A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament: The Gospel Realized

A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament: The Gospel Realized


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This introduction to the New Testament orients readers to each book’s theology, key themes, and overall message from a Reformed, covenantal, and redemptive-historical perspective—equipping readers to study and teach the New Testament with clarity.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781433536762
Publisher: Crossway
Publication date: 05/31/2016
Pages: 656
Product dimensions: 7.10(w) x 10.10(h) x 1.60(d)

About the Author

Michael J. Kruger (PhD, University of Edinburgh) is the president and Samuel C. Patterson Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina, and a leading scholar on the origins and development of the New Testament canon. He blogs regularly at michaeljkruger.com.

Ligon Duncan (PhD, University of Edinburgh) is  chancellor, CEO, and John E. Richards Professor of Systematic and Historical Theology at Reformed Theological Seminary. He previously served as the senior minister of the historic First Presbyterian Church in Jackson, Mississippi, for seventeen years. He is a cofounder of Together for the Gospel, a senior fellow of the Council on Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, and was the president of the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals from 2004–2012. Duncan has edited, written, or contributed to numerous books. He and his wife, Anne, have two children and live in Jackson, Mississippi.

Charles E. Hill (PhD, Cambridge University) serves as John R. Richardson Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary. He is the author of Who Chose the Gospels? and a coeditor of The Early Text of the New Testament.

Guy Prentiss Waters (PhD, Duke University) is the James M. Baird Jr. Professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary, and was formerly an associate professor of biblical studies at Belhaven University in Jackson, Mississippi. Guy and his wife, Sarah, have three children.

Michael J. Kruger (PhD, University of Edinburgh) is the president and Samuel C. Patterson Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity at Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina, and a leading scholar on the origins and development of the New Testament canon. He blogs regularly at michaeljkruger.com.

Read an Excerpt



Reggie M. Kidd


Of the four canonical Gospels, Matthew's is the only one to use the term church ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII], 16:18; 18:17). For this and other reasons, Matthew's account has always commended itself as being especially useful to the "church" that Jesus founds in this Gospel. One reason is that as a master artisan — or in his own terms, a steward of old and new (13:52) — Matthew structures his Gospel in a way that ties the Old and New Testaments together as Israel's story and the continuation of Israel's story in the newly emergent church. To that end, Matthew provides richly suggestive patterns for teaching (see below, for his five teaching blocks: the Sermon on the Mount [chaps. 5–7], the mission to Israel [chap. 10], parables of the kingdom [chap. 13], life in the church [chap. 18], and preparation for judgment [chaps. 23–25]).

Another reason that Matthew's Gospel has proved so serviceable for the church's teaching and preaching is its finely balanced sense of Jesus's mission — its sense that God has come among us, first to forgive and heal, and then to remake and refashion. Immanuel has come to take our sin to the cross and then to work in us so that, at the core of our being, we reflect the character of our heavenly Father in what we do. Accordingly, beginning as early as Irenaeus in the second century, Christians have associated Matthew's Gospel with the figure of the "man" in Ezekiel 1 and Revelation 4. This profound intuition takes its point of departure from the fact that Matthew begins with Jesus's human genealogy. Matthew's first words in Greek — literally, "A book of genesis" — indicate that he would have us understand that the human race's new genesis takes place now in Jesus. And in the end, there is nothing that makes human beings more radiantly alive than reflecting the character of the God whose image they bear.

Background Issues


The "Gospel according to Matthew" never circulated without that title, and has long been believed to have been written by the apostle Matthew. According to Eusebius (fourth century), Papias (second century) received from John the elder (first century) the understanding that Mark wrote his Gospel as "Peter's interpreter" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) and that Mark did so "not in ordered form"; then Matthew "gathered together the logia [a term which can refer both to words and to deeds] in an ordered arrangement in the Hebrew dialect" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]). Early church writers and modern scholars thought that by "Hebrew dialect" Papias meant the Hebrew or Aramaic language. But Matthew's Greek is some of the smoothest in the New Testament; more likely, Papias meant that Matthew's "ordered arrangement" was according to Hebrew sense of style. Thus, for instance, his arrangement (see below) of the deeds and words of Jesus into five blocks that recall the structure of the Torah.

Additionally, Origen (third century) understood Matthew to be "once a tax collector, but later an apostle of Jesus Christ; he published it for those who came to faith from Judaism." It is difficult to know by what authority Origen identifies Matthew as the tax collector — whether he has an external authority, or whether he infers it by observing (as many have since) that Matthew's Gospel alone calls him "the tax collector" when listing him as one of the twelve apostles (Matt. 10:3). Regardless, early church tradition assigned Matthew the symbol of three purses.

C. F. D. Moule's suggestion that Matthew 13:52 is autobiographical is attractive: "Therefore every scribe who has been trained [[TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII] here is cognate both with the word "disciple" ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII]) and with Matthew's name ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII])] for the kingdom of heaven is like a master of a house, who brings out of his treasure what is new and what is old." It is impossible to prove, despite E. J. Goodspeed's proposal, that Matthew is pointing to the sort of note taking or secretarial skills that his craft would have required, now brought into the service of Jesus. Nonetheless, it is just as plausible as (and I suggest more so than) modern theories that bypass historical Matthew — for example, "Matthew" as a written project by a collaborative group (similar to the writings of the Essene community) or a work produced by "a second-generation (Hellenized) Jew." Moreover, if the intention in these theoretical instances was to appropriate the name of one of the Twelve as the author to lend legitimacy to the teaching, one might have expected the use of the name of a more illustrious apostle.


Because of this Gospel's familiarity with the Jewish world of its day, the scholarly consensus is that Matthew is written to a Greek-speaking Jewish Christian community, one that is grappling with Israel's mission to the nations through Jesus the Messiah. This could be one of any number of churches, from Alexandria, to Jerusalem, to Antioch, Sidon, Tyre, or beyond. Matthew's Gospel itself does not yield many clues, except perhaps that when Matthew notes the spread of Jesus's fame early in his ministry, the Gospel writer notes his fame extending beyond Mark's Galilee (Mark 1:39) or even Luke's Judea (Luke 4:44) to include, of all places, Syria (Matt. 4:23–24). It was there, according to the book of Acts (see esp. Acts 11:19–30; 13–14), that the early church first learned how to bridge the gulf between its Jewish roots and the Gentile mission, and where "the church" was gaining an independent identity as being made up of "Christians." It was there that Matthew's Gospel is first cited, and heavily so, by a postbiblical church leader, to wit, Ignatius (second century), Bishop of Syrian Antioch (e.g., using Matt. 3:15, "to fulfill all righteousness," when describing Jesus's baptism).


Most modern scholars are quite certain that Matthew was written after AD 70, that is, after the Jewish war that led to the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple in AD 70. Matthew 22:7 presumably forecasts Jerusalem's destruction after the fact: "The king was angry, and he sent his troops and destroyed those murderers and burned their city." And there is the fact that of all four Gospels, Matthew alone uses the word church to refer to Jesus's followers. That fact in combination with the indication of the destruction of Jerusalem is thought to be decisive in a post–AD 70 dating of Matthew. Only then, so it is assumed, does "the church" come into self-consciousness for Jewish Christians as an entity distinct from synagogue and temple.

To the contrary, contends J. A. T. Robinson, Matthew's (and the other Gospels' as well) references to the destruction of Jerusalem are restrained enough to make us wonder if they are not read better as coming before the events. Matthew 22:7, says Robinson, could presuppose, but does not require, a post–AD 70 dating, especially when compared with references, say, in the Sibylline Oracles that clearly are after AD 70. And the prophecies in Matthew's Olivet Discourse (chap. 24) are decidedly forward looking; especially telling is the inclusion of an "immediately" between the destruction (24:29) and "the end [consummation] of the age" (24:3) to follow. And, as Robinson contends, from "references to conditions in Jerusalem 'to this day' (27:8; cf. 28:15), one would have expected him of all people to draw attention to the present devastation of the site."

These considerations, along with other indications that temple practice continues in Matthew's day (e.g., leaving your gift at the altar, paying the temple tax, swearingby the gift on the altar — Matt. 5:23–24; 17:24–27; 23:16–22), suggest that Irenaeus got it right: Matthew wrote "at the time when Peter and Paul were preaching the gospel and founding the church in Rome."

It is indeed true that one of the most distinctive things about Matthew's Gospel is that his is the only one to use the word church. For that reason, many scholars wrongly assume that this Gospel has read back into Jesus's ministry a teaching that could not possibly have come from him but must have been attributed to him after his death and (supposed) resurrection. To the contrary, if the New Testament's unanimous sense of Jesus's mission is correct (death and resurrection, followed by ascension and the proclamation of the gospel), it is altogether reasonable to see him anticipating a communal embodiment of his work in the wake of his death, resurrection, and ascension. Moreover, Jesus's preparing of his followers for the rise of the "church" reckons most satisfactorily with the profound Jewishness of his sense of the corporate nature of God's self-expression in human history. God images his life into the world through the dyad of male and female, through the family of Abraham, through the "peculiar possession" of the children of Israel, through the nation that comes together under David and Solomon, and through the "remnant" through whom he works even in exile. That Matthew has Jesus talking about the "church" is no argument for a late date.


Regardless of the precise location of the audience and date of composition, the purpose of Matthew's Gospel seems to be at least threefold:

1. to demonstrate that the Hebrew Scriptures have all along been pointing to Jesus as Messiah and inaugurator of God's kingdom "now and not yet";

2. to show that Jesus has brought forgiveness and personal renewal, enabling a true understanding and keeping of the Torah's intent; and

3. to explain how Jesus, who is "with you to the end of the age," is forming a community — that is, the "church" — of Jewish and Gentile followers to model the presence of God's kingdom in the present age and to take God's mission to the nations.

It is in this instruction, showing Jewish and non-Jewish believers how to live together, through lives transformed from the inside out, that the Gospel of Matthew provides deep, rich preaching material for the pastor who desires to help a congregation develop an authentic and loving witness to a skeptical world.


To most scholars, that the Gospel of Matthew relies heavily on Mark is beyond debate: at least 90 percent of Mark shows up here, but in Matthew the stories are compressed and cleaner. Consistently, Matthew displays a clearer, more concise and correct use of Greek than does Mark. Events are usually recounted in Mark's sequence — but not always. Where Matthew departs from Mark in chronology, Luke tends to agree with Mark. In fact, it is generally agreed by conservative and liberal scholars alike that Mark and Luke are more governed by chronology, while Matthew is more interested in thematic development. Regardless, it is easier for most who look into the matter to assume that if there is a literary relationship, it is more likely that Matthew is using Mark as part of his framework than that Mark works off of Matthew. This is especially so since otherwise Mark "drops" 50 percent of the material in Matthew overall and yet expands, without literary elegance, Matthew's tightly crafted stories and sayings. Worth a mention is that, in modern scholarship, there has always been a minority report arguing that if there is a literary relationship, Matthew came first, and Mark adapted his material. However, we note, with Leon Morris, "It is not easy to understand why Mark in abbreviating Matthew should so consistently come up with narratives that are longer as well as more lifelike."

Scholars have offered various scenarios to account for the differences between Matthew, Mark, and Luke. Many speculate as to the existence of a separate additional writing, the "Q" document ("Q" is short for the German Quelle, or "source"), as the underlying source for teaching material shared by Matthew and Luke (e.g., Matthew's Sermon on the Mount and Luke's Sermon on the Plain). Along with a hypothesized "M" document to account for material unique to Matthew (e.g., the sheep and the goats) and a hypothesized "L" document to account for material unique to Luke (e.g., the good Samaritan), Mark and "Q" form the elements of the "four document" theory by which majority scholarship proposes to account for the three Synoptic Gospels. I must take issue with how easily modern scholarship insists that the relationships among the Gospels have to be accounted for by appeal to mere documents (whether actual, like Mark's, or hypothesized, like "M" and "L" and "Q"). There is every reason to think that each of the four Gospels is directly (for Matthew, see 13:52; for Mark, see 14:51–52; and for John, see 19:35; 21:24–25) or indirectly (for Luke, see 1:1–4) a product of eyewitness accounts — and, moreover, eyewitnesses who participated in a complex relational network of shared experiences and varying perspectives.

Some of the differences between the Gospels concern sequence (the order of the temptations of Christ) or timing (did Jesus cleanse the temple at the beginning of his ministry, at the end, or both?). For this particular overview of Matthew, what matters is to recognize that Matthew has, for his own reasons, arranged his material thematically. As John H. Walton and D. Brent Sandy point out, "The evangelists felt free to rearrange the order of events to suit the points they were making." And, just to clarify, it is only under the most questionable of assumptions that thematic arrangement and historicity are deemed to be incompatible.

Structure and Outline

Matthew is "the architect among the Evangelists," says Herman Ridderbos. With consummate artistry, Matthew alternates the words and deeds of Jesus. In fact, he frames the whole of his portrait of Christ around five series of narratives, each culminating in one of five respective great discourses. He ends each narrative-plus-discourse section with the identical formula, nicely preserved in the ASV: "And it came to pass when Jesus finished ..." (7:28; 11:1; 13:53; 19:1; 26:1).

I. Genealogy, Birth, and Infancy Narratives (1:1–2:23)

II. Series 1: From Coronation to Keynote (3:1–7:29)

A. Narrative (3:1–4:25)

B. Discourse: Beatitudes and Sermon on the Mount (5:1–7:27)

C. Bridge: "When Jesus had finished these words" (7:28–29)

III. Series 2: Call to Discipleship and Mission (8:1–11:1)

A. Narrative (8:1–10:4)

B. Discourse: Mission of the Disciples (10:5–42)

C. Bridge: "When Jesus had finished commanding" (11:1)

IV. Series 3: The Wisdom of the Kingdom of Heaven (11:2–13:53)

A. Narrative (11:2–12:50)

B. Discourse: Parables of the Kingdom (13:1–52)

C. Bridge: "When Jesus had finished these parables" (13:53)

V. Series 4: The Shape of the Church (13:54–19:2)

A. Narrative (13:54–17:27)

B. Discourse: Living in the Kingdom/Church (18:1–35)

C. Bridge: "When Jesus had finished these words" (19:1–2)

VI. Series 5: Preparation for Judgment (19:3–26:1)

A. Narrative (19:3–22:46)

B. Discourse: Woes and the Peril and Judgment to Come (23:1–25:46)

C. Bridge: "When Jesus had finished all these words" (26:1)

VII. Crucifixion, Resurrection, and Commissioning (26:2–28:20)

The birth and death-resurrection narratives, along with the five series between them, form a chiasm.

a Genealogy, birth, and infancy narratives (1:1–2:23)

b Series 1: From coronation to keynote (3:1–7:29)

c Series 2: Call to discipleship and mission (8:1–11:1)

d Series 3: The wisdom of the kingdom of heaven (11:2–13:53)

c' Series 4: The shape of the church (13:54–19:2)

b' Series 5: Preparation for judgment (19:3–26:1)

a' Crucifixion, resurrection, and commissioning (26:2–28:20)


Excerpted from "A Biblical-Theological Introduction to the New Testament"
by .
Copyright © 2016 Michael J. Kruger.
Excerpted by permission of Good News Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Cover Page,
Title Page,
Foreword J. Ligon Duncan III,
Introduction Michael J. Kruger,
1 Matthew Reggie M. Kidd,
2 Mark Benjamin Gladd,
3 Luke Robert J. Cara,
4 John Michael J. Kruger,
5 Acts Robert J. Cara,
6 Romans Guy Prentiss Waters,
7 1–2 Corinthians Guy Prentiss Waters,
8 Galatians Guy Prentiss Waters,
9 Ephesians Guy Prentiss Waters,
10 Philippians Bruce A. Lowe,
11 Colossians Benjamin Gladd,
12 1 Thessalonians Robert J. Cara,
13 2 Thessalonians Robert J. Cara,
14 Introduction to the Pastoral Epistles William B. Barcley,
15 1 Timothy William B. Barcley,
16 2 Timothy William B. Barcley,
17 Titus William B. Barcley,
18 Philemon Benjamin Gladd,
19 Hebrews Simon J. Kistemaker,
20 James Bruce A. Lowe,
21 1 Peter William B. Barcley,
22 2 Peter Simon J. Kistemaker,
23 1–3 John Charles E. Hill,
24 Jude Simon J. Kistemaker,
25 Revelation Charles E. Hill,
Appendix A: The New Testament Canon Michael J. Kruger,
Appendix B: The New Testament Text: An Introduction to New Testament Textual Criticism Charles E. Hill,
Appendix C: The Synoptic Problem Guy Prentiss Waters,
Appendix D: The Use of the Old Testament in the New Testament: Trusting the New Testament's Hermeneutics Robert J. Cara,
Appendix E: Scripture Versions Cited,
General Index,
Scripture Index,

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“Seminary-level New Testament introductions are plentiful. But this one provides what others do not: a consistent hermeneutical orientation as articulated by a top-tier roster of nine different scholars associated with Reformed Theological Seminary throughout its history. In addition to chapters covering all the New Testament books, valuable appendices treat canon, text, the synoptic problem, and more. Addressing both spiritual and academic issues with a view to pastoral equipping and biblical exposition, this wide-ranging compendium will benefit readers in both classroom and personal settings.”
Robert W. Yarbrough, professor of New Testament, Covenant Theological Seminary

“With the right mix of academic integrity and purposeful accessibility, this New Testament introduction will serve time-crunched pastors, ministry-minded students, and church members looking to better understand their Bibles. What makes this new volume unique is the emphasis on examining the theological themes in each book of the New Testament, rather than focusing on arcane debates prompted by liberal scholarship. The result is an insightful and impressive resource, one I will use in my own studies and often recommend to others.”
Kevin DeYoung, Senior Pastor, Christ Covenant Church, Matthews, North Carolina

“While introductions to the New Testament abound, this volume is a rare gem. It admirably combines depth of scholarship and theological exegesis within a biblical-theological framework—all couched in highly readable prose, offered for the sake of the church. It will no doubt instruct and edify. Well done.”
Constantine R. Campbell, associate professor of New Testament, Trinity Evangelical Divinity School

“This biblical-theological introduction walks readers through key biblical themes and issues concerning the backdrop to the 27 books of the New Testament. It is judicious, informative, and also quite accessible, making it profitable for students and pastors alike.”
Darrell L. Bock, Executive Director of Cultural Engagement, Howard G. Hendricks Center, and Senior Research Professor of New Testament Studies, Dallas Theological Seminary

“Aimed at pastors and interested Christian readers, this biblical-theological introduction to the New Testament is a welcome addition to the introductory literature on the New Testament. The volume, a collaborative effort by nine different authors, is written within a framework of biblical theology and based on a commitment to biblical inerrancy and Reformed theology. Highly recommended!”
Andreas J. Köstenberger, Senior Research Professor of New Testament and Biblical Theology, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary

“Students and pastors, not to mention laypeople, usually find introductions to the New Testament writings to be rather dry and sterile. But this introduction by RTS authors has a different quality since it focuses on the theology and content of the New Testament. Those who study the New Testament want to gain a better understanding of its message, and thus this volume will prove to be an immense help for pastors, students, laypeople, and even scholars.”
Thomas R. Schreiner, James Buchanan Harrison Professor of New Testament Interpretation and Professor of Biblical Theology, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Kentucky

“Solid authors construct a biblical theology by providing thematic summaries of each book of the New Testament. While I would not agree with every point made by the authors, many readers will find this an extremely helpful and useful introduction to the teaching of the New Testament.”
Peter J. Gentry, Professor of Old Testament Interpretation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary; Director, the Hexapla Institute

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