The New Testament reveals what the Old Testament taught. Of course, the Old Testament taught about the coming Messiah (Isa. 53) and a new era (Isa. 2:2-4; Jer. 31:31-34; Dan. 2:44), all of which point to Jesus Christ and His work (Gal. 3:19-27). Christ was the end of the law of Moses (Rom. 10:4), ushering in the New Testament, which replaced the Old: “Behold, I have come to do Your will, O God.” He takes away the first that He may establish the second. By that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb. 10:9-10, NKJV).
Here we learn Jesus came to do the Father’s Will as was spoken in the Old Testament (Psa. 40:6-8). Christ would, and did, take away the first (Covenant or Testament) and established the second (Covenant or Testament). Moreover, it is through “that will” (the “second” or New Testament) that all people would be sanctified. Jesus says all will be sanctified by the Truth, which is the Word or teachings of Christ (John 17:17, 20). Therefore, the New Testament is the Truth—the Word, a body of teaching designed to save souls. The apostle Paul was a minster of the New Testament (2 Cor. 3:6) but he was a minister of the gospel and the faith (Col. 1:23; Gal. 1:6-9, 23; cf. Gal. 3:25-26). All these passages indicate that the New Covenant or Testament, the Gospel, the Truth, the Word, and the faith are all synonymous terms. They are simply different words defining the same system or body of instruction.
Interestingly, there is another term synonymous with the aforementioned—“the way.” It is a term peculiar to Luke and the book of Acts. At the beginning of the New Testament there are four books referred to as the “gospels.” While there is only one Gospel, the term simply stands for the four writers, Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, who provided four different perspectives of the events in the life of Christ. Following these four books is the book of Acts, which is the history of the church in the first century after the ascension of Christ. The book of Acts is the historical biography of the unfolding of the Great Commission assigned to the Lord’s Ambassadors, the apostles (Acts 1:8; Matt. 28:19-20; Mark 16:15-16; Luke 24:47-49). The first part of Acts focuses on the establishment of the church and then the spread of the church, with particular emphasis on the work of the apostle Peter. Luke then focuses his attention on Paul and his work as he brings the Gospel to the Gentile world, establishing churches among them.
The word way means a path, a direction, a way of life, or a course of life. For instance, there are a number of people in the Bible who are said to have departed a certain place and went their way. Solomon personifies wisdom when he says, “I have taught thee in the way of wisdom; I have led thee in right paths” (Prov. 4:11). The “way of wisdom” is parallel to “right paths.” Elsewhere Solomon speaks of “instruction,” which is the point here.
The use of the way is related to teaching or instruction. When a person receives proper instruction, they have gained wisdom, which they can use in their walk of life. The Psalmist writes, “Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord” (Psa. 119:1). That is, those who are deemed righteous are the one who live their lives according to the instruction of God’s Word. Sometimes the word way might be used in the plural form—ways. However, walking in the way of the Lord is no different than walking in the ways of the Lord. The way, singular, encompasses all the teachings, or ways, of the Lord. For instance, the one who walks in the way of the Lord (Psa. 119:1) is walking in the ways of the Lord: “They also do no iniquity: they walk in his ways” (Psa. 119:3).
With God there is a right way and a wrong way. The right way is always God’s way or ways. Walking accordingly means one is walking in “the way of righteousness” (Prov.12:28; Luke 7:29; 2 Pet. 2:21) However one can leave “the way of righteousness” (Prov. 2:13). Jesus refers to “the way of righteousness” as the “narrow road,” which leads to life, but very few walk this road. Only those who love God’s word and its constraints will walk this road. On the other hand, many folks do not want to be confined by God’s word and will throw off its restraints. Jesus says many will walk this “broad way,” leading to death (Matt. 7:13-14). The way (singular) or the ways (plural) refer to the same thing—the teaching or teachings of God as found in Scripture: “I will meditate in thy precepts and have respect unto thy ways” (Psa. 119:15). The precepts are the teachings or ways God has provided for us in His word.
The prophet Isaiah writes:
Strengthen ye the weak hands and confirm the feeble knees. Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert. And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes. And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein (Isa. 35:3-8, Emp. DP).
Isaiah speaks of “highway” or “a way” which will be provided for those in need of salvation. He is simply continuing his earlier prophecy at the beginning of his writing:
And it shall come to pass in the last days, that the mountain of the Lord’s house shall be established in the top of the mountains, and shall be exalted above the hills; and all nations shall flow unto it. And many people shall go and say, Come ye, and let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths: for out of Zion shall go forth the law, and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem (Isa. 2:2-3, Emph. DP).
Isaiah is simply speaking of the establishment of the Lord’s church, which occurred in Jerusalem (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8; Acts 2). The apostles were endued with power and began speaking in various languages, in order to accommodate all the visitors in Jerusalem for Pentecost. Evidently, they did not speak nor understand the Hebrew language, but Peter and the rest of the apostles received miraculous power from the Holy Spirit and preached the Gospel, for the first time to all these people and in their own language. This is the symbolism of the tongues as fire upon each of the apostles (Acts 2:3) whereby they were fulfilling what Isaiah had prophesied (Isa. 2:2-3, 35:8). This was the gospel, the law, the word, His ways, His paths, the faith—the New Testament.
While the word way is a common word, the term “the way” has a peculiar but significant meaning. Just as the word faith means one thing, the term “the faith” carries an altogether different understanding. The word faith concerns the subjective standard and/or views, understandings, and beliefs of an individual, while the faith (the word or gospel of Christ) is a body of teaching or objective standard designed to produce faith (belief) in the individual (Rom. 10:17).
However, way and the way are sometimes synonymous but sometimes not. For instance, after the Ethiopian eunuch was baptized, Luke tells us, “and he went on his way rejoicing” (Acts 8:39). Then, while persecuting the church, Paul had gone to the high priest, “And desired of him letters to Damascus to the synagogues, that if he found any of this way, whether they were men or women, he might bring them bound unto Jerusalem” (Acts 9:2). The use of way in Acts 8:39 is vastly different than the use of the way in Acts 9:2. Context, ultimately, determines the meaning or usage. Moreover, this way refers to the way. Note what Paul says: “But this I confess unto thee, that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and in the prophets” (Acts 24:14). Here the way, which was called a heresy, is simply Christianity. When Paul says he believed all the things written in the law and the prophets he was referring to the prophecies written concerning Christ and His kingdom. This kingdom would be directed by New Covenant system of law.
In saying He was the way, the truth, and life, Christ was referring His teachings or the New Testament in His blood (Matt. 26:28). Christ dying and shedding His blood for the forgiveness of sins is directly, related to the new law or Testament, which would be the means by which salvation would be obtained. That no one can come to the Father except by Christ who is the way, the truth and life, means no one can come to the Father except through His Gospel message, which, itself, is the way, the truth, and the life (John 6:63, 8:31-32, 12:48). No one finds God the Father, unless they go through the teachings of Christ, which are not only found in the first four books of the New Testament, but in the rest of the books of the New Testament. Jesus told His disciples He had many more things to tell (teach) them but at the moment, since Jesus was going to the cross to carry out His assignment, they would not be able to understand or grasp them (John 16:12). However, after He returned to the Father in heaven, Jesus sent the apostles the Holy Spirit who would guide them into all truth and help them preach the Gospel message to all the world (John 16:13; cf. vv. 7-15).
Ultimately, the term the way pertains to the course or path one takes to obtain salvation. “The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation” (Acts 16: 17 ff.). The way is the only highway or road one can take to make it to heaven. The phrase the way of salvation tells us two important facts: Salvation is obtainable, but it can only be obtained by following this one way.