At Little Primer on Biblical Theology

Biblical Theology: A Primer


Biblical theology:

  • helps us rightly interpret the Bible, 
  • protects the church from false Christianity, 
  • is the engine of gospel-centered exposition, 
  • is the foundation for proper Christian cultural engagement… “It’s in the Manual.


What Is Biblical Theology?


Biblical theology is the discipline of learning how to read the Bible:

  • as one story (39 OT + 27 NT = 66 chapters in one gigantic story that defines what is true)
  • by one divine author (God is the author with many writers who wrote down his story at his directing)
  • that culminates in the person and work of Christ, 
  • so that every part of Scripture is understood in relation to Christ. 


Luke 24:26-27. Jesus, after rising from the dead, met two believers on the road to Emmaus, Jesus offered a crash course Biblical Theology. 


Verse 26: “26 Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” 27 And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”


Luke 24:44-47: “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” 45 Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, 46 and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, 47 and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.”


What book is he referring to in verse 44 that must be fulfilled? 


  • The Old Testament. 
  • He names the three parts as Jewish folk divided it: 
    • the Law of Moses, the Prophets, and the Writings (or the Psalms, for short). 


Then what does he do in verse 45? 

  • He opens their minds to understand them, apparently in a way they had not before. 


And with open, enlightened minds, what could they now understand that the Old Testament actually teaches? 

  • That the Christ should suffer and rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations. 


What is amazing about the beginning of verse 46? 

  • “Thus it is written.” This is what is written in the Old Testament: that the Christ should die and rise, and that will lead to the preaching of repentance and forgiveness. 


John 5:39: “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me.”


NOTE: This doesn’t mean we carelessly impose Jesus on every text. It means we pay close attention to each text on its own terms, but then how every text falls into one of countless subthemes, and tracing out those subthemes like following a tributary river, until pours into a larger river, and finally into the ocean, or the story of the whole Bible. 


  • In Scripture, the identity and the work of Christ are the crucial piece of information around which everything else revolves. 


Example: Judges 14-16 Samson

Samson tears apart a lion with his bare hands. He kills a thousand Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey. 


  • Will teaching about Sampson killing a thousand Philistines with a jawbone really cause people to be saved? 


It depends. 


  • If Samson had been preached properly, then, yes. 
  • But rightly preaching Judges takes more than praising Samson’s manly virtues as a call to be courageous.


You might talk about Samson as a pattern (type) of Christ. You would say that,

  • Samson’s birth is announced by an angel…like Jesus’ was.
  • Samson is to be set apart as holy for a holy purpose…Like Jesus… 
  • Samson is a God-anointed judge, 
  • gifted with remarkable power through the Holy Spirit, 
  • who is handed over to the enemies of God’s people for the purpose of rescuing God’s people (e.g. Judges 15:14-15; 16:30). 


You might talk about Samson as the anti-Jesus. 

  • Samson is the opposite of Jesus that helps us see how amazing Jesus is. The anti-Jesus.
  • For example: Samson disobeys where Jesus obeys perfectly.


You might ask what Samson’s story teaches us about the nature and character of God.

  • God is patient with his people and his determination to judge sin. 
  • Samson teaches us about our need for a savior—for one who will not disappoint us like every judge or king who has ever lived, except one…Jesus!


Samson’s strength is eye catching. He kills a thousand Philistines with the jawbone of a donkey. 

  • But how much more striking is the picture of Jesus’ return on the last day, with a sword coming out of his mouth with which to strike down the nations, treading the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God Almighty (Rev. 19:15)! 
  • Only this judge is perfectly just and good. 


Samson’s death is also striking. He defeats his enemies and rescues God’s people through his death. NOTE THE OPPOSITE: Samson’s folly and pride led to his death. 

  • Not so with Jesus, who deliberately went to his death in humility to rescue his people. 
  • Samson should indeed provoke our wonder, but wonder at Christ, not Samson.


In short, an expositional sermon on Judges 14 to 16 should be a gospel sermon, not a sermon that could be preached in a synagogue. 


Application: Know/Believe/Do


  • Believe that everything written in the Old Testament will lead us to Jesus. 
    1. Don’t settle for letting the OT become a moral handbook or handbook of courage.
    2. Galatians 3:24, “The law was our guide into Christ” (Author’s translation).


  • Believe that the best Old Testament commentary is the New Testament. 
    1. Pay attention to how the NT quotes and applies the OT. 
    2. Example: Psalm 44’s use in Romans 8. 


  • Know that it does not take an advanced degree to read the bible like Jesus taught us. 
    1. To read the bible like Jesus does require us to read it through over and over and over again. 
    2. Repetition is key to mastery. 


  • Actively get on a bible reading plan, and do it in covenant fellowship together. 
    1. Holy Spirit will take seeking people straight to the One he was sent to witness to with the Word he gave us to know Him in fellowship together. 


  • If you have not believed the gospel, know that today is the day of salvation. 


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