A close-up photograph of an open Bible revealing the Old Testament pages, with the words "Jesus" highlighted numerous times amidst the ancient text.

How Many Times Is Jesus Mentioned In The Old Testament

The Old Testament contains many prophecies and references to the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ. If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Jesus is not explicitly mentioned by name in the Old Testament, but there are over 100 prophecies about the Messiah that were later fulfilled in Jesus.

In this comprehensive article, we will analyze the many messianic prophecies and explore how Jesus fulfills each one. We will also look at the Christophanies, or appearances of Christ, before his incarnation.

By the end, you’ll have a thorough understanding of the Old Testament foundations pointing to Jesus as the Messiah.

Definition of Key Terms


The Hebrew word Messiah (מָשִׁיחַ) means “anointed one”. In the Old Testament, prophets, priests, and kings were anointed with oil when they were appointed to their positions. The Messiah is the anticipated “anointed one” who will be sent by God to save and deliver His people (Isaiah 61:1-3).

This term is used 39 times in the Old Testament to refer to different people who were viewed as deliverers or leaders, such as Cyrus the Great (Isaiah 45:1).


A Christophany refers to a pre-incarnate physical appearance of Jesus Christ in the Old Testament. Some Bible scholars believe that Jesus appeared in human form at certain times prior to his birth in Bethlehem.

These appearances, or theophanies, allowed Jesus to interact directly with people in order to communicate God’s messages. There are no undisputed Christophanies, but some suggested examples include Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18-20), the fourth man in the furnace (Daniel 3:25), and the Commander of the Lord’s army (Joshua 5:13-15).

Overview of Messianic Prophecies in the Old Testament

Seed of Woman (Genesis 3:15)

One of the earliest messianic prophecies in the Bible is found in Genesis 3:15, which refers to the “seed of the woman” who will crush the head of the serpent. This is understood as a prophecy about Jesus Christ, who came to earth as the Son of God to defeat sin and death caused by Satan (Revelation 12:9).

Though brief, Genesis 3:15 hints at Christ’s virgin birth and his ultimate victory over evil.

Descendant of Abraham (Genesis 12:3)

In Genesis 12:3, God promises that through Abraham “all peoples on earth will be blessed.” This points forward to Jesus Christ as a descendant of Abraham (Matthew 1:1) in whom all nations will find salvation and blessing (Galatians 3:8).

God reiterates the promise of a savior for all peoples in Genesis 22:18, further revealing his plan for a coming Messiah.

Abraham trusted God’s promise, the Bible says in Hebrews 11:12, even though he saw it fulfilled only from a distance. But ultimately his faith was rewarded – he became the forefather of all who have faith in Christ.

Tribe of Judah (Genesis 49:10)

Jacob prophesies over his sons in Genesis 49 and indicates that the Messiah will come from the tribe of Judah: “The scepter will not depart from Judah…until he to whom it belongs shall come” (Genesis 49:10). This prophecy narrows down the Messiah’s lineage more specifically to the tribe of Judah.

Further Scripture verifies that Jesus was born out of the line of Judah (Luke 3:33), inheriting the right to the Davidic throne (Matthew 1:1-16).

Analysis of Major Messianic Prophecies Fulfilled in Jesus

Born of a Virgin (Isaiah 7:14)

One of the most famous messianic prophecies is Isaiah 7:14, which states “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” This prophecy, written around 700 BC, foretold that the Messiah would be born of a virgin.

In the New Testament, the gospel of Matthew records the fulfillment of this prophecy in Jesus’ miraculous virgin birth to Mary (Matthew 1:22-23). Jesus was literally “God with us,” the meaning of Immanuel.

This prophecy is hugely significant because a virgin birth separates Jesus from all other religious leaders. His birth was not natural, but supernatural. Jesus did not have an earthly father, only a mother. This points to his divine nature and origins.

The uniqueness of his virgin birth is a powerful indication that Jesus is indeed the promised Messiah.

Born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2)

Another famous prophecy about the Messiah’s coming is Micah 5:2 – “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times.”

This was written around 700 BC and foretold that the ruler of Israel would come from the small town of Bethlehem.

The Gospel of Matthew records Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem, showing he fulfilled this prophecy (Matthew 2:1). Although Jesus grew up in Nazareth, his birthplace was Bethlehem, just as Micah 5:2 predicted.

This birthplace confirms Jesus’ claim to being the Messiah, since the Old Testament said the Messiah would come from Bethlehem.

Betrayal for 30 Pieces of Silver (Zechariah 11:12)

A third prophecy pointing to Jesus as the Messiah is Zechariah 11:12 – “I told them, ‘If you think it best, give me my pay; but if not, keep it.’ So they paid me thirty pieces of silver.” This was written around 500 BC and predicted the Messiah would be betrayed for 30 silver coins.

The New Testament records Judas Iscariot’s betrayal of Jesus for exactly 30 silver coins (Matthew 26:15). The fulfillment of this detail is striking evidence that Jesus was the Messiah. No one else in history can claim their betrayal price was predicted centuries earlier down to the exact amount.

Appearances of Christ in the Old Testament (Christophanies)

The Angel of the Lord

The Angel of the Lord is considered by many biblical scholars to be the pre-incarnate Christ appearing in the Old Testament. This angel is referred to over 50 times and displays divine attributes and authority.

For example, in Genesis 16 when Hagar flees into the wilderness, the Angel of the Lord appears to her and commands her to return and submit to Sarah. He also makes the promise to greatly multiply Hagar’s descendants.

Additionally, the Angel of the Lord accepts Abraham’s sacrifice on Mount Moriah, demonstrating his divine authority to receive worship and obedience.

The Angel of the Lord also delivers messages directly from God, speaking in the first person “I will”. He appears to Moses in the burning bush (Exodus 3), commissioning him to lead the Israelites out of Egypt. He makes several “I will” promises to Moses, forgiving sin and delivering the people.

This demonstrates the Angel’s divine power and authority. Based on these appearances where the Angel speaks for God himself, many scholars believe he is the pre-incarnate Christ.

The Fourth Man in the Furnace

In Daniel 3, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are thrown into the blazing furnace for refusing to worship King Nebuchadnezzar’s golden statue. The king is astonished to see not three, but a fourth man walking with them in the fire, having the appearance of “a son of the gods” (Daniel 3:25).

Nebuchadnezzar calls the fourth man an angel while acknowledging a divine presence. This Christophany delivers the three men safely, without even the smell of fire or smoke on them. Here, the pre-incarnate Christ is physically present with and protecting his servants amid their trial by fire.

Additionally, the events with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego parallel Revelations predictions about the end times. According to GotQuestions.org, the fiery furnace depicts the coming “great tribulation”, and “the fourth man” represents Christ returning to rescue his people Israel.

Thus, this appearance in Daniel foreshadows Christ’s Second Coming. The passage illustrates God miraculously saving his people amid judgement, whether in Babylon or the end times.

Significance of Jesus Being the Promised Messiah

Jesus being the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies about the coming Messiah is highly significant. Over 300 prophecies in the Old Testament refer to the Messiah, and Jesus fulfills every one. This affirms His identity as the true Messiah.

Some key Old Testament prophecies Jesus fulfills include being born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14), being born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2), entering Jerusalem on a donkey (Zechariah 9:9), being betrayed for 30 pieces of silver (Zechariah 11:12-13), having His hands and feet pierced (Psalm 22:16), and rising from the dead (Psalm 16:10).

The probability of one person fulfilling just 8 prophecies is 1 in 1017, yet Jesus fulfilled over 300 with complete accuracy.

In addition, Jesus declared He was the fulfillment of messianic prophecies in Luke 4:16-21 by reading Isaiah 61:1-2a and declaring “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” His miracles, sacrificial death for sins, and resurrection provided further confirmation of His messianic claims.

Jesus perfectly fulfilling so many Old Testament prophecies powerfully demonstrates His divine authority as the true Messiah and Savior. It sets Him apart from all counterfeit messiah figures. Through this, God shows He is faithful to keep His promises to send a Redeemer.

Jesus is clearly at the center of God’s eternal plan to redeem humanity.


In conclusion, while Jesus is never explicitly mentioned by name, the Old Testament contains over 100 prophecies about the coming Messiah that were precisely fulfilled in Jesus Christ. These messianic prophecies, along with the Christophanies, establish Jesus as the divine Messiah prophesied in the Old Testament.

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