I know. I’m stating the obvious here. Even people who have never read the Bible can learn this by looking at the table of contents. Obviously, the Old Testament is older than the New Testament.
Some of the most important keys to good Bible study are hidden in plane sight. Unfortunately, even many seasoned Christians study their Bibles as if this fact is little more than a piece of Bible trivia rather than an indispensable clue as to how to understand the Bible better.
To study the New Testament without having a firm grasp on the Old Testament is like watching the Empire Strikes Back without watching Star Wars first. We can still get the gist of it. We can still enjoy the movie. We can still tell that Han Solo is a pretty cool guy and Darth Vader is bad. But we would be missing an important backstory. We would be missing the context.
The Old Testament should be treated as more than just reference material to be used on occasion to illustrate a New Testament point. Since the Old Treatment is older, it was the text studied by Jesus, the apostles and the earliest Christians. They quoted from it often. Their theology is directly tied to the Old Testament.
It is essential to understand the Old Testament in order to rightly understand the New Testament. It is often said that context is the key to good Bible study. The Old Testament is the context for the New Testament. For better Bible study, don’t skim past the first 3/4ths of your Bible. Study the Old Testament.