The New Testament Introduction is a follow-up to the Old Testament volume of this series, to which you can read our thoughts on in a previous post found here. My sentiment echoes what was shared at the start of that post; there is too far a gap between what is being said in Scripture and how far people care to venture into what is said. There is an aching trend with the current trend whereby her people will settle for diluted, feel-good inspiration over meaty, heart-wrenching and life-transforming principles. That said, I welcome you to the continued Biblical-Theological discussion that Crossway invites us into.
That was a bit harsh, I understand that. Put simply, there are particular groups of scholars that understand Scripture is not just about you or about me. It may be written for us, but it is written about Christ. And it is that thread that laces together the many layers of this New Testament Introduction — All of Scripture points to Christ.
“In many ways, of course, this new volume is not distinctive. Like many of the volumes that have come before, it is designed to accomplish the same basic task: namely, to introduce the reader to the major historical, exegetical, and theological issues within each of the twenty-seven books. In other ways, however, this volume is distinctive…” (p. 22)
Distinctive to A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament
- Accessible: Targeted not to the scholar but to the average pastor or student.
- Theological: Interpretation aims to understand the (biblical) theological understand of its original authors.
- Redemptive-Historical: More than understanding the books themselves, the scholars seek to understand how an author’s message contributes to our overall understand of the work of Christ.
- Reformed: Conclusions seek to embody the Westminster Confession of Faith and the five solas of the Reformation.
- Multiauthored: Nine individuals authors composed portions of this Introduction.
- Pastoral: “The very real purpose of (these volumes) is to help Bible study leaders, pastors, and Christian leaders to teach and apply the Word of God to their respective audiences.”
Now that we have in mind the framework that A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament was written, we should note that the layout as the scholars explore each book is going to be one very familiar to anyone who has journeyed through a New Testament Introduction. Here’s a look at stops that the authors make along their way through each book:
A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament, Focuses Per Book
- Background Issues (Authorship, Audience, Date, etc.)
- Structure and Outline
- Message and Theology
- Select Bibliography
Uncovering New Testament Hidden Gems
In the same way reading about Niagra Falls is just not the same as experiencing it, you could reach about this volume all day long and not begin to grasp how beneficial it would be. I could introduce you to the authors, share the volume’s endorsements, provide you with it’s stellar reviews and even tell you how lengthy the provided bibliographies are … but it will be hard to give you a glimpse into just how helpful this volume is without providing you see it in action.
Let’s jump to the book of Ephesians and we’re going to land right down in the heat of the conversation, in which Guy Prentiss Waters transitions from the Structure and Outline of the book to the Paul’s Message and Theology.
The very first question that Waters asks us is “What does Paul understand the ‘powers’ to be in Ephesians?” Paul describes them in a number of ways:
- Cosmic powers over this present darkness
- Spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places
- Comparable to the devil
- Distinct from flesh and blood, or human beings
Without tiring you with the entirety of the research that Guy presents us with, we are presented with examples both within the book of Ephesians and in other Pauline writings before Waters concludes the matter and points to how this shines light on the power and kingdom of Christ Jesus. “He (Paul) wants to assure the church that these demonic powers are in fact defeated. He also wants the church to look to the Lord Jesus Christ alone for protection and provision, and to grasp the powerful work of the Spirit of Christ in their lives.”
It goes without saying, especially given the pastoral focus of the volume and the example above from Ephesians, that Crossway has done a stellar job with these two volumes. My own two-cents, for what it’s worth, is that this series is both (1) a great starting point and (2) a stronghold worth revisiting regularly for teachers and students of the Word. For a detailed yet readable series that introduces you to a variety of aspects of God’s Word — but always keeps Christ at the biblical-theological center of their writings — I would encourage you to add this series to your library.
Official Product Description
Read the New Testament from a biblical-theological perspective.
Featuring contributions from nine respected evangelical scholars, this volume introduces each New Testament book in the context of the whole canon of Scripture, helping anyone who teaches or studies the Bible to apply it to the church today.
“Seminary-level New Testament introductions are plentiful. But this one provides what others do not: a consistent hermeneutical orientation as articulated by a top-tier roster of nine different scholars associated with Reformed Theological Seminary throughout its history. In addition to chapters covering all the New Testament books, valuable appendices treat canon, text, the synoptic problem, and more. Addressing both spiritual and academic issues with a view to pastoral equipping and biblical exposition, this wide-ranging compendium will benefit readers in both classroom and personal settings.”
—Robert W. Yarbrough, Professor of New Testament, Covenant Theological Seminary
“With the right mix of academic integrity and purposeful accessibility, this New Testament introduction will serve time-crunched pastors, ministry-minded students, and church members looking to better understand their Bibles. What makes this new volume unique is the emphasis on examining the theological themes in each book of the New Testament, rather than focusing on arcane debates prompted by liberal scholarship. The result is an insightful and impressive resource, one I will use in my own studies and often recommend to others.”
—Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor, University Reformed Church, East Lansing, Michigan
“While introductions to the New Testament abound, this volume is a rare gem. It admirably combines depth of scholarship and theological exegesis within a biblical-theological framework—all couched in highly readable prose, offered for the sake of the church. It will no doubt instruct and edify. Well done.”
—Constantine R. Campbell, Associate Professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School