, that He would be resurrected is clear, that He would be the first is probably the least clear--in the OT--of the statements)
  3. The Christ would proclaim light both to the Jews and to the Gentiles (Isaiah 9:2-3, Habakkuk 2:14)

(If there were a more specific teaching of the resurrection by Moses, I presume Jesus would have cited it in Luke 20:38)

Since Paul is referring to his preaching in general, not just the 3 points cited, he certainly can claim to have taught from Moses & prophets. In other words, Paul says his message is based on Moses & the prophets, not that just these 3 specifics are from Moses & the prophets.


There's no reason to require Paul's statement to mean "Moses said each of these things"; Paul's point is that his teachings are firmly rooted in the Jewish scriptures.

  • 1
    I do not know why such an answer as this was downvoted to I have unvoted it to balance things up.
    – Dottard
    May 29 at 23:54
  • 1
    @HoldToTheRod Agreed. +1.
    – Xeno
    May 30 at 0:38
  • 1
    @Dawood if you believe there is a shortcoming in my answer I'd be very interested in your feedback. I took Dottard's actions as respectful rather than arrogant. Downvotes are helpful when accompanied by a comment; since no comment was given it left me unable to use the community's wisdom to improve my post. When I see posts sitting at -1 votes with no reason given I frequently upvote them as well. May 30 at 19:32
  • 1
    @Dawood thanks for your thoughts--I'm not disgusted that you disagree. I should clarify something though--I frequently see -1 posts that are clearly deficient--I don't upvote those. If I see a decent post at -1...or a post that has been attacked for theological reasons, I certainly do try to support them. Having been the recipient of multiple attacks of serial downvoting myself, I want to encourage decent posts by voting for them, even if I don't always agree with them. When people's efforts don't get votes, too often they leave. We're a small site and can't afford to play that game. May 30 at 19:58
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    @DawoodibnKareem - I upvoted because, as stated above, I thought HTTR gave a good and helpful answer and thus was mystified as the why it was downvoted. If it have been a poor answer I would not have upvoted it.
    – Dottard
    May 30 at 22:11

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