Biblical Theology

Biblical Theology is simply a method to understand God as He is revealed in the Bible. Biblical Theology is a Christian approach in which the theologian studies the Bible from the perspective of understanding the progressive history of God revealing Himself to humanity following the Fall and throughout the Old Testament and New Testament. It particularly focuses on the progression of revelation to understand how each part of the Bible ultimately points forward to fulfillment in the life mission of Jesus Christ. Most biblical theologians start their work with the assumption of essential biblical unity, one story and that is Jesus and Him crucified.

This classic approach involves studying first the message and theological content of individual biblical books, starting with Genesis, followed by an attempt at synthesis tracing overarching themes across the entire Bible.

Biblical Theology is principally concerned with the overall message of the whole Bible. It seeks to understand the parts in relation to the whole and, to achieve this, it must work with the mutual interaction of the key messages of the various books, and with the interrelationships of these within the whole canon of scripture.

Biblical Theology requires a unitary reading strategy of the old and New Testaments that allows the Bible to be treated as one book of scripture. The motivation for this branch of theology comes from such passages as Luke 24.27: “And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, [Jesus] explained to [the disciples] what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.” The assumption of this text seems to be that the Old Testament anticipated the Messiah and that Jesus fulfilled those prophecies. Thus, Biblical Theologians suggest that to understand the intended meaning of a Biblical text, one must understand both the context and what the text points toward or back to. For instance, when reading about the sacrificial system in the Old Testament, Biblical theologians follow the trajectory the Bible lays out for that system (namely, pointing to Jesus as the true sacrifice), and likewise when a New Testament text refers back to the Old Testament (for example, Jesus being the son of David and heir of his covenant), they try to understand that text against its proper, specified background.  This central-themes approach to scripture “seeks to uncover the biblical authors’ understanding of the events and their significance within the unfolding narrative context in which they are found”.

Biblical Theology seeks to put individual texts in their historical context since what came before them is the foundation on which they are laid and what comes after is what they anticipate. Biblical Theology is sometimes called the “history of special revelation” since it deals with the unfolding and expanding nature of revelation as history progresses through the Bible.

Biblical theology can be compared with and is complemented by systematic theology, in that Biblical theology focuses on historical progression throughout the Bible while Systematic Theology focuses on thematic progressionSystematic theology deals with a single topic in each place it is dealt with, whereas biblical theology seeks to follow the flow of “redemptive narrative” as it unfolds. In this way, Biblical Theology reflects the unity (key themes) of the Bible, while systematic theology reflects its diversity (major topics).

Biblical Theology and Systematic theology are two different ways 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, 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 such as God’s Covenant revelations; for instance, Biblical Theology would seek to understand how that specific motif unfolded in redemptive history, from the beginning of the book of Genesis until the end of the book of Revelation.

Systematic theology, on the other hand, is laid out, not chronologically, nor with a consideration of the progressive development of doctrines, but thematically, taking into account from the outset the complete form that revelation as a whole has finally assumed. Systematic theology attempts to answer the question, “what is the full extent of the truth that we may know about the doctrine of sin, or salvation, or the Holy Spirit, etc.?”. Hence, systematic theologies progress from the doctrine of the Godhead, or theology proper, to Christology, pneumatology, angelology, soteriology, and so on, treating each theme exhaustively.

Biblical Theology can coexist with Systematic theology but has major differences between Covenant & dispensational. some today are referring to biblical theology as a “bridge discipline” that connects exegesis and systematic theology, but we can also view biblical theology and systematic theology as equal tools, each of which can be used to sharpen our exegesis and theology. Our biblical-theological understanding will line up—implicitly or explicitly, with our systematic conclusions. This cannot be denied, and it should be embraced.

Our opinion of God’s Covenant relationship with man has a great influence on how we interpret Scripture.

To learn more about God’s Covenant check out my ebook:

God’s Covenant

Other Theologies:

Covenant Theology

Dispensational Theology

Redemptive Theology

Systematic Theology 

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