Biblical Theology to Help You Know God Better
All of us struggle to read God's Word on a daily regular basis. There are many distractions and many legitimate distractions yet God and His word must be at the center of our lives. All of us also often seek supplemental texts to better understand God's word.
If we use Biblical Theology we can have a better roadmap then to then go read the bible. Consider biblical theology to help get you understand Holy Scripture better and help you know your Lord better.
"The whole bible sheds light on the whole of life, how we can read and understand our society, our culture and ourselves through the lens of the bible's storyline." Biblical Critical Theory by Christopher Watkin (page 2)
Here is an excellent article by Joe Carter about the benefits of Biblical Theology.
Let’s Use Biblical Theology to Spark Scripture Engagement
"The Story: A new survey reveals that while many Americans are curious about the Bible, relatively few regularly engage with God’s Word. Could introducing them to biblical theology reverse that trend?
The Background: The State of the Bible, a survey by the American Bible Society and Barna Group found that for most of the last decade, about half of Americans said they used the Bible three or more times per year. This low bar of engagement qualified them, by the survey’s definition, as “Bible Users.” In the previous poll (covering the year 2021), that number dropped 10 points, with only two in five Americans (39 percent) being Bible Users. In 2023, the responses matched that low point of 39 percent. Only about 63 million American adults (24 percent) use the Bible—on their own, outside of a church service—at least once a week.
According to the survey, women (41 percent) are more likely to be Bible Users than men (36 percent). Never-married people (30 percent) are least likely to use the Bible, yet people who are separated (52 percent) are most likely. Black Americans (57 percent) are most likely to be Bible Users, while Asians (27 percent) and whites (35 percent) are least likely.
Bible Use seems to increase with age, as elders (aged 77 or over, 48 percent) are most likely and Generation Z (30 percent) least likely to turn to Scripture. With regard to religious identity, evangelical (70 percent) and historically black (68 percent) Protestant denominations lead the way in Bible use, while Catholics (37 percent) remain low.
Despite the low level of engagement with Scripture, nearly three in four Americans (71 percent) are curious about the Bible or Jesus, with more than one in four being “very” (17 percent) or “extremely” (22 percent) curious.
What It Means: If most Americans are curious about Jesus or the Bible, why do so few engage with Scripture? One possible reason is that they may not know how to approach the Bible because they’ve never been exposed to the study of biblical theology.." from the article: Let’s Use Biblical Theology to Spark Scripture Engagement
There are many books available about Biblical theology and a new one which is excellent if you want a deeper dive is: Biblical Theology: A Canonical, Thematic, and Ethical Approach by Andreas J. Köstenberger and Gregory Goswell (link) which is reviewd by Back2theWord.
How to do Biblical Theology! // What is Biblical Theology? according to Köstenberger & Goswell
Video from Back2theWord
"Join me as I walk through what Biblical Theology is and how to do Biblical Theology using Biblical Theology by Andreas J. Köstenberger and Gregory Goswell Here is a little about this book from the book cover: "In Biblical Theology, Andreas J. Köstenberger and Gregory Goswell offer a clear, comprehensive methodology for interpreting the sixty-six books of the Bible - identifying their central themes, places in the storyline of scripture, and ethical significance. Opening with a detailed account of the discipline of biblical theology, they also examine Scripture from the Old Testament through the New Testament. Comprehensive in scope, this guide provides a thorough history of and practical approach to biblical theology that respects the authority and integrity of Scripture." from video introduction
What Is Biblical Theology? And Do We Need It?
Video from Desiring God
For the next three days, we welcome a guest to the Ask Pastor John podcast Dr. Don Carson. He was with us at the end of June with a valuable perspective on the Supreme Court decision to legalize same-sex marriage in all fifty states. I want to shift gears from recent events to ancient trajectories. And for the next two days, I want to talk about biblical theology — one of your specialties. Let’s start with a definition. What is biblical theology, and why does it matter for us today?
The term biblical theology is used differently by different people. But as I use it, it has two or three different foci.
Book by Book
In one focus, you work really carefully with each biblical book or corpus by corpus. I mean something like the John corpus (John, 1, 2, and 3 John, and Revelation) or the synoptic corpus (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) or the Pauline corpus or something like that. You work carefully with each particular book or corpus to make sure you understand what God is saying through that corpus at that time in history with their words, vocabulary, and so on, before you ask what contributions they make to the entire canon. In other words, biblical theology is interested in the careful exegesis of individual books and corpora within the canon and their place in the progress of redemption, not because it wants to despise systematic theology or canonical theology or big-picture theology, but because it insists that, if you don’t ask those kinds of questions, you can sometimes blur over distinctions that God himself has placed in Scripture and miss connections that are a bit different.
Even the most casual reader of Scripture knows that John’s vocabulary is not the same as Matthew’s. And Paul’s vocabulary is not the same as Peter’s in 1 Peter. And their emphases are a bit different and so on. They are mutually complementary. They tie together, but if you work only at the canonical or systemic level, then there tends to be a very important set of inferences about what the whole Bible teaches that is right, but sometimes at the expense of listening carefully to the particular emphases of particular biblical books.
And ideally, a good preacher will not only handle the individual texts at hand but show how this text at hand (not in every sermon, but in some sermons) is tied to the book or corpus in question, and then is tied to the whole Christian confessional stance. Now that is one form of biblical theology. And from this form comes New Testament theology and Old Testament theology and so on.
Theme by Theme
The other form of biblical theology tracks themes that run right though the whole Bible. There are about twenty biggies, give or take, and fifty to seventy small ones that aren’t quite so prominent or don’t touch quite so many books. But the biggies include things like Jerusalem and temple and atonement and sacrifice and priesthood and covenant and kingdom and so on. And they really do run right through much of Scripture and tie it together.
And biblical theology makes you alert to those trajectories, those lines, those ligaments that tie together the whole of canon. And it is helpful for the ordinary Bible reader to be reading Ezekiel and to know where you are on the trajectory of what the Bible says about temple to figure out where you are on the storyline. It is part of what ties narratives together.
And so even when it comes to things like preaching Christ in all the Scriptures and Christocentric preaching, the way you get there is not by some imaginative, topical imposition of later material, but it is by following the trajectories that are actually in Scripture that trace the way through Scripture to bring you to Jesus Christ. And to understand how those themes work is hugely helpful. It increases our faith. It makes us see the wisdom of God in unfolding Scripture in these ways, and we sometimes, as we see these themes unpacked before our eyes, bow in worship as we begin to glimpse something of the mind of God in putting these stories together when individual writers along the line themselves could not see all that they were contributing to, even if they could see the current bit where God was using their words to speak to us with infallible truth.
Tracing the Big Picture
This is a burden you feel, and it led you to edit the NIV Zondervan Study Bible, which releases next month. The major contribution the Bible makes is a focus on whole-Bible biblical theology for personal Bible reading. And the Bible closes with a wonderful collection of essays to this end. So why is a Study Bible that focuses on whole-Bible biblical theology so important for lay readers?
Well, I think it is important to see that the best study Bibles, even when they are written from slightly different points of view, have more in common than they have in difference, in contradistinction. A good study Bible devotes its notes to explaining difficult things in the text, and explaining what is going on, and trying to keep the language simple and avoiding too many technicalities so that, as you read the Bible, there is enough introduction to explain when the book was written and so on. All study Bibles do that. And there are some very good study Bibles out there. So there is no way I want to push this study Bible as if it is the be-all and the end-all of study Bibles.
But it does emphasize biblical theology; that is to say, not only in the notes, but in, as you mention, nearly thirty essays at the end, we are trying to track out how certain dominant themes run right through the whole Bible to enable readers to see where they are in the Bible at any particular point, and thus put it all together.
Now another study Bible might use the final pages to build a whole systematic theology, and I won’t criticize that. That too needs to be done. And so they rush, as it were, immediately to creating a whole confessional stance out of the Bible. And it is good to read the Bible in such a way as to see how the various parts contribute to the big-picture theology.
But on the other hand, sometimes Christians find it hard to see how you move from exegesis of particular chapters all the way to big-picture theology without seeing how you get there. And the way you get there is through the tracking out of these particular emphases in biblical books and these trajectories or these typologies, these ligaments, these tendons, that tie the whole Bible together until you see how the big picture is actually coming together. And that is what this NIV Study Bible is trying to do.
What Is Biblical Theology? And Do We Need It?"