By Biblical Theology (BT) we mean the theology of the Bible as a whole. From Genesis to Revelation the Bible tells us one great Story (“grand narrative” or “metanarrative”), the Story of God’s Plan to redeem his people and his creation. Central to God’s Plan is the person and work of Jesus Christ. BT shows us that the Old Testament points forward to Jesus Christ and the New Testament testifies to Him – his birth, life, death, resurrection, ascension, Spirit gift and Second Coming. The Bible, from beginning to end is about Jesus Christ. It tells one great Story! We could say that the Old Testament speaks with the voice of promise, and the New Testament with the voice of fulfillment; and that both witness to the one divine reality of Jesus Christ.
The Lord Jesus himself understood this to be the case and so we read in Luke 24: 27, “ … beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures (i.e. The Old Testament) concerning himself”, and again (Luke 24:44) “Everything must be fulfilled that is written about me in the Law of Moses, the Prophets and the Psalms (i.e. in the Old Testament).”
So promise and fulfillment are two keys words in BT: the Old Testament is full of promises that God will one day send his King (the Lord Jesus) to establish his Kingdom (Mark 1:15). In this regard Israel’s kings in the Old Testament were types of which Jesus is the antitype. Similarly, the kingdom of Israel in the Old Testament was a type of God’s new Kingdom, inaugurated at Christ’s first coming and to be consummated at Christ’s second coming and to which every disciple of Jesus belongs. The Lord Jesus is the fulfillment of all God’s promises in the Old Testament (2 Corinthians 1:20; cf. Matthew 1:22). So a further two key words in BT are progressive revelation and typology.
BT thus reminds us that in the diversity of the Bible (66 books) there is an underlying unity, and that unity is the Lord Jesus Himself. BT helps us to see this unity, the bigger picture, and how the 66 books actually fit together. As Craig Bartholomew has written (2004:12), “The Bible … is a unified and progressively unfolding drama of God’s action in history for the salvation of the whole world”. [i]
Furthermore, BT is essential for hermeneutics (how we interpret the Bible). It shows us how the New Testament interprets the Old and how the Bible (both Old and New Testaments) relates to us today. Thus it is a necessary tool if we are to understand the Bible correctly; it is a vital discipline if we are to clearly hear God’s voice speaking to us in the 21st century!
Biblical Theology is a tool that every single Christian should know how to use!
Written by Ross Anderson
[i] Bartholomew, CG & Goheen, MW  The Drama of Scripture. Finding our Place in the Biblical Story. Grand Rapids: Baker Academic.