One Idea Toward Reading Deeper

I’ve always been a little leery of Bible reading plans that promote four different selections per day. When I tried the M’Cheyne plan in the past it seemed like just as I would start warming up to the passage and get the flow of thought, he’d thrown down a spike strip and force me somewhere else. It began to feel more like shaking hands with a lot of Bible, but never really reading any of it.

And therefore, for the past few years I’ve simply read through canonically using this plan from Treasuring Christ Church, which amounts to about four chapters a day and follows the Tanakh order of the OT.  If you chase the cross references and intertextual connections, I always found this to suffice for a whole Bible digest on any particular day.

But this year I’m giving the four-selection strategy another try, and this time with the KINGDOM Bible reading plan developed by Jason DeRouchie. So far I really enjoy it. One exercise that I’ve been doing to alleviate my fragmentation fears is to write a brief summary of each chapter and then read them all together at the end. Today that looked like this:

Genesis 8 shows the faithfulness of God in stopping and flood and recommissioning mankind.

Joshua 10 shows us that God is the one who fights for Israel.

Psalms 7–8 shows the righteousness of God and the privilege of man as the pinnacle of God’s creation.

Matthew 6 shows us what it means to live under God’s fatherly care.

Nothing profound here. But after a week I’ve found this helpful. It forces me to ask, “What hath Joshua 10 to do with Genesis 8?” and so forth. And more than that, it leads me to read theologically, which is how we put together this glorious tapestry of who God shows himself to be.

If you’re doing a similar reading plan, maybe you’ll want to try this new venture out with me. It’s mainly for that moment of reading, but, of course, if we stick with it then we’ll end up with chapter summaries of the entire Bible — which we can also give to the kids.


Chapter Outlines and Summaries on Greg Beale’s “A New Testament Biblical Theology”

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

  1. 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”?

  1. 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.
  2. However, the text does not say this explicitly, it’s more a biblical-theological conclusion than an exegetical one.
  3. 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.
  4. “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

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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.

  1. 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).
  2. The notion of the Holy Spirit conceiving Jesus in Matt. 1:18-20 is similar to Gen. 1:2.
  3. The genealogy rings with gentile echoes, tying him to Abraham. It’s more explicit in Matt. 2:1-12 with the magi.
  4. 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)

  1. 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.”
  1. 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

  1. 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

  1. 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

  1. A word on Matthew’s hermeneutics (407)
  2. 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.

  1. The baptism of Jesus
  • beginning of the new exodus and new creation. Not the significance of the Jordan and the waters of baptism.
  1. 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

  1. 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

  1. “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

  1. “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

  1. Matthew 11: John the Baptist, Jesus, and entrance to the kingdom
  2. Jesus’ kingship over Satan and his demonic forces

D. Jesus as Messianic king

  1. “Jesus as the ‘Messiah’ is being painted with the genealogical brush of Adam” (437).
  2. 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.

How to Read the Bible As If You Only Had One Life to Live

John Piper, Preface to his 1974 dissertation, Love Your Enemies (A History of the Tradition and Interpretation of Its Uses): Jesus’ Love Command in the Synoptic Gospels and the Early Christian Paraenesis.

since you only have one life to live, the payoff historically, theologically, spiritually, and practically will be far greater if you focus your prayerful mental energies like a laser on the text and the biblical context itself. Most of what I saw of value in my research I saw by looking at the texts themselves, not by being aware of sources. (viii)

To see where this “method” of better payoff is used, see Piper’s, What Jesus Demands from the WorldThere he writes, 

It requires little imagination to hear a New Testament scholar say, “Good heavens, Piper totally ignores two hundred years of critical quests for the historical Jesus!” I would understand the response. It isn’t quite right, however. “Ignores” is not the right word. It would be more accurate to say that I estimate most of the fruit of those quests to be unreliable and unusable to accomplish what Jesus aims to accomplish in the world…
The conviction was growing in me that life is too short and the church is too precious for a minister of the Word to spend his life trying to recreate a conjectured Jesus. There was work to be done–very hard work–to see what is really there in the God-given portrayal of Jesus in the New Testament Gospels. (29, 32)

Trying to Track with Jonathan Edwards

I love Jonathan Edwards. Anytime you read him your mind is bound to grow. But it’s not necessarily easy. One helpful approach may be to paraphrase what he’s saying about every other sentence.  Something like this… from Religious Affections.

If we ought ever to exercise our affections at all, and if the Creator han’t unwisely constituted the human nature, in making these principles a part of it, when they are vain and useless; then they ought to be exercised about those objects which are most worthy of them.

We have affections because God made them. In his wisdom and goodness he created humans to have this capacity — a capacity to love, to have joy, to receive pleasure. And since God has made us with affections then it only makes sense that we would spend these affections on that which is most worthy of them.

But is there anything, which Christians can find in heaven or earth, so worthy to be the objects of their admiration and love, their earnest and longing desires, their hope, and their rejoicing, and their fervent zeal, as those things that are held forth to us in the gospel of Jesus Christ?

Here we are with these affections in the midst of a world full of good things. But of all that is around us — in the heavens above or the earth on which we stand — is there anything worth all our admiration and love, our earnest, longing desires, all our hopes and rejoicing and zeal? Is anything here worth all that? For what are these things compared to the gospel of Jesus Christ?

In which, not only are things declared most worthy to affect us, but they are exhibited in the most affecting manner. The glory and beauty of the blessed Jehovah, which is most worthy in itself, to be the object of our admiration and love, is there exhibited in the most affecting manner that can be conceived of, as it appears shining in all its luster, in the face of an incarnate, infinitely loving, meek, compassionate, dying Redeemer.

The gospel of Jesus is better than all these things. It is more worthy to be the object of our affections by its inherent quality. It is more excellent, period. And yet, it is also superior to everything else because of its actual ability to affect us. So it goes like this: 1) it is worthy of our affections; and 2) it wields the unique power to actually win these affections. It captivates us like nothing else. It penetrates our being as only it can do. For this gospel shines before us. It doesn’t hold back. It is essentially a display, the glory of the triune God in the face of an incarnate, infinitely loving, meek, compassionate, dying Redeemer.

Blockquotes are from The Works of Jonathan Edwards, “Religious Affections,” (WJE Online Vol. 2)

A helpful resource on this particular Edwards’s work is Sam Storms’s, Signs of the Spirit: An Interpretation of Jonathan Edwards’s “Religious Affections.”

On Straight-Jackets and Hermeneutics: Let the Text Speak, Too!

Richard Bauckham:

Those who try to map the broad outlines of the biblical narrative, discerning the purpose of God portrayed in it, are often tempted to override the untidy complexity of the actual narrative and non-narrative contents of Scripture. For the systematic theological mind the little stories too awkwardly resist their easy assimiliation into an overall plot. There are too many fragments that seem to lead nowhere and too many that seem to point in opposite directions.

It is tempting to take the principle of a canonical hermeneutic, that the parts must be understood in the light of the whole, as a reason for simply supressing the not readily assimilable parts. But these inescapable features of the actual narrative form of Scripture surely have a message in themselves: that the particular has its own integrity that should not be supressed for the sake of a too readily comprehensible universal. The Bible does, in some sense, tell an overall story that encompasses all its other contents, but this story is not a sort of straitjacket that reduces all else to a narrowly defined uniformity. It is a story that is hospitable to considerable diversity and to tensions, challenges and even seeming contradictions of its own claims.

The Bible and Mission, 93f.

Get the Point

Forms of exegesis that treat the biblical texts as data rather than as bearers of divine discourse are distinctly undramatic.

Consider Jesus’ “exegesis” of God the Father (John 1:18), by way of contrast. One can study the life of Jesus from a number of angles, to be sure, but if one misses this one–his making God the Father known–one misses what is arguably the whole point. A similar point could be made with regard to the Gospels, which are theological “exegeses” of Jesus. Again, it is possible to read the Gospels from a number of angles, and for a variety of purposes; but if one misses their theological interpretation of Jesus Christ, one misses what is arguably the whole point. Herein is the suspense of the drama of reading: Will readers find or miss “the Way”?

Kevin J. Vanhoozer, Drama of Doctrine, 20f

So What About How I Read the Bible- Part 1

It is good for me to often revisit the question of “so what?”

If I settle on a hermeneutic that is literary-canonical instead of grammatical-historical, why does it really matter? Authorial intent instead of sensus plenior, who cares? Bla, bla, bla…

What difference does it make to the congregation that one day I hope to shepherd?

The Apostle Peter says there is significance. 1 Peter 1:10-12 is about hermeneutics. He tells us something amazing about the prophets, and then he tells us “therefore…”

Peter writes that the prophets knew that they were writing for us about the “sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories.” He tells us that they were writing for us about the gospel message we have heard. And then he says, “Therefore… set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1:13). The OT authors intended what they wrote about Christ to be for you, so then (Aorist Active Imperative 2nd plural) “you set your hope fully” on Christ. You believe completely, unwaveringly. You exert a relentless faith in Jesus Christ and the grace that is yours in Him.

This is the pastoral application and its beautiful significance. This is the “so what?” described by the apostle…  How we view the Hebrew Bible is not arbitrary. The authorial understanding of 1:10-12 enkindles our faith in Jesus Christ and all that He is for us.