Biblical Theology

The Task of Biblical Preaching

Commenting on 1 Corinthians 10:1-22, in his section for preacher and teachers, Richard Hays writes,

"One of our fundamental pastoral tasks is to teach our congregations to find themselves in the stories of Israel and the early church, just as Paul sought to teach the Corinthians to find themselves in Israel's story. Is that difficult? Yes. Possible? Yes. Thinking typologically is a necessary survival skill for adult Christians. Our pedagogy has failed miserably to teach this skill because we have usually tried too hard to make the text 'relevant.' Rather than seeking to make the text relevant, Paul seeks to draw his readers into the text in such a way that its world reshapes the norms and decisions of the community in the present. That is the task of biblical preaching."

-First Corinthians, 173.

The OT in the NT

The other day I posted this on Facebook:

Christian, want to elevate your view of Jesus and deepen your appreciation for Scripture? In your reading, when the New Testament quotes the Old Testament, go back and read the whole chapter in which the particular Old Testament verse verse is found.
I wanted to give just one example. The following is an excerpt from a forthcoming book I am writing on Israel and the church:

The Fig-less Fig Tree, the New Temple, and the Den of Robbers

On the way back into Jerusalem, Jesus sees a fig tree that had no figs on it and says, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again” (Mark 11:14). I once heard a man teach that this is just a random inclusion to show that Jesus was frustrated at times. Um, not quite. Jesus sees himself as a new Jeremiah, warning unrepentant Israel. Right after the cursing of the fig tree, Jesus cleanses the temple, in an enacted parable of judgment. Jesus knocks over the tables and scathes his unrepentant people “Is it not written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations’? But you have made it a den of robbers” (Mark 11:17). Here, Jesus alludes to two OT passages: Isaiah 56 and Jeremiah 7.[1]

Doubtless, Jesus has the larger context of those verses in mind when he cites them. Recall that Isaiah 56 is the promise of the salvation of Israel and of Gentiles who join themselves to the Lord. Then it speaks of these foreigners becoming priests and ministering to the Lord as his servants (Isa. 56:6). The very next verse says, “My house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples,” which Jesus quotes. Jeremiah 7 was Jeremiah’s “temple sermon.” The Lord had told Jeremiah to stand at the gate of the temple and preach. Jeremiah was to warn the people of God: “Amend your ways and your deeds” (Jer. 7:3). He warned Judah that if they amend their wicked ways, God would let them dwell in that place. Then the Lord asks,
Has this house, which is called by my name, become a den of robbers in your eyes? Go now to my place that was in Shiloh, where I made my name dwell at first, and see what I did to it because of the evil of my people Israel. And now, because you have done all these things, declares the LORD, and when I spoke to you persistently you did not listen, and when I called you, you did not answer, therefore I will do to the house that is called by my name, and in which you trust, and to the place that I gave to you and to your fathers, as I did to Shiloh. And I will cast you out of my sight, as I cast out all your kinsmen, all the offspring of Ephraim. (Jer. 7:11-15)

Shiloh was the sanctuary before the monarchy that God judged through the Philistines (Ps. 78:60-64). If they do not repent, God will once again destroy the temple through judgment. The “robbers” are those who trust in the temple but offer corrupt worship.

So Jesus has a double message in mind when he combines these two passages. He picks up Isaiah to say that the vision of foreigners coming to do priestly service in a new temple is coming but currently the temple and its leadership is corrupt and, like at Shiloh, is on the verge of being destroyed. Elijah had come and warned but Israel had not amended their ways. So Jesus would destroy the temple (Mark 13) and build a new one where the nations would gather, he himself being the keystone.

Which is why the very next episode in the story is a return to the fig tree. Now the tree has “withered away to its roots” (Mark 11:20). The fig tree is a symbol of idolatrous Israel. Jesus is alluding to Jeremiah’s judgment oracle on unrepentant Judah. They will be punished and overthrown. “When I would gather them, declares the LORD, there are no grapes on the vine, nor figs on the fig tree; even the leaves are withered, and what I gave them has passed away from them” (Jer. 8:13, cf. Micah 7:1). The messenger had come before the great and terrible day of the Lord but the Jewish people did to him “whatever they pleased” (Mark 9:13). So the Lord would come and curse the land and the figless fig tree is a sobering illustration. Mark sandwiches the enacted judgment on the temple in between the fig tree teaching to make is point dramatically clear.

Hays, Reading Backwards, 6-12.

What is New Covenant Theology?

In short, New Covenant Theology (NCT) is Christ-centered biblical theology. It is a theological system that seeks to keep Christ central in every area, seeks to be exegetically grounded on every point, takes the progressive nature of Scripture seriously, and views the new covenant that Jesus inaugurated as the goal and climax of the previous biblical covenants. The Bible is not about Israel. The Bible is not about covenants. The Bible is about King Jesus.

I have sought to capture the seven core essentials on NCT in my little book What is New Covenant Theology? For that book, I wanted to make sure that these seven points were agreeable to all major NCT proponents I know. That is why the book has a disproportionate amount of blurbs for its size!

There are two other major theological systems: Covenant Theology (CT) and Dispensationalism. Whether they know it or not, all Christians land in one of these three camps. Of course each system is not completely uniform, but how one answers certain questions about certain passages will land a person in one of these three camps. Some of the following points fit right into the system of Dispensationalism. Others will gain a hearty amen from a Covenant Theologian. But taken altogether, they constitute a distinct third way.

Here is a summary of the seven points of NCT:

1. There is one plan of God centered in Jesus Christ.

This point is in contrast to both Dispensationalism and Covenant Theology. The former's view amounts to two plans: one for Israel and one for the church. Plan A for Israel did not work so God inserts a parentheses for the church, then removes Plan B to focus back on Plan A. NCT teaches that the body of Christ was always the point. Or as the Apostle Paul says, the plan hidden for ages was that "through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known and this was according to God's "eternal purpose" that is now realized in Christ Jesus (Eph. 3:10-11). Jesus and his body was always plan A.

CT does not see two plans, but uses the language of the "covenant of grace" to describe this one plan. The danger in seeing one over-arching covenant of grace is that such a concept tends to "flatten out" the various biblical covenants. The Bible speaks of covenants - plural - not of the covenant (Rom. 9:4, Eph. 2:12).

We are most jealous to guard the newness of the new covenant. The new covenant is not simply a new administration of the same old covenant of grace. It is not renewed. It is new. When Jeremiah was promising a new covenant, he explicitly said "not like the covenant" God made with Israel (Jer. 31:32). Jesus brings about change. There is one plan of God, unfolded through the covenants, centered in Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:10).

2. The Old Testament should be interpreted in light of the centrality of Jesus.

This is the fundamental axiom of NCT. Jesus and his Apostles teach us how to do exegesis. We follow him in life and we follow him in hermeneutics. He said that the whole of Scripture was about him (Luke 24:25-27, 44-48, John 5:46). The preacher who wrote Hebrews said that God spoke long ago at many times and in many ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son. Jesus is the pinnacle of divine revelation.

Virtually every page of the New Testament shows how the Old Testament pointed forward to and is now fulfilled in Jesus. So, if a rigid grammatical-historical hermeneutic of the Old Testament puts an interpreter at odds with the God-breathed, Christ-centered hermeneutic of the authoritative Apostles who learned from their King, we need to go back to the drawing board. In that instance, it is our hermeneutic that has gone astray, not that of the Apostles.

The Bible really is all about Jesus and we must read it all in light of his supremacy. I love the story of the Transfiguration. There you have Peter, James, John, Jesus, Moses (representing the law), and Elijah (representing the prophets). A cloud overshadows them and God says, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him." "Beloved son" comes from Psalm 2:7 and 2 Samuel 7 about the coming Davidic King. "Well pleased" points back to the servant who will come, suffer, and restore Israel in Isaiah 42:1. "Listen to him" comes from Deuteronomy 18:15 and the coming of an authoritative prophet like Moses. All the streams of redemptive history flow to the feet of the royal Galilean and we can never look back at those streams without him in mind. And when the cloud passed, and when the disciples "lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only" (Matt 17:8). The law and the prophets - indeed the whole Old Testament - points to and gives way to the Anointed One. We now must read everything in light of him.

3. The old covenant was temporary by divine design.

This point and the next two are mostly in dialogue with CT. The old covenant law was never meant to be "God's eternal moral will." Galatians 3 is most helpful in this regard. There we learn that the law had a definite starting point - 430 years after the promise to Abraham, and a definite ending point - when the Messiah came (Gal. 3:17-19). It was never meant to be eternal. It was a parenthesis in God's plan. Or to use the language of Galatians 3 again, the law was our babysitter. It was our guardian (Gal. 3:24). Babysitters are great for children, but once they reach maturity, the babysitter has served their purpose.

Hebrews 8 also shows us that the old covenant was never intended to last forever. He says that if the old covenant would have been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second (Heb. 8:7). He then quotes the passage in Jeremiah about a coming new covenant and concludes by saying, "In speaking of a new covenant, he makes the first one obsolete. And what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away" (Heb. 8:13). The new covenant replaces the old covenant. Jesus brings about a better one.

4. The law is a unit.

CT follows Calvin, who followed Aquinas in the breaking up of the law into three aspects: the civil, ceremonial, and moral. Some covenant theologians say that Jesus only fulfilled the ceremonial and the moral and civil remain, but most covenant theologians argue that the civil and ceremonial are fulfilled by Christ but the moral law of God, encapsulated in the Ten Commandments, is eternal and therefore binding on Christians.

NCT denies this three-fold distinction, finding such a division nowhere in Scripture - or in Jewish tradition for that matter. Rather, everywhere it is stated and assumed that the law is a unit (Gal. 5:3, James 2:10, Heb. 7:11-12).

5. Christians are not under the law of Moses but under the law of Christ.

This point is an obvious entailment of the previous two points. If the law is a unit and was divinely instituted to be in place until the Messiah came, then clearly Christians are not bound to the old covenant law.

This point is easily demonstrable from the Word. We'll just mention a few. First Corinthians 9:20-21 is explicit. There Paul writes, "To those under the law I became as one under the law (though not being myself under the law) that I might win those under the law. To those outside the law I became as one outside the law (not being outside the law of God but under the law of Christ) that I might win those outside the law." Here, Paul says that he is not under the law, but not outside the law of God but under the law of Christ. So there are three categories:

  1. Those under the law (Jews)
  2. Those outside the law (Gentiles)
  3. Those under the law of Christ (Christians)

This verse makes it clear that Christians are not under the law of Moses. It also makes clear that the "law of God" can no longer be equated with the Law of Moses. Now, to be inside the law of God is to be under the law of Christ (literally in-lawed to Christ). Clearly, the ethical standard has changed from old covenant to new covenant.

Romans 6:14 says we are no longer under law but under grace. In the next chapter, Paul says that Christians have "died to the law" and have been "released from the law" and that we now "serve in the new way of the Spirit and not in the old way of the written code" (Rom. 7:4-6).

As shocking as this may sound, this even means that Christians are not bound by the Ten Commandments. NCT has no problem with obeying nine of the ten, but the rubber meets the road with the 4th Commandment: the Sabbath commandment. There is no textual evidence that the Sabbath has switched from Saturday to Sunday and the New Testament is very clear that the Sabbath is fulfilled in Jesus. Colossians 2 says that the Sabbath was a shadow but the body belongs to Christ (Col. 2:16-17). Romans 14:5 is a far cry from commanding those who break the Sabbath to be killed by rocks. There, concerning the Sabbath, we read that each one should be fully convinced in his own mind! Hebrews 3-4 shows that the rest of the Sabbath pointed forward to finding rest in Jesus. The Sabbath was a signpost. One needs no sign pointing to DC when in Capitol Hill.

But, it is important to note that being without the Law does not lead to being outlaws. To be Law-less does not lead to being lawless. There are an abundance of commands in the new covenant, the primary one being the love command.

6. All members of the new covenant community (the church) are fully forgiven of their sins and are indwelt by the Holy Spirit.

For the most part, NCT and Dispensationalism are on the same page here. CT teaches that an infant becomes part of the new covenant community through baptism. They argue this because they see the continuity of the covenant of grace and see baptism and replacing circumcision. They believe the new covenant community is "mixed," consisting of believers and unbelievers. This is a key place where NCT sees discontinuity between the old and new covenants. NCT teaches that only those who have faith are part of the new covenant community. One enters the new covenant community by faith, which infants cannot exercise. In Jeremiah's new covenant promise, he prophesies that the nature of the covenant community will change. It will move from being a "mixed" community of believers and unbelievers to a "regenerate" community. He writes, "And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the LORD,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the LORD" (Jer. 31:34).

There are several Old Testament prophecies that predict the pouring out of the Spirit on Israel when God returns and restores them. These are fulfilled when Jesus pours out the Spirit at Pentecost (note how Peter interprets Joel 2 in Acts 2). The Spirit regenerates and indwells every person when they trust in Jesus and join the new covenant community, which is in striking contrast to the old covenant. As John Reisinger likes to say, the old covenant did not come with batteries included. Every member of the new covenant community is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, who enables us to live a life pleasing to God.

7. By virtue of union with Christ, the church is the end-time Israel.

Dispensationalism teaches that the church and Israel are separate. This is a hard case to make from Scripture. CT teaches that the church is Israel and Israel is the church. NCT is much closer to CT here but teaches that Israel is summed up in her Messiah, who then opens the gates of Israel to any and all who trust him as Lord. NCT centers the Christ/church relationship on union with Christ. It really is all about him.

All the promises of God are yes in Christ (2 Cor. 1:20). The story of Israel finds its resolution in the story of Jesus. Matthew starts the New Testament with the bold assertion that this biography will be about the Messiah who is both the son of David and the son of Abraham (Matt. 1:1). He sums up Israel in himself. He is the singular offspring of Abraham (Gal. 3:16) who bears the curses and inherits all the promises and then shares them will all who trust in him. We are co-heirs with Christ. If you are of Christ then you are heirs of the promises to Abraham (Gal. 3:29). Ephesians 2:11 and following clearly say that the two have become one because of the cross-work of Christ. Romans 2 redefines Jewishness around the Spirit: "For no one is a Jew who is merely one outwardly, nor is circumcision outward and physical. But a Jew is one inwardly, and circumcision is a matter of the heart, by the Spirit, not by the letter" (Rom. 2:28-29).

Sometimes, NCT is accused of replacement theology. That is just a straw man. We teach inclusion theology. All the promises of God about him coming back to regather Israel begin to be fulfilled in the first coming of Jesus - God-made-flesh - who comes and restores Israel. Just take a glance at the cross references in Mark 1 to see how many Old Testament verses are alluded to there. He begins with 12 disciples, alluding to the reconstituting of the 12 tribes, then expands his kingdom to include all who come to him. The Messiah came to his own people but his own people did not receive him but to any and all who did receive him - regardless of ethnicity - to them he gave the right to become Israel, who were born not of bloodlines but of God (John 1:12-13). Jesus came to restore Israel and redefine Israel around himself, expanding its borders to any who are joined to him by faith.

Each of these points begs to be unpacked further, but to my mind, and the minds of many others, these are the seven core essentials of new covenant theology. 

Other NCT Resources:

The Sabbath Fulfilled in Christ

On Colossians 2:16-17:

"Therefore, don't let anyone judge you in regard to food and drink or in the matter of a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of what was to come; the substance is the Messiah." (CSB)

Craig Blomberg writes,

“No Colossian Christian of any ethnicity, knowing of Christianity’s Jewish roots, having just had his or her attention drawn to a distinctively Jewish ritual, could hear Paul’s words in verse 16 and reasonably deduce that he was thinking only of pagan holidays or special Jewish Sabbaths or certain parts of regular Jewish Sabbaths and not also of what Jews universally meant the overwhelming majority of the time when they used the word Sabbath without qualification. Could anyone be expected to conclude from this verse that Paul was in fact simultaneously implying the exact opposite of the straightforward language he used, something like ‘but of course you must still observe the Jewish Sabbath or the biblical parts of the Sabbath or the non-ceremonial elements of the Sabbath?”[1]

[1] Blomberg, “The Sabbath as Fulfilled in Christ," in Perspectives on the Sabbath, 343.

True Jews!

"The circumcising of the heart by the Spirit was considered to be an eschatological work that would occur in the days when redemptive history was being fulfilled. The circumcision of the heart by the Holy Spirit signifies the inauguration of redemptive history. God is now fulfilling his saving promises. That which physical circumcision anticipated, the circumcision of the heart, is now a reality through the Holy Spirit. Since true circumcision and genuine Jewishness are not external matters but the result of the Spirit's work, it follows that Gentiles are part of God's people - true Jews! God's saving promises made to Abraham are now becoming a reality."

-Thomas Schreiner, Paul, Apostle of God's Glory in Christ, 81.

17 Important Articles for New Covenant Theology

This week I have been preparing for a three day class on New Covenant Theology I am teaching at the Center for Pioneer Church Planting (of TETM) and came across several online version of important articles and wanted to post them here. If you have no idea what NCT is, here is a short article on its essentials. Most of the following are academic articles:

Another Review of Kingdom Through Covenant


My favorite part: 

"If any editors from Crossway happen upon this review, I would like to make a suggestion: perhaps the most effective way to get this book into the hands of pastors in a readable and accessible way would be through publishing a condensation along the lines of the summary of Thomas Schreiner's Magnifying God in Christ: A Summary of New Testament Theology."

The Preparatory Role of Jerusalem

"Jerusalem and its Temple were always destined to be eclipsed by the revelation of the Messiah and his inauguration of the new covenant. Just as Paul saw the Torah as designed to point the way towards Christ (Gal. 3:24), so too Jerusalem's role was inherently preparatory. When the one came who would offer himself outside its walls as a sacrifice for sin, its sacrificial system would not be required. When the one came who would embody the incarnate presence of God, the true shekinah presence, then the Temple as the previous focused location of the divine name would need to be laid aside. When the Spirit came, Jerusalem's role as witnessing to the presence of God in the midst of his people would no longer be necessary. When the time came that the gospel could go out 'to all nations', then the previous particularity associated with Jerusalem would need to give way. When Gentiles could at last enter  the 'people of God', then the necessary distinction between Jew and Gentile emblazoned within the Temple would have to be 'broken down'. Finally, when the full revelation of God in Christ was made known and the glories of his heavenly Jerusalem could be glimpsed, then the previous symbolic role of Jerusalem as encapsulating God's final purpose for his world could be seen to have truly fulfilled its purpose."

-P.W.L. Walker, Jesus and the Holy City, 314-15

Kingdom Through Covenant by Gentry and Wellum

Peter Gentry and Stephen Wellum's new and much-awaited book Kingdom Through Covenant: A Biblical-Theological Understanding of the Covenants (Crossway, 2012) has only been out for a couple of months, but it has already generated quite a bit of discussion.

Though I do not currently have the time to review it in full, I'd like to make a few comments and provide more links than one could want if you are interested.

loved the book. It is a treasure trove of systematic theology that is informed by clear exegesis and biblical theology. The introductory sections are very helpful. They clearly lay out the definitions of biblical theology, systematics, their relation, then they cover the distinctives of Covenant Theology and Dispensationalism, before turning to hermeneutical issues such as the nature of Scripture, progressive revelation, and typology. Part Two is long and rigorous. It contains 12 chapters unpacking each divine/human covenant in its own context and shows the continuities and discontinuities with what went before and with what lay ahead. Chapter 16 is a nice 60 page summary of the 12 dense chapters that preceded it. In chapter 17, they apply their proposal to the person of Christ, the work of Christ (if you are curious as to how Dr. Wellum argues for definite atonement, you really ought to listen to his recent faculty address "What does the Extent of the Atonement have to do with Baptist Ecclesiology: an Experience of Doing Theology"), the nature of the church, baptism, and the land promise. Quite ambitious, huh?

highly recommend this much needed book. They do a superb job demonstrating all sorts of theological truths important to the current discussion over biblical-theological systems: the importance of covenants for the biblical story-line  the New Testament use of the Old, typology, the conditional/unconditional nature of the covenants, the temporal nature of the old covenant, the newness of the new covenant, the fourfold nature of the seed of Abraham, the unified nature of the Mosaic law, the relationship between Israel and the church, and much more.

I realize that most folks won't read 800 pages though, so at least read Parts 1 and 3. And if that is too much, then read the summary in chapter 16. I think this book will be a key player in years to come. It is the first thorough academic work from a "new covenant theology" perspective published by a major publisher. The authors call their view a species of new covenant theology, opting for progressive covenantalism (24) or simply for kingdom through covenant.

I think Kingdom Through Covenant, much like Blaising and Bock's Progressive Dispensationalism, will be a theological game-changer. I frequently encounter students who are not Reformed Baptists, are not Dispensational, but are not quite sure where they land theologically. I think this book will help people, particularly Baptists, think through the other main option. I hope it will cause Covenant Theologians and Dispensationalists to reexamine their systems in light of Scripture as well.

On to the links:

A Review by Douglas Moo

Review by Darrell Bock

Review by Michael Horton

The authors respond.

A Review by Fred Zaspel

Andy Naselli asks 4 questions of the book.

A Review by Matthew Sims

Kingdom Through Covenant: A Biblical Middle Way? (interview with Gentry and Wellum)

Credo Magazine interviews Stephen Wellum here.

Credo Magazine interview Peter Gentry here.

The Towers interviews the authors here.

Crossway has made chapters 1 (The Importance of Covenants in Biblical and Systematic Theology) and 2 (Covenants in Biblical-Theological Systems: Dispensational and Covenant Theology) available here.

fantastic 65 page essay by Stephen Wellum on the relation of baptism and the covenants from Believer's Baptism ed. by Thomas Schreiner and Shawn Wright.

Justin Taylor interviews Stephen Wellum about baptism and the covenants.

Andy Naselli outlines Dr. Wellum's essay on baptism and the covenants.

Monergism's take on the book. Ian from the City of God blog responds. As does Alpha and Omega ministries.

Here are a few of the endorsements:

“What do you get when you cross a world class Bible scholar and a first rate systematic theologian? You get 800-plus pages of power-packed biblical goodness. You get the forest and quite a few of the trees. This is not the first volume that has attempted to mediate the dispensational/covenant theology divide, but it may be the culminating presentation of that discussion—just as Bach was not the first Baroque composer but its highest moment. Gentry and Wellum’s proposal of Kingdom through Covenant should be read by all parties, but I won’t be surprised to learn in 20 years that this volume provided the foundation for how a generation of anyone who advocates regenerate church membership puts their Bible together.”
-Jonathan Leeman, Editorial Director, 9Marks; author, Church and the Surprising Offense of God’s Love

“Gentry and Wellum offer a third way, a via media, between covenant theology and dispensationalism, arguing that both of these theological systems are not informed sufficiently by biblical theology. Certainly we cannot understand the scriptures without comprehending ‘the whole counsel of God,’ and here we find incisive exegesis and biblical theology at its best. This book is a must read and will be part of the conversation for many years to come.”
—Thomas R. Schreiner, James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“Kingdom through Covenant is hermeneutically sensitive, exegetically rigorous, and theologically rich—a first rate biblical theology that addresses both the message and structure of the whole Bible from the ground up. Gentry and Wellum have produced what will become one of the standard texts in the field. For anyone who wishes to tread the path of biblical revelation, this text is a faithful guide.”
—Miles V. Van Pelt, Alan Belcher Professor of Old Testament and Biblical Languages and Director, Summer Institute for Biblical Languages, Reformed Theological Seminary

“Gentry and Wellum have provided a welcome addition to the current number of books on biblical theology. What makes their contribution unique is the marriage of historical exegesis, biblical theology, and systematic theology. Kingdom through Covenant brims with exegetical insights, biblical theological drama, and sound systematic theological conclusions. Particularly important is the viable alternative they offer to the covenantal and dispensational hermeneutical frameworks. I enthusiastically recommend this book!”
—Stephen Dempster, Stuart E. Murray Associate Professor of Religious Studies, Atlantic Baptist University

In sum, get this book!!

What We Have

"Hebrews' affirmations of what 'we have' are surprisingly comprehensive. We have the land, described as the 'rest' into which we have entered through Christ, in a way which even Joshua did not achieve for Israel (3:12-4:11); we have a High Priest (4:14, 8:1, 10:21) and an altar (13:10); we enter into the Holy Place, so we have the reality of tabernacle and temple (10:19). We have come to Mt. Zion (12:22) and we are receiving a kingdom, in line with Haggai 2:6 (12:28). Indeed, according to Hebrews (13:14), the only thing which we do not have is an earthly, territorial city!"

Chris Wright, "A Christian approach to Old Testament Prophecy concerning Israel," 18-19.

The Land As Advance Metaphor

“The Land, like the Torah, was a temporary stage in the long purpose of the God of Abraham. It was not a bad thing now done away with, but a good and necessary thing now fulfilled in Christ and the Spirit. It is as though the Land were a great advance metaphor for the design of God that his people should eventually bring the whole world into submission to his healing reign. God’s whole purpose now goes beyond Jerusalem and the Land to the whole world."

Tom Wright, “Jerusalem in the New Testament,” in Jerusalem Past and Present in the Purposes of God, ed. P.W.L. Walker (Cambridge: Tyndale House) 67.

Jerusalem & Biblical Theology

"Jesus' resurrection was a private vindication of who He was and what He did, but no one saw it take place, and Jesus only appeared to a few disciples. The destruction of the enemy city, Jerusalem, was His public vindication. Fulfilling Jesus' prophecies, it confirmed Him as a true Prophet, and as the last and greatest Prophet. It was the proof that He had indeed ascended to heaven and become King of kings and Lord of lords. Thus, the destruction of the Old Creation is of incalculable importance to Biblical theology. It was not some mere mopping-up operation, but was the great public historical vindication of Jesus by the Father. Those who fail to see this fact generally discount the importance of the destruction of Jerusalem, and thus fail to see why it occupies so much attention in the Gospels, and also fail to see that it is the major concern of the book of Revelation. We might just as well call Revelation 'The Vindication of Jesus Christ'."

--J. Jordan, The Vindication of Jesus Christ, 11.

The "Christification" of the Land

"An underlying principle seems to govern Christ's applications of Israel's promises: the removal of the old ethnic restriction among the new-covenant people entails the removal of the old geographic Middle East center for Christ's Church. Wherever Christ is, there is the holy space. This is the essence of the New Testament application of Israel's holy territory. For the holiness of old Jerusalem, the New Testament substitutes the holiness of Jesus Christ. It "Christifies" the old territorial holiness and thus transcends its limitations. This should not be regarded as the New Testament rejection of Israel's territorial promises, but rather as its fulfillment and confirmation in Christ."

H.K. LaRondelle, The Israel of God in Prophecy, 142.

What is New Covenant Theology? An Introduction

My new book, What is New Covenant Theology: An Introduction is now available from Amazon and New Covenant Media. I am really excited about this little book. I hope it serves to introduce many to the core of New Covenant Theology. I worked hard to keep it short and accessible.

Here is the Table of Contents:

  • Introduction 
  • Chapter 1 – One Plan of God Centered in Jesus Christ
  • Chapter 2 – The Old Testament Should Be Interpreted in Light of the New Testament 
  • Chapter 3 – The Old Covenant Was Temporary by Divine Design 
  • Chapter 4 – The Law Is a Unit 
  • Chapter 5 – Christians Are Not Under the Law of Moses, but the ‘Law’ of Christ 
  • Chapter 6 – All Members of the New Covenant Community Have the Holy Spirit 
  • Chapter 7 – The Church Is the Eschatological Israel 
  • Conclusion 
  • Recommended Reading

Here are the endorsements:

“This small book is a doctrinal pamphlet packed with straight-forward, palatable teaching on New Covenant Theology (NCT) distinctives regarding seven major Christ-centered doctrinal areas. It will surely provide a valuable service to those church members for whom it was intended, written by a gifted scholar. Although small, it is an important work that explains the essence and basis for a more accurate biblical and theological hermeneutical system. It is purposely designed in clear, succinct language to provide its target audience with what NCT is about in furtherance of the gospel. Pastors and teachers are encouraged to promote this fine, articulate work.”

Gary D. Long, Th.D., Faculty President, Providence Theological Seminary, Colorado Springs, CO

“Blake White has written a wonderfully accessible primer on new covenant theology. Some think the only options out there are dispensationalism or covenant theology and have not even heard of new covenant theology. This is the ideal book to give to someone who wants a brief and convincing exposition of new covenant thought. I recommend this work gladly.”

Thomas R. Schreiner, James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky

“In a very readable, accurate, and succinct manner, Blake White covers the basics of New Covenant Theology. He nicely distinguishes NCT from dispensational and covenant theology by showing NCT's distinctives but in a way that is not complicated or difficult to understand. In addition, for those who often misunderstand NCT, this work also clearly teaches what is at the heart of NCT and how it seeks to understand the whole counsel of God in a way that is true to the Bible's own storyline and which is centered in Christ. I highly recommend this work for those who want to know more about NCT, for those who want to think through how "to put the Bible together," and mostly for those who want to rejoice in Jesus Christ our Lord, our glorious mediator and head of the new covenant.”

Stephen J. Wellum, Professor of Christian Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary

“Blake White has given us another concise treatment on New Covenant Theology. His approach is "big brush strokes." This makes the work to be extremely useful for someone just becoming acquainted with New Covenant Theology. The author states his purpose at the beginning: ‘In this book, I want to lay out the core concepts of New Covenant Theology . . . . . my aim is to make the essentials of New Covenant Theology available in an accessible way for church members.’ I am sure the reader will quickly realize the author has attained is goal.”

John G. Reisinger, Evangelist and Author

“A. Blake White’s book, An Introduction to New Covenant Theology, is exactly what it says! In clear, simple language White shows how this relatively new theological formulation tracks God’s unfolding plan of redemption through the Bible to its culmination in Jesus Christ. All that God has done in Christ is truly amazing and apprehending these truths opens up new vistas of adoration, understanding, and direction in living a life pleasing to God. If you want to better understand the Bible’s own way of presenting the gospel, this book is highly recommended.”

Kirk M. Wellum, Principal, Toronto Baptist Seminary

“What attracts me to this way of seeing Scripture is its determination to use Bible words for Bible concepts, its commitment to following the progressive development of God’s revelation, and its clear view of promise and fulfillment in the central figure of all revelation, Jesus Christ. I have friends and heroes on all sides of the discussion, but after years of Bible study on this subject, I have arrived where the author has arrived. I’m so thankful Blake White has put his studies into our hands and recommend this book as a useful introductory guide to comprehending the aim of the Bible. I’ll use it often.”

Jim Elliff, President, Christian Communicators Worldwide

“Blake White has done us a great service in making clear the basic ideas of New Covenant Theology. By reducing it to these basics it will make it easier to criticize and correct. So much controversy among Christians is due to not understanding the basic principles of the thing being argued about. For this reason I commend it to my fellow Christians. Also I commend it because I think it is right!”

Tom Wells, Author of The Christian and the Sabbath, The Priority of Jesus Christ, and many other books. He is also co-author of New Covenant Theology.

“This book gets to the heart of the debate over New Covenant Theology. I commend the book for how concise and clear it is on key issues and I am especially excited by its irenic tone. May the Lord use it to move the discussion forward.”

Jason C. Meyer, Associate Professor of New Testament, Bethlehem College and Seminary

“If you want a book that gets to the core of New Covenant Theology, this is it. When someone asks you to explain NCT, you now have a concise resource to put in their hands. Blake White has composed a helpful map for navigating the three major interpretive approaches to the Bible. Don't just read it, give copies to those who need to be reminded that Christ is all in all.”

Douglas Goodin, President, Cross to Crown Ministries, Colorado Springs, CO

“Blake has given us a basic primer on New Covenant Theology that lays out the fundamental truths of this system of biblical truth. The book is easy to read and follow. The strength of the book is its clear explanation of the difference between the old covenant and the new covenant. This difference between the two covenants describes the essence of what is New Covenant Theology and why it is so different from Covenant Theology and Dispensationalism.”

Geoff Volker, Director of In-Depth Studies, Temple, AZ

Neither Jew nor Gentile

"This is why, for the new covenant apostles, Jew-Gentile unity is pivotal to the early church. It is about more than human relational harmony. Instead, it acknowledges that God's kingdom purposes are in Christ. He is the last man and the true Israel, the bearer of the Spirit. A Jewish person who clings to the tribal markings of the old covenant acts as though the eschaton has not arrived, as though one were still waiting for the promised seed. Both Jews and Gentiles must instead see their identities not in themselves or in the flesh but in Jesus Christ and in him alone. Jesus is the descendant of Abraham, the one who deserves the throne of David. He is the obedient Israel who inherits the blessings of the Mosaic covenant. He is the propitiation of God's wrath. He is the firstborn from the dead, the resurrection and the life.

Those who are in Christ - whether Jew or Gentile - receive with him all the eschatological blessings that are due to him. In him, they are all, whether Jew or Gentiles, sons of God - not only in terms of relationship with the Father but also in terms of promised inheritance (Rom. 8:12-17). In Christ, they all - whether Jew or Gentile - are sons of Abraham, the true circumcision, the holy nation, and the household and commonwealth of God (Gal. 3:23-4:7; Eph. 2-3; Col 2:6-15; 3:3-11; 1 Pet. 2:9-10)."

Russell Moore, "Personal and Cosmic Eschatology," in A Theology for the Church, 867-68.

Replacement Theology?

 ESV  Matthew 8:11-12 - "I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven, while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.""

 ESV  Matthew 21:43 - "Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people producing its fruits."