A Chart with Essential Points for an Unfolding Story of Redemption “a story…is…the best way of talking about the way the world actually is ”.
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“a story…is…the best way of talking about the way the world actually is”
Based on the book, The Drama of Scripture – Finding Our Place in the Biblical Story by GraigG. Bartholomew and Michael W. Goheen,
and associated presentations, Class Resources, at
Act 1 God Establishes His Kingdom: Creation
Act 2 Rebellion in the Kingdom: Fall
Act 3 The King Chooses Israel: Redemption Initiated
Interlude A Kingdom Story Waiting for an Ending: The Intertestamental Period
Act 4 The Coming of the King: Redemption Accomplished
Act 5 Spreading the News of the King: The Mission of the Church
Act 6 The Return of the King: Redemption Completed
From the undated past
Act 1 God Establishes His Kingdom
- Genesis 1 focus is not about how God created, but about God’s original intention for His creation, and must be understood in context.
- Genesis 1 teaches about God, Humankind and the World.
-- God: Eternal, One, Distinct from creation, Sovereign King over creation, Powerful, Personal.
-- Humankind: Creature, Relationship with God, In His image (similar to and different from God), Male and female, Rule over creation.
-- Good (variety, harmony), Ordered by God’s word, Historical, Kingdom.
Act 2 Rebellion in the Kingdom
- Satanic temptation, Freedom to choose, Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (Choose to live by God’s word; or, Choose to live by Satan’s word).
- Nature of Sin:
-- Autonomy (Making oneself source of right/wrong, good/bad, true/false).
--Covenant rebellion (Refusing allegiance to rightful King).
- Consequences of Sin:
-- Alienated from God (Gen. 3.8,23).
-- Damaged relations with each other (Gen. 1.12-16).
-- Death (Gen. 1.19).
-- Non-human creation cursed (Gen. 1.17).
-- Creational task burdened (Gen. 1.16-19).
- God did not turn His back on a world bent on destruction; He turned His face to our corruptness in love, and with patience and care put in place His plan of redemption for all creation.
Act 3 The King Chooses Israel
- God’s response of promise and judgment to sin.
-- All goodness of creation is polluted by sin (Gen. 4).
-- Faithful to promise (Gen. 3.15); Adam to Noah.
-- Judgment (Gen. 6-9); Flood.
- God’s purpose remains constant: Noahic covenant (New Start with Noah and creation).
- Covenant: A bond, In blood, Sovereignly administered.
- Abrahamic Covenant: Blessed to Be a Blessing.
-- From 5-fold curse of Gen. 3-11 to 5-fold blessing of Gen. 12.2-3.
-- Through Abraham God will reverse the curse of sin.
-- Gen 12, Promise; Gen 15: Established; Gen 17: Confirmed.
- Isaac, Jacob, Joseph: Promises of covenant repeated to each patriarch.
- Exodus: Formation of a People. Israel formed (Exod 1-18), bound to God in covenant (Exod 19-24), God comes to dwell with His people (Exod 25-40).
- Israel is bound to God in covenant – Mount Sinai.
-- Covenant: God is King, Israel subject people, All of Israel’s life subject to God’s rule, Law.
-- Law: Ten Commandments (Exod 20.1-17).
- God prepares to indwell Israel. Instructions for Tabernacle (Exod 25-31), Israel unworthy of God’s presence (32-34), God indwells Israel on basis of love (35-40).
- Leviticus: Living with a Holy God. Sacrifices and offerings, Ceremonial law, Feasts.
- Numbers: Journeying to the Land. God’s testing, Israel’s disobedience and unbelief, God’s judgment and faithfulness.
- Deuteronomy: On the Borders of the Land. God’s faithfulness to Israel (Deut. 1.6-4.40); God’s covenant law (Deut. 4.44-28).
- Joshua: The Gift of the Land. The Lord leads Israel to the Land (Josh. 1-5.12), gives Israel the land (Josh. 5.13-12), allocates the land (13-22), and the Lord renews the covenant (Josh. 23-24).
- Judges: Failure to be Display People. Israel fails to take land, disobedience leads to cycles of judgment; Distress, Cries out, Deliverer, Rest, Sin, Anger, Oppression, back to Distress.
- Samuel: Israel Transformed into a Kingdom. The need for a king, God’s kind of king, Saul rules unfaithfully, David rules faithfully.
- After David and Solomon the following kings are unfaithful and the kingdom is rent in two.
-- Israel deported by Assyria (722 BC)
-- Judah exiled by Babylon (586 BC)
- Ezra and Nehemiah: Israel Returns to the Land.
-- Cyrus allows Israel to return (539 BC)
-- Zerubbabel rebuilds temple, Ezra reforms people, Nehemiah rebuilds city walls.
Interlude A Kingdom Story Waiting for an Ending
- Under Pagan Rule:
--Persian (until 331 BC).
--- Alexander (331-323 BC)
--- Ptolemies in Egypt (323-198 BC)
--- Seleucids in Syria (198-142 BC)
--Israel’s independence (142-63 BC)
-- Rome (63 BC – NT period)
Act 4 The Coming of the King
- Kingdom: Jesus announces the arrival of the kingdom (Mk. 1.15-17; Lk. 4.21).
- A New Way: Love of enemies; unconditional forgiveness; readiness to suffer; peacemakers.
- The reign of God is already present (Matt. 12.28); yet not arrived in fullness (Matt. 7.21).
- Kingdom Mission: Announces, Reveals, Source of power (Abba, Holy Spirit, prayer), Gathers a kingdom community, Welcomes sinners and outcasts, Explains kingdom of God with parables, Embodies the kingdom in His life.
-- Correcting wrong notions of kingdom through parables:
--- Parable of the weeds (Matt. 13.24-30). Kingdom does not come all at once.
--- Parable of the sower (Matt. 13.1-23). Kingdom does not come in immediate and irresistible power. Hidden in a humble form. Conflict and suffering.
--- Parable of weeds and net (Matt. 13.24-30; 47-52). Final judgment of the kingdom will not come immediately. Judgment reserved for future.
--- Parables of lost son, lost coin, and lost sheep (Lk. 15.1-32). Kingdom is not Jewish kingdom reserved for wealthy and righteous. Gentiles, poor, sinners (Lk. 14.15).
- Who is Jesus? Prophet (Lk. 9.19), Messiah (Lk. 9.20), Son of God (Lk. 9.35; Matt. 16.16), Son of Man (Lk. 9.22), Chosen servant (Lk. 9.35).
- Death of Jesus: Paradox (Power in Weakness, Victory in Defeat, Purpose of all history in Meaningless cruelty). Jesus died to restore His creation…we participate in that new creation as we trust in Christ.
- The Risen Lord Commissions His Disciples: Make disciples of all Nations, baptizing them and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you (Matt. 28.19-20).
Act 5 Spreading the News of the King
- Acts tells the story of the continuing mission of the exalted Christ by the Spirit from the witness in Jerusalem to the world.
- Paul’s Teaching: The kingdom of God has dawned in Jesus’ death and resurrection, Nurture the life of Christ (Build on a foundation, grow to maturity), We have new life and new obedience, Live Christ-like lives for the sake of the world, Christ will come again.
- Our Place in the Story: We are called to continue Israel’s mission as channels of blessing (Gen. 12.2-3; Gal. 3.14), as light to the world (Is. 46.6; Matt. 5.14-16). To continue Jesus’ mission, “as the Father has sent Me, I am sending you” (John 20.21).
Act 6 The Return of the King
- The end of the story (Rev. 21.1-5): Old order passes away, New Jerusalem comes down out of heaven, “Now the dwelling of God is with men,” Sin and its effects are removed, “I am making everything new.”
- Events preceding the end: Jesus returns, Resurrection of the body, Final judgment, Renewal of creation.
- “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross” (Col. 1.19-20).
“God” brings the whole creation into existence out of nothing
“the Lord God”
The God who reveals himself as Yahweh, the divine Redeemer is still the Creator of all that was or is or shall be: He is the one eternal Lord God
God’s royal stewards, put here to develop the hidden potentials in God’s creation so that the whole of it may celebrate his glory
The Lord God (Yahweh Elohim) walks in the garden with Adam and Eve and shows the most intimate, personal concern for them, their needs, and their responsibilities
You are worthy, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they were created and have their being (Revelation 4:11)
First Day: the creation of light
Second day: the separating of the waters
Third day: the creation of plant life
Fourth day: the creation of the sun, moon, and stars
Fifth day: the creation of fish and fowl
Sixth day: the creation of land creatures and man
Seventh day: God rests
“the lesser light”
Torah or Law of Moses
Who Is the “Lord God?” A Faith for Israel What Kind of Literature is Genesis 1? The God who Brings All Things into Being Humankind as God’s Image God’s Kingdom
This created, material world is the very theater of God’s glory, the kingdom over which he reigns
Genesis teaches us positively what faith in God means for how we think about the world he has made and how we live in it
Though the whole of creation is “very good” (Genesis 1:31), it is so because the One who has created it is infinitely superior to anything he has made
God says, “Let us make man in our image,…and let them rule…over all the earth.” He then says to the human beings he has created, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it
Above all things, the human caretakers are accountable to the divine Creator of the world entrusted to their care
The “heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1) refers to the whole of creation. Light and darkness, day and night, sea and sky and land, plants, animals and humankind – all come from this God, from his powerful and good activity of creation
“the greater light”
From the undated past
God promises to put enmity between the serpent’s offspring and that of the woman (Genesis 3:15). The woman’s offspring will crush the serpent’s head. This is the first biblical promise of the Gospel: Christ is to be “the seed of the woman” and will defeat Satan, though at great cost to himself, in the “wounding “ of his “heel”
Genesis does tell us reliably about the mysterious origin of evil in God’s world. It was rooted in the mutiny of the first human couple. They were tempted, and they succumbed, with catastrophic consequences
We humans are made for relationship, but sin’s effect is to drive us apart. Above all, humankind is made to enjoy relationship with God, but the sin of Adam and Eve causes them to flee from him and be afraid, ashamed, and alone. Adam blames Eve, Eve blames the serpent, and Adam and Eve both seek to cover their nakedness
Strangely, at first the serpent seems to be right: Adam and Eve do not immediately die. Or do they? Their sense of themselves and their relationship with each other is shattered. And (what is even worse) their relationship with the Lord God is also broken: they hide from him in fear and shame
But what would temptation involve for them? The answer is found in the mysterious “tree of the knowledge of good and evil” (Genesis 2:9). The serpent tempts them to eat from this tree, contrary to what God has told them to do
The Lord God
A Catastrophe Part of Being Human is the Freedom to Choose The fundamental Nature of Sin God Does Not Give Up His Purposes for His Creation and His Kingdom
It is a quest for autonomy,
a desire to separate ourselves from God
God confronts Adam and Eve and declares judgment. The serpent is cursed, childbirth for the woman is made much harder, and the ground itself is stricken so that work is made difficult for the man and far less pleasant. Adam and Eve are driven out of Eden, and the entrance to the garden is barred
The life of Adam and Eve is the life of shalom. They walk with God, they have each other, the garden provides all they need as they till its fertile soil and prune its burgeoning plants
Even in God’s good creation, Adam and Eve’s freedom to love means that they may also choose not to love; hence, they may experience temptation
Othniel Ehud Shamgar Barak Gideon Tola
Jair Jephthah Ibzan Elon Abdon Samson
A Biblical Understanding of Humanity
Elijah Elisha Micah Jeremiah Zechariah
Jonah Isaiah Zephaniah Daniel
Joel Amos Habakkuk Ezekiel Haggai Malachi
Hosea Nahum Obadiah
Saul David Samuel Solomon
Abraham Isaac Jacob Joseph Moses Joshua
Patriarchal Stage 2165-1804 BC Exodus Stage 1804-1405 BC Conquest Stage 1405-1382 BC Judges Stage 1382-1043 BC United Kingdom Stage 1043-931 BC Chaotic Kingdom Stage 931-605 BC Captivity Stage 605-620 BC Return Stage 538-400 BC
Scene 1: A People for the King Scene 2: A Land for His People
The biggest crisis in the story of their journey from Mount Sinai to the plains of Moab is with the Israelites’ response to the report of the spies who scouted out the promised land (Numbers 13-14). As a result, God vows that none of this unbelieving generation will enter the promised land. The Israelites wander in the wilderness for forty years until the faithless first generation has indeed died out
400 years after Abraham, we are still in Egypt. Joseph and his brothers have died, but their descendants have multiplied and are under oppression. They cry out. “God hears their groaning and remembers his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac and with Jacob” (Exodus 2:24). Moses leads the Israelites out of Egypt and into the wilderness.
Solomon’s idolatry (1 Kings 11:33) has violated the heart of the covenant. God tells Solomon that he will tear much of the kingdom from Solomon’s heirs, leaving only one tribe to be ruled by his successor
Joshua’s conquest of Canaan is a gift from the Lord and a fulfillment of his promises to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Moses. The stage is set for Israel to live as a light to the nations
cries out oppression
Cycles of Judgment
Genesis: The Origins of Israel Exodus: Formation of a People Leviticus: Living with a Holy God Numbers: Journeying to the Land Deuteronomy: On the Borders of the Land Joshua: The Gift of the Land Judges: Failure to Be a Light to the Nations Samuel: Israel Transformed into a Kingdom Kings: Covenant Failure Voices of Prophets
Deuteronomy records the sermons of Moses to the Israelites as they prepare to enter the land. He urges the people to choose life and blessing by pursuing obedience to the Lord, then renews the covenant with them and appoints Joshua as his successor
The message of all these prophets is that unless God’s people repent, return to him, and obey him, judgment will come
Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph: Patriarchs of God’s People
God’s purpose in calling Abraham was to bring blessing to the whole world… the family line through whom this blessing will come: the twelve sons of Jacob, whose families are to become the twelve tribes of the nation of Israel
The ark is brought into the temple to mark the fulfillment of the Israelites’ journey out of bondage in Egypt. When the ark is deposited in the temple, the exodus cloud fills the temple, showing that the glory of the Lord is present in Jerusalem (1 Kings 8:11)
After the golden calf incident God reveals himself to Moses as compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion, and sin. Leviticus is about maintaining a right relationship with the King
Israel is chosen by God but too weak to live up to its calling. This conflict between choice and weakness creates the dramatic tension of the unfolding narrative and tells the story of a spiral down into rebellion and disaster at every level in the nation of Israel
Pharisees: In the synagogues as teachers of the law and oral tradition. Inspired with revolutionary change to separate Israel from the pagans and radical obedience to the Torah
Essenes: Path of withdrawal. They alone were the true Israel, heirs of the scriptural promises
Sadducees and Priests: Official teachers of the Law and recognized representatives of mainline Jewish religion. Collaborated with the Romans
Zealots: Willing to take up arms in violent revolution and took inspiration from the Maccabean revolt
Common People: Most of the Jews of this period looked for a day when God would return to redeem his people from their pagan oppressors
Five fundamental beliefs, Israel’s two-thousand-year journey with God from the time of Abraham:
(1) Monotheism: Israel believed in one God, the creator of the world and Ruler of history
(2) Election: God had chosen Israel for a special purpose
(3) Torah: God had given Israel the Law to direct its way of life as God’s holy people
(4) Land: God had brought his people through Moses and Joshua and God dwelt with Israel
(5) God would restore Israel the glory he had always intended; and complete his redemptive work
The Jewish Community in Palestine and the Diaspora Israel’s Faith Growing Tension: From Persia to Rome Israel’s Hope for the Kingdom Differing Expressions of Israel’s Hope
Israel looked to a day with “no king but God.” The holy land, trampled and polluted by pagans, would be cleansed so that Israel could again live in communion with the Lord
Though the people had in part returned to the land promised them by God, even those now in Palestine remained under the domination of one foreign power after another, almost as if their exile had never ended
Most Jewish people remained outside their homeland. By the first century AD, Jewish communities were in almost every city of the then-civilized world. These Jews, living not in Palestine but among the nations, are normally referred to as the Diaspora, “the scattered”
- Israel’s Faith during this time
-- One God
-- Israel chosen by God
-- Torah defined Israel’s life
-- Holy belonged to Israel
-- Hope for future act of God
- Growing Hatred
-- For Gentile oppressors
-- For compromising Jews
Simon Andrew John James Philip Nathanael Matthew Thaddaeus James the less Simon the Zealot Thomas Judas Iscariot
Peter (Bartholomew) (Levi) (Jude)
Gospel Stage 5 BC-30 AD
When one begins to look at the cross through the lens of the resurrection, what at first appears to be foolishness is really the wisdom of God. What seemed to be weakness is really the power of God, conquering human rebellion and Satanic evil. What appears to be humiliation is a revelation of the glory of God. God’s self-giving love, mercy, faithfulness, grace, justice, and righteousness are revealed in the event by which God accomplishes the salvation of his creation. What seems to the world to be Jesus’ defeat, the early church proclaims to be his surpassing victory over all the enemies who stand opposed to God’s good creation
Jesus explains the kingdom with his parables that help those who receive Jesus’ word in faith to understand:
(1) The kingdom does not come all at once
(2) In the present, the kingdom does not come with irresistible power
(3) The final judgment of the kingdom is reserved for the future
(4) The full revelation of the kingdom is postponed, to allow many to enter it during the present age
Jesus Commissions His Disciples
“As the Father has sent
me, I am sending you” (John 20:21)
In His Life Jesus Makes Known the Kingdom of God In His Death Jesus Secures the Victory of God’s Kingdom In His Resurrection Jesus Inaugurates the Kingdom of God
The four different approaches of the Pharisees, Essenes, Sadducees and Zealots all are bound by a common loathing for the Gentiles, a deep-seated hatred or at least wariness for all those outside the covenant. And then comes Jesus who refused to walk in any of these paths. His way is startling different: it is the way of love and of suffering, “love of enemies instead of their destruction; unconditional forgiveness instead of retaliation; readiness to suffer instead of using force; blessing for peacemakers instead of hymns of hate and revenge.”
Too often we reduce the significance of the cross to the fact that “Jesus died for me.” Believers do share in the accomplishments of his death, and so we can say this with joy and confidence. Yet God’s purposes move beyond the salvation of individuals. In the death of Jesus, God acts to accomplish the salvation of the entire creation: Jesus dies for the world
“Christ is risen!”“He is risen indeed!”
In the resurrection of Jesus Christ, a new world is dawning. The night of evil has ended. The light of God will fill the whole earth again. The resurrection stands at the center of the Christian faith
James (45) Galatians (49 ) Ephesians (60) 1 Peter (68)
1 Thessalonians (51) Colossians (61) 2 Peter (68)
2 Thessalonians (51) Philippians (61)
Jude (68) 1 Corinthians (56) Philemon (62)
2 Corinthians (56) 1 Timothy (62) 1 John (95)
Romans (57) Titus (66) 2 John (95)
2 Timothy (67) 3 John (95)
Hebrews (59) Revelation (95)
Early Church Stage 30-68 AD Epistle Stage 45-100 AD
Following the apostles, the church is sent – Sent with the gospel of the kingdom to make disciples of all nations, to feed the hungry, to proclaim the assurance that in the name of Christ there is forgiveness of sin and new life for all who repent and believe- To tell the news that our world belongs to God. In a world estranged from God, where millions face confusing choices, this mission is central to our being, for we announce the one name that saves… We rejoice that the Spirit is waking us to see our mission in God’s world
The rule of Jesus Christ covers the whole world. To follow this Lord is to serve him everywhere, without fitting in, as lights in the darkness, as salt in a spoiling world
If our lives are to be shaped and formed by Scripture, we need to know the biblical story well, to feel it in our bones. To do this, we must also know our own place within it – where we are in the story
The good news of the kingdom cannot remain locked up in Jerusalem. It must reach “to the ends of the earth”
Scene 1: From Jerusalem to Rome Scene 2: And into All the World
Here at Pentecost the Spirit of God comes with the sign of fire as a token of the powerful presence of God bringing the life of the kingdom
The world of the Bible is our world, and its story of redemption is also our story. This story is waiting for an ending – in part because we ourselves have a role to play before all is concluded
This in-between time, after Jesus’ first coming and before he comes again, is a time of mission for the exalted Christ, the Spirit, and the Church
Christ Is Exalted to the Right Hand of God The Exalted Christ Pours Out His Spirit The Church Witnesses Paul Unfolds the Gospel in His Letters Being a Light to the World: Continuing the Mission of Israel Bearing Faithful Witness: Continuing the Mission of the Early Church Living in God’s Story Today
The New Testament depicts the early church as it continues the kingdom mission of Jesus. Hence, if we are to understand our own mission today, we must take account of Israel’s initial God-given task, of how Jesus fulfilled it, and of how the early church continued the work
The throne of the Messiah as Peter describes is not in Jerusalem at all: it stands entirely above the world, in heaven at the right hand of God. This is the place of highest authority and honor: God’s kingdom has no boundaries of any kind. Jesus does not merely sit on the throne of our hearts and reign there: that is much too narrow a concept of his authority. Jesus reigns over all of human life, all history, and all nations
Each letter addresses a different church with its own problems and questions. He connects the gospel with the Old Testament story setting, establishing its truth against the errors of false teaching, and setting his own authority as an apostle against the efforts of the false teachers
Salvation is not an escape from earth into a spiritualized heaven where human souls dwell forever. Instead, John is shown (and shows us in turn) that salvation is the restoration of God’s creation on a new earth. In this restored world, the redeemed of God will live in resurrected bodies within a renewed creation, from which sin and its effects have been expunged. This is the kingdom that Christ’s followers have already begun to enjoy in foretaste
In Jesus Christ that goal of cosmic redemption was first revealed and then accomplished: the words of Jesus from the cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30), declare redemption to be complete already, even though its final revelation waits in the future
“Behold, I am coming soon!” John exhorts his readers to stand firm in the faith, warns those who remain outside the kingdom, and invites all who find themselves “thirsty” for the salvation of God revealed in his visions to come and drink freely of the water of life
Jesus is coming soon. All who believe and hope in Jesus, as John the apostle did, will echo his own response: “Amen. Come, Lord Jesus”
The End of the Story Events Preceding the End A New Creation: The Restoration of All Things I Am Coming Soon
The descent of God’s heavenly dwelling place, “the new Jerusalem,” to earth is the graphic representation that God’s kingdom has come and His will is forevermore to be accomplished on earth – just as it has always been in heaven
Three major events will usher in the restoration of creation and the arrival of God’s kingdom in its fullness:
(1) Jesus returns
(2) The dead are raised bodily (some to share in the life of the new creation and others t final wrath)
(3) The world comes before Christ to be judged
A comprehensive redemption also means that human cultural development and work will continue. The cultural achievements of history will be purified and will reappear on the new earth (Revelation 21:24-26). There will be opportunity for humankind to continue to work and develop the creation – but now released from the burden of sin
Bartholomew, Graig G. and Michael W. Goheen. The Drama of Scripture – Finding Our Place in the Biblical Story. Michigan: Baker Academic, 2004. Print.
Ibid. “Class Resources.” Scripture & Worldview(1999). December 11, 2012. <http://www.biblicaltheology.ca/about/resources/.
Willmington, H. L. Willmington’s Guide to the Bible. Illinois: Tyndale House, 1983. Print.
“The Drama of Scripture tells the biblical story of redemption as a unified, coherent narrative of God’s ongoing work within his kingdom. After God created the world and human rebellion marred it, God set out to restore what he had made.”
“Every part of the Bible – each event, book, character, command, prophecy, and poem – must be understood in the context of the one story line.”
“If our lives are to be shaped by the story of Scripture, we need to understand two things well: the biblical story is a compelling unity on which we may depend, and each of us has a place within that story.”
Trinity School for Ministry, Biblical Interpretations (BI 600) By
December 16, 2012