Difference Between Old and New Testament: With Simple Charts

Difference Between Old and New Testament

Have you ever wondered why the Christian Bible has two sections?  How are the Old and New Testaments related? The Bible is a big book, so finding the answer might not be obvious at first and can take some time to discover.

Knowing how the Old and New Testaments relate to each other can help you understand the Bible better. So, let’s take a look at the main similarities and differences.

The simplest way to understand it is that the Old Testament was written first and tells the first part of the story. The New Testament was written later and finishes the story.

Here’s a more detailed explanation.

What is the difference between the Old Testament and the New Testament? The entire Bible, both the Old and New Testaments point to Jesus. The Old Testament looks forward to Jesus. The New Testament explains the finished work of Jesus. The Old Testament starts with the people of Israel, through whom Jesus would come into the world. The New Testament explains how the Good News of Jesus will go to the ends of the earth.

Hebrews 1:1-2 explains the relationship between the Old and the New Testaments well. God spoke through the prophets in the Old Testament. In the New, He has spoken through Jesus, His Son.

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.

Hebrews 1:1-2 (ESV)

The Old Testament sets up the story, beginning with the Creation of the world. The New Testament is the conclusion, with the revealing of Jesus, the Son of God. All creation was made through Him.

That’s the summary, but a bit more explanation can make things clearer. So let’s dig in a little deeper. Here’s a chart that shows some of the differences.

Table of Contents

Differences Between the Old Testament and the New Testament (Chart)

SIZEThe first 2/3 of the BibleThe last 1/3 of the Bible
TIMEFRAMECreation to ~400 B.C.1st Century (0 – 100 A.D.)
WRITTEN BYJewish Prophets: Moses and othersJewish and non-Jewish writers
MAIN THEMEGod promises to redeem the world through a SaviorJesus’ death, burial, and resurrection
Abraham (2,000 B.C.)
Moses (1,500 B.C.)
David (1,000 B.C.)
Isaiah (500 B.C.)

The Old Testament was written before the New Testament. The books of the Bible are not written in chronological order, but all of the Old Testament was written before the New Testament.

Since they were written at different times in history, they are written in different languages (with a little bit of Aramaic here and there), by different people. And each part emphasizes different parts of the story.

The Old Testament is the first part of the story. It starts with how the world began and how it got to be in a state of brokenness. The New Testament explains the fulfillment through Jesus Christ. It shows how God’s perfect, original design for the world is being restored through what Jesus did.

The entire Bible, both the Old and New Testaments point to Jesus. The Bible is one continuous story of how God is restoring the world to His perfect, original design.

After His resurrection, Jesus has a Bible Study with 2 disciples on the road to Emmaus. Jesus teaches about Himself from the Old Testament, the writings of Moses and all of the Prophets.

And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.

Luke 24:27 (ESV)

The difference is what part of that story is being told and what is being emphasized.

A simple way to explain it is that the Old Testament looks forward to Jesus. The New Testament explains the finished work of Jesus.

A resource that I recommend is: Unlocking the Bible: A Unique Overview of the Whole Bible (You can check out the reviews on this link to Amazon – opens in a new window). It has a chapter on every book of the Bible and how every book fits into the big story of what God is doing. Be sure to get the book and not the companion volume that only has charts, diagrams, and images. The covers look very similar.

Main Difference Between Old and New Testament

The main difference between the Old and New Testaments is that they focus on different parts of one big story. The Old Testament sets up the story and the New Testament continues and finishes it.

Overview of the BIble
Diagram of the Big-Picture Storyline of the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments

The diagram is from an article where I give a big-picture overview of the Bible. I think it’ll be helpful as a good complement to this article. You can find it here: The Bible Explained for Beginners (link opens in a new window).

The Old Testament explains the beginning of everything. It starts in the book of Genesis with the creation of the world. It explains the Fall, how the world came to be in a state of brokenness as mankind chose to go away from God.

Genesis, after the third chapter, and the rest of the Old Testament focus on God’s plan to restore the broken world to Himself. He does it by choosing one nation, the people of Israel, to be His people. He gives them the Law through Moses, to show them the way to live so that they will be God’s instrument to reveal Himself to all the nations of the world.

The Old Testament is the first part of the unfolding story of God’s will on the earth. He wants His Kingdom, His perfect design for the earth restored on the earth. Mankind departed from that through sin. God sets in motion the plan to redeem and restore His people.

How will God roll out this plan for all the earth without violating people’s free will? How will He do this without leaving evil unpunished at the end? The New Testament shows the fulfillment of how this happens.

The Old Testament shows that the people of Israel were not able to live according to God’s Law. It’s why the nation was destroyed and taken into foreign lands.

The Old Testament ends with a portion of the people of Israel back in their land. This is where it picks up in the New Testament.

The New Testament explains the Good News that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, came into a broken world, lived a perfect, sinless life, and gave His life on the cross to pay for the sins of the world. It calls people to turn from their ways and believe in Jesus and follow Him.

The New Testament then goes on to show the beginnings of the Church. Jesus is gathering a people to live and welcome God’s Kingdom and will on the earth.

Relationship Between Old and New Testament

Romans 11:25-36 is helpful in understanding the relationship between the Old and New Testament.

It says that God’s plan was to start with the people of Israel. Israel departed from God’s Law and it resulted in their fall.

The good news, for the world, is that because the people of Israel hardened their hearts against God, the Good News went to the Gentiles. Gentiles simply means nations. To the Jewish people who understood that God had chosen them to be His people, the nations meant non-Jewish people.

The better news is that once the fullness of the Gentiles has turned to God, all of Israel will be saved (Rom. 11:25-26). We’re still in the middle of this happening. God’s end goal is that all the people on earth will open to His love and truth.

Simply put, this means that God has had a plan all along to bless all the nations of the world. The Old Testament shows God’s choosing of Israel and their fall. The New Testament reveals God’s ultimate mercy through Jesus Christ. Once the Gospel goes to the ends of the earth, all of Israel will return to God.

Another way to think about the Old and New Testament is to look at the first chapter of the Bible and the last 2 chapters. The Bible begins in the book of Genesis with the creation of the world. The Bible ends in the book of Revelation with a New Heaven and a New Earth. In between those two is the unfolding of God’s plan to get us from the Fall to God’s original, perfect design through Jesus’ work on the Cross.

A third way to think about it is that the Old Testament has many prophecies about the coming Messiah. The Old Testament looks forward to Jesus, the Christ, or Messiah. The New Testament shows how these prophecies were fulfilled in Jesus. It looks back to His finished work and beyond.

One of many examples of this is the Old Testament prophecy in Isa. 7:14 which explains the circumstances around Jesus’ birth.

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Isaiah 7:14 (ESV)

This prophecy is fulfilled in the New Testament with Jesus’ birth.

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:
“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall call his name Immanuel”

Matt. 1:22-23 (ESV)

Old Testament Vs New Testament God

People sometimes ask if the God of the Old Testament is different from the God of the New Testament. Is God mean and angry in the Old Testament? Is God loving and forgiving in the New?

According to the Bible, God is the same and doesn’t change (Mal. 3:6). God is love in the Old Testament as He is in the New. God is completely just and punishes evil in both the Old and New Testaments as well.

Heb. 1:3 (ESV) explains that Jesus is the “radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature.” In other words, Jesus in the New Testament is a perfect reflection of God in the Old Testament.

Sometimes the confusion comes because it looks like God punishes sin in the Old Testament but is lenient in the New. People read verses that sound terrifying in the Old Testament. But this is no different in the New Testament. God will ultimately punish sin in the New Testament when Jesus returns.

In the Old Testament, God sent the flood. The New Testament says that God will not send a flood to cover the entire earth again, but He will send a judgment of fire at the end of this age. The main difference is that in the New Testament, we have the full picture of God’s mercy and love through Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection.

God cannot be considered good if He does not deal rightly with evil, even if it’s in our own hearts. That’s the reason Jesus died on the cross to pay for our sins.

In the end, God will remove all that hinders love. Right now is a time of God’s mercy so that more people will turn to Jesus. (2 Pet. 3:6-7)

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.

2 Pet. 3:9 (ESV)

No matter what happens, we can live with hope and trust God’s character, because He is good.

Should You Read the Old or New Testament First?

Should You Read the Old or New Testament First? For those new to the Bible, it is recommended to start reading in the New Testament. For those from another spiritual background, or who have some knowledge of the Bible, the Old Testament is a good place to start.

The Bible is a big story, a long epic, so it’s okay to start in the middle of it and then work your way back. For example, some movies and books have trilogies that start in the middle of the story and then go back to explain how it started with a prequel. So it’s okay to start reading the New Testament first.

Reading the New Testament first is recommended for new Christians and those who don’t have a spiritual background. The New Testament books are relatively shorter than the books of the Old Testament. The New Testament requires less knowledge of the cultural and historical background, so it can be easier to understand.

For those who are familiar with other religious beliefs, reading the Old Testament first can be a better place to start. It explains the Creation of the world and the unfolding of God’s redemptive plan from the beginning.

If you read the New Testament first, will you miss a few of the Old Testament references? Yes, you might, but you can always go back and read the Old Testament after and it will make more sense and you can appreciate both.

The Old Testament sets up the background story. The New Testament brings the climax to what God did about it. 

There is no right place to start reading. If you’re not sure where to start, I suggest starting with the Gospel of Mark in the New Testament as it is the shortest of the Gospels.

If you want to get an effective overview of the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments, I share the 15 books of the Bible to read in this article: What Is the Best Order to Read the Bible for Beginners? (link opens in a new window). Focusing on those 15 books first will give you a great overview of the entire Bible.

Wherever you’re reading, I hope this article has helped you get a better understanding of how the Old and New Testaments are related. 

Leave a comment below or let me know through the Contact page if you have other questions that I can help with as you read the Bible.

Subscribe to my newsletter for updates and encouraging content.

A Study Bible is an all-in-one-volume of the most commonly used Bible study resources. I highly recommend the CSB Tony Evans Study Bible (link to Amazon opens in a new window) for those who are starting out. Here’s an article I wrote about how to use one so you can see how it can be helpful: How to Use a Study Bible: Helpful Illustrated Guide.

Unlocking the Bible (link to Amazon). This is the book I mentioned earlier. I’ve found it to be more helpful than other introduction to the Bible that I have used. I recommend it because it’s also accessible to those who are starting out, but also full of insights for people who’ve been studying the Bible for years.

David Kim

I'm David Kim and the Bible has been a passionate pursuit of mine for many years. This is a site where I get to share with you some of the things that I’ve been learning. I’m a husband, a father, pastor of a Parkway Fellowship Church (Dublin, CA), and a life-long student of the Scriptures.

55 thoughts on “Difference Between Old and New Testament: With Simple Charts

  1. Like!! I blog frequently and I really thank you for your content. The article has truly peaked my interest.

    1. Thank you! I’m so glad it’s helpful as you press in to know God more through all of the Scriptures.

  2. Your article was very insightful. I’m a man of God who came to God later in life and am always looking for tools that can help me in my witnessing. I look forward to reading more of your articles. God Bless!

    1. Thank you. I’m grateful to hear that it was helpful. God bless you as you keep sharing God’s love and truth with people around you!

    2. Shalom,I am really blessed by this article …Keep up the good work of Faith ..May the Lord increase you Massively Amen.Shalom ….Peace.

  3. Hi Kim I am new to this and have led a far from perfect life ,I have always been quite confused but always wanted change my ways and lead a Cristian life and I feel it is my time so I thank you for the advice you have given and understand how to start my journey, so thank you so much.

    1. Thank you, I’m so glad this website was helpful. I’m excited for this new season in your life. God bless you on this journey. Let me know if there’s any way I can encourage you or help.

  4. Good explanation. Many Christians don’t know about it and that’s why they backslide. If Bible is effectively taught and practiced nobody will backslide and more people get saved!

  5. You have sparked my church curiosity. First simple inquiry based on a statement in this article where you stated “The New Testament then goes on to show the beginnings of the church.” When did the Church officially exist/begin?

    1. The Church is a fascinating topic. In that sentence, I was thinking about the book of Acts and the Epistles (letters) written to the churches.

      In Matthew 16:18 when Jesus says: “I will build my church…” I think anytime after that moment would work. I see the Church as the gathering of people who respond with repentance and faith to the Good News of the Kingdom of God that Jesus preached.

      Some people also look at Acts 2 as the beginning of the Church.

    2. God bless u so much, I am an Ethiopian, I was searching the difference and got much understanding.

      1. God bless you, pastor. I’m so grateful to be able to serve you. Much grace to you and to those who have set apart themselves for Christ in Ethiopia.

  6. My 7-year old son asks a lot of questions. I’m thankful I found you and this sight! Although I read the bible daily (almost done with the New Testament), it’s nice to have backup!

    1. I’m so glad this website can be helpful in answering your son’s questions! I know my 9-year old asks a lot of questions, too. And that’s a great milestone, to finish the New Testament. Very exciting!

  7. Wow! Thank God for give me such a simple and understandable explainer like you sir more of God grace and wisdom

  8. Hello,
    Thanks the article is informative about the relationship between the Old Testament and New Testament. That said, it fails to explain what are sins in the Old Testament to what are sins in the New Testament. Are they the same or did they change?

    1. Thank you, that would be a good topic to go more into. There were a lot of things that I didn’t cover in this article, but hopefully, I can work on a follow-up article at some point.

  9. Hi David
    Thank you helping me understand the difference between the Old and New Testaments a lot better. I can use your words the help explain this to my husband as well. I’m a new Christian and my husband is still a non believer, for now 🙂
    Thank you again and have a blessed day
    Sharna, Australia

    1. Hi Sharna, I’m so glad to hear the article was helpful for you and hopefully will be for your husband as well. Hope you have a blessed day!

  10. Am greatful for this article as I hv search for it and get it… I will like to say thank you, and there is any which must be told then must be review to us as well 🙏🤝🙏

    1. I’m so glad to hear it was helpful. God bless you as you keep seeking God through His Word (Proverbs 25:2).

  11. Thank you so much for this!
    So focused yet clear.
    I was looking into studying all the spiritual scriptures (revealed by God) in their entirety and stumbled upon your article. I am so grateful for this, as it has definitely solved some confusion and has given me a better idea on how to progress particularly with the Old and New Testaments.

    God Bless!

    1. Thank you, I’m so glad to hear it was helpful. God bless you as you seek God through His Word. And I pray for a spirit of wisdom and revelation so that you would know Him more (Eph. 1:17-19)!

  12. I cried after reading your article! I am a believer and I am going through some issues! I love Jesus and I have started to read the Old Testament as I felt a quickening to start reading from the Old Testament. Thank you 🙏 for your article ! It is inspired!

    1. I’m so grateful to hear you are encouraged. I pray that God will reveal His wisdom and truth to you more and more as you read His Word. And that He would strengthen you through all that you are facing. God bless you!

  13. The Psalmist declared that the Law of God was perfect. This law required stoning for adultery and sabbath breaking. Jesus subverted these penalties in a way that indicated they were never good or just. He disqualified any human from carrying out the penalty upon the woman caught in adultery by setting a standard of sinlessness. This was not a standard in the Law. The elders were charged by the law with carrying out the penalty. Jesus seems to have changed the terms.
    Likewise in the Old Testament, Moses the Lawgiver charged the man who gathered firewood on the sabbath be stoned to death. Yet upon being confronted for as much the same, picking corn, Jesus declared the sabbath was made for man not man for the sabbath.
    So the question is this. Had Jesus been present for the stoning of the simple wood gatherer, would he have intervened on that mans behalf in the same way he did the woman who had sex with another womans husband? If so, doesn’t this set Jesus in opposition to Moses verdict? If that is the case then was Moses Law infallable in that it called for a penalty that Jesus would later oppose?

    1. That’s a good question. Here’s one way to think about it: Jesus said that He came to fulfill the Law and the Prophets. Jesus doesn’t oppose the Law, He came to accomplish it and fulfill it (Matt. 5:17-20). Jesus reveals the very intent and heart of God. The Law is a tutor or guardian until Christ came (Gal. 3:24). It’s meant to ultimately lead people to Christ. Although the Law itself is not bad, it brought a curse to people because no one could do the works required by it (Gal. 3). Jesus came to deliver us from the curse of the Law by becoming a curse for us on the cross. He lived a sinless life and took all the penalty of our sin upon Himself on the cross.

  14. This is a deep exposition on the difference between the old and new Testaments. I have learnt a lot. God bless you

  15. Do you have any study groups available? I would like to read the Bible and at the same time have someone explain what I just read!! I’m serious about reading the Bible but I want to understand it! Please any suggestions would be appreciated! Thank you

    1. Thank you. I’m grateful to be able to share these with you. Let me know if you have any questions about the Bible I can help with.

  16. A big “thank you” to your sister for sharing the article with you. I’m so grateful that it was helpful. I wish you and your classmates the best in your class project! Thank you for the encouragement.

  17. This is heaven sent. There are a lot of things I do not understand. Hope you write more and share with us your knowledge. Thank you and God bless.

    1. I’m so glad you have a hunger to learn and grow in God. I know He has so much in store for you. And thank you for your encouragement. I hope to write more.

  18. So, I am not religious however I do love learning about the different religions. I’m hopeful that somebody is willing to answer this question because every person I have asked has not been able to answer it. I’m starting to wonder if there even is an answer. Why did all of the rules and what is considered swim change between the old and new testaments? Pretty much, why did the rules and regulations change so drastically? Both the new and Old Testament are supposed to be part of the exact same faith and same story. Yet there are so many differences and I can’t for the life of me understand why they changed. I recognize Jesus was sacrificed for the peoples sins but why is it that after his death, what is considered a sin changed? I am not sure if that makes complete sense but that is the only way I can think to word it.

  19. Thank you for the work you are doing. The article pertaining Old testament vs New testament is insightful. Continue with this good work.

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