Building Biblical Theology

An Intermediate-level Examination of the History, Definition, Method, and Uses of Biblical Theology

In partnership with Third Millennium Ministries

Course Introduction

About the Course

Faithful Christians have always recognized the importance of progress in biblical history, especially as it relates to humanity’s fall into sin, and to God’s redemptive work. Biblical theology is a specialized discipline that studies this progress by tracing the development of theological ideas between historical epochs. Used rightly, it is a helpful tool for interpreting and applying the Bible.

Course Goals:

  • Explain the history and justification of biblical theology.
  • Describe the method and uses of biblical theology.
About Third Millennium Ministries

The mission of Third Millennium Ministries is to prepare Christian leaders to lead a transformation of the world into God’s Kingdom by providing biblical education, for the world, for free.

Their top priority is to spread the will of God to every corner of the earth through the gospel of Christ. So, Third Millennium Ministries is preparing an in-depth biblical education for Christian leaders around the world in their languages, for their lands, and absolutely free.

This mission is being fulfilled at this very moment using various mediums for distributing learning content: DVD, online streaming, radio, satellite, TV broadcast, smartphone apps, USB flash drives, and SD cards.

To learn more about Third Millennium Ministries, click here.

What is Biblical Theology?

This lesson focuses on a basic orientation toward biblical theology, the development of biblical theology through the centuries, and the interconnections between history and revelation.

Lecture Video

This companion video to lesson 1 asks the following questions:

  • What is the difference between systematic theology and biblical theology?
  • Which is more important: systematic theology or biblical theology?
  • Do systematic theology and biblical theology inform each other?
  • Does biblical theology reflect the content and priorities of the Bible?
  • Why do biblical theologians focus on extraordinary acts of God?
  • How might biblical theology make use of an ordinary act of God?
  • Do Christians always reformulate theology in response to culture?
  • Is it dangerous to reformulate theology in response to culture?
  • What is the difference between critical and evangelical biblical theology?
  • Why do critical biblical theologians value Heilsgeschichte or redemptive history?
  • Why is it important to realize that the Bible records actual history?
  • How can we prove that the Bible records true history?
  • How did Hodge’s view of evangelical biblical theology differ from Warfield’s view?
  • What was Vos’ view of evangelical biblical theology?
  • If we focus entirely on Jesus and redemptive history, what might we miss?
  • Why are both act and word revelation important?
  • How is act revelation “radial” and “ambiguous”?
  • How do epochal shifts correspond to periods of increased revelation?
  • Doesn’t God constantly provide revelation?
  • How should shifts in revelation influence modern application?
  • How is the history of revelation “organic”?

Synchronic Synthesis of the Old Testament

This lesson on synchronic synthesis of the Old Testament touches on three main issues: a basic orientation about what “synchronic synthesis” is; the ways Old Testament passages convey the historical information used in synchronic synthesis; and the synthetic theological structures discovered through synchronic syntheses of the Old Testament historical information.

Lecture Video

This companion video to lesson 2 asks the following questions:

  • What does the term “synchronic” mean when it’s applied to the Bible?
  • What does the term “synthesis” mean when it’s applied to the Bible?
  • How do the Hebrew and Greek mindsets relate to synchronic synthesis?
  • Does the Bible use synchronic synthesis?
  • How can we use the Bible to get information about a particular period of time?
  • Did Bible writers manipulate history?
  • How similar is biblical history to modern journalism?
  • Do figures of speech make it difficult to discern historical data?
  • Do we have to bring external data even to biblical narratives?
  • What modern archaeological discoveries have helped us understand the Bible?
  • Is Genesis chapter 1 poetry or narrative?
  • How scientifically precise is the Bible?
  • Why should we include information from other time periods when doing synchronic synthesis?
  • When do we have enough information to interpret a passage?
  • How do covenants function as middle-level theological structures?
  • How do covenants relate to the doctrine of salvation by grace alone?
  • How does kingdom function as the Bible’s complex-level theological structure?
  • When is the kingdom of God motif seen in the Old Testament?

Diachronic Developments in the Old Testament

Diachronic development is the ways theological structures grew or developed over time. This lesson provides a basic orientation toward diachronic development, explores how epochal developments took place between major historical periods or epochs, and looks at how specific topics developed over time in the Old Testament.

Lecture Video

This companion video to lesson 3 asks the following questions:

  • What is the difference between “diachronic” and “synchronic”?
  • Do we start with synchronic or diachronic analysis?
  • Does synchronic or diachronic analysis have priority over the other?
  • Did biblical authors ever use synchronic and diachronic approaches at the same time?
  • Why does the theology of the Bible change?
  • How do we reconcile God s sovereignty with theological development in the Bible?
  • Do theological developments ever occur simply because God changes his mind?
  • Do all biblical theologians divide the Bible according to covenants?
  • Besides matching epochs to covenants, how else do biblical theologians divide the Bible?
  • Why did God establish so many covenants?
  • What does the multiplicity of covenants teach us about God’s character?
  • Are there both conditional and unconditional covenants?
  • Are some covenants more conditional than others?
  • Is the new covenant conditional?
  • How do we fulfill our covenant obligations under the new covenant?
  • What is the difference between epochal and topical development?
  • What are the dangers of a topical approach to Scripture?
  • What is the proper way to use typology in studies of Scripture?
  • Is it always necessary to look for types of Christ when we study the Old Testament?
  • Is a type a figure of speech?
  • What are the elements of a type?
  • How do types depend on and reflect theological development?

Contours of New Testament Biblical Theology

There are many similarities between the ways biblical theology approaches both Testaments, but there are also significant differences. This lesson focuses on: an orientation toward New Testament biblical theology, the development of the Bible’s teaching about eschatology, or the last days (a crucial issue in New Testament biblical theology), and how biblical theologians have approached New Testament eschatology itself.

Lecture Video

A companion video to lesson 4 of the same series that asks the following questions:

  • Why do biblical theologians study the Old and New Testaments separately?
  • What do biblical theologians do with the New Testament?
  • Did biblical writers contradict each other?
  • How diverse are the theologies of the biblical writers?
  • How do we discover the different theologies of the New Testament writers?
  • What is eschatology?
  • How did the doctrine of eschatology develop?
  • Did the prophets ever predict things that did not come to pass?
  • Why was John the Baptist surprised by Jesus’ ministry?
  • Will we be surprised by the details of Christ’s return?
  • Why didn’t the end times unfold in the way the Old Testament prophets had predicted?
  • Do historical contingencies continue to apply today?
  • Has the new covenant come?
  • Does the New Testament contain different eschatologies?
  • What are some practical implications of biblical theology’s focus on eschatology?