The Jerusalem Declaration to
Eliminate the Original Testament Gap
We long to see a global movement arise committed to eliminating the Original Testament Gap. What is the Original Testament Gap? The Original Testament Gap refers to the fact that the Original Testament is under-translated, under-used, and frequently misunderstood. Though these books are commonly called the Old Testament, we prefer to call them the Original Testament; for though it is ancient, it is not antiquated. We recognize that we do not have the “whole counsel of God” (Act 20:27) without the Original Testament. This is the Bible that Jesus used and frequently quoted. This is the authoritative “God-breathed” Word (2Ti 3:16) used by the apostles and early Jesus-followers. To this day, the Original Testament continues to be a major part of the Holy Scriptures.
But there is a problem! Not everyone has access to or makes use of the Original Testament. This is a life-endangering gap. It begins with a translation gap—there is no translation of the Original Testament in 90% of the world’s living languages. But the problem doesn’t end there. There is also a very real usage gap and an understanding gap within the lives of those who seek to be followers of Jesus. It’s not often preached from our pulpits and is seldom taught. Therefore, we must mobilize every possible resource to eliminate the Original Testament Gap, so that every Jesus-follower can learn from the life-giving examples contained in the Original Testament. Paul affirms that these inspired books “were written down to warn us who live at the end of the age” (1Co 10:11). The Original Testament is as relevant today as ever. We commit ourselves to the task of eliminating the Original Testament Gap, knowing that:
- Jesus made frequent use of the Original Testament when he spoke of his life, death, and resurrection (Luk 24:25–27, 44-48). He undergirded his teaching, saying, “it is written,” pointing to the Original Testament (Joh 6:45). He declared that he did not come to abolish the Law and the Prophets (Mat 5:17–19).
- In reference to the Original Testament, Paul wrote, “All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work” (2Ti 3:16–17).
- 25% of the New Testament intentionally refers to the Original Testament. We cannot fully understand the New Testament without the supporting context of the Original Testament, which comprises nearly 75% of the Bible.
In light of these facts, and as we seek to align with the Spirit of God, we must do everything in our power to eliminate the Original Testament Gap within this generation. Simply put, our goal is to see every person in the whole world able to engage with the whole Word of God in his or her own heart language. We therefore commit to do all that we can to:
- accelerate the translation of the Original Testament into every living language in order to help fulfill the Great Commission;
- encourage the frequent use of the Original Testament in the life of every follower of Jesus, in both private devotions and corporate worship;
- facilitate Spirit-led understanding of the Original Testament through creative educational resources and training, resulting in preaching and teaching, in evangelism and discipleship.