a.    The four main themes of Jesus' teachings are: the Kingdom of God, Jesus Himself, His death, and the future. How did Jesus describe Himself? How did Jesus prophesy and describe His death?

b.    Is the concept of Messiah different between OT and NT?

c.    How is God described in the Gospels? How is this description different from that in the OT?

d.    How do we interpret the parables of Jesus?

e.    What is the Kingdom of God? What are the characteristics? How is the Kingdom related to the church?

f.    What kind of ethics was taught by Jesus? Is it different from the OT Law?

g.    What did Jesus say about the future?

1.    What are the testimonies of Jesus about Himself?
Titles used: Christ, Son of God, Son of man (more details about these under the section "Johannine Writings")

a.    Claims:

(1)    forgiving sins (Mk 2:1-12)
(2)    implying Himself as Christ in the parables
b.    Demands:
(1)    believers must acknowledge Jesus (Mt 10:32)

(2)    importance of receiving Jesus (Mt 10:40)

(3)    His cause is the cause of God (Mt 10:37)

(4)    "Follow me", "Learn of me", "Forsake all and follow me"

c.    Sayings:
(1)    "I am" with emphatic pronoun "ego" (Mk 9:25, Lk 11:20, Lk 22:29)

(2)    "Amen I say to you"; "amen" means "truly" and is used as a response at the end of prayer (Mk 13), (Mt 10:15, Mt 25:40); doubled Amen (Jn 5:19) expresses certainty with divine authority

(3)    "I came" (Mk 2:17, Mt 5:17, Mt 10:34, Lk 12:49)

d.    Declarations:
(1)    coming of the messianic age (Lk 4:16-22)

(2)    "This is my body" (Mk 14:24)

2.    How did Jesus prophesy and describe His death?
a.    Prophesying His own death:
Mk 2:19 "the bridegroom would be taken away"

Mk 8:31 "the Son of man must suffer many things"

Jn 10:18 Jesus accepted the destiny appointed for Him by God

Jn 12:24 the grain of wheat must die

Jn 10:11 laying down His life like a good shepherd

Mk 14:24 blood poured out for many

b.    Describing His death as salvation:
Mk 8:31, 9:31 Jesus predicted His passion and resurrection

Mk 10:38 baptism and cup to symbolize suffering

Mk 10:45 ransom for many

Mk 14:24 blood of the covenant which is poured out for many (Isa 53:12, a vicarious sacrifice for the common salvation)

3.    How was God described in the synoptic gospels? How is it different from the OT?
Jesus' proclamation of the presence of the Kingdom means that God has become redemptive active in history on behalf of His people.

a.    The seeking God:

God was visiting His people in NT. In Jesus, God has taken the initiative to seek out the sinner, to bring lost men into the blessing of His reign. Unlike OT times, God was no longer waiting for the lost to forsake his sins (Mk 2:15-17). The initiative taken by God is clearly illustrated in the 3 parables in Lk 15: searching out the strayed sheep, seeking the lost coin, welcoming the prodigal.
b.    The inviting God:
The salvation in the end time is described as a banquet or feast where guests are invited (Mt 22:1, 8:11). In OT, man must repent (break off evil deeds and turn to obey the Law) before God would forgive, that is, human action must precede divine action. In NT, Jesus called men to repentance and to accept an invitation to salvation. Jesus took the initiative and ate with sinners (Lk 15:2) despite criticisms.
c.    The fatherly God:
(1)    God is seeking out sinners and inviting them to enter His reign that He might be their Father (Mt 13:43), and that they might inherit the Kingdom (Mt 25:34). Jesus taught the disciples to pray: "Our Father who art in heaven....Thy Kingdom come" (Mt 6:9-10).

(2)    The new relationship is a personal relationship, one of confidence and intimacy (Aramaic "abba" is equivalent to "daddy"). In contrast, God called the nation of Israel "son" in OT.

(3)    The gift of Fatherhood is also a present gift, not just for the end times.

(4)    It is only for those who enter the Kingdom, not for everyone.

d.    The judging God:
God is a God of retributive righteousness to those who reject the gracious offer. John the Baptist described the coming of the eternal Kingdom in the end time will mean salvation for the righteous but at the same time a fiery judgment for the unrighteous (Mt 3:12). Jesus described the everlasting fire (Mt 25:34,41) and the sentence of hell (Mt 23:33). The judgment for rejecting the Kingdom occurs in history as well as at the Judgment Day. Capernaum suffered extinction (Mt 11:23, Lk 10:15). So was Jerusalem (Mt 23:37-39, Lk 13:34-35) which was devastated in 70 A.D. The judgment was so intense that Jesus wept for its fate (Lk 19:41-44).
4.    How do we interpret the parables? What are the main teachings of the parables?
a.    Many Church Fathers used allegories to interpret the parables, e.g. Tertullian (160-220 A.D.) interpreted the parable of The Prodigal Son as follows: The Elder son is the Jew; the Younger, the Christian. The citizen in the far country to whom he hired himself is the devil. The robe given to the returning prodigal is that sonship which Adam lost at the Fall; the ring is the sign and seal of baptism; the feast is the Lord's Supper; the calf slain for the feast is Christ.

b.    No doubt some parables have allegorical elements but the allegory cannot be accepted as the general moral truth.

c.    Rules of interpretation:

(1)    A parable is a story drawn from everyday life to convey a single moral or religious truth, not a complex of truths. Thus it cannot be explained in all possible ways.

(2)    Parables must be understood in the historical life setting of Jesus' ministry and not the life of the church. It is not a sound historical approach to understand the parables as prophesies about how the gospel works in the world or about the future of the church. However, if similarities exist between Jesus' mission and the role of the gospel and the church in the world, applications may be made to the latter.

d.    The theme of all parables as well as the dominant theme of the Gospels is the Kingdom of God.

e.    There are 4 groups of parables based on their central themes:

(1)    about the coming of the Kingdom, e.g. Parable of the Tares (Mt 13:24-30): the Kingdom comes into a world of sinful men, the weeding of bad men from good will be done by God in the Judgment Day

(2)    about the grace of the Kingdom, e.g. Parable of the Labourers in the Vineyard (Mt 20:1-15): rewards of the Kingdom are measured not by human standards but by God's grace

(3)    about the men of the Kingdom, e.g. Parable of the Unmerciful Servant (Mt 18:23-35): He who refuses to forgive a person who has wronged him must expect God to judge his sins with similar severity.

(4)    about the crisis of the Kingdom, e.g. Parable of the Servant in Authority (Mt 24:45-51): Jesus warns that the day of God's reckoning is near when it will be revealed whether God's servants have been faithful or not to their trust.

5.    What is the Kingdom of God?
a.    Historically, there were many different interpretations of the Kingdom. It was equated with (i) the church, (ii) the rule of God in the hearts of man, (iii) the evolutionary process, or (iv) the earthly Utopia. These are all incorrect.

b.    Meaning:

(1)    Gr. 'basileia' meaning 'kingly rule', not in the sense of territory; 'reign' or 'rule' a better translation than 'kingdom'. It has a dynamic (not static) meaning: it points to God acting in His royal power. It is not a product of human effort but the work of God.

(2)    In Matthew, the term 'kingdom of heaven' is also used. It is equivalent to the 'kingdom of God'. Its use simply illustrates the pious Jew's avoidance of saying God's name (like YHWH in OT).

c.    Jews believed that:
(1)    God's reign is eternal, from the past to the future,

(2)    God' reign is only partly acknowledged now in Israel,

(3)    there is a blessed coming time (Age to Come) when the living God would finally manifest His rule, overthrow the powers of evil, and show his grace and mercy to His people (Isa 52:7).

Thus the reign of God is an 'eschatological' concept, one that relates to the End (Gr. eschaton).

d.    It is described in the Gospels that the reign of God has begun ('inaugurated eschatology'). The messianic ministry of Jesus is the Kingdom of God because this is God acting in His royal power, this is God visiting and redeeming His people.
Lk 4:21 the Kingdom of God has come

Mt 12:28 the Kingdom of God has come upon you

Mt 11:12 the Kingdom of God exercises its force

Lk 17:21 the Kingdom of God is in the midst of you (or within you), but in an unexpected form

This is not the 'eschaton', but the power of God invading the kingdom of Satan.

e.    The reign of God came 'with power' or 'with a miracle' (Gr. en dunamei) with the cross and the resurrection.
Lk 12:49-50 the fire of the gospel (Jer 20:9) and the baptism of Jesus' blood

Mk 9:1 the same Greek phrase is used in Ro 1:4 referring to the resurrection

f.    Jesus also said that the Kingdom of God would come in the end time (Age to Come).
Mk 14:25 implying a future Kingdom, the word 'new' (Gr. kainon) is used in Rev 21:1

Mt 8:11 coming of the eventual eternal Kingdom

Lk 22:16,29 feast in the Kingdom

g.    Two-fold manifestation (coming) of the Kingdom:
(1)    Inauguration (initial coming) with Jesus' first coming, Satan's power restricted, the Kingdom of God on earth de jure (by right) or 'in principle' after the resurrection

(2)    Consummation (eventual coming) with Jesus' second coming, Satan destroyed, the Kingdom of God on earth de facto (in fact)

6.    What are the characteristics of the Kingdom of God? How does it relate to the church?
a.    Characteristics:
(1)    people of God submitting to the sovereign rule of God who is also a Father (Lk 12:32)

(2)    blessing as a gift of God's pure grace (Mk 10:15), yet calls for a decision

(3)    with righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit (Ro 14:17)

(4)    ethical teachings of Jesus as a standard of conduct for God' children in the Kingdom

(5)    world-wide Kingdom, not local

(6)    with power (1Co 4:28): its expansion not restricted by anything

(What applications can you learn from the above characteristics?)

b.    The Kingdom (rule of God) is not the same as the church (the fellowship of men). The first missionaries preached the Kingdom of God, not the church (Ac 8:12, 19:8).
(1)    The church is a community of the Kingdom. It is composed of citizens of the Kingdom.

(2)    The Kingdom creates the church, yet it expands with the church. The destiny of the church is the Kingdom.

(3)    The church's mission is to witness the truth and power of the Kingdom. It is the messenger and an instrument of the Kingdom.

(4)    The church is the custodian of the Kingdom.

c.    After the Gospels, the central theme of the Bible becomes "Christ" instead of "the Kingdom of God". This is because by His death Christ became the Kingdom, that is, Christ because all that the Kingdom contained. The Gospel of the Kingdom was Christ in essence; Christ was the Gospel of the Kingdom in power.