Thomas R. Schreiner is a Southern Baptist theologian and pastor. After serving for 11 years at Bethel Theological Seminary, he began teaching at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY and has been there since 1997. Schreiner is the James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation and professor of biblical theology. He’s also the associate dean of the School of Theology at Southern.
Schreiner begins the book by making a significant distinction between the central theme of a story and the reason for that story. The former he identifies in this book as the kingdom of God; the reason would be for the glory of God. For Schreiner, “the contention here is that the phrase ‘kingdom of God’ thematically captures, from a biblical theology standpoint, the message of Scripture.” (xiii) The author is explicit that the kingdom of God designates the rule of God, and that the Scriptures tell the story of the kingdom regained. “To fear the Lord is to live under his lordship,” Schreiner contends. Moreover, God glorifies himself by giving himself to his human beings in love. Therefore God’s glory and His love are not mutually exclusive, but rather are consonant with one another. Schreiner identifies a “threefold dimension” to the Kingdom: God as King, humans as His subjects, and the universe as the spatial-temporal locale. (xv)
The very beginning of Scripture (Gen. 1:1-2:3) heralds the majesty and power of God, and Psalm 33 echoes this same motif. Examining the “let us” phrase in Gen. 1:26, Schreiner believes that a fully canonical approach supports a Trinitarian reading. The author distinguishes man and woman as the “climax of creation.” In his discussion of the image of God, Schreiner aligns with Peter Gentry’s argument that the imago dei is not simply functional but ontological. (6) The fall of Adam and Even into sign signifies their rejection of God’s lordship over their lives. (Gen. 3) The instance of Noah and the flood exemplified the kingdom of God being brought forth through judgment. However, Noah’s salvation doesn’t cure the problem of sin. This forms the discontinuity between Adam and Abraham, the man of faith accounted righteous. Throughout Genesis, the grace of God remains central. God’s promise is through Abraham and Sarah. Isaac, their son, “forecasts typologically” Jesus Christ in the sacrificial picture upon Moriah. (21)
In Exodus, Moses’ flee from Egypt parallels with Christ’s fleeing into Egypt. For Schreiner, the “I am” nomenclature emphasizes that the Lord is the God of the covenant with the fathers. (29) The Exodus spells the new creation of Israel and adumbrates the eschatological new creation. The “covenant-keeping God” reveals His lordship and kingship in the liberation of Israel. (32) His sovereignty and His kingship “are wedded inextricably to praise.” (33) Schreiner recognizes that the Mosaic covenant is almost identical to a conditional Suzerain-vassal treaty, but rejects Sailhamer’s assertion that in the Pentateuch life according to the law is contrasted with the way of faith. (39) The Tabernacle is directly correlative to Eden, and this is a major theme in the Old Testament. While the law is not “legalistic,” it is dependent upon human performance. For Schreiner, the “name” of Yahweh signifies His character. Leviticus 17:11 is the “fundamental text” of the book for this author. The fundamental reason for sacrifices was atonement. The laws and temple are designed to point to Christ, the new temple, and the New Testament believers – the temples of the Holy Spirit. (61) The theme of these Levitical laws is divine holiness. Thus obedience is living under the lordship of God. Access to the Lord is allowed only on His terms. His glory is dually manifested in salvation and judgment – the latter symbolized in the deaths of Mariam and Aaron in Numbers 20. (75)
In his examination of Deuteronomy, Schreiner is explicit that “grace precedes demand.” (80) God chose Israel as His “treasured possession” not because of their valor, but because He desired to show them His love. The first three commandments of the Torah reflect the supremacy of Yahweh. Moving beyond the Pentateuch, the author opines, “Truly the book of Joshua is consumed with the place where Yahweh rules over His people.” (107) Yahweh promised both territory and the defeat of their enemies. In this book, the lives of Caleb and Achan represent the two ways that Israel could go. Unfortunately, in the words of Gregory Wong, the ensuing book of Judges represents a “progressive deterioration” of His people – Israel needs a king. (117) In the book of Ruth, the concept of hesed is prominent among commendable characters. Schreiner offers a summary: “Judges emphasizes Israel’s waywardness…The book of Ruth relays the story of how Ruth married Boaz, explaining how she and Boaz were ancestors of the one who eventually became king: David. The books of 1-2 Samuel recount the story of how David became king.” (136) The author calls Solomon’s rule “peace and Edenic.” (169) His building of the temple (one of the most important events in salvation history) is compared to Christ’s building of the new temple. But good times soon became a memory. “A fundamental theme of Ezra-Nehemiah is the danger of syncretism.” (210) Hence devotion to Yahweh expresses itself in obedience to the Torah. Accordingly, the overarching message of Esther is that Yahweh is King and the Jews are his people. (225)
Moving onto the songs of Israel and the Writings, Schreiner emphasizes that the book of Job is about the sovereignty of the King even over evil! The Psalms, a “medium for instruction” according to the author, are themselves are exceedingly God-centered: “The psalms capture the sorrows and joys that punctuate the experience of both individuals and the people of God.” (250) From the very first two Psalms, the lordship of Yahweh is apparent. Yahweh is the anointed king. Schreiner is keen to point out that the first four books end with a doxology while the fifth book ends with five psalms that are doxological. Psalm is a book of praise, itself the “glad response to Yahweh’s saving love.” (279) The Proverbs, on the other hand, are integrated into what Schreiner calls a “Yahwistic framework.” (281) Wisdom means that one lives rightly and fearfully under the lordship of God. The “Deuteronomic flavor” of Proverbs promotes the sovereignty of God while nicely correlating human initiative and choice. However, in eschatological expectation, no human king can fulfill ideal king described in its pages. For Schreiner, the book of Ecclesiastes should not be read nihilistically, but rather with the concluding theme in mind: the fear of God. The “irrationality and perverseness of life under the sun” should propel God’s people toward the master of the universe. Conversely, for Schreiner (and Garrett), the Song of Songs should be regarded as “love poetry” that can be read in light of the covenant made with David and the promise of a future son of David. (313, 317) This theme of a “new David,” along with that of the new exodus and new creation, are also pervasive in the book of Isaiah. In chapters 40-66, the servant of the Lord is a major theme. Therefore, in the end, “the suffering servant and the new David are the same person, and the NT witness proclaims that this one is none other than Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ of God.” (348) The theme of judgment dominates Jeremiah, a book with “covenantal and Deuteronomic character.” Both Jeremiah and Ezekiel predict the destruction of Jerusalem while Lamentations poetically contemplates what happened to the people when they were exiled to Babylon in 586 BC. In Ezekiel 39 (and the book of Daniel), Yahweh is depicted as “the king of history” who pours out His Spirit on the nation. (39:28-29)
Regarding the minor prophets (Book of the Twelve), Schreiner contends, “Virtually everything said about the Twelve could be fit under the category of covenant.” (397) As he begins his examination of the NT, the author offers the idea that the study of a biblical story can be done from multiple angles. Still, for Schreiner, a major thrust of the NT is that “the new creation, the new covenant, and the new exodus have arrived in Jesus Christ.” (428) Taking note of its high Christology, Schreiner calls the book of Matthew “the Gospel of fulfillment.” (453) In the book of Mark, three main themes are distinguished: kingdom, Christology, and discipleship. (455) Interestingly and appropriately, Schreiner includes Luke’s Gospel and the book of Acts in the very same chapter. In Luke, the “not yet” character of the kingdom is also evident: “What Luke, along with Matthew and Mark, emphasizes is that the kingdom has arrived in the person of the king.” (474) The authority of Jesus is ubiquitous in Luke-Acts, and his lordship and kingship pervade these two books as well. In Lukan thought, salvation is central. Jesus is the Isaianic suffering servant. In the Synoptic Gospels, faith and salvation are inseparable. In addition, the book of Acts also teaches that one must believe in order to be saved. (16:31) “The proclamation of the gospel to the ends of the earth is doubtless one of the central themes of Acts,” Schreiner contends. (494)
The Gospel of John and the Johannine epistles are united in one chapter. Despite John’s rare references to the “kingdom,” the idea of a messianic king is a major theme in John’s theology. “Hence, the purpose of the Gospel and the Epistles is seeing and believing that Jesus is the true king and God’s Son, and when one sees who he truly is, then one will believe in him.” (504) Schreiner sees John 14:6 as the “basis for the outline” of Johannine theology. Jesus is the life, and believers partake of the life of the kingdom now. For John, the age to come has arrived with the coming of the Christ. John’s high Christology is tightly joined to the concept of the Word, God’s divine speech bursting through the boundaries of the OT. Jesus is the “I am.” John’s “theology of gift” emphasizes that salvation and even faith are gracious gifts from God. Like that of Paul, John’s theology of the Spirit is pervasive. The Spirit is the Spirit of truth, the Paraclete. The Father “gives” the Spirit and so does the Son. (14:16, 16:7) The Spirit depends upon both in the economic Trinity. He is the Spirit of life.
In his examination of Pauline theology, Schreiner observes, “eschatological tension characterizes Paul’s thought.” (543) Christ is the fulfillment of messianic prophecies. The Gospel and the fulfillment of the Davidic promise are inseparable. Schreiner contends, “Our entrance point into Pauline Christology is that Jesus reigns as the Christ, as the new and better David.” (545) As the fulfillment of redemptive history, the exalted Lord is the second and last Adam. The conflict between this age and the age to come finds itself heavily in Pauline theology. In addition, the law is also a heavy emphasis. The righteousness of God is a gift to believers from God through Christ. Christ became sin for them. Via union with Christ, believers “share the same status as the resurrected Christ.” (554) New creation theology accompanies theology of the Spirit, which plays an “indispensable” role in Paul’s soteriology. The coming of the Spirit marks the arrivals of the powers of the age to come. With that power, the Apostle Paul conceives of the church as God’s new temple and as the new Israel. Incorporated into Christ, the newness of the people of God is a distinguishing marker of the church that reflects Christ Himself to the world.
The Epistle to the Hebrews is one, according to Schreiner, with “both a linear and a vertical worldview. It is linear and salvation-historical in that the promises of the OT have become a reality in Jesus Christ. It is vertical in that heaven has, so to speak, come to earth.” (583) There is an eschatological character to the book as well. For Schreiner, the main purpose of the letter is hortatory. Radiating God’s glory, Christ is superior to the angels and reigns as priest-king in the Melchizedekian priesthood – with perpetuity. “More than anything else, the author wants the readers to be assured of the forgiveness of their sins,” Schreiner writes. (590) Schreiner admits that the book of James does not present a full-orbed Christology, however, his concern for righteous living acknowledges the lordship of Jesus and the saving character of faith. As “doers” of the Word, believers are those who wait for Christ to return and exercise his lordship over all. (5:7) From Schreiner’s perspective, more than any other NT writer, Peter emphasizes Christ’s fulfillment of Isaiah 53 – the servant of the Lord suffering for the sake of His people. (602) As a result, His church is a chosen and elect people who wait upon the Lord. Hence hope is a major theme in 1 Peter. “The Lordship of Christ plays a prominent role in both 2 Peter and Jude,” Schreiner adds. (609)
Revealing his amillennialist position in the penultimate chapter, Schreiner examines Revelation in considerable depth, contending that “the book climaxes with God’s reign over all.” (617) According to the author, the “hinge of history” is the cross of Christ – where He conquers His enemies. In the end, Schreiner emphasizes in his epilogue that “they will see the King in his beauty, and they will be glad forever.” (646)