(a) New Testament Theology is part of a larger subject called Biblical Theology. What is biblical theology?
(b) How does biblical theology differ from systematic theology?
(c) Biblical theology can be studied in two ways: through the analytical approach or through the topical approach. How do they compare?
(d) The books of the Scripture were written by different authors. Is there harmony in teaching among different writers?
(e) Compared to the OT, the NT reveals more clearly God's plan of salvation. Can we then say that NT is more perfect than OT? Why did God not reveal His entire plan to OT people?
(f) The verse in 2Ti 3:16 is often used to affirm that the Bible is the Word of God. However, the verse probably refers to the OT because the NT had not yet been canonized when the verse was written. How do we support the authority of the NT?1. What is biblical theology?
a. Biblical theology is the subject which traces themes through the authors and the books of the Bible and then combines those individual teachings into a single comprehensive whole. It is basically descriptive.
b. Vos calls it 'History of Special Revelation'2. What are the two approaches in biblical theology?
a. Analytical approach (historical approach):
(1) takes up one type of literature (e.g. the synoptic gospels) and treats the major themes of that source as the sum total of the writer's teachings
(2) emphasizes on the meaning of individual authors
(3) tends to over-emphasize the differences (e.g. Paul compared to James)
b. Topical approach (thematic, synthetic approach):
(1) studies different teachings on the same topic (e.g. God), compares difference and understands the harmony between teachings of individual authors
3. What are the unifying themes in the NT?(2) tends to hide emphasis of individual authors and is too similar to systematic theology
Basis of unity in NT theology:
a. The Bible is a salvation history.
b. The key figure in NT theology is Jesus Christ.
c. The importance of the work and mission of Christ: The doctrines of grace and atonement are foundational to an understanding of the unity
d. The fulfilment motive: The conviction of early church was that what had been predicted by the prophets had been fulfilled in Jesus Christ.
e. The community idea: The conviction was that all Christians were bound together into a new community.
f. The future hope: There was a firm belief that Jesus will return and that many of the promises would reach their fulfilment only in a future age.
g. The Holy Spirit: NT literature expresses the all-pervasive activity of the Holy Spirit. NT theology is bound together by the bond of the Spirit.4. Is NT more perfect than OT?
a. Both are revelations by God. But they represent a progressive revelation of God's plan of salvation.5. How does NT evaluate its own authority?
b. The principle of progressive revelation ties together the historical process of revelation.
c. With Christ, the OT ritual system became obsolete (as described in Hebrews).
d. Before the death and resurrection of Christ, the revelation given to the disciples was limited. Jesus could not give a full explanation of His own death to His disciples until they had grasped the fact of it. But after the resurrection, the apostolic preachers were guided into an understanding of it.
e. However, we cannot describe the branches of a tree as more perfect than the roots.
Reciprocal truths: the self-evident authority of the NT text lends weight to its claims for its own inspiration; the text is authoritative by virtue of its divine inspiration.
a. Jesus' claims for the authority of His own teaching:
(1) eternal validity (Mt 24:35)
(2) above the Law: "But I say to you" (Mt 5:22,28,34,39,44)
(3) importance attached to man's attitude to the words of Jesus (Mk 8:38)
(4) knowledge of God is gained only through revelation by the Son (Mt 11:27)
(5) speaking on the authority of God (Jn 5:34,36)
b. Paul's view of his own writings:
(1) emphasizes his apostolic office (1Th 2:6) through Jesus Christ and God the Father (Gal 1:1), "an apostle to the Gentiles" (Ro 11:13)
(2) directed by the Spirit (1Co 2:13)
(3) claims authority from the Lord (1Th 5:27)
(4) writes in a commanding way (2Th 3:4, 1Th 4:11)
(5) demands his words to be followed (1Co 4:16, 11:1)
(6) attaches importance to his teachings (1Co 7:17, 14:37)
(7) condemns those who do not obey his word (2Th 3:14)
c. Petrine (Peter's) epistles:
(1) writes as an elder (1Pe 5:1), considers his words possess authority
(2) the Spirit moved men to write with powerful authority (2Pe 1:20-21)
(3) places Paul's epistles on a level with 'the other scriptures' (2Pe 3:15)
(4) affirms authority of the apostles (2Pe 3:2)