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Inter-Varsity Press Salvation to the Ends of the Earth: A Biblical Theology of Mission (New Studies in Biblical Theology)

The New Studies in Biblical Theology (NSBT) series is billed as "creative attempts to help thinking Christians understand their Bibles better" and "aims simultaneously to instruct and to edify, to interact with the current literature, and to point the way ahead." Salvation to the Ends of the Earth is the NSBT volume on missions, and it offers a biblical-theological look at the important topic of missions.

Authors Andreas Köstenberger and Peter T. O'Brien feel that missions has often been neglected in biblical theology. This is why they now offer us a comprehensive study of the theme of missions from a biblical-theological view, looking at how the entire Bible views missions. Their conclusion: "Mission is linked inextricably to humanity's sinfulness and need for redemption, and to God's provision of salvation in the person and work of Christ." The authors feel that the foundation of Christian mission must lay in Jesus' salvific mission as revealed in the Bible.

In their biblical-theological model, three aspects take precedence: history, literature and theology. Each aspect is used to discuss missions in: the Old Testament; the second-temple period; the Synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke-Acts); the letters of Paul; the letters of John; the General Epistles; Revelation. They attempt to answer tough questions like: Was Israel in the Old Testament called to an active missionary outreach like the church was called to in the New Testament? Can second-temple Judaism be characterized as a missionary religion? Did Jesus limit His mission to the Jews only, or was it also extended to the Gentiles as well? Did Paul encourage believers to emulate his own missionary activities?

Köstenberger and O'Brien feel that there may well be some discontinuity between mission in the Old and New Testaments, but they also feel that "Scripture...is, ultimately, God's Word" and that "we may legitimately expect to see an underlying logic and unity in the biblical message...for Scripture is united by one pervading purpose: the tracing of God's unfolding plan of redemption." Since "God acts coherently and purposefully in history" we can expect more unity than disunity between the Old and New Testaments regarding mission. Once that unity is known and understood, it can transform missions in our time. We will see the hand of God pointing the way to greater missionary endeavors, and we, as His ambassadors, will bring Salvation to the Ends of the Earth.
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