The best book I read this past year was Greg Beale’s A New Testament Biblical Theology.
It’s not a small book, nor does it make for light reading, but it is important. So important, in fact, that I want to help your reading it with chapter-by-chapter outlines and summaries.
It’s the kind of book you open with time and a highlighter on hand, and for what it’s worth, perhaps these notes could complement your travels as you set sail in the deep, warm, life-giving waters of biblical theology, for the glory of God, the joy of your soul, and the mission of the church.
Example: Chapter 13
The Inaugurated End-Time Restoration of the God’s Image in Humanity: The Old Testament and the Synoptic Gospels
I. The Creation of Humanity in the Image of God and Humanity’s Fall
A. The problem and restoration
- Humans sinned and distorted the image of God in themselves to reflect the idolatrous image of the fallen creature. Humanity, through Christ, can be transformed from reflecting the image of idols to reflecting God’s image in the way that he had designed.
B. What exactly is the “image” or “likeness”?
- Often it’s constructed to be about man’s ontology, something to do with his spiritual, moral, and intellectual aspects that make him distinct from the animal world.
- However, the text does not say this explicitly, it’s more a biblical-theological conclusion than an exegetical one.
- Looking at the text we see that the image of God is primarily about function, not ontology, as Beale says, “the emphasis in explaining the divine image is that it is something that humans do rather than what they intrinsically are.
- “The postfall humanity, especially the redeemed remnant, was likewise equipped to obey functionally the divine command of Gen 1:28 and to being to reflect God’s activities in Gen. 1 in it own activities.” (384).
II. Brief Overview of Jewish Expectations of an Eschatological Adam who would reflect God’s image
A. Six things repeated in Jewish literature about what Adam lost would be regained in the messianic age
- man’s luster (as in divine glory and image); his immortality; his height; the fruit of the earth and trees; the luminaries.
III. The Story of Jesus as the end-time Adam of the new creation who unswevingly reflected God’s image and led the way to restoring his image in humanity (in the Synoptic Gospels)
A. We must start with the first coming of Christ to understand how the image of God is restored to humanity.
- We can perceive, conceptually, that Jesus’ earthly ministry consisted of the functional aspects of ruling, multiplying, and resting, all of which are rooted in Gen. 1
B. The Problem of the timing of the fulfillment of the restoration promises to Israel.
- Was anything fulfilled in the intertestamental period? Beale’s view, and my own, understands that the prophecies began true fulfillment in Jesus, his followers and the church as part of true Israel (388).
C. The beginning of Matthew and of the other Gospels introduces Christ as the end-time Adam inaugurating the new creation.
- Matthew uses biblos geneseos and appears to be alluding to these two statements early in Genesis (5:1). It only occurs twice in the entire OT. “The points is that Matthew is narrating the record of the new age, the new creation, launched by the coming, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.” (389).
- The notion of the Holy Spirit conceiving Jesus in Matt. 1:18-20 is similar to Gen. 1:2.
- The genealogy rings with gentile echoes, tying him to Abraham. It’s more explicit in Matt. 2:1-12 with the magi.
- The Great Commission in Matthew 28:18-20 alludes to Daniel 7:13-14. “Notice,” Beale writes, “that Jesus uses the same divine accompaniment formula that God used in the later applications and reiterations of Adam’s commission to the patriarchs and Israel to subdue and rule over the earth…” (390). “Christ’s presence with his followers will enable them to fulfill ‘the great commission’ to rule over and fill the earth with God’s presence, which Adam, Noah, and Israel had failed to carry out.” (390) And “Thus, even at the beginning and then again at the end of his Gospel, Matthew portrays Christ as the son of Adam, or the Son of Man, who ahs begun to do what the first Adam should have done and to inherit what the first Adam should have inherited, including the glory reflected in God’s image.” (391)
IV. Jesus as both the end-time Adam and the end-time Israel who restores the kingdom to God’s people
A. “Jesus comes as the eschatological Adam, and true Israel, who will functionally reflect God’s image (e.g., ruling, producing children for God) in a way that the first Adam did not.”
B. Jesus as the Danielic Son of man (Adam)
- The Daniel 7 context of the Son of man
- Visionary section (7:1-15)
- interpretive section (7:16-28) — “It is very likely that the interpretative section of the vision identifies the ‘Son of Man’ figure with end-time Israel, ‘the saints of the most High’ (vv. 18, 22, 27), who are first oppressed by the fourth kingdom and then vindicated and exalted to dominion over all powers through God’s judgment.” (395) …”the Son of Man is both an individual and also a representative for a community.”
- The use of Daniel’s son of man in the synoptic Gospels to indicate the already-not yet eschatological kingdom.
- Mark 10:45, “The Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” — “Nowhere in Dan 7 is it stated explicitly that the son of man suffers (i.e., ‘gives his life’), but as we have seen, he is identified with the suffering of the saints in Dan. 7:15-27. Thus, if representational identification is granted at all between the Son of Man and saints, then the idea of suffering for the Son of Man must be allowed as viable in Dan. 7.” (398) … ”the Danielic nature” of Mark 10:45 often goes unnoticed, but consider how it comes in the context of rank in the eschatological kingdom. “Christ says that rank in his kingdom comes in the reverse manner of that in earthly kingdoms: not in outward triumph over people but rather through humble suffering for people—that is, through ironic rule…”
- Luke 7:34-35, 19:10: “The Son of Man came eating and drinking… with tax collectors and prostitutes” compared to the reception of authority in Dan. 7:13-14 where the Son of Man is surrounded by a myriad of heavenly hosts. Jesus isn’t surrounded by these angels in his earthly ministry, as some might expect, rather it is the lowliest and most despised, “the very people he came to save, who would eventually ‘serve’ him (Dan 7:14).” See, God’s wisdom turns the world’s upside down. (399).
C. Conclusion to the Son of Man in the Synoptics
- The many quotation and allusions to Dan 7 highlight Jesus as the Adamic king, the Son of Man or Last Adam.
D. Jesus as the Adamic Son of God
- Sonship in relation to Adam
- “When one comes to the Gospels and finds Jesus being repeatedly called ‘the Son of God,’ this probably should be understood in light of the OT and Jewish background of Adam and Israel being conceived to be God’s son…” (403)
E. Jesus as the latter-day Israel and Son in Matthew 2
- A word on Matthew’s hermeneutics (407)
- Great treatment on how Matthew understands Hos 11:1 and using it typologically in Matthew 2 (406-412).
F. Jesus as Israel and God’s Son elsewhere in Matthew: the baptism of Jesus, his wilderness testing, and other aspects of his earthly ministry.
- The baptism of Jesus
- beginning of the new exodus and new creation. Not the significance of the Jordan and the waters of baptism.
- The wilderness testing of Jesus
- Jesus acts as the micro-Israel and perseveres through temptation
- “it is probably that Jesus’s resistance to the devil in the wilderness is the very first instance of his decisive victory over Satan…” (421)
IX. Other Aspects of Jesus’ earthly ministry in relation to his role as an end-time Adam
A. The Great Commission
- Jesus’ claim “All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth” (Matt. 28:18) alludes to Dan. 7:13-14, which prophesied that the “Son of Man” (i.e., “son of Adam”) would be given ‘authority, glory and sovereignty’ forever. Then as we noted at the intro of this chapter, he immediately gives the disciples the so-called Great Commission: “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations… teaching them…” and “lo, I am with you always” (Matt. 28:19-20). This edict not only continues the allusion to the Dan. 7 prophecy (v. 14: “that all the peoples, nations, and men of every language might serve him”) but also, as discussed earlier in this chapter, is itself a renewal of the Gen. 1:26-28 commission to Adam.” (423).
A. Jesus as the Adamic son who represents those who identify with him as sons
- “The main point here is that Jesus is now the locus and the originator of the true community of faith for both believing Jews and gentiles. The true family of God has its sources in identification with Jesus Christ, who is their progenitor.” (425).
B. Conclusion and summary: Jesus as end-time Adamic king of Israel’s eschatological kingdom who recovers the image of God
- “I want to underscore once again that since the nation Israel bore the mantle of Adam (the Gen. 1:28 commission was repeatedly applied to Israel), it was considered to be corporate Adam and was also functionally to reflect God’s image (see chap. 2). This identification is a crucial linchpin for the biblical-theological conclusions in this chapter and in others to come. (428).
X. Excursus: Other eschatological aspects of the inaugurated end-time kingdom in the synoptic gospels.
A. An overview of the time frame of the end-time kingdom in the synoptic gospels
B. The inaugurated, unexpected, and transformed nature of the end-time kingdom
C. Other examples of the unexpected and transformed presence of the inaugurated eschatological kingdom
- Matthew 11: John the Baptist, Jesus, and entrance to the kingdom
- Jesus’ kingship over Satan and his demonic forces
D. Jesus as Messianic king
- “Jesus as the ‘Messiah’ is being painted with the genealogical brush of Adam” (437).
- Excursus: Jesus as the messianic king and the last Adam/Son of Man and Son of God, who restores the divine image in John’s Gospel
Summary of Chapter 13
Jesus is the Messianic King, Last Adam/Son of Man, Son of God, and true Israel as his identify is filled with several OT allusions in the Gospels, most notably Daniel 7:13-14 and Gen. 1:26-28.