Building the Christian library: Biblical Theology (Gospel and Kingdom)

Gospel and Kingdom: A Christian Interpretation of the Old Testament (Paternoster, 1981)

“The boy David defeated the giant Goliath with God’s help. Like David, we too can beat the giants in our lives, boys and girls. All we have to do is rely on God.”

Scripture Seminar, Education Week, 1988

The misuse of Old Testament stories as fables or allegories is still a danger in our Christian education programmes. Not only are we giving children and adults wrong ideas about how to relate to our Heavenly Father, but we are also teaching a piecemeal approach to reading the Scriptures.

Gospel and Kingdom is a very useful book in overcoming these dangers. The basic premise of the book is that one needs to understand the overall purpose of the Bible in order to interpret the individual parts. For Goldsworthy, that purpose is summed up in two concepts: the rule of God (called KINGDOM) and the proclamation about God’s king, Jesus (called GOSPEL).

The book moves through the different phases of the Old Testament, showing how the particulars of the stories can be categorised into themes and related to the gospel news of Jesus Christ. The chapters progressively show how the kingdom of God is revealed in the flow of the Old Testament, from Eden, through Israel as a nation, to prophecy. The culmination of kingdom revelation is Jesus Christ. This ‘Christian’ view of the Old Testament, gives us a framework in which to rightly interpret Old Testament stories,

For instance, in the story of David and Goliath, with whom should we identify? With the Israelites who benefitted from their champion’s success. Jesus is our true David who has fought his enemy, and brought him down, rescuing his people from the captivity of sin and the affliction of death and judgement. He has defeated our giant enemy, Satan.

Gospel and Kingdom is only a short book, but it is neither thin on theology nor on essential detail. Big themes like ‘covenant’ and kingdom’ are dealt with broadly yet helpfully. A number of diagrams draw connections between events and concepts.

The language is at times a little complicated, but the content is valuable enough to make the effort worthwhile.

Principles of interpretation are illustrated all through the book, and spelt out in Chapter 10. The final chapter gives many famous examples of faulty applications with suitable corrections.

This deceptively simple survey of the Old Testament is essential reading for any teacher of the Bible—for anyone, in fact, who wants to come to grips with understanding the Old Testament.

Comments are closed.