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A Conversation about Biblical Theology

Janet Parshall: Hi, friends! Welcome to In the Market with Janet Parshall where we help you to think critically and biblically. Today we’re going to be talking about a brand-new book called Biblical Theology: A Canonical, Thematic, and Ethical Approach. This is not just for academicians; it is for you and for me in order to understand the whole truth of the Bible, historically, contextually, systematically. It’s a huge academic undertaking, the kind of research that only great academicians and biblical scholars can do.

And that’s exactly who we’re going to talk to this hour, one of those wonderful scholars. Dr. Andreas Kostenberger is with us. He is the theologian in residence at Fellowship Raleigh. He is an internationally-known Bible scholar, a prolific author of over 60 books and cofounder of Biblical Foundations. His website, biblicalfoundations.org, features an abundance of resources and a complete list of publications. But he, along with Gregory Goswell, wrote this book, and it was very much his heart and passion to be able to do it. So, first of all, Dr. Köstenberger, the warmest of welcomes, and let me ask you why you decided to take on such a huge undertaking.

Note: You can listen to the entire interview here.

Whole-Bible Christians

Andreas Kostenberger: Well, Janet, thanks first of all for that great introduction. I really appreciate your sharing our vision that we ought to be whole-Bible Christians. Our Bibles contain 66 books, and so often, as you mentioned, we tend to kind of pick and choose. And like Paul told the Ephesian elders that for 3 years he didn’t cease from proclaiming to them the whole counsel of God. And so, I agree, it’s a daunting task to write a book, you know, on the entire Bible, and that’s why it’s so long, it had to be. But our vision is to serve as a resource and to serve as an aid for people in our churches to become whole-Bible Christians.

JP: Hm. What a beautiful description. And may that be our goal, to be whole-Bible Christians, understanding the whole counsel of God, so that we can bring the whole truth of the whole gospel to the whole world. There is a synergy here that cannot be missed. So a question right out of the gate. I very much appreciate your opening chapter, because you understood and stated quite apparently the daunting nature of what this is like. 

So, let me give a flyover for my friends, so that this becomes more attractive for them as a resource that must be in their own library. So when I look at this, and again, it’s a study of the 66 books of the Bible, how do you picture the average user using this particular book: as a concordance, side by side with the Bible, as an insightful viewing of a passage? Explain the way you laid this out, because you did it with a methodology so that it would become user-friendly. Explain, if you would, please.

AK: Yeah, I think that’s right. I think there could be multiple ways for people to use it. There might be some who patiently and slowly read through the whole book cover to cover, but I think probably more will look at it as a resource. We have a very detailed table of contents, and we have very thorough indices, and so I think anyone who, say, a pastor who preaches a sermon series on, say, the book of Hosea might just find the 10 or 12 pages in the book that lay out the major themes in Hosea, the ethical teachings in that book, and how Hosea fits within the storyline of Scripture. And I think it would be a very good foundation for them to make sure that they do justice to that book. So in many cases, people will simply, or serious Bible students, or people in the churches, would simply go to that section in the book that deals with the book that they’re currently studying or that they’re about to study.

Definition of Biblical Theology

JP: You write in the beginning, and if I may borrow your words, “How do you wrap your brain around a library of 66 books written over hundreds of years by dozens of authors? What is the story the Bible sets out to tell? How do you know that you’re reading Scripture with its actual God-intended message? What’s more, as an inspired book, the Bible doesn’t merely aim to impart the knowledge of God and his ways, it also seeks to draw us into a deep, personal engagement with God and others.” So this isn’t just a book you have to buy for your first-semester class in college if you’re doing a survey of the Old Testament. This is designed for you and me to do a deep-dive to better understand this inerrant, transcendent, immutable, inspired map for our pilgrim’s progress.

JP: We’re visiting with internationally-known Bible scholar and prolific author, Dr. Andreas Kostenberger, and we’re discovering a brand-new, and I venture to say much beloved, treasured resource, that’s what it’s going to become, I’m sure. It’s called Biblical Theology: A Canonical, Thematic, and Ethical Approach, and we will break down those three sections for you. But you start out early in the book, Dr. Köstenberger, and I’m so glad you did, by defining the words “biblical theology.” For some people, they might think that’s redundant. After all, isn’t the Bible Christian theology? So if you break that down for us. How do you define it?

AK: Yeah, that’s right. It’s more than just theology that’s biblical. It is actually the theology of the biblical writers themselves. And so, you know, sometimes what we do as Christians, we already have our own convictions, and so we sometimes tend to read them into Scripture, but ideally we would listen to the text itself and we would draw out what the biblical authors themselves believe. We would try to listen to what the authors themselves believe and intended to communicate to their original readers and also to us. And so, in that sense, biblical theology is really the proper place to start for us, because we want to know what the Bible says to us. We want the Bible to engage us and inform us, even to change and transform us, rather than engage in this kind of circular reasoning where we find what we’re looking for.

Different Personalities of Biblical Writers

JP: Beautifully answered. In other words, this is a living book designed to change us. Let me go back to something you said. And forgive me if some of the questions seem pretty rudimentary, but I think going back and reestablishing a foundation is paramount, particularly when one is going to do a deep-dive. So you said, “the theology of the writers themselves.” I believe that, 100%. But I know there are people listening from all across, who are saying, “Now wait a minute. The individuality of the human author here is secondary to the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, so how can it be the theology of the writers themselves? Weren’t they simply scribes, if you can put it that way, for the Holy Spirit?

AK: Well, it’s not an either-or, Janet, it’s a both-and. And, of course, we have a high view of Scripture. We believe that Scripture is inspired and inerrant, but at the same time God used the individual personalities and interests and style of the individual authors. You know, when you look at the twelve apostles, for example, in the Gospels, you just see how Jesus picked people, you know, who are very different from each other. And so you see that reflected in the way they wrote, and you have to look no farther than the Gospels.

And when you look at Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, especially John, you know, they each tell the same story about Jesus in history, you know, coming to earth and engaging in a three-year ministry and then dying, being buried, and then rising from the dead, but they don’t tell it exactly the same way. And so that’s a great example, I think, of what biblical theology can do. It can help us discover the distinctive interests and ways the biblical writers communicated eternal truth.

JP: Let me linger, because I think your example of the Gospels is readily understood. So, Doctor Luke would have observed things, for example, that John would not. Now that doesn’t set up a paradigm for conflict, it’s perspective. But it all leads to the same conclusion, is that an oversimplification, or is that correct?

AK: Yeah. And so that’s a great example, and so you find that Luke is very interested in socio-economic matters. He talks about poverty a great deal. He emphasizes those who are marginalized in society, such as widows. And John, on the other hand, has very little interest in economics. He focuses more on our eternal destiny and the importance of believing in Jesus for eternal life. And so, you know, both are part of the gospel message, but if we just read Luke or John, I think we would miss an important entailment of Jesus’ coming. That is why it is so important for us to study all four Gospels and, by extension, to study all 66 books of Scripture. Because every book has a reason for being in the canon. We believe God chose those books for us to have in the Scriptures. And so we need to do justice to the entire library of books that we have.

Biblical Theology and Postmodernism

JP: Yeah, it’s excellent. You say in the book, and I was particularly intrigued by this, that in North American conservative evangelicalism. And you write, “There is a new type of biblical theology that has begun to flourish based on a high view of Scripture and grounded in both historical research and literary study. Now that excites me. Why do you think this reinvigoration is taking place right now?

AK: Well, I think there is a tremendous emphasis on story, and to some extent that comes from postmodernism. But I think it works very well, because the Bible is the mother of metanarratives. It is the story that explains all other stories. And so that is why in our book we place a great deal of emphasis on the overall storyline of the Bible. You know, I think it’s so easy for us sometimes to get hung up in some of the details of Scripture. And I think biblical theology, what’s so beautiful about it, is that it focuses on synthesis. It focuses on connections between different books and the different parts of Scripture, between the OT and the NT, you know, the storyline, the progressive way in which God has revealed himself to his people in history. And so I think that’s one reason why biblical theology resonates very deeply with our culture today.

A Journey of Discovery

JP: Wow. You made me think of something. So let me just pull over to the side of the road for a moment. You have a very impressive curriculum vitae. You are known as an international Bible scholar. As somebody who has studied and studied and studied, and quite literally plumbed the depths of Scripture, at this point is it all old to you? Do you know this word? Or in the vibrancy, are you still discovering things in your own personal study?

AK: Oh, absolutely. Almost every day. I’m immersed in Scripture. I discover new things every day. I remember just yesterday looking at Luke’s Gospel where Jesus is entering Jerusalem at the triumphal entry. And the disciples are saying, “Peace in heaven, and glory to God in the highest.” And I was thinking, “Wait a minute. That sounds just like the birth narrative, where it says, ‘Peace on earth, and glory to God in the highest.’” So you see those connections, and, you know, for some reason I had never picked that up before. So, you’re right, it’s an exciting journey of discovery.

JP: Yes, and very much an alive text. When we come back, I do want to look at those three things, canonical, thematic, and ethical, and how that all ties in to biblical theology. … Dr. Kostenberger is with us, theologian in residence at Fellowship Raleigh. He is also, by the way, the author of over 60 books and the cofounder of Biblical Foundations. I have a link to his website at biblicalfoundations.org. 

And I’m particularly excited to have this conversation with Dr. Kostenberger, because he and his co-author, Gregory Goswell, have created what I think is going to be one of those irreplaceable resources in your legacy library. It is an overview of the entire Bible, all 66 books. And it’s entitled Biblical Theology: A Canonical, Thematic, and Ethical Approach.

Canonical, Thematic, and Ethical

Now, Dr. Kostenberger, I think some of us understand the canonical part. I think some of us might understand the thematic part. It’s the ethical part that I think is going to be interesting to some people. But would you take those three words. I don’t want to assume anything. People are at various levels of study. And, by the way, let me just say this is the book that could become your semester Bible survey class. It’s that big, that important, and that rich. Well, those three words, if you would break them down for us, please.

AK: Yes, so canon refers to the library of the 66 books of Scripture that the early church chose to include in our inspired collection, our library of the Bible. And so what we do as a canonical approach is we study each of those book by book, starting with Genesis, ending with Revelation. So it could be a great resource just for the canonical portion. And then, for each book, we look at the major themes, and we synthesize the contribution, for instance, for the five books of Moses or for the Gospels. So that would be our canonical approach. Thematic refers to the themes we determine inductively by repeated reading of that book. For example, as you look at 1 and 2 Timothy and Titus, the so-called “Pastoral Epistles,” we feature six major themes: God and Christ, who are called “our Savior,” teaching, especially Scripture, the church as the household of God, Christian virtues, the end times, and salvation. So, we feel that in some cases, those are unique and that are distinctive of just those particular books. That’s their contribution to the canon as a whole. And then, finally, ethical. Ethical has to do with the moral teachings of Scripture. You know, Janet, the Bible is not just written for information, but it’s written for application. It’s not just written to inform believers, but it’s written to tell us how to live. And so embedded in our book is an entire biblical ethics which, I believe is a first for Biblical Theologies.

Ethics and Postmodernism

JP: Mhm. I do, too. And that’s where I want to linger for a moment. You used the word “postmodernism” earlier. Let me go back to that word. You know, I think there are people in the marketplace of ideas who would say, “Well, OK, I understand the canonical aspect, and I don’t dispute your thematic aspects. But when you get to the ethical part, when you get to the transformative nature of Scripture, therein lies the rub, if I can borrow from the great bard. I don’t mind your historicity, I don’t mind your canonical approach. But when you tell me what this book has to say about changing me I have a problem. So you and I can do 10 hours just on this ethical aspect.

But let me just dig into a couple here, particularly for those who think they stumbled upon this conversation and may be questioning the legitimacy, the historicity, the validity of God’s word. So is it safe to say that when we look at the moral teachings, the ethical changes that are brought about in each and every human being, if they apply the word of God, can we say there is an expiration date? One of the arguments in postmodernism is that this was meant for a different day and time and has no relevancy for the twenty-first century. Can we say that? And I’m not talking about the Mosaic law. I’m talking about the general, transcendent, expected rules of conduct in honoring a holy God. Does that have a time date on it?

Biblical Theology and the Love of God

AK: Not at all. And, Janet, I totally get your drift here. And I think that’s very important to understand. And in our book, we particularly focus on the love of God, the love of God for us people as sinners, and the redemption he provides in Christ. And as we read in Scripture, God is love, and we love because God first loved us. So, at the heart of the biblical narrative, we believe, is a loving God who wants us to reciprocate that love by loving him, like Jesus said, the first and greatest commandment, and then to love others the way Jesus loved us. So that would probably the most important example I can give you in the short time we have for how the biblical message is transcendent and not merely subjective.

JP: Hm. Beautifully stated. Does the word of God (again, some rudimentary questions here), if it is about the love of God and it most assuredly is, God is the only one of whom it is said, he is love. So that in and of itself should stop us in our tracks. But is the book designed to reveal the characteristics of God so that we might know him better, or, again, I ask for the seeker, is that experiential? We only know by experiencing him, we can’t know him through his revealed word.

AK: Well, of course, all of Scripture is presupposing the existence of God and the fact that he is the Creator. He is the sovereign Ruler of the universe. And so, you know that increasingly is what our culture is denying. And so, you know, that is where we need to dialogue. We need to explain to people that there is in fact a God who created the universe and who has a design, a design for male and female. And he is also holy, so he has expectations on how he wants his people to live. And so that is what we break down in the ethical dimension in our book.

JP: Hm. Absolutely fascinating. The book is called Biblical Theology: A Canonical, Thematic, and Ethical Approach. I can’t believe we’re already halfway into this conversation. We’ll get into how this book is laid out. Remember, you could spend the rest of your life reading this book, and you’ll still want more. There is a lot here, and we continue with Dr. Kostenberger right after this.

Ditching the Old Testament?

JP: You break down your book into two parts, the OT and the NT. Now the suggestion has been made that should disconnect the Old from the NT. Aside from the fact that you labeled it Part 1 and Part 2, I see no disconnect whatsoever in your book Biblical Theology. There is a linkage, is there not, between the two? Do we consider one to be old, one to be new, not just by the descriptor of the timelines but its application to our life? Is one the picture of an angry God, the other of a Savior with children on his lap, so we want to get rid of the God of judgment and go to the gentle, meek Jesus instead? 

In other words, there is profundity in this question, because as I alluded to at the start of our conversation, this goes to the a la carte part of Scripture. Dr. Kostenberger, I don’t see anywhere in his Word where I am given permission to pick and choose the portions of Scripture, whether it’s the Old or New or any passage in the Bible where I find a problem in terms of its personal application. Talk to me about this.

AK: Absolutely. We certainly don’t think we should ditch the Old Testament. We wouldn’t have 350 pages on the OT in our book. Certainly my collaborator, Greg, would vehemently argue that the OT is foundational. That is where we have major messianic prophecies that the NT Gospels pick up on. And I invite the listeners, we have an entire chapter on the NT use of the OT, chapter 7, where we draw the connection between the two. And then, the section on the NT shows that all four Gospels are deeply and thoroughly grounded in OT prediction, typology, symbolism, and so forth. So, obviously, people need to really get the book. In the short time we have we can’t fully unpack the relationship between the Testaments. But those are all very important questions for biblical theology to address. And so, you asked exactly the right question, and we’re trying to do that in the book.

JP: Yeah. I’m so glad, again, that you devoted an entire chapter to this. And, again, there is so much here, it’s like, you and I are having one hour trying to digest a semester’s class, and we wouldn’t even be able to do it in a semester. It would a year-long class. So I want my friends to understand that the depth and the width and the absolute richness in this new book, Biblical Theology. I’m giving you a flyover. I want to get you excited about this new book. I want you to go get your own. And when you see this treasure of a book, you’re going to understand there is no way to summarize in an hour what’s in this book any more than Dr. Kostenberger could summarize what’s in the Bible in one hour. 

Well, so I’m lingering at some of those spots on purpose, so that you could hear Dr. Köstenberger’s heart and could understand the continuity of Scripture, which is not to be missed. It’s one of the blessings of the Word of God. So let me go back to the idea of the linkage between the two. If it weren’t important, and, by the way, I love the study of types in Scripture, those are the neon signs God uses to tell us and tell us again, so we can’t say we haven’t been told. That’s profound theology according to Janet Parshall. So, going back to the idea of the linkage between the two, if the OT weren’t significant, why would Jesus reference it so much?

AK: Absolutely. You’re exactly right. You have to look no further than Jesus and the four evangelists as well. And I think, you know, what we do in the book, Greg and I both, we have sections where Greg talks about major themes in the OT and then I talk about major themes in the NT and then we synthesize that in terms of the storyline of Scripture and the major biblical themes. So we want to make sure we don’t just submerge the OT in the NT but we want to do justice to the OT as a very important book in its own right, with its own distinctive themes and its own contribution to the library of Scripture.

Biblical Theology and Systematic Theology

JP: Yes. Amen to that. So at the beginning of the book, you talk about using the paradigm of exegesis to biblical theology to systematic theology. What is the distinction between biblical theology and systematic theology?

AK: Great question, and I think that distinction is very important. So biblical theology is essentially inductive, meaning we come to it with no theological system as such. And as much as possible, we’re opening ourselves up to discovering in Scripture what the authors themselves wanted to communicate. And so we look at the historical setting, we look at the literary context, and we look at the theological message. It’s what I call a triadic hermeneutic of history, literature, and theology. And so, as much as possible, we make some sort of a cumulative case that we look at each book, book by book, in its own right. And only after we’ve done that, we trying to synthesize the biblical message on a thematic level, on an ethical level, and ultimately on a storyline of Scripture level. So that’s why the book is long, because imagine, if you have to do that for all 66 books of Scripture.

Book Order in the New Testament

JP: Absolutely. Wow! So let me go back to the Gospels, because you’ve talked about that before, and you broke down, in fact, one entire chapter in the book, Biblical Theology, is entitled “Gospels.” When you go to the NT, this was interesting. You talk about the order of the books in the canon of the NT, you talk about the relationship between the Testaments, we just touched on that. Then you delineate the Gospels, the book of Acts, the letters of Paul, the General epistles, and the Apocalypse, which I found absolutely logical and fascinating, that it would be in that order. If I just landed here from another planet, and I said, What are these Gospels? Why do they have that name, why these books in particular? Why are they so interconnected and so linked? What would you say?

AK: Well, yeah, I think that’s a great biblical-theological way to look at the NT, to look at the major building blocks. So if you look at it that way, the four Gospels lay the foundation, right? They are centered on one person, the Lord Jesus Christ, who is really also the center of the entire Bible. The OT builds up to Jesus, and then the rest of the NT explicates what salvation in Christ means practically for us as Christians, you know, how we ought to live. And so, the Gospels are properly at the heart of Scripture and at the beginning of the NT, and they exhibit the new covenant Jesus established with the Twelve, the representatives of the church. 

And then after that you have the book of Acts, which is essentially the narrative of how the apostles preached the resurrected Christ, the risen Jesus, and thousands of people responded and so converted, and so early Christianity just grew by leaps and bounds. And then you have the letters. The letters basically apply the gospel message to ordinary, everyday Christians. And finally, you have the Second Coming, that’s foretold in Revelation, in the Apocalypse. 

And so you have the NT, like a beautiful rainbow, beginning with the first coming and ending with the second coming of Jesus. And so, even when you look at the whole Bible, Genesis and Revelation are just perfectly corresponding bookends, you know, from creation to new creation, and from the Garden to the New Jerusalem. And so I commend to people both biblical theology and looking at the Bible more synthetically, to know how the different parts all fit perfectly in the whole library of the 66 books of Scripture.

God in the Old Testament

JP: Wow. Harkening back to the question I asked you before about the linkage between the Testaments, this raises another interesting question. And if you look at some of the data, and I’m fascinated by the data, maybe because I’m here in Washington. It’s also revelatory, I think, about the condition of the church. So if you look, for example, at some of the research that Barna has done, there are a growing number of Christians who don’t think that Jesus was in the beginning where the Word was and the Word was with God. That somehow he is a created being after the fact. If we disconnect the Old and the NT, are we not just cutting out the prophecy and the foretelling, and the types and the antitypes, but are we not also negating the fact that the triune nature of God is manifest early on in Scripture, and Jesus is present from the beginning all the way through to the end?

AK: Absolutely. It’s really a mistake to, and my OT collaborator really helped to understand that even better, the idea that God in the OT is the triune God. It is not just God the Father. And so, you’re exactly right. You know, the Gospel of John makes that clearer than any other book in Scripture, that Jesus preexisted with God at the very beginning and at creation, and it is through Jesus, the Word, that everything was created.

Unity and Diversity and the Center of Biblical Theology

JP: Amen and amen. The book is called Biblical Theology. It is an absolutely fabulous, must-have resource for your own personal study, pastors obviously overflowing with richness for you as well. But it’s also for the individual student who is serious about Scripture. And the time to get serious about Scripture is now. … We’re talking about a brand-new resource that should be right there at your desk when you’re having your private time in the Word. It’s called Biblical Theology: A Canonical, Thematic, and Ethical Approach. It is co-authored by Dr. Andreas Kostenberger, who is a world-renowned theologian and scholar in the Bible. 

By the way, it’s clearly written, it’s an analysis of all 66 books of the Bible. There is an emphasis on the coherence and unified framework of Scripture. It helps you and me thoughtfully interpret the Scriptures, and it’s ideal, as I said before, not just for academicians if you want to go that route, but pastors and people like you and me who are serious students of the Word as well. So, at the end of the book, in your conclusion, you use two very trendy words right now. And I’d love for you to talk about it in its application to our conversation about biblical theology. You talk about unity and diversity. Break that down for our friends. I thought this was a fascinating chapter.

AK: Yes, you know, this has been a long-standing debate in biblical-theological circles, how you navigate the tension between the two, because, of course, as people with a high view of Scripture we naturally believe that Scripture is unified. And it is unified, because God is one, and God is unified. He is not contradictory. And so, the very fact that God inspired Scripture already tells us that in the end, Scripture will be unified. It will not be found to contradict itself. But at the same time, you look at, as I mentioned before, the Gospels, for example, or, you know, Kings and Chronicles, or the letters in the NT.

And you see there is a certain amount of diversity. We talked about that at the beginning of the interview. The fact that the twelve apostles each had their own personality, and their own personal style. And so, you know, I think I’ve heard it said that the measure of a good Biblical Theology is the way it is able to handle legitimate diversity in Scripture, rather than kind of like streamlining it, flattening it. In a legitimate desire to emphasize the unity of Scripture, you don’t do justice to its diversity. So trying to navigate that tension and to do justice to both, the unity and the diversity.

The Apocalypse and Biblical Theology

JP: Yeah, and you do an excellent job. So let me go back to what you said before about how you emphasize the love of God. And I’m so glad that you do, because I don’t want to study this as an academician. I’m drawn to the one who loved me so much, he gave his life for me. I was guilty as charged, the wages of sin is death, and the penalty had to paid, and Jesus steps in as a great mediator between me and God and says, “I’ll pay that price for you.” So I’m drawn into this incomprehensible message of the ultimate sacrifice.

Go to the end of the book, to the Apocalypse. Because, there are a lot of believers who to this day look at this book, and they let Hollywood be the theologian here, they let the movies teach them theology. Why, in your perspective of the NT, is this whole book that is the stuff of, well, wild fantasies to some people and outright fear for others, why do you think God wanted this part of the book included? He is the author, everything is there for our instruction and edification. Why the book of Revelation?

AK: Well, yes, it is from a canonical standpoint, we need that book for proper closure of the entire canon. Just imagine if we didn’t have Revelation, we wouldn’t know how the story ends. We wouldn’t have a vision of Jesus’ return, of the eternal state, heaven. We wouldn’t even have a record of the judgment of Satan and his demons. We wouldn’t have proper closure. And so, looking at the book from a biblical theology standpoint, where you look at the big picture, I think it’s clear to see that the book is not primarily about those, you know, bizarre end-time scenarios or some of those fine points that entire denominations are divided over. It’s essentially about the love of God that sent Jesus to redeem humanity and those who care to believe in Jesus. And in the end, there are consequences, there is judgment. We’re all accountable to God. That’s actually what brought me to the Lord, to be convinced that I would have to give an account to God for the life I lived, and I knew I couldn’t do it in my own strength. And so that drew me to Jesus, and that’s how I trusted him.

Balancing God’s Love and Holiness

JP: Wow! Can I linger here, because that’s so interesting. I just heard a pastor say yesterday that again we’re drawn to the love of God. We do ourselves a disservice, and perhaps we fail to live out our salvation with fear and trembling if we ignore the fact that he is also a holy judge. Let me just linger on that for a moment, because that might be a day-to-day question that a lot of people struggle with, and it keeps them from diving deep into the Word of God. So how can God be both a loving Father, loving us so much that he did send his Son, but also how can he be a holy judge? We’ve used the phrase twice before, but I think it’s apt in this context, it’s not an either-or, it’s a both-and. How does that work?

AK: Hm. Well, my wife and I talk about that all the time, because she has a forthcoming book also on biblical theology, on sanctification. And so she is reminding me of the holiness of God all the time, and also of the practical need for me to be a holy husband, and, you know, that is a daily challenge to allow the Holy Spirit to help me in that area. But I think Scripture tells us that God is both. As you said, he is holy, he is love, but he is also righteous. And I think the resolution comes in that he himself paid the penalty for our sin in the Lord Jesus Christ. One of my favorite verses is in Romans chapter 3, starting in verse 21, and it says, God is both just and the justifier of those who believe in Jesus. Isn’t that just a tremendous, wonderful verse that the judge himself came down in the form of his Son and paid the penalty for our sin himself?

On a Personal Note

JP: Yes, how often does a judge step in and pay the penalty in front of the criminal. Wow, that’s so amazing. One last question, if I may in an hour that has gone far too quickly. This is a seminal work. What is it like for you as a scholar and as an author when you finally put the last word down and it’s now bound. What do you think personally when you look at a work like this? A sense of accomplishment? Or do you think, if I had only included this, that, and the other thing?

AK: Well, Janet, thanks for asking. For me, it is a very personal project. It culminates 30 years of teaching and writing and research. I’m grateful for my collaborator, Greg, to partner with me. I couldn’t have done it by myself. But together, you know, I think, we’re both hoping that this will be a helpful resource, because biblical theology is a great way to study Scripture. And I certainly invite all our listeners to try it for themselves, to study the Bible biblically theologically.

JP: Amen. And may I echo that? The book is called Biblical Theology: A Canonical, Thematic, and Ethical Approach. Thank you, Dr. Kostenberger. See you next time, friend.

Note: This interview with Janet Parshall aired on April 3, 2023.