NT Theology quote of the day

– I. Howard Marshall, in his NT Theology, writes:

New Testament theology is essentially missionary theology.”

Splendid.  Splendid indeed!

Now I just have to get this book!  Forget the rest – Marshall’s got it!


EDIT: here is more of the quote to give it context.  On page 34 and following he is asking what should be the focus of the NT (witness to the fact that Jesus Christ is Savior and Lord).  He goes on to write:  (paragraph breaks are mine for ease of reading)

“It may, however, be more helpful to recognize them more specifically as the documents of mission.  The subject matter is not, as it were, Jesus in himself, or God in himself but Jesus in his role as Savior and Lord.  New Testament is essentially missionary theology

By this I mean the documents came into being as the result of a two-part mission, first, the mission of Jesus sent by God to inagurate his kingdom with the blessings that it brings to people and to call people to respond to it, and then the mission of his followers called to continue his work by proclaiming him as Lord and Savior, and calling people to faith and ongoing commitment to him, as a result of which his church grows. 

The theology springs out of this movement and is shaped by it, and in turn the theology shapes the continuing mission of the church.  The primary function of the documents is thus to testify to the gospel that is proclaimed by Jesus and his followers.  Their teaching can be seen as a fuller exposition of that gospel.  They are also concerned with the spiritual growth of those who are converted to the Christian faith.  They show how the church should be shaped for its mission, and they deal with those problems that form obtsacles to the advancement of the mission. 

In short, people who are called by God to be missionaries are carrying out their calling by the writing of Gospels, letters, and related materials.  They are concerned to make converts and then to provide for their nurture, to bring new believers to birth and to nourish them to maturity”  (34-35 of Marshall’s New Testament Theology, IVP, 2004).

Some other statements are:

(re: Acts) “…a record telling the story of the mission in such a way as to show how, when the gospel was proclaimed by the missionaries, it was seen to be truely the gospel in that it brought salvation to those who responded to it” (35). 

“The New Testament tells the story of the mission and lays special emphasis on expounding the message proclaimed by the missionaries” (35). 

“A recognition of this missionary character of the documents will help us to see them in true perspective and to interpret them in the light of their intention” (35). 

That is the most I can reproduce here, if I haven’t already reproduced too much already, without violating copyright laws.   I hope it helps explain the quote more fully.  It’s really really good stuff.   It seems to me that anything less than a missionary focus of the Bible is an out-of-focus view of the Bible.

I hope this helps.  If you want more, you’ll have to buy it or use the Amazon reader to gleen more info.

5 responses to “NT Theology quote of the day

  1. The only problem I have with this quote is that it’s not just NT Theology that is missional- it’s the entire bible. Biblical theology is essentially missionary theology. It’s missionary theology because the Bible itself is a missional artifact- it’s God revealing Himself in the language of a people who would otherwise never know who he is. The Old Testament is particularly missions oriented in that the purpose of God selecting a particular people to themselves is so that he might bring the nations to an eschatological knowledge of himself. We see this in the Psalms, in the Prophets, and even in the Laws in respect to the laws on how to treat and include the foreigners and sojourners.

    Marshall has hit the nail on the head, particularly for writing in a New Testament Theology- but we should remember that it is not at the expense of Old Testament Theology either 🙂

  2. Pingback: passage of the day: John 3:16-21 | συνεσταύρωμαι: living the crucified life

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