Biblical Theology 102

Biblical Theology 102

 

 

Review

  1. The Scriptures

The Scriptures must be understood and read as one book, written by one author (God), with one main subject (God’s plan of salvation through His Son Jesus Christ).

 

  1. Biblical Theology

Biblical theology is, in effect, the study of the unity of the message of the Bible.Biblical theology:

  • shows the relationship of all parts of the Scriptures to the person and work of Jesus Christ. In effect, it shows the Scriptures to be Christo-centric.
  • shows the process by which God has chosen to reveal Himself to mankind. In effect, shows how that revelation is progressively revealed and progressively develops over the course of history.
  • shows the Scriptures to be more than a story. It’s a story that starts at the beginning of history and ends at the end of history. In effect, it is a metanarrative; a story that explains everything and so provides us with a worldview [1]

 

Overview

This morning we will be considering two topics:

  1. The biblical concepts of prophetic fulfillment and
  2. The proper method of drawing applications from the Old Testament.

 

 

Prophetic Fulfillment

God’s promises together point to and delineate a divine plan for history — a plan to redeem a people to worship Him forever. As such, prophetic fulfillment of God’s promises embrace three important concepts:

 

  1. Multiple Horizons of Fulfillment

God’s promises (prophecies in the broadest sense of the term) typically have multiple horizons of fulfillment. Additionally, each successive fulfillment occurs not only later in time chronologically, but is greater in significance both theologically and historically [1]. For example: Gen. 12:1-3 (Abrahamic Covenant); 2 Sam. 7:10 (Davidic Covenant)

 

  1. Already/Not Yet

God’s promises can have a present and future fulfillment. “Already, but not yet” describes the tension between the benefits of redemptive promises already experienced in this life and those benefits which await us at the consummation. Christians enjoy the “alreadyness” of the Atonement—remission of sins, adoption as children, the indwelling Holy Spirit, etc. However, there is a sense in which we will not see these realities in totality until the last day (1 John 3:2), and so they always remain objects of faith. For example, Christians await the final resurrection where they will receive new bodies, yet in a sense, believers are already “raised with Christ” (Col. 3:1). Or, as believers await the final judgment, in a sense they have already passed through it, for “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1) for believers that are justified by faith in Christ (cf. Rom. 3:21-36).

 

  1. Typology

God’s promises also find fulfillment in events and individual lives that prefigure what is yet to come. A “type” is an actual historical person or event that God has providentially ordered in order to use that person or event to point beyond himself or herself. The “type” points forward and finds its fulfillment in the “antitype.” [1]

 

 

Old Testament Application

Every time we interpret an Old Testament text, we basically have four options for drawing applications from the text:

 

  1. No Application

This text was for “them” (Old Testament saints) alone.

 

  1. Allegory

Start with a preconceived idea of application and then turn the details of an Old Testament story into symbols that represent our application. This method was dominant until late medieval times. Many misguided teacher – yet well-meaning and honest –applied the “meaning” of parts of the Bible to their own time and circumstances, far removed from what is truly found in God’s Word.

 

For example, Origen describes growth in the spiritual life based on the 42 stopping places of Israel in the wilderness (Numbers 33). Origen begins by asking why the Lord wanted Moses to write this passage down: “Was it so that this passage in Scripture about the stages the children of Israel made might benefit us in some way or that it should bring no benefit? Who would dare to say that what is written ‘by the Word of God’ is of no use and makes no contribution to salvation but is merely a narrative of what happened and was over and done a long time ago, but pertains in no way to us when it is told?”

 

The Protestant Reformation of the 16th century rejected, for the most part, the allegorical method and returned to the more literal interpretation of the Bible.

 

 

  1. Moralism

Move directly from Old Testament type to personal application. No attempt is made to understand the text in its original context or to relate it to Christ. The movement is direct from Old Testament text to contemporary application.

 

 

For example, Noah was asked to build a huge boat, far from the ocean. Moving directly from this Old Testament text to personal application might sound like: “We have to have faith that God will explain why we are asked to do impossible tasks. We just need to be faithful and do them.”

 

  1. Christo-Centric Typology

Start with the Old Testament and seeks to understand the significance of the type in its original context (and in terms that would have been significant to the original readers). Then move to the type’s fulfillment in Christ and His redemptive work as the antitype. Only then make the move to contemporary application.

 

 

A “Type” then is some “person,” or “event,” or “ceremony” that is recorded to “foreshadow” some future “person,” or “event,” or “ceremony.” Augustine said: “”The New is in the Old contained; The Old is by the New explained.” You cannot understand Leviticus without Hebrews, or Daniel without Revelation, or the Passover, without the Gospel account of the Crucifixion. The “Typology” of the Old Testament is the “PICTURE LANGUAGE” in which the Doctrines of the New Testament, such as the Atonement, are prefigured. For example, the “Brazen Serpent” (Num. 21:5-7) is a type of Jesus crucified on the “Cross” (John 3:14-15).

 

 

Discussion Questions

With that brief overview, let us evaluate moralism and Christo-centric typology and how these options differ when interpreting Old Testament texts?

 

  • What are the dangers of moralism?
  • What are the advantages of finding Christ in the Old Testament?
  • Can you provide any biblical examples of type/anti-type?
  • How would your interpretation differ using moralism vs. Christo-centric typology for the following Old Testament stories: 1) Abraham/Isaac (Gen. 22)? David/Goliath (1 Sam. 17)? Boaz/Ruth (Ruth 2-4)?

 

 

Answers to Discussion Questions

 

  • What are the dangers of moralism?

The basic error of moralism is this — the belief that the Gospel can be reduced to improvements in behavior. Or stated differently, there are only two ways to read the Bible: it is basically about me or it is basically about Jesus. It is basically about what I must do, or basically it is about what He has done. Moralism chooses the first.

 

  • What are the advantages of finding Christ in the Old Testament?

Reading the Old Testament Christocentrically is not just an “additional” dimension. It is not something you can just tack on — to the end of a study and sermon. (“Oh, and by the way, this also points us to Christ”). Rather, the Christocentric reading provides a fundamentally different application and meaning to the text. Without relating it to Christ, the story of Abraham and Isaac means: “You must be willing to even kill your own son for him.” Rather, it shows that God asks nothing less of us that what He will ask of Himself. Without relating it to Christ, the story of Abigail disobeying her husband means: “We can disobey men when they are fools.” Rather, it shows a picture of true submission that is consistent with Christ’s example in Philippians 2:1-8 (argues moral truth, in the best interest of another, and against your best interest).

 

  • Can you provide any biblical examples of type/anti-type?

In studying the “Types,” the two comparative words “AS” and “SO” are helpful. The word “AS” is used for the “Type,” and the word “SO” for the Antitype. The first is historic; the second is prophetic. For example — “AS in Adam all die, even SO in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Cor. 15:22). “AS the days of Noah were, SO shall also the coming of the Son of Man be” (Matt. 24:37). “AS Moses lifted up the serpent in the Wilderness, even SO must the Son of Man be lifted up” (John 3:14). “AS Jonah was three days and three nights in the Whale’s belly; SO shall the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth” (Matt. 12:40).

 

Let us also consider how Joseph is a type of Christ. Joseph was “beloved” of his father, so was Jesus. Joseph was sent unto his brethren, so was Jesus. Joseph’s brethren refused to receive him, so did the brethren of Jesus. Joseph was sold by his brethren, so was Jesus. Joseph was unjustly accused and condemned, so was Jesus. Joseph was buried in prison, so was Jesus in the Tomb of Joseph. Joseph was resurrected from prison and exalted to sit with Pharaoh on his throne, so Jesus was resurrected and exalted to sit on His Father’s Throne. Joseph on the throne became the dispenser of bread to starving Egypt, so Jesus on His Father’s Throne is the “Bread of Life” for a perishing world.

 

 

Other examples:

Typical persons — Adam/Christ; Melchizedek/Christ; Joseph/Christ; Jonah/Elder Brother. Typical events — Flood/Judgment; Passover/Atonement; Brazen Serpent/Cross. Typical numbers — Death by 1/Life by 1; 12 tribes/12 disciples; 40 years/40 days.

 

  • How would your interpretation differ using moralism vs. Christo-centric typology for the following Old Testament stories: 1) Abraham/Isaac (Gen. 22)? David/Goliath (1 Sam. 17)? Boaz/Ruth (Ruth 2-4)?
    • Abraham and Isaac.

Without relating it to Christ, the story of Abraham and Isaac means: “You must be willing to even kill your own son for him.” Rather, it shows that God asks nothing less of us that what He will ask of Himself.

  • David and Goliath. What is the meaning of that narrative for us? Without reference to Christ, the story may be (usually is!) preached as: “The bigger they come, the harder they’ll fall, if you just go into your battles with faith in the Lord. You may not be real big and powerful in yourself, but with God on your side, you can overcome giants.” But as soon as we ask — “How is David foreshadowing the work of His greater Son”? –We begin to see the same features of the story in a different light. The story is telling us that the Israelites cannot go up against Goliath. They can’t do it. They need a substitute. When David goes in on their behalf, he is not a full-grown man, but a vulnerable and weak figure, a mere boy. He goes virtually as a sacrificial lamb. But God uses his apparent weakness as the means to destroy the giant, and David becomes Israel’s champion-redeemer, so that his victory will be imputed to them. They get all the fruit of having fought the battle themselves.
  • Boaz and Ruth.

Without relating it to Christ, the story of Boaz and Ruth means: “Be like Boaz. Be sensitive to the outsider and show grace to widow.” Rather, Boaz is a picture of a kinsman-redeemer. The kinsman-redeemer is a male relative who, according to various laws of the Pentateuch, had the privilege or responsibility to act on behalf of a relative who was in trouble, danger, or need. The Hebrew term (go el) for kinsman-redeemer designates one who delivers or rescues (Genesis 48:16; Exodus 6:6) or redeems property or person (Leviticus 27:9–25, 25:47–55). Christ is an example of a kinsman-redeemer because, as our brother (Hebrews 2:11), He also redeems us because of our great need, one that only He can satisfy. In Ruth 3:9, we see a beautiful and poignant picture of the needy supplicant, unable to rescue herself, requesting of the kinsman-redeemer that he cover her with his protection, redeem her, and make her his wife. In the same way, the Lord Jesus Christ bought us for Himself, out of the curse, out of our destitution; made us His own beloved bride; and blessed us for all generations. He is the true kinsman-redeemer of all who call on Him in faith.

 

Conclusion

 

  1. Prophetic Fulfillment

God’s promises together point to and delineate a divine plan for history — a plan to redeem a people to worship Him forever. As such, prophetic fulfillment of God’s promises embrace three important concepts:

  • Multiple Horizons of Fulfillment
  • Already/Not Yet
  • Typology

 

  1. Proper Method to Apply Old Testament Texts

Start with the Old Testament and seek to understand the significance of the type in its original context (and in terms that would have been significant to the original readers). Then move to the type’s fulfillment in Christ and His redemptive work as the antitype. Only then make the move to contemporary application.

 

 

Endnotes

[1] Michael Lawrence, “Biblical Theology in the Life of the Church

 

 

 

 

For a transcript of this lesson go to: www.markastonetx.com and click on the Community Group link.

 

 

 

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *