“What is the kingdom of God? Well let me tell you about a tree.” That sums up the introduction to this latest addition to the Short Studies in Biblical Theology series by Crossway. The beauty with these books is that they are ‘short’, but they pack plenty of punch!
Patrick Schreiner argues that the kingdom theme throughout scripture can be seen by the different trees that are present. All the way from the tree in Eden, to the stump in Isaiah, through to the tree in Revelation, we see the Biblical story of the Kingdom being built.
This book provides a biblical theology of the kingdom of God. And, as it’s subtitle suggests, this is connected to the glory of the cross. For Schreiner, these two things are inseparable, as he states on p136 “If the kingdom is the goal, then the cross is the means”, and “it is only through the cross that the kingdom comes”.
So what is the kingdom of God? Building on works such as Gospel and Kingdom, and Kingdom through Covenant, Schreiner defines the kingdom as ‘the King’s power over the King’s people in the King’s place. He hopes that if we understand this more fully, we will understand the world around us and how we interact with it, whilst grasping the overall storyline of the Bible better.
From the beginning the author reminds us that ‘Jesus did not invent the concept of kingdom. Rather, it started in the garden and has always concerned people, place, and power.’
He then, following the Jewish order of the Biblical canon (similar to authors such as Stephen Dempster, and James Hamilton), breaks the Bible into 6 sections, allowing the progression of the kingdom theme to shine through:
Reviving hope in the kingdom
|Prophets||Foreshadowing the kingdom|
|Writings||Life in the kingdom|
|Gospels||Embodying the kingdom|
|Acts and Epistles||Kingdom community|
|Revelation||Achieving the kingdom goal|
From here, Schreiner takes us on a tour of the kingdom theme throughout scripture. This was a particularly strong way of doing things, and I found it particularly useful to see the storyline building on itself. The theme shone through very clearly by doing this.
I found the sections on the prophets and the gospels particularly strong. Schreiner did a good job of explaining how the prophets point back to the kingdom promises, and forward to the coming King. He also showed the subtleties of the four gospels, and their particular slants on the kingdom.
If I had to pick one area that could have had more information, I would say the general epistles. It appeared that these did not fully fit into the theme presented, with 2 Peter relatively left alone. It was a bit odd for these to not be so much, seeing as the other books of the Bible were treated relatively fully.
Overall though this was another great addition to the Short Studies in Biblical Theology series, and I cannot wait to read more!
Once again, a big thanks to Crossway for providing me with a complimentary copy of this book through their Blog Review Program.
The Kingdom of God and the Glory of the Cross is out now in the UK!