The New Studies in Biblical Theology (NSBT) series is billed as "creative attempts to help thinking Christians understand their Bibles better" and "aims simultaneously to instruct and to edify, to interact with the current literature, and to point the way ahead." Salvation to the Ends of the Earth is the NSBT volume on missions, and it offers a biblical-theological look at the important topic of missions.
Authors Andreas Köstenberger and Peter T. O'Brien feel that missions has often been neglected in biblical theology. This is why they now offer us a comprehensive study of the theme of missions from a biblical-theological view, looking at how the entire Bible views missions. Their conclusion: "Mission is linked inextricably to humanity's sinfulness and need for redemption, and to God's provision of salvation in the person and work of Christ." The authors feel that the foundation of Christian mission must lay in Jesus' salvific mission as revealed in the Bible.
In their biblical-theological model, three aspects take precedence: history, literature and theology. Each aspect is used to discuss missions in: the Old Testament; the second-temple period; the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke-Acts); the letters of Paul; the letters of John; the General Epistles; Revelation. They attempt to answer tough questions like: Was Israel in the Old Testament called to an active missionary outreach like the church was called to in the New Testament? Can second-temple Judaism be characterized as a missionary religion? Did Jesus limit His mission to the Jews only, or was it also extended to the Gentiles as well? Did Paul encourage believers to emulate his own missionary activities?
Köstenberger and O'Brien feel that there may well be some discontinuity between mission in the Old and New Testaments, but they also feel that "Scripture...is, ultimately, God's Word" and that "we may legitimately expect to see an underlying logic and unity in the biblical message...for Scripture is united by one pervading purpose: the tracing of God's unfolding plan of redemption." Since "God acts coherently and purposefully in history" we can expect more unity than disunity between the Old and New Testaments regarding mission. Once that unity is known and understood, it can transform missions in our time. We will see the hand of God pointing the way to greater missionary endeavors, and we, as His ambassadors, will bring Salvation to the Ends of the Earth.
Few biblical topics are as important as mission. Mission is linked inextricably to humanity's sinfulness and need for redemption, and to God's provision of salvation in the person and work of Jesus Christ. This "good news" of salvation must be made known! The saving mission of Jesus constitutes the foundation for Christian mission, and the Christian gospel is its message. According to Andreas Köstenberger and Peter O'Brien, this significant theme has rarely been given its due attention in biblical theology. Motivated by their passion to see God's mission carried out in today's world, they offer a comprehensive study of the theme of mission. In Salvation to the Ends of the Earth they explore the entire sweep of biblical history, including the Old Testament, the second-temple period, each New Testament Gospel, Paul and his writings, and the General Epistles and Revelation. Among other questions, Köstenberger and O'Brien examine whether or not Old Testament Israel was called to mission, whether second-temple Judaism should be characterized as a missionary religion, whether Jesus limited his earthly mission to Israel or also embarked on a Gentile mission, and whether or not there is continuity between the missions of Israel and the missions of Jesus and the early church. They write, "It is our sincere hope that our Christian mission, which is first of all God's, will be founded on a biblical theology that takes its cue from the scriptural revelation as a whole." To that end, they offer this New Studies in Biblical Theology volume as a service to the worldwide church. Addressing key issues in biblical theology, the works comprising New Studies in Biblical Theology are creative attempts to help Christians better understand their Bibles. The NSBT series is edited by D. A. Carson, aiming to simultaneously instruct and to edify, to interact with current scholarship and to point the way ahead.
Andreas J. Köstenberger (Ph.D., Trinity Evangelical Divinity School) is professor of New Testament at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in North Carolina. He is also coauthor of and author of the article "Mission" in IVP Academic's
O'Brien is senior research fellow in New Testament at Moore Theological College in Sydney, Australia. He is well-known for his major biblical commentaries, including (Apollos), and several publications on the subject of mission.
"Together [Köstenberger and O'Brien] have written a biblical theology of mission that listens carefully to the biblical texts and follows the Bible's 'story-line' without flattening the diverse emphases of the various biblical books. Here is scholarship that matters: careful and even-handed, yet of transforming significance for all Christians serious about the mission of the church of Jesus Christ."
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