Category Archives: Biblical Theology

“Biblical theology gives us the framework to read Scripture” by Matthew Emerson

“Biblical theology is inherently practical because the Bible is inherently practical. The Bible is not only for information but also for transformation.

Further, these two go hand in hand. As we understand better how to read Scripture, we understand its message better and, therefore, are better able to be transformed by it.

Biblical theology gives us the framework to read Scripture. Yes, other tools are needed, but without this big picture, without our topographical map, it’s easy to lose our place in the forest because we are so busy looking at individual trees.

Biblical theology helps us to see where we are in the forest and to make our way toward the end of our trail, the end of all biblical trails, the person and work of Jesus. As we strive toward that end, biblical theology tells us which turns we need to take to stay on that main Christological path.

In doing so, it orients our devotion, mission, doctrine, counseling, and preaching and teaching toward that same goal.”

–Matthew Emerson, The Story of Scripture: An Introduction to Biblical Theology (Nashville, TN: B&H Academic, 2017), 88.

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“How can we be wise apart from the Wisdom of God?” by John Calvin

“We are taught in this passage that the knowledge of Christ must be sought from the Scriptures. Those who imagine what they like about Christ will ultimately have nothing but a shadowy ghost in His place.

First then, we must hold that Christ cannot be properly known from anywhere but the Scriptures. And if that is so, it follows that the Scriptures should be read with the aim of finding Christ in them.

Whoever turns aside from this object, even though he wears himself out all his life in learning, will never reach the knowledge of the truth. For how can we be wise apart from the Wisdom of God?

Moreover, as we are commanded to seek Christ in the Scriptures, so He declares in this passage that our work will not be fruitless, for there the Father bears witness to His Son in such a way that He will manifest Him to us beyond all fought.

But what hinders most men is that they look at them only carelessly and as it were in passing. But it needed the utmost application, and so Christ commanded them to search diligently for this hidden treasure.

Accordingly, the abhorrence for Christ which the Jews feel, who have the Law constantly in their hands, must be imputed to their laziness. For the brightness of God’s glory shines clearly in Moses, but they want to have a veil to obscure that brightness.

‘By the Scriptures,’ of course, is here meant the Old Testament. For Christ did not first begin to be manifested in the Gospel; but the One to whom the Law and the Prophets bore witness was openly revealed in the Gospel.”

–John Calvin, The Gospel According to St John: 1-10, Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries, Vol. 4; trans. T.H.L. Parker, Ed. David Torrance and Thomas Torrance (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1961), 139. Calvin is commenting on John 5:39.

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“He is our sun” by John Calvin

“‘Wake, you who sleep, and rise from darkness and Christ will give you light‘ (Ephesians 5:14). Every day, Christ enlightens us by His teaching and His Spirit; and although we do not see Him with our eyes we know by experience that He is our sun.”

–John Calvin, Calvin: Commentaries (Library of Christian Classics, Vol. XXIII), Ed. Joseph Haroutunian (Philadelphia: Westminster Press, 1958), 144.

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“In Thee we see everything fulfilled” by Charles Spurgeon

“What meant the Saviour, then, by this—’It is finished?’ He meant, first of all, that all the types, promises, and prophecies were now fully accomplished in Him.

Those who are acquainted with the original will find that the words—’It is finished,’ occur twice within three verses. In the 28th verse, we have the word in the Greek; it is translated in our version ‘accomplished,’ but there it stands—’After this, Jesus knowing that all things were now finished, that the Scripture might be fulfilled, saith, I thirst.’

And then He afterwards said, ‘It is finished.’ This leads us to see His meaning very clearly, that all the Scripture was now fulfilled, that when He said, ‘It is finished,’ the whole book, from the first to the last, in both the law and the prophets, was finished in Him.

There is not a single jewel of promise, from that first emerald which fell on the threshold of Eden, to that last sapphire-stone of Malachi, which was not set in the breast-plate of the true High Priest.

Nay, there is not a type, from the red heifer downward to the turtle-dove, from the hyssop upwards to Solomon’s temple itself, which was not fulfilled in Him; and not a prophecy, whether spoken on Chebar’s bank, or on the shores of Jordan; not a dream of wise men, whether they had received it in Babylon, or in Samaria, or in Judea, which was not now fully wrought out in Christ Jesus.

And, brethren, what a wonderful thing it is, that a mass of promises, and prophecies, and types, apparently so heterogeneous, should all be accomplished in one person! Take away Christ for one moment, and I will give the Old Testament to any wise man living, and say to him:

‘Take this; this is a problem; go home and construct in your imagination an ideal character who shall exactly fit all that which is herein foreshadowed; remember, he must be a prophet like unto Moses, and yet a champion like to Joshua; he must be an Aaron and a Melchizedek; he must be both David and Solomon, Noah and Jonah, Judah and Joseph. Nay, he must not only be the lamb that was slain, and the scape-goat that was not slain, the turtle-dove that was dipped in blood, and the priest who slew the bird, but he must be the altar, the tabernacle, the mercy-seat, and the shewbread.’

Nay, to puzzle this wise man further, we remind him of prophecies so apparently contradictory, that one would think they never could meet in one man. Such as these, ‘All kings shall fall down before Him, and all nations shall serve Him;’ and yet, ‘He is despised and rejected of men.’

He must begin by showing a man born of a virgin mother—’A virgin shall conceive and bear a son.’ He must be a man without spot or blemish, but yet one upon whom the Lord doth cause to meet the iniquities of us all. He must be a glorious one, a Son of David, but yet a root out of a dry ground.

Now, I say it boldly, if all the greatest intellects of all the ages could set themselves to work out this problem, to invent another key to the types and prophecies, they could not do it. I see you, ye wise men, ye are poring over these hieroglyphs; one suggests one key, and it opens two or three of the figures, but you cannot proceed, for the next one puts you at a nonplus.

Another learned man suggests another clue, but that fails most where it is most needed, and another, and another, and thus these wondrous hieroglyphs traced of old by Moses in the wilderness, must be left unexplained, till one comes forward and proclaims, ‘The cross of Christ and the Son of God incarnate,’ then the whole is clear, so that he that runs may read, and a child may understand.

Blessed Saviour! In Thee we see everything fulfilled, which God spoke of old by the prophets; in Thee we discover everything carried out in substance, which God had set forth us in the dim mist of sacrificial smoke.

Glory be unto Thy name! ‘It is finished’—everything is summed up in Thee.”

–Charles H. Spurgeon, ‘It Is Finished,’ in Majesty in Misery, Volume 3: Calvary’s Mournful Mountain (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth, 2005), 218-220. (MTPS, 7: 586-587)

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“The authority of Jesus” by Thomas Schreiner

“Jesus’ authority pervades Mark’s Gospel. He calls disciples to follow Him (1:16-20), casts out demons with a word, declares that the paralytic is forgiven of his sins (2:1-12), identifies Himself as the end-time bridegroom (2:19-20), claims to be the Lord of the Sabbath (2:23-28), says that those who do God’s will are part of His family (3:31-35), stills a storm with His words (4:35-41), sends others out to preach the kingdom (6:7-13), feeds crowds of five thousand and four thousand (6:30-44; 8:1-10), functions as the interpreter of the law (7:1-23), demands that people follow Him (1:17; 2:14; 8:34; 10:21), warns that those who are ashamed of Him and His words will be punished (8:38), teaches that children should be received in His name (9:37), cleanses the temple (11:15-17), identifies Himself as the last and the most important of God’s messengers (12:1-12), triumphs in controversy with religious leaders (11:27-12:44), predicts the destruction of the temple (13:1-37), calls on His disciples to bear witness to Him before governmental authorities (13:9), claims to be the Son of God (14:61-62), and, most important of all, is raised from the dead (16:1-8).”

–Thomas Schreiner, The King in His Beauty: A Biblical Theology of the Old and New Testaments (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker, 2013), 461.

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“Cross and crown” by Herman Bavinck

“Cross and crown, death and resurrection, humiliation and exaltation lie on the same line. As Jesus Himself put it after His resurrection: It was necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and so enter His glory (Luke 24:26).

The sum and substance of the original gospel, therefore, was the Christ who died and rose again. The cross was an immense offense—also for the disciples (Matt. 26:31). But for them that offense was removed by the resurrection.

Then they perceived that Jesus had to die and did die in accordance with the counsel of the Father (Acts 2:23; 3:18; 4:28), and that by His resurrection God had made Him a cornerstone (4:11; 1 Peter 2:6), Lord and Christ (Acts 2:36), a Leader and a Savior (5:31), the Lord of all (10:36), the Lord of glory (James 2:1), in order by Him to give repentance, forgiveness of sins, the Holy Spirit, and eternal life (Acts 2:38; 3:19; 5:31; 10:43; 1 Peter 1:3ff., 21), outside of whom there is no salvation (Acts 4:12).

Now taken up into heaven, He remains there until He comes again for judgment (1:11; 3:21), for He is the one ordained by God to be judge of the living and the dead (10:42; 17:31), and then all things will be restored of which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets of old (3:21).

Similarly Paul teaches that Christ, though He was the Son of God even before His incarnation (Gal. 4:4; Phil. 2:6; Col. 1:15), was designated Son of God in power by His resurrection from the dead (Rom. 1:4). Then He received a spiritual, glorified body (1 Cor. 15:45; Phil. 3:21), became a life-giving Spirit (1 Cor. 15:45; 2 Cor. 3:17), the firstborn of the dead (Col. 1:18), who from then on lives to God forever (Rom. 6:10).

Precisely because of His deep humiliation, God highly exalted Him, giving Him the name that is above every other name, that is, the name ‘Lord’ (1 Cor. 12:3; Phil. 2:11), granting Him dominion over the living and the dead (Rom. 14:9), and subjecting all things under His feet (1 Cor. 15:25, 27).

As such He is the Lord of glory (1 Cor. 2:8), seated at God’s right hand (Rom. 8:34; 1 Cor. 2:8), in whom the fullness of the deity dwells bodily (Col. 1:19; 2:9), who is the head of the church, prays for it, and fills it with all the fullness of God (Rom. 8:34; Eph. 1:23; 3:19; 4:16).

The Letter to the Hebrews further adds to this profile the unique idea that Christ, the Son, who with the Father was the Creator of all things, was also appointed ‘the heir of all things’ (Heb. 1:2; 2:8) by the Father and designated eternal high priest (5:6; 7:17).

But for a short time, in order to attain this destiny, He had to become lower than the angels (2:7, 9), assume our flesh and blood (2:14), become like us in all respects except sin (2:17; 4:15), and learn obedience from the things He suffered (5:8).

But thereby He also sanctified, that is, perfected Himself (2:10; 5:9; 7:28), and was designated by God a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek (5:10). This, accordingly, is the sum of the things of which the Letter to the Hebrews says that we have such a high priest, one who is seated at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty in heaven (1:13; 8:1; 10:12).

He who is the liturgist of the heavenly sanctuary (8:2), a high priest, therefore, who is at the same time the king whose throne is established forever (1:8), who is crowned with honor and glory (2:9), subjects all things under Him (2:8), and is able for all time to save those who draw near to God through Him since He always lives to make intercession for them (5:9; 7:25; 10:14).

The Apocalypse, finally, loves to picture Christ as the Lamb who purchased us and washed us by his blood (5:9; 7:14) but also as the firstborn of the dead, the ruler of the kings of the earth (1:5), the King of kings and the Lord of lords, who with the Father sits on the throne, has power and honor and glory, even the keys of Hades and death (1:18; 3:21; 5:12–13; 19:16). Clothed with such power, He rules and protects His church (2:1, 18; etc.) and will one day triumph over all His enemies (19:12f.).”

–Herman Bavinck, Reformed Dogmatics, Volume 3: Sin and Salvation in Christ, Ed. John Bolt, and Trans. John Vriend (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2006), 3: 423-424.

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“The whole Scripture” by John Newton

“I agree with you, that some accounted evangelical teachers have too much confined themselves to a few leading and favourite topics. I think this a fault, and I believe when it is constantly so the auditories are deprived of much edification and pleasure, which they might receive from a more judicious and comprehensive plan.

The whole Scripture, as it consists of histories, prophecies, doctrines, precepts, promises, exhortations, admonitions, encouragements, and reproofs, is the proper subject of the Gospel ministry.

And every part should in its place and course be attended to, yet so as that, in every compartment we exhibit, Jesus should be the capital figure, in whom the prophecies are fulfilled and the promises established, to whom, in a way of type and emblem, the most important parts of Scripture history have an express reference, and from whom alone we can receive that life, strength, and encouragement, which are necessary to make obedience either pleasing or practicable.”

–John Newton, Letters of John Newton (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1869/2007), 275.

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