10 Things You Should Know about Biblical Theology

Chris Bruno: 1. Biblical theology is different than systematic and historical theology. When some hear “biblical theology,” they might assume that I’m talking about theology that is faithful to the Bible. While its goal is certainly to reflect biblical truth, the discipline of biblical theology is different from other theological methods. For example, the goal of systematic theology is to gather everything the Bible teaches about a particular topic or issue. For example, studying everything the Bible teaches about God or salvation would be doing systematic theology. When we are doing historical theology, our goal will be to understand how Christians throughout the centuries understood the Bible and theology. So we might study John Calvin’s doctrine of Christ. While both systematic and historical theology are important ways to study theology, biblical theology is a different and complementary theological discipline. 2. Biblical theology emphasizes God’s progressive revelation. Rather than gathering everything the Bible says about a particular topic, the goal of

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The Temple and the Tabernacle

Tim Challies: If you are a committed reader, you know what it’s like when you get swept away by a book—where hours pass in what feels like minutes. You know the sheer pleasure of being drawn into a book that is unexpectedly interesting and intriguing. This was the case for me this weekend when I began to read The Temple and the Tabernacle: A Study of God’s Dwelling Places from Genesis to Revelation. Hidden behind that title is a brilliant and fascinating work that offers something to every Christian. This book, as the title suggests, is a study of the Old Testament temple and tabernacle. Yet it is much more than that. So central are these buildings to Old Testament worship and New Testament symbolism that understanding them, understanding the roles they played, understanding the way they were made, understanding their function to Old Testament worship, and understanding the key differences between them illumines so much of the Christian faith. We

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What is Biblical Theology?

Tom Schreiner (part two of a three part essay): The solution to the problems of shallow preaching … is really quite simple: pastors must learn how to use biblical theology in their preaching. Yet learning how to do that requires us to begin by asking, what is biblical theology? Biblical vs. Systematic Theology Biblical theology, in contrast to systematic theology, focuses on the biblical storyline. Systematic theology, though it is informed by biblical theology, is atemporal. Don Carson argues that biblical theology stands closer to the text than systematic theology, aims to achieve genuine sensitivity with respect to the distinctiveness of each corpus, and seeks to connect the diverse corpora using their own categories. Ideally, therefore, biblical theology stands as a kind of bridge discipline between responsible exegesis and responsible systematic theology (even though each of these inevitably influences the other two).[1] In other words, biblical theology restricts itself more consciously to the message of the text or corpus under consideration.

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Preaching and Biblical Theology

By Dr. Jim Hamilton, excerpted from Text-Driven Preaching (B&H Publishing Group, 2010) Biblical theology helps us get our arms around the big picture that ties together everything from Leviticus to Esther, and we see how Amos, John, Romans, and Revelation fit, too. Knowing what the forest looks like enables understanding of the individual trees. If we are to preach the whole counsel of God, we need biblical theology. What sets the agenda in your preaching? Nehemiah really is not about the building program some church wants to initiate, and the Psalms are not in the Bible for amateur psychotherapists to explore their inner depths from the pulpit. Has God communicated His agenda in the Bible’s big story—its overarching message? Does the Bible’s big story set the agenda for your preaching or does something else drive it? If we are going to understand God’s purposes, which are revealed in the Bible, we need biblical theology. Biblical theology pushes us to understand

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Biblical theology and expository preaching

Gavin Ortlund: How does a preacher “know nothing but Christ crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2) when preaching through Leviticus or Lamentations? What does it mean to be “gospel-centered” when you’re leading a Bible study on the locusts of Joel, or the false teachers of Jude? We all want to be Christ-centered in our teaching and preaching. But it’s not always obvious how each particular text of Scripture gets us to Christ. One of the most helpful tools for connecting the dots—and simultaneously one of the most neglected—is biblical theology, which (in evangelical circles) refers to the art of reading thematically across the entire Bible as one story. To learn more about biblical theology, and its relevance for expository preaching, I corresponded with Graeme Goldsworthy, former lecturer at Moore Theological College in Sydney, Australia, and author of numerous helpful books on biblical theology, including Preaching the Whole Bible as Christian Scripture: The Application of Biblical Theology to Expository Preaching (Eerdmans, 2000) and Christ-Centered Biblical Theology: Hermeneutical Foundations and

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The Backbone of the Bible

This post is adapted from God’s Kingdom through God’s Covenants: A Concise Biblical Theology by Peter J. Gentry and Stephen J. Wellum. A Summary of the Bible’s Story What, we may well ask, in literary terms, is the plot structure of the Old Testament or even of the entire Bible as a single text? We would advocate that the covenants constitute the framework of the larger story. They are the backbone of the biblical narrative. The biblical story begins with the fact that there is only one God. He has created everything and especially has made humankind to rule under him. In this context, God is the center of the universe and we humans find our purpose in having a right relationship to God and to one another. The first man and woman, however, rejected this way. Now, what happens when God is no longer the center of our universe? Who steps in to take his place? Why, we do. I

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Every Story Casts His Shadow

“And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.” Luke 24:27 Welcome to the world of Biblical Theology. Tevin Wax: Here’s a brief video that shows how the Old Testament stories point forward to Christ. This is the heart behind The Gospel Project Chronological. You can preview sessions here.

The Community of Jesus

A theology of the church with a sound theological method. Andy Naselli has posted a review here. When you have a solid grasp of how a theme develops across the Bible’s storyline in Scripture, you are able to trace that theme from a number of starting points. For example, you may be preaching or teaching through the Gospel of John and come to John 2:19: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” You may then zoom out so that you can trace the trajectory of the temple theme across the Bible’s storyline—from Eden, to the tabernacle, to Solomon’s temple, to Ezekiel’s temple, to Zerubbabel’s temple, to Jesus as the temple, to the tearing of the temple’s curtain, to the church as the temple, to the individual Christian’s body as the temple, to the heavenly temple, and all the way to its culmination in Rev 21:22: “I saw no temple in the city, for its temple

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The difference between Biblical Theology and Systematic Theology

Monergism: Biblical theology and systematic theology are two different manners of arranging the teaching of the scriptures. Biblical theology seeks to understand the progressive unfolding of God’s special revelation throughout history, whereas systematic theology seeks to present the entire scriptural teaching on certain specific truths, or doctrines, one at a time. Biblical theology is thus historical and chronological in its design; and in fact, a close synonym for biblical theology, at least in its wide-angle task of accounting for all of special revelation, is the term “redemptive history”. Biblical theology is not always pursued in so broad a fashion, however; sometimes, certain themes are approached in a biblical theological manner; for instance, a biblical theology of holy space in worship would seek to understand how that specific motif unfolded in redemptive history, from the beginning of revelation until the end. Another narrower application of biblical theology would be the study of the unfolding of revelation during a specific time period

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What Is Biblical Theology?

James M. Hamilton: What is biblical theology? I use the phrase biblical theology to refer to the interpretive perspective of the biblical authors. So what is an “interpretive perspective”? It’s the framework of assumptions and presuppositions, associations and identifications, truths, and symbols that are taken for granted as an author or speaker describes the world and the events that take place in it. What do the biblical authors use this perspective to interpret? First, the biblical authors have interpreted earlier Scripture, or in the case of the first author on record (Moses), accounts of God’s words and deeds that were passed down to him. Second, they interpreted world history from creation to consummation. And third, they interpreted the events and statements they describe—Moses didn’t recount everything Balaam said and did in the instances presented in Numbers 22-24. Moses selected what he wanted, arranged it with care, and presented the true story. The presentation of Balaam’s oracles Moses gives us in the book of Numbers is

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Understanding the Crucial Reality of the Already but Not Yet

From a recent interview with Tom Schreiner about his new book, The king in His Beauty. Why is understanding the tension of the “already but not yet” so crucial to rightly understanding the Bible? How might grasping this practically help a Christian struggling with sin? If we don’t understand the already but not yet, then we simply won’t and can’t understand the Scriptures. For example, when the kingdom comes in Jesus’ ministry, the dead are raised, demons are cast out, and the sick are healed. Satan’s kingdom is overthrown! The Gospel writers clarify that victory over sin and Satan are due to Christ’s death and resurrection. But what does this mean for us today if the kingdom has come? After all, sickness is rampant, death seems to reign over all, and Satan is alive and well. The answer is the already but not yet. The kingdom has arrived in Jesus and, among other things, the gift of the Spirit demonstrates

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Six Key Theses about Luke’s Theology

From Andy Naselli: The concluding chapter of this new book lays out six key theses about Luke’s theology: Darrell L. Bock. A Theology of Luke and Acts: God’s Promised Program, Realized for All Nations. Biblical Theology of the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012. “Although there are many themes,” Bock notes, “six issues within the scholarly conversation are most important” (p. 448–50): 1. Divine Direction, Salvation History, Continuity of Promise, and Mission The predominant idea in Luke-Acts is that Jesus’ coming represents the inauguration and culmination of a program of promise God introduced to Israel through the covenants to Abraham, David, and the offer of a new covenant. This salvation history did not replace eschatology as Conzelmann claimed, but rather was the eschatology of divine promise outlined in the program of Scripture and event that was a part of the Hebrew tradition. Israel’s story was about promise, including the promise to include the nations in blessing. Jesus and the mission of the

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