New NT Theology by SBTS prof centers on already/not yet of God’s Kingdom

Communications Staff — June 5, 2008

It should be obvious that the main theme of the New Testament is God’s working out of redemption in Jesus Christ, but that central message is sometimes missing from biblical scholarship, Thomas R. Schreiner argues in his recently-released New Testament Theology.

The massive work New Testament Theology: Magnifying God in Christ (Baker) encompasses nearly 1,000 pages and unpacks the redemptive work of Christ and the inbreaking of God’s eternal kingdom with significant depth and detail. Schreiner serves as James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation and senior associate dean of the School of Theology at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Schreiner’s work focuses on God’s redeeming work through the lens of the New Testament reality of inaugurated eschatology—the already inaugurated/not yet consummated aspects of salvation and God’s kingdom.

“When the ministry of Jesus commenced, these great promises, which would fulfill the original blessings pledged to Abraham and confirmed to David, had not yet come to pass,” Schreiner writes. “What we see in the NT witness, however, is that God’s end-time promises reach their fulfillment in Jesus of Nazareth.

“The God-centeredness of the message may be easily missed, for it is the creator God who is fulfilling his promises in Jesus Christ. And Jesus the Messiah carried out his ministry in the power of the Spirit. The fulfillment takes place, though, in an unexpected way, for God’s saving promises are inaugurated, but not yet consummated. The NT expresses this truth in a variety of ways, but it is fundamental to the entire message of the NT documents whether it be the Synoptic Gospels, John, Paul, Peter, Hebrews, or Revelation.”

The New Testament interprets the Old Testament imagery, confirming that the Kingdom of God has come—though it is not yet entirely consummated—in Jesus Christ, Schreiner asserts. Another major theme of Schreiner’s work relates to the goal of the Kingdom, which is the glory of God as seen in the Holy Spirit’s empowering of God’s people.

New Testament Theology is divided into four main sections:

· The fulfillment of God’s saving promises: the already-not yet. Here, the author examines the Kingdom of God in the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke), eternal life and eschatology in John’s theology and the already/not-yet outside the four Gospels.

· The God of promise: the saving work of the Father, Son and Spirit. In this section, Schreiner unpacks the distinctive role of each person of the Godhead in God’s saving work as taught throughout the New Testament.

· Experiencing the Promise: believing and obeying. Here, the author deals with human experience as it relates to salvation, examining sin, faith and obedience, and the Law of God.

· The people of the promise and the future of the promise. Schreiner devotes this section to helping believers apply biblical theology to their lives as members of the body of Christ. He unpacks such issues as the roles of men and women in the church, wealth and poverty, marriage and divorce, parents and children, and government and slavery.

In the conclusion of the final chapter, Schreiner encourages believers with the inheritance they have received in Christ, an inheritance that will be more fully realized in the age to come.

“The promised new creation will become a reality at the coming of Jesus Christ,” he writes. “God’s covenantal promises will then be fulfilled, and the groaning of the old creation will end when the new world dawns with all its stunning beauty.

“What will make the new creation so ravishing is a vision of God and his dwelling with his people. Believers will enter the new creation with the resurrected bodies that they have been awaiting eagerly in the interval between the already and the not yet. They will receive the reward of eternal life and the kingdom promises that they grasped by faith while on this earth.”

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