Excerpt from Schreiner’s NT Theology

Justin Taylor posts on Tom Schreiner’s new book:

Baker Academic has posted the introduction and chapter 9 of Tom Schreiner’s forthcoming magnum opus, New Testament Theology: Magnifying God in Christ (due out in May 2008)

The introduction is well worth a read. Here’s some extracts to whet your appetite. As you can imagine, I love Schreiner’s emphasis on the importance of the ‘Already Not Yet’ –  “promise fulfilled but not consummated”.

The thesis advanced in this book is that NT theology is God-focused,
Christ-centered, and Spirit-saturated, but the work of the Father, Son,
and Spirit must be understood along a salvation-historical timeline; that
is, God’s promises are already fulfilled but not yet consummated in Christ
Jesus. We will see that the ministry of Jesus Christ and the work of the
Spirit are fundamental for the fulfilling of God’s promises. The coming
of Jesus Christ and the work of the Spirit are the prime indications that
God is beginning to fulfi ll the saving promises made to Abraham.
In the succeeding chapters we will examine in more detail the theme
that God’s saving promises in Christ and through the Spirit have already
been fulfi lled but have not yet reached their consummation. In this
chapter the aim is to give a kind of guided tour or small taste of the main
thesis of the book, so that readers will see that the primacy of God is
communicated in a story that unfolds God’s saving work in history. We
could say that God is central to the NT witness, but such a claim without
elaboration could be viewed as abstract and removed from reality. I will
argue for the centrality of God in Christ in the concrete and specific witness
of the NT as it unfolds God’s saving work in history. Another way
to put this is that God will receive all the glory for his work in Christ by
the Spirit as he works out his purpose in redemptive history. Further,
redemptive history is characterized by inaugurated but not consummated
eschatology, so that the glory that belongs to God has not yet reached
its zenith but it will.


Indeed, the already–not yet theme is so woven into Paul’s theology
that discussing it could easily launch a full-fledged treatment of Paul’s
theology. We will focus on some aspects of his view of the fulfi llment
of God’s promises in more detail in due course. Here I want to note the
pervasiveness of this theme in Paul’s thought. Looking at inaugurated
but not yet consummated eschatology in Paul is akin to looking into a
kaleidoscope. As we shake the kaleidoscope, we get a different picture,
but the same thought is expressed from a different point of view. To
shift the analogy, if we consider Paul’s theology from the perspective of
an archaeological dig, wherever we dig a shaft, we find the already–not
yet, even though the precise terms in which this theology is expressed
may differ. It seems, then, that inaugurated but not yet consummated
eschatology belongs to the fundamental structure of Paul’s thought. Thus
our purpose here is not to exposit these themes but to strike the keys so
that we see how this theme pervades Paul’s theology.


As we have seen previously, the gift of the Spirit is the signature of
the new age. The coming of the Spirit represents the emblem of God’s
saving promises, and hence the Spirit is featured in Pauline theology
(cf. Rom. 8:1–17; Gal. 3:1–5, 14). The gift of the Spirit represents the
eschatological tension in Paul, for the Spirit is the guarantee that God
will fi nish what he has begun, so that believers experience the end-time
resurrection (2 Cor. 1:22; 5:5; Eph. 1:13–14). The Spirit is the firstfruits,
indicating that God will redeem the bodies of believers (Rom. 8:23). So
too the coming of the Spirit indicates that God has fulfilled his new covenant
promises (Jer. 31:31–34; Ezek. 11:18–19; 36:26–27), promises
that never came to fruition under the Mosaic law—the old covenant
(2 Cor. 3:14). But now that the Spirit has come, believers are enabled to
do what could never be done by the letter (grammar—i.e., the law without
the Spirit [Rom. 2:28–29; 7:5–6; 2 Cor. 3:6]). In fulfillment of God’s
new-covenant promise they are enabled to observe God’s law (Rom. 8:4;
2 Cor. 3:17; cf. Gal. 5:14).


Believers are presently citizens of heaven, and yet there is an eschatological
proviso, for they await the promise of the resurrection (Phil.
3:20–21). Believers are now hidden with Christ in God, and yet they
await Christ’s coming and future glory (Col. 3:3–4). God’s promises are
fulfilled in Christ in the fullness of time, so that those who have the
Spirit are God’s children (Gal. 4:4–6). The focus of NT theology is the
supremacy of God in Christ through the Spirit, and hence we fi nd that
God’s promises are fulfilled in Christ by the Spirit.

Peter serves as a pastor-teacher, at home and abroad, resourcing gospel-centred communities.

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